Today a new report is being launched called Born too soon, the global action report on preterm birth.
As I have posted before my first baby boy was born extremely early at just 26 weeks gestation. We had only a few hours to prepare for his birth and no time to understand what was going on. I have posted before here and here about my experience but wanted to post again to go through how I felt.
After R was born I was wheeled up to the NICU on my bed and this involved a lot of sharp turns and it seemed as though we were going through basements etc, I later found out this wasn’t what was happening but in my confused state(I had never been inside this hospital before) I felt lost and scared.
On entering the unit I was immediately hit by the heat and humidity as well as the noise, it sounded so chaotic with alarms going off constantly and so much hustle and bustle and this was nearly midnight so I guessed it would have been worse during the day.
On my first sight of R I was so shocked he was so so tiny and curled up. His skin was bright red and he looked so frail as his fat layers had not been able to have time to form. He was wearing a hat and even the smallest size looked huge. R had a tube into his mouth for breathing and a few lines into his body, one through his umbilical cord.
The next couple of days I went round in a fog I had no idea what was happening and was overcome by it all. A couple of times I had to leave the unit as the heat etc made me feel ill.
Over time I settled in and the unit became my second home, I spent every day from 09:00 to probably about 23:00 sitting beside R reading to him or taking photographs. I loved holding his hand and he used to squeeze my finger with his tiny hand. He liked to listen to music and was often comforted by it so we bought him a small toy for inside his incubator that we turned on when he was upset.
Neither MrR or I got to kiss or hold R until he was six weeks old, and we didn’t get the chance until we broke down and asked if we could hold him. The first cuddle was amazing and one I will never forget. R calmed down in our arms and his breathing even on the ventilator was a lot better than normal. Unfortunately due to his fragility we weren’t able to repeat this too many times.
My advice for anyone entering a unit would be to try not to be overwhelmed by it all, it isn’t as chaotic as it seems. Try to make it for ward rounds as that was you can be part of the plan for the future. Read the notes and files on your baby you are allowed! Try to be realistic and take on board what you are being told.
Remember this is your baby and you have the right to be involved in all decisions. Take photographs, videos and if you can get hand and footprints(we couldn’t).
Attend all antenatal checks they are extremely important and can pick up problems when you don’t think there are any. Try to limit any risk factors you can but also try and enjoy your pregnancy and look forward to welcoming your baby home.