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1 year on

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My little girl is 1

Last week April turned 1.  What a milestone and what a crazy rollercoaster year it has been!  There have been many trips to hospital, a bucket full of tears, but most of all lots of love.

Having a baby changes your life.  You can’t do the things you used to and everything revolves around this little person you have brought into the world.  Having a premature baby does all this too, but with rather a scary, rocky and abrupt start.  The past few weeks has been a time for me to reflect on all that and deal with lots of buried emotions that have reared their ugly head again.

1 year on I feel quite numb about everything that happened to April and I when she was born 10 weeks early.  I always thought it was the first few weeks of April’s life in hospital that I found hard to deal with, but looking back a lot of my emotions have been about the 2 weeks before April arrived and how the whole thing has affected me, not her.

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1 year on

April is amazing.  I read about other babies born at 30 weeks and the numerous problems they can have and often about the babies who don’t make it.  April was born a fighter and I’m sure she is going to grow up into a feisty little lady.  She has hit all her milestones, is catching up well and has had relatively few health problems.  It is something I think about every day and it’s always in the back of my mind, but I feel so thankful of the little miracle we have been blessed with.

Then I think about me.  A lot of things I have shut out; when I was in hospital I had a poorly baby I needed to care for.  I didn’t have time to think about me, so put on a brave face and just got on with things.  When the anniversary arrived of the day I went into hospital it really hit me how poorly I was and then the awful feelings of being so scared and the unknown came creeping back.

I was robbed of my pregnancy.  I didn’t get to have a big bump, or enjoy being in the final throws of being pregnant.  The last 2 weeks I was petrified and it all happened so quick.  I didn’t get to hold my baby when she was born…and I didn’t get to see her until the next day.  I didn’t have the post birth photo with my new baby or get to take her home.

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A Mother’s love

I also started asking lots of questions about what happened; like how did April get from the operating room to NICU, how did she breathe, then what happened to her when she got there?

There are so many questions and emotions that I realise I’ve shut away, not thought about or dealt with.  I’ve had amazing support from Phil and family & friends, but I could have sometimes done with talking to others who have been through the same, or know how it feels.  It is very hard to explain what it’s like having a baby so premature and when you meet someone who does know you feel a connection.

As a result of what happened to us, we decided we wanted to raise funds to help other premature babies and their families.  On the 22nd October, Phil and I hosted a charity party night and auction.  The night was a huge success and we were really overwhelmed by the support people gave us, in donations for the auction and the money people donated.  We raised over £8,000 from the event, which was amazing!    We have not finished in our mission to raise money for premature babies and we have other things planned, so watch this space!

It was a fitting event for such a special little girl, who turned 1 on the 24th October.  She is doing great, crawling, wriggling (when putting on her nappy), clapping hands, waving and chatting away.  She brings us joy every day and really is a little miracle!

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All set for her party

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This time last year

Hooked up in Carlisle Hospital

1 year ago!

This time last year this whole crazy experience began.  It is exactly 1 year this week since I was taken into hospital, my world was turned upside down and everything span out of control.  I’ve been feeling very reflective the last few days and my emotions have been all over the place again.

Everyone thinks as soon as we brought April home it was all over.  She is growing well, has had relatively few problems and is a happy and healthy baby.  However, the emotions I felt 365 days ago have come back to haunt me and I’m feeling very reflective.

I remember thinking I was fine and just had a high blood pressure, but things gradually worsened and I became more poorly.  My face, hands and feet started swelling up, I developed platelets in my blood and protein in my urine and had the most crushing headache at nights.

Tryin to stay positive in Stockton Hospital

Trying to stay positve

I remember the point when several doctors gathered round my bed and the consultant told me I wouldn’t be leaving hospital without a baby.  I remember being on my own and just sitting on my hospital bed sobbing.  The midwives in the Cumberland Infirmary were great and so supportive to me.

At that point it hadn’t really sunk in what we were about to face.  I don’t think I actually knew how poorly I was and was more concerned about the baby.  Since, my friend who is a midwife has told me how worried she was about me as she has seen many ladies with pre-eclampsia before and how serious things can get.

