November is World Prematurity Month. To honour and support the moms of preemies, we are sharing stories of moms who’ve been there and who can offer support from the other side of a long road. This is Claire’s story.

 

Tell us about the day your baby was born.

She was already small, my placenta was not functioning properly so she was not growing as she should. I had been booked for a c-section, 5 weeks before her due date. My water broke the day before the scheduled c-section. I spent the night in hospital waiting for contractions, they never came.

 

So at 7:50 I went into surgery. I was terrified. I’d never had surgery. I didn’t know if she’d be ok. Luckily, she was ok, more than ok. She was small, but healthy and strong, I was so relieved. It was magical holding her for he first time. This tiny wriggling, pink human. So small, but so feisty! And then they took her away. Her father went with her to the NICU. I was drugged up on pain killers and so drifted in and out of consciousness all day. By about that afternoon, I had not seen her again. I was desperate. I fought with the nurses, insisting they took me to see her in the NICU. Eventually, they arranged me a wheelchair and I went to see her.

 

God, I hated the NICU. All I wanted was to hold her, feed her, love her. But I couldn’t. She needed to be under lights. She was attached to all manner of pipe and monitor. When I did get to hold her it was for only such a short time. That night I cried alone in my bed, my little girl in a plastic box, all by herself, down the passage.

 

Can you describe some of the emotions you experienced during the early days and weeks with your baby?

Fear. I was so afraid that she wasn’t going to be OK. Grief. Leaving my baby girl at the hospital was the most difficult thing I have ever done, I could hardly walk for sobbing. Overwhelm. I was so tired, so determined to get things right. She was my first, so I had no clue what I was doing. I expressed milk day and night. When I was away from her, all I could think about was if she was hungry, and needed me, if she was scared, cold? And then, grateful. That my baby had access to this healthcare, that my baby wasn’t as small and sick as baby Mbali in the incubator next door, that the nurses were so amazing, surrogate mothers when I had to go home. She was only in NICU for two weeks, but they were probably the worst two weeks of my life.

 

Do you have any words of encouragement for a mom who is currently waiting for her baby to come home?

Bringing my baby girl home, It was the scariest and loveliest day. Your baby will be ready one day soon, and all this will be over. S/he will grow big and strong and no-one will ever believe they were ever a preemie.

 

Read more stories like this one.

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