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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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Day 10: 365 Activity Challenge

10th January 2017

It’s toy Tuesday!

Today, Jack has been at Nursery and told me about the different toys he’s played with, he was also very keen on a “motorbike” until he went over the handle bars 🙈

Mikey has seen his Portage worker for the first time, which is a specialist who uses play to improve his social and communication skills.

When they both got home we lined up all of their favourite toys around the living room and made a “bear trail” as Jack called it, unfortunately I didn’t get a picture but I did get one of Mikey lining up his favourite two toys his “choo choo train” and his “gary snail”.

Today was more of a chilled day than an organised activity, but we’ve had appointment after appointment the last few days so I thought a bit of chill time with their favourite toys would be fun.

 

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Day 2: The 365 Day Activity Challenge

2nd January 2017

The 2nd day of my 365 Day Activity Activity Challenge today and it’s Messy Monday!

Considering we’ve just gone into a new year, we decided to do some painting! Painting fireworks! We made it extra creative and used dish brushes.

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The shape of the brush makes perfect fireworks and we added glitter to make it a bit more messy and pretty!

I bought the brushes for 50p each from ASDA and the paint from our craft box at home which has been bought for 99p each.

Jack loved making fireworks! Mikey wasn’t so interested so I’ll try at another time when he’s more interested in sitting still for more than 30 seconds.

Happy New Year Everyone!

 

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Shovelling snow in a blizzard: Life with having three kids in three years

We hadn’t planned it this way, it felt like it took forever to finally have our first baby in our arms. Now our home is overrun by tiny dictators.

As they say the days are long, but the years are short. This is true, the days are really really long and so are the nights. You know how people tell you at different stages how their kids started “sleeping through”…yeah! Mine did that too, they love their sleep…Then you have to take off the nights where there will be teething, nightmares, sickness, illness, over-tiredness, hyperness or the fact they just don’t want to sleep. But when you have to be at an appointment for 9am guarantee they will want to lie in until lunchtime. Basically if you want to live in a world full of irony, have kids.

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Bribery…this will be your key to survival when you have relentless toddlers. Some people will say you shouldn’t bribe your kids, to them people I say spend a day in my house, you will soon turn into a bribing negotiator. Unless you give a child a good reason to do something why are they going to do it? Would you go to work if you didn’t get paid? So if I want my child to sit still while I dress him so I can get out of the house on time, I have no qualms about offering them a treat when they get to town if they just get their coat on! Or threatening to throw all of their trains in the bin if they don’t apologise for hitting their brother. I might be going about it the wrong way, but I haven’t had to threaten or bribe as much as they’ve got older because they know if they are good they will get rewarded and if they are naughty they will be punished…isn’t that just like grown up life? But you MUST follow through, if you show any sign of weakness and use empty threats your kids will jump on that opportunity to over rule you like tiny little terrorists.

Leaving the house is a military operation, especially when you need to be somewhere for a certain time…why is it I’m always given the 9am appointments? So my mode of transport is a double buggy called Zoom by Obaby. It’s not your standard double buggy, but I prefer it. Then I have Nicole in my Ama Wrap, it looks a little something like this…

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Nicole also has her own buggy a Redkite Push Me Fusion, for when I’m with my husband so we can push a buggy each.

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It’s when I’m by myself with the three kids I get heckled, some comments I don’t mind, like “Oh wow how do you cope?” because to me they are saying, you do cope…how do you do it? But it’s when people stop and gawk in horror as if I’m pushing around a cart of explosives and comment with “I bet they weren’t planned” or “I hope you’re going to stop now” and “You’ve got your hands full you know?!” the answers are actually they were all planned, I’m not ready to stop and I’ve got my hands and heart completely full of love, nappies and snot…I wouldn’t change a second of it.

Be ready to keep bobbing up for air in a sea full of nappies, that’s right, none are potty trained yet. I keep trying to introduce Jack to it and we’re getting there, but I’m a great believer of not forcing something like using the toilet, he’s got the rest of his life to be doing that. It can become unbearable when they all poop at the same time, but just be ready to take lots of trips to the outside bin or get a diaper genie, either way if you forget and put a stenching nappy in an indoor bin, you’ll soon realise…trust me.

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People think I’m crazy for having three kids in three years, what I think is crazy, is waiting a few years then doing it all over again. Don’t get me wrong there are benefits I’m sure for having an age gap, more one on one time with each child, a bit longer between the crazy newborn stages but for me, I haven’t ever got out of the “baby stage” I still haven’t! Nicole is three months so she is still very much a baby! I will be waiting or stopping now I haven’t decided, but literally because I have nowhere to put a fourth baby, the boys are in the buggy, Nicole is on my chest…there is nowhere for another one to go!

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The key of surviving being overrun by nappy wearing hooligans is keeping your cool, if you lose your shit they will lose theirs. The hard times will pass, the tantrums will finish and everything will always end in cuddles.