The 12 days I was in hospital before April arrived was frightening.  I knew the doctors were trying to keep me stable and get me to 34 weeks, but I always got more poorly in the evenings and just kept getting worse.  I was shipped to Stockton 2 days into being in hospital,  then sent back to Carlisle and then sent over to Middlesbrough in an ambulance after 10 days.

I remember I was very emotional and cried a LOT.  To say I was terrified was an understatement.  Those emotions that I felt have reared their ugly head again.  I just can’t stop thinking about how I felt.  I think I’ve coped pretty well with what happened to us, but it affects me every single day of my life.  There isn’t a day where I don’t think about it all.

Perhaps I should have had counselling to deal with what happened, but there are no support groups in Cumbria.  Sure I’ll get through it in my own way…and just have to have lots of cuddles from my little angel in the meantime (Phil and my Mam do a pretty awesome of job of keeping me sane and giving me lots of cuddles too!)

What makes me smile

Cuddles with my angel 

 

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11 months old

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Look who is 11 months old

April recently turned 11 months old. 11 MONTHS OLD!!!  How did that happen!?

She is making such good progress recently.  She babbles all the time and you can really make out when she says Dada and Mama,  She is really interactive as well and definitely understands when you say things to her such as ‘Is it bathtime’, which she loves!  She giggles at her little book that makes animal noises and listens intently to the sounds you make (even if I look like a bit of a twit).  She also does this little fake cough or laugh to get attention, which is adorable…and the thing I love most is when she cuddles you back!

imageShe is progressing in other ways as well.  She is now crawling!!  It feels like it’s been coming for months, but now the bum is in the air, knees up and she’s off!  I love it though as she follows me around and keeps herself occupied, rather than sitting there needing to be entertained.  A stair gate has been purchased and is all read for when she spies the stairs!  It has also become an absolute nightmare trying to change her nappy, she won’t sit still and just rolls around – not particularly helpful if she’s had a poo!!!

Mealtimes are changing too.  She practically eats anything we give her, which is brilliant.  However, she really struggles with finger foods.  Occasionally she will pick things up, but generally squashes the food in her hand.  She is like a little bird and just likes to be spoon fed.  She’s starting to explore food more and wants to pick up the bowl or spoon and play with them – until they end up on the floor.

Overall April is doing just amazing.

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Cornered!!

Recently though, I’ve started feeling emotional again.  I went through quite a rough patch for about 6 months, then things started getting easier.  The emotions of being in NICU still haunt me every day, but I learnt to deal with them.  Now we’re coming up to all the anniversaries of when I was taken in to hospital.  It’s like a dread in the pit of my stomach remembering what happened a year ago.

I’ve started getting flashbacks again of our time in hospital and how I felt when I was taken poorly.  The 7th October (yes tomorrow) is the day when I was first put on medication and the 12th October admitted to hospital.  Those few weeks in between taken in to hospital and April being born will haunt me.  I know people will think everything is OK now, and yes in one respect it is, but as a Preemie Mum you never forget.  Every day it stays with you.  Every time April does something new I feel extra super proud – she has learnt to breathe and grow all by herself.  I find myself beaming with pride!

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Checking out the menu

But, the fear I felt never goes.  I can still hear the sound of the beeping machines and the heart beat monitor that I was strapped to for hours.  I can still smell the sterile ‘Pod’ in NICU where April spent her first few weeks.  I still constantly wash my hands and dress her from the bottom up – even though there are no wires in the way now.

It’s funny how the emotions just catch me out every now and then and the slightest thing can set me off.  For example, when we’ve been given things for the auction for our charity night, I’ve started blubbing at people’s kindness.  I even started crying watching Bridget Jones in the cinema, when she was having a scan.  Perhaps watching a film about someone having a baby wasn’t the best idea I’ve had.

Part of me is looking forward to April’s birthday, but the other part isn’t.  It wasn’t a particularly happy day, it was scary and traumatic, so I think I”m going to have completely mixed feelings over the next few weeks.  So, if you see me and I’m not gushing with happiness or randomly start blubbing on you – don’t worry it’s nothing you’ve done, I’m just back in a weird phase again.  Sure it’s all part and parcel of being preemie parents!

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