"Then and Now": words from NICU Mum April
We ring the doorbell prior to entering the NICU. We ring a doorbell to ‘visit’ our baby. If that doesn’t set the tone for the journey ahead, I’m not sure what will. The door opens and a smiling Nurse greets us. We have to wait a minute before getting close enough to see her because they are ‘just finishing up’. ‘She is just beautiful’, another Nurse says. Is she? I got to hold her before she went to NICU. She was wrapped in a plastic poncho and multiple towels, with just a big enough opening that her tiny, tiny head was visible. Her face already covered in tape to secure the tube in her nose; the Doctor manually ventilating her. The shock still clouding my mind did not allow me to see her beauty. As for my husband, having missed her birth, He was yet to lay eyes on his beautiful girl. “Come and see your baby”. ‘Yours’. She felt so far from being mine; apart from knowing that I had given birth to her a couple hours earlier, she did not feel like mine. We approach her isolette. A ventilator, our little girls lifeline, sits to the left and an IV stand with no less than 5 different infusions on the right. There she is. She lay under a clear plastic sheet to keep her warm, her skin red and shiny. Her leg moves and it almost scares me. She moves again, her foot retracting each time it touches the plastic sheet, exploring her new ‘home’. She is a real baby and she is ‘mine’.
I enter the room and walk straight over to her cot. My beautiful girl. I lean over her cot and I kiss her head once, twice, my heart warming. I missed you, my baby. She is awake, moving her head from side to side, searching for my breast. “Would you like some milk, my beautiful girl?”. I wipe her eyes and mouth, swap her oxygen saturation probe to her other foot and change her nappy. I can tell she did not poo overnight, we have been waiting 3 days, her little tummy rounded at the side. I pick her up, her head resting on my shoulder, wriggling around, still searching for my breast. I give her bed a quick tidy and lay out her swaddle ready for later. Her nose nudges my breast, then her mouth opens and attaches. I feel my milk let down, her jaw moving and I can her gulping. Gulping, gulping. “Take a break beautiful girl”. Gulp, gulp, gulp. I break our latch and sit her up knowing her oxygen levels would soon be dropping. I know her, my beautiful girl. The monitor alarms insistently, the Nurses and Midwives walk over briskly. “She just got a bit carried away feeding, she is still nice and pink”, I assure them. I swaddle her, tuck her back in to her cot and make sure she is settled. On my way out, I thank the Midwife for caring for her. “I should thank you, you have done everything for her” she responds. My baby. My ‘real’ baby. She is beautiful and she is mine.
- April Connor, Mum to Sophie ♡