Life is hard when you have three kids in three years but I’m sure life would be hard having three kids in 10 years! They are kids, they are hard at all stages of life and to be honest…adults aren’t that easy either, are they? Everyone’s going to do it their own way and this is my way…I thrive on the mayhem.

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World Prematurity Day: Jack’s Journey

Being the parent of a premature baby is never how you’d expect it to be, not that you would ever expect to be a a parent of a premature baby.

Unfortunately when first trying for a baby, we lost two pregnancies.

Then my third pregnancy seemed to go swimmingly, once we got past 12 weeks we relaxed and at 16 weeks we found out we were having a boy, soon after we decided on the name Jack. At a Consultant appointment at 17 weeks for Depression, she mentioned I could be at risk of Premature Labour due to the shape of my Uterus, she said I could go into labour from 28 weeks. Everyone around me seemed to think that wasn’t likely and she would have just been warning me of a minor risk, so I put it to the back of my mind.

At 25+5 weeks of pregnancy, I noticed I had felt less movements, I hadn’t worried about it too much and then saw a post shared by “Count the Kicks” and thought I should get it checked out just to be safe, I’d also been losing a bit of fluid so thought I’d mention that too.

When I arrived at the Maternity Assessment Unit, the midwife gave me some icy water and that soon got Jack kicking away, she told me I should have done that before going in and she could send me home but had to quickly do a swab because I had told her I’d been losing fluid but she told me “You’re the fourth person I’ve had in today with leaky waters” I was embarrassed, feeling like a bit of a time waster. She did the swab and went away for a minute.

I started to get my belongings together, assuming she’d come back to tell me I could go home. I was soon greeted by the same midwife, but instead of looking at me like a time waster she looked like she had seen a ghost, she was with a consultant, I will never forget the sick feeling I felt when she opened her mouth and said: “So what time did your waters go”. What?! My water’s had gone?!

I was 25+5 weeks pregnant, suddenly I felt like I was on a waltzer, my head was spinning. I don’t remember it happening but Paul, my partner, must have called our families, before I knew it my mum, dad and brother were there and Paul’s mum and sister soon arrived. I was having injections, blood tests, scans, then suddenly my mucus plug came away and I had a show. They told me there was 70% chance of Jack surviving.

The local hospital I was in had no cots available in their NICU, plus they only took babies from 28 weeks, so I had to travel over 20 miles to the nearest hospital and NICU that would have a cot for my baby. I was getting spoken to by so many different health professionals it was a blur, I was rushed to an ambulance and Paul had to follow behind in our car, he broke down on the motorway but somehow he got to me not long after being there.

I was monitored continuously, after being given drugs to stop labour, it seemed like it had worked. I had steroid injections and after 2 days I was allowed home. Jack still had enough amniotic fluid to survive in without infection, but I was put on long term antibiotics just to make sure. The sonographer reckoned, he’d made a hole in the sac and then turned and plugged it with his head, so as soon as he moved I would go into labour.

It was a waiting game.

I could have gone into labour at any time and I was still leaking fluid, having blood tests and heart beat monitoring on Jack every 3 days.

Then one Sunday morning I was laid in bed watching TV, suddenly I had the sensation that I’d wet myself. I thought to myself, I’ve got to this stage of pregnancy where I can’t control my bladder, how embarrassing! But then I looked down and it was still coming out and it was pink……my waters had well and truly gone.

I was so amazed to see Paul jump out of bed and ring the maternity ward, I’d been so focused on Jack and making sure I knew all the information that I hadn’t realised how much Paul had taken in. He rang and the midwife only got the chance to say “Hello?” he replied with

Hello my girlfriend’s name is Emma, she is 29+4 weeks pregnant, she has a Bicornuate Uterus, her waters went at 25+5 weeks, she went to Preston but was discharged with long term antibiotics, she has been having blood tests and heart beat monitoring every 3 days, she’s had her steroids and her waters have just gone”

There was no questions for the midwife left to ask, she just said “OK, bring her in”.

When we got there we were told they had secured an NICU cot for Jack, which was amazing news, it meant we wouldn’t have to travel very far to see him and we even had the chance of getting a room to stay over on the ward.

They told me I’d have a very short labour, well that wasn’t accurate, I thought it would be less painful, that wasn’t accurate, I thought he’d be easier to push out being so small, that wasn’t accurate either.

After 22 hours of labour and having to have an Episiotomy to get him out, Jack was born! Apparently premature babies don’t like to help along with the pushing process which makes getting them out even harder.

So at 29+5 weeks Jack was born weighing 3.5lbs, as soon as he came out I saw his long legs, heard him cry and saw him pee on the doctor. Then before I knew it he was rushed away to NICU.

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Then I was alone…

I has Paul and my Mum with me, which I appreciated, but I’d just had my baby and I didn’t have him in my arms. He was born at 04.32am but I didn’t get to meet him until 9am. It was heartbreaking, I felt like a part of me was missing.

