As I sit here, drowned out from a very busy day juggling school drop offs, kinder visits, work, study, dinners, washing, cleaning and the odd sibling argument I realise that the memory of both of them being little visitors has become very distant. Small things remind me off the heart break experienced of leaving your baby behind, or the jealousy of watching other mothers leave with their newborns. If I walk into a hospital now and rinse my hands with that “pink stuff” the memories all start to flood back, and my heart is reminded of its past heaviness.
It was my first night home without my baby, and I just sat there and cried. Whilst staring at a blank wall, I turned on my expressing machine, and stared at a photo of my baby and prayed for just a few drops. Trying to trick my body into thinking it was full term and it needed to produce milk was a challenge, one that reminded me that it was all too soon. Friends, family and loved ones would gather, trying to distract, but every second you were away you knew where you meant to be. I would rush back at the very first chance, and every time I did, it would feel like I was going to meet the love of my life.
Holding my fresh milk, dated and labelled, I’d wait in the elevator that always seems to be taking way too long. I’d stare at others, and think to myself “I wonder if they know”, “I wonder if they know I just had a baby”. I had the sore boobs to prove it, the saggy tummy, and certainly a lack of sleep, but no baby. I would wait for hours, for the time for a cuddle. I would wonder what it would be like to have a baby you could hold all the time, without worrying about their temperature, their energy output or the weight they may not gain. Every day, was an inch forward, and the next, an inch more. When was baby coming home!
Eventually my baby did come home, and I remember the day, the smell and my utter impatience!
Not too long after, another one was on the way. Yes, I thought to myself, I’m carrying this one long term. I want those damn stretch marks, and leaking boobs! But, yet another impatient girl. She too came early, but not too early. I had hope that I could take her home, I mean other mums have at 36 weeks! But I guess, the younger sister always wants to copy her big sister! She went in, and a lot longer than her sister. She would turn blue, every time she ate. Her little body couldn’t work out how to eat and breathe. Weeks and weeks and weeks went by. She looked nothing like a premmie but her health was otherwise.
Not only did I have a little girl at home that I had been treasuring spending time with, I now had to juggle my affection between the two. This seemed even more difficult than the first time. In between running between home and the hospital, constant expressing, breastfeeding hopes and dreams, I was tired, and emotionally I was running low. But in due time, she came home also. I just thanked god (or whoever is up there) that I got this chance, as many don’t. It was this experience that drives me to be who I am, and do what I do. I did a major u-turn in life, returned back to university to become a nurse, and now educate mothers on how to be confident when their child experiences ill health. Although most of my day is now spent with a 4 and a 6 year old pulling my hair out, these moments will never fade in my heart and I will use them to help others through the tough times as I once had, and the tough times many mothers have ahead.
Milky Mums is a community organisation established to provide support to Mums who are breastfeeding or expressing for premature and seriously ill babies in Australian neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). Learn more about our work at www.milkymums.org.au