‘We had both gone through so much by this point, and having the support from Tommy’s really does mean a lot’

Last year’s Doting Dad Award winner Jon Derbyshire tells us what winning this award meant to him.

Jon Derbyshire

Tommy’s guest blog, 11/03/2017, by Jon Derbyshire

The Bepanthen Doting Dad Award exists to celebrate a father who has gone above and beyond in caring for his family at a difficult time.

Jon Derbyshire won this award in 2017 after being nominated by his wife-to-be Karen.

Here is his story

We were honoured to win the award for Bepanthen’s Doting Dad after the journey we went through with our daughter Lily who decided to try and make it into the world 12 weeks early (28 weeks)!

We ended up being rushed to a hospital 45 miles away at 2am, because our NICU was full. They hadn’t told us that Karen was in labour so when they said the baby was on her way, we were in complete shock.

We had lost Lily’s twin early on in the pregnancy that we were so nervous for our little girl.

Driving behind the ambulance down the motorway was terrifying, watching the blue lights ahead, as I had no idea what was happening, or if Karen or Lily would be ok.

Thankfully the drips and drugs slowed the labour and by the following day they were confident it was under control.

We spent 3 days on the labour ward before being transferred to the labour ward, and I was doing the round trip before and after work every day, sleeping on the labour room floor just to be by their side.

The staff were incredible at both hospitals, and the ambulance crew – we can’t thank them enough.

We were then transferred after 5 days back to Leicester where they realised Karen’s waters had fully broken in the labour, and there were concerns that our baby was very small.

With the lack of fluid, her position, and the size of her, Karen was kept in hospital and monitored daily, and put on antibiotics.

It was scary being at work all day and not knowing what was happening every day.

They wanted her to try and reach 34 weeks, but eventually at 33 weeks they decided to get the baby out, and we were amazed that she was so strong, despite being so tiny…. And only needed a week in NICU.

Karen also haemorrhaged badly during the caesarean and was kept in the hospital for a week.  I visited every day after work for the 6 weeks, and stayed till visitors were asked to leave, but it was worth it to know everyone was ok.

I just did what every father would do, so am really honoured to have won this award.

It was a huge surprise to have not only been nominated for the award, but to have won it too, when there were so many other families with their own journeys who had been nominated.

The award meant a lot, not so much for the public recognition, but for the fact that Karen believed in me enough to put me forward and Tommy’s picked me when there were so many other deserving fathers being considered.

We had both gone through so much by this point, and having the support from Tommy’s really does mean a lot. 

We had a difficult second half of the pregnancy. There were many sleepless nights, emergency hospital visits and worries throughout.

But seeing Lily growing stronger each day and knowing she’s a fighter makes me proud of everything Karen and I went through to get to where we are now.

Unfortunately, I just started a new job the week of the Awards, so was really gutted I couldn’t be there, but Karen said it was fantastic and showed me some incredible photographs.

I couldn’t believe it when we saw Lily’s cheeky face on the big screens!

Karen spoke about how fantastic the whole day was and how they were treated like royalty all day!

The food looked delicious, and Lily looked like she really enjoyed herself too – she still absolutely loves her Tommy bear a year later – it’s in her crib every night!!

She also spoke about some of the really heartbreaking and heartwarming stories from the day, and how emotional it was to be there, but celebrating the strength of so many families and individuals.

I know we both follow some of them on social media still to keep up with their blogs and photos. We can’t thank you all enough for inviting us, and the photos are on our wall at home!

I am currently working as a Business Analyst for Next PLC and we are in the process of moving house to be able to give Lily the space she deserves to play and develop.

Lily has been going from strength to strength, and we are incredibly grateful to the staff at Great Ormond Street hospital who have been treating Lily for coming up to a year and a half.

As we are based in London, we are excited to finally be on quarterly visits to the hospital, rather than the weekly/fortnightly/monthly visits for the first year!

Karen and I are getting married at the start of April, and we are taking Lily to France along with some of our family for a snowboarding trip shortly after.

Karen also spoke to some of the guys at Organix about the problems we had with Lily’s feeding (due to her being so premature), and they have taken our family on their No Junk Journey, which has already helped us become more aware of different foods we can try with her to stay healthy but get her to explore, so the Awards put us in touch with some fantastic people to support Lily and her future, as well us reminding us how lucky we are to have Lily with us after everything.

Karen also has her own blog at the3amdiary.com which she regularly updates with details of our journey and some of the steps we take on our own parenting journey to help support Lily.

The support that charities like Tommy’s give to people really makes a difference to everyone involved, and we cannot thank Tommy’s enough for the advice when knowing we had a premature baby on her way, and the information from you gave us so much hope and strength.

There are so many people deserving of the help Tommy’s provides and those people really appreciate the helping hand.

Giving people a platform to sing the praises of others and publically recognise the help they provide is a great act of kindness.  

We have several friends who have run/who are running for Tommy’s in marathons across the UK, and Karen is hoping to do so too once she is more confident!

Once we shared our story through the Tommy’s Awards, we were contacted by so many friends/strangers to share their stories. It was overwhelming, but heartwarming at the same time to know that people feel able to share this with us.

We lost Lily’s twin early on in the pregnancy, and we know we are lucky to have Lily by our side, but it is always on our mind.

Tommy’s gives families such support with their loss and the future of their families, that I know so many families around the world would not have hope and strength without the work that Tommy’s has provided.

You can see Jon and Karen’s story from last year’s award here.

Read more individual award winner stories

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