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Posts from the ‘Labour’ Category

What not to say to a parent whilst their baby is in the NICU

I am by nature a very romantic person. I always dreamed of my big white wedding and having 3 kids. 2 girls 1 boy. I dreamed of everything just short of a white picket fence. Now being a grown up I knew that life isn’t like a romantic movie and we don’t always get everything that we dreamed of, somehow though I always thought that certain aspects of each dream would come true.

I always wanted to spend time getting the nursery ready for my child and having all of my family together for my baby shower. I had visions of leaving the hospital loaded with my gorgeous wee baby, multiple balloons and gift bags that eager and generous family and family had brought with them to visit my cherub. Coming home to a full house decorated with balloons and bunting to celebrate this new tiny life we had brought into the world. As with any mother to be, I also had my birth plan already in my head waiting to discuss it with the midwives. Turns out the universe had other plans for this girl who lived in a romantic bubble. After 10 years of various fertility treatments we finally conceived who would turn out to be our 2 wee miracle babies. After a very complicated pregnancy. The boys were thrown into the world at Just 25 weeks gestation. I always joked that I had to wait 10 years for them but the wee to-rags couldn’t wait 9 months on me. I had to leave the hospital 3 days after their birth with no babies, no car seats, no flowers, no balloons, no gift bags, no full house, no decorations and certainly no celebrating. My heart was broken, I didn’t want to leave my boys behind in the hospital. I wanted them to be with me, I was their mother and they should be with me and my husband. After the boys fight in the NICU they finally came home. Yet still no balloons etc. They didn’t even come home on the same day. It was as if the world had made it its mission to turn everything upside down.

Throughout these months there were many comments made to me and I can guarantee you each and every single comment came from a good place. A place of love and compassion. It’s just as humans our words tend to fail us at times of worry and grief. So either the wrong thing is said or worse. Nothing is said at all.

So I have compiled a list of things that you should never say to a parent who’s child is in the NICU. This list is not exhaustive by any means, if there is anything you feel that should be added then please feel to leave a comment and tell me what else should be there.

  1. At least he will be smaller for longer and you get to have a cute newborn for longer than other parents.’ I genuinely didn’t know how to respond to this one. But I could tell you one thing. I’d have given anything to have my boys born at a regular newborn size. That would have meant my boys were born at term and most probably healthy.
  2. ‘Oh, they just couldn’t wait to meet their mummy and daddy’ now as I said earlier, I have joked about the 10 years 9 months ratio before but really until you have watched your baby turn blue because they don’t know how to breathe by themselves yet then you will never know how hard it is to hear. They are basically saying your baby chose to fight for his life so he could just nip out and say hello.
  3. “You can’t keep wrapping them up in cotton wool’ Boy I heard this Time and Time again. Especially in the early months when the boys were on oxygen, now it seems to be rearing it’s ugly head again now they are nearly 3. As with any parent I will always put my children first. Yet people seem so shocked when you change plans at the last minute due to the wee ones being sick or refusing to go to a party where there are sick people just in case my boys get ill. If I hear one more Time ‘it’s just a cold’ I swear I will scream. “Just a cold’ could lead to breathing issues such as RSV, which could lead to my boys being incubated with a machine breathing for them, which could lead to death. So no, to a preemie mum, there is no such bloody thing as ‘Just a cold’
  4. “Don’t worry, everything will be ok’ As with most comments on this list, this is said from a good hopeful place. That being said they can also brush aside the very real fears that parents face. Nothing can prepare you for the first time you see your precious little bundle with more tubes coming out of their body than you thought could ever be possible.
  5. ‘I take it you are breastfeeding?’ This one was a very sore topic for me. I felt like a big enough failure that I couldn’t get pregnant without help, then I could make it full term, but to then be told I was not allowed to breastfeed after the nurses made such a big deal to tell me how important it was for my sons that they be given breast milk just made me feel so so low and like the biggest failure ever. I thought maybe I wasn’t supposed to be a mother after all. I still feel tremendous guilt over this to this day. I know deep down that a fed baby is best. I also opted for donor breast milk to give my boys the start I felt they deserved. I didn’t want them to be punished for my failures. It will take a very long time, if ever for me to completely forgive myself. So please, don’t ever just assume. Unless you know the circumstances, don’t ever just assume.
  6. “Wow, 1lb 7 and 1lb 11? You must have just sneezed and they popped out? You are so lucky you didn’t have to give to birth to 2 full size babies!’ I still find it difficult to see this comment as anything other than insensitive. Actually, this comment makes me want to scream. WTAF?????
  7. “At least you got to miss that really big uncomfortable stage’ I would have given my right eye to be big sore and uncomfortable to stop my boys from know the pain of needles and tests before they knew the touch and cuddle of their mum.
  8. “At least you get to go home and get a good night sleep.’ You never want to leave your baby in the hospital but sleep? Hell, when or if I ever get a good nights sleep again I will let you know.
  9. “When will the boys be normal and catch up with other kids their age?’ What is normal anyway? How dare you say my boys aren’t normal. Like any child they will do things in their own time. I will love them unconditionally no matter what their developmental age is. There are no crystal ball, NICU babies progress over the years at their own rate. The fact that they are alive and breathing is miracle enough. They will reach their own milestones in their own time.

