This one goes out to the Dads.

I write about mums. A lot. A lot, a lot. But there’s another person that’s there, working hard and feeling just as worn out and emotional a lot of the time: dads. 

As far as my husband is concerned we are 50/50 in this raising a child business. It just so happens that evolution has woman carrying the baby, and feeding the baby if she can, but he believes it’s important that we share in the load of it all. Not in an ‘I do one feed, you do one feed’ need to be fair type situation, but in a ‘you don’t need to make that decision/feel alone in this because I’m in this with you’ type situation. 

I think this is important too, because dads get left out a lot, and they don’t deserve that. We were so lucky I guess that his job allowed him time to be at the hospital 24/7 with his boys for the first two months, the work was minimal and he could step back and think about it later. This is different for a lot of families in the NICU whose dads have no time off because baby wasn’t supposed to be here yet. To a mum this feels hard and lonely, spending all day at the hospital alone and feeling the burden of the ups and downs without your number one support person. When my husband spoke about it he said that he also found it really hard, not being with his son, not being able to share the load with me and feeling like he was missing out on something. And this continues in the every day, with a preemie or a term baby. Dads feel left out, surplus to requirements, sometimes useless because mum feeds, and mum comforts and often, due to the simple fact of income differences mum is home and dad is at work. He, and a lot of others dads have told me that this changes once their child becomes older, more interactive, mobile and activities based. That doesn’t mean they don’t love their baby, that they don’t marvel at their tiny ears and little giggles, but they don’t get the same maternal pull that mothers have. So when dads need to get out and ‘do’ other things, think differently and be active, I don’t think it’s from a place of negativity, I think it’s purely from a desire to be useful, and if they can’t be useful to their child right now then they will do it in other ways. 

A big part of the struggle when you become a NICU dad is the feeling of failure. That as a father you should be protecting your children and before their lives even start you weren’t able to protect them from this. From a mums perspective I want to tell dads that you didn’t fail. You have and always will protect your children from all that you can, and the things that you can’t protect them from you will be there for the bear hugs afterwards, and that is what kids need. 

During your NICU stay? There’s not a lot you can do. Be there as much as you can. If you can’t, then just listen to what the team have to say, and discuss it with mum, make all your decisions together, because you’re a team. So many things about the hospital and the NICU and the journey will try to break that team, undermine it, and stretch the bands that hold you together to breaking point. But remember why you decided to bring a child into the world, to make your team a little bigger, so on the days when it feels like there’s too much raw emotion and misery to connect properly, tell each other. It’s okay to struggle and to cope in ways unique to you, but as much as you can, try and do it side by side. 

That little fighter in the incubator is desperate to be on your team and one of the best ways to protect your miracle child is to show the journey that it can’t break the team.

I think in the end I just really wanted to say thank you to the dads. We see you. You’re doing the best you can and that’s all we need. You rock. 

And you’ll get the boobs back in a year or ten. 

  

An open letter to NICU mums. 

I wrote a little thank you to a couple of my closest friends from our time up there. And as I wrote it out I realised it could be for anyone. So I wanted to say a big thank you to every NICU mum out there in the big wide world. 
Thank you.

Thank you for being each other’s friends. 

Thank you for being the people we literally always vent with. 

Thank you for understanding. 

Thank you for bitching and moaning. 

Thank you for loving our miracle children, even when you may have never met them. 

Thank you for sharing yours. 

Thank you for making an altogether unbearable year that little bit more bearable. 

Thank you for helping each other keep expressing. (Side note, anyone see Santa while they were up tonight? Bet that’s the highlight of his night, all the mums with their boobs out!!).

Thank you for being shoulders for each other to cry on.

Thank you for showing each other the ropes.

Thank you for not talking.

Thank you for talking. 

Thank you for liking and disliking the same nurses and doctors as we did. 

Thank you for not comparing our miracle babies.

Thank you for being envious but still always happy for us when things went well. 

Thank you for putting our expressing equipment together for us when our hands shook too much. 

Thank you for only comparing our milk production in your head.

But thank you for understanding when we said it out loud. 

