THE BLOG

5 Years On: Life After Neonatal Care

18/08/2016 17:03 | Updated 18 August 2016
Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP

thriving families

It's been five years since my world turned upside down; five years since the shock and the uncertainty of neonatal intensive care.

The birth of my baby boy at just 30 weeks gestation happened quickly and with little warning. I was numb and the process felt surreal - it happened in a blur, yet I still remember those moments as if they were only yesterday.

My baby was whisked away to neonatal intensive. I had become a first time mum, but I had no baby to hold.
I went home later that evening, lost and empty, my baby left in the care of the neonatal staff.

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Like many parents, our journey through NICU was one of ups and downs; one step forward, two steps back. I quickly got into the routine of the unit, visiting each day and attending to cares where I could. I had a baby, but I did not feel like a mum.

Five years on - I am happy to say I feel like a mum!
This didn't happen overnight though; it can take a long time to recover from the trauma of NICU, time to put the fears and worries behind you and precious time needed to bond.

At home I felt so alone in my feelings of grief and loss, anger and jealousy. There was a place on my chest that ached; a place where I longed to have been able to place my baby straight after birth.

I was alone in my feelings of sadness and worry. I couldn't relate to the stories or day-to-day concerns of other new mothers who I met.

And most of all... I dreaded the question - "How old is your baby?"

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Five years on, the memories of NICU are still there;
I think that they will always be....
....but over time they have faded and don't seem quite so raw now.

We have made so many more memories together as a family and knowing that my feelings following NICU are shared by others who have experienced the same journey has helped enormously.

I no longer feel alone in the feelings of grief and loss, feelings that I felt so acutely after coming home. I know now that those feelings were entirely normal and am thankful to all the mothers who have gone before me and who have shared stories of their own.

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Five years on, yes the worry and uncertainty continues... but those emotions are manageable now, becoming part of our every-day life rather than ruling it. Yes, I worry about coughs and colds, the ones that have landed us back in hospital, but I try to take a pragmatic approach - we have got through it before, we have been through worse, and we'll get through it again.

Five years on I have an amazing little boy who has been making me proud since day one.
His strength and determination has always been an inspiration to me and as I watch him grow and develop the days of NICU seem further and further behind us.

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This summer The Huffington Post UK is spearheading an initiative helping families thrive, with a focus on parent wellbeing, the challenges facing stay-at-home and working parents, friendships and navigating the landscape of modern parenting beyond the 2.4. To kickstart the campaign, Jamie Oliver guest edited the site, bringing a focus on feeding healthy families.

We'll be sharing stories and blogs with the hashtag #ThrivingFamilies and we'd like you to do the same. If you'd like to use our blogging platform to share your story, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com to get involved.

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