'I had severe depression - it was an emotional rollercoaster'
TAMMIE Weldon suffered a breakdown after having a premature baby but has since gone on to set up her own business and is overcome with pride at her young daughter, who fought to stay alive.
Cabra woman Tammie's daughter Teagan (6), was born weighing 3lb 14oz in May 2010 and went on to suffer health complications.
"I had this little baby who was so sick and I was thrown into everything on my own when Teagan was born," Tammie (36) said. "I had a breakdown when Teagan was two months old. I had severe postnatal depression for the first three years of her life.
"I was dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of a premature baby with health issues, being on my own and financial pressures."
The academically gifted child has the rare Pierre Robins Syndrome - which causes an infant to have a smaller-than-normal lower jaw, a tongue that falls back in the throat, and difficulty breathing.
She said: "With premature babies, there's always complications, tubes, heart monitors, hospital visits for months.
"I'd watch alarms go off, see other babies getting sick and then vanish. It was so scary. I knew how at risk she was.
"Then on top of all that, I had to worry about work and money."
Despite her daughter's ill health and financial pressure, lone parent Tammie went back to education.
She studied childcare and realised there was not enough after-school care nearby in Cabra.
She got a bank loan and set up her own business in 2014.
D7 Afterschool Care now caters for more than 30 children a day.
Tammie has joined parents across the country who are campaigning for extended maternity benefit for mums of early term infants and special care babies.
Irish Premature Babies is supporting a Green Party motion in the Dail to support longer maternity rights for premature babies' mums.
Many campaigners hope that even if the law is only changed at first to assist the mothers of premature babies, that it will be then later extended for all parents of special care babies.
"The current length of maternity leave and maternity benefit does not recognise the difficulty for mothers of premature babies forced to commence their maternity leave long before they can take their baby home," Deputy leader of the Green Party Catherine Martin said.
Visit inha.ie or irishprematurebabies.com for more information.