Thank you for the middle of the night, being there, awake. 

Thank you for all the times that we walked by each other in the corridor and for speaking when it was a time for it, and walking past when it wasn’t. 

Thank you for all the swearing. 

If I was a wish on a star for Christmas type person I’d wish for you all and your families to have a 2016 full of milestone hitting, full of normality, (but not too normal), full of smiles and love and I would wish that it was a year 100 million times better than this one. I would wish for you to have no reasons to cry. And wish for you to be able to leave a little bit of the heartbreak back in 2015. Lock it away in that year and throw away the key. 

Keep talking to each other. 

Especially now, as we roll into a new year and we all have a liiiiittle panic about that. 

Thank you NICU mums. 

All of you. 

Happy (?) Christmas, 

From a NICU mum. 

  

October 16, 2015. Tramping.

It’s been 5 months and I haven’t used a tramping metaphor, because I never thought about it. Today when I lost some composure, Oliver’s fantastic Dad explained it in a way that makes perfect sense.
So here we go.

You started walking at 0700 in the morning, it’s 1730 now and you’ve got sore feet, a sore back, sore shoulders, your pack is heavy, your thirsty, hungry, tired and all you want is to sit down.
But you’re not at the hut yet.
There have been so many of these days, I’m over it, I don’t want to walk anymore, why haven’t we reached the hut yet?
We are almost there, we know the hut can’t be that far away, we’ve walked all day, it must be close, but we’re just not sure exactly when we will stumble upon it.
And just when you think it won’t ever arrive, you see the glimmer of the roof against the setting sun, and the path suddenly becomes slightly more formed. You walk over that last hill, or around that final bend and there it is, dry, warm (ish) and waiting for you; a place to sit, to sleep, to have a cup of tea and some instant mashed potatoes (seriously, it’s such good stuff!). The relief is palpable, your feet suddenly say ‘that’s it, I give up!’ Sitting on that wooden porch undoing your laces, it’s the best feeling in the world. It’s the time that you can stop and look, see the mountains, the snow, trees and sky.

All of those steps, those hours of walking are worth it in that moment, away from the world, breathing the crisp air, and knowing that you can just soak this up until morning, there are hours and hours until you have to walk again.

This is the point that we are at now.
We are so close to the end but we don’t quite know how far away it is. It’s the part of this journey that is slow, and hard, and seems never ending, although each little step is slightly closer to the end, the hut, home.

And just like tramping it’s the part of the climb that I always spend a lot of time crying in, it’s gruelling and each step that you take feels like it’s not getting you anywhere.

We developed a big feeding plan this week because both Oliver and his mum were falling apart, hungry and tired and frustrated. We are breastfeeding during the day and alternating bottles and tube feeding overnight, not that he’s overly keen on the bottles. We are adding something called calogen, which is basically just like adding cream to your porridge, in the hope that the extra calories will help him sleep better and therefore feed better. We are also attempting to increase the volume that his stomach can handle, as he’s been so slow to feed his stomach has never had to hold a full feed.
Will we fully breastfeed? Not for a long time. Will the calogen help? Who can say. Will we get rid of this damn nasogastric tube before we go home? Perhaps not.
But we will reach the hut. We will make it home. It may not be October, but it may be. It’s the last push to the hut, we want to stop, give up, but it must be just around the corner, so we keep putting one foot in front of the other. The next feed will be better.

Today we had our 5 month immunisations, so we cuddle. Fully immunised before we breathe the fresh air outside.

5 months old today. 20 weeks. 44/40. 3696g.
One month old.

 

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October 9, 2015. Nesting.

I’m sitting by this big blue and green cot watching our boy sleep. He’s hungry, so he’s not sleeping soundly, but he’s sleeping, so that’s something. Trying to recover some energy so that he may be able to feed again soon.
He has his owl and his mouse on his bed, and his black and white pictures for his homework. He likes to stare at the orange cap on the oxygen flow meter that’s attached to the back wall. He loves his arms up by his head but I’ve wrapped them down by his chin so he won’t wake himself up with them.
He’s snoring slightly because he’s a snuffly little piggy and his nose is free of tubes because he pulled his NG tube out a few hours ago, and I’m leaving it out until we need it tonight.
It’s such a joy to see his face.

