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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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Proud Mummy Moment

The Proud Mummy Moments

Premature baby

When you have a premature baby the idea of the distant future doesn’t seem as important as it did before, all that matters is the next day, the next hour, the next five minutes. While they are NICU the outside world doesn’t exist to you anymore, all that matters is this moment and getting your baby through it.

Memories

When those days become a memory and you look back on what your little miracle has been through, it makes you so grateful for all they can achieve now they are out of the woods.

Luckily for us, Jack came home with no complications, he surpassed all his milestones for his birth date never mind his due date and was discharged from the paediatrician. He turned three in November and is about to go from two to three sessions a week.

Nursery

I popped in to pick him up last Tuesday and his key worker brought out his monthly review that she was filling in and said he’s surpassing everything, but they always look for an area of improvement so they are going to focus on his maths, he can count but they are going to develop his skills further. Great! I thought to my self, quite advanced if you ask me but he seems to be enjoying himself and learning more and more so who am I to argue.

This was when I mentioned increasing his sessions by one more, asking her to see when they had another morning session available. I explained to her, he started April 2016 with one three hour session, then in September 2016 I increased it again and it’s now January and we’ve increased to a third session. I’d like him to be doing 15 hours before he starts school, so I have an idea in my head of increasing to four sessions in April (12 hours) and five sessions by September (15 hours) then he will be doing 15 hours for a year before he starts school in September 2018.

The wrong group

I explained this to his key worker and she looked at me confused, saying he starts school in September this year. Nooo, I told her he was born November 2013, yes he will be one of the older kids, but he doesn’t start until 2018. She had thought he was more advanced therefore older and it turns out he’s been in the pre-school group all this time! Not only that but he was doing amazing in every aspect!

Advanced

I’m proud of my kids for hitting any milestones and for all of their achievements, but for Jack it is just that bit more amazing, he was born almost three months early weighing only 3lbs, he couldn’t breathe on his own and was only allowed 0.5mls of milk every 6 hours, how does he go from that to being the top of a class that is supposed to be too advanced for him?!

Proud mummy

He really is our little miracle, he overcame all the odds and now he’s surpassing everyone’s expectations, he makes me such a proud mummy, to have such a clever, special boy.

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We’re the lucky ones

Watching Coronation Street tonight brought back dreadful memories and gut wrenching feelings of when I went into premature labour at 25 weeks and 5 days of pregnancy with Jack.

We’d had heartbreak already in our first two pregnancies, first with a Molar Pregnancy and then with a Miscarriage. Jack was our rainbow baby, our ray of sunshine, once I got past 12 weeks I breathed a sigh of relief, but more heartbreak was yet to come.

At 25+5 weeks I felt a trickle, not like the usual discharge you get in pregnancy, this felt different. I didn’t think much of it, I’d never been this far in a pregnancy before, it was my first successful pregnancy, so maybe this is what happens…I thought to my self. Then I stopped feeling him move as much and something within me just told me to go and get checked.

So I rang the Maternity Assessment Unit and arranged to go in, they gave me an icy glass of water and Jack was back to his wriggling ways, by that point it was very busy on the unit so I did feel like a time waster. I got a rather stressed and huffy midwife who told me she had to do a test because I said I’d felt a trickle but that I’d been “the fourth lady with leaky waters today” that it’d be nothing, just some discharge, so I didn’t even ask what the test entailed I just let her to the uncomfortable swab and started to get my belongings together, ready to go home.

The midwife returned with a very different expression on her face, she suddenly turned very pale and before she opened her mouth a consultant walked in and said “Okay, so what time did your waters go?”….What?

After all the grief we’d been through losing two babies, I never thought the feeling of your heart sinking could get any worse, I was wrong.

The next few days were a blur of needles, swabs and doctors…but what mattered, he wasn’t born. All I can remember is being sat with Paul, cuddling, praying that he stayed put. The fact is the health staff intervened, if they hadn’t Jack would not be here today.

With their support and monitoring, Jack stayed in my womb until 29+5 weeks and then was in NICU for 6 weeks after being born at 3.5lbs. Fast forward 3 years and he’s a happy, bubbly, clever little boy, it’s easy to forget the terrifying experience we went through in his pregnancy and after his birth, but watching what Michelle went through on Coronation Street brought back those feelings and memories.

We are so lucky, we were over the 24 week mark in my pregnancy and our baby boy survived. Kym Marsh went through exactly what her character did in Corrie, who better to act it than someone who has been through it? I don’t know how she found the strength but she’s a strong lady who has done justice for every woman who has gone into premature labour.

Watching her go through that just reminds me what could of been, I know the feeling of being told you are in premature labour, I know the feeling of knowing your child might die, but I am the most grateful and lucky person in the world to not know what it feels like to lose your child, for the hope to be gone.

The episode really highlighted a lot of issues with the way couples are treated in that situation. When I suffered both my Miscarriage and Molar Pregnancy I was put in a room of happy couples who were cooing over their scan pictures of healthy babies, during their ordeal on Corrie, Steve and Michelle had to listen to newborn babies crying, it’s heartbreaking that it is the case that couples aren’t given the privacy and proper setting to grieve and go through this heartbreaking experience and even if the health staff wanted to give that to them, the sad fact is there probably isn’t the facilities.

