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Wednesday 11th November – a mixed bag

It’s been another one of those up and down days.  I just couldn’t help feeling down as soon as I got up and burst out crying for no particular reason. It’s such a bizarre situation and your emotions are all over the place. I’d got up to express at 5am and called the hospital just to see how April was.  The midwife was lovely and really put my mind at ease.

Today's cares

Today’s cares

She’d had a relatively good night, but again her oxygen was up and down…had been all night and pretty much was again all day.  Yesterday she had been so restless after the move and I guess maybe it was maternal instinct, but I knew there was something wrong.

Today she seemed happier and we started with doing her cares when I arrived at the hospital. Over the last week or so I’d start with her washing and mouth care (washing her mouth with a little breast milk) and Phil would generally change her nappy. Today it was my turn to do nappy…at first it was just wet, so I got her all changed and then she decided to let rip and wee and poo everywhere! I think she did it on purpose. She actually likes having her happy changed, and is quite happy lying there with her legs in the air while we get the job done.  So, even though she is tiny, she still behaves like a term baby!

Then after cares she was so agitated again and started howling. The nurses were nowhere to be seen and I just felt so anxious. Stuck in her incubator, I couldn’t get her out to hold her or soothe her.  I just have to out my hand through the holes and stroke her head.  Things like this are what I find really hard…not being to get hold of her and doing what you’d do with a normal crying baby.  Eventually she settled down and I could escape for lunch.

My view of April

My view of April

After having pre-eclampsia my blood pressure in Middlesbrough had been hard to control and I’m currently on high dosage of blood pressure tablets.  Once being discharged and going back to Carlisle  I still needed to be monitored. It is nice going back into the old ante natal ward and seeing the midwives who had cared for me initially. And good news…my blood pressure was 120/74 today. A much more normal reading.  Hopefully soon I can be referred to my GP who can start to wean me off the drugs. I’m still in quite a bit of pain from the C-section, but stopped my antibiotics today (they thought I may have had an infection initially) – I’ve probably been doing too much not lying in the hospital bed anymore, but my baby girl needs me. God knows how people who have planned C-sections cope with a new baby after the surgery!

Putting April into her new cot

Putting April into her new cot

This afternoon with April made me feel so much better. She got moved over to a heated cot. This is such a big step. We thought she’d be in an incubator for so much longer than this! Her temperature is normal, so they must feel she is able to cope with it.  I have no tiny baby clothes for her….we’ve had some lovely things sent, but very few are for such a tiny baby.  Luckily the hospital have a cupboard full of small clothes, so to go in the cot she was wrapped up in lots of layers. She also now has blankets on too and looked so snug,  she settled really well in the cot after cuddles.  Normally she is a bit restless when she’s put back in the incubator, but today she seemed to like the cot.  Fingers crossed she has a good night…I know I’ll sleep better!

All dressed for bed

All dressed for bed

I’ve been having some bad dreams recently (on top of the lack of sleep) – a few days after April was born. I had a dream that a midwife was so sick of me and my blood pressure and pushed my hospital bed out of the window – we were ten stories up and my bed went plummeting. I shot upright I a cold sweat, then was in floods of tears as the pain was unbearable…you don’t want to be jumping up like that after a C-section believe me!

Last night’s dream there was a bear attacking me in our house…again it woke me up and I couldn’t get back to sleep.  I looked up what the dreams mean and it’s all about feeling out of control, emotional and a bear apparently represents ‘motherhood’ – just hope I do have a good nights sleep and don’t have many more!

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Tuesday 10th November – helpless

Last night was odd. You’d have thought I would have liked getting back into my own bed after a month of hospital beds, but I just felt odd, like a piece of me was missing.  I felt torn.  Happy to be home, but wanted to be with my baby girl.

Expressing through the night was probably easier…nipping. Downstairs, rather than making yourself look presentable and walking through the hospital to neonatal. I also got to catch up on TOWIE (my guilty pleasure) from the past month. Though once again it’s a bit sole destroying sitting “pumping” away when your baby is over 20 miles away.

Cuddles with Daddy

Cuddles with Daddy

Anyway, a new day and I couldn’t wait to get to the hospital. Being able to pick out clothes out of a wardrobe and wash and dry my hair properly was a bonus!

We had arranged with the hospital to do April’s cares at 10.30am and 4.30pm, so when we got there it  was time to get stuck in and finally touch her again. It was odd, as everything was different to James Cook hospital. We had got used to the way things were done and it was so different. Going from a room that was like a science lab and so clinical, to a room more like a nursery and probably a bit more laid back.  I suppose that could be a good thing, but as the day progressed I felt more on edge. April was moving round and wriggling lots…I’d not seen her like that before and it was really unsettling. I just knew something wasn’t right . I couldn’t help but cry.  It was also the first time I’d seen Phil look anxious.

We just felt a bit helpless as we didn’t really know what to do. When we were in Neonatal we had the flat to go and chill out in, but in SCBU (special care baby unit) we are literally by her incubator all day…and it’s a long day!

Cuddles in carlisle

Cuddles in carlisle

Her oxygen levels were up and down, up and down all day. I was desperate to have cuddles, but I had to wait until the afternoon.  I think the nurse knew I was a bit anxious as she got her out for me and we both got some skin to skin time, but her oxygen was still all over the place.  She seems to steel when she was on me though which made me feel better.

the nurses explained that it can take a few days for them to settle after a transfer. Her oxygen has been put up and she is on continuous feeds until she settled

We’ve always said we’d have up and down days and we need be to thankful that it isn’t anything worse, but it’s so unsettling. She is doing amazing, and one step closer to getting home. She will still be in hospital for a long time, but at least we’ve got her back in Cumbria.