10.Thank god that is over and done with.’ We are nearly 3 years down the line now and our journey still isn’t over. Many people assume that once baby is home that the NICU is a distant memory. However, many preemie babies are often left with long term health difficulties. Some of these will resolve over time, but many can be life long complications. The boys are at this stage just now. Many people feel they should be just like their peers and I have even been told to my face that the boys aren’t anything special. They are children and all children are special. I agree all children are special but not all children have had to face the uphill battles like my boys so yeah my boys are god damn special. We will be dealing with health issues due to their Prematurity for many more years to come if not forever. Our lives have been changed so much by having the boys and the likelihood is we will need to adapt and change our lives to suit our boys forever. Do you know what? I wouldn’t change the boys for all the tea in China.

Instead maybe say congratulations, celebrate the birth of a new life. Don’t be scared to do this because you fear the wee baby might not make it. As true as it is that not every baby makes it home from the NICU it is important to remember that every baby deserves to be celebrated. If you don’t know what to say, just say that. Don’t stay silent or worse say something that could be deemed as insensitive. Tell your friends you will be there for them whenever they want to talk. Make them a dinner for coming home from the hospital or offer to help with housework. Let them know that they are the most important people in their babies lives.

I wouldn’t wish our NICU journey on our worst enemy. If someone you know is currently going through their own NICU journey have a thought about what I have written above.

Stay Cool.

Scottish Twin Mamma

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World Prematurity Day 17th November 2017 — Triggering PTSD

Today is a very significant day for parents of premature babies world wide. As with many health issues you can find support groups on social media platforms such as Facebook etc personally I am a member of a few groups aimed towards anxiety, premature birth and multiple birth. It is a well known fact that multiple births are high risk pregnancies and a high percentage end with the babies being born early. Usually the more babies are there, the earlier the babies are born. What isn’t discussed as often is Singleton babies born too soon. According to The World Health Organisation (WHO) there are sub-categories of pre-term birth, based on gestational age.

  • Moderate – late preterm (32 to <37 weeks)
  • Very preterm (28-<32 weeks)
  • Extremely preterm Aka micro preemie (<28 weeks)

My boys were born at 25 weeks gestation. Lewis was 1lb 7ozs. (652grams) Logan was 1lb 11ozs (765grams)

Of the 1 million preterm babies who die every year it has been reported the 3/4 of these babies could have been saved if they had access to proven and usually inexpensive care, such as warmth, breastfeeding support and basic medical care for breathing difficulties and infections. Just let that sink in. 3/4 million babies could be saved every year. That one statistic is enough to prove raising awareness of preterm birth is essential. By raising awareness we are able to raise funding that can go towards research to prevent as many preterm births as possible. Although, as a preemie mum it can be so so difficult to see all the pictures of tiny babies with breathing tubes fighting for their life in incubators I understand the importance of getting those images and stories out there. If you read blogs or articles that take you through someone’s NICU journey you will find most of the mums state that they had very little knowledge of preterm birth and it’s causes.