The first time I saw him in the incubator my heart fluttered, he was covered in wires and was breathing through a ventilator.

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Paul broke down, I don’t think he was prepared to see his baby like that. During my pregnancy I was terrified, but this was on another level, it was so out of my control and there was nothing I could do to help him, yet I couldn’t show it, I just felt numb, like if I broke down and showed how scared I was that somehow it would stop Jack getting well enough to come home.

We got a bed on the ward and were able to spend every minute with Jack, after 2 weeks paternity Paul went back to work but only worked 5 minutes from the hospital. I threw myself into being a mum, but it wasn’t how a usual mum would be, I was a preemie mum.

That meant waking up to express milk every 2-3 hours, I was mimicking was he should have been doing but he couldn’t latch and he definitely couldn’t have all the milk I was producing. The Colostrum produced in the first few days was referred to as liquid gold. Jack was only allowed to have 0.5mls of milk every 6 hours through a feeding tube. He was being given Sodium for a deficiency and a bag full of nutrition through an IV and had the lights on him for Jaundice.

Over the time we were in NICU, Jack grew stronger, he came off the Oxygen support, managed to have more milk and began to put on weight.

When Jack was 3 weeks old we were told he had a PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosus) a heart condition in premature babies, for the first time I was panicked, I had always worried but this scared me. They told me they’d try to fix it with a drug and if that didn’t work he’d need open heart surgery. I found out the drug they’d use would be….Ibuprofen!Well three days of Ibuprofen did the trick. Who’d have thought such an everyday over the counter drug would fix such a life threatening condition?

He grew stronger and stronger, he came out of his Incubator into a heated cot, then into a regular cot and after a frustrating fight trying to Breastfeed he went onto bottles of Breast milk and Premature baby Formula to help him put on weight. I was desperate to Breastfeed but babies born before 36 weeks don’t have a sucking reflex, so it’s much harder for them to learn to latch, in the grand scheme of things, getting him to latch wasn’t of great importance. He was getting the milk he needed and it was making him strong.

Then 6 weeks exactly in NICU, Jack came home 4 days before Christmas!

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When you go into NICU they tell you to expect your due date to go home, well Jack came home nearly 5 weeks before his due date!

The first few weeks being home were terrifying. They’d told us that if he were re-admitted to hospital he couldn’t go back to NICU, he’d have to go to the children’s ward and they told us that’s the last thing we want with older kids being in there with Bronchitis, we didn’t want our tiny baby catching it. So we kept him in the house, limited visitors and made me people use alcohol gel before holding him, if anyone was ill, they strictly were not allowed near him, it seemed harsh but it wasn’t it was all for the health of our baby.

Of course I got the label of being an overprotective, clingy mother, but the months of terrifying pregnancy and then even more worries once he was born, can you blame me? I really don’t think you can understand the journey of being a Preemie Parent until you’ve been one.

Our boy has gone from strength to strength and has just turned three!!

You wouldn’t even know he was premature, he is surpassing all his milestones and is a cheeky happy little monkey.

He’s even a big brother, to Mikey who has just turned two and was also premature being born at 35 weeks, but luckily didn’t need an NICU stay and Nicole who is 9 weeks old and was born at 37+6 weeks.

Today is world prematurity day and we should all take the time to think about the battles these tiny babies fight against all the odds, unfortunately not all of them survive and that really hits home for how lucky we are. My beautiful Jack is one of the lucky ones to come out of his battle unharmed, he has the tiniest little white scars on his hands and feet from all the IV lines, but other than that there isn’t a single sign he was premature.

I am so grateful to the NICU for taking care of my tiny little boy and I am so unbelievably happy that he is with us and he is healthy, I can’t imagine my life without him.

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A break from blogging

So  I’ve had a bit of a break from blogging the last few months. I’ve really missed it and feel there are so many things I have missed recording about my little monkey’s.

To re-cap I have two little boys Jack (2.5 yrs) and Michael (1.5 yrs) and write about all the trials and tribulations of being their mummy. Since I stopped blogging things have changed quite a lot, I am now expect a baby GIRL!

I will talk about my pregnancy more in upcoming posts but I’m still in shock it is a girl!

I just wanted to write a quick post about why I haven’t been blogging for a while, there has been no major reason other than life just getting in the way.

So now I have my 2yr old, 1 yr old, 20 weeks Pregnancy and my wedding in 8 weeks! Safe to say I have plenty to write about…..

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Christmas Gift Guide Request

I’m creating a Christmas Gift Guide of tried and tested toys!

I will try some my self with the kids and also accept reviews from real mum’s & kiddies with pictures!

If you would like to get in contact for my boys aged 1 & 2 to try your product or to send your review in for consideration then please get in contact via Facebook or Twitter!!

Happy Holidays!christmas-presents