My baby shower was the next day. I had just been discharged from hospital fof a pre-term labour scare. I was thrilled that pre-term labour had slowed down as I had plans of sitting on my sister's couch and being pampered by all the beautiful ladies in my life.
However, things changed during the night. Contractions started again, but this time it was not pre-labour. It was the real deal. We were in constant contact with the hospital and followed every instruction they gave us.
Once my waters broke it was the speediest trip to the hospital and probably the only time I have asked my husband to go faster.
Within and hour or so, our son was born via emergency c-section. He was 7 weeks early. He had a beautiful cry and let the operating theatre know he was here. I couldn't stop shaking from the epidural and adrenaline, but knew I felt relief. He was breathing, alive and well.
It was from this point that we were officially the parents of a premature baby. It was the starting point of learning what that actually means.
1. You Are Alone With So Many People Around You
The operating theatre was filled with medical professionals. I had met none of these people prior to an hour before. My obstetrician didn't have admitting rights to the hospital and we were left trusting people we had not met before.
Once he was born, the paediatrician needed to take our son to the NICU immediately so they could run tests on him. My husband left with him so that our son would have a parent with him. We had decided on this prior and it was very important to both of us that he be with him.
I stared blankly at the roof of the operating theatre. It seemed like forever for them to finish surgery on me. Then there was recovery. Two lovely women monitored me, but mostly chatted to themselves. I remember them asking me my son's name. I tentatively told them as I wasn't sure if we were completely decided on the name yet. My husband wasn't there to check with.
After recovery, I was placed in a delivery room by myself because so many other women were giving birth. I was given the buzzer. I had no company, no husband and no baby. I was alone.
My husband was alone in the NICU having to make decisions for our son by himself. He did a fantastic job! He had to watch our precious son be pricked and prodded and have tubes place in him. Alone. He had to do that alone.
2. You Don't Get To Hold Your Baby Straight Away
There was no skin on skin immediately, so no special snuggle. No kisses on his sweet head and no first attempt to feed. I saw the side of his face as he was wrapped tightly in a blanket and then he was taken to the NICU. I was given a Polaroid of him 2 hours later that the nurses had given me.
There was no glow of a new mother as she beams at the bundle in her arms as her husband stands proudly by her side as they welcome family visitors. There was nothing in my arms to show for all of the hard work and trauma, for not just the last 24 hours, but the last 7 months. The last three years of infertility.
My husband waited even longer to hold our son as he was instructed it was important that I be the one he recognises first. As we were still trying to breastfeed it was important to not confuse our son with what his mum smelt like. This thought had never crossed our minds.
I was one of the lucky mums. I got to finally hold our son the next day. For all of you mummas having to wait to hold your bubbas, I am with you in spirit. Hold on, I pray your day is coming soon.
3. Not Recognising My Baby
When I was finally allowed to be taken down to the NICU, it was like nothing else I had ever experienced. I was wheeled in in my wheelchair by my husband and we travelled past so many babies in humidicribs. There were beeps and bleeps, cords and wires. I looked at all of the tiny sweet babies and then it dawned on me. I actually had no idea which one was mine. I didn't know what he looked like! I had no way of recognising him. My husband kept walking and finally stopped in between two cribs. I had to ask him which one was ours.
4. Just When You Think The Wait Is Over... There Is More Waiting!
We waited nearly 3 years to fall pregnant. He grew for 7 months inside of me. I had to wait 8 hours to see him face to face. I waited 24 hours to hold him.
We had to wait for his breathing to settle (he had bradychardias) for him to be transferred to our local hospital. We had to wait for him to gain wait before he could come home. My sister waited nearly 3 weeks to see him for the first time, as visitors other than parents or grandparents were not allowed in the NICU.
We had to wait to see how he would develop to see if there were any impacts on his development due to his prematurity. We are thankful to report our son is nearly four years old. He is bright, strong and healthy and is well advanced not just for his corrected age, but his actual age. He brings so much joy to our life and we couldn't imagine life without him.
The 17th of November is World Prematurity Day every year. This is just the tip of the ice berg of our journey of what it is like to have a baby arrive early. Everyone's journey is different.
Have you given birth to a child early? I would love to hear from you. Either comment on this post or pop over and visit me at My Faith Tree.
I'm a first-time mother and I've found that I can't go out with my son without somebody giving me advice on how to raise him. There seems to be a general assumption that new parents have no idea about children, and it is everybody's duty to share their wisdom.