I never thought I’d feel lucky looking back on what we went through when Jack was born, it was heartbreaking and I wish we never had to go through it, but in reality it is a memory, a story we can tell that ends in success, our baby boy is here and he is healthy, a lot of people don’t have that, their’s ends with grief and that is why…we are the lucky ones.

 

 

 

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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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Letters From A Breast Feeding Mother

If you enjoyed “Letters From A Frustrated Mother” https://yummymummysblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/letters-from-frustrated-mother/  here’s the sequel…”Letters From A Breast Feeding Mother”

This isn’t a breast-feeding promotion post, it has been a large part of my motherhood journey, but it’s my personal choice, woman should be empowered to choose whether they want to breastfeed or formula feed, without shame or judgement.

To the man in my local coffee shop

On my first outing with my eldest son Jack when he was just 11 weeks old, he weighed 5lb 13oz. When you leaned across with a grin on your face, I thought you’d be a kind stranger asking question…well I was half right. Your first words were “Have you just come out of the hospital with that baby?”, patronising at best. My response, a simple, “No, he’s 11 weeks old” I felt no need to explain further. With a grimace you shrugged, realising he was premature, then as Jack began to cry I pulled out his bottle and he happily lapped up the milk. As you pulled your coat on, I thought I’d escaped any more comments from a rude older man, yet before you parted you decided to come over one more time and tell me “I’ve known people have premature babies before, he’s too small to be out he should be in hospital, plus you’re meant to breast feed babies that small to give them the nutrients they need, my wife breast-fed all of our children, that’s the problem with ‘you youngsters’ today, too selfish to do the best for your baby, you should be ashamed of yourself”. As I sat open-mouthed with shock at your ignorance and rudeness, you turned on your heel and left, not realising the Depression I’d overcome and battled throughout my previous failed pregnancies was now spiralling once again.

To the person who reported my ‘Brelfie’ on Facebook

For those who aren’t familiar, a Brelfie is a Breast Feeding Selfie, so basically a picture of you breast-feeding. I’ve never really been one for Selfie’s, I’ve always feel too insecure to take a picture of my self ‘looking good’ and posting it on-line. Yet seeing celebrities posting Brelfies and news stories about the stigma that comes with Breast Feeding, I took a photo and posted it, you see I’m proud of breast-feeding my son, as I’ve said previously I could never directly breast feed Jack, so this was a success for me. As I got notifications of people ‘Liking’ my photo, I felt proud. Then it popped up…“Your photo has been reported to Facebook for Containing Nudity”  Seriously? Nudity? I’m sure on your news feed that Saturday night there was a picture of a girl with their cleavage in your face on a night out, yet I’m showing nudity? My response…Posting another picture the next day with the caption “To the person who reported my photo yesterday, I hope the back of my son’s head doesn’t offend you too much”. I never found out who reported my photo, I just hope for their sake, they never open page 3 of a newspaper.

To the young girl who said Breast Feeding is disgusting

I know you don’t understand, you’re only 18, not that other 18 year old’s wouldn’t, but I’d categorise you as a ‘young 18 year old’, not that there’s anything wrong with that, enjoy your youth while you can. But for you to look at me whilst I’m discreetly breast-feeding my son and tell your friends “That’s disgusting, this is the 21st century, hasn’t breast-feeding been outdated by the bottle now”.Your ignorant comment, shows your immaturity, I just hope you don’t have to experience being a premature mother, where giving your baby breast milk can be the difference between life and death.

To the stranger who came up to me in the street

I sat on a bench on a cold December day, wrapped up and feeding my son, as usual I get ‘the look’ from passing strangers. Sat with my mum I became nervous as a man started walking over to me, ready for the usual bashing, he put his hand on my shoulder and tells me “If anyone comes over to you and gives you a hard time about what you are doing, just tell me, it’s the most natural thing in the world and you should be proud being such a young girl that you are giving your baby the best start in life”. He then gave me £1 as a reward, it was a lovely gesture, then as my fella comes over to ask what he wanted, I told him, his response?...”You should sit here with your boobs out all day, you could make a fortune!” Need I even continue?

To my Breast Feeding Star Buddy in NICU

At first I found you too full on, I thought you were forcing breast-feeding on me, I felt completely pressured. By day 3 when I woke up sporting a milk induced boob job, I needed your help. You helped me to be able to use the electric breast pump with ease and by the time my son was 5 weeks old he was trying to latch onto the breast, when I tried to exclusively breast feed him but he lost 150g in one day, I was devastated, all along you had pushed me to get him to feed, you knew I wanted it and you enabled me, but I’d failed. You came in holding a certificate and a bottle, the certificate was a congratulations for how long I’d managed to breast feed so far and the bottle, you explained was to put breast milk and Premature baby formula in to help him put on weight. You looked me in the eyes and told me “You have stressed yourself out trying to give him the best start in life, this is the next part now, just like he needed oxygen to help him breath, he needs this milk to help him put on weight, you don’t need to stress about whether you will be a good mother, you’ve already made it”. You said this as a passing comment, but as a first time mum and mum to a preemie, you made me realise…I can do this! You will never know how much that meant to me.

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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!