A journey into motherhood along a different path.
I still don’t believe that you are mine or that you came from me. Each time that I look at you I see so much of myself, and your Daddy, but when I look again you are yourself. I remember looking into your eyes one day when you were 8 weeks old and I saw myself, I became you and you were me.
The day I found out I was pregnant with you I couldn’t believe it Daddy was so excited but I found the whole thing surreal and remained that way all through the pregnancy.
Then one morning 9 months later I got up at 5am and my stomach was cramping and it wouldn’t go away and I knew this was it. I braced myself every 10 minutes as the contractions came on stronger and stronger.
At the Hospital the room was small and bright. I had to keep standing up and holding the wall as the pain increased. I was induced around 12noon and had to have a monitor on my stomach to make sure you were okay. The time went very slowly and at one stage I wanted to get up and go home. I vomited in the sink and Daddy looked after me. At 9.15 you were born, you had to be vacuumed out as you were very sick and didn’t have any energy to come out. Daddy saw your head first and there was lots of black hair. When you arrived you were very white and floppy, you weren’t breathing and your heart rate was not so good. The doctor quickly put you under some bright lights and used her two fingers to start your heart and a special mask to help you breathe again and clear your lungs. I was lying there watching saying is it a boy or a girl and for what seemed like eternity someone answered back he’s a boy. I was so happy to finally know and I just watched you lying there not moving. Then they rushed you out of my room and I didn’t get to see you for a long time. The only words we heard and that echo in my head in moments of silence are 20% chance of death and brain damage and very, very, very, sick. When I saw you next I was sitting in a wheelchair feeling shaky and you were in a special room. There were 3 new people there trying to get you stable enough to go into a big humid crib that would then be transferred to an ambulance. I just looked at you and touched your soft skin I still remember the smell in that room and the feel of you and how your hair was all matted and bloody. Your chest was rising so high and your breathing was not rhythmic at all. I touched you’re little hand and prayed you would make it to the next hospital, your next challenge.
We got a call about 4 in the morning that you had arrived alive. I then rested for 2 hours and faced my own challenges to get up out of bed to meet you at the Mercy.
Doctors and Nurses spoke to me that morning all with glazed eyes and that’s when I realised this was going to be life changing.
People warned us about NICU that there would be machines and tubes and wires but when we walked in I felt numb and seeing you lying there, you looked so different from when we first met you. But deep down I just saw my little boy who I would love more than life but just didn’t know it yet. The smell still appears in my nostrils of antibacterial hand wash and hot lights. There was so much noise all the monitors beeping and alarming that I initially thought all hearts were stopping but came to realise that perhaps oxygen saturation levels were below 90 or heartbeat fell below normal for a second.
It is amazing how you cope at these moments and that life at the Mercy and in Special Care seemed to become normal and that you are so unaware of any world going on outside as your world becomes monitors, dreaded doctor words and nurses glimmers of hope.
At first you walk around numb, sad, like a robot unable to function properly just so focussed on your little baby completely oblivious that there are 9 other babies in the room with parents who also just have eyes and energy to deal with this surreal beginning to life and parenthood.
All I ever wanted was to hold you, to have you in my arms at home and watch you. We spent a lot of time just watching you lie there in NICU. We couldn’t do much else you were too fragile to touch and there were too many cords and machines. When I first got to hold you on day three you were so warm from the heated lights and your eyes were closed. You were heavily sedated and on pain killers as your brain got over the seizures from the days before. I wanted to take you home then but knew that there was a long road ahead before you would be able to be in our arms permanently. We would sit for hours staring at you trying to decide who you looked like, trying to claim your features but you were just you and just perfect.
From NICU you travelled to the RCH to have an MRI we were numb that morning and worried about you all the time you were away. When you came back you were very unsettled you hadn’t coped well with the travel and didn’t like the loud noises in the machine so you had bright yellow ear muffs covering your perfect ears. We waited for results, we seemed to do that a lot and still do to some degree but finally now I can look at you most of the time and not see a diagnoses or developmental norms but just see those beautiful clear knowing blue eyes and that amazing smile that brings tears to my heart every time I see it begin to form.
It seemed like years that you lay in NICU while I lay upstairs having colostrum syringed out and daddy lay in a portable bed by my side. Everyday we would spend with you sitting on the stool next to your bed and numbly hearing the doctors with their diagnoses but not listening.
We were veterans at this hospital jargon now and nothing seemed to phase me anymore until a nutritionist said you may have to feed through your stomach if you couldn’t feed from the bottle. I was just numb again and tried not to think about it. I would sit with you behind a curtain hearing breast pumps hum and babies cry as you just lay in my arms sleeping as you continued to heal. Then one morning when Daddy and I were in bed at home the phone rung. Daddy took the call and then came in to tell me that the Hospital wanted me to bring some overnight things so I could take you home the next day. I made Daddy tell me that about 10 times and I still didn’t believe it. I had learnt not to get excited about promises. I still sent so many messages that morning and I think I started to feel happy again.
When we roomed in together I lay on the bed with you on my chest and finally started living the fantasy that I had dreamt about, that was suppose to happen 3 weeks ago I kept looking around, waiting for a machine to beep, waiting for a nurse to intrude on my personal space, but it didn’t happen, it was just you and me. I didn’t sleep much that night as I was focussed on getting you to have your milk and continue growing big and strong. I would have to walk into the brightly lit room and sit in the sterile room attaching a syringe to the end of your tube while pouring milk in 10ml at a time at least I could hold you close during such a clinical procedure.
In the morning there was so much paperwork, I couldn’t concentrate as I was so tired so I trusted the nurses to help me and waited for Daddy to come. I couldn’t wait to get out of there and by 12 noon we finally felt freedom as our faces felt fresh air. We waited for Daddy to bring the car and you got to sit in your car sear for the first time and finally after nearly 4 weeks we could call ourselves a family and we were free to start living.