“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice”.
After Thomas’ traumatic entrance into the world, he spent his first night in the world away from me, in the neonatal unit. This was incredibly hard, I was downstairs on the ward recovering myself and I really struggled. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced, being apart from my baby, who I waited so long for. That night lasted forever, I could hear the mum’s and the other babies. I kept waking in the night, thinking I could hear him crying and I couldn’t find my baby. But it was the other babies. I could hear them comforting their babies and I knew my baby was upstairs and I couldn’t comfort him. This hurts my heart to think about even now.
Pneumonia and sepsis…
Mr Mitchell went back and forth between us, taking photos of him so I could see him. Thomas had pneumonia and sepsis, he was on IV antibiotics. I was also on IV antibiotics for sepsis. I didn’t feel like a mum yet, it was surreal. I just felt empty and lost, not to mention in agony myself. The NICU nurses fed him his first feed and changed his first nappy. Mr Mitchell got to see him when he wanted, which I was jealous of, yet grateful for as little man wasn’t alone.
Seeing him again…
Once I was feeling a bit stronger and my catheter was taken out, Mr Mitchell wheeled me up to see him. He looked so small in the incubator, so vulnerable, but perfect and I was so excited to see him. He had lots of wires covering him and there was lots of noise from the monitors. I wasn’t able to hold him yet, but I was able to put my hand in and touch him. He felt so soft and I could finally comfort him. We had no idea what was going to happen at this stage, but I couldn’t help but smile. I was with my boy.
The worst day of my life…
Day 4 was the worst day of my life. Things just seemed to go from bad to worse.
The morning started off so positively. Mr Mitchell wheeled me up to see him and he was improving. I was able to hold him properly, we had our first proper skin to skin cuddles. It was the most amazing feeling, I finally began to feel like a mummy. They said things were looking good, they were reducing his breathing aid but he was still being tube fed. The nurses suggested he may be able to come out of the incubator and we could dress him. I was so excited to choose his first outfit.
When we got back to the ward, I chose his Daddy and Me baby grow and a hat and mittens, but then things started to go wrong. Mr Mitchell broke the news to me that my Gramps had passed away. I had always been very close to my Grandparents and was devastated. Then Thomas took a turn for the worse. He wasn’t tollerating food and his stomach had become swollen and distended. They stopped feeding him and removed the remainder of his cord. The doctors told us he may need to be transferred to Southampton hospital. I was exhausted, in so much pain, heartbroken and didn’t understand what was going on. Mr Mitchell was my absolute rock, he got us through that day. I honestly don’t think I could have coped without him, he was so strong.
A brighter day…
Thankfully things started to look a bit better again. Southampton hospital decided they didn’t need him to be transferred and his care where he was would be fine. So the nurses decided it was time to start him on food again. I had never planned on breast-feeding, but the nurses encouraged me to express colostrum for him. It would be much gentler for him and full of what he needed. So Mr Mitchell wheeled me back and forth with expressed colostrum. I was exhausted and this was making the pain worse, but it kept me going, I felt like I had a purpose, I felt like a mum. He took the colostrum well. It may sound silly, but I felt like we were making him better.
Later that day I tried breastfeeding him. It didn’t go very well and Thomas was very distressed but we kept going with the expressed colostrum and he loved the skin to skin contact, and so did I. We were feeling much more positive, although I was convinced something would go wrong again. I was suffering a lot, I had truly never felt so ill, But he was worth it.
We tried breastfeeding him again and he finally began to latch and feed well at the breast. So I needed to come up to NICU every 3 hours to feed him. I was absolutely exhausted and didn’t feel like I had much left in me by the time I made it to the ward and back. I wasn’t making much progress myself but myself and Mr Mitchell got up and went every time throughout the night and day.
By the next day he was doing so well, we finally got to dress him and he came out of the incubator and into a cot in special care. He was very yellow, but his levels of jaundice were up but not too high so nothing to worry about. We were so relieved our little man was getting stronger.
Unfortunately, I began deteriorating. My blood pressure was climbing, my heart rate was up and my iron levels were so low from the blood loss, I needed a transfusion. Now I knew why I was feeling so unwell, I thought it was normal.
By late afternoon that day, Thomas was well enough to leave neonatal and came to join us. I also received a blood transfusion to help me recover. We could finally finish getting better together. We were finally reunited and a family.
Home time at last…
Having Thomas with us made things much easier. I was able to rest in bed and breast feed him on demand, we were all much more relaxed and happier. I was also feeling brighter from the transfusion, although I still felt like I had been hit by a truck.
By lunch time we both got the all clear and we could finally take our baby home, after the longest 7 days of my life. It didn’t actually feel real, that we were allowed to take our son home. I was so excited and ready, but also incredibly nervous.
The hospital was absolutely amazing. They saved mine and my son’s life and for that I will be forever grateful.
Never before have I been so tired, never before have I been in so much pain, yet never before have I been so in love… with my husband and new son.
Thank you for taking the time to read our story.
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