Thursday 29 July 2010

The Art of Reaching Out

Today is our first local Bliss meeting. Bliss used to be called "The Premature Baby Charity", however is now more rightly known as "Bliss: for babies born too soon, too small, too sick" and encompasses any family who have had a baby who has needed special care after birth, for whatever reason.

When Joseph was born, I was desperate for support. I longed to meet other mothers who had walked this path, to know what I was thinking and feeling was normal, to have a cuppa with someone who could understand my anguish. So many other people "on the outside" couldn't understand why I was so upset, after all, my baby was alive, just small.

At the time, nothing was available locally, I used the Bliss phone line, and their Parents 4 Parents service, for which I am now a volunteer, and I used the message board, when I could bring myself to concentrate at a computer screen. I needed human contact, a voice, a touch.

During the time Joseph was in hospital my main support were the hospital chaplains, and I cannot visualise what my time in hospital would have been like without the chaplaincy service. A friendly cuppa, a prayer, a cuddle. The chaplains used to pop in and visit Joseph, sometimes when I wasn't there, and leave a little calling card to say they had been.

Sometimes, I find, that up here in the North West people don't reach out. I'm hoping to be pleasantly suprised today, however I am concerned that it might just be the "usual suspects". I sincerely hope I am wrong and people use today as an opportunity to reach out, and to ask for help, or have a friendly natter with somoen who understands.

And I am grateful now, that I can be that person, that I am no longer distressed and frightened, just a happy, if somewhat frazzled mother of a toddler!

Monday 19 July 2010

Rooming in

When you have a premature baby in hospital, one of the rites of passage before you go home is the process of rooming in. Hospitals have a little hotel room, in our case there are two, in the corridor right outside the unit. These rooms have a tv, a little kitchenette (well a fridge and a kettle) and an ensuite bathroom. Your little baby comes and joins you in their crib for a night or two.

This helps the mum (and in some lucky units the dad too!) get used to the day to day care of the baby, the little noises, and to build confidence ready for the next big step, the H word.

This time last year was my first night rooming in. I was taken to the room with Joseph at about 3 pm. Joseph and I sat on the bed and just gazed at each other. We cuddled for ages, and then I put him down to nap. And I did things that I hadn't done in 10 weeks. I watched television. I read a newspaper. I had a cup of tea, with a tea bag, not some powdered rubbish out of a machine. And I smiled.

My husband was not able to room in, as our hospital only has a single bed, but he decided to come in at 7am to check on us before he went to work. He had an anxious night, waiting for me to ring, to say how nervous I was, or how I didn't know what I was doing with Joseph.

In the morning I was woken by my husband leaning over me yelling "Kylie!!!!" I had had the best night's sleep, better than I had had in eight months. I hadn't slept well in pregnancy, and I missed Joseph so much at night that I couldn't sleep whilst he was in hospital.

That first night, I started to heal. I had my baby back with me, and we would be fine, he would be home, and we would start our life together properly as a family without the stress and inconvenience of hospital.