‘My babies were premmie’

I felt like I would say it every time someone asks how old my boys are. ‘My boys were born too early’ I’ve started just telling strangers their adjusted age.

Adjusted age, a term I had never heard before my boys were born. Because the first 9 weeks of their life don’t count, they’re ‘adjusted’ to what they should be, 3 months old. But 5 months ago I was in the hospital, 5 months ago I held my babies in my arms and became a mum. But my boys are really 3 months old.

‘Once they turn 2 you can go off their birthdate’ they tell me. So until then, I need to adjust their birthday.

The 6 weeks my babies spent in the hospital were some of the hardest of my life. I keep tempting you all with my birth story and I promise this year (I’ll give myself enough time) I will talk in more detail about my birth.

I always imagined after giving birth having my baby laid onto my chest crying and hugging my husband staying in our newborn bubble for just a bit too long.

Instead, I got to stare at my baby as the obstetrician held him as close to me as his umbilical cord would let her, for a whole 2 minutes before the cord was cut and a dozen doctors and nurses rushed in and started putting the smallest oxygen masks I have ever seen onto their tiny faces and I was left alone.

No husband. No babies. Just me and a few medical staff making sure my inside went back to where they were supposed to be.

Every day I walked into the NICU, sanitised my hands after exchanging pleasantries with the receptionist and sat in front of a plastic box while listening to beeping and alarms and dreamed about being the mother I saw walking down the street with her pram.

One night we got home from the hospital and I sat in my unfinished nursery and cried. I wondered if there would ever be a baby in the cots we had set up side by side or if the clothes carefully hung up in the wardrobe would ever be worn.

I sat in the rocking chair I had purchased before I became pregnant and I sobbed. I asked God why he would put me through this after the journey we had already been through and I mourned the loss of my pregnancy and cried to God to replace the memory of my birth with anything else.

Then I got up, washed my face, pumped and went to bed ready to get up early in the morning so that I could spend a few hours in the special care nursery praying the boys would have increased weight overnight so that we would be one step closer to having them in those cots.

Honestly now, I miss the nurses, the ones who hugged me when they saw me crying. The ones who took photos on their phones to send us of our babies when we couldn’t be there. The ones who text me still today, my face lights up knowing that they will get to see my babies keep growing and that when I couldn’t be there they had nurses who loved them so much.

If you happen to know someone who doesn’t get to take their babies home and have to leave them in the hospital please know that the photo of their first hold (normally days after their birth) where they’re smiling ear to ear? They had to leave their baby after that and they sobbed. Some parents are lucky enough to stay with their babies in the nursery but they are longing to be at home with their family instead of introducing their new family member to their nearest and dearest.

Here are some things that really stick out to me that made the time easier while we were in the NICU/Special care nursery:

leaving snacks, easy to take for the day, at our door. we didn’t get much time to eat!

Messages, with no expectation of a reply, just to remind us that we still have a village of people behind us.

Reminders to do something for ourselves. Tickets to the movies, vouchers to nice restaurants, vouchers for coffees. You can go crazy never getting out of the hospital!

Offering to go for a walk, this can be laps of the hospital block!! When I started walking again after my c section I started feeling a bit freer and like myself!

Offer to do something for their pets while they’re out! Can you walk their dog? Go and cuddle their cat? Our dogs were so neglected by us when we spent so much time at the hospital!! So glad for friends who loved them for us!

Please leave comments below with any other ideas if you have been through a similar journey!!

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