Today is the 24th of January, a spectacularly uninteresting day to many I imagine. For me it was the start of a traumatic experience, an experience that is still ongoing, but there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel.
I have written about this before, 3 times in fact. It has been a big deal. If you want the more in depth story, try these links.
I will summarise in this post though.
On the 24th January 2014 I was taken for an emergency caesarean section, I was only 30+5 but my waters had broken unexpectedly. Originally, as I hadn’t started labour naturally, they were planning on keeping my daughter in the womb for as long as they could, but her heart rate kept dropping and it was decided she’d be safer out than in. So far all fairly straightforward, I knew she’d be taken straight to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and that I probably wouldn’t get to hold her, but they said they’d show her to me before taking her off. This wasn’t to be though, the spinal anaesthetic wasn’t sited properly and I still had sensation when they began the operation. Thanks to this it was decided to give me a general anaesthetic and the world went black.
When I woke my 10 week early baby was already on NICU, I’d never even glanced at her. It was 24 hours before I first laid eyes on her, and nothing. Just nothing. I was told, “this is your baby”, and I felt nothing for her. She didn’t look like my baby, at 3lb 1oz she barely looked like a baby at all. Just some tiny alien thing covered in wires and tubes. They oculd have told me any of the babies in NICU were mine, I wouldn’t have known better. For a long time the only way I knew which one was my baby was by the location of the cot, and later, by the cuddly toy we placed inside it. I lived in fear of them removing the toy and moving the cot – I wouldn’t have known it was her.
Even once the wires and tubes were gradually removed and she was moved out of Intensive Care it didn’t get easier. Nurses did most of the feeds and nappy changes, for the vast majority of time she was in I had to ask permission to cuddle her, and we were caught between needing to go in and see her and needing to be with our son (who wasn’t even two years old).
I just couldn’t bond with her, I resented her for keeping me away from my son, and I didn’t recognise her as my own flesh and blood.
I hoped so hard that taking her home would improve things. It didn’t though.
She was a difficult baby, always screaming and vomiting. I don’t mean screaming and vomiting like a normal, healthy baby – it was something else. But no matter how many times we tried to tell doctors that she wasn’t right, we were dismissed. Instead we suffered on.
I hated her. I didn’t want her. I regretted having her. And I felt guilty that I felt that way.
We had about 10 continuous months of her vomiting constantly, and screaming from around 7pm to 1 or 2am when she eventually passed out from exhaustion. Things got more extreme before Christmas when her lips, feet and hands turned blue. We were taken to A&E where she was observed for two hours, and then sent home because she didn’t do it again. Of course she did do it again, multiple times. So we went back to the doctors.. again.
This time when she was weighed it was discovered she’d lost weight. She’d gone from 25th centile at birth, to under 0.4th centile. She’d been trending that way for a while, but this was the first time anyone had said it was a cause for concern. So she was admitted into hospital.
This was the 14th January 2015. Finally we were being listened to, not dismissed. Not only that, her suffering was being witnessed. Others could see the nightly screaming, they could see she was inconsolable, and they could see we were doing all we could for her.
For the next 8 days she was an inpatient. For me it was both reminiscent of her birth, and a totally new experience. In some ways a healing one.
They managed to find some food she could keep down, and the vomiting stopped. Slowly but surely my daughter emerged. This bubbly, sociable, cheeky little girl had been hiding all along. And I slowly started to bond with her.
She came out of hospital yesterday, they still don’t know what has been causing the problems, and she’s still screaming in the evenings. But the vomiting seems under control, and there are further tests planned.
So on her first birthday I write this post for my little girl.
I’m sorry it’s taken so long for us to connect, but this is our new start, and I will do everything in my power to keep us close. Because I love your cheeky smile, the one you do when you see me first thing in the morning. Because I want to enjoy more of your giggles when you’ve splashed water in my face during a bath. Because I love the way you bounce up and down when you see something you like. Because I’m enjoying seeing your mischievous streak emerge. Because I’m proud of how well you are doing when things have been hard for you. Because you are my baby girl and I love you.
Happy Birthday little Turtle.