Late last night I got my first opportunity to hold my children. It was amazing.
Suddenly, when you can hold them close to you, you start to get to know them and understand what they want. It was the same with Lucas but somehow the delay throws it into sharp relief. I was hoping to hold Beatrix, as she has been one day ahead since birth and off her ventilator for an hour a day which makes it easier to get her out of the incubator, but when I arrived Alexander was thrust at me and I was told I could spend half and hour or so with each of them up my t-shirt. Their visible relief at being held for the first time out of the box since they were born was obvious. Both settled into my chest and went to sleep. They wanted to open their eyes and look at me. Beatrix’s long, searching fingers fought their way out of the blanket to hold mine. She has really noticeably sensitive hands and she wants to explore her world with them all the time. I see her caressing the wires and tubes, feeling textures. It’s like she’s blind and they help her make sense of what’s around her. The doctor had told me earlier that day that they know that premature babies get their best rest when they are in this ‘kangaroo hold’. Their breathing, oxygen saturation and heart rates stabilise. I felt it and saw it on the monitor.
I got another cuddle with Beatrix this morning after a delightfully naughty morning where I escaped across the road for a full English breakfast without telling anyone. It was the first time I felt like an independent adult in weeks. Gerard came this afternoon and had his first chance to hold Alexander. The nurses ordered him to take off his t-shirt and wear a blue fleeced boob tube as the neck was too high on what he was wearing. I have to say it takes a real man to wear a pale blue boob tube and still look masculine. As Alexander was lifted onto him and placed gently between said boob tube and skin he looked like he would start to feed (no doubt wondering why mummy had such a hairy chest). G looked genuinely moved. I don’t think either of us expected this so soon given how sick A had been at birth. The only hard bit about the bliss of being able to hold them is giving them back. The babies cry bitterly and it’s so sad. Their one bit of comfort taken away from them and they don’t know why.
I met two sets of parents later this evening in the parents’ room who made me brace myself for the journey to come. Both had had great first weeks and it had gone downhill from there. Ups and downs, like the doctors keep saying. One couple had had their baby at West Mid where we would have delivered if there had been room last week. It doesn’t sound like it’s half as sophisticated as St Mary’s so I’m relieved that fate carried us to the right place at the right time. Funny, I was so determined not to have them here. I was also about to start enquiring into whether we might transfer out at some point but I think convenience isn’t really the issue right now and, quality of care aside, there’s also value in consistency and stability now.
The first couple I met live not far from us in Hounslow. I’d written them off earlier in the day as not the sort of people I would have much in common with. They are just kids, but of course this experience is unique and bonding. They are really sweet and to be honest it makes me glad to be an older mum as I think you are better equipped to deal with the things life throws at you at nearly 40 than in your early 20s. I felt for them and will try to keep getting to know them better. We all need to support each other in that room.
Tonight I was tired, becoming slowly grouchy and resentful, and I felt myself starting to take it out on the nurses. I suppose they’re used to it but I felt bad afterwards and tried to get some perspective. You’re going to meet a lot of different personalities and people who are good and bad at their jobs. The midwives on my ward tried to give me the same injection twice tonight as the shift changed over so I am paying more attention to my drug chart now. Funny, I had an instinct the girl earlier was a bit haphazard as she kept forgetting things.
My stitches come out tomorrow. Most of my pain has gone although I am still huge and look like they left one in. I can’t be on my feet for long and am wondering how I will get here as the Olympics start and the thought of public transport during a recovery is horrifying.
Still tomorrow’s another day. I want to appreciate the care and security of the hospital while I can.
Just woke up in a freezing sweat shivering, colder than I’ve ever felt and put on all my jumpers. I’d had three dreams in a row. A plane crash where I was sucking on oxygen (ha I wonder where that came from), one where I got lost in the dark and started to suffocate between net curtains, and one where I was wandering between what looked like modern deep chest freezers looking for the twins. The midwife tells me the cold terror sweats are just hormonal and my milk coming in but I think my subconscious might be trying to tell me I might be a wee bit under pressure. Funny as I don’t feel it in the day in practical mode. Better go out for scrambled eggs in the morning to make myself feel better.