My case was a bit different however, I grew up knowing that the miracles of science could save a baby born so early. My older brother was born at 26 weeks gestation in 1977. The doctors didn’t give him a real chance of survival. He weighed less than a bag of sugar. He is now 40 years old with his own family. My poor mum then went into labour with me around the same gestation, however, this time they knew that there was a chance of this happening so she had been monitored very closely throughout her pregnancy. So with some medical interventions I lasted until mum was 30 weeks pregnant. It was always thought that spontaneous preterm labour was not heredity, yet recently WHO have stared there could be a family link.

I have tried to speak about my experiences of preterm birth with my boys in this blog but I have successfully managed to avoid my personal feelings and speak more about the facts. This has been one of my biggest personal demons. I’m like an emu. When life is stressful I put the biggest smile on my face, pretend to the world that everything is A-ok and bury my head along with my problems in the sand. I recently discovered this only works for a certain length of time then all those fears, feelings and anxieties rush to the surface and there is no way to hold it all back. The last few months have been like a living hell and I’m sure my family who are my biggest support network will agree it wasn’t pleasant for them either. I went from being a happy bubbly person to someone who took every tiny thing to heart and would explode in a rage to defend herself when in actual fact I wasn’t being threatened in the slightest. Some studies suggest that up to 71% of NICU mums go on to develop PTSD. Is it any wonder though? The body and mind go through such a massive invasion at childbirth and that is when mum and baby are in good health. Now add in additional stressors such as traumatic birth, premature birth, complications to mum and baby.

So today is National Prematurity Awareness Day. Please take some time to pray for and/or send Well wishes for those babies who are still currently riding that NICU rollercoaster.

Think of the babies born too soon who didn’t get to go home from the neonatal unit.

Think of the babies who fight life threatening illness every winter due to their lungs being damaged from Prematurity.

Think of the babies who due to being born early and fighting for life daily in the early stages are now left with physical, cognitive or learning disabilities.

Think of the parents who fight along side their little warriors praying to take their place and not see their little miracle suffer everyday.

Think. Just think. The fight doesn’t end for many parents and babies when they leave the NICU and often this is a time where the parents need more emotional support than before. The fight can continue for years and even be lifelong.

To all the babies born too soon, I salute you.

Stay Cool.

Scottish Twin Mamma.

World Prematurity Day 17th November 2017 — Triggering PTSD

Today is a very significant day for parents of premature babies world wide. As with many health issues you can find support groups on social media platforms such as Facebook etc personally I am a member of a few groups aimed towards anxiety, premature birth and multiple birth. It is a well known fact that multiple births are high risk pregnancies and a high percentage end with the babies being born early. Usually the more babies are there, the earlier the babies are born. What isn’t discussed as often is Singleton babies born too soon. According to The World Health Organisation (WHO) there are sub-categories of pre-term birth, based on gestational age.

  • Moderate – late preterm (32 to <37 weeks)
  • Very preterm (28-<32 weeks)
  • Extremely preterm Aka micro preemie (<28 weeks)

My boys were born at 25 weeks gestation. Lewis was 1lb 7ozs. (652grams) Logan was 1lb 11ozs (765grams)

Of the 1 million preterm babies who die every year it has been reported the 3/4 of these babies could have been saved if they had access to proven and usually inexpensive care, such as warmth, breastfeeding support and basic medical care for breathing difficulties and infections. Just let that sink in. 3/4 million babies could be saved every year. That one statistic is enough to prove raising awareness of preterm birth is essential. By raising awareness we are able to raise funding that can go towards research to prevent as many preterm births as possible. Although, as a preemie mum it can be so so difficult to see all the pictures of tiny babies with breathing tubes fighting for their life in incubators I understand the importance of getting those images and stories out there. If you read blogs or articles that take you through someone’s NICU journey you will find most of the mums state that they had very little knowledge of preterm birth and it’s causes.

