‘To all those who are in NICU or SCBU today, to all those who are going home to an empty cot tonight and are longing to sleep next to their baby…I’ve been there too.’
Nothing prepared us for spending time in the NICU and SCBU. None of the antenatal classes or books tell you what to do if you find yourself sitting next to an incubator for the first weeks of your baby’s life. So when it happened to us, we found ourselves overwhelmed and deeply confused about what was happening.
I remember holding our baby’s tiny hand for the first time, through the holes in the side of his incubator; machines whirring, lights flashing. I had a great urge to pick him up and pull off all the equipment that he was attached to. But, we quickly got used to manoeuvring around tubes and machines every time we needed to change his nappy, take off an item of clothing or hold him on our chest. The first day that we took him home and were able to simply pick him up out of his Moses basket, felt like a little piece of heaven.
I remember watching other parents come and go through the neonatal unit. I would stare longingly at their car seats as they loaded their babies up and walked out of the hospital doors for the last time. At some points, it felt like our day was never going to come. But it did.
The day that we took our little guy home for the first time was a day that I will never forget. I am not sure that you can ever explain to a parent who has not been on a neonatal unit, just how good it feels to be able to leave through the doors you have walked through every day, holding your baby with you, instead of longing for them in your arms. To get home and be able to drink a cup of tea whilst sitting on the sofa with your baby on your chest, has to be one of the hardest earnt but most satisfying joys that you can imagine after an unexpected start.
To all those who are in NICU or SCBU today, to all those who are going home to an empty cot tonight and are longing to sleep next to their baby…I’ve been there too.
In three weeks time, I will celebrate my little one’s 2nd birthday. It’s amazing how time flies. And it’s incredible what a tough little toddler he has become. He learned to walk before any of his friends at nursery and he’s now the most chatty and talkative of the lot. He’s had a steel look of determination in his eye since we brought him back from hospital. I’m starting to wonder if his speedy and early entrance to the world was only the beginning. He seems to be in a bit of a rush to get things done most of the time! And I wouldn’t have it any other way.