3 things I wish I could have told myself when my premmies were born.
Today is my youngest premmie Essie’s 3rd birthday. I cannot believe it’s been 3 years since I was lying in hospital waiting to have her and not knowing what her health would be when she entered the world.
This time 3 years ago, my second pregnancy came to an abrupt end when it was determined that I would have to have my baby immediately. I was lying in a completely new hospital as I couldn’t have her at our original hospital as I was only 31 weeks gestation. I had a new obstetrician as my previous one didn’t work out of the new hospital, and I was absolutely starving as they hadn’t let me eat anything since midnight the night before. Not a great combo for an expecting Mum!
At 3.38pm Essie arrived via cesarean with the smallest of cries. She was whisked off by the pediatrician to check her over and was then handed to me for a quick cuddle before being taken up to the Special Care Nursery. My husband followed her upstairs and for the second time I was left to be stitched up and sent to recovery for what seemed like an eternity. As I lay there with tears streaming down my face not knowing whether my new darling baby girl was healthy or not I began to relive the first few days after my first premmie daughter Poppy was born 2 years earlier. I recalled how we had so many visitors but no one really knew what to say because Poppy wasn’t in my hospital room and they didn’t know whether to ask questions about a premature baby, or to ask if I was ok with the whole situation. I remembered the first time I was allowed to change her nappy in the humidicrib and how scared I was of twisting her the wrong way, and the first time we were allowed to bath her and were told not to get her ‘cord’ wet, which I assumed was her umbilical cord, but of course it was her feeding tube and I had it floating in the water!
I lay there and wondered if Essie would have trouble breastfeeding like Poppy did because her little head and mouth were just too small to latch on properly and wondered if she would have the same silent reflux and cry for the first 3 months of her life like Poppy had. I also wondered if I was going to be able to cope with all this again with a 2 and a half-year-old to manage also.
Today I sit here and wish that with the knowledge I now have about both my girls 3 years on, I had perhaps sat back and enjoyed it a little more rather than trying so hard to get Essie ‘caught up’ in so many milestones.
There are three things I so wish I could have told myself when Essie was born:
- Don’t worry that she prefers a bottle over breastfeeding and STOP PUMPING because you feel you have too! I spent way too many hours pumping in our lounge room only to have her not finish a bottle and the end result would be me in tears completely devastated that all that effort resulted in 25mls being drunk (and 2 hours of my life gone). Today she loves milk and guzzles it whenever she gets the chance. She also THRIVED on formula when I began giving it to her and put on twice as much weight as she was with breast milk. I know everyone says ‘breast is best’ but my personal belief is that a fed baby and sane Mum is best. Enough said.
- Stop letting everyone’s comments about how tiny she is get to you. Yes she was tiny (2kg when she came home), but now as a 3 year old, she is one of the tallest in her group at daycare and she eats everything in sight! She’s spot on with all her developmental milestones and you would never know she was born early. I wish I’d enjoyed her being small for that little bit longer – I loved the closeness of being able to tuck her in to my top & miss those long afternoon cuddles.
- Trust your gut. I thought I trusted mine back then, but looking back I was often swayed by different doctors and nurses opinions. I remember once I asked one of the nurses if I should be taking her outside much when I got her home. I was told that it wasn’t really a good idea to have her outside for too long, so for the first 3 months I didn’t get out of the house nearly as much as I would have liked and it took a huge toll on me mentally, especially when I had both girls at home – we all went a bit stir crazy I think.
As I sit here now watching Essie bouncing on the trampoline outside with Poppy, I WISH time would slow down! I wish I’d taken 10 times as many photos and I wish that one day when Essie reads this she will know that as her Mum, a Mum of 31 week, 1.3kg premmie I did my absolute best and that’s all any new Mum can do.