So having left the recovery room and now safely installed up on the maternity ward I try to get my head straight and work out what had happened in the last few hours.
Had it actually happened? Did I really just go through that? Or was it just a bad dream? But one glance down at my now flat tummy, the pain and all the drips in my arm I quickly realised that, Yes this has, and is happening to me. Right here, right now.
Physically I felt pretty poorly, and was desperate to feel better and strong enough to go and visit Mr A. I was desperate to see him on one hand and terrified to see him on the other. I didn’t know what to expect. What would he look like? How poorly was he? Would I know what to do or say? So many different physical and emotional feelings were running through me I struggled to separate them and try and deal with them. It was very over whelming.
I knew I had no control over how I was feeling physically; I just needed to keep taking the meds and wait for my body to heal and recover. I did, however have control over my emotions. So I put all those feelings that I didn’t know how to deal with in a little box. Put a label on it saying ‘deal with another time.’ Then I filed it away. I can honestly say I didn’t know when I would deal with these feelings…. I’m certain I haven’t yet which could be part of the reason I am suffering from post-natal depression. I have unfinished business with these feelings and hopefully I’ll be able to take them out of storage and address them as part of my ongoing recovery.
So the time had come to go and visit Mr A. To say I was nervous was an understatement. So Mr M wheeled me down to NICU. Mr M had already been to see him so knew what to expect. I was terrified!!
As we went in it was like entering a whole different world, a whole different planet almost. It felt like the outside world no longer existed and all that mattered was here and now. We had entered the NICU zone!!
I will never forget all the sounds and smells of the place, it was lovely and warm and smelt like rain on a summer’s day. There was an eerie calmness. The kind you get when people are panicking so over compensate by being extra calm. There were machines with flashing lights and beeping alarms. How could somewhere be so busy and noisy yet retain such a sense of calm? It was quite surreal.
As I entered the room there he was, this teeny tiny baby snuggled in an incubator in the middle of a huge machine. How did such a little person need so much ‘stuff’?
I had seen this scenario before, in magazines, in books, on TV and here I was staring in my own soap opera episode with this big story line. However no one had given me a script or any stage directions. I was put on the spot and had to improvise. I had stage fright and time stood still as I tried to figure out what to say do or feel……
I felt a lurch in my stomach and so many emotions were flooding through me that I found it impossible to pin point or even name them all. I’m pretty sure that some of the things I was feeling don’t even have a name. The one overwhelming and strongest feeling that I can name is ‘guilt’. Stronger than any other type of guilt I’ve ever had before. As a mother you are meant to protect, nurture and care for your child, even before they are born, and I had let him down. My body had failed him and that is why he was in here.
I still didn’t feel like I had had my baby but here he was in front of me, living proof that it had happened. It was as if my brain needed to catch up with my body but was way behind in this particular race.
At this point the loveliest lady introduced herself as ‘Maggie’ and said she had been caring for Mr A that day and he was doing well. I was so grateful that she was looking after Mr A so well, but I also hated her for it at the same time. He was MY baby; I should be looking after him, not HER!! It sound so silly and selfish to say, but that’s how I honestly felt.
I was allowed to hold Mr A, but I was so scared, he seemed so small and fragile and I was worrying about pulling out one of his many tubes. I was grateful he was well enough to be held but I didn’t want to hold him in case I hurt him or made him worse. I’m ashamed to say I was actually relieved when Maggie put him back in his incubator I wanted to get the hell out of there and back up to the ward and away from this situation I was in. Maybe if I couldn’t see what was happening I could pretend that it wasn’t……..