We we just need to get used to the new ways of doing things on the unit and try and get into some kind of routine, though I think the next month or so is going to be very testing.

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Monday 9th – a step closer to home

The transporter incubator

The transporter incubator

If yesterday wasn’t emotional enough today was another challenge just to test us even more!

As usual we visited NICU in the morning for expressing and the ward round…a little routine that we had got into that kept us sane.  However today was different…we didn’t see a consultant, but one of the nurses greeted us with a discharge notice.  They had called the Cumberland Infirmary and there was a cot free for April.  We were taken a back as we were expecting the be in Middlesbrough for quite some time.  She explained that April was doing everything text book and had made such good progress in the past couple of weeks that she was well enough to get back to Carlisle.

As you can imagine I burst out crying…I couldn’t believe this was happening…and so soon! We both had such mixed emotions…thrilled she was doing so well and was able to come back to Cumbria, but then uncertainty of moving her, when James Cook hospital was so good.  We had got into a routine, knew the staff and felt happy that our baby girl was being so well looked after.

We were told the ambulance to take her back could be 10 minutes or 4 hours.  We decided to get our things together. It was a case of throwing things into bags and chucking it all into the car.  We were ready to go.

Gifts for the team

Gifts for the team

We took gifts round to the ante natal team, delivery suite and Neo natal nurses as well.  However no gift could truly express our thanks for what all the staff at James Cook hospital did for us.  We will always be truly grateful for the care and support we received.

We also had to say goodby to our new friends Vicky and mark, who we shared the flat with.  We had gone through things together and got to know all about each other’s children and the journey that all of them had taken.  We can talk to friends and family, but there was something different about talking to other parents who we’re going through the same thing at the same time. We hope to keep in touch, so we can see how their triplets are getting on…and if they make it home, back to Newcastle soon as well.

During that time April was moved over to what looked like a time machine…her little portable incubator for travelling in the ambulance. Unfortunately I was unable to travel with her and she had to go with a neonatal nurse, so we set off ahead.

When we arrived in Carlisle we expected April to have arrived before us.  I slept quite a lot of the way…I was shattered and it is the longest time I’d gone without seeing April since she was born.  However, when we arrived at special care baby unit we got word that the Ambulance had only just set off.  We had to wait another 2 hours for them to arrive.  As you can imagine I was beside myself; pacing the corridor wondering where they could be. Mother weather was really bad too and I was so worried about the ambulance going over Stainmore.  Every time I heard the door, or something being moved round I was up! They have to be the longest few hours I’ve experienced before.  Eventually they arrived about 6pm (we’d got there at 2pm) and I was so glad to see her.

April's new home

April’s new home

Sue, the nurse said she had been stable all the way and no trouble – phew!  She was transferred over to her new incubator and settled in for the night.

We stayed with her a bit, but then had to leave. There are flats in Carlisle hospital, however these are for the 48hrs before you go home, so you can get used to baby, rather than staying at the hospital.  We headed home…the first time I had been back in a month. I through when I returned home I’d have my baby with me. I just broke down…and probably spent most of the night crying.  It felt wrong to be home and not have her here.  I felt like I’d abandoned her…I was torn.

Back home opening gifts

Back home opening gifts

We decided to open some of the cards and presents we had received. It was bitter sweet really.  Normally you’d feel really happy opening all these lovely things, but we’ve got nothing to do with them at the moment or anywhere to put them.  We got some lovely things and it was lovely reading some of  the cards and comments.  We’ve still not officially announced that April is here…it just doesn’t feel right to let everyone know what we’ve been going through.  Once April is home we can have a really good celebration.

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Friday 6th November – it’s official

It’s been a lovely day today.  I’ve not been restricted being on the ward and timings with when to take medication, meal times, when the doctors visit, when I need my obs done. I’ve been able to come and go as I please.

Milking buddy

Milking buddy

Obviously it’s not as easy as that when we have to be in Neonatal all the time, but it’s been so much easier.

It feels like we spend our life in the unit…especially in the breast feeding room. It is hard sitting expressing when I can’t hold my baby to feed her, but at least I know she is doing well from all the milk I can give her! “Milking time” isn’t the same without my partner in crime.  Phil helps me set everything up and washes up at the end of each session…I have him well trained!  He is also good entertainment and has kept me going with his bad jokes, dad dancing & lip synching over the past month…though I’ve not appreciated him making me laugh when my tummy is hurting from surgery!

It's official

It’s official

This afternoon we took a ride into Middlesbrough as well to make April’s arrival into the world official and went to register her birth.  It was lovely to make it official and get her birth certificates.  It was also nice to get some fresh air at the same time.

I’m not feeling too bad today, tired and still tender from surgery, but I guess that is expected.  And ladies the trapped wind and constipation after a caesarean is horrendous, so I’m now battling with that…and the use of a shared bathroom.  I feel like I’m back being a student again…oh and microwave meals for tea (M&S though I have to say…well it is Friday night!)

April today

Kangaroo care with daddy

Kangaroo care with daddy

I missed ward round today as I needed to go for a post natal check, but Phil caught it, so he could hear all the latest updates.  The consultant said April must have read the textbook for premature babies as she is following exactly what they would expect.  Her breathing on low oxygen is still stable and once again they’ve increased her milk to 18ml every 2 hours.  Most of the day she’s been sleeping (like I say she likes her sleep like her mum…although I’m functioning on a its 5-6hours a day at the moment) and only really wakes up for cares and feeding…long may it continue!

Proper hold today

Proper hold today. 

Daddy taking care of nappy time

Daddy taking care of nappy time