I found our first weeks of special care hell on earth. I am sure, if you don’t know me in real life, or from social networking, you can get the gist that I am a friendly, outgoing person, and so is my husband. We love to natter to others, and share experiences. There is nothing worse for us than being cut off.
The layout of our unit was such that Intensive care is the first room you come too as you go through the second set of doors, right opposite the nurse’s station, then is high dependency, and at the bottom is the nursery, the last stage before being booted out back into the corridor to room in and go home. Behind the nurse’s station are some extra rooms, for twins, for breastfeeding, and for isolation for babies who have been born elsewhere and then come into the unit.
Joseph was usually the only baby in intensive care, being a small unit they only had resources for one intensive care baby, and perhaps one or two babies passing through on their way to HDU. So as a result we were pretty much on our own.
We found that people were too frightened to talk to us, that our baby was so small. In the end I wrote an open letter to the parents, saying we were happy to talk to anyone and they could ask questions or look at our baby with us, we were fine with that. Everyone always said the same things “oh he’s just so small” and “how can you stay so positive?” One of the cleaners came in once whilst I was in with Joseph, and she was so quiet, I said “its fine to say hello to him, Joseph would like that” and she said “oh good, I always do, but I thought you might get upset”, over time everyone got more comfortable with me and with Joseph, and I actually had some lovely times whilst sitting by Joseph’s incubator, and later, his crib.
Over time I started to make friends on the unit. Toward the end, there were four other mummies and their babies, and we became firm friends, helping each other, looking out for one another’s babies, and generally just being a friendly face when we came in each morning. We were all discharged around the same time.
Every Tuesday we met for coffee and cake at the Chocolate Cafe in Ramsbottom, at first with tiny babies in car seats. Slowly, week after week, our babies grew, and our chats weren’t just about babies, we talked about anything and everything. And then came the occasional nights out, and sharing in our babies‘ first birthday parties.
Since our discharge, well over 12 months have passed, and we are all still friends. Unfortunately three of the mummies have gone back to work, so we can’t meet every Tuesday anymore, but we still meet up when we can.
These 4 mums and their babies have brought such a joy to me, and to Joseph. It’s so lovely that we share this special bond, although it doesn’t define us anymore, we’re not five mums who met in special care now, we are just five friends, who happen to me mums.
And that’s wonderful.