Being a Neonatal Mum

Being a neonatal mum - this is my experience of having my baby in the special care unit after he was born

When Piglet was born he spent some time in the neonatal unit before he was able to come home. I was lucky, he was only in special care as opposed to intensive care or the high dependancy unit. But that didn’t change the way I felt at the time.

Despite complications at birth, Piglet stayed with me on the ward for a few hours. The paediatricians checked him a number of times as the midwives had some concerns but each time they said he was ok. One midwife finished her shift when he was still with me. I found out when I saw her again the next morning that she had been worried at home all night about him.

I had convinced myself that he was ok, so when the paediatrician suddenly said he needed help and took him away I felt lost. It was after visiting time had ended so I was alone on the ward, surrounded by other mums with their babies. And mine was gone.

The midwives were fantastic. The quickly found me a space in a room with no other babies and told me they would take me down to see him as soon as they had him stabilised.

It was almost 3am by the time I could see him, 5 hours from when he had been taken. He was in an incubator to help regulate his temperature, receiving oxygen, a nasal gastric tube for feeding and IV antibiotics. It was a lot to take in. I didn’t know what was wrong with him, the doctors didn’t know what was wrong with him. They just knew he needed a little extra help, not unusual for a preemie.

The next few days passed in a blur. I quickly learnt Piglets schedule and tried to be with him for each of his changes and feeds. Once a day the doctors did ward rounds and I was able to listen to what they had to say about Piglet and what steps they wanted to take next.

I was taught how to feed him through his NG tube. How to check it was still correctly placed in his stomach, calculate how much milk he was to be given. Feeding was very clinical, no breastfeeding which I had been so keen to do. I was expressing for him, so the majority of his feeds were expressed milk with the occasional formula top up. I had to simulate a newborn feeding schedule with expressing in order to develop my milk supply.

I began to recognise the other parents on Piglets ward. A smile and a nod, a quiet hello, we always acknowledged each other but never really talked. Everyone was focussed on spending some time with their little ones.

After 3 days I was discharged from hospital. Leaving without Piglet was heartbreaking, but I knew he was being kept in for the right reasons. I had held him one time since he had been moved to neonatal and it felt so wrong to be leaving him behind.

And so began my new routine. Up at 6am to call the ward and check how he had been through the night, express and then head up to the hospital myself. I would move between the ward, the expressing room and the little cafe for the rest of the day. Sometimes JHogg would come up to the hospital and have lunch with me, then spend a little time with Piglet. I would usually go home to get my tea, before returning at 11pm for another of Piglets feeds.  Throughout the night I set an alarm to get up twice and express. It felt good to provide milk for Piglet, like I had a purpose.

As quickly as our neonatal journey started, it suddenly ended. Piglet went from an incubator to a cot to ready to come home within 24 hours. 8 days after he was born he came home with me.  Unfortunately he was readmitted to hospital 5 days later due to jaundice, but that was to the children’s hospital which was an entirely different experience in itself.

I look back on our time in neonatal and it feels like it happened to someone else. Piglet is so different from the fragile baby covered in wires and surrounded by machines. He’s happy, he’s healthy and he’s thriving – and thats the way I like it!

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  1. // Reply

    Glad to hear he is doing so well now – it must have been very difficult to deal with at the time. Your expectations of that time compared to the reality of the situation… not to mention the shock of having him 4 weeks early!
    x Alice
    Alice Nipper and Tyke recently posted…Killing time #2My Profile

    1. // Reply

      It was a lot at the time but we just tried to keep a level head and get on with it. It passed in a whirlwind!

  2. // Reply

    Oh he is precious! My daughter spent 9 days in special care when she was born because she was premature, it can be a scary place.
    I’m so happy to read that he’s doing OK now bless him. x

    ERFmama recently posted…You get 20% OFF ALL High Back Boosters!My Profile

    1. // Reply

      Its scary but they’re getting the best care while they’re there – thats what we kept telling ourselves!

  3. // Reply

    Being a neo natal mum is tough. Leaving your baby is unexplainable and the constant pumping and worry. My little boy spent 5 weeks on neo natal and it was the hardest time of my life, having to split my time between him and my little one at home. I think it is something you can’t understand until you’ve had to. Glad your little one came home swiftly and is doing well! #marvmondays

    1. // Reply

      Bless you – 5 weeks is a long time!! It was all for the right reasons, and it is over now 🙂

  4. // Reply

    I can’t imagine what you went through and how scary it must have been not seeing him for so long – so so hard. It must be amazing looking back and just seeing how far he has come. A wonderful post to share #abigpinklink

    1. // Reply

      I went a bit numb – tunnel vision to just do what I needed to do. We relaxed once he was home 🙂

  5. // Reply

    Oh goodness this teared me up as my little one is now 12 weeks and also spent 8 days, in intensive care. It’s actually scary how the first 12/24 hours sound so similar to ours, he was with me and everyone said he was okay until he was suddenly whipped away.

