I can't tell you enough what a great honour it is to have her feature a post on my blog today as it was she who inspired me to start blogging in the first place!
Below, Kylie talks about how she coped with the up's and downs of NICU life when her Son Joseph was born at 27 weeks weighing 1lb 7oz, the exact same weight as Smidge!
Pollyanna and the Glad Game
My mum has always called me “annoying Pollyanna”. It’s her fault really, she introduced me to the television show and then the book as an impressionable pre-teenager. I loved Pollyanna’s attitude to life, finding the “glad” in everything.
When I was diagnosed with severe pre eclampsia at 26 weeks and 6 days, I struggled very much to see the “glad” and then the doctor told me he would have to deliver the baby the following day at 27 weeks. I really couldn’t see any “glad” in that. The midwives came and put me in a wheelchair for an emergency scan. The baby had stopped growing, I was very confused. I came back to the ward in a mess of tears.
The consultant immediately snapped me back to reality “Look I am delivering a live baby tomorrow, everything will be ok, you must believe in me, in your team, in yourself and in your baby”. I immediately put my “glad” head on. I was glad that I was in good hands, that everyone was working together for the same outcome, a good delivery and a healthy baby.
I had Joseph by caesarean section the following day. One of the midwives came to see me soon after Joseph was born. She gave me a letter from the Primary Care Trust in an envelope. “Oh no” I said, “they’re not sending me a bill are they?” she laughed! I opened the letter and it was advising me that the next baby could be born out the lambing end (perhaps not in those words) and the midwife came back in amazed I was smiling and laughing. “What’s so funny?” she said. “The PCT seriously think, an hour post delivery, I am planning on having sex again!”
I was determined to be happy, to find the “glad” wherever I could, to see the funny side even in the darkest times. Looking back I am almost embarrassed. I was insulated by this “glad game”.
On day 5 of his life, my son Joseph was struggling. He was losing weight, which is really not advised when you’re born at 1lb 7oz, and was very poorly indeed. I took picture books in, I read and sung to him. I had a baby! I was glad because at 35, I finally had a baby. OK he was small, he was sick, but he was mine. And even if he only lived a short time, he was my baby, my son, and I was glad.
A senior consultant was brought in and said “you do not understand. You are too calm”. He didn’t understand the glad game.
Every day I walked into that unit with a smile. I greeted the other parents. I took mums out for coffee. I consoled staff when things were tough, I was nice to everyone. I didn’t allow myself to cry when on the unit. I did cry at home at times, when it all got too much, even for Pollyanna.
One sunny Tuesday, after 9 and a half weeks in hospital one of the consultants came in on her rounds. She saw me sitting by Joseph’s cotside. She smiled. She looked at her notes and said “right, discharge planning is now in place, you will room in on Sunday and Monday nights, and take Joseph home on Tuesday”. Huge tears slipped down my cheeks. I was sobbing. She looked at me with fear and surprise, distaste even. “Whatever is the matter?” she asked. “I’m just so relieved” I said. “I hate this bloody unit I want to take my baby home”.
The other doctors and nurses all looked in amazement “but you are always so happy, you always look pleased to be here”. I sighed. “I’m pleased to be with my baby, but I hate it here, being glad got me through it, and now it’s time to go home”.
The last week flew by, my facade had dropped, and I realised just how much energy being Pollyanna took. And, I put her away for good. She had served her purpose, she got me through, but I didn’t need her any more.