Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Attachment, Fear and the Neonate - Please Mind The Gap.

Many moons ago, when I was going to be a  * somebody * I studied Psychology at university. I became a keen follower of Bowlby who devised the attachment theory. I think I liked Bowlby's theory because it enabled me to blame any personal flaws or relationship difficulties I had on my mother's nurturing style. This was most convenient and served me well for years, until of course I had my own children, then I started to think his theory was WAY overrated.

Naturally when it became evident that Smidge and I were to be separated at birth, I was worried that the invasive procedures, necessary to save her life would impact on her ability to engage with me and others on a social and emotional level.

This is because according to Bowlby, a child's later social and emotional relationships stem from the mother's (or care-givers) ability to provide consistent and good quality care from birth and throughout the early years.

Anyway, I decided to ask one of the paediatric consultants about premature babies and attachment, to see if I could find out more.

'Actually, what we find is, it's the parent's who have the difficulty attaching themselves, rather than the babies' I was informed.

'What utter codswallop!', I thought, Imagine not attaching yourself to your own baby?! That certainly won't be me! And I toddled off thinking, if that really is the only issue here then I've  got no reason to worry at all.

Fast forward three and half months...

I'm sat in the Neonatal Unit waiting to be called in to a discharge planning meeting, Smidge had just had her last blood transfusion the week before, the result of a 'funny turn' that caused her to go her to go all floppy.

All though by this point Smidge had started to learn to breast feed, I wasn't pushing her as nearly as hard as I could have. The reason? I knew the minute breastfeeding was fully established, We'd be asked to leave the hospital and I was terrified! After four months of being around medical professionals, I was institutionalised. I didn't feel nearly qualified enough to take on the task of caring for her by myself.

A head pokes itself around the door.

'Are you ready then?'

oh no...oh no..they want to talk about the going home thing.Yay...its good...it's good...its the*GoInG hOmE * thing, I'm er....happy, yes, that's the right emotion.
Home? HOME? No we can't go home! what if she needs a transfusion and I don't notice,? What if her stomach gets distended from milk intolerance, how will we xray her? Is it safe not to have a full blood count for nearly two weeks? Think, think quickly think, a reason, a convincing reason to stay a bit longer...

As I took a seat in the meeting room it quickly transpired that my plotting for an extended hospital stay was a complete non starter. The ward Matron smiled at me across the the room before announcing (in no uncertain terms) that Smidge will in fact be coming home at the very latest, next Thursday'

    * Gulp*

Us three months later

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