Thursday, 31 May 2012

this time last year

We came home from hospital with a discharge sheet that said "failing pregnancy of unknown location" and we were to wait to miscarry. 4 agonizing days later it began. We were living with friends at the time while we waited for our flat to become available, although gracefully they were on holiday at the time.

The devastation rippled though my being and left me in agony and very confused.

I was signed off work for 6 weeks and tried to recover. The stakes were high, I'd had surgery 6 months before that to improve my fertility. It would be effective for 6 months and I was scared that that was it. Our chance had gone. A selection of unhelpful and unpleasant thoughts filled my mind and consumed my thoughts. I struggled to cope.

We saw the GP. She couldn't have been kinder. She ended our appointment saying "don't worry, I see ladies like you all the time. You'll be back in a years time pregnant or with a baby and everything will have changed. You won't feel like this forever."

Yeah right. I mumbled.

Turns out, she was.  

A couple of months went by and then we fell pregnant with Skittle. We went for an early scan but it was too early to see anything, cue insane panic. I thought it was happening again. Lots of pregnancy tests and another week later we saw a little bean. A gorgeous bean. With a flicker of a heartbeat. So much relief swept over us. 

I was worried the whole pregnancy. Worried it would happen again. But it didn't. We had 9 scans in total and every time we saw our little bean become more and more like a baby.

It feels very strange thinking about this time last year. So much has happened in 12 months. I can't quite believe I'm sat on the sofa with a sleeping baby in my arms. It's so hard to think about our lost tiny beans and know how to feel. If either of those pregnancies had been successful, we could never have had Skittle. And no matter what heartache has gone before it's all been worth it to have this incredible baby in my arms right now. 

I don't think I'll ever forget though.

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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

learning to play

In keeping with his untininess I put Skittle on his playmat for the first time yesterday. Wasn't really sure when you're supposed to start using those things but we'd put it up before he arrived home and it's been on the nursery room floor awaiting it's debut ever since. 

My brother and his wife had a baby (born exactly on her due date!) 6 days before Skittle was delivered. Here they are looking particularly gorgeous...

I cried all day the day she was born, but that's a story for another day. Anyhow, although they live in America they're proving rather useful for me to ask daft questions, like when did Pretty go on her playmat? 6 weeks apparently. So seeing as Skittle is now 6 weeks corrected I thought we'd give it a whirl. 

He. Was. So. Cute.

Not sure what to do with his arms or legs but quite keen on hubby and I shaking the little rattly things near him and after a few minutes of "warming up" he had a good kick around!

It got me thinking though, how do babies learn how to play? And what can I do to help?

Playing seems to initially be tied up in two packages, milestones and sight.

Now as a premmy mum I'm doing my best not to get too bothered with milestones, we'll get there at whatever speed Skittle so chooses. The tortoise wins the race, right? But to some extent there is at least an order in which babies will do things based on development. And that has a lot more to do with sight, so I've been doing my research. I started researching a while before Skittle was born, not knowing my research time would be cut short by 10 weeks!

Exhausted with very red eyes after ROP test.
Once Skittle had been transferred to SCBU he had a couple of eye tests to rule out retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). The process was awful. The mum next to me said she'd been advised to leave the room because the test was so unpleasant to watch and the babies found it so distressing. Uh oh. I decided to stay. He had two sets of eye drops but then the Dr was late and the effects had worn off so he had to have it done again. Twice in the same day! Poor Skittle. I refused to let her use clips on his eyelids so I had to force them open myself while she did her poking and prodding. He was so anaemic he didn't have the energy to cry.

There is a great little video on the ladybird website about how infant sight develops. And I found this article from babycentre really helpful. I noticed from fairly early on that the only thing Skittle was particularly bothered about was our fireplace! It's a black square on a white wall so everything I'd read about babies only seeing in black and white to start with was obviously true.

I got a bit carried away researching baby toys that are best for sight development and spent a tad too much money on amazon getting plenty things that resembled zebras. I especially likes the Lamaze range and they have a good explanation on their website about awakening the senses, it's all a bit wordy but it makes sense.

