Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The motherhood

Wow. Being a mum to a newborn baby is HARD ('amen' said all the other mothers.)

This is literally the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Zapping all my energy, my resource and mostly my patience.



I am not the mother I want to be (she always smiles when the baby won't stop crying at 3am, picks the baby up and sings to her for an hour. She would never cry so hard in frustration that she loses a contact lens up the side of her eye. How unbecoming.)



I have a HUGE case of the motherhood guilts, which I picked up on the day she was born (I hear it's a common acquisition in the labour ward.)
The guilt for the start of her life, for not having her off the tube yet, the guilt for not knowing why she is crying and *not really caring and wishing she would go to sleep just for one hour oh please god.*

I am constantly second guessing myself and I never know if I am doing the right thing. In those moments I just repeat to myself, like a mantra 'she is alive, healthy and growing- you are doing the right thing.'

Being so tired my brain is too fuzzy to complete a sentence. Dreading the thought of another day and night of this. *I can't cope!!- oh wait, look at me I'm coping -"just"*

Wishing the days away till she sleeps and eats a little better and life gets a little colour again. But then, trying to treasure all her snuggly newborn-y-ness. I know it will be gone soon.

The two (yes TWO) trips back into NICU have given me a chance to sleep through the night, yet I always ended up feeling just as tired the next day. Stress about baby health will do that too you, even on a good 7 hour stretch of sleep. The trips also heaped on a pile of the guilts about if we had brought her home too soon. 



When she is in NICU, being at home seems so much easier. Yet at home, I long for the company of the nicu nurses who I can ask any question to, whose chatter means I don't feel alone, and the chance to get away for lunch, a walk, knowing someone else is watching her.

I feel so uneasy in my new role. Life is so different to when I was working, and had satisfaction of things achieved at the end of each day, of a job well done. Now, day to day I feel like I achieve little, nothing, and I do not have a sense of a job well done. Except when she smiles and gurgles at me. Then it's all worth it.

I don't know what the point of this post is. I realise this post is a muddle of incoherent thoughts *welcome to my brain!*

But this is me, my life right now. And it's hard, but I am thankful I am here, right now in the trenches, with my baby girl in my arms. A year ago we didn't know if this would ever happen. But here we are. And I wouldn't change it.


*cheesy pics from pinterest, and added to encourage myself and other mothers.



Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Bittersweet

Today is the day Ada was due to be born. And I'm feeling very bittersweet about it all.

I could blame over tiredness for my heightened emotions I've had about this day, but I think I would have been feeling emotional, tired or not.

I've had a lot of 'what if's' going on in my mind. Reflecting on the last 10 weeks, and the weeks to come, and the challenges life brings with a pre-term baby.

I've had a few tears, a lump in my throat and a feeling of heaviness around this upcoming day for the past week.

Reflecting on the fact that I have a lot of fear around pregnancy now, which I will need to work through if we ever want to have another child (NOT anytime soon.)

Trying to banish any feelings of jealousy I have around all the wonderful pregnant ladies I know who are blooming as they reach full term.

Still wrestling with what to say when people ask how old she is. She is 10 weeks, but she is not a 10 week old baby if you know what I mean. How long will I have to 'explain' her age? When will I just be able to say it normally?

Struggling with the immune issues that prem babies have, meaning I sometimes feel 'trapped' at home. We can't go out with her for a few more weeks, and I just have to breathe through each day when I feel alone and panicked here.

Sometimes feeling like I would love more visitors- more people to talk to, and sometimes feeling like I want to hide away and not see anyone, or risk any germs being brought to our home.

I'm wondering what it would have been like to go through a 'normal' labour- in a way I avoided a lot of physical pain myself. But, of course, physical pain was swapped with emotional pain.

I wonder what Ada would be like if she had gone to term. A lot bigger, and healthier, and able to feed well I bet. But still her cute self. In a way we get to have the 'newborn' stage for about 10 weeks extra which is nice. She is my tiny, helpless newborn for a lot longer than your average baby.

In a way I'm thankful for this journey, because it's made me stronger and shown me that Matt and I are strong as a couple. Sorry to be cheesy but it's true. I feel proud of us and proud of myself.

A lot of what if's and why's, but ultimately a big PHEW and sigh of relief that here we are 10 weeks later and she is ok. She will be fine. She is a little small, and will take her time catching up, but she is doing great. No ongoing sickness or disease from being born so early. She really is a perfect baby, who arrived a tad too soon.

Happy due date to my beautiful girl x


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Ada at 6 weeks

This is just a super quick update as I'm spending most of my time at the hospital at the moment.

Ada has been here nearly 6 weeks, and it seems like the has always been here, but it also seems like just yesterday she was born.

Since the last update, she moved into a therma-cot, and was only in there a few days before being moved to a normal (non heated cot.) I can't explain how much of a difference it has been having her in an open cot. In the incubator we could only hold her once a day and the nurses had to give her to us. Since being in an open cot, we can hold her whenever we like, we can pick her up ourselves, and this means we're so much more independent, and feel so much more involved in her life!



Not to mention picking clothes and dressing her adds to the 'real mum' tasks, which I love.

She came off all monitoring over a week ago, so we have a wireless baby! Cord free, wohoo!

She is so much chubbier and 'baby looking' than even a few weeks ago.



As for feeding, in the last day or two she has taken off! Doing several feeds exclusively breastfeeding with no top-ups. She has lost weight (it takes her more energy to feed), so we're balancing that, but apparently it's normal in the transition to feeding.

