I've been reflecting today on my own journey to motherhood, and got to thinking about Joseph's first week. Joseph was born on a Friday. I spent the whole weekend trying to get my head around the fact that my pregnancy was over, and that I had a child. It's really hard, and I think all my special care mums will feel agree, to believe you have a child. Your in a hospital room, your baby is not with you (in my case on another floor and down the hall) and your caught in this half life.
It wasn't until the Thursday my maternal instincts kicked in. Joseph became critically ill on the Tuesday. His stomach had early stages of NEC (necrolitising enterocolitis). He was being fed through the umbilicus, and they could no longer do this, due to the infection. But they couldn't begin to solve the problem until Joseph was stable.
I was asked to give permission for a long-line to be inserted. This goes through the babies arm (in Joseph's case, sometimes its through the head) and straight into the stomach, as I understand it.
On the Wednesday night one of the nurses came to see me and told me that they had tried twice, and it had failed. That if they couldn't do it, Joseph would die, and they would have one more attempt.
I didn't panic. I'm not sure if the amount of medication I was on protected me from what was happening, or I just had so much faith in Joseph that he would be fine, I just don't know.
I opened the doors of the incubator, held Joseph's foot, and explained to him exactly what they would do and why. I asked him to show the doctor the right vein, to stay relaxed, and let him finish the procedure. I told him I loved him, and that I believed in him. At that moment, I felt like his mummy. I hadn't held him yet, but I knew him and loved him.
His consultant came in on Thursday morning to ask for my permission. I glared at him and said "right I am the mummy, and this time you do it my way!". He glanced at his registrar (like Noah's ark doctors come in pairs!) and said "ok mummy what is your way? At this point I will try anything". "Talk to him. Tell him what you are doing, reassure him, treat him like a baby" He smiled and said "I never do that, but for you, I will try".
So I left whilst they turned special care into their mini operating theatre. I spent the day in my room, listening to my iPod, expressing, and sending all my thoughts and love to Joseph (and the clinical team).
I came down at 3 pm, it was still an operating theatre, so I turned to go, but the consultant gravely came out. My heart sanked. He put his arm around me, he smiled, "I did it your way. I have learnt something today. Mummy's are the best doctors. It's worked."
The following day the consultant came to debrief me. After he had finished he said "what do you do, in here, every day". I smiled and said "I sing, I bring in photos, I tell him about our lives, about his home, about our family, I massage his feet, I do containment holding, and I sing."
He said to me "you must keep doing all these things, especially the massage, he is the best 27 weeker we have ever seen, and its because of you."
On the Monday, he had gone, to be replaced by another locum.
But the senior neo natal midwife on duty brought over something, it was a prescription form. And on it was "Mummy massage repeat as required daily until discharge".