“I honestly don’t know how we would’ve got to this point – and created so many happy family memories along the way – without Claire House.”

After two terrifying festive seasons, mum Amelia explains why supporting the Claire House Christmas Appeal is the best gift of all for families like theirs.

My pregnancy was perfectly normal, until our 20-week scan, which revealed there could be something wrong with our baby’s heart. My husband Brian and I had walked into the hospital that day so full of excitement, but left feeling absolutely devastated. A second scan confirmed our worst fears and that’s when the consultant said they wouldn’t know any more for certain until Oliver was born.

We should’ve been eagerly anticipating an exciting new chapter in our lives, but instead all we felt was uncertainty and fear.

Our story would be very different without Claire House Children’s Hospice.

They have been here for us from the very beginning, from the moment we discovered our baby boy had congenital heart disease.

They have held our hands when it’s all been too much, they have somehow helped us make the most of life and create loads of happy memories along the way.

Those last few months of pregnancy would have been far scarier and more confusing without Kat, one of the Claire House nurses, by our side. She became our rock; accompanying me to all my antenatal appointments at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital and translating all the medical jargon.

Oliver was born in December 2020 and Kat was there during his birth, comforting us and calmly explaining everything that was going on. I’ll never forget the moment she said, “He’s here and he’s breathing on his own”. And there he was, in my arms, but I could only hold him for a few precious seconds before he needed to go to intensive care.

Eventually we were able to bring Oliver home and Lucy from Claire House took over our regular care and has been here for us ever since.

Oliver has already needed life-saving heart surgery three times.

After the second operation at Alder Hey shortly before Christmas 2021, Oliver’s condition deteriorated rapidly overnight. In the morning he was rushed to intensive care, intubated and later that day he was on life support. It was the longest and worst day of our lives, thinking we could lose our little boy at any minute. I’m just so glad Lucy was there with us, liaising with the medical teams, bringing us updates and holding our hands for the entire day.

We were in hospital with Oliver for three months on that occasion. On social media I could see other families doing all the Christmassy things. All I could think was, ‘why is this happening to us?’.

We were in a nightmarish situation that no family wants to find themselves in, especially at Christmas time. But I’ll never forget Lucy coming in with some paint and a bauble and together we created a Christmas bauble with Oliver’s footprint on. That’s so typical of Claire House, they still found a way for us to make a happy memory at the worst of times.

Oliver’s next big operation isn’t for a couple of years, but after nearly losing him following that second operation, I’m sure you can imagine how terrified we are. The only thought giving me strength is knowing that Claire House will be here to help us through it.

Oliver recently had his first overnight stay at the hospice, which was wonderful. Brian and I could relax and spend some time together, knowing that Oliver was in safe hands – in a place he loves to be.

I honestly don’t know how we would’ve got to this point – and created so many happy family memories along the way – without Claire House.

Oliver has spent so much of his life in hospital, including two Christmasses, so we’re really looking forward to spending this Christmas at home with our three year old, doing Christmassy things just like any other family.

Your Christmas gift can make Claire House part of the story for more families with seriously ill children. Please give to Clare House this Christmas and support hundreds of families like Oliver’s across the year.