The Pau family celebrate Leo's 5th birthday, reflecting on their time in BC Women's Hospital NICU

Baby Leo was given a 50% chance of survival. Five years later, the possibility that Jacqui Pau could help other mothers has allowed her to gain confidence in sharing her story.
On June 3, 2012 Baby Leo was born via emergency labour at 25 weeks, weighing 1.5lbs (725g) at BC Women’s Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
 
After five years, Jacqui Pau is opening up about her 210 day stay in the NICU with her premature baby Leo, and loving husband Vince; as well as her experience with Post-Partum Depression that followed.
 
“We almost lost him more than once” she says.  At only four weeks old and weighing only two pounds, the doctors at BC Women’s performed Leo’s first heart surgery, successfully restoring blood flow to two of Leo's main arteries. But there was still much more work to do before Leo could see his home for the first time. 
 
“Leo is our world and everything we do, we do for him. Thank you for saving his life, and in essence saving mom's life too.” - Jacqui Pau
 
Photo provided by the Pau family.
 
After eight surgeries, multiple blood transfusions, numerous blood pokes and a severe infection, there was no doubt that Jacqui and Vince had spent almost seven months in fear for their baby’s life. It was during these visits that a NICU doctor first noticed Jacqui’s signs of PPD and PTSD and recommended her to see a Reproductive Mental Health Psychiatrist. 
 
Jacqui described how the level of guilt for not being able to breast feed or get out of bed, combined with what she felt was the "ultimate failure [of] premature labour," was incredibly hard to bear. 
 

“I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to get out of bed. It was hard for me to understand what I was going through.” - Jacqui Pau

 
Once Jacqui received a diagnosis of PPD she was able to receive treatment and begin the journey towards recovery, one that she says still continues today. In the end she knew that she couldn’t have survived her experience without the support of her husband Vince, “he was my strength when I couldn’t give my all, and I hope that I was able to support him during those dark days as well.”
 
Photo provided by the Pau family.
 
Thanks to those early days in the care of the NICU staff, baby Leo celebrated his fifth birthday in June. “He loves the alphabet and numbers, and has started spelling; reading and can now count to 100! Whether Leo is in another room, another city, or another country, I hope he can feel the unconditional love I have for him wherever he may be.”

"I cannot express enough how blessed I feel to have had the best care for our son” - Jacqui Pau

 
Photo provided by the Pau family.
 
It wasn’t easy for the Pau family to get to where they are today. Whether it was what Jacqui described as the “neonatal brilliance and expertise,” or the time taken to coach Jacqui and Vince through “skin-to-skin kangaroo cuddles,” Jacqui makes every effort to remind other NICU mothers and families that they are not alone.
 
“It is a difficult rollercoaster ride, full of up’s and down’s. But in the end, you will be okay. The love for your child will make you stronger. So do not hesitate to ask for help because your family and friends want to be there for you.” 
 

“I believe we are better people, and better parents as a result of this experience” - Jacqui Pau

 
And it doesn’t stop there! The Pau family have raised $3,290 through our Baby Tile and Birthday Club online fundraising options offered on our website. We want Jacqui and her friends and family to know how truly thankful we are for their contributions… and to wish Leo a very happy birthday!
 
Watch a slideshow of photos from the Pau family's time in the NICU here:
 
Slideshow provided by the Pau family.

Please consider making a donation to help babies like Leo receive the specialized care they need to survive.

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