Young mum’s heartfelt tribute after her son only lived three weeks

A mum has paid a heartfelt tribute to the nurses who "could not have done more" for her baby son who only survived a few weeks after he was born.

Grace Mullen, from Warrington, found out her baby boy, Oakley, had a rare condition just one week before he was born.

Oakley was diagnosed with Hyrops Fetalis – a serious condition where there is an accumulation of fluid.

The 21-year-old was able to spend precious time with Oakley and make memories with him in the three weeks he was alive, she said.

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Grace said: "They told us they were thinking he would only last a few minutes, but he ended up lasting a while. Which was good for us because we got more time with him."

Grace said she experienced a normal pregnancy and no early scans indicated any issues.

Grace Mullen's son, Oakley, in hospital

She said: "From all the other scans he'd been fine. It was fine on my 20 week scan, but I started bleeding [some time after my scan]. And the nurses told me I was really, really big for 29 weeks pregnant.

"So I was sent for a measuring scan and I was measured at 40 weeks pregnant, when I was only 29. But they found out he had Hydrops.

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"It just came out of nowhere. They said it must have just happened after the 20 week scan."

Oakley's condition meant there was a build up of fluid in his vital organs and under his skin, which Grace said made him appear "a bit puffy".

She added: "It was pretty daunting anyway, but then I ended up being in agony. They had to do a procedure for me because the fluid in his lungs were full, so they had to put tubes in my stomach into his lungs to drain it, and that triggered my labour.

"I was 31 weeks pregnant."

After Oakley was born, Grace was able to spend time with her son and said the support and compassionate care she received from staff at Liverpool Women's NICU really helped.

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She said: "We stayed at the hospital for five weeks and they just did so much for us.

"They gave us accommodation, when they didn't have to, they gave us food and just constantly kept us updated. They just did all they could for him

"The nurses let us stay above the hospital in a flat and they would top up the food in the kitchen for us so we didn't have to be far from the kitchen in case anything happened. We could see him 24 hours a day if we wanted.

"There was one nurse called Leah, and she had him for about five days. We got quite close with her and she was the one who took his tubes out when it was time. So it was quite a nice bond to have with her.

"I don't know how they do it"

If you have been affected by any of the details mentioned in this story there are people who can help you.

Most people grieve when they lose something or someone important to them.

The way grief affects you depends on lots of things, including what kind of loss you have suffered, your upbringing, your beliefs or religion, your age, your relationships, and your physical and mental health.

Grieving is a totally normal process but there are way to get help if you need support.

Your GP is a good place to start. They can give you advice about other support services, refer you to a counsellor, or prescribe medication if needed.

Or you can contact support organisations directly, such as Cruse Bereavement Care (0808 808 1677) Samaritans (116 123) or Love Jasmine.

Grace is now raising money for the devoted staff who cared for her and Oakley.

She said she's also hopeful she can raise money to research Hydrops Fetalis, to help other families.

She added: "I'd want to say thank you for everything [to the staff]. They gave us a good experience for the few weeks he was here. I'd go through it again just to meet them again."

Grace's fundraising page can be found here.