Although I was warned by the doctor about giving birth at 33 weeks that my baby would be going into the neonatal ICU, nothing can quite prepare you for what’s to come.
After my C-section, the pain medication took effect and I drifted off in and out of sleep, lying on the hospital bed feeling like I was kilometers away from the NICU, even though it was only a few meters away – but when you can’t walk, it feels a little different.
Nurses and caretakers were in and out of my ward and my family visited and each time the question remained the same: “Is the baby okay?”.
Even with reassurance from my gynae and the pediatrician, it felt like an eternity before I got to see her.
Eventually, I was wheeled into the NICU and received a “Hello mummy” greeting from staff. It was weird, as it was the first time I was called this by outsiders, and I didn’t quite know how to react.
In the ward, I was met with wires, monitors, oxygen masks and a bare little being laying quietly. The nurses assured me that she was fine and that her oxygen levels were fine. Even with constant reassurance, I felt robbed, as most mums were able to give birth and go home with their babies, and I was barely allowed to touch her.
The next 26 days were an emotional roller coaster of watching this little being fight. Each day that passed she grew stronger, with wire after wire being removed, test after test, she cleared, and before I knew it, doctors and nurses were talking about bottle feeding. I was on a high and so proud of this little girl.
Until one day I walked into the NICU and heard screams, it was my child being put back onto oxygen, something she had been off of for 10 days. Why was she going backwards? What was happening? I cried, and felt overcome with emotion and sadness.
Despite the constant reassurance from nurses and doctors that oxygen was “nothing” and I shouldn’t worry. How?
Everyday since she was put back onto oxygen I would walk to the NICU overcome with anxiety that something unexpected would happen. Eventually the oxygen came off, and after another 10 excruciating days I heard these words: “She’s on full bottle feeds now. Come in on Sunday for a full day so we can see how you cope with her and then we can discharge her”.
Monday came, and the call came: “Your baby has been discharged. What time will you collect her?”.
And just like that, life changed again.