My case was a bit different however, I grew up knowing that the miracles of science could save a baby born so early. My older brother was born at 26 weeks gestation in 1977. The doctors didn’t give him a real chance of survival. He weighed less than a bag of sugar. He is now 40 years old with his own family. My poor mum then went into labour with me around the same gestation, however, this time they knew that there was a chance of this happening so she had been monitored very closely throughout her pregnancy. So with some medical interventions I lasted until mum was 30 weeks pregnant. It was always thought that spontaneous preterm labour was not heredity, yet recently WHO have stared there could be a family link.

I have tried to speak about my experiences of preterm birth with my boys in this blog but I have successfully managed to avoid my personal feelings and speak more about the facts. This has been one of my biggest personal demons. I’m like an emu. When life is stressful I put the biggest smile on my face, pretend to the world that everything is A-ok and bury my head along with my problems in the sand. I recently discovered this only works for a certain length of time then all those fears, feelings and anxieties rush to the surface and there is no way to hold it all back. The last few months have been like a living hell and I’m sure my family who are my biggest support network will agree it wasn’t pleasant for them either. I went from being a happy bubbly person to someone who took every tiny thing to heart and would explode in a rage to defend herself when in actual fact I wasn’t being threatened in the slightest. Some studies suggest that up to 71% of NICU mums go on to develop PTSD. Is it any wonder though? The body and mind go through such a massive invasion at childbirth and that is when mum and baby are in good health. Now add in additional stressors such as traumatic birth, premature birth, complications to mum and baby.

So today is National Prematurity Awareness Day. Please take some time to pray for and/or send Well wishes for those babies who are still currently riding that NICU rollercoaster.

Think of the babies born too soon who didn’t get to go home from the neonatal unit.

Think of the babies who fight life threatening illness every winter due to their lungs being damaged from Prematurity.

Think of the babies who due to being born early and fighting for life daily in the early stages are now left with physical, cognitive or learning disabilities.

Think of the parents who fight along side their little warriors praying to take their place and not see their little miracle suffer everyday.

Think. Just think. The fight doesn’t end for many parents and babies when they leave the NICU and often this is a time where the parents need more emotional support than before. The fight can continue for years and even be lifelong.

To all the babies born too soon, I salute you.

Stay Cool.

Scottish Twin Mamma.

The big 1!!! Part 1:

Well on Thursday my wee cherubs turned 1 year old. I still can’t believe how far they have came and what a horrible start to life my wee boys had.

The day consisted of my hubby and I saying things like “oh this time last year this was happening” etc The memories are so vivid and raw that it doesn’t allow your brain to compute it was 12 months ago I’ll start by telling you all how this year went before delving into last years antics

Hubby had taken the day off so we woke up as a family All 4 of us and it was lovely We decided to let the boys still go to nursery as they love it so much They had a wee party with their pals had cake and were sung to whilst hubby and I picked up balloons we had ordered and organised the house I’ve had it in my head for a while that I wanted them to have a build bear made just for them for their first birthday Keep in mind no one mentioned I’d have to remortgage the house to pay for it Jeez However. It was worth every penny to see the wonder of their faces to see the fluff machine turn and tumble All 4 of us kissed each heart to give each bear life It was amazing The staff couldn’t have been nicer if they tried and tbh they helped make the whole experience magical They boys even got a couple of pound from an elderly couple we met in a lift for their wee banks As soon as the couple heard their story they were straight in their pockets Which I found very sweet and kind

We had decided to keep Thursday just for us As both sets of grandparents were having a birthday tea at the weekend and I feel this was the best decision we have made in a long time We have had to share our boys so much since they have been born that it felt good to be selfish and keep them to ourselves Don’t think the grandparents agreed though

So a quick run down of this time last year pretty much went as follows:

