Mum of two and author of The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum blog talking all things with honesty, hormones, humour and finding any excuse for a GIN.
I am the mother of a little human called Elijah, who was co-created by my husband-to-be Greg. Elijah was born in September 2014, but the journey of motherhood did not start smoothly. He was admitted to the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) twelve hours after birth, and was there for nine days, eventually being diagnosed with a serious heart defect called ‘Tetralogy Of Fallot’. He later required open-heart surgery at just six months old. Fortunately, Elijah is now a typical little toddler, creating all sorts of chaos wherever he goes. However, it is only now, after eighteen months, and a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, that I feel I can begin to talk about what it’s really like to have a baby in NICU, and to watch them go through surgery, and recover. It is my hope that my blog confessions of a NICU Mum will help others in the same boat, and I’m looking forward to relating to all you other parents, and sharing all our different stories and experiences together. For laughing about the highs and lows of raising a toddler. These are the honest confessions of a NICU Mum.
All we need is for someone to tell us we are doing great, we look okay and to give us cake. No shame, no stigma, but instead more support, more empowerment and most of all more cake is needed. After all growing a baby, carrying them for nine months and then giving birth is the biggest change in a women's life and she needs all the kindness, power and positivity around her she can get.
There are a handful of amazing people actively looking to change the way we see and talk about birth trauma. This is why I am sharing my birth trauma without shame, to talk about the lasting impact it had on my mental health. One that nearly saw me not having any more children. One that took the enjoyment out of my second pregnancy and replaced it with constant fear and flashbacks.
Anyone who is reading this, feeling like they cannot go on or feeling like they cannot cope and are feeling guilty about the alternatives, don't. As a parent, you have more than enough guilt to feel, do not add to it.
It very much a nature vs science argument. I think if the outcome with the human trials is as successful as it has been then it will revolutionise premature births. We would potentially have to revaluate how NICU departments are run to accommodate this when it is ready to be used but this may be a positive thing.
Watching Jimmy Kimmel announce to the world that he had become a father again, I saw the heartbreak in his eyes, I saw the fear, the overwhelming emotion. It wasn't just that he had become a father, but he had become a father to a heart baby.
When I went in to give birth to Elijah, I didn't just become a mum, I became a NICU Mum. This was not in the birth plan. I never considered in a million years that there would be something wrong with my baby, let alone I would watch him fight for his life in the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for nine days before we could finally bring him home.
Every shop you step into is cashing in on the upcoming Mothering Sunday; cards, candles, cushions you name it they have put Mum, Nan, or Step Mum on it. My eyes glaze over the displays of teddies and trinkets with 'World's Best Mum', on them.
I remember the day we found out we were both pregnant, we began making plans for the future. We soon settled into being the best of pregnancy friends. It was our little secret, a bond between us, as women, as mothers.
I have made no secret about the lack of mental health care on offer to myself after my son was born and admitted to NICU. When we were discharged, I was left to my own devices with no offer of aftercare. Why was this
This is surely the time our mental health is likely to suffer? Why is there not some sort of check system to go and visit those who have had a traumatic birth or had a NICU baby, or even lost a baby? Perhaps then it won't get to the point where we are diagnosed with a mental illness.
It led to me asking myself a lot of questions, am I on my phone too much? Yes. Am I missing out as I am too busy on social media? Yes. Are there too many distractions today for us as parents? Hell yes. I started noticing it more and more. Mums and Dads stuck to their phones on days out, am I guilty of this?
When you think back to your pregnancy was it a happy one? Mine was, other than the odd worry here and there I couldn't have asked for a better 9 months. When you think back to the those first few hours with your newborn how was it? Mine was hell. Pure hell. My fairy tale ripped from beneath me in just 12 hours.
The impact of words must never be underestimated. A mother's job is to love their child no matter what and show them unconditional love. This is why I will always put my son first. All it takes is one small world to plant a seed, and that turns into something deep rooted and ugly.
I am glad that I have now come to terms with grieving for what my birth could have been, with the healthy baby I could have had. The fact of the matter is I didn't have those things. I still gave birth, my child did come home, I am still a mother but to a heart warrior who I wouldn't change for the world.
Giving birth to a beautiful baby should be such a joyous time. I can say what followed the birth of my son was far from the best time of my life. It was the worst. 12 hours post birth Elijah began to go purple and have 'dusky episodes'. He was admitted to NICU where he was diagnosed with a serious heart defect.
24/05/2016 17:02 BST
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