It all starts from when those 2 little lines pop up on a stick - you’re pregnant! (You even go buy a few more pregnancy tests just to make sure!)
You call and make your midwife appointment, you go on google and search everything and anything baby related, you join baby groups on Facebook and a birth board online for the date you are due.
You do everything you can to hide the fact you have started growing a tiny little human until that first scan.
You’re 12 weeks pregnant and you see your baby on the screen at your ultrasound for the very first time and feel emotions you have never felt before and plan how you’re going to share the news with all your friends and family.
You take all the right supplements and eat healthy along with drinking plenty of water (meaning plenty of extra toilet trips!) you google some more and start talking with your midwife of how you want to give birth, you dream of a minimum pain relief water birth while contemplating whether to breast or bottle feed.
No one mentions that you could have your baby early and not once does that thought enter your mind.
You’re not prepared, you haven’t packed a bag!
You’re getting rushed in for an emergency c section or getting steroid injections to try and give your baby the best chance possible at survival, the words “best chance at survival” words you never thought you would hear when thinking of your unborn child.
You have professionals surrounding you with so much medical equipment beeping while you’re being asked to sign something that you don’t have a minute to read.
And it’s all over in a minute.
Your baby is rushed away.
You’re put into a different room.
Suddenly it’s gone quiet...
You’re in pain and you don’t know where your baby is or if he’s even ok, you didn’t hear him cry when he came out so is he ok!?
Or did you hear him cry? You can’t quite remember, it was over so fast that it’s all a blur.
You think back to how you had seen social media posts telling you that yes, it’s painful but when your baby is placed on your chest it’s all forgotten but you didn’t get that...
Finally, someone comes to see you but they can’t tell you if your baby is ok, just that he is in intensive care and that’s all they can say right now.
But you HAVE to express. You may have never wanted to breastfeed but for your baby’s best chance at survival you have to try and get that precious colostrum for him.
There it is again, “baby’s best chance of survival”
You finally get to see your baby hours later but you’ll have never seen anything like it before in your life. This isn’t a baby surely?
He’s too small, there’s not an ounce of fat on him, his skin looks different and you can’t even see his face for breathing equipment.
Can you have a cuddle? Not yet...
Day 2, can you have a cuddle? Not yet...
There are things you can do to help though, trying to express as much milk as you can being the main one, even though your baby probably isn’t even having any yet down that tiny little tube...
You go home to an empty house, a quiet house, your hospital bag maybe half packed on the floor and a few baby bits that you had started to buy.
No matter how much you try to sleep, every time you close your eyes all you can hear is the beeping from all the machines surrounding your baby, plus you have an alarm set every 3 hours day and night to remind you to get up and stick a machine on you to try get some milk for your baby.
You feel guilt, sadness and almost as if the experience of having a new-born has been taken away from you, and then you feel more guilt again for feeling that way.
The hospital becomes your second home, where you spend more time at than your actual home, there’s nothing you can do there other than sit by your baby and doing his cares when it’s time.
When people think about premature babies they think of babies that are super cute because they are tiny!
The reality is so much different, there is a reason they are supposed to be in for 40 weeks and when they come earlier than they are supposed to they aren’t fully developed, inside and out.
There are so many difficulties and challenges that those tiny little bodies need to go through in order to survive.
When people say their premature baby is a fighter, they are absolutely right. They have been through so much without even knowing it themselves.
If your friend, family member or maybe even just someone on your online baby group has just had their baby prematurely, they might say they are fine and they don’t need anything but let me tell you right now, they are probably not fine, they need your support, they need your understanding, patience...
If you’re looking for a gift to give then hand moisturiser is a good one! As a parent of a preemie, you will never put so much hand sanitiser on your hands in your life!