(Massively aware I'm still sporting a bump, but this was around 8 hours after I gave birth so let me off!)Something I don't like to discuss, is Patricks start in life, which is incredibly difficult as it should be one of the happiest times of your life, but as you may know it truly wasn't for us. In fact, I'd without a doubt say it was the worst experience I think I'll ever have to deal with. But it's World Prematurity week so I'm wearing my badge proudly (not literally - there isn't badges) that I am a NICU mum. I tube fed my son with syringes and acid strips, I learned to change a nappy through tiny portholes of an incubator, I set helplessly as machines beeped all around my baby, listened to his cries as he experienced lumbar punctures, waiting anxiously outside the room staring at the 'Do not enter - operation in progress' on the door, and I am proud because it's an horrendous situation to be in, but we made it out of the other side, we fought on and we're okay. Along my way into motherhood with Patrick, I learned a few little phrases that not so helpful people like to say, some unknowingly hurting your feelings, others with an air of smugness (crazy right?). I thought I'd share with you some of those sentences, you probably shouldn't let slip out of your mouth.
'So where is your baby?' - Often blurted out by the new breakfast lady each morning as I was still on the maternity ward. I mean, really is it ANY of your business, because you work here doesn't give you the right to know what's going on with every patient. Plus, what if my baby didn't make it, are you going to make me relive that by discussing it with you? Just don't bother. Assume the worst and a simple 'It'll be ok' works fine.
'36 weeks isn't really premature though' - You're right, I don't know what all this fuss is about. Perhaps don't believe every single thing the baby apps tell you, because P was premature at 36 weeks - in fact his lungs weren't developed and he had to undergo a serious procedure to mature them. Saying something like that is just trying to undermine someone. Can you believe someone I considered a friend genuinely tweeted this phrase though?
'Will he be delayed?' - Probably the last thing on my mind, ever. The fact he survived is enough for me, the fact he is here, breathing, smiling, laughing. A bonus is he isn't showing any signs of being delayed, but a bonus that is, I truly couldn't care less if he was. He could sit in a babygrow in my arms till he's a gummy 18 year old and I'd still be content.
'You'll appreciate him more now' - I would appreciate my baby healthy or unhealthy, and to say such a thing is almost an insult to Noah. Both my children are loved and appreciated equally. What I don't do is take for granted I have my baby, because we very nearly didn't and that thought is unbearable.
'Would you have more children?' - I find this statement such a huge discredit to Patrick, as if he would put me off more children. In truth, we don't really know if we want more in the future, but we know we don't want any more for now. Experiencing PPROM once, makes it incredibly more likely to happen again, but that wouldn't stop me expanding my family, as my pregnancy would be watched a lot closer.
'Awh poor guy' - No, no, not poor guy. Amazing guy, what a fighter, gosh isn't he so strong, he's a trooper. They suit the bill better to me, he isn't poor, life thrust this upon him and he managed to fight through all the odds, and he's here now, at 5 months, and you would't know a thing.
Personally, I wouldn't have known myself what to say to someone going through something like this. Whether it's the lady in the room next to me on the Maternity ward, or a friend who's had a poorly baby. But a few tips I've learned now, 'I'm here if you want to chat', 'They're a fighter' or 'It'll be ok', work perfectly, you don't need to ask questions or nosy just be there for someone. Being a preemie or nicu mum is really bloody tough, don't add more insult to injury.