Sunday, 15 May 2011

Being separated from your newborn...

This post has been inspired by recent events happening to a friend of mine. Once again I won't name names or discuss any identifying details of the friend. But I will mostly reflect on the similar event that happened in my life...
In September 2005 I was laying in my hospital bed, doped up on morphine. The paediatritian who was on call at the time came into my room to see me and tell me there was 'something wrong' with my baby. I was not myself at this point due to the drugs and the traumatic experience prior to this moment. I was numb, I was blah, and I hated that. I wanted to be upset, I wanted to cry. The dr then told me Liam needed to be airlifted over to a Sydney hospital while I had to stay at my local hospital. It was very surreal, pretty much like a dream, or more like a nightmare. I was wheeled up to the Special Care Nursery to see Liam being placed into a special humicrib for transporting. At this point Liam had already experienced several seizures and apneas. It was vital that he get to the Neonatal ICU in the city as soon as possible.
I wasn't able to even hold him at this point. All I could do was watch helplessly as my bubba lay there struggling for life, hooked up to all sorts of machines, wires, drips etc. This was certainly not the way you expect to experience the beginning of motherhood.
Fatherhood started differently for my husband also, but with a much more terrifying experience. He took the helicopter flight with Liam and some Dr's and nurses. The first flight my husband had ever taken (to this day he hasn't flown again) and he endured the horrendous experience of watching his son go blue, stop breathing and had to be revived over and over again. I still don't know how my husband did it. I would've just fallen apart!
Meanwhile I was back in my hospital bed staring into space. The nurses had given me a beautiful photo of Liam to keep by my side, which I now have framed in my house and still stop to have a look at it on a regular basis.
When the morphine was beginning to wear off I was able to shed tears and was so thankful to be able to. I also started madly pumping breast milk with a manual pump. I wanted to be able to give Liam everything he needed and I was determined to send whatever colostrum/milk I could. The lady sharing the room with me was amazed at how dedicated I was, just sitting there on my bed for hours pumping like a mad woman. That was difficult too... sharing a room with a lady who'd also just had her baby. But in her case her baby was nestled in her arms. Oh I ached to be holding Liam, snuggling him, loving him.
On day 3 I was told I could have gate leave from the hospital and travel to the city to visit my bubba. I was still very sore and fragile from the c-section, but I was so determined to see my beautiful baby boy. What hurt most was that before I got to see him, other people had been visiting him and telling me about him. I was extremely upset about that. I was the one who was meant to tell everybody how my son smelled, how soft his skin was, how his hair was silky and beautiful (this one person in particular told me how they had brushed his hair!! that hurt badly).
When I arrived in the NICU and saw Liam I just fell apart, balled my eyes out. He was like a living doll but hooked up to so many things. I couldn't just scoop him up into my arms, which is your first instinct. I felt like he wasn't mine because he was under 'their' care. I was in awe of his beauty when I was able to touch and caress his peach skin.
The nurses and dr's there were amazing. It was 24 hour care with 2 Nurses/Dr's per baby. I felt a bit better about the situation. The hard part at that point was having to go back to my local hospital and leave Liam there.
Luckily day 4 they discharged me so I could stay at the hostel attached to the hospital Liam was at. And by day 5 the Dr's were happy with Liam's progress that he was sent back to my local hospital. Unfortunately because I was discharged from that hospital I couldn't stay on grounds with Liam. So once again we were separated, but there was the luxury of being able to visit him in the Special care Nursery whenever we wanted.
Day 10 we were allowed to stay in the hospital with Liam overnight to see how he fed fully breast fed. At this point he was off all medication and by day 11 was given the all clear and we could finally start our journey as first time parents....
well that's for another post, another day...
My story isn't the typical start to motherhood story, but it does happen to people. There are a number of parents who have had the horrible experience of their newborn needing to be in Special Care or even worse, be sent to another hospital for Intensive Care. That experience stays with them forever. The good thing is that in this day and age a large majority of those newborns are discharged from special care/ NICU in good health. So I like to take the time to be grateful for amazing technology and advances in medicine. We live in a great era!!

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