Friday, 4 December 2009

Special Care

Monkey was in special care for 4 weeks. What do I remember?

I remember the first time I saw his eyes - well one of them. Maybe he was nearly a week old, we were wheeling his cot down Hospital Street at Northampton General for his first brain scan and he opened one eye, just for a second.

I remember trying to breastfeed - unsuccessfully! And expressing lots of milk (whilst watching Escape to the Country) that we fed Monkey via an NG tube.

I remember trying every type of bottle and teat combination to try and get Monkey to feed. We were told that he'd be allowed home when he could take a bottle.

I remember the first time he cried. Maybe 10 days old. Having a bath. We were so excited to hear him cry. Other (more experienced) Mums on the ward thought it was funny that we were so pleased to hear him cry, and that that would change in the months to come (and it did).

I remember his consultant. A fabulous doctor who I didn't really like because of the news she had to give us (it is highly likely your son will be severely brain damaged) - but I came to respect and like over the next couple of years.

I remember cuddling my son. For hours and hours and hours. There wasn't really anything else to do. I used to feel like I shouldn't cuddle him all the time, that he'd never learn to settle himself (what would Gina Ford say?). With hindsight, it really didn't matter. There are some things I regret but I can honestly say that too much cuddling is not one of those things!

When your baby's in special care, or your child has special needs, you're referred to as 'Monkey's Mum', never by your name. I can understand this in SCBU - you need to know you are a Mum. Your baby doesn't necessarily have the same demands on you as other babies. You don't get to take them home at night and it's a strange and scary kind of limbo. When your child has special needs, you have a thousand appointments with therapists (many lovely (but not all)) who probably can't possibly remember all the parents' names, so you remain 'Monkey's Mum'. And then, when Monkey dies, it takes you a while to remember who you are without him.

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