Having said I'm not too bothered about milestones, I'm concerned that there's no way I would have been this interested in the type of toys Skittle was playing with had he arrived a little less suddenly. But still I suppose it's no bad thing to be aware of what will be stimulating to him and what is of no use for a few more months at least.

Fact remains, at some point he'll just be interested in a card board box and an upside-down saucepan with a wooden spoon!

Monday, 28 May 2012

square one

Is it ok to get to the end of a demanding day and just feel like you're right back at square one? Don't worry, that's rhetorical.

I've been trying so hard. It probably doesn't look like it, but I have.

Today we had our first playdate. Which was a big deal in itself. I'd been psyching myself up for it all weekend. I was nervous. Not sure my fragile social skills would cope. Our boys were born a week apart and Skittle is the eldest. I'd not seen any other babies to compare him too and seeing them together was odd. Big Bubba's Muma was so natural at breastfeeding, I knew I was clumsy and found it difficult but I didn't realise just how badly I was doing. She told stories about their trips out, funny moments and places they'd been and I tried hard to make it seem like we'd done all those normal things too, without admitting that I still haven't left the house with him alone. The hardest part was looking in on her relationship with her son, the way they interacted and being painfully aware of what I lack.

Another friend text me to ask how the morning had gone. My response caused her to reply with "Lol, it wasn't a test." Oh but it was.

She asked questions about his arrival and I had to say things I didn't want to hear. Remember that I can't remember.

If she were ever to read this post I would want her to know that I had a really nice morning. Honestly. She's such a lovely lady. Her boy is seriously adorable. It was nice to talk baby. It was lovely to see how interested Big Bubba was in Skittle. I'd like to meet up with her again. The reason I found it hard had nothing to do with her.

Plus, she brought brownies.

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Sunday, 27 May 2012

a day in the life

With all the great 'day in the life' posts buzzing round recently I was feeling inspired. 

The only sad thing about doing this today was that our camera is off for repair and I had to use my phone. So the quality isn't great!

Skittle's still a bit little for busy days so our first one is a simple one. I'm looking forward to doing more as he grows though and seeing how our schedule develops.

So here goes...

Daddy's a paramedic...been on nights this weekend :(

Join in and link up with mummy pinkwellies.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

dear baby

Dear Skittle,

You're getting really big. Every time I awaken myself to you, you've changed. I'm so worried I'm going to miss your early growth all together, I spend too much time being scared and not enough time embracing every detail of you.

Yesterday I put suncream on you for the first time. You seemed to like it. I've got to get us signed up for a baby massage class, I think it'll make me take even more notice of your little body.

I've been trying to remember all your sweet features. The things I'm really enjoying at the moment are your squeals, just the last 2 days you've started to make different sounds. They're gorgeous. And I'm in love with the way you scan me when I'm feeding you, your little eyes darting back and forth to take in mine. I'm loving early mornings when you first wake up and are so smiley. It's so cute when you get over excited about eating and shake your head before you start to swallow.

I don't want to forget these days baby. I love you. I'm learning to love you more and not be so terrified of losing you. I'm learning to drink in each moment instead of letting them pass me by shrouded in guilt. You're not fragile and sick now. Your home and you're growing and I want to absorb every bit of your wonder.

Sweet kisses and cuddles,

Muma xxx

Friday, 25 May 2012

reasons to be cheerful

I saw this post and thought it was lovely...the idea started here and I thought I'd join in.

So here are my reasons to be cheerful this week...

  1. Someone bought me lovely flowers.
  2. Skittle looks cute in his sun hat.
  3. Cuddles.
  4. We booked flights to see this pretty girl and her parents.
  5. The weather is lush.
  6. We went to Church for the first time since Skittle arrived and had a nice nap to recover afterwards, sooo many people all in one place. Rather overwhelming.
  7. Hubby gives Skittle a bottle in the middle of the night one day a week so I get more sleep!
  8. I get to look at this all day.
  9. Maxi dresses and baby wraps.
I think I should do this more often, it's so nice to focus on the cheerful things in life!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

he's not tiny anymore

We went to the dreaded health visitors drop in clinic today. We have to get Skittle weighed every fortnight but Lin, our lovely community neonatal nurse isn't due til next week. Managed to get there with only a few shakes and shudders of panic as we crossed the road and avoided conversations with anyone and everyone.

