donderdag 23 februari 2012

N(ever) I(magined) C(are) U(nity)

Today my son A celebrates his 8th birthday! He did wake up this morning and was a bit dissapointed that the weather did not fit with his mood. 'What a shame that the sun is not shining on my birhtday!', was his comment when he saw the grey and gloomy sky. I then kissed him and almost hugged him to death. 'But we are going to celebrate anyway after you come home from sports day camp.'

I am very aware of the fact that when it is his birthday that I do have the tendency to write a blog post centered around A. You can check it if you even feel like it but in the previous year I did write something about becoming a mother and how A found his way out of my belly into the world.

Some of you know the story of how A was born. That it are these specific and rather vivid memories of that life changing event to pop up again in my head must then not come as a surprise to you. Even P does admit that mentally February is not the easiest month to deal with. Because after all I still consider it one of my darkest periods of my life and with many consequences that I never imagined heading my way.

Still I fully agree with the general opinion that becoming a mother is very joyful ocassion. It can give you wings and adds to your existence more depth. Motherhood is for sure a blessing in many ways. By becoming a mother you pass on life and get the opportunity to raise an unique individual. In my honest and humble opinion it is a very worthwhile adventure.

But the start of that adventure does matter and that I did find out in a rather harsh way. And the hard part is that I only can be understood by people that have undertaken the same journey. The vocab I speak while retelling my pregnancy, delivering and first months of motherhood does not get much airtime/space in glossy mum-to-be-magazines. Even in the average book about pregnancies the amount of words is almost unacountable for. To be honest I did even skip those chapters that covered abnormal pregnancies and deliveries myself. What were the chances that it was going to be me?

I am fully aware that thanks to medecine and science that I can still recall this story and have some nice snap shots of A in his incubator. It is thanks to some very dedictated hospital staff that we were able to celebrate A his 8th birthday with dinner at Ikea. They were the ones who became his surrogate mother the moment he pushed out his first cries and they were also the ones who took him away from me. For one I can cuddle them to death for the other act I do curse them.

Believe me that at that exact moment you do not have much choice. A premature baby of 31 weeks needs a lot more than diaper changes, mother milk and cuddles. The care they call for is complex and involves tons of words that make you head spin. So that you then can not have that moment that many mums describe as magical and that your mother and child bondage is disturbed seems to be futile. All that matters is that your baby gets fair chances at staying alive.

I do not recall even the moment that they did roll by tiny A in his incubator on wheels because I was so drugged and felt horrible. At that moment it was P who had the priveledge to accompany him. I was left behind and that it was the aneastologist who was the first to congratulate me felt rather awkward.

The thing is that of those very intense moments of my motherhood I hardly remember anything funny or lovely. Because let us face it:there is nothing romantic about the breast pump they plant on the breast of your broken body. Nothing is fun about having to be rolled into the NICU while being on tons of painkillers and meds and almost not be able to reach for your son. Entering into the world of NICU is giving in constantly and having faith in tons of people. It is also trying to let nature take its course without trying to think to much of what still might go wrong. But I did take that into account because after all: heart monitors, plenty of tubes and wires constantly remind you of the very fragile line between life and dead.

In a way it is very fascinating to see your baby becoming stronger and fighting back when he faces some tiny hiccups. You get the opportunity to witness how a premature baby gets stronger with the day. That the docs and nurses try to involve you actively in the care of your baby is also nice but it just does not make up for something very essential that I just did not experience in those first weeks of being a mummy. Something I don't have the right words for because it is a sensation that I do hear other mothers talk about and yes I envy them for that.

Why? Because believe me the first 6 weeks I did feel myself rather a 'passive' mother and sometimes described myself being a big fail. Yes, in a way I even blamed (and there are those moments that I still do) myself because I had not been able to grand my son the head start in life he deserved and I made him end up being even more vulnerable. I do remember that there were also posters on the wall of the NICU-ward of a support group for parents of premature babies. But I have to be honest that I just did not feel like going to one of their meetings because all that I was able to deal with was travelling to the hospital, sitting next to A his incubator, trying to produce milk and sleep.

