We wanted to help other NICU parents

Dr Frankie Harrison is a Clinical Psychologist and has been working in mental health and wellbeing for over 13 years. Since spending time in the NICU with her son, who was born at 31 weeks, Frankie has decided to support other NICU parents through Miracle Moon, a project she set up with fellow NICU mum Georgie Robinson, a graphic designer. This is Frankie’s story.

I thought Instagram was just a place where you could look at pretty houses and see what people had eaten for lunch. I didn’t realise it was a community that would help me through some of my darkest days, I didn’t think I would meet a friend for life, and I didn’t realise that it would build a passion for myself and that friend to be able to help others going through similar experiences.

I was anxious throughout my pregnancy

I’m a clinical psychologist, but that doesn’t mean that I am immune to struggles with my mental health. Throughout my pregnancy, I found it very hard to attach to the fact that I was pregnant to the idea that I would have a baby at the end of it. I have experienced so much loss in my life, that the thought of meeting my baby without having something go wrong seemed unrealistic. I held anxiety in the back of my mind and sometimes in the forefront throughout my pregnancy.

At around 29 weeks, my blood pressure spiked

What was supposed to be a routine trip to the hospital for monitoring ended up being a 5-day stay to try and control my blood pressure. Nothing was mentioned about my baby coming early. 

A week after being discharged, I was admitted again, but with high protein in my urine, it then quickly escalated. My vision was blurred and doubled, my head was pounding, I had a stabbing pain in my side – but all the while I was telling people I was fine. I thought I was fine. 

I got diagnosed with pre-eclampsia 

When they told me, I had no idea what that meant. On the morning that I was going to have my baby, the hospital said that 31+1 weeks was the furthest I was going to get. This was also the first time I was told about prematurity and about my baby needing to be in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). I knew nothing about what was going to come. 

My baby was born via emergency c-section. We had a number of different complications, mostly around my baby boy’s feeding. We stayed in neonatal care for 5 weeks. 

I can’t tell you everything that happened, or in which order it happened – I was mainly numb throughout the whole experience. When I look back now, it’s like it was all filmed underwater.

I’d been documenting what was happening on Instagram 

I’m glad I did. I was dissociating (which is when you start disconnecting from your thoughts, feelings and sense of identity), and my memories started to slip quite quickly. Without documenting it, I don’t know if I would have as many memories of NICU.

Whilst talking about my experiences on Instagram, I started to connect with other parents who were also having their babies at the same gestation, who had spent time in NICU.

That’s when I met Georgie

Georgie is a graphic designer and illustrator who had also had her baby at 31+1 weeks. This was because of a reversed end diastolic flow, meaning that her baby was not getting the blood supply it needed. 

Georgie had had multiple miscarriages, and she had also experienced loss, uncertainty and anxiety throughout her pregnancy. She went through some struggles with her mental health and spoke openly about her OCD and postnatal depression in the NICU and when she got home. 
We started talking on Instagram and we instantly clicked. We then started talking every day. 

We both realised we had a passion for helping others and saw a gap in reaching out and building a community of parents who had been through the NICU, of talking about common thoughts and feelings and normalising them. 

We also felt like between us, a clinical psychologist and a graphic designer, we could create something special. 

Miracle Moon was born

So, we developed a community on Instagram, which is growing by the day. We have a group of incredible parents who are so open and reflective about their experiences, wanting to talk and wanting to heal. 

We have a website, www.miraclemoon.co.uk, and I provide therapy for parents who have been through NICU, as well as developing new courses and resources. We also have a podcast and blog to go alongside our Instagram community. Our aim is to make psychological information accessible to as many people as possible, with the hope of helping others feel less alone. 

We also want to raise awareness of the NICU experience

1 in 7 babies end up in NICU – so if it isn’t you, you will probably know someone who has been through it. We are passionate about building NICU conversations into mainstream media and are currently doing our best to spread the word so that systems start to understand what it is like to have your baby in the NICU. 

So, that is what we’re doing. 

We’re contacting the media, we’re speaking to healthcare professionals, and we’re getting the word out about NICU – not just about the fact that it is something that happens more commonly than we first think, but also the impact that it can have on parents, both when you are in the NICU and after you leave. 

It’s an experience that changes you, one you don’t just “get over”, and it is so important to talk about it. 

We would love to have you along to join our community, where you can share your thoughts, feelings and meet like-minded parents who have been through a similar experience. We are not all in the same boat, but we’re in the same ocean, and we can support each other with the way we think and feel about our NICU journeys.

You can follow Frankie and Georgie on @miraclemoonuk and visit their website here.