I had spent the best part of 5 weeks in hospital with only a day here and there home I was missing my husband and my fur babies something terrible so to say I wasn’t in the best of moods or mindset was an understatement I was supposed to be going home on the 25th and was looking forward to it I think I was in denial that the boys would arrive early as I had been in and out of labour with massive bleeding pretty much since I turned 20 weeks pregnant so when I woke up at 5am with tightening and the tiniest bit of bleeding I had decided I wasn’t going to tell the midwives I did however, tell my husband who got pretty irate with me demanding I tell them About 10 minutes after coming off phone a midwife came into my room just to check on me i decided to tell her but it turns out she already knew My sneaky husband had basically told on me whilst waiting on the doctor to review me the tightening got stronger and regular so I was whipped back into the labour room where my twin incubators where still set up from the day before whe I was there Not gonna lie I still thought this was all extreme as I was convinced it would stop and I would be back on main ward within a few hours When I was speaking to hubby though I had a strong feeling I wanted him there He also wanted to be with me Now to put it into perspective my hubby still went to work everyday during this period even though he always offered to be with me However, for some unknown reason he wasn’t going to take go to work as an answer and I really wanted him with me The doctor decided against an internal exam as this can bring labour on so I was monitored very closely I remember asking for something for pain or even gas and air for the now extremely sore tightenings I was given diamorphine bit refused gas and air as I wasn’t having “real” contractions only tightenings

At 12 Monday the consultant decided we needed to know what was going on down below as everything was becoming scarily regular The senior doctor on her service set up for exam She raised the bed and didn’t even touch me just peeked and jumped so high into air that she sent the examination trolley across the room If I hadn’t been so scared I would’ve found this funny I asked if everything was OK Dumb question as I knew by her reaction that it wasn’t The consultant finished the exam informing me I was 5 cm dilated and past the point of no return No matter what at least one of my babies where coming today The first thing I thought was thank god those were real contractions as I was freaking out thinking or dreading what real ones would be like as these “tightenings” were so bloody painful

At this point I experienced a wash of emotions from thank god hubby was here and made me tell the midwives the truth to mind numbing fear as they were too early to excitement that I was going to meet my gorgeous babies We didn’t know the sex of the babies and I had convinced myself that it was a boy and a girl. Hubby phoned my mum as I wanted her at the birth and phoned his parents so all the right people knew what was happening At this point all the parishioners from our chapel had skint knees from praying so much for these precious bundles and I know my mother in law stepped this up a few gears when she knew of their imminent arrival When my mum arrived I was really shocked at how calm she was I didn’t find out til later she had phoned my dad and aunt and cried all the way to the hospital from work so that it was out her system in a sense so she could be strong for me

My poor mum knew better than anyone what I was going through She had lost at baby at 26 weeks then had my brother at 26 weeks then had me at 30 weeks She knew the fear pain and excitement more than anyone, keep in mind my babies were 25 weeks – I always have to go one better 🙂

By 4pm I was fully dilated and the doctor ordered me very seriously not to push!’ Eh what?? That’s not an easy task At this point she explained that if baby 2 doesn’t progress on their own she would leave them meaning I could’ve had twins born on separate days Now that would be a story At 1711 on 25/02/15 Lewis came flying out into this world at the exact moment when it was only hubs mum and 1 very special midwife who we have since became friends with (some bonds cannot be broken) the emergency buzzer was pressed as this tiny 1lb 7oz purple baby lay on the bed not moving With a split second the room was filled with over 10 people Each baby had their own team of neonatologists and I had my own team of midwives It was a very busy room As the team work on Lewis I became obsessed that I didn’t hear him cry but I was told he was too young and the team had intubated him straight away I was scanned to see what baby 2 was doing and he was breech with no signs of moving However, at 1740 Logan made his appearance into the world after a good few pushes and puffs of gas and air – magic stuff btw The first thing I said apparently was ok let’s do this I’m ready for my girl to come now Hubby went grey in case their was a third one hiding in there Lol Again Logan lay on the bed lifeless for a nanosecond before his 1lb 11oz purple body was whipped away by the docs

What I didn’t realise at the time was my dad and brother had been restlessly pacing the floor of the day room so when the boys left my room they got to see them in their travel incubators on route to the nicu like something out of a 50’s film Even at the time the funny part of this wasn’t lost on me

just writing all of this down is really draining on me Next post I promise to tell the rest of that day’s shenanigans but just now I’m spent It’s like I’m living it for real all over again and I have this panicked feeling in my chest

I know it’s daft as both boys are in their cot beside me snoring away happy and healthy but I still hear the machines and feel the fear

Til next post Stay cool

Scottish Twin Mamma

xxxx

This time last year…

Well the above picture showed up on my memories notification from Facebook.   I swear it was like taking a swift kick to the gut, falling down and without chance of catching my breath taking another hard kick.

