I was lucky. I know that. Although Molly was in neonatal it was only for such a short time and I am forever grateful for that.
Those first few hours are a strange time. You are in a fog of pain relief, shock and complete and utter love. All the emotions. All of them. Sitting in that bed by myself with a teeny baby by my side felt ever so strange. How was I responsible for her and would I even know what to do?
Edd had just been sent home as it was 5 30am and I was hoping to catch a few hours shut eye. I was beyond exhausted. Very naive first time mum thoughts there! I then heard Molly grunting away. I can’t really explain the sounds but just that they were very odd. I pressed my midwife button and proceeded to say ‘I’m so sorry and I’m probably just being a first time mum but should she be making those noises?’. The midwife looked at her and said she probably needed her nappy changing. So I did that and placed her back in her cot. My eyes closed only for the noises to start up again. This time I was pretty confident Molly was also distinctly blue. Cue pressing the button again and a different Midwife appeared. ‘So sorry and I’ve already asked this and am probably paranoid but should she be making those noises. Um, and she seems to be a bit blue’. That Midwife was amazing. She calmly picked Molly up and told me she would just take her out to have a little look at her. I’m ashamed to say I crawled back in to bed and closed my eyes. I lay like that for about 2 minutes when I suddenly realised that my teeny newborn had been taken away. Out of bed I got (read hobbled) and went to see what I could find out. I saw the Paediatrician who told me that they thought Molly had fluid on her lungs and that she was going to go for some X-rays and tests and then off to neonatal. I quickly realised I should probably call Edd! He had just got home and asked if he could have a shower and a nap before he came back. Men! In fairness there was nothing we could do at that stage so there was no need to rush.
I’m a pretty calm person and knew Molly was in the best possible hands. I always feel a bit guilty that I didn’t feel more worried, that I didn’t cry or panic. Maybe I should have?
Very quickly the Midwives came and moved me to my own room and at first I didn’t understand why but they explained that when your baby is taken away they don’t like you to have to stay on a ward with other mums and babies. I still don’t think I had really comprehended what had happened. I just kind of waited. It was probably a good three hours before I was allowed to go and see Molly. I very very slowly walked to neonatal where I pressed the button to be allowed access. It’s a bit strange being peered at through a video camera and really makes you realise how serious this unit is. Inside I was prompted to wash my hands numerous times and use all kinds of gels before I was allowed in to see Molly. If you’ve had a baby in neonatal you’ll know how you become a bit obsessed with hand gels!
And then there she was. And then I cried.
My teeny tiny baby was lying in an incubator covered in wires and an oxygen mask. She looked so small and fragile. And I felt utterly helpless. I couldn’t even touch her let alone pick her up. However, I stopped crying quite abruptly when I looked around the room and realised how many extremely sick babies were in there. They were so small and Molly seemed so big in comparison and although she was very poorly I knew she was doing well. In fact by the end of her short stay the neonatal staff were calling her a fraud. It’s not often they get a 6lb 6oz baby in there.
I sat there for about 10 minutes but I just didn’t know what to do. It was so hard just to watch her and not be able to hold her and so I left. I did the same when Edd arrived. We just waited. I felt I should keep going back up to neonatal but I just didn’t really know what I should be doing or how I should be feeling.
At a time when you want to be showing off your new baby I couldn’t let anyone see her. You get very used to sitting by your baby listening to the monitors and beeping and the comings and goings of the Doctors. They were never anything but reassuring. It seemed like forever but after only one day the midwives came in to tell me that Molly was being ‘released to air’. It basically meant that they were going to try her breathing on her own. She was a little trooper and did amazingly well and a few hours later we were allowed to hold her. It was so strange having to wait almost a whole day to have another cuddle with our little girl but my gosh it was worth it, even if it was only for a short time.
When I woke the next day I went up to see her and was surprised to see she had been moved to the low dependency room of the unit. Basically in our neonatal unit there were three rooms and the babies move along as they get better. This was fantastic news and meant we hopefully wouldn’t have much longer to wait until she was coming home. It seems she just needed a bit of time and later that day they decided to take her drip out and see how she did. The little monkey was one step ahead though and pulled it out herself. And that was that.
Just two days and we were allowed our little Molly back. It was so lovely wheeling her back along the corridor to my room and knowing we would be going home the next day. As I said, I know we were lucky. Having seen friends babies stay in neonatal for weeks on end I know how utterly heart wrenching it is. It makes you realise how precious those little lives are but also how a mothers instinct most definitely does exist. I can’t even begin to imagine having to go through that for weeks or months and my heart goes out to anyone who has experienced it.
As always please do share your own experiences of neonatal and the myriad of emotions you go through.