Blog post by Andrea Nugent
When I found out I was pregnant it was one of the happiest moments of my life, I couldn’t wait to become a mum. Unfortunately, I was in and out of hospital from 27 weeks with bleeds and I started to become increasingly unwell. On 24 September 2013 at 31 weeks and 4 days pregnant I suffered from an eclamptic seizure in hospital which was almost fatal to both me and my baby.
Dylan was born by emergency caesarean weighing 2lb 7oz I wasn't allowed to hold him or be with him, as both of us needed to be treated in intensive care. My husband was told there was a high chance Dylan may not make it through the night.
I saw him three days later once I had recovered from HELLP Syndrome. The guilt and the sadness of seeing him so frail was overwhelming. As his mum I was supposed to take care of him, but I was helpless and I felt that I had failed to protect him. In the beginning I found it hard to spend time with Dylan as I couldn't bear the crushing pain of seeing him. As the weeks went by he became stronger and I was able to hold him more the bond began to grow. I learnt that what happened wasn't my fault and I promised never to leave him again. I spent all my time in the neonatal unit as being at home without him was too hard. He was too weak to breast feed so I expressed my milk and fed him by bottle. He gained weight quickly this way and exactly five weeks from the day he was born he came home weighing 4lb.
It was so exciting to have him home, we finally had the moment we had been dreaming of. However, the reassurance of the nurses at the neonatal ward was like a security blanket, so being at home alone was scary. He was so tiny and as the winter months approached and the weather got colder, I was frightened to leave the house. I sat on the sofa and held him on my chest for hours at a time - I wanted to make up for all the time we had lost.
I had this worry in the back of mind that he didn’t know I was his mum, so I made sure I was always talking to him and his Moses basket came with me around the house. As the weeks went by I had more courage to take him out. People would stop me in the street and comment on how small he was. On our first supermarket trip someone asked my husband if it was a doll he was carrying. Gradually the shame I felt around his birth lifted and I came to terms with the illness I suffered. I felt proud telling people our story and what a little fighter Dylan is.
I've learned to try and not compare him to other babies. Dylan has been slightly slower than average due to his low birth weight, but it has not been a problem and his consultant is not worried. He is behind on his walking but can say lots of words and sentences, which is actually advanced for his age. To me he is perfect and nothing phases me, I have come a long way since I was scared to take him out of the house. I still get upset when something triggers a bad memory but watching him play and laugh helps the pain disappear. I have such a happy, inquisitive baby boy and my husband and I are extremely proud of him.
At first everything seems impossible when you see your baby so small and sick. Any future together as a family seems distant but it does get better and they will get stronger. My advice would be to take all the support you need from friends and family as it helps to ease the stress. I found the Bliss website and forums brilliant for answering all the questions I had about my premature baby.
When I was suffering from anxiety over Dylan and what happened poetry helped me to express my feelings. Here is a poem I wrote just after Christmas:
Last year I nearly lost you
Mummy nearly died and you too
When you were born it was very scary
Everyone was nervous and in a hurry
I didn't get to hold you in my arms
Kiss and cuddle my baby like the other mums
You were so tiny when they took you away
There was nothing I could do just lay there and pray
It was the hardest moment of my life
Not knowing if you would make it through the night
Your first night in this world we had to be apart
This absolutely broke my heart
When I finally went to see you
There was nothing I could do to help you
The pain I felt was unimaginable
You ever coming home seemed impossible
Every day we grew stronger together
I never left your side
Everyone said you were a miracle
Every day I would burst with pride
My heart still breaks
the memories don't fade
But I know how lucky we are
I have my healthy happy boy
My pride, my joy, my star
If you are affected by any of the issues in this story and would like support, please call the Bliss helpline or if you would like to share your story with Bliss, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.