Last night I was doing the same thing, and I left him to sleep while I braved something that most parents are excited and keen to do. I went to the Farmer’s 50% off nursery sale.

I made ONE purchase before the boys were born and that was to buy 2 cots.
We will keep them both, for when friends may stay with babies, because I can’t bear to get rid of the second one.

I dreaded the shopping, buying one of everything when I wanted to buy two. It gave me a physical pain in my gut.

I made a list, as that’s helpful, practical, and who doesn’t love lists??

I went to Farmer’s, I bought everything on my list and then I went home.

We have what we need now. We can take Oliver home and know that he has the material things he needs to live outside of the hospital.

But while I was there, at the store, I watched the other shoppers. The pregnant couples, the mums, dads and kids, madly buying everything they needed. And I realised that although I felt like I wanted to curl into a ball and cry, I probably looked like them.
Holding the grief in.
I looked excited, choosing the right pram, mattress, and bottles.
It made me realise that although we are almost at the end, Oliver is working hard to feed and we can see the light at the end of this tunnel, we are constantly fighting the flood of grief that could overrun us at any moment.

It’s been 19 weeks and you have been on this journey with us to an extent, but some of you haven’t seen us, and even if you have, there is a part of this that you won’t ever know how to support us with. You didn’t see our little alien babies in the flesh, you didn’t meet Charlie David, you didn’t hold us when we totally fell apart.
Not because you didn’t want to, we know you would have if we had let you.
But because it was the only way we knew how to survive this ourselves.

So although it has been 19 weeks, we are raw, and every step towards home we take, the more we start to crumble a little.
We are happy, truly happy that we had to buy a pram and a mattress and bottles. We are so happy we will get to take Oliver home soon. We are breathtakingly happy that we will get to spend time, as a family, in the sunshine on our newly polished wood floors.
But it is hard. (Here’s another word that doesn’t do the feeling justice).
It is HARD.
So please don’t be mad or sad or surprised when we don’t sound excited, when we don’t list all the positive things, when we don’t look on the bright side. We are taking the moment as it is, and holding the grief in.

Today Oliver is three weeks old.

3.5kgs.

And we may, MAY, may have only a couple of weeks left.

September 25, 2015. Aka Breastfeeding.

I like big boobs and I cannot lie! – AKA my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard – AKA the milking shed – AKA pumping – AKA breastfeeding.

The first time I fully expressed milk with an electric pump, and I cleaned the equipment and sterilised it and labeled and stored the milk I thought this is good, tiring, but good. The one physical thing I can do for our boys.
Then you do it for the 784th time (yup I calculated) and you think how the hell have I kept doing this?

I pump at home, at friends houses, in the milking shed at the Hospital (yup, we line up like cows waiting for a pump). Oliver has 70L of frozen breast milk in the chest freezer. Enough milk to get him through till he’s 21 (this is mostly a joke….). But I keep pumping.

I’ve talked to a lot of mums about breastfeeding. What else should we do in the pump room in between moaning about nurses, flow, tubes and tiredness?
We all have one goal.
One day our baby will latch on to our breast, look into our eyes and start drinking. – and then hopefully stay awake long enough to continue drinking, or fight the lower oesophageal sphincter pressure caused by long term nasogastric tubes that results in all that precious milk being vomited back out again…
Feeding is a tough, tiring job for all mums (and dads!)

But I stopped to reflect on it today, as I was asked to write a short passage about breastfeeding for an app that the midland health network is developing for women.
The more I thought about it, the more I decided that expressing breast milk isn’t breastfeeding for me. I know it’ll be different for all mums. My baby gets my breast milk down a tube into his stomach, but he’s not breastfeeding, not to me.
He started breastfeeding the day I was allowed to let him physically be at my breast. And for me personally he will be a breastfeeding baby when we no longer have that NG tube taped to his little nose.