    I don’t think you ever really come to terms with having a baby in neonatal, it’s such a terrifying experience.

    1. // Reply

      it is really scary at the time. I was very lucky that at no point was it ever indicated that Piglets life was in real danger – just that he needed some extra help

  6. // Reply

    So good to hear that he’s thriving now, and he looks just gorgeous in all your photos of him! Must’ve been scary at the time though, maybe it’s good that it feels like it happened to someone else? x #KCACOLS
    Madeline (This Glorious Life) recently posted…Second hand shopping onlineMy Profile

    1. // Reply

      It’s just one of those things now, part of his history. And hopefully we never have to do it again!

    1. // Reply

      Its a bizarre feeling. Glad it’s all behind us now!

  7. // Reply

    Oh that must have been so so hard. I can’t imagine the pain and worry you must have felt leaving him there. I’m so glad it all feels like a distant memory now. He looks fantastic and is utterly gorgeous. Thanks for sharing with the #bigpinklink
    Louise Pink Pear Bear recently posted…Postnatal depression. My story.My Profile

    1. // Reply

      You’d never know he had a rocky start to look at him now!

    1. // Reply

      Everyone has different coping mechanisms – mine was definitely to block out everything else and carry on as if it was fine

    1. // Reply

      Its amazing the strength you find when you have to!

  8. // Reply

    I can relate in part to this. It must have been awful being left on the ward with no baby, while everyone else had theirs. I’m so glad it worked out and he’s thriving, and that it ended quickly. It’s almost as soon ad they have made their minds up you are out. Popping by from #Bigpibklink xx

    1. // Reply

      I did get moved to a ward with no babies on it, which was much better. If there had been no space though I would have been left where I was

  9. // Reply

    It must be so difficult to have to go home without your baby but amazing that the doctors and nurses do their job so well to keep them safe. Glad he wasn’t in too long! Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Kaye xo

    1. // Reply

      It’s tough but its always for the right reasons – they didn’t want him there any more than i did 🙂

  10. // Reply

    It must have been heartbreaking to have him taken, even though you knew it was for the right reasons. In the grand scheme of things 8 days isn’t that long but I bet it felt like a life time! So glad he is fit and healthy now. #fortheloveofBLOG
    Angela Watling recently posted…My first month with a Bullet JournalMy Profile

    1. // Reply

      exactly – 8 days is nothing when you consider his whole life. Its just a shame it has to be in those early days when you just want them by your side!

    1. // Reply

      It feels like ti just happened, but also that it didn’t happen to us!

  11. // Reply

    I can’t even begin to imagine leaving your newborn at hospital, must have been so hard. Glad to know that all is ok now though, phew! Thanks for linking up hope you’ll stop by again! #bestandworst
    helen gandy recently posted…To the 2nd Time Mum……My Profile

    1. // Reply

      One thing I realised while we were in there was just how many babies were in the neonatal with him – so I knew I wasn’t alone

  12. // Reply

    Wow what a tough time it must have been for you! I can just imagine how hard it must have been to be discharged from the hospital without him. So glad to hear he is doing well now though.

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS and I hope to see you back again on Sunday
    Maria recently posted…Swimming to the top of the classMy Profile

  13. // Reply

    I can’t imagine how hard that must have been leaving hospital without him. Glad it was only for a short amount of time although it probably didn’t feel like it at the time. Thanks for linking to #PickNMix
    Eilidh x
    Mummy and Monkeys recently posted…My 30 something Birthday wishlistMy Profile

  14. // Reply

    That must have been really tough. Thanks for sharing such an honest account of your experience. #KCACOLS

  15. // Reply

    Oh my this bought a tear to my eye reading this. I can’t imagine what you both went through, and it must have been such an ordeal at the time. I can see how much look back and think that was another lifetime, I feel the same about my childbirth. It’s lovely that all is well today, and we live in a day and age with great medical skills. Thanks so much for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x
    The Pramshed recently posted…September HighlightsMy Profile

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