- I have a wonderful, huge community of mummy friends from all over the world. I never would have met such amazing mummies and babies had it not been for Joseph.
- I've learnt that all mothers feel the same, mums of premature babies, of babies born with illness or defects, mums of normal term babies, we all feel overwhelmed and a deep sense of responisbility. And we're all rather scared.
- I have learnt patience. I have sat by an incubator watching a baby, who should have still been inside, learn to breathe on his own, learn to feed. I have watched a small boy eat peas with his tiny fingers. I've watched my small boy learn to crawl and to pull to stand. Each thing has taken so long, but he has got there.
- I have learnt to deal with doctors, with the public, with well meaning friends. I have learnt to advocate for my baby and for myself. I have learnt the "smile and nod". I might need to approach the NHS for chiropractic treatment on my neck for RSI from repetitive nodding, however.
- I've learnt to smile. Even when my heart was breaking, I learnt to smile, and to hope. I've learnt to laugh when things go right, and laugh when things go wrong.
- I've learnt to believe and to trust, even when all hope appeared to be gone. And I've learnt that prayers are answered. Not always the way we expect.
- I've learnt to laugh, at my little boy, at myself, and at life in general. Sometimes to laugh is the best thing to do. Sometimes its the only thing.
- I've learnt to cry. Deep sobs, at injustice, at grief. And not self indulgent crying. I've shed tears for babies and mothers I've never met. I've shed tears for doctors standing in corridors with head in hand wondering what to do next. I've cried like I never have before.
- I've learnt that life is deeply unfair. It's a fact, and its our responsiblity to form communities, to help those for whom life has been so deeply unfair.
- I've learnt that you can go to Toys R Us and spend the GDP of a small African country on toys, or you can find an empty plastic bottle and put some pasta in it, and give it to your child.
- I've learnt that a scarf can be used to wipe a nose, wrap a baby in, or play a thousand games of peek-a-boo.
- I've learned the kindness of strangers, and the judgement of strangers too. I've also learnt that the toddler years can't be too bad, as old ladies have no recollection that their toddlers were unholy terrors and its not just yours! Or they are so bad that the amnesia never goes away!
- I've learnt how to hide vegetables in almost anything! I've learnt that no matter how good you are with weaning, there will come a time when vegetables are perceived as offerings from the antichrist and all you can do is make them disappear.
- I've learnt that a small baby can produce an alarming amount of wee, poo and vomit. I've learnt to deal with cloth nappies, and with vomit sodden clothes. I've learnt cycles on my washing machine I never new existed.
- And ultimately I have learnt true love. It's a cliche, but I never understood love until I had my baby. I couldn't hold him, but I felt I was in my heart. When I looked at that tiny thing, my heart began to live outisde my body.
Friday 11 February 2011
What Having a Premature Baby has Taught Me
I've been trying to look at the brightside this week, with a bad consultant's visit with Joseph on Wednesday and the resurfacing of feelings of guilt that he was born early. I'm not wishing a premature baby on anyone but here are today's thoughts.