Why does everyone introduce themselves with "how old is he?" anyway?

In the waiting room I noticed something new. Skittle wasn't the tiniest. There were 2 other babies in the waiting room that were clearly a bit smaller.

I knew he'd had a little growth spurt, not least because he's been drinking like a fish this past week! For example, yesterday he fed almost non-stop for 2 hours before bed. I just hadn't realised how much bigger he was. Fact remains that at 15 and a bit weeks old he's average size of a 5 weeker but in my eyes he's a giant.

So today marks the end of tiny baby stage. Which I feel bizarrely sad about. I think it's because I know we're so unlikely have another baby. I said to hubby yesterday that if there's to be one vaguely "nice" thing about having a prem baby, it's that you get a little baby for much longer.

This week he's started to wear 'newborn' clothes, we've come a long way from the initial 'shrink-the-prem-clothes-in-the-tumble-drier-to-make-them-smaller' size!

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Tuesday, 22 May 2012


My friend gave birth to her 4th baby today. Four. Four babies. Four births. Four successful, proper births.

I didn't give birth. My baby was just rescued from my failing body.

I think she's superwoman and I'm a fraud.

I know, I know, I'm not really a fraud. I'd never tell someone in the same situation that. But I feel so inferior today.

It's just been hard remembering that things didn't turn out as I'd expected. Thoughts have been spinning round my head like a kid at the fairground who's over used the teacups and ends the day tired, dizzy and disorientated.

I'm snuggling Skittle on the sofa this evening, thankful that he's here and that he's mine, just wishing I'd seen him sooner. Seen him the second he arrived, just like my friend did. Four times over.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

getting it straight

I made a video of some of our early moments and photos. Just the progress Skittle made while he was in hospital. I needed to get it all straight in my mind. I spend so much of some days lost in little sections of NICU and going over various conversations, decisions and scenarios. I thought it might help me to almost timeline his hospital stay. I don't like watching it back. But I'm glad I've recorded it, maybe now my memories won't get carried away.

Friday, 18 May 2012

dipping my toe in

This week I've been experimenting with the outside world. Since Skittle came home I've been out three times, one tiny walk on mothers day and two attempts the shops, both of which went very badly.
I'm scared of the outside world. When hubby is at work I have to really make myself even open the curtains. I'm living in fear and it's not attractive. I don't recommend it to anyone.

My head swirls with images and ideas of freak accidents happening as soon as I step outside, I exhaust myself going over various scenarios and I'm scared to put Skittle in these dangerous situations I'm imagining.

When I'm reflecting on it like this, I can see that it sounds irrational. I know I'm still living like Skittle's life is in danger. I know technically it's not, its just I've convinced myself I'm going to lose him and doing anything that might make that happen seems like a preposterous idea. Why? Why, would I go outside into the big, bad, scary world and take my tiny, vulnerable baby with me? I'm frightened something will happen to Skittle or that I'll panic so much that I won't be looking after him properly. I mean members of the public call ambulances for people having panic attacks all the time, hubby gets called to loads of them, I can't be having that happen.

Anyway...this week my parents invited us to centerparcs with them and my sisters. It was wonderful. Really helpful in terms of helping me chill out and get some fresh air. Quite healing really. I love centerparcs, I think I've been about 20 times!

It's pedestrianised and secluded. Quiet and peaceful. Gentle and stunning. Fresh and renewing. You can busy yourself with numerous activities or simply sit back and enjoy the scenery. Mainly I stayed in the villa, soaking up the beauty outside the window, actually in all the times I've been, never have we been in such a beautifully located villa, 2 ponds stretched out just beyond our patio and made for incredibly picturesque surroundings.

Not at all in keeping with my big, bad world view. And for this reason I dipped my toe in.

It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. I might just try it again.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

paternity leave - round two

It worried me at the time. We were wasting hubby's paternity leave. We weren't meaning too. We'd had plans, ideas, dreams of what it would be like, what we'd do when it was the 3 of us at home. But when it came to it we were stressed out, dazed and in shock. We watched tv, argued, struggled, questioned and glazed over. There were a few moments where we put lots of effort in, mustered up the courage to try something nice and tend to one another but it was all a bit beyond us if I'm honest. We managed a couple of nice picnics on the lawn and we took the time to capture Skittle on camera with various props, we had a few family members to visit and at times we tried to talk. But it was too hard.

