I finally got caught out last week and put on the spot to attend one of the information sessions that are held in the parent lounge of the nicu. I hadn’t attended any over the last three months, partly because I wasn’t interested in the topics and partly because the idea of being in a room with a whole lot of mums terrified me. Even though they are all in here with their babies, and going through a similar journey, they are all still so different. There are other preemie babies, born at 27 weeks, doing well, doing not so well, born at 40 weeks, needing antibiotics, needing some surgery.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a mum at home or a mum in hospital there’s still this nasty form of competition. What is it with mums?
We try to find out how other babies are doing, either to feel better about how our baby is, or to feel worse because we are not going so well. Do any mums come away from these experiences feeling good? I don’t think so.
So Scrapbooking. I finally get roped in and it’s Scrapbooking. I like to think I’m creative and then I do things and realise oh yeah, I’m not good at this. Thankfully we could just create a replica of the instructors card and be done with it.
While we are all busy ‘Scrapbooking’ she asks “so, who’s been here the longest?”….
Is it a good thing to have been here the longest? A badge to wear that says we won??
Everyone who had been here when we arrived back on the 29th of May has been discharged. William, Oliver and I are the veterans. The oldest, longest, earliest.
I finished my frame/tag/card scrapbook thing (thoroughly enjoyed the session as you can tell, no, I won’t show you) and went back to sit with my boy feeling hollow, quiet, alone.
Earliest babies born? Yup won that one.
Horrifically sad story? Share this one with a lot of other parents, but yup, won that.
Longest in the nicu? Won that.
Still haven’t made it to level 2 nurseries after 3.5 months? We’ll take that prize too.
You don’t feel proud, it feels like an award that you’d rather give back.
And so here we are on the eve of our 100th day.
Tomorrow, Saturday, we will have been in this life, this intensive care unit, this black hole for 100 days.
I’ve been dreading this day because it felt wrong to celebrate this milestone because we so desperately didn’t want to be here in the first place. How could this possibly be a good thing?
I thought about other parents I know who would get to their 100 days with their 3 1/2 month old baby and be celebrating rolling over, and sleeping through the night and maybe some awesome real smiles, and Oliver is still 2 weeks away from even being born (we will save the depressing due date conversation for another day).
I felt sad (sad is another stupid small word that doesn’t even nearly describe how awfully sad it is…) that my boys had to go through this. That before we had even started on our parenthood journey we have felt like we’ve failed and continue to fail them on a daily basis (stupid cervix, stupid breasts and their stupid milk, stupid needing to sleep, stupid emotions…).
I felt guilty to celebrate something without Charlie. Day 100 means 86 days without Charlie.
I wondered why everyone talked about it like it was a good thing, what’s wrong with them??
And then a friend pointed out to me that, as horrible as it is to have had to be in hospital for 100 days (and then some), it’s a huge medical milestone that is special only to our gorgeous prem babies. So while it feels wrong to celebrate having been in the nicu this long, it’s also fantastic that we have been. That Oliver has quietly, steadily battled on for 100 days, telling us, ‘Mum, Dad, don’t worry, I’ve got this’.
I’m hoping the 100th day will be better than the 99th day, as we take a step back from our breastfeeding progress and go back to the tube, everybody send fatty thoughts!!!!
Thank you Charlie for 14 days of sitting by you, and 100 days of loving you.
Thank you Oliver for 100 days of breathing and growing.
Thank you William for 100 days of hand holding, tear drying, house building and epic dad-ing.
Thank you everyone for 100 days of feeding us, texting us, holding us, helping us.
Thank you waikato hospital newborn intensive care unit for 100 days of phenomenal care.
And thank you Jo, for helping me find some sunshine in an otherwise rainy world.