Highlights of my first weeks were the visits of my family and friends who insisted that they wanted to see A and me. A few weeks ago a very good friend of mine described to me that moment that I had pointed out A in his plastic bed while the two of us where standing behind glass. It sounded so surrealistic but I do remember that her visit made me feel 'more' mother. Also that we went shopping for baby clothes and that she was the one who dragged me into the city to have something else than hospital coffee and a candy bar out of the machine. It are for sure those moments that 'saved' me in order to get throught that period of time.

The moment that one of the NICU-docs told me that A was ready to go home I do remember that I did panic. And not only because I still had not bought diapers and baby lotion. No I wondered if I was going to be able to bound with this 'stranger'. For 6 long weeks I had not dare to get attached to him in an emotional way. So now that his five star care takers gave green lights to take him home was a very intens moment. I had been longing to be able to wear normal clothes instead of having to wear green aprons and my red hands were longing for something else then hand santinizer. But at the same time I was scared to death.

In a way I became used of having tons of people close by where A was and highly qualified ones. People that I have seen very closely involved with my child. I had seen them in action with him and I was so impressed by them.For 6 weeks he had been taken care of by a very very close knit unity one that was constantly on the double. As a result they were the ones who knew my child best. How in the world was I ever going to be able to replace such a smooth running 'family'-unity? But then it were also these people that were the first ones that I made me feel like a mother by calling A by his first name and even link human emotions to him. The day that a NICU-nurse described him as being 'angry' was the moment that it hit me that A was already a very brave little human being and was I able to think away the IV-bags and tubes that dissapeared into his body.

No, I was not prepared for what was heading my way the day P and I took A home with us. Our first night was one of checking up on him constantly because we were not used to him moving around and making those cute baby sounds. It did trigger something and I was so relieved that we got 'unharmed' through the first night without any monitors.

Lately I am very aware of the fact that thanks to the progress of medicine and science that A is still with us. If it had not been for the excellent care that I and A got while being in hospital then I wonder if I would able to show him his first baby pics and tell him the story while he looks with his big blue,green eyes at me. So that there is a place like the NICU and that there are docs and nurses who feel up to taking over of you in those first essential moments of A his life I am very grateful for.

Thanks a million because I am fully aware of the value of that care. Care that comes along with a price tag but thanks to the social security system we have in this nation is affordable for many of us. But sometimes we tend to take that for granted. And perhaps we should become more aware what a difference affordable care can mean and that we should fight for it if it becomes endangered.

Because sooner or later NICU might become something only a few might be granted access to when it becomes unafordable for some of us. So in all nations where there will be cuts in health care or government officials are coming up with reform plans make sure that you make them first visit the NICU because it is a spot where miracles take place and you meet up with the fragile side of life. After all we are very fragile but forget that once in a while. A reminds me of that daily but the force of life he shows amazes me that it even takes my breath away.

P.S.: I picked two songs to go along with this very special entry.

Song 1 is a song P and I link to A his start of life and it has a very special meaning to us. For sure it describes very well what we went through at the time.Because after all we were not able to take you along into the NICU and had to leave you behind that automatic door. Altough I have to admit even if I would have taken you along I did still walk in 'alone'.

Song 2 is by Sting, one of Stallie her favorite artists, and this song I do connect as well with anything around me that is fragile and might be taken for granted.


2 opmerkingen:

Res I(p)sa zei

Thank you for sharing this bittersweet story, and happy becoming a mom day!

N zei

Stallie, I remember my first words when I looked at my godchild in his incubator : "he's a miracle! He's supercute!" Somehow, as with my own son, I was able to ignore all the wires and tubes (and the funky sunglasses he was wearing at that moment).
The 7 days V spent in NICU however made me understand fully what it must've been like for you. And no, you don't forget, and no, you don't get a second chance at creating happy "becoming-a-mom-for-the-first-time-memories". Yes, I'm sure that we're both very happy that our sons are doing great now, but that doesn't sweeten the pill, does it?
Good thing that you wrote about it - and thanks for being the bestest mom for my godchild :-) !