When life’s first moments are the hardest…
September is NICU awareness month, something which I now hold dear to my heart.
The evening following Archie’s birth we noticed he wasn’t very well. He wasn’t feeding great and he kept bringing back up anything he did eat. We raised our concerns to the doctors when they did their rounds and our beautiful little boy was taken down to special care to be monitored.
They realised that he had swallowed fluid on his journey out of my tummy and it was making him very ill. They pumped his stomach, put him on a drip and gave him some antibiotics.
He spent almost three days in special care and although I know we were extremely lucky to have him back in our arms as quickly as that, it was still the most heart-wrenching few days of our lives. I spent a day of that without seeing him at all because I was too ill to leave my bed, when all I wanted to do was to check my baby was OK.
I will always remember my first visit to NICU. Chris wheeled me down in the same kind of chair he’d brought me in on when I was in labour. I was a new mother, a first-time mum, still recovering from an incredibly difficult and traumatic birth and now I had to visit my tiny baby in a place I expected to feel so cold and unwelcoming.
I was wheeled past the intensive care unit where you could barely make out some of the teeny babies that were fighting for their lives in there. My heart sank.
Inside the room Archie spent his first few days of his life there were six plastic cots housing babies of all shapes and sizes, suffering from all kinds of nasty bugs. Thankfully Archie’s room was for babies that were recovering well. But some were so very tiny and all of the tubes was such a scary sight.
I was surprised at how warm it felt in the room. Despite the tubes and the wires and the buzzing noises, it didn’t feel cold at all. It was almost as if you could fell the love and warmth surround you. Each baby, each family had a story. A difficult story to tell but a loving story nonetheless.
I will never be able to thank the wonderful team who looked after our baby boy enough. We were so lucky to have such caring people around him, and that also he was such a chunk which meant he was strong enough to fight his illnesses.
Having an NICU baby will change your world forever. When you truly know what happens behind those big heavy doors you will treasure each moment with your child a little more. An important thing to remember is that no matter the gestation or the reason for being admitted to NICU, every baby and every family are finding it tough. But they’re a family that just need to love a little harder to be together.
For more information, visit www.nicuawareness.org