Hello there NICU Mummy, you are not alone. I am there with you.
I saw you plodding along the corridor from the Maternity Ward to the NICU, in your PJ’s and dressing gown. I was there with you.
I saw you buzz the doorbell, to ask to enter the NICU. I heard you say hello and that you are such and such’s mummy come to visit, a note of pride as you say their name and acknowledge that you are their Mummy and a note of worry because they are in the NICU in the first place. I was there with you.
I saw you scrub your hands raw before touching anything. I did too. I was there with you.
I saw you as you walk up to your baby’s incubator and ask the nurse there how are things? A question of which you are always nervous of the answer and eager at the same time. I saw you breathe a sigh of relief when the nurse says every things been fine and here are todays little tiny improvements. A smile as you find out the weight gain, even if it is only an ounce. I have smiled that smile. I was there with you.
I saw you open the incubator porthole and put your hands on their head and body. Gently so you don’t startle them. I saw the look on your face; the look that says “I’m desperate for that first cuddle.” I waited too. I was there with you.
I saw you bringing round the breast pump and closing your curtain. There’s a special room that Mums can go and pump breast milk in, with comfy chairs and magazines, but I know that you want every chance to produce to one millilitre more by being near your baby. Being able to see your baby as you pump. I did that too. I was there with you.
I saw you grin widely as the nurse passes your baby to you for a cuddle, and puts them down your top for that precious skin to skin. I saw a tear roll down your cheek. I saw that moment you’d waited for and couldn’t believe was real. I saw your baby settle listening to your heartbeat and saw you sigh. I was there with you.
I saw you hold your baby’s hand during heel prick tests and when they were having a drip put in. I saw you coo and try to soothe them with your voice and by holding their hand, even though you don’t feel like you are much use right now. I was there with you.
I saw you follow your baby in their cot and a nurse to the next room, knowing that they are being moved because they are stable and progressing. I saw you get excited because this means you are a step closer to home. I was there with you.
I saw you hold your baby and bring a tiny bottle of breast milk (aka liquid gold) to their lips. I saw you watch as they learned to suck at the bottle, and feel hopeful that their NG tube would soon be gone.I was there with you.
I saw you switching between watching your baby sleep and watching the monitors, all the time checking that they are ok. I saw you rub their head when the numbers dropped a little to remind them to breathe. I was there with you.
I saw you at the end of the night, packing up your hand bag to go home to get some sleep and a shower. I saw you go back again and again for one last look. Just one more. Just one more. Just one more stroke of their head. Just one more touch of their hand. Just so they know you love them and are not leaving out of choice. I did too. I was there with you.
I saw you bringing in the car seat with a look of elation on your face. I saw that you are taking your precious bundle home today. I celebrated with you. I watched you proudly walk around the NICU one last time, tearily saying good bye to the nurses that had become your family. I saw the look of disbelief on your face. Yes, you actually get to keep them. You really do. I was there with you.
I saw you at the support group for NICU graduates. I saw your tired face. I saw the love in your eyes. I saw the worry on your face when your baby coughed. I heard you say, what if it’s RSV? I worry too. We both know that our journeys don’t end at discharge. I am there with you.
Hello there, NICU Mum. You are not alone. I am there with you.