My name is Mel and I am a proud NICU mum.
My son, Felix, was born by emergency C-section at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on the 14th December, 2016.
He was 29 weeks and weighed a mere 1070 grams.
I was admitted to hospital a week before he was born due to pre-eclampsia. When my blood pressure skyrocketed the decision was made to deliver my baby boy.
I will never forget hearing him cry for the first time. My husband and I looked at each other, overwhelmed with excitement. But nothing could have prepared us for the long journey we had ahead.
I wasn’t allowed to hold or touch my precious boy. I got a quick 2-second look before he was whisked away down to the NICU with my husband. In fact, I didn’t get to see my son until 2 days later.
My husband wheeled me down to our premature baby in the NICU.
I was still recovering from surgery and the drugs they had given me had made me very sick.
I washed my arms and my hands – something I’d need to do every time I visited. (The smell of that still makes me teary.)
And then I saw my son.
He was in an isolette (incubator). He had a C-PAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) on his face because of his breathing difficulties. There were sensor monitors on his torso and on his foot. He was surrounded by monitors. The beeping of those machines is a sound I will never forget.
He was the tiniest, most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
An overwhelming happiness mixed with sadness overcame me, and I asked my husband to take me back to my room. I cried uncontrollable tears of joy mixed with the heartache of not being able to take my baby boy home.
I blamed myself a lot – had I not had high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia, my son would not have been born early.
We had our first family Christmas in the NICU.
I have loved Christmas ever since I was a little girl, but this one felt different. The nurses were so sweet, and dressed him in a Christmas gown and booties. He looked adorable. I was happy my son had made it to Christmas, but when I held I hid my sadness. Secretly, the guilt I felt was still there.
The next two months were very difficult for my husband and I. He returned back to work and I continued with my daily visits to our baby in NICU. My husband and I would visit together at night when it was dads turn for cuddles.
My husband and I did lots of Kangaroo cuddles and were very involved with his care. We would have turns at pushing his feed through his nasogastric tube and talking to him. I even made up a song especially for him, and sang it to him every night while I cuddled his tiny, fragile body. I would hold his little hand and whisper in his ear, “Everything will be alright my darling. Mum and dad love you very much, and this is just a small step before you come home.”
But leaving my son in NICU at the hospital every night and going home without him was the hardest thing.
During routine rounds, Felix’s doctor told us my son had an inaugural hernia.
This would need surgery. “You have to be bloody kidding me!” I thought, but I was assured it was routine. We were transferred to Westmead Children’s Hospital NICU.
My anxiety and the unbelievable worry for my son went up. “Will he be ok? What if something happens and I am not there?” I worried.
Before his surgery the next day, I asked the theatre nurse to hold his hand for me. She assured me she would.
My son came through like a champion. Everything went well and he was breastfeeding 1 hour after his surgery. We were discharged back to RPA NICU the next day.
Then, two days later, he was discharged from RPA hospital.
Finally, my little man was coming home!
I was so excited, nervous, scared but happy. I quickly wheeled him out of the hospital and to my car before they could change their mind!
No words can describe the admiration we have for all of the NICU nurses, doctors, specialists that looked after my son. They are the true heroes. We are indebted to them.
We underestimate how strong our babies are. The constant fight for survival that our prems go through every day is incredible and inspiring. I was raised to be a very strong person but seeing my son fight every second of the day brought me to my knees.
I have a love for my son like no other and I will protect him until my last day on this earth.
If you have a premature baby and need support, reach out to Miracle Babies
Mama to: Felix
Career, hobbies, interests and obsessions: I work in finance and love eating, wine, chocolate and spending time with family and friends.
Describe being a mama in five words: challenging, rewarding, scary, love, happy.