When I was handed my BFT (Big Fat Termie) all those years ago, I didn't know it, but immediately I became an expert mummy. I knew him you see, better than anyone else, he'd been growing inside me, wriggling around. For months I'd monitored his movements, felt him growing big, healthy and strong.
He was placed on my chest with in seconds of delivery, and there he was before me, a slightly blue, prune like bubba with a darling little face staring up at mine.
He was a colicky little fellow, wanted attention constantly. He was rocked, patted and pushed but over all I had no concerns about his health, why he was a baby, my baby, so surely I would know if he became sick, needed help or medical support.
Like all new mum's I worried a little. Worried when I laid him down to sleep at night and I would check on him regularly, but if he was awake, active, grouchy or wriggly I was happy with that, I trusted my instincts totally.I fully believed that I would know if there was any problem.
Eleven years on and little Smidge was born, being under a general anaesthetic at the time I was oblivious to her state of well being. I was by far not the first to meet my little girl, in fact, other parents visiting the NICU laid eyes on her long before I did.
When I caught glimpse of her lying in the incubator, her face the size of a tiny jaffa cake,the wires and tubes in all their abundance concealing her tiny body, I felt like I didn't 'know' very much really.
As time went by, I got to know what the various machines were telling me, but I didn't 'know' her, not as I wanted to know her.
Do you know what it's like to have your relationship with your own child almost completely defined by a monitor?
"Oh.... you touched her and she desaturated to 62" The monitor would laugh.
"She doesn't like that........ she doesn't like you."
But hang in there mummy because she might, (and it really is a might) live to like you one day.
So that was the very early days.
And of course, in the days and weeks that followed, the nurses showed us how we could care, sometimes.
Sometimes we could change her nappy.
Sometimes we could wipe her tiny mouth with a little patch of gauze.
And sometimes, on very special days, when everyone agreed and when the monitors said so..
We could have a cuddle.
In between these rare moments, there were charts,teams,transfusions,alarms, pressures,masks,prongs,evaluations,medications,investigations,transfers,more doctors, more teams, more treatment plans,more monitors,wires,tubes,devices..
and then would come the old neonatal catch phrase..
'You know her best Mum...what do you think?'
No, I really don't know her best.
'How does she seem to you?'
She seems like a very sick baby. a very sick very small baby..who has always been very small and very sick.
Will she 'like' me soon?