You would like to think that the day your baby is born, you become a parent. Some people may argue that you become parents during pregnancy. Others believe that it takes a few days or weeks to consider yourself a Mummy. There is however, usually a defining moment for everyone. With both of my children, I felt I was a Mummy when I began to feel each of them kick. With my eldest child, I assumed that the moments after he entered the world, this feeling of being Mummy would be reemphasised. But within hours of T entering the world, that feeling of being Mummy just wasn’t there.
My husband and I were informed during our pregnancy that our baby had a lesion growing on his left lung. The consultant had informed us that there would be a lot of unknowns regarding the baby’s health until his birth.. It was an incredibly tough second half of the pregnancy, but we had reached the end in March 2017. Much to our surprise, he entered the world screaming his lungs out, something that we were told not to expect, given his diagnosis.
Despite being told by our consultant that we may require a stay in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, it was never something that I could see happening. I couldn’t image it. It was literally implausible to me that our baby would be poorly enough to need to stay in intensive care. In hindsight, I was in total denial. The pregnancy was difficult enough to get through day to day, I don’t think I could bare to think about what could happen after the birth.. A very naïve view, but I think I just did, or rather thought, what I needed to, in order to get through my pregnancy.
After T entered the world screaming, we had a few precious minutes of skin to skin. I couldn’t believe he was here. I couldn’t believe he was crying. He was breathing! I felt like we were winning. As promised, T was taken to the NICU to be assessed, and my husband stuck by his side throughout the assessment as planned. I remained on delivery suite, tucking into the best toast in the world, freshening up and waiting patiently to see my baby again.
It had been a couple of hours and finally my husband returned with one of the NICU doctors, without T. The doctor explained that T was actually having difficulties breathing and required additional oxygen at all times. He required further investigations to diagnose him, remaining in intensive care until a treatment plan had been fulfilled. Now, for those who don’t know me, I am a very emotional person. Whether I’m stressed, sad, angry or happy, the emotional result is the same.. You would assume that such news would be enough to kick start the water works.. Instead, I almost felt nothing. I was numb.
Knowing that I had just given birth, I could forgive myself for not being in the best frame of mind.. But I had definitely removed myself from the situation, mentally. And I most definitely didn’t feel like a Mummy. I had already been without my son for two hours, and it was another hour before I saw him again. I had to wait twenty two hours before I could hold him once more. This wasn’t what I had envisioned when we made the decision to start our family. Even now, it saddens me that we missed out on those precious first few hours together. I feel robbed of that time, we will never get it back again. I felt guilty that I had those magical first moments with our second son, J. Iit was something that always concerned me, before and during my second pregnancy.
Seeing T for the first time in the NICU, it was like someone had knocked the wind out of me. The beeping noises, the wires, the oxygen and feeding tubes – it was like I was watching my very own nightmare. I sat next to his incubator feeling like I couldn’t touch him, like I could break him in some way. Holding him for the first time since he moved into the NICU was a nerve-wracking experience. The wires and leads he needed were extensive, and I was terrified I would detach one. But, once he was in my arms, I realised that I needed to be holding him. As much as I was a comfort to him, he was a comfort to me. In that moment, I felt that I needed him more than he needed me.
I found myself relaxing into our cuddle, enjoying it, cherishing it; not knowing when the next cuddle would be exactly. I realised, with T in my arms, where he and I both belonged, that I was his Mummy. We may not have spent enough time together during his first day of life, but that didn’t change the fact that we were his parents. I was his Mummy. I was instantly proud. He was my son, who had had a tough start, but here he was, completely snuggled into me. My husband and I, completely besotted with him. We hadn’t spent our first day as a family, but that didn’t diminish the fact that we were a family. We were The Three Musketeers.