A bit about me
My name is Amy and I live in London with my husband and two daughters. My eldest daughter, now coming up for 6, was born full term at 38 weeks. I had to be induced due to having obstetric cholestasis (OC) which increases the risk of still birth in late pregnancy. My body was not ready and neither was hers and a difficult labour ended with a failed instrumental and an emergency c-section. I suffered from PTSD after the traumatic birth and was still experiencing abdominal pain from the scar tissue over a year later.
My second daughter, who will soon turn 2, was born unexpectedly at 24 weeks on a family holiday in Hampshire. She spent 5 months in 4 different hospitals, suffering from sepsis, chronic lung disease and metabolic bone disease. She had countless blood transfusions and heart surgery, hundreds of cannulas, several long lines, a femoral line and a surgical neck line. She came home after 22 weeks and stayed on home oxygen for 6 months.
When you become a mum life gets crazy even if you’ve had a straightforward pregnancy and birth and have a miracle child who sleeps, eats and poos when you ask it to. You end up breastfeeding on the toilet, cleaning projectile poo from the living room wall, and hiding so many vegetables in the pasta sauce that it doesn’t leave the spoon when you lift it.
When you have a preemie these types of crazy, and often terrifying, parenting moments double, triple, quadruple until crazy becomes normal and the old normal ceases to exist at all. Life is suddenly filled with NG tubes, bradys and desats, blood gases and reflux and soon you don’t remember a time when you didn’t know what those things were. Supermarket shops are always done with the rain cover pulled firmly down over the pram whatever the weather and regardless of old ladies tutting. Preemie parents can see germs everywhere. They know that even a simple cold could land their baby back in hospital on a ventilator. They don’t take chances.
This blog is about those crazy parenting moments that life becomes filled with when you become a mum to a preemie. It’s about what those moments mean to me, how I feel, what my short-term and long-term emotional responses are, and how I am changing as a result of new experiences. It’s also about how many of those experiences are shared by other preemie parents, or parents whose children are sick. In the words of Gina Greenlee, “When we establish human connections within the context of shared experience we create community wherever we go.” (Postcards and Pearls: Life Lessons from Solo Moments on the Road).