Coping with a new born baby that's poorly
Having a baby born poorly is not something that's so unexpected these days, with modern technology and the increasing about of tests during pregnancy, most worries or problems are detected so preparations can be made. But what happens when nothings been noticed, or when pregnancy goes awry and your baby comes early? How do you prepare so quickly for your baby being unimaginably ill. In truth, I don't think you can, but here are my little tips that helped along the way.
If you didn't already know, Patrick was born at 36 weeks - close to 'full term' when babies are generally considered fully cooked. And at first, Patrick seemed to be, he was 6lb 5, which was a stark contrast to his 9lb13 brother born almost 3 years earlier. Within around 6 hours it was picked up he was seriously struggling to breath and was therefore rushed to Intensive Care to be looked after in what was the hardest 7 days of our lives. It was a whole roller coaster of emotions and one that's still really hard to look back on now, but during our little journey I definitely learnt a few things.
1. Do not be afraid to ask what's happening - in the first 24 hours I felt so in the dark, I would get my little update and cling onto it all day, too nervous to ask hours later if there was any change. This nervousness quickly wore off as I became familiar with all the staff and I felt so much happier when I knew every single feed amount, oxygen percentage and what his next steps were. I really regret not being as questioning initially, as they were some of the hardest hours.
2. Get stuck in. That's your baby, and although I felt completely redundant knowing I couldn't provide the care my baby was needing, I felt more useless when I could change his nappies, tube and eventually bottle feed him. Even just having 'containment' time (as in the picture) it helped me feel closer to P and I think it helped me ward of PND which a lot of parents who have a child in NICU can experience.
3. Be there. A decision that's easy if you have no other children, to spend as many hours of the day by their side. But a difficult one for us as we had Noah, but because Noah could visit and was being taken care of so well by my parents and John when he went home, I made the choice to 'room in' on the ward. It made me feel a lot better, I could wake at every feed time for P and be there to change his nappy, give him his feed and settle him again. I felt like his Mum and it was important to me. Noah doesn't remember that he only saw Mummy a few times in a week, but I'd have remembered the worry if I'd have come home from that hospital and left Patrick there.
4. Research is ok. Although at times, the internet can make us over react, give us horror stories and make us fear the worse. I found it incredibly helpful when we were going through such a hard time. I found parents that had experienced similar, I found groups and websites where parents shared their childrens milestones in NICU. It helped me see an end in what we were going through, when I knew others had been through the exact same and now had thriving babies.
I hope this post might help any parents who go through anything similar to what we did. As in my last point, it really helped me to know that P was going to be ok because other children had been, so if I can give anyone else out there that reassurance and hope - then I'm content with that. Patricks now a healthy and happy 3 month old baby, you'd really never know the extent of what he went through just looking at him. I don't look back on our NICU journey with horrendous memories as I think all in all, we did okay, in the end the most important thing is to do what feels right for you and your family.