That doesn’t make what I’m doing any less important, it’s the goal we are aiming for and this is the way we get there.
It seems almost fitting in a way that I am only able to really start teaching him to breastfeed now. Up until this point there were other things to focus on: breathing, mostly breathing. And now, now that he is past his due date and his breathing is generally somewhat settled, I am starting to teach him to feed. In a different way to a new mum with a full term baby, but at the same ‘time’, which feels weirdly good.

It took us 17 weeks to get here. But Oliver is one week old today.

We have not had the first week of our babies life in the way we had planned.
We haven’t had skin to skin at birth, immediate breastfeeding initiation, snuggles at home, the boys in their bedroom.

We miss our Charlie. And we wish we were starting the struggle of tandem feeding (we wish it so badly). But he joined us this week; I picked up his casts from the amazing Jen from Angel Casts and they are beautiful. His little feet can go tramping with his dad and he can watch over Oliver’s bedroom and keep his brother safe.

So although it’s full of the thoughts of things we missed out on, here we are, with our one week old. Starting to learn to breastfeed.

 

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September 8, 2015. Perspective.

My friends and I would pass notes to each other in class at school (after we had finished our work obviously – just in case our parents are reading this. They were notes full of boys and friends and ‘drama’. And at the time they were significant, we could have ‘the worse day EVER’ and be completely sincere about it, because in that moment it was the worse we had experienced.

I have thought back on this a lot over the last 15 weeks as a way to help me remain calm, fair and supportive.
Everyone experiences hardship and for them, in that moment, it is unbearable and it seems like no one else has it this bad, this hard. And that’s okay. Because that is the moment they are in, comparing stories does nothing but disappoint both of you when you feel they have a minor struggle and they feel you are not acknowledging how hard it is (and vice-versa). In the nicu this changes each day, sometimes each hour as families get good news and bad news. We have had people pass us in the corridor on our worst days, and some will have known it, and shared a look, and some will have no idea.
Since the end of May we have watched four other families say goodbye to their dreams (and that’s only in our nursery)…this place has shown us loss like we have never known. We watch that white screen get rolled in and we know it’s time to go home for the day, to give space for them and for us. We know this and what it feels like deep into our bones. Yet we can still feel anguish over the small things, someone else’s pain, over their job, their relationship, their life.

It is all about perspective.

And consciously being able to consider it. Which is sometimes hard, but always worthwhile.

We have been through the wringer this year, we have been the lowest of the low and sometimes we are still down there. Nothing is as bad as that, I know this. Yet now that the worst is over (in terms of the physical…) sometimes we find ourselves back in that moment where it all feels like the absolute worst.

This is a mixture of finally having enough stability in Oliver to reflect on it all, and feeling that we should be through the worst, it can only get better, surely.

Yesterday the ophthalmologist came to visit Oliver.
He put his nasty equipment on Oliver’s face and gave us some news that was bad. Oliver has had a bleed into each of his eyes sometime in the last fortnight.
This is the life of a 24 weeker. Retinopathy of prematurity.
We thought we were clear, so close! This was to be his last eye check.
Not to be. He gets rechecked next week and if it’s worse then he will need laser eye surgery.

Stop. Perspective.

The poor eye doctor didn’t quite know what to do when I burst into tears and started spluttering questions. This is NOT the end of the world. Surgery is dangerous for little babies, but it’s generally successful. He may need glasses. But all of this is better than detached retina and blindness.

I acknowledge that this was disappointing, and we are so sad that our boy has to go through more procedures (thank god we don’t remember being babies!!!!).

Stop and consciously initiate use of perspective.

Perhaps this should be pinned to the mirror so that we can be reminded each day.

It doesn’t matter what you are going through, it is your life and your moment, and it’s hard. Although I pour our feelings into these posts and they consume our life right now, I basically wanted you to know that we are working hard on perspective.

“I’d like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?” -Anton Ego.

September 4, 2015. Winning.

(aka 💯)

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?”….

Silence.
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.

August 31, 2015. Multitasking.

Parallel lives. That’s what we are living at the moment. We are in a more settled time and Oliver is progressing slowly but well. This has given us time to think about a few other things, first and foremost, our home.

