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.
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.
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!