Your birth was not what I’d expected. Your Dad and I were so in love and we were looking forward to sharing the miracle of your birth together. I had dreamt of the moment you were placed on my chest, your Dad looking down lovingly and both of us overwhelmed with love, happiness and tears of joy. But that moment never happened. Instead, you were placed on my chest for barely a second, your little face a dark, scary blue before you were ripped away from me. “Don’t worry,” a nurse called out as she ran from the room, “When you hear him cry, you’ll know he’s ok.” But the cry never came.
I was left on my own and lay on the delivery bed trying to quieten my breathing so I could listen for your cry…the cry that never came. I was distraught and helpless. And so I was overwhelmed with relief when they finally took me to see you in intensive care. You were so tiny and all hooked up with wires. Your little arm was bandaged up to keep the iv in place and you needed help to breathe. You nearly hadn’t made it, you didn’t breathe for way too long, you had an infection and you were sick. Your skin on one side was red. But you were alive and you were fighting. I was a sobbing mess.
I was allowed to put my hand into the glass crib and touch your satin soft cheek, but it wasn’t enough. Oh god, I needed to hold you so badly. It was ripping my insides out. I’d already given birth to three children before you and had held every one of them instantly. I hadn’t realised how important that first touch was, that skin to skin contact on my chest, until I didn’t have it. It felt like all the air was being sucked out of my lungs, my need to hold you was so strong.
The next day, after a sleepless night and still before I had held you, came the news about your condition. The paediatrician gave us sheets of information about symptoms, problems, painful treatments and procedures. The words “there is no cure” jumped out at me. Worst case scenarios and complications swam before my eyes. My world was rocked. My unfulfilled need to hold you had thrown my emotions into overdrive and I broke. I’m not being dramatic. Something inside me literally broke and I felt the sharp shards of glass pierce my heart.
I am forever grateful to the compassionate midwife who started her shift the next morning and was shocked to discover that I hadn’t held my baby. She told me to pull down my nightie and she gently placed your small struggling body onto my chest. I felt a comforting warmth as your skin relaxed into mine and I gazed into your soulful blue eyes, A calmness flooded through me and somewhere a voice whispered to me “It’s going to be okay.” I looked down at my beautiful baby and I felt my strength return. “You’re going to be okay.” Our bond was forged, a bond that would never be broken and I was ready. Ready to start the journey of a Mum with a special child.