PREMATURE baby Roman Doran still snuggles up every night with the special blanket he was given by Father Christmas last year as he fought for his life.
Nurses wrapped him in the warm blanket on the neonatal ward where he spent the first 17 days of his life after being born 35 days early on December 21 weighing just 3lb 7oz.
Nicola Doran has backed The Sun on Sunday’s Christmas Blankets for Babies AppealCredit: Glen Minikin
She knows first-hand how important blankets are for premature babies, having given birth to her son Roman 35 days earlyCredit: Glen Minikin
It is a blanket his mum Nicola, 40, will treasure forever and that’s why she is backing the Sun on Sunday’s Christmas Blankets for Babies Appeal so that YOU, our kind-hearted readers, can knit to help some of the 8,000 premature and sick tots in hospital this Christmas.
She told us: “Roman was not supposed to be here last Christmas so we had no presents for him. His present was this blanket.
“He loves it and rubs it on his face. It’s so special. It’s part of the story of what he’s been through. It kept him warm at a time when we were so worried about him.”
Warm blankets are vital to keep premature babies’ temperatures constant when they are taken out of their incubators to feed during those precarious early days.
And this year they are more important than ever, as they can also be used to transport scent between babies and parents who may not be able to be with their new children because of Covid hospital restrictions.
Roman was not supposed to be here last Christmas so we had no presents for him. His present was this blanket.
That’s why we have partnered with Bliss, the UK’s leading charity dedicated to babies born premature or sick, to sprinkle some much-needed festive cheer.
One in seven babies is born needing neonatal care in the UK and the figure is rising. Up to 8,000 will spend their first Christmas in neonatal units this year.
We are asking our readers to knit a blanket for these brave babies as their first Christmas present in one of the 192 neonatal units across the UK.
Like many babies, Roman had to be wrapped up when he came out of the incubator to be fedCredit: Glen Minikin
Nicola says ‘it kept him warm at a time when we were so worried about him’Credit: Glen Minikin
How to make your blanket
Pattern for 24in x 30in baby blanket
YOU NEED: 250grams double knit yarn and 4mm needles (size 8). Cast on 128 stitches and knit 17 rows.
At the beginning and end of next and each following pattern rows you will knit 9 stitches for border to prevent curling up.
1st row: knit 9 (knit 10, purl 10) repeat to last 9 sts, knit.
2nd row: knit 9 (purl 10, knit 10) repeat to last 19 sts, purl 10, knit 9.
Repeat these rows 6 times.
15th row as 2nd row.
16th row as 1st row.
Repeat 15th and 16th rows 6 times to form the pattern (28 rows).
Repeat the above 28 rows of the pattern a further 6 times, the blanket should now measure approximately 28in.
Knit 17 rows then cast off.
Nicola said: “This Christmas campaign is so important. Every time a premature baby is taken out of the incubator they have to be wrapped in a blanket immediately so they don’t get cold.
“We were lucky as we could all be together in the hospital as a family, with our son Deacon, who is now 11.
‘HE WAS SO TINY’
“The thought of being there on my own like some mums may have to this year, if Covid restrictions mean only one parent is allowed, is heartbreaking.
“That’s why these blankets are even more important, so they can pass the smell of mum or dad to their baby inside the hospital.”
Nicola, who works for a housing charity, and her husband John, 39, a sales assistant, from Sheffield, were told at her 34-week scan at Rotherham Hospital that she needed two painful steroid injections to help her baby’s lungs to inflate.
She added: “That’s when I got worried. Then the consultant said, ‘We need to induce you, the baby’s not happy. We need to get him out tomorrow.’
“I burst into tears. I had a party planned for my 40th birthday the following week, I hadn’t decorated the house for Christmas or bought any presents.
“I hadn’t even packed my hospital bag but I wasn’t allowed home because of the risk of infection. But the midwife said if he came out screaming they’d be happy.
Last year, Roman’s only present was the blanket he was wrapped inCredit: Glen Minikin
Luckily this year his family have bought him lots of presents and plan to spoil himCredit: Glen Minikin
“At 6am on December 21 they broke my waters and contractions started slowly.
“I gave birth at 1.50pm and he was only 3lb 7oz but he screamed. I was so relieved.
“I was only allowed to hold Roman for ten minutes but then he was in the Special Care Baby Unit for 17 days and had to be fed through a tube.
Every time a premature baby is taken out of the incubator they have to be wrapped in a blanket immediately so they don’t get cold.
“It was terrifying, we were worried for him. He was so tiny. And when we took him out of his incubator to feed him, we would wrap him in his blanket to keep him warm.
“It became so important to him and symbolic to us. That was his Christmas present last year.
“This year we have bought him lots of presents and plan to spoil him.”
Caroline Lee-Davey, chief executive at Bliss, said they were thrilled to team up for the Sun on Sunday’s Christmas Blankets for Babies campaign.
She said: “The pandemic is making it even harder for parents to be with their babies in hospital this winter.
Where to send your finished blankets
PLEASE post blankets to: The Sun on Sunday’s Christmas Blankets for Babies Appeal, East London Textiles Ltd (E.L.T.), Unit G4, Gallmans End Farm, Manor Road, Abridge, Essex RM4 1NA.
Bliss is unable to accept blankets sent directly to its office.
All blankets will be quality controlled. We will only be sending out blankets to units in line with their infection control policies and at such time as access to units is possible.
You can also make a donation at bliss.org.uk/donate.
Tell us how you are helping the campaign with this hashtag: #SoSBlankets4Babies
“It’s great that the Sun on Sunday and its fabulous readers can help raise awareness of the support Bliss can offer these families, as well as bring a personal touch of a knitted baby blanket for them to treasure.”
We have teamed up with East London Textiles Ltd and The Big Yellow Self Storage Company to help store your blankets.
Big Yellow chief executive Jim Gibson said: “We are proud to support the Sun on Sunday’s Christmas Blankets for Babies Appeal by donating much- needed storage space.”
Bliss’ Caroline Lee-Davey says they were thrilled to team up for the Sun on Sunday’s campaignCredit: Chris Balcombe – The Sun
The Sun on Sunday says
COME ON you knitters!
Back our campaign to knit a blanket for some of the 8,000 premature babies who spend Christmas in hospital.
One look at baby Roman’s smile as he gets his blanket in today’s paper is enough to melt anyone’s heart.
Think of it as children in needle.
GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL email@example.com
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