Everyone needs to read this post by diary of a premmy mum. It's so well written. It's also a bit close to home and a tad painful to read. But so helpful at the same time. The bit that really stood out for me was this...
'ALL BABIES ARE ALLOWED OUT FOR KANGAROO CARE AT ALL TIMES UNLESS A CONSULTANT STATES TO TO CONTRARY'
The sign in one of her many NICUs. I didn't even know that was possible. All times?! All times?! I wish. As I read through Leanna's post I remembered the pain of kangaroo care. It was so wonderful yet really quite heartbreaking.
When it worked it was like I was complete, hubs nearby, my baby on my chest, his heart on my heart, his breaths steadied by my breaths, his heat regulated by my heat. If I closed my eyes and sunk into an imaginary place far from NICU and pretended these moments would last forever - it was bliss.
But there were a few problems. Firstly it didn't always work. Sometimes far from calming Skittle it would send his obs swirling and his machines blaring. He wouldn't be allowed on me with bradies and desats happening left, right and centre. Often the nurses would come and put him back in the incubator for a rest.
I hated that.
Why does my baby need a rest from me? It felt like it was my fault for making him worse. Like I couldn't hold him properly. Like he didn't know it was me. I wanted nothing more than to just hold him, hold him tight and run away. But I wasn't in charge. The nurses were in charge and they decided when I could have a cuddle. In our unit they were very aware of kangaroo care, which was great as any cuddles we did have were skin to skin.
Its just that I always had to wait.
Wait and wait. And remind. And ask.
Maybe it wasn't as bad as I'm making out, but to me every second of longing for a cuddle hurt. It hurt deep, so the minutes were painful, the hours were agonizing. Not least because the chairs were so flipping uncomfortable and I often ended up with what we liked to call "incubator face" from having my forehead/cheek/chin pressed against a plastic box for hours on end.
In the early days I couldn't manage more than 4 hours visiting but eventually I would be there for 10 hours a day, literally as long as was physically possible. But no matter how long I was there for, if I was allowed a cuddle - it was only one cuddle a day. In some units that's probably wonderful but to my aching heart it wasn't enough. I had to fit into the nurses schedule. I could hold him when she was ready. Usually at about 12.30/1pm. I always dithered wondering when would be the best time to eat. Do I eat before but risk missing my window of opportunity on the cuddle front or do I eat after and risk missing my pain relief and feeling rather uncomfortable. I rarely gauged it right!
So then, I'd finally be sitting there holding my Skittle and then, in my eyes, would come the worst bit.
Nurse: have you had your lunch yet mum?
Me: no not yet but I'm fine.
Nurse: ok well let me know when you want me to put him back in.
Never, I never want to ask you to put him back in. I want to hold him all day and all night and never leave him. I feel guilty when I ask for him to go back in, I wish you wouldn't ask such a horrible question. I wish you wouldn't make me wait. I wish you weren't in control. I wish I could be a mum.
Ugh. Long days. Heavy memories.