This post by 23 Week Socks describes her thoughts about the decisions she and her husband were faced with making when her baby threatened to make an early appearance at 26 weeks. As a neonatal nurse (and her baby would have been cared for in her own unit), she knew more than the average parent the challenges her baby would face in the neonatal unit.
When faced with the premature birth of Hugo, the discussions we had with the neonatal consultants were terrifying. They told us straight: our baby had a 50/50 chance of being born alive, or having a short and painful life due to a variety of challenges such as a brain bleed, and bowel problems. They asked us if we would like them to attempt resuscitation, and we did not hesitate. Our baby was so wanted, and we knew that when the time came for our baby to be born it would be by Caesarean section, while I was under a general anaesthetic. Martin was not allowed in theatre. That would have meant neither of us would have met Hugo, or have got to know the special boy he was.
Being a neonatal mummy can be torture. You just want to pick up your baby and give them a cuddle, but you can’t. There was a time when a doctor pressed on Hugo’s tummy during an examination; he screwed up his little face in pain and discomfort. I just wanted to pick him up and make everything ok for him, but I couldn’t. I sobbed instead.
There were times during Hugo’s life that I wondered whether I was being selfish. He had so many wires in him, so many tests that he hated. We were hoping that it would all be worth it, that we would take our baby home: Hugo would not remember any of the trauma.
That notion is why posts like this are so important. Yes, many premature babies do go home, and it is those heartwarming success stories we hear about most. However, like Blopmamma says, few escape unscathed. Hugo’s doctors say he was entirely comfortable, until the last day when he told us himself he had had enough. But what does ‘comfortable’ mean? What would Hugo have said if he could tell us what he wanted? His nurses said they could tell Hugo loved us, his mummy and daddy, and held on so well because he felt the intensity of our love for him.
It is impossible to know, of course. These ‘what ifs’ and ‘did I do the right thing’ thoughts are part of grief.
The 35 days I had with Hugo were so precious. I would not change for the world the chance I had to get to know my feisty little Hugo Boss, get to know his ways, the opportunity for those amazing cuddles. I would go back and do it all again for the chance to spend time with my son again. That means conveniently forgetting about the end. The awful decisions. The letting him go.
I love him and miss him so much.
When Squidge attempted to arrive at 26 weeks me and the Northern One were forced by the situation to think about whether we would want the neonatal team to attempt full resuscitation if I did progress into full labour.
I lay on the bed in the early pregnancy unit, strapped to the foetal monitor, holding the Northern One’s hand so tight that my knuckles were white and I cried with fear.
As it was everything settled down reasonably quickly and after three nights in hospital, various medications to halt labour and two lots of excruciatingly painful steroid injections I was discharged home.
It was still too close for comfort, especially as I later discovered that my local hospital had run the unit where I worked to check that they had an intensive care bed and the transport team was on stand by to come and collect Squidge if he did…
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