As told by mum, Kelsie
I lay in the hospital bed, less than 8 hours after giving birth to you and a song came on Spotify “I get to love you. It’s the best thing that I’ll ever do. I get to love you. It’s a promise I’m making to you: Whatever may come your heart I will choose. Forever I’m yours, Forever I do.” Tears streamed down my face, my darling girl because you and Daddy were not with me. My heart broke, it broke for you and it broke that I was not with Daddy, and he had to do this by himself.
My darling girl, you decided to arrive very early. But you know what, I trusted you. I trusted you so much in knowing that you needed to come early. 27+6 is a number that I have read, heard and said so many times. This was the gestation of when you arrived, just over 12 weeks early. Kennedy girl, you gave me such a shock. Mumma thought she had a great plan, an elective c section (after a very traumatic birth with your brother, Brook). This did not happen, you pushed me into something that I never ever wanted to do, have avaginal birth and be in labour again. But that’s okay, because you know what? I did it! We did it!
Kennedy, I am so sorry, when you were born the delivery team asked if I wanted to look at you. I said no, I just couldn’t. Mumma needed to process what had just happened, and I was so scared, scared to admit that this was actually reality. Once you were born, the amazing team did what they needed to do, they intubated you and took you to SCBU. Mumma and Daddy are sorry we left you, that we weren’t by your side. We had to listen and trust the medical team and come back to you when we were allowed to. It felt like hours before we were back with you, but we came back to you, I said we were always going to. Kennedy, I saw you in the incubator. I saw you with all sorts of wires and machines around you. I saw your face that was so bruised. I saw your tiny 1260g body lying there. I saw your dark brown hair just like your brother Brook. I saw you hurting. I saw you. I saw myself cry. I saw myself hurt. I saw Daddy hurt. I saw Daddy cry. And then I saw you and Daddy leave to fly to Wellington. And I was alone.
My darling girl, I lay in bed that night after having you without you in the room. I heard other babies cry. I cried for you. I cried because I had no idea. No idea what it meant to have an extreme premature baby. No idea what it meant that we had to be in the NICU. No idea what any of this meant.
Kennedy, I remember flying to Wellington to be with you and Daddy and this heavy feeling came over me. I didn’t get to say goodbye to your brother Brook. I didn’t get to kiss him. I didn’t get to explain to him what Mumma and Daddy were doing and what had happened. I didn’t get to pack his bag with all his special things in for Nannie’s house. I didn’t get to say I love you to him. Kennedy, Mumma had no idea how I was going to be a Mumma to both you and Brookie, while you were both in two different cities, 318km apart.
My Darling girl, your Daddy is so strong. He really is. He was with you every moment while I couldn’t be with you. He met me after I flew in and took me to see you in your room in the NICU. Kennedy, your Dad had learnt so much already. Mumma could see a look in his eye, it was a look that he knew that you were going to be okay. Kennedy, I learnt so much that I thought I was never going to learn. Intubated, CPAP, longline, blood gasses, blood transfusion, cares, full feeds, IV line, Iron, Vitadol C, morphine, oxygen saturation, daily weigh, nasogastric tube, intravenous lipids, human milk fortifier, TPN, high flow, low flow. These our darling girl became a focus in the conversations Daddy and I were having. Every progress you made we celebrated with you, and every set back you had we knew that you were going to fight. Kennedy, Mumma struggled so much not being able to hold you. All I wanted to do was just grab you, and run. I wanted to just run and get away from all of this. It took so much of me to stay, to stay and fight with you. You are so lucky little girl that me and Daddy make such a great team. The day came for my first cuddle with you, and you know what? I didn’t cry. I think I was overcome with so much love that there was no way I could cry, but all I could do was just soak this moment up because I knew that I would have to wait another 24 hours to hold you again.
Kennedy, I am so sorry that I couldn’t be there for a lot of the medical procedures you had to go through. Head scans, eye tests, the long line procedure, vaccinations, blood transfusion, IV line change. It hurt too much for me to see you having to go through these. It hurt knowing that you would cry and be in pain. You had Daddy there. Daddy was there to hold your hand when he could and to comfort you when he was allowed to. Kennedy, I had to look after myself and I knew that being there for those procedures was not okay for me.
My darling girl, it broke Mumma’s heart every single time that I left you in NICU or SCBU. I knew that I had to be well, and I knew that in order for me to love and give you the best of me I had to have some time for me. Kennedy, Mumma felt so guilty about this. How could I go for a walk, or for a coffee when you lay there by yourself without me. Every single time I left you it hurt. It hurt so so so much. And no, it did not get easier as time went on.
Kennedy, after being in NICU for 4 weeks the day finally came for you to be transferred back to Hastings SCBU. This time, me and you flew back home. I had to, I didn’t want to, but Daddy was taking Brookie back home. I’m sorry that I didn’t want to. Mumma was so scared. I was so scared that something was going to happen to you. Mumma watched the monitor and listened to every noise. I told myself that coming home was going to be easier, but it wasn’t. It was so much harder you being in SCBU than in NICU. I was so much further away from you. I couldn’t look out the window like I did at Ronald McDonald house and see the unit. I was a 20 minute drive from you now and leaving you was even harder than it ever was before. You were getting bigger and stronger and I saw you lying there needing your Mumma. But Mumma had to be there for Brookie as well, and it hurt me so much that he only saw me for a few hours a day.
Darling girl, Mumma was never going to breast feed you or express milk for you. Mumma was still hurting from the painful experience I had with Brook. Breastfeeding was not for me, but I knew that I had to give you everything that I could, and one of the best things was breastmilk. So Mumma expressed every 3 hours for you. I had to do this. You needed my milk and it meant that Mumma could do something to help you. Kennedy you will be so proud of me. I decided that when you were ready to start feeding orally that I would give breastfeeding a go. Kennedy we did it, me and you. We breastfed! But you know what baby girl, it wasn’t for Mumma again. I know you will be proud of me for being strong to say no and not do it. But Kennedy, I felt so bad for stopping. I knew that you needed the goodness of Mummas milk so Mumma made a decision to continue expressing for however long I could do it. We got to 5 months exclusively, and I am still going for you.
Kennedy, Mumma was so scared that I was going to get sick again. Mumma did not want to get Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Post Natal Depression. Every day in the beginning I felt like I was just waiting. Waiting to lose control, while at the same time trusting myself in knowing that I wouldn’t. I would sit next to you in NICU each night and write. I would write and show gratitude to my day. I needed to keep telling myself what I was grateful for and what went well in that day. I needed to know that I was okay, and at times I was not okay and that was fine. Kennedy, I could see people around me worrying too, worrying that I was not okay. But you know what, Mumma got help. Mumma saw a clinical psychologist, and this was one of the best decisions Mumma ever made. A weekly check in with her to talk about you helped me so much darling girl. Mumma was not ashamed that I had to do this, I was proud. I hope you are proud of me too.
*** Thanks for sharing Kelsie ***
We get a lot of positive feedback from families in a neonatal unit who read these stories and feel strength, hope and positivity knowing that they are not alone going through these experiences and feeling certain emotions.
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