When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
Harmattan is still my favourite season of the year. It’s the season when many great things happen – Christmas, Birthdays, Holidays. It’s also the season when one of the greatest miracles of my life so far has taken place.
On Meeting Baby F
This is not how the blogs/ Instagram posts show you your first time with your son. In those photos, you’re usually in a hospital gown in bed with your baby on your chest and your husband by your side. You look decent, everyone is smiling and beside themselves with joy.
I was beside myself with joy, but nothing prepared me for the apprehension and anxiety that came with having your baby seven weeks earlier than his due date. It turns out that because Baby F’s heart rate was dipping at the time, he had blue asphyxia when he was brought out. The hospital sent him right to NICU and put him on oxygen and monitor his oxygen saturation.
So when I did meet my son, I could barely walk from my ward to see him in the NICU. And all I saw was a lot of tubes and lines on a really tiny baby. My heart bled for a second. This wasn’t the plan. Over the next few days, I go through an emotional rollercoaster. First, there’s this bundle of joy and while I have joy, I’m also anxious and I have a million questions. Why did this happen? What caused the distress? Why is his oxygen saturation low? How long will we have to be here?
After a while, I realized that I was letting the devil robbing me of the joy of having a whole ass baby. Over the next few days, my partner and I focused on praying and being intentionally deliriously thankful for our newborn. We had family and friends who were praying for us, but most importantly, we knew our God could move mountains. This helped us put things in perspective. I could focus on recovery and my partner could focus on being everything that he was supposed to be. Our doctors weren’t too optimistic at first and I remember that at some point when I was listening to them talk over me, I just broke down and started crying. But I reminded myself that that was going to be the last time I would spend crying. Over the next few days, my response to everyone was the same: “He’s fine. The doctors are just doing their due diligence. Once we are in the clear, we’ll be headed home.”
This saved me the stress of having to explain where we were to everyone. It also saved me the stress of having to explain details and allow them to share their apprehension or statistics with us. I also became friends with almost every medical staff but super close friends with our favourite NICU nurse, Nurse Akintoye. For me though, the hardest part was having to leave my baby in the hospital once I was discharged and the anxiety every time I got a call from the NICU. I cried so hard the day I got discharged that it took convincing from my partner to reassure me that I was not a bad mother. We had already paid out of pocket to spend an extra night at the hospital and we concluded it was unrealistic to keep spending all that money for just sleeping and waking up in a room. I had to come from home every morning. On the upside, I was getting all the ambulation the doctors recommended.
Slowly (for us) but surely, Folarin got better and every day his dependence on his oxygen tubes reduced. By his eighth day when we got to the NICU, he was totally off his oxygen tubes and I think I did the clumsiest happy dance and took a ton of photos. God was and has always been especially good to my family. Afterwards, we focused on Phototherapy and then tried to teach him how to nurse or at least feed from a bottle as he had only previously used feeding tubes. A few days later, we got our big fat all clear from our doctors and we took our baby home for the first time. It was a really sweet experience.
Aftercare and Settling into Motherhood
I still cannot say that I have settled into motherhood. The first few days were filled with an intense fear of doing something wrong, especially as we found that my baby had reflux and a high risk of aspirating. I also learned to be kind to my son. He’s a healthy and mostly happy baby and because I’m confident we’re all giving him the best possible care, I never really care about milestones. If it worries me a bit, I just pray about it and go on showering him with all the love I have to give. It has paid off, and every time I look at Folarin, my heart is filled with gratitude.
17th November is World Premature Day (I particularly hate the term premature) so all I will say to other preterm mums is always do what is best for you and your baby. You probably had a healthy pregnancy and did everything by the books so none of this is your fault. One in ten babies born every year is born pre-term, so while this may be unpleasant and possibly dangerous at first, with the right care, your baby will do well. I had a book where I wrote instructions from our doctors and nurses and I followed it to the letter until I could make decisions based on my own discretion. I also followed-up every doctor’s appointment till we got the all-clear.
I also realize that I have been incredibly blessed to have been able to hang in there till 33 weeks so my baby was a moderate preterm and I don’t have all the answers for extremely and very preterm mums.
I feel extremely blessed that my story has a happy ending and I wish everyone a happy ending too.
Love and Light,