 

I remember very very clearly this time last year when I had started with what I called tightenings across my belly.  The fear of what it could mean swept through me   The 5 weeks previous to this I had been in and out of hospital so much that I was lucky if I got to spend 2 solid nights in my own bed. Most mothers to be have a grab bag ready for when their little one arrives but I had a grab bag constantly ready for when I had to go to triage at the local maternity hospital for the complications I was experiencing. TMI coming up but 5 days before my boys were born I passed tissue that could only be explained as looking like chicken skin.  Even the nurse inside me took the boak looking st it.  My poor wee dad took me up to hospital knowing very well what pathological delights I kept in my bag. After an internal I was told it was ok to go home.  They would send the tissue away for biopsy but they thought it was a fibroid I had passed.  Keep in mind 2 different consultants came in for a peek and were left flummoxed as to what this tissue could be.  I think this worried me more than settled me.

So it’s Friday, 20/2/15 and I’m on my way home. The tightenings were still happening and felt more like a period cramp at this point. I wasn’t too concerned by this as every time I had an internal examination I felt this level of discomfort for a few hours or so after. However, by 1am on the 21/2/15 I was pretty much in denial that this could be the sign of early labour. By 8am that day my hubby wanted to take me to triage again. I was adamant I wasn’t going in again.  I had only just got home. My family were exhausted from the visiting hours and I really missed my cats.  I know that sounds stupid on the grand scale of things but I am literally the crazy cat lady and I love my furry boys so much. I knew when babies came along the cats wouldn’t be able to sleep in our room with us anymore as it just wouldn’t be safe.  Still made me sad though. It wasn’t until maybe about 10am when my hubs pointed out to brace myself as I was just about to get another bad pain that I realised they were coming with some regularity as of course said pain started.   After this I started timing between the tightenings – told you I was in denial so they weren’t contractions but simply tightenings. As my hubby had rightly said they were coming 10 mins apart. I still refused point blank to go back to hospital yet again. Over the course of the Saturday they spaced out then would go back to 10 mins. By the Sunday my husband was losing his mind and quite point blankly said I could go to hospital of my own accord or he was gonna pick me up out me over his shoulder and carry me to the hospital.  I could tell by his eyes he was serious so I reluctantly gave in stating that if they keep me in again not only was I not speaking to him but we were done. Finished.  Getting a divorce – ok so maybe I wasn’t my most rational at this point.

Of of course they kept me in, discovered I was 1 dilated and my cervix had shortened. They said I wasn’t in labour so not to get upset but as a precaution they were going to let the neonatal icu know what was happening and they immediately moved me into the labour room that had those 2 beasts in it that you see above. They even had Twin 1 and Twin 2 written on them. Eh thanks very much for freaking me the hell out at the very same time you are telling me to stay nice and calm. They started me on magnesium sulphate drip which for the first 15 mins during the bolus dose you literally feel like you are dying.  It’s also a drip that is given over 24 hours so it’s no easy feat. Of course I received the steroid course again to strengthen babies lungs.  I was first given this injection when I was only 23 weeks pregnant.  I had a Russian doctor tell me there was no point to it as babies weren’t viable – please note I HATE that word and that the babies would simply die. From that moment on I not onlyhated the word viable but I hated that bitch.  I realise for some of you this may sound extreme but at that time nicu was full so they were looking to transfer me to Dundee. I live in glasgow which is hundreds of miles away.  Come to think of it 1 year on I still have a strong dislike if not hate for this woman but don’t worry the next day I reported her lack of bedside manner and I asked that she no longer took to do with any of my care.

So to say the picture above brings back loads of memories and not of the good kind is a massive understatement.

Stay cool.

 

Scottish Twin Mamma

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