We are those continuous renovators, we all have friends like that. It took us 18 months to finish the bathroom. But things have progressed at a terrifyingly rapid pace over the last month, very unlike us!
There’s a ‘normal’ with Oliver now that lets us make plans for the future, because he’s actually coming home (oh boy!).
Suddenly you realise you can’t just bring him home to a house full of dust and dirt and damp. That’s a sure fire way to ensure we spend the rest of the year in and out of hospital. His fragile lungs and vulnerable immune system mean he needs a warm, dry, totally clean home to be in.
Calling in those offers for help!!
Somehow we have insulated and relined all of the bedrooms, reinforced the roof and ceiling and begun work on a new and improved kitchen/dining/living area, while living at the hospital with our boys.

As you can imagine this is exhausting at the best of times, right now it’s (what’s more tiring than exhausting?) …relentless. Oliver has his mum by his side all day, every day at the hospital, while his dad works 12-14 hours each day on his house, so that when he does get to come home with us, he’s safe.

Our minds are confused, we think about milk, flow, breathing and sodium, at the same time as thinking about blinds, cupboards, floorboards and paint.
Needless to say making final decisions is hard.
But we are adults, and we have learnt how to multitask, we can manage this, and although it makes us tired, it’ll be fantastic in the end.

This week while his parents frantically multitask to get this project completed, Oliver has to learn to multitask himself!
We have moved on to the ‘breastfeeding’ stage. The team encouraged me this week to start offering him a breast feed before his tube feeds at least three times a day. He has taken to it like a champ, he sure knows what to do! But there are three things that he needs to do, all at the same time and these are proving difficult. Sucking, swallowing and breathing.

The sucking and swallowing has started well, he’s latching and rhythmically suckling and swallowing. Which is fantastic. It’s the breathing he’s struggling with, while he gets so involved with the feeding he forgets that he needs to take a breath. Just a minor detail.

Like the renovations, his coordination will take time. It’s exciting and scary and I’m so proud of him and his dad, both of them working so hard, so that we can all be home together.

Let’s just hope they work at the same pace, or Oliver won’t have a home ready to come back to!

 

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August 25, 2015. Sorry, not sorry.

So it’s been three months and I feel like we need to try and put into words why we have locked ourselves away for this long.

On that terrifying Friday we requested no phone calls, no visits. Please.
We would get in touch when we were ready.

And for a lot of people this has continued, even to this day.
And we know for a lot of you this has been really hard.

It’s not because we don’t like you, or need you, or want you. Trust me on this. We need you all, we love you all.

During the first day, the first week, the first month, the first three months, it’s hard to say this is why it was then, and this is why it is now.
All I can do is try to explain.

When you’re a kid and you fall over, it hurts, but sometimes you can get up and keep playing and it doesn’t feel too bad. Then later in the day you see your mum or your dad and you can’t stop crying about it. I’m sure you can all remember a time like this.

It’s similar with loss (although who decided ‘loss’ should be the word for something so massive??? Honestly).
It hurts. You cry. And some days, or even minutes you can feel okay, you can function and smile (even if it’s not real). But then you see your mum, or your best friend, or anyone really, and you collapse into a million pieces on the floor in front of them.
Texting, emailing. This is easy, we can choose when to respond, we can choose not to if its too hard, or we can express everything if that’s the state we are in at the time. As soon as the phone rings we panic. Hearing your voices, the concern, sadness, heartache. We can’t speak.

This is magnified tenfold when we see you in person. Being hugged and held. Looking into your eyes and seeing our own tired, sad face reflected back.
So we hide away a lot. Staying in our little family where we can just hunker down and get through.

There are less days like this now, but we face a different challenge. We are exhausted. Physically, from pumping, driving, sitting, staring, working, sleeping. This routine is so tiring, the days are long, and when we get home from the hospital we have enough energy to eat and sleep, before we do it all again tomorrow. Psychologically, from fighting tears, fears, anger, fighting that feeling that makes you want to throw your hands up and say ‘I give up, I’m not doing this anymore’.

