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.