The story of my Little Man and Mini Man are taking some time in coming, but here is the next installment.
As I posted about previously Mini Man's entrance into the world was not the most positive experience for me, and following the hysterectomy I was pretty poorly and in intensive care for 3 days so did not get to see him other than on photos.
I know I was very ill and had been through the mill as such, but my experience of having a baby in special care a second time was very different to the first time.
I was quite poorly following Little Man's birth as my blood pressure remained dangerously high for about 4 days after his birth and I was on strict bed rest and medication to start bringing it down. It took about 2 months to completely return to normal but for the first 4 days the doctors were not happy with it. Despite this I was determined I was going to go and sit by that incubator in special care and spend time with my baby, I kept being told off for being out of bed but had the attitude of 'try and stop me, my baby needs me', to me what was the difference sitting in my bed reading or sitting next to an incubator reading (lets forget the walk/ shuffle along the corridor to the lift, and then the shuffle to the SCBU!). I demanded to see him on his first day and was wheeled there on my bed which was pushed into the neonatal intensive care unit and right up next to his incubator.
Second time round though I could not muster the energy or will to go to SCBU. I did not ask to go and see Mini Man, I didn't sit gazing at his photos for hours, crying that I had been robbed of him next to me in a cot etc. Yes I was alot more poorly, I was coming to terms with what had happened, but mostly I think the lead up to his birth also had a huge impact on how I felt.
Again I have previously mentioned this but I got Grade 4 placental previa and from 25 weeks pregnant spent much of my time in hospital. I hated it more than I have ever hated anything else in the world. I was not in my local hospital, I sometimes went for 2-3days with no visitors as Little Man hated the hospital visits, t'husband had few people to call on to sit with him while t'husband visited and no one really offered and if they did manage to come to see me during the week, it would be near 7pm by the time t'husband had finished work, picked Little Man up and got across through traffic to me. 7pm being Little man's bedtime so it was a disaster. When they did come it was also very stressful as Little Man did nothing but scream and shout about wanting to go home, wouldn't be cuddled or pacified so I would end up upset and so would t'husband.
I had pre-natal depression and by the time I had Mini Man I hated being pregnant, hated being imprisoned and just wanted to go home and be a mum to my Little Man. I was left wondering why we had bothered with a second child. That thought in itself was enough to plunge me into the depths of despair as I felt so guilty for feeling it. I obviously did care as I never discharged myself from hospital, the thought never crossed my mind. However I do admit on the days I was allowed off the ward (I had to negotiate to be allowed off the ward to go to the hospital canteen just for a change of scenery and then I had to ring the ward every hour to report back, and if I didn't a midwife would appear in the canteen to check I hadn't done a runner - seriously). Anyhow I use to march round the carpark and do laps in the hope it would bring on labour and they would have to deliver the baby. it didn't work and looking back I still feel a huge guilt for putting myself and the baby at risk. At the time I couldn't see it as I was right outside the maternity wing and stupidly had the thought we had already got through having a 31 weeker.
I laid on my bed everyday without fail sobbing about the situation. I was also incredibly stressed about Little Man's care, our money was fast running out, my parents were 200 miles away and unable to help, we had few friends to call on, in fact it was a friend 200 miles away who said if we needed to send Little Man up to live with my mum and dad until the baby was born she would have him during the day while they were at work. I was besides myself at the thought of him being so far away. One midwife suggested they contacted social services for me and had Little Man fostered out. This was not a good suggestion which she realised later!
I asked to see someone to help me deal with my emotions but both the maternity councillors were on sick leave so my only option was an evaluation in the psychiatric wing which I refused as it wouldn't of lead to any help.
Once I was well enough to leave ICU and go to the normal ward, I was taken to see Mini Man. There was no rush of love, there was no desire to remain every waking moment by his incubator, it was horrid. Two friends came to see me separately and I had to physically remind myself they probably wanted to see the baby and be taken to SCBU. It was all a huge challenge. Even the breast pumping for milk was a challenge.
One night I got locked in SCBU when the fire alarms went off, and I had no choice but to sit by Mini Man's incubator. At this stage he was 2 weeks old, and I had never even seen my baby awake, not through lack of being in SCBU as I was doing the pretence of it all and spending all day up there but simply because he never woke up, even the doctors commented on it and after a week assessed him and diagnosed a large septal ventricular defect (hole in the heart between the ventricles) which was making him so sleepy. He was put on diuretics and steroids to help as he was rapidly losing weight and was not a well baby. However on this night in SCBU the baby in the incubator next to Mini Man was very restless. Master C was a 31 weeker and I had spent alot of my imprisonment with his mum. Master C was born in very good condition for a 31 weeker and was only a lb lighter than my 34 weeker, and over 2lb heavier than my 31 weeker had been. He was very restless though and his alarms kept going off. Nurses kept popping and resetting them and glancing at him. Next morning, Master C's mum and I were chatting over breakfast and her mobile kept ringing. It was an unknown number so she kept ignoring it. The nurses then came to her and said she was wanted in SCBU so we decided to go up together. She was called into a room and told her boy was seriously ill and was only given a 20% chance of survival and was in the process of being prepared for transfer to Lewisham to a more specialised unit. I was stood shocked and suddenly realised that could of been me, us, our baby. It was the shove I needed for the bonding to begin.
It didn't however do anything for my PND. I was discharged the next day and 4 days later Mini Man came home as well. He was a sick baby due to his heart and fed every 1.5 hours as he was too tired to take enough. I was too ill to keep up with him after my surgery. After 3 weeks home Mini Man was labelled 'failure to thrive', I was told to stop breast feeding as my milk although abundant was very poor quality and he was put onto special formula. In the meantime I still plunged lower and lower.
I was sent for conceiling at our local hospital but struggled to keep appointments as I had no-one to look after the boys during the day so I think I only attended 3 and no one followed up with me. My health visitor was useless. I muddle along. I put on a 'face' for the outside world pretending all was fine, but in reality I spent much of the day sat crying and would then spend the last hour before t'husband got home frantically doing everthing that should of been done, and doing a half arsed job of it. I forgot to wash clothes and would get up in the middle of the night to ensure they were dry for t'husband next day, I forgot appointments, to pay things, to go places etc. I honestly don't know how I got out of bed most days, thank god for the kids, thank god for Little Man as he was such a ball of energy I had no choice.
Little Man's behavioir continued to get stranger and worse as well and I began the battle for assessments and appointments. When Mini Man was 11 months, Little man started Nursery and it was just after this I realised I was going to have to do something about myself otherwise I would sink into a breakdwon, I sometimes wonder if I was kind of already having one. I went out and got myself the stronger dose of St John Wort and for me they worked, that and a good kick start to my thought processes. It was a long process. I spent many mornings sat in the car crying after chats with the nursery about how they thought Little Man was autisitc/special needs/needed support etc, I still walked round town and saw pregnant women with a toddle and my immeidate thought would be 'you poor cow, you have no idea what you are letting yourself into'.
In short the first 18 months of Mini Man's life I feel I lost, I did not enjoy it. I hate that fact but there is nothing I can do now about it. I never stopped loving him or Little Man and I never wanted to be without him, but I simply failed to cope well, failed to enjoy life, everything was a massive chore.
Even though the PND is long behind me, I am still affeted bu lack of confidence, self esteem, sense of worth, thoughts of being a crap mum at times, I as a person have taken a huge knock and that is taking much longer to recover.