Before you have kids (whether they are a preemie or not) it doesn’t take much energy to see your friends and family, to talk and share, over good food or fun activities. But most parents will tell you it takes a lot more energy, and a lot more will to do these things once you’ve got a little miracle to care for. Which is why it’s easier and more appealing to sit down, in the few hours you have away from the hospital, with your husband, and maybe your mum or sibling and not speak, just sit.
We have many friends and family who I know would be happy to sit with us and not speak, but it isn’t the same, you all know the feeling of being with your person.

We are truly sorry that we haven’t seen you all, and that sometimes when we do see you we are quiet, or we leave early, there’s only so much energy and 99.9% is being used to just get us through the day. But we are also not sorry, because we need to do what is best for us, what will help us in this moment, and if seeing you won’t help us in this moment then we will save it for a moment when it will help.

Running alongside this was Charlie and now, Oliver. We want him to meet you all. We want him to know all of the amazing people who have sent him love, thoughts, strength and magic. But we have spent so long unable to touch him, unable to be his parents in the way we should. And so we grab every second of opportunity and we don’t want to share this yet.

We also know that he isn’t a ‘normal’ baby. He’s incredibly premature, regardless of the fact that he’s almost 37 weeks now. He can’t cope with stimulation, with being held, kissed and touched in the way that term babies can. He will be sensitive to the world for a long time, and we will need to protect him and nurture him.
So when we eventually do get to take him home, please be patient while we slowly introduce him to the world.

I don’t know if any of this makes a great deal of sense, but we wanted you to know that we are not shutting you out, we are just slowly letting you in.

I promise you, the wait will be worth it. This kid will move mountains.

August 16, 2015. Good.

When I start to write one of these stories there are always a few different topics that pass through my mind, sadness, guilt, anger, injustice.

And in time I’ll write them all, and they will be a mixture of the bad and the good.

But sometimes you just need to focus on the good. Soak it up. Try to fill your pores with it so that you can remember, just for an afternoon, that you are a mum, a dad, a family, and that this is a good thing.

So that’s the aim today.
Sunday.
Day 80.

Because our boys were born a week before our ‘baby shower’ we had bought nothing. Well, I’d bought two cots the week before, but other than that we had not a single piece of baby related paraphernalia.
This week the doctors made me go into super panic mode, ‘why is Oliver still in a cage?’ ‘He’s 35 weeks, time to get out and into a big boy bed’….huh? What did they say?

And then suddenly it’s Sunday morning and his nurse Lucy is wheeling in a cot (a loose term for a plastic rectangular box without a lid…).
This in itself is not an issue, we can be closer to him (fantastic!), we can just put our hand on him and touch him (delicious!), changing his nappy is significantly easier (phew!) and it means he’s slowly but surely advancing, getting better, growing up (jump up and down!!!!!!!).
But this means Oliver needs to wear clothes.
Oh crap.

This is where once again I can’t thank everyone enough for being totally awesome all the time, for us!!
Someone had sent a parcel with some outfits, someone had knitted some hats and matinee jackets (just learnt they were called that yesterday!) and someone had given Oliver their preemie hand-me-downs.

So thankfully his mum was saved the disaster of sobbing in the baby shop (we will talk about this another day) by some amazing people, and Oliver could be dressed by his mum and dad for the first time.

Dressing a floppy, tiny, soft baby is hard when they are at home and ‘normal’, dressing a floppy, tiny, soft baby with nasal prongs, two feed tubes, three chest leads and an oxygen saturation probe is….also hard.
Please Oliver don’t spew, pee or poo on this outfit for 24 hours, it’s too hard to change you!!

It was magical, it was heartwarming, it was hilarious, it was parenthood.

And so far, it’s been 5 hours and he’s still in the cot, which is extremely good as it means he’s working hard at maintaining his own temperature. Go you little superhero, go!!

I’m sitting by him, he’s fast asleep, arms by his face, snug and wrapped and growing. Today is good. Being a mum, a dad and a family is good.
Good is nice when you let yourself feel it.