The night before my 23rd birthday, I was relaxing on the couch watching A Beautiful Mind. I was 35 weeks pregnant and was still working full time. As such I was exhausted and catching up on some much-needed rest.
I was suddenly hit with a powerful urge to mop the kitchen and bathroom floor- the old fashioned way on my hands and knees. As I was expecting guests for my birthday BBQ the following day, I decided to give in to this quirky sensation. As I stood up to begin, I felt a gush between my legs. I was instantly alarmed, but did not panic as I considered that I might have lost bladder control. After the inital gush had passed, the fluid continued to leak more slowly. I called the birth unit and explained what was happening. They told me to relax, but come in for a check up. Thinking I still had over a month til my birth, my partner had gone out to his first andlast poker night. I called him up and we were on our way. The birth was painful, but I was reassured by the attachment of the Fetal Monitoring System.
I decided to accept pain relief at the last minute and tried to relax. At 10.08am on my 23rd birthday (which was the 23rd of June) my son was born with the cord tightly around his neck. He was very small and weak. He did not cry. After a very quick look, he was taken away from me and put in the Neonatal unit in an incubator whilst I rested. He had many small problems which kept him in the unit for the longest ten days of my life. He was jaundice, lost weight, had trouble breathing alone and did not want to suck feed. He slept all day and most of the night and had would not partake in demand feeding. He was fed through a tube.
It wasn’t too bad whilst I was in hospital recovering, but walking away from him when I was discharged broke my heart. I am sure many other women have experienced this pain. The feeling of coming home to an empty, cold nursey. I lay awake late into the night and imagined my little boy crying out for me. It was the first time we had been apart for nine months and sometimes I even thought I still felt him kicking inside me. I would wake periodically through the night listening out for my baby who was half an hour away from me. I felt very jealous of people with ‘normal’ full-term babies.
After twenty-four hours of phototherapy, he began to take an interest in breastfeeding. He began demanding and gained 80 grams over two days. When the doctor advised the midwives that I could begin rooming in with him, i burst into tears. Finally I was able to spend the night alone with my son, away from bright lights, midwives and other worried parents. It was a beautiful night, although I was exhausted after caring for him for 24 hours. The next day he was allowed to come home.
I understand that compared to a lot of people who have premature babies that I was lucky- only ten days, when some of the babies had been in the ward for weeks or months. But it wasn’t an easy time. Three months on, little Jack has gained 4 kilos and ten cms since his birth. He certainly loves feeding and no longer has the yellow-skin of a jaundice prem. He smiles, rolls over, giggles and cries. He is a very special little boy and I am a lucky mother. We are both looking forward to the 23rd June 2008 when I turn 24 and my son turns one.