Ever wondered what it feels like to be catapulted off a multi story building only to find yourself suspended in mid air attached to a tree branch or similar?
You are petrifyingly frightened and unbelievably grateful.
You feel fractionally safe but not too secure because in a blink of an eye it could all be so different and you know this.
This is what it’s like to have a baby in intensive care. Or so I told myself as I sat by the incubator in the NICU.
The monitors beeped away and it was strange because I felt slightly removed from the situation, rather like a stranger looking on. I was very aware of my mental state, very keen to hold it together, to be seen to be coping .
Better not do anything strange then or too weird. What about crying? Is crying okay? I’m sure it is, I thought, under the circumstances.
Before me was my wee scrap of a Smidge, The ventilator rhythmically making ‘psssst’ noises, the numbers dancing around the screen. I hadn’t the foggiest idea how to interpret them.
The nurse strolled over and began to talking to me. She looked at me kindly and asked ‘how are you?’ I tried to reply but the words, they just seemed to escape me.
‘It’s overwhelming ,I know’ she said, helping me out a little.
It was my first visit to the unit without Steve and I was visiting our baby alone.
Looking in at her tiny face I found it unbelievable that she so small could grow to be big and healthy, yet it was equally hard to envisage that she would not live to be my daughter.
I think it’s the same for any parent of a tiny tiny baby. We see these four pound’giants’ being discharged from special care and it is so hard to believe that the foetal like preemie that lies in the incubator before you could ever reach that level.
Parents quickly become aware that there a few ways you can go mentally whilst in this very frightening and highly stressful situation.
Hope for the best:
Optimism is one stance that never failed to amaze me in this situation. This is where brave parents think positively, if survival chances are 50/50 then they are on the happy end of it, their glass always seems half full. They put their faith in to the doctors, never fail to point out the positives and are very mindful what they focus on.
Prepare for the worst:
In contrast, the parent who prepares for the worst throws themselves in to the NICU situation, seldom leaves the cot side, takes on board every last detail and worries about everything. The situation and progress of the baby dominates all their thought processes, and they find it very difficult to take time out mentally or see a light at the end of the tunnel.
However most of us fluctuate between these two processes and mentally it is very tiring, We use a huge amount of energy sustaining ourselves in this time of uncertainty.
As you know, I used Mummy- bot and got my dry eyes out to keep my energy up, but basically any coping strategy to me is perfectly acceptable because you just do what you do when preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.