Because of that we're in the pre-discharge nursery, and this weekend I might try bedding in and see how she goes with feeding through the night...!

It might be a week, or a few weeks till she comes home (it all depends how she goes with feeding), but it really feels like we're making progress. I'm basically at the hospital full time now, so I feel really involved with her, which I love.

It means life is tiring, and messy and busy, but isn't that what life is like with a newborn anyway?

Here's hoping our next update is the 'coming home' update....!

Her room is ready, here's a peek:

We're ready for you Ada x

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Early Buds Prem Pack

Early Buds are an awesome NZ charity that supports families with premature babies . Their website contains lots of information, both for prem parents and those around the families.

I especially like their article on 'What to say to a parent with a prem.' I know people mean well, but hearing 'at least you avoided the uncomfortable bits of pregnancy,' or 'you're so lucky having full time baby sitters' are not things prem parents need to hear.

Early Buds send a pack of goodies to parents of prem babies. The pack is amazing!


It contains
  • Knitted hat and booties
  • Cotton Hat
  • A NICU gown
  • Lovely lavender face cream
  • Eye mask 
  • Beautiful burp cloths
  • Cute cloth for mum to keep close by then give to baby
  • Various small samples and discount vouchers
All the items are exquisite! And what an awesome pack for parents going through that hard time. If you are the creative type you can make some of the items that are in the packs (linked above.) Or you could donate knitting, or money.

Thanks Early Buds, we really appreciate the cool pack, and website resources.


Thursday, 30 January 2014

Ada and Nicu life: an update

Here we are, our first family photo, with Ada at 2 weeks old. 

She loves cuddles with her Daddy

We're  starting to get into a routine and past the early days of the NICU blur.

Ada is doing so well. As well as a baby born at 30 weeks could. She is off all breathing support and off her IV line. Now she only has the naso-gastric tube (to feed her milk) and a few monitors on her. She looks like a real baby instead of an astronaut!

She is slowly gaining weight and growing. She still spends most of her time sleeping, but we've noticed when we do her cares (washing her, changing her nappy etc), she tends to wake up for longer periods to have big stretches and to look around.

We give her kangaroo (skin to skin) cuddles every day, and she really relaxes into it- falling into a deep content sleep. We read to her, talk to her, and often have a wee nap ourselves (those Lazy-boys are veeery comfortable.)

She had her first bath a few days ago and she loved it. She was very alert and happy, and I loved the interaction with her.



Next steps for her will be getting into a therma-cot (an open cot), but she has to be a bit bigger so she can maintain her own temperature first.
The other thing is for her to give breastfeeding a try. She had a wee try for about 5 minutes today, and the promptly fell asleep- it's very hard work! It will be quite a few weeks before she is able to get all her milk directly from me.

Milk drunk


Ada is so placid (so far!), hardly ever crying. The nurses always tell us she has been so good. We love seeing her more as a 'real baby' now- with a bit more interaction than we had at the start.

The nurses tell us hearing, touch and smell are the strongest senses for babies so I talk to her lots, touch her and leave a little cloth that I keep on me with her. 

We think she is so beautiful and precious.


***

As for me. I am healing well from my surgery, and my blood pressure is nearly back to normal. The amount of drugs I am on has reduced greatly. I can wear 'normal' clothes now (jeans! tie up shoes!) and basically look like I did pre-pregnancy, so this all helps me feel more like myself. However, I am still exhausted all the time, still overly emotional, still struggling to cope with it all sometimes. My tolerance level is really low, even the littlest thing will have me in floods of tears at the moment. Really time to invest in waterproof mascara I think.

I've been cleared to drive (wohoo freedom!) by my midwife, who also insists that instead of pumping regularly through the night, I must try to get a stretch of 6 hours of sleep (I could kiss her! *mwah*). I am yet to actually get 6 hours of sleep  (getting about 4 at the most) because my body loves to wake me up to pump at strange hours.

***

I'm slowly learning more and more about life with a preemie baby. When I was pregnant I imagined passing my baby to other people, helping her learn to be social and not dependent on me. I thought parents who kept their babies isolated and with breathing monitors in their cots were paranoid.

Well now I am that mother. Because preemie babies have very low immune systems, I will not be passing her round to others for several months, (people can cuddle her at our home, not out and about), and we will be mostly staying at home. Because Matt and I have been so deprived of cuddles with her, when she comes home I think we will cuddle her all the time. My midwife said generally people are told not to hold their babies all the time (and I once agreed with this), but she said that if we want to hold her all the time, we should let ourselves. We've been through so much, thoughts of 'spoiling' her will be the last thing on our minds. I can't wait till I can hold her whenever I want.

We are investing in a breathing monitor too, as preemie babies are at higher risk for cot deaths.

Yes, I am now that paranoid mum, who will tell you not to come over if you have a sniffle, to wash your hands before you touch my baby, and I don't care.

***

We've been overwhelmed with the generosity of others in this time- I wrote a blog post about it here.

In saying that, I've been surprised at those who have taken the time to visit us- many people who I though were closer to me haven't even been in touch. Others who I wasn't as close with have been life savers, visiting us in NICU, giving me lifts to the hospital and so on. I think it's common to be surprised by peoples reactions and responses in these kind of situations.

If you are worried about contacting me, please don't be, I'd love visitors, I love to talk about 'normal' things and life outside of the hospital, and I'd love to show off my baby to you. 

***

Speaking of showing off my baby, here is a video of Ada's progress. We think she is a star!