April McManus aims to help premature babies’ charity

Michelle Nic Phaidin

Reporter:

Michelle Nic Phaidin

Following the premature birth of her beautiful daughter, Sierra, one Stranolar mother has decided to organise a ball in a bid to raise much needed funds for Irish Premature babies. April McManus didn’t expect to see her wonderful wee bouncing bundle of joy until the end of March, she had just been to have a scan and was doing her shopping when her waters unexpectedly broke two months early.

Following the premature birth of her beautiful daughter, Sierra, one Stranolar mother has decided to organise a ball in a bid to raise much needed funds for Irish Premature babies. April McManus didn’t expect to see her wonderful wee bouncing bundle of joy until the end of March, she had just been to have a scan and was doing her shopping when her waters unexpectedly broke two months early.

She was brought to Letterkenny General Hospital where she was kept in as the medical team were keen to avoid any chance of infection.

“I didn’t know what was going on. They kept me in and gave me steroids to help her lungs. I knew that I was in the best place possible. There was a high risk of infection at the time. I was delighted when she was born on Sunday morning without any infection and knew that she could carry on building herself up,” she said.

The first-time mother realised that her beautiful baby girl was tiny but being in the neo natal unit with all the tiny lemon, pink and blue clothes, everything about her little baby seemed perfectly in proportion.

“I realised that she was tiny because she wasn’t next to babies in the maternity ward, she was in the neo natal clinic and in there she seemed ordinary. I remember the first day I put her in the car seat, she was like a doll. When she was three or four months old she was like a new born. I remember this woman coming over to me on the street, she thought she was a new born. At around seven months she began to catch up. Now, she is quiet tall,” she said.

During her initial days in hospital, the caring nurses in the neo-natal clinic prepared April for every eventuality. She was told not to get her expectations up, the baby might spend time in hospital and that there may be complications. She feels that, unlike other mothers, she was prepared for all eventualities by the well meaning medical staff at the well run unit.

“If I hadn’t known what I did, I may have been more afraid of the beeps and the wires. I may have panicked more. When she was born she was whisked straight down the corridor. She was taken to a room where there were incubators, beeps and wires and it is not what any mother expects to see at all and it is certainly something that you cannot imagine happening to you. You hear about it, read about it and watch it on TV but you never expect it to happen to you. You have to consider that 24 hours before hand this little baby is happily kicking away in your stomach. You can’t imagine anything going wrong,” she said.

After her child was taken away to be cared for, April recalls being told that she had to stay where she was for a little while. Her parents and her partner James had already gone down to see Sierra. They had spent time with her while April rested in her bed. At around seven o’clock, April was given permission to see her newborn. She was so excited to see her new baby but daunted by all the noises and mechanics that surrounded her little girl. The next day, April was allowed to hold Sierra and cuddle her for the first time and after a while she became accustomed to the beeps, the wires and the care that was being given to the tiny wee babies. When April and James took their child home things were different. April recalled being excited about looking after her little girl by herself but at times being at a loss because the nurses were not around her to tell her what to do and when to do it. Everyone she asked had different advice to give her.

“It was different at home. You had no nurses to tell you when to pick her up and when to leave her down. Then if you asked relations they all had different advice,” she said.

Following their emotional roller-coaster of worry, fear and excitement James and April fell into a wonderful routine and now Sierra enjoys running, climbing, jumping and getting up to mischief.

“We will always be thankful to the staff of Letterkenny for the care they gave her while she was in hospital. Since Sierra’s birth, I have heard of many many stories of premature births, some had happy endings but unfortunatley some did not. I have decided to support Irish Premature Babies and the work that they do in the hope I can help a family in the same position as I was in last January. Due to the economical times that we now encounter, the charity needs donations now more than ever,” she said.

April decided to have a ball on May 18 in the Villa Rose Hotel in Ballybofey. “Organising the ball was not as hard as I expected. Everyone told me that there would be a lot of work in it but due to the work of my friends, family and people around the town it has been easier than I initially thought. After my wee girl got out of hospital, I knew I was going to do something that would bring a large crowd out to enjoy themselves. I also realised that because of it being the recession that I would need to do something where people would also receive something in return. It is also a chance for people to wear nice ball gowns that they only ever got the chance to wear once,” she said.

People can support this cause and enjoy a great night out by buying tickets for the Glitz & Glam charity ball in the Villa Rose Hotel, Ballybofey on Friday next, May 18.