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.



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.





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.


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.


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!


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.


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…..


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


Halloween with kids ideas!

I had so many ideas for Halloween with the boys but unfortunately they got struck down with a sickness bug, they are recovering now, but since they are too young to understand Halloween I saw no need to dress them up when it would benefit them more having a cosy day in their PJs. Plus it’s the one night a month they spend at Nanny’s house, so they’re having a quiet one!

But saying that I do love Halloween and think kids are adorable dressed up for it! I really wanted to do Jack dressed as Chucky and Mikey as the baby from The Adam’s Family. I then saw a friend of mine on Facebook, Harriet, who has a baby the same age as Mikey, dressed her and her son Luca up for a Halloween competition and won 1st and 2nd Place!

Like me, Harriet likes to create a lot of homemade sensory activities for her son, she gets creative and look at the results!

Luca1 Luca2 Luca3

Harriet was kind enough to let me use her pictures for this post!

So there you go a fun and creative way to dress up with your little on for Halloween.

If any readers have pictures of their cute little ones, comment with them or send them in via Facebook or Twitter!

Happy Halloween!


The screaming, kicking & punching terrible 2’s are here!

Jack turns two on the 11th November, it’s hard to believe that my tiny premature baby that was born at 29+5 weeks Gestation is almost two!

... jack

Especially since he started not even being able to breathe by himself and now he has got a whole personality of his own, saying words, starting to string sentences together, feeding himself, knowing he does NOT want to use the potty and of course the reason they are called the terrible two’s….the tantrums.

He’s always been very loving and affectionate especially to his little brother, but I will give you a few scenarios in the last week that have shown the sudden change in his behaviour.

Tantrum 1 – Biting

We were playing “tractor” which started with me getting a picture of a tractor on google images for Jack to point at and say “tractor” to on my laptop, we have gradually progressed and now he says around 30-40 words, the other day we were playing a lovely game of tractor when Jack started smacking the laptop, so I looked at him and said “No Jack, that’s naughty”, he looked at me with anger, his body went rigid with rage, he ran over to his Daddy who was laid on the sofa and without any warning, bit him on the leg! There was pure anger, from nowhere! All of a sudden he was fine and accepted being told off, he gave Daddy a kiss and a cuddle with an apology. But it was so shocking! He has never bitten before!

Tantrum 2 – Raisins

Jack loves eating his dinner, him and Mikey sit side by side in their high chairs and never have any objections, except for Tuesday, on Tuesday this all changed. He screamed and went rigid, he wouldn’t calm down and just stormed about screaming, then all of a sudden walked over to the table and pointed at a box of Raisins, we handed him the box and he was fine, he then got in his high chair and ate all of his dinner. I didn’t see this as giving into him, as I’d happily give him a snack and considering he ate all of his tea, I saw his anger as frustration that he couldn’t communicate what he wanted.

Tantrum 3 – Bath time

Bath time is Jack’s favourite time of day hands-down, so when I get him out of it, there is a 5 second struggle until he remembers he then gets to watch a bit of Peppa Pig and have his night time bottle. Tonight I laid him on the towel and he kicked, punched and scratched, it only lasted for maybe 20 seconds then he was fine, he had his nightly inhaler and calmed down, I was in shock though, shock that my tiny snuggly baby that needed me to survive would try and hurt me! I know he doesn’t know the difference and is learning from his emotions, but still it’s hard to deal with!

They say that a toddler’s hormones are the same as a teenagers, well if Jack’s feeling the hormones I felt as a teenager I’m going to run and hide…this can only get worse!


The daily battles of being a Mum

There’s always something that “could be done” in my house, whether it’s housework, paperwork, something with the kids etc. There’s never nothing to do! As I’m sure most mother’s can relate to.

Take the dishes for instance, I can clean the entire Kitchen and nothing makes more of a difference to the naked eye than the dishes, they look the messiest and soon pile up, doing them instantly makes the place look better….so why do I leave them until last?! They’re not hard to do, I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, but I will make excuses in my mind! Like “There will be more upstairs, might as well do them all in one go, so wait”, “They’re one of the quickest jobs to do so leave them until last” or my favourite “There isn’t enough there to justify doing them, wait until there is more”. None of which really matters, because that is all they are….excuses. I just don’t know what it is about them dishes I just can’t seem to get the motivation!

