Time stood still the evening of the 4th June after arriving back from theatre. My midwife helped me to express colostrum once I had eaten. I was very keen to get started! I felt as though a lot of the decisions and choices were taken away from me during pregnancy because I was high risk. Expressing milk was something that was within my control so I was extremely determined to get started right away. I managed to express two 1ml syringes of colostrum which I was so proud of myself for being able to do! Especially on the first night too!
After some time my midwife asked if I wanted to attempt to get into a wheelchair. With some help from the midwife and Josh, I just about managed it! I was wheeled down to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I had done extensive research of what NICU’s look like. I knew there would be lots of equipment and machines. A few weeks previously, I had spoken to friends on Instagram and looked up some pictures of different NICU’s to see exactly what our situation would look like. Looking back on it now, there is no amount of research that can prepare you for how you will feel when you enter an intensive care unit. Even now, my body shivers and I feel uncomfortable thinking back to that first moment I entered the unit.
I sanitised my hands once we had entered. The corridors all looked the same. I went through two sets of double doors and down fairly long corridor in between each of them. The midwife stopped outside of “room 3”. My hands were tingling, I was anxious and scared. The unit was dimly lit. A doctor came out to speak to me and she told me that Jack was in that room and I could go in once I was ready. I didn’t feel ready. I felt overwhelmed, nauseous and scared. Once I had composed myself, I was taken in. There were 4 cot spaces. 3 of the babies were in closed incubators and the other baby was in an open incubator. The room was fairly dark and was mostly lit by the lights from the machines. There were so many beeping sounds from all of the different machines. When I think about it now, I can still hear the sounds. I was taken over to the baby that was in an open incubator. There was a bright light shining down onto him.
The nurse introduced herself to me. Lets call her C. My midwife left and told me to ask the nurse to call her when I wanted to be taken back up. C seemed to be friendly and she answered all of my questions. Having met her since that night, she has become one of my favourite nurses that Jack had whilst in the ITU. I peered over the top of the sides to see Jack. I was told that he was sedated so he wouldn’t wake up. He was having 50% oxygen through a ventilator. The ventilator was attached to a breathing tube down his throat. Being sedated meant that he couldn’t pull these tubes out. We would later find out just how difficult it was to stabilise him. We would also find out what happened once he had left theatre in St Thomas’ and was taken across to a operating theatre in Evelina but I will save that for a different post.
Writing this now nearly two months on makes me feel quite teary and emotional. I remember feeling so scared seeing Jack like this. I was in shock. As you can see from the picture he had a cannula in his right hand and right foot. In the coming weeks he would go on to have additional cannulas put in his left hand and a long line in his left leg. As well as numerous other things.
I sat next to him for about 2 hours, I just stared. I didn’t touch him. I just sat and watched. I was too scared to do anything other than that. C came over and encouraged me to hold his hand. Initially I really didn’t want to, I cried and told her that I felt scared anxious. She helped and encouraged me. By the time I had left the room that night, I had held his tiny hand with my fingers. It was the most surreal and unnatural thing ever. I felt torn, I didn’t yet feel like a mum.
With the end of April approaching, 2020 is resembling something like a nightmare, it’s been such a uncertain time for everyone. Since the outbreak of Covid 19, I’ve found myself more anxious than ever before.
I’m currently 32 weeks pregnant with my first baby and if that wasn’t enough stress as it was, the virus outbreak has added nothing but pressure, more uncertainty and heaps of anxiety. I’ve been finding it incredibly difficult to stay positive and focused. I’ve allowed myself to spiral into obsessive habits and negative thinking, I’m sure that I’m not the only one?
I think that this coming week will mean that I will be going into my 7th week of full lockdown. I feel that I have to admit that each day that has gone by I’ve been an anxious mess. I’m constantly on alert to whether I have symptoms of the virus, I’ve not been able to sleep because of the fear of not being able to breathe. Every niggle, every scratch in my throat, every hot flush (oh pregnancy!) has had my mind working overdrive thinking that I’m going to get ill.
Things hit breaking point last week and as I was discussing over the phone with my counsellor.
This needs to stop!
So over the past week I’ve compiled a list of 5 things (5 seemed like a manageable and achievable amount) that will help myself and hopefully you too, to stay positive during this incredibly uncertain and stressful time.
Journal Lets start with journaling… It’s always something I’ve found extremely therapeutic and helpful. Theres just something about getting your thoughts out of your mind and on to paper. I really feel like it clears my mind and allows me to focus more clearly on being present during other parts of my life.
Yoga/Meditation Although, I will be honest, yoga is a bit of a struggle now that I’m pregnant, I do try to do some basic stretches to ease some of the back pain I’ve been getting! I like to conclude each yoga (or stretching session) with a short meditation practice. Like journaling, meditation also helps to clear my mind. (I’m a massive fan of the CALM app. It’s so easy to use! I’ve tried lots of different apps but I always find myself coming back to that one)
Go for a daily walk Of course (with the virus outbreak each countries rules are different) but for us in the UK we are allowed 1, 1 hour walk a day. Up till the other day we hadn’t been going for walks. We had just been sitting in our back garden and the only time that either of us went out was if I needed to go to a hospital appointment or Josh needed to go shopping. Other than that, we haven’t been leaving the house. We made the decision this week to start going for short walks for a couple of reasons, the first being, it’s good to exercise and can be more damaging to your physical and mental health than you realise by not going. The second, I was getting more and more achy from being pregnant and not being able to stretch and walk to ease those pains. So yes, if you can, I would truly recommend a short walk around your local area. Just ensure you adhere to your countries rules and social distancing lockdown procedures.
Read Now if you follow me over on my Instagram you will know that each year I set myself a challenge of reading 12 books a year. I didn’t quite meet my goal last year (I’m not quite sure what happened) but this year I’m right on track, I’m ahead in fact! Reading can be an amazing escapism and a great way to expand your imagination and knowledge. Having a reading goal might also be a great way to keep you motivated during this time!
Learn something new A bit like reading, I love setting myself new challenges. Learning something new or acquiring a new skill makes me feel so good about myself. It also increases how productive I feel and is such a good focus. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has a list of things they want to do or learn but because life and work gets in the way I never seem to find time to make a start on them. Now is my chance!
I’m interested in the ways in which you’ve been finding positive things to do during this time. I would love to know what you’ve been up to. 💙