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Becoming a NICU mum

Becoming a NICU mum

This isn’t how it was supposed to pan-out.

We all anticipate how our babies will arrive and try to envisage that spectacular moment our little creation enters the world.

Then fate cruelly interjects and suddenly the dream bubble that’s been floating above your head for the past few months is torn in two and is replaced with the sound of beeping machines, the hustle and bustle of a busy ward and the reality of this tiny fragile human-being with wires and tubes protruding ever limb on their helpless little bodies.

It’s a massive shock to the system and you’re expected to just take it in your stride. As if becoming a mum for the first time or adding to your brood isn’t enough to take on board, now there’s the fear that this little part of you, won’t make it.

When they are born, that’s the helpless moment you lose the ability to protect your little one safely inside your body, the moment they leave your body, the responsibility then leaves you and is passed on to the nurses and doctors, which although we are grateful for, is heartbreaking, because all we want to do is cuddle our little bundles of joy and keep them safe in mummy’s arms.

With a “normal delivery” mum’s are so excited to finally meet their new addition, but during premature birth we have the fear of the unknown, knowing your baby may not breathe or be born with long-term health complications.

You would be judged for saying this isn’t what you wanted to happen, but I can’t quite understand why someone would pass judgement on the feelings of something they have no understanding of.

We don’t feel disappointment and sadness because this premature baby has become an inconvenience to our lives, quite the opposite.

It’s sadness for our baby and disappointment that this person we love more than anything else on the planet it having to struggle through the early days, weeks, months and sometimes even years of their life.

We call them fighters, because they are.

We call them miracles, because they are.

We wouldn’t change them because we love them in a specially particular way after being astounded by their strength….

But would we, if we had the choice wish they had never had to go through this?

Of course we would!

I look at Jack now, my waters went with him at 25+5 weeks and he was born at 29+5 weeks, spending 40 days in NICU and I’m still astounded by what he went through as a 3.5lb preemie. But the heartbreak of seeing my tiny baby squeal in pain with needle after needle, knowing his body couldn’t provide what he needed to keep him alive breaks my heart and I’d of taken it all for him if I could.

Nobody hopes to become a NICU mum, but once you are one, all you do is hope.

Hope that your little one makes it through the fight for their life.

I’m just one of the lucky ones my fighter made it through unscathed.

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His head is blocking the hole, we’ll put him in a freezer bag, Ibuprofen will heal his heart and many more shocking phrases a preemie mum may hear!

I have ‘blogged’ previously about my preemie babies, but incase you haven’t read them here’s a quick run through.

November 2013, Jack was born at 29+5 weeks and spent 6 weeks in NICU, Michael (Mikey) was born at 35 weeks in October 2014 and came home after 2 days. So this post specifically is about Jack.

The title may shock you, my story is unique as are all other preemie mum stories, here are some of the shocking phases (and explanations) I’ve heard as a preemie mum.

#1: “You need steroids!”

What? Steroids? Do I not look buff enough? Well it turned out I didn’t need to bulk up but as my waters went at 25+5 weeks, I’d need two rounds of steroid injections to strengthen Jack’s lungs! It worked, born 4 weeks later, he took his oxygen mask off himself after 2 days!

#2. “He is blocking the hole with his head”

No it’s not as gross as it sounds, when my waters broke at 25+5 weeks it was because of a hole being made in the sac, but Jack quickly turned and blocked it with his head, which meant he stayed cooking for an extra 4 weeks! Genius baby!

#3 “Your hospital tour is today and your baby is coming!”

I’ve condensed this sentence, I told the midwife I was due on a hospital tour that day, I’d come in after leaking more amniotic fluid, she told me “Yes they are touring now, you won’t be on it though, your 2cm dilated…the baby is coming” Ooops!

#4 “He’s breathing!”

You’d think every mother would be dying to hear this and as I knew I was going to be a preemie mum I was over the moon! But them actually having to consider him being alive or not was horrible, the fact they were expecting him to come out unresponsive and had a cardiac arrest table beside me was terrifying.

#5 “We’ll put him in a bag, sort of like a freezer bag”

No I’m not talking about child cruelty, it turned out that being so premature my son was small enough to fit in a freezer bag, being tried and tested it had proved a medical miracle for helping preemie’s stay warm! My response (high on gas & air at the time) was hilarious to those around me “A bag!? Don’t put it over his head! He’ll suffocate”…yep that’s the information I added to the knowledge of the 15 medical staff in the room!

#6 “He’s doing amazingly! He can now tolerate half an ounce of milk every 6 hours!”

Yep…half an ounce, not enough to dab a dry pallet, but for a 3lb & half oz baby, his body being able to tolerate that much was astounding. Plus he’s over 2 stone now at 15 months old, so it hasn’t done any harm!

#7 “Your baby needs Ibuprofen to heal his heart or he’ll need open heart surgery”

The scariest moment by far, we learned Jack had Patent Ductus Arteriosus, a Congenital Heart Condition!.They informed us he’d need Ibuprofen for 3 days and if that didn’t work he’d need open heart surgery! It worked, something available over the counter at your local newsagents saved my baby’s life.

#8 “Your baby can go home”

I’ve heard of people being discharged 6 hours after giving birth, but for us it was 6 weeks. NICU feels like a never ending corridor of doom, working your way from high dependency down to your baby being in a cot with not one tube or wire attached! The moment you step outside those doors into the light, feel the sun on your face and introduce you baby to the outside world is scary but beautiful!