Vacuuming, it makes me feel like a good housewife, while doing it and sniffing in the vacuum smell I boast to myself in my head (Sad? Yes I know) about how tidy my house must be that there is enough floor space to vacuum it! If the house isn’t tidy, the vacuum’s collecting dust in a whole different way…by being sat in the broom cupboard, because I’m telling you if there isn’t a spotless house to vacuum, it isn’t getting done. Therefore vacuuming is a triumph.

Matching socks, the peril of my life. I never saw matching socks as that big an issue, until I became a mum, then suddenly if your child has odd socks it instantly puts you in the “bad mum category”. Not that I think you’re not a great mum if your child has matching socks, I take my hat off to you, but it really isn’t that big a deal to me. I am not a greatly religious person, but since having children I do believe in Sock Heaven.

Milestones, sorry to sound brash but I don’t give a shi*t what milestone my child is at. I only have two children, but they are complete and utter opposites. When parents compare at what age their children teethe, hold their head up, crawl, walk etc. It really gets on my nerves! Every child is different and will develop differently, the will do it, just in their own time. For me personally I am in no rush for my baby to take one more step away from being a baby!

The daily battles of being a momma never end, but they will be the battles we miss when our babies are all grown up! Enjoy it while it lasts!


Turning One

On the 1st October my youngest baby Mikey Moo will be one!

Time has flown so quickly, this time last year I was preparing my self to have a C-section with my Breach baby!

Then at 11:57am weighing 4lb12oz my gorgeous Michael David Woodhouse was born.

6 months to the day after my Dad died, he brought us light in the darkest of times.

Here are some pics from the last 12 months:

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Finding Mummy’s Switch Off Button

Before you become a parent, there really is no way to understand what it feels like.

Yes you may have family members or friends’ babies who you are close too. But that bond of holding YOUR baby in your arms is like no other feeling in the world.

It sounds patronising for others to tell you that you don’t know what it’s really like until they are here. But once your little one is born, you find yourself saying it!

It’s amazing how many news stories suddenly stand out to you and terrify you to the point you can’t sleep, films and TV shows will make you cry where they wouldn’t have before, you can be so incredibly frustrated by this little person who has caused you physical pain by being born, kept you awake all night and turned your house in to a bomb-site, yet you idolise them above anyone else in your life.

You quickly realise your brain hasn’t switched off since the moment they were born, this isn’t to discourage that pregnancy isn’t equally as enjoyable yet terrifying, but once they are here it is a whole other ball game.

So how do you find your switch off button?

Your child is fed, bathed, in clean clothes and laid on fresh bedding. Their nappy is clean, the house is clean and so are you! There’s nothing left for you to do…but switch off! So you sit there, with all this time on your hands, what do you feel? Joy? Peace? Relaxation? NO! You feel guilt (you don’t know why) you feel worry (about everything and anything that could possibly ever happen, including the end of the world!) and you feel stress (about why you have got nothing to do!). You’re listening to your child breathing (making sure they are) and looking at them full of love, but the worry still doesn’t go away, you can see them, hear them, feel them and you know they are safe, so why can’t you settle?! Maybe you need a night off?!

You’ve finally bucked up the courage to let Grandma have your precious baby for the night, you and the hubby have some free time, so what do you do? Let your hair down? Relax? Have some care-free fun? NO?! You do nothing but worry about your little one, check your phone constantly and ring/text for updates. Even if you’re not saying it, the back of your mind is doing overtime!

Maybe you need a break from your little on to relax, but not be too far away? Your hubby tells you to go and enjoy a bath and he’ll watch bubs! Bingo! So you’re laid there in the bath, soaking up the bubbles, then you hear a gurgle?! you shout down to see if your little one needs anything,but of course he’s fine! A cry?! He’s fine, Daddy can handle it, but you still need to check. Nothing?! That’s right you hear nothing, you should be enjoying the peace, but no you need to find out why you can’t hear your little monkey.

So where is Mummy’s switch off button and why is it so difficult to find?! I have the answer….

It doesn’t exist!

Now if I have just rained on your parade, hold that thought! Ask yourself this….

We can’t switch off, why? Because these vulnerable little people who lived inside us for 9 months, need us to protect them no matter what, they need all the awful thoughts of what could happen to go through our minds so we can protect them from it, they need us to NOT switch off, because they need us to be there for them no matter what, day or night.

So if the above describes you, if you can’t switch off, it’s because you are everything a mother should be, you are your little one(s) everything and that is because you never ever…switch offf