Why the Experience of Neonatal Never Leaves You

I remember the day we bought Little Lady home, it was just over a year ago and it was one of the scariest moments of my life. She was hooked up to a breathing monitor and she was tiny. We were armed with a huge bag of medication for her and I was armed with fear. Could I look after her as well as the nurses did? Was she ready for the big wide world after 9 weeks on the Neonatal ward? Of course she was; she had endured being on oxygen, numerous near death experiences, injections, possible infections, chronic lung disease and an operation. Of course she was ready but as we put our precious baby girl into the car to take her home to see her brother, I wasn’t sure if I was ready.

She came home in the October and that first winter was hard. She picked up so many colds and I was scared every time she got a new one. The nurses had told me about how many babies ended up back in hospital over their first winter because their tiny little lungs just couldn’t cope. I remember taking her to the Dr’s when she had a particularly bad cold and her breathing was bad. He not very helpfully told me that babies get colds all the time and I basically shouldn’t be wasting their time. It was only when I told him that she had been 11 weeks early, very poorly and we had lost her sister that he even bothered to listen to her chest. She was fine but did he know the fear of sitting next to an incubator with your baby in it every day? Did he know the fear that ran through your veins when you watched the red light come on as she struggled to breath many times a day? Did he know the feelings of helplessness every time I had to hold her tiny body for yet another injection or brain scan? Probably not. Most people don’t.

We are a year on now and up until recently Little Lady has been super healthy. The summer sun did wonders for her and she has thrived. Unfortunately as most of us know with starting nursery (and a big brother starting school) comes germs, especially when we are approaching another winter. And with the germs have come the illness. She is a strong little thing and the colds haven’t really bothered her this year but a couple of days ago she came home from nursery with sickness. My little girl wasn’t very keen on the being sick thing and with that came the familiar look on her face that I saw so many times when she was poorly. As I sat on her bedroom floor with her in my arms and a towel around us I was straight back to those days. The noises, the smells and I realised these things stay with you for much longer than you realise.

When Little Man gets ill I am of course worried and hate to see him ill. We all hate to see anyone we love poorly especially our children but with Little Lady this added fear is always there. She is of course, still only 1 year old and although it feels like we have had her in our lives forever it really wasn’t that long ago. We won’t know for a good few years if she is out of the woods from having so much oxygen and being so early so it is always in the back of your mind that a straight forward sickness episode is something more serious. I suppose it will never leave me.

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