I’ll never forget the moment when the doctor held Colby up over the caesarean sheet and we heard the cry, it was just incredible! We had been prepared that he may not cry and may have to be rushed straight off to NICU. He didn’t get rushed off straight away which was a relief for us. After the caesarean, I was wheeled back over to the ward and I had the horrendous wait to go and see my baby. I had to wait until I could hold my weight standing to get into a wheelchair to go across. All I could think about was seeing Colby. Everyone had advised that I use the time to get some rest but I just couldn’t – I’m so impatient and I just wanted to see my little boy. After a couple of hours I could bend my legs so I’d called in one of the midwives and Michael to say I was ready to go over. Oh god, I absolutely wasn’t! I managed to get my legs off the bed and then I literally just couldn’t stand. It was the weirdest feeling ever, my legs were just dead! I had tried to say that I definitely was ok to go over but it was advised that I should wait a little longer. Back to bed it was…
When I finally went over to see Colby, I just couldn’t believe how perfect he was. I just stared at him thinking how have Michael and I created something so perfect?! He was and is just beautiful!
The first week was a little bit hellish for me on a personal level. I was struggling with my emotions and I think I literally cried every day! It was so hard to see Colby wired up and the CPAP machine in particular was horrible. We couldn’t see his face and he was almost foaming at the mouth when he was breathing making a terrifying gurning sound. When you have a caesarean the mucus from your baby doesn’t get squeezed out so we were told this was pretty normal. He was also under the blue light for his jaundice so he just looked so vulnerable and poorly. It also was killing me that he wasn’t strong enough to come out for a cuddle. When you fall pregnant you just don’t think for any moment that you won’t be able to cuddle your baby for three days. I can’t lie, it was really tough. As some of you may know, Michael and I are both self-employed. This has been tough because if we don’t work, we don’t get paid. Michael was having to work during the day so we were coming up to the hospital for 8am and then Michael heads off about 10:30 ish and get back for 4:30pm. This was really tough because all I (and Michael) wanted was for him to be able to spend as much time with Colby as possible but unfortunately this wasn’t possible every day. Had we been at home Michael would be around all day but under the circumstances he had to go home to work for a couple of hours.
My Mum was an absolute godsend, she came up everyday for a couple of hours whilst Michael was working. I really couldn’t have got through this crazy whirlwind without her. She brought me up lunch and dinner and was just a huge support.
Michael, my husband, was fantastic, he was up sterilising everything so I could express during the night. I didn’t mind expressing because I knew it was all for Colby. I was always wanting to try breastfeeding but I was also laid back about using formula if needed. However, the majority of my crying was over my milk! I think it’s because Colby was premature and I knew how good the benefits of breast milk are. It took soooo long for my milk to come in and I wasn’t keeping up with his needs so the nurses were having to combination feed with a bit of formula for a couple of feeds a day. As ridiculous as it sounds now, I really thought I was failing him and couldn’t give him what he needed. I can say that now I’m a milking machine . I was tired and stressed anyway which doesn’t help your milk supply and I was pumping 8 times a day as recommended so I just didn’t know why it wasn’t happening. Patience isn’t a quality I have at the best of times and I just wanted everything to be working. One moment I will never forget was when I spilt a bottle of the milk I’d expressed. It was like the world had ended (dramatic I know). I literally sobbed like I never have before and one of the lovely nurses, Nicola comforted me and then made me laugh by saying ‘There’s no point crying over split milk’! I wonder if that’s where the saying comes from?!
Colby was due to move out of intensive care and into the nursery on the 28th March (all being well) but obviously the little tinker wanted to move a day earlier. We came in on the 27th March and had been told that Colby had pulled out his cannula in the night! He only had 12 hours left on his drip so they decided not to re-cannulate him and just take his drip off. We took it as Colby was ready to move out and wanted to let everyone know! I was secretly happy he’d done this (when they told us they were going to take him off).
Michael is so good with Colby. We were having a giggle when Michael first held Colby because I could tell he was really worried about picking him up or changing the position he was in. Michael wouldn’t hold Keegan (my best friend Hannah’s little boy) when he was first born, he waited until he was about 10 days to hold him where he was a little bit more robust. I mean Michael didn’t have much choice in holding Keegs as Hannah just planted him on him! When you’re in the ‘nursery’ you pretty much do everything that you would do at home like feeding (tube or breast), nappy changes and unlimited cuddles too! Seeing Michael with Colby makes my heart so full, both then and now. Although, he’s not a fan of a poopy nappy! Oh my god, they smell!! I remember, I once said to one of the Mums does …’s poops smell awful? And she was like not really no! So I was thinking it was a newborn thing but actually it’s just a Colby thing… He’s such a boy already eh!
Colby was always quite jaundice (even when he came home) but apparently this is quite common in breastfed babies. He came off the photo therapy light on the 26th March and we were praying he didn’t have to go back on it. He had a urine sample that come back to say he didn’t have an infection and he had some blood tests to see if anything else was picked up. Luckily, it wasn’t and it was just due to him being breastfed, although he did have to go back under the treatment lights once more.
On the 27th March we tried breastfeeding for the first time, this was a really special moment but by golly was I awkward. I couldn’t get the positions too well because I was so worried because he was tiny and I was worried his head wasn’t supported enough. I had brought my Lansinoh breast feeding pillow to SCBU and this helped massively. The second attempt was much better, I was on my own so I think I was just a little more relaxed. Colby latched really well but wasn’t able to sustain it for too long initially. I had to keep reminding myself that Colby was still supposed to be in my womb so we’re doing an amazing job to even be breastfeeding now!
The SCBU staff again were absolutely amazing! They were not just looking after my baby but I actually felt really well looked after too. I was supported when I was crying and I felt like they were part of our special journey. We were given a memory box to collect lots of bits from Colbys NICU journey and I became the Mum that wants to keep everything. I can’t believe I’m admitting this but I’ve actually kept the bit of his umbilical cord that came off (well Colby actually pulled it off). Please tell me I’m not the only one?! If you’d have asked me four weeks ago if I’d be keeping a crusty belly button I’d have snarled at the thought! It’s true what they say, everything changes when you become a Mum!
Bliss is a fantastic charity which supports those who have had a premature baby which is why I am so pleased to join with Close Parent and Babipur to raise both funds and awareness for Bliss.