And before we knew it, it was over. I felt like I'd ruined paternity leave for hubby and we'd never get that sweet time back.

Hubby went back to work and that was it. The lovely thing about 12 hour shifts is that he's not around much for 3 or 4 days but then has 3 or 4 days off. Sadly in the last 4 weeks of working he's done a selection of the worst, most harrowing and disturbing jobs of his career. Including 2 seriously ill children, one of which he had to take to our hospital and hand over to one of Skittle's Drs, a man dying from the same condition his precious granddad died from 6 months ago and a one month old that had devastatingly passed away. Cue trauma. My poor hubby had had more than he could take. The straw had well and truly broken the camels back. Paper work done, 2 weeks of short notice annual leave approved due to special circumstances and one final night shift to drag himself through and we entered paternity leave - take 2.

instagram moments
This time we're trying harder. Not exhausting ourselves, no pressure to get things done or being unrealistic, just enjoying time together rather than staring blankly and surviving.

my parents have an attractive garage door!

We're making the time to talk, communicating about what we're going  through, saying sorry and being understanding. Discussing and dreaming and making allowance for one another's faults and binding ourselves together with love. We've snuggled under the duvet on the sofa and watched DVDs and eaten chocolate and whole bags of sweets. We've gotten some fresh air and eaten nice food. We've set little goals for each day and are enjoying each others company. Just the 3 of us. I feel blessed. Blessed to have an amazing hubby and an amazing boy.

I'm stressed out and scared but in taking time out and going slower and being more purposeful things are going better. I like paternity leave take 2.

And the best thing? Yesterday my awesome Mum and Dad booked a lastminute holiday for next week. 5 days in a villa, in the forest, just 2 and a half hours drive away. Lush.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

longest nearly-seven months ever

I really didn't enjoy being pregnant. I was rubbish at it. I felt ill the whole time. I was sick until 21 weeks. I was seriously anaemic. My kidneys got easily infected. I kept going into retention. I had acid reflux. I had very low blood pressure. I was in agony most of the time. I had major PGD. I fainted many times. I could hardly eat anything. I hated being pregnant, I loved carrying my baby and getting gradually bigger, but I hated being pregnant. 

I felt so bad for saying that.

I was so desperate to have a baby. Miscarrying was just the worst time of our lives. When I moaned about feeling dreadful, some people were quick to remind me that I wanted to be pregnant. I wasn't saying I didn't want to be pregnant, I just felt terrible and inpatient. But I still felt guilty for not enjoying it.

People said the second trimester is great, you bloom, they said.

You'll start to feel better soon.

It'll go really quickly. Don't wish it away.

It'll fly by. It'll be over before you know it.

Last day of pregnancy, 30 weeks - my birthday.

Well despite it being a rather short pregnancy it was the longest nearly-seven months ever. Some days I counted down the hours. To this day I have no idea how I did the things I did while pregnant. I don't know how I dragged my aching body into work each week for as long as I did. I eventually had to go part-time, then a bit more part-time. Then my GP suggested I take maternity leave early and I worked from home.

It did not go quickly.

Sore feet :(

I hope he comes early, I'd say. Oh the horror, not that early. I was thinking 2 or 3 weeks not 10. I wish I hadn't said it. I know it made no difference, but still.

Looking at that fragile little body with his chest caving in with every recession heavy breath, oh how I longed to be pregnant again. To have him in me, safe and secure.

 Seeing him in that incubator all weak and vulnerable I just craved feeling him kick inside me again. That was by far the most wonderful part of being pregnant, the kicks. I could feel them from about 16 weeks. I enjoyed the company, he made me jump from time to time but I loved the feeling of his little feet, elbows and bum poking and prodding me. Bizarrely, I sometimes feel like I can still feel him kicking. Which, other than being very odd, makes me very sad. It just reminds me Skittle should have been in there longer and compounds my failing feeling. I thought I was loosing my marbles but apparently lots of women experience "phantom kicks". Strange.

It might have felt like a long time but I wish it had been longer.