The NICU is a sad place; a hard place. It’s a place you don’t want to be and when you get there it’s full of fears and tears and bad news a lot of the time.
There is also laughter.
Sometimes it’s hysterical, because you’re overtired, stressed and terrified. But it’s still laughter.
Because I had a moment of ‘everything-is-awful-this-has-totally-screwed-me-for-life’ (with a bit more swearing) last week, I have written a little list.
A funny, happy list.
To remind us that there are some hilarious memories from that scary place. And although it’s easy to play the terrifying parts over and over in your head, it’s important to stop and play some good bits for a while, to steady your heart rate and make you smile.
1. The projectile poop on the incubator wall!! A CPAP belly is hugely distended and full of gas, and when you lift those tiny frog-like legs up to change the nappy the pressure of those bony knees on that belly can really help the bowels push! It is immensely satisfying and truly hilarious when you lift those little legs and a squiggly pale yellow poo squirts out of that little bottom across the incubator and onto the end wall. Bullseye!
2. The boob fart. Yes boys, even us ladies still find fart sounds funny, though we generally don’t let you know this. So many times you’re sitting in that milking shed and someone’s suction loosens for a second and the whole room giggles. Boob farts are awesome.
3. The good news. I remember the day Oliver came off the vent for the first time and onto CPAP. We walking into the Nicu andthe NNP waved from the nurses station and started to walk out. I assumed she was just going about her day so we walked into the nursery. Walked up to Oliver’s incubator and I completely burst into tears. The poor NNP bursts in the doors running after us because she had wanted to warn me! I can still see that amazingly petite little lady in my head, running after us down the corridor!
4. Those nurses. The ones who, in a place of quiet and terror, are loud, sarcastic and make you laugh even though you feel like you shouldn’t. The nurses who talk about your baby like he’s already at school and are so loud you want to ask her to be quiet but you are so enjoying the normality of sound that you can’t help but laugh with her. The Nurse who laugh at the end of literally every sentence, even if what she’s saying isn’t funny, and you find yourself laughing too. The Nurses who are so brilliantly sarcastic that just sitting and listening to her banter with another nurse is a fantastic way to pass the morning of incubator staring. And the nurses who have a different accent for every day of the week and a sense of humour so like your own that you realise you haven’t looked at the incubator for half an hour because you’ve been so enjoying the hilarious chats.
5. That time that the doctor/nurse/social worker/therapist/parent/visitor said milk, or was it breast, or feed/pump/express/boob/baby/supply/boost/EBM/Milton/lactation/let-down/mother/child/drink/cookies and suddenly you’ve got two great big wet headlights on your chest and it leaves no doubt in the room that, no, there is not a supply issue.
6. The laughter without a reason. I don’t know why, probably overtired, hormonal hysteria, but I remember extremely clearly sitting in the parent lounge laughing till I cried with some of these mums. I cannot for the life of me remember what we were laughing at. But we laughed so hard.
It’s not a long list. But when you’re stuck in the sad place I want you to read it, or write your own. Because it’s okay to go over the funny bits in your head too. It doesn’t mean you’re not respecting the hard memories, you’re just having a little rest.
Rest up mums.