Friday, March 9, 2012

Like It Never Happened

Have you seen the part in 'Back to the future' when the main character returns to his ordinary life having been transported to a different point in history?

Well it's not dissimilar to how I felt when I first came out hospital, at home in those very early weeks. It was like I'd been teleported out to an alternative reality and abruptly deposited back into real time, now with a newborn baby in tow.

The people at the local shop didn't seem surprised to see me pushing a pram,even though I hadn't been obviously expecting before I delivered my premature baby.

The mothers at the baby group, talked and communicated with me like I was one of them, and it was as though the whole live/die NICU thing never even happened.

It was really confusing.

It was like a roast dinner with out gravy, all the components were there but the very thing that binds it all together was missing, and in the case of Smidge, everything that had sustained her for last four months was missing.

Gone were the monitors and charts.

Gone were the full blood counts and transfusions.

Gone were the surgical assessments, hospital transfers and suitcases packed with incubactor sheets and little premmy must-haves.

I was a normal Mum.

And as a normal Mum I was expected to talk about normal Mum things. Was I was sleeping during the day time as the old 'birth to five' guide suggests? Did I go to antenatal classes? Did I find Mother care expensive? Had I heard of the Boots buy two get one free baby event?


No, no, no and no.

I was, essentially, different to everybody else. Whilst they were browsing mothercare looking through latest range of cot bumpers,I was pacing the hospital corridors wondering if they had successfully fitted the latest long line so Smidge could receive the vital nutrients and antibiotics that she needed to fight, grow and develop.

I felt so very removed I think, and very alone. Surrounded as I was by these new Mothers, to me, they were nothing more than a bunch of infection risks with matching prams and changing bags.

It wasn't that the other Mum's were unaware of what had happened, The group leader had promptly told the other Mum's that Smidge was by far the oldest baby there, and at a mere four and half pounds she was every bit the contrast of her younger full term peers.

But such a disclosure did nothing to help the situation. Any conversation regarding intensive care had my fellow friends shuffling around in their changing bags awkwardly or striking up a conversation with the person to their left.

Another classic response to me sharing my experience/birth story would be for others to try to make it better.

'Oh but she's fine now' or 'But hasn't she done well' were very typical responses.

The rational side of me knew that people are just trying to be encouraging but the part of me that felt so very robbed felt angry. Angry that I had been cheated out of so much already and now people just wanted me to forget it, move on like it never even happened.

Because through my eyes, an experience like this, it wasn't going to just disappear like you would expect from a day shopping in mother care.

Three months of intensive care treatment is not just going to eradicate itself from my memory as though it was of no real significance.

This is what made me feel like a square peg in a round hole.

And even though,through some miracle, the baby born to me at twenty five weeks gestation is perfect in every single way, It doesn't take away what she's been through. What any of us have been through. 

And in writing here about my own experience of social isolation, I hope it helps people to see that it is not always as straight forward as shutting the door and refusing to talk to others, and, that recognizing the difficult time a family has when a child is born too sick, too small or too soon, goes a long way in helping them feel they have found support and understanding.

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