April turned two in October, but I’ve not written this post until her due date, which was the 29th December. Although she is now two years and two and a bit months, she would have only turned two now if she had been born when she was expected.
Two is quite a big milestone for April as it’s the age at when premature babies are meant to “catch up” with their peers and in many cases when they stop being seen by a consultant.
April is full of surprises. She came into this world fighting; a determined little baby who surprised us all at how well she developed. Things have not changed and she continues to amaze us! Most notably is her speech. She can have a full conversation with you, she can form sentences, answer questions and ask them. Even today when we were having lunch she said it was “absolutely fabulous” (honestly it wasn’t that great!) it is these little quips and comments she comes out with that are just so funny. Gone are the days are of saying ‘cat’ and ‘dog’ – now it’s “Mammy look at that cute little dog, he’s very funny” for example.
She has also started using the toilet. She refuses to sit on a potty but has to use the ‘big girl’s toilet’ with a little padded seat. She generally goes before bath time at night and first thing in the morning. We have yet to master during the day, but she has started telling me if she needs the toilet or has had a wee.
Then, most recently she’s started sleeping in a big girls bed! This is great, but just means tired Mammy again as I’m up several times in the night putting her back in again, or untangling her from the covers. I felt very proud, but a little sad when the cot was turned into a bed. She looked so tiny tucked up under her new Peppa Pig Duvet. Not a baby anymore!
She hates having her hair done (which is curly and is right down her back when wet – a lovely light brown/blonde colour), she gets very frustrated when she can’t do something, hates being told off by Daddy, loves looking at herself in the mirror, resists sleep during the day, is always on the go and into everything, she is so inquisitive, cheeky, but loves giving cuddles and saying she loves you.
April does not really like eating and would survive on a cracker all day if she could – she is far too busy to eat. I’ve been having a battle for several months with her eating. She used to eat loads when she was younger – anything I gave her and it was great as she would just have what we were having. Then she became fussy and refuses to eat most things. At the moment her staple diet is sausages, sausage rolls, pizza, potato waffles, mashed potatoes, Sunday roast (minus the veg) Yorkshire puddings, bread, yogurts and that is generally it! However, last night I was making leftover turkey curry and she asked for some and guzzled it down. I am hoping we may have started to turn a corner! My other struggle is that she still refuses to use a cup of any variety. She always reverts back to her baby bottle. I started putting just plain water in her bottle and a more tempting juice drink in her cup, but then she just goes without drinking. Hopefully, we’ll be able to crack this one soon!
I hope the eating sorts itself out soon, as April still struggles to poo. It is one thing the consultant wants to watch. She currently has 2x 20ml does of lactulose daily but she can go for a few days without pooing and then explodes – usually getting covered in it and ending up in the bath. The other day she was sitting behind the curtain and I heard the explosion. When I was stripping her off I noticed it had come out of the top of her nappy and smeared all down the patio window – nice! I’m hoping when she starts eating more this will get better!
April has had a chest infection before Christmas and ended up taking antibiotics, steroids and inhalers. Of course, being Mum I also got it, but when they’re so little they look so fragile when they’re poorly and you worry more. I noticed her breathing was bad and she was quite wheezy, so I ended up taking her to hospital. When she was born she was on a ventilator and had assisted breathing for the first few weeks of her life, so we have to watch for any complications with that as well. Generally, she’s OK unless she gets a cold. Hopefully, it won’t turn into asthma when she gets older.
To celebrate April’s birthday this year we took her to the cinema for the first time to see ‘Room on the Broom’ which she loved and has been obsessed with the book ever since. Then in the afternoon, we had family round for a little tea party. She loved opening presents and her little face was a picture.
Last year I was very emotional around her birthday, remembering everything that had happened to us both. This year I felt OK, but then a few days before it started hitting me again. I felt a bit strange on her actual birthday. Of course I was happy it was April’s birthday, but I felt sad as well and very reflective – it is a day that marks that I’m still alive. I had a nightmare the night of her birthday as well and flashbacks of neonatal unit and all those emotions come flooding back. It is a really strange thing to explain – how you can feel happy, but sad at the same time and I’m not sure anyone who hadn’t been in the situation would really understand. I tend to keep this to myself now as people might think I’m being silly as April is doing amazing. But those emotions are buried deep down inside and keep coming back to haunt me. I’m also still dealing with the battle of not having any more children – would I want one, would it be too much of a risk, what if, what if, what if!? I have never seen a therapist for PTSD, but have recently started seeing an alternative therapist about some ways to help. I think it will get easier in time, but will always be raw and will always creep back into my mind at this time of year.
On a brighter note, Christmas was very exciting this year and a lot more eventful. April seemed to grasp the whole concept, from opening her advent calendar each day, to visiting Santa in his Grotto and knowing he was going to bring her presents, to the opening of the gifts the next day. There was paper everywhere and you couldn’t move for ‘stuff’ – needless-to-say, our dining room is no longer a room for entertaining, but a playroom…and even then you can’t move for everything in it!
In February we head back to the hospital to see the consultant, where we hope we will be signed off to our own doctor. Last time we saw him he was amazed by how far April had come and how well she had developed. I am confident that we won’t have any issues going forward.
I started this blog when I was in the hospital to keep friends and family up to date with what was happening. I couldn’t cope with all the questions at that time and it was easier for me to tell people to look there. It was also to help other people who have had a premature baby understand that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve had a few people comment, or message me to say what I have written has helped them, or that they have become more aware of what it might be like to have a baby born early. If someone reads this and takes some comfort knowing that a baby can be born so early and two years on be doing so well then that makes me happy – job done.
Going forward I am going to update the blog, more of a record for April to read when she grows up so we can remember this journey we took together and little things like when she comes out of nappies, when she starts riding a bike and starts school.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my musings and will continue to follow our little journey of April Eleanor Rose Jackson – my miracle baby x