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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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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.