Bea and A have graduated to the nursery today and have joined the big kids in a larger room where babies go en route to home. It’s only really because they’re off the c-pap (bulky plastic ventilation tubes that they hated so much) but I like to take it as progress. Most of the other babies here are in ‘cots’ or shallow plastic tubs much like the ones they put them in after a normal birth., but with a heated mattress. B and A are still in their incubators but I’m told they may make it out by next week when we will also start trying to breast feed. Both have had a go now. I tried with Alexander yesterday. Quite a task as he has a tiny head and mouth but good for him he had a little go and licked like it was the world’s largest lollipop. Imagine this great dripping thing descending on you like a 99 flake (well ok without the flake) the size of your whole face. Must be scary. For me it was like being licked by a bird.
Next week I’m told the junior doctors arrive. They say one shouldn’t get sick in August in the UK. The senior nurse here was gossiping to me yesterday telling me about her 40 years in the NHS and that she had noticed that both nurses and doctors are less ready for action when they finish their training now. She is hilariously unguarded about saying the wrong thing. Last week she told me that the austerity measures have meant they are short staffed. ‘When there are sick babies here the well ones hardly get a look in!’ (uh-oh). And yesterday on the newly qualified doctors, ‘you wait and see! You’ll notice the difference next week. They haven’t got a clue what they’re doing!’ Er…great. ‘They need experienced nurses to supervise them.’ Plenty of those around at least. I will be careful who I ask advice from next week.
It is a sign of my age that a lot of doctors are looking young to me nowadays. Yesterday the registrar looked about 12 and I found myself being a bit inappropriately over assertive with her because she looked so young and was annoying me by not answering my questions properly. I was a bit thrown in my tired state by how unforthcoming she was. I arrived during the doctors’ ward round when you are supposed to be able to ask questions and was hoping to speak to the consultant. It’s useful to get an overview of the babies progress even if the nurses keep you posted on the detail. About 2 hours later no one had come so I asked again as I had to go and pump and was worried I’d miss them. The child doctor eventually got dragged over looking rather sullen. It was like dragging answers out of a sulky teenager! This may have coloured how I received the information as I went into Spanish inquisition mode (a nasty, bullying, Cambridge learnt trait of mine but I find it works on figures in my authority when you’re not getting what you want). I found out that both of them are in fact really underweight when I had been given the impression they were gaining nicely. It’s nothing major. They have them on fortifier added to my breast milk to fatten them up but I would have liked to have been told. I read something I found online about parents of preterm babies suffering disproportionate post traumatic reactions to small things. Apparently it’s a very common reaction to small bits of bad news as you revisit the stress of the birth and for me probably the various events of the pregnancy expecting the worst. It’s the first day I’ve been here and felt a bit beaten. Partly a knock on effect of my determination to get up every night at 3 and pump to keep my supply up. The break in sleep is making me feel slightly less relaxed and capable but I am scared to stop in case it all dries up and goes away. It’s about control. This is the one thing I can do. I have even hired an extra freezer today to start storing up frozen milk for when they get out. It is possible to administrate yourself out of trauma!
My new cleaner came today. I love how prompt and efficient she is. I love that she wants to get straight to work and doesn’t have time to chat. I even love the sound of her cleaning my house as I potter about getting ready upstairs. I love my house being clean. It actually relaxes me and I feel
freer when I’m home. Why did I ever think I would have a problem with it? It’s not like I have a problem telling people what to do! A good call for sanity and freedom and female liberation (well, mine not hers). I like her too and will look forward to her being around and helping out with the babies when they come home.
I just met a young couple from Hounslow who we have followed from West Mid to here. They are sweet but a bit hapless. I caught them having an emotional moment on the stairs and said hi and asked them how they were doing. They said their baby was fine but their family had called social services saying the husband hits her and although R would be ready to go home soon he would be taken straight into care and it would take 12 weeks to go through the courts. Who knows what their circumstances are but they seem like nice kids who love their son and I felt really upset for them. They said the staff had backed up the family and said they argue all the time on the unit. Who doesn’t argue with their partner when they have their first child? I think older parents from a different background would just keep it to themselves better. I offered to help in any way I could but what can you do? I’d already been thinking about the differences in life chances these babies will experience. I hope, if they are able to look after him, that little R, born just a week before Alexander and Beatrix, will have a happy stable childhood and a good life.