For my boy, Reuben - Aimee’s Full-Term Awareness Story

Aimee 1

For Full-Term Awareness Month, Aimee writes to her son Reuben about her neonatal experience. Reuben was born at 38 weeks and three days with pneumonia and a collapsed lung, and had to be put on a ventilator.

Born with pneumonia and a pneumothorax (a collapsed lung) on his left-side at 38 weeks and three days - you were put onto a ventilator when CPAP wasn’t enough for your tiny body. No food was given until day four, when you were provided with TPN, giving you the basics. I watched that chest drain bubble away for six long days and seriously, they were the longest days of my life.

The first 48 hours just felt like the bad news kept rolling. There were talks of transfers to another hospital - your lungs were under pressure, demanding stronger medication and more sedation. I remember saying “I can’t hear him anymore”. I genuinely couldn’t imagine that you’d ever be coming home with us.

Aimee 2

I asked questions that I didn’t want the answers to, I sobbed silently in a bay of other mums for the first 48 hours - their babies cried and fed, while you lay in an incubator fighting for life. I remember the bitter anger I felt - I hated the world.

A few of the amazing NICU nurses would try to comfort me with words - “When they bounce back it’s fast”, “the days are long, but the years are short”. I sat by your side into the early hours, the first sign of daytime arising with the sound of birds.

Then on day six at midnight, I was awoken by the consultant. They told me that you were displaying signs which showed that you were ready to be weaned from your ventilator. Good news, right?

Not for a NICU mummy, it’s anxiety. Fear, tears, increased abdominal pains, diarrhoea and poor hygiene for the next however many hours and days…

Aimee 3

From there, you went from strength to strength. The bubbles stopped, you didn’t require CPAP at all and went to nasal specs. On day seven, when daddy arrived you were ready for your first cuddles, crib and clothes! And a massive first poop for us to clean up! We’ll never forget the moment when we first held you in our arms.

When they had no spare rooms, I agreed to sleep in a chair for 48 hours to prove that I could breastfeed you well. That wasn’t ideal after a c-section. But you did it! Your latch still isn’t perfect, but we’ve got this, my boy. You’re amazing.

On day nine, we finally came home! Bella and Jenson, your fantastic siblings, held you so well.