‘Rainbow Trust made dark days brighter': How charity drove mum 100 miles a week to visit her baby in hospital

Knowing her tiny baby was hooked to machines in a hospital miles away after undergoing emergency surgery, Kelly Stoor was filled with anguish at not being able to be by her daughter’s side.

Little Kaia Stoor was born 14 weeks premature just before the first national Covid-19 lockdown. Her parents faced desperate weeks apart from her as restrictions made life impossible.

“I just wanted to be with my baby, but we were in lockdown and had no way of making the 100-mile round trip to the hospital,” said Ms Stoor, who lives in Littlehampton, West Sussex.

“A baby who should have still been inside me had to have emergency surgery and I couldn’t be with her. It felt like someone had ripped my heart out and stamped all over it.”

i is supporting the Rainbow Trust charity for its Christmas appeal 2021 to raise £75,000 to help families such as Kaia’s.

‘Rainbow Trust made dark days brighter’: How charity drove mum 100 miles a week to visit her baby in hospital
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Kaia was born on 12 March 2020 weighing 1lb 11oz. However, at just eight days old, doctors realised her condition was severe and she was transferred to hospital in Southampton, 50 miles away from the family home.

‘Rainbow Trust made dark days brighter’: How charity drove mum 100 miles a week to visit her baby in hospital
© Provided by The i Kaia Stoor was born 14 weeks premature and needed emergency bowel operations. Pictured with dad Max Stoor when he was finally able to visit her in hospital (Photo: Rainbow Trust i Christmas Appeal 2021 Image via anna.jackson@rainbowtrust.org.uk)

Kaia was found to have necrotising enterocolitis (NEC), a serious condition which affects the bowels of newborn babies. She needed two emergency bowel operations, but with the hospital parent accommodation closed due to the lockdown, her mum and dad couldn’t be with her.

“Our car had broken down and needed repairing and I don’t drive.” explained Ms Stoor. “The restrictions meant only one named visitor could be with Kaia.

“We also had three other children at home as the schools were closed and had no childcare as my mum was vulnerable. It was a horrible situation.”

Help arrived for the Stoor family after they were told about the Rainbow Trust charity and paired with family support worker Mandy Haymer. She was able to drive Ms Stoor the 100-mile round trip once a week to be with Kaia.

Rainbow Trust also assisted with transporting breast milk to the unit and providing emotional and practical support to the whole family.

“Mandy was an absolute lifesaver and took me to the hospital for the first time to see Kaia,” said Ms Stoor.

“It was heartbreaking to see Kaia in intensive care on a ventilator, incredibly swollen with wires and cannulas everywhere.

“The pandemic made caring for a seriously ill baby exceedingly hard and it has been a much lonelier journey than it should have been.

“Without Rainbow Trust, we couldn’t have coped. It’s an amazing charity which means everything to us.”

‘Rainbow Trust made dark days brighter’: How charity drove mum 100 miles a week to visit her baby in hospital
© Provided by The i Mum Kelly Stoor with baby Kaia when she was finally able to visit her in hospital (Photo: Rainbow Trust i Christmas Appeal 2021 Image via anna.jackson@rainbowtrust.org.uk)

As well as taking Ms Stoor to the hospital for around three months, Rainbow Trust family support worker Mandy Haymer has provided support for the whole family and Ms Stoor says the emotional support has been invaluable.

“Whenever I felt at the point where I had no strength and couldn’t carry on, Mandy encouraged me and said: ‘You can do it’” said Ms Stoor.

“Even being able to chat to her in the car on the way to and from the hospital was a huge help and she really listened to me.”

‘Rainbow Trust made dark days brighter’: How charity drove mum 100 miles a week to visit her baby in hospital
© Provided by The i Read More – Featured Image

Only five days after Kaia was born, Mr Stoor’s mother passed away and Ms Stoor says Rainbow Trust’s support was crucial for the family, particularly for five-year-old daughter Esme.

“Mandy has been amazing helping Esme with bereavement support.” said Ms Stoor, who has four children – Safiya, Najem, Esme and Kaia.

‘Rainbow Trust made dark days brighter’: How charity drove mum 100 miles a week to visit her baby in hospital
© Provided by The i Kaia Stoor with sister Safiya (Photo: Rainbow Trust i Christmas Appeal 2021 Image via anna.jackson@rainbowtrust.org.uk Andy Newbold Photography)

“Esme was hurting as she had suddenly lost her nanna, her mummy was in hospital, Covid had happened and she had a new baby sister she couldn’t see.

“But Mandy helped her deal with her nanna’s death. They planted forget me not plants and made a fairy garden and created a memory box.”

Kaia is now 20-months-old and although she faces more surgery in the future, she amazes her family with her strength and happiness. They say they take each day at a time and live in the moment.

‘Rainbow Trust made dark days brighter’: How charity drove mum 100 miles a week to visit her baby in hospital
© Provided by The i Kelly Stoor with Kaia, now 20-months-old. The family say they couldn’t have coped without the support of Rainbow Trust (Photo: Rainbow Trust i Christmas Appeal 2021 Image via anna.jackson@rainbowtrust.org.uk Andy Newbold Photography)

Knowing Rainbow Trust will be there for them throughout their journey is a great comfort to them.

To show their gratitude, Mr Stoor, who runs his own window cleaning business, will dress up as Father Christmas throughout December and ask customers to make a donation to the charity.

“Rainbow Trust made the darker times a little brighter” said Ms Stoor. We’ve relied on them for practical and emotional support and are so grateful that Mandy will be with us for as long as we need her.”

‘Rainbow Trust made dark days brighter’: How charity drove mum 100 miles a week to visit her baby in hospital
© Provided by The i The Stoor Family with Rainbow Trust family support worker Mandy Haymer (Photo: Rainbow Trust i Christmas Appeal 2021 Image via anna.jackson@rainbowtrust.org.uk Andy Newbold Photography)

Rainbow Trust Family Support Worker – Mandy Haymer

‘Rainbow Trust made dark days brighter’: How charity drove mum 100 miles a week to visit her baby in hospital
© Provided by The i Rainbow Trust family support worker Mandy Haymer with Kaia Stoor. (Photo: Caption: Rainbow Trust i Christmas Appeal 2021 Image via anna.jackson@rainbowtrust.org.uk Andy Newbold Photography)

“I have been a family support worker at Rainbow Trust for four years.

“When I first started supporting Kelly and Max, in April 2020, Covid had hit hard. Kaia was born prematurely and had complex needs. The support I was able to give was very different to the support we can usually offer.

“Driving Kelly to the hospital to see Kaia and giving emotional support was something I could do.

“Over the months things have changed and I can now visit the family at home. I continue to give emotional support and spend time with Kaia. On some occasions Kaia’s siblings are there and I can spend time with them.

“Watching Kaia grow has been such a pleasure. She still has a way to go but we will continue to be there to support the family in whatever way is needed.

“Working with Kelly, Max and the children has been such a privilege.”

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