Visiting family

Find out how our staff make mums like Chantelle feel at home when they come to stay.

Our happy place

When Sophia was born we had a really scary start. At two days old, just after getting back from the hospital, my baby Sophia had a cardiac arrest in my husband’s arms.

We didn’t really know what was happening. We were panicked. The cardiac arrest starved her of oxygen and caused eight brain bleeds, classing her as severely brain damaged.

The doctors discovered that Sophia had 11 heart defects which is what caused the cardiac arrest. They also found out that she has epilepsy and a condition called heterotaxy. This means that although she has all her organs they aren’t in the right place, so this causes lots of complications.

Because of her conditions, Sophia can be absolutely fine one moment but the next she will just go downhill without any warning.

The most important thing for me is to keep her safe and make her happy and that’s exactly what we get when we go to Acorns.

We were referred to Acorns by our community nurse when Sophia was eight months old. We’d heard of them but we didn’t understand fully what they did, we just knew that it was a children’s hospice.

I think the nurse could tell by my face that I didn’t like the thought of Sophia going to a hospice. When you hear the word ‘hospice’ you think of the end of life but the nurse told me Acorns does more than that.

So we went and had a look. I was very nervous to walk through the door but we got the warmest welcome- they were all so lovely. There were children and staff having fun and smiling.

It wasn’t what I thought hospices were about.

We come to Acorns for the day and Sophia loves to use the hydrotherapy pool. She can’t use regular pools because they are too cold which isn’t good for heart problems. At Acorns she swims all the time.

It’s really nice to make memories which we wouldn’t be able to make at home.

I also come to the Stay and Play session which they hold once a month. We do lots of activities and make things which we take home. We keep everything that she makes and I take lots of photos of the activities, so we can collect them for Sophia.

Coming to Acorns is great for me too because I meet other parents. We all have very different stories but they are all quite relatable. Until you’ve been through a journey like this I don’t think you truly understand what it’s like.

It’s hard being ‘that’ mum- the one who is always worried about their child and has to keep an eye on them. At Acorns everyone understands and will talk to you about what is going on with you.

I feel like the normal mum for once when I’m here.

At Acorns everyone is so caring and I feel very safe when here. They just love and protect all the children. It feels like its family that you’re visiting.

Sophia is three now so the staff have seen her grow. She’s now walking and talking and is happy running off with one of the nurses. She gets so excited when she knows she is coming to stay, she even plans out what she’s going to wear!

Coming to Acorns was the best thing we ever did. I’m so happy when we’re here. This is definitely our happy place.

There are other mums here with children who have heart problems. Their children have had operations which Sophia needs so I can talk to them about how well their child is doing. It gives us a positive outlook.

Chantelle, Sophia’s mum

A regular gift of £5 a month could help us provide hydrotherapy sessions for a child like Sophia.