Christmas on NICU
Every morning on NICU, the doctors have a ward round. You can tell who the sickest babies are, by how long they spend with each of them. Well, the doctors would spend what felt like around an hour with Millie every morning - Compared to a couple of minutes for every other baby. We were getting really close to Christmas now and I was starting to think our target of cuddles on Christmas day was not going to happen. Attempts to take her off the ventilator kept being aborted. She was really struggling to keep her oxygen requirements stable.
As parents, it was such a frustrating time. There didn't seem to be any let up for our little girl, everything was being thrown at her. Unfortunately, because we hadn't been looking after ourselves properly, the inevitable happened - I caught a cold. As premature babies are so susceptible to germs, I had to stay away from the ward. It was really difficult as Millie was so poorly. However, my husband would sit with her all day and send me pictures of their time together. After a couple of days, I was allowed back on the ward as long as I wore a mask. I jumped at the opportunity as I was extremely aware of the condition Millie was in, and I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible.
While I was away from the ward, however, it gave me some time to think of other ways we could cope with the stress and anxiety. I started to collect Millie's old wires / hats and dummies - with the plan to give them to her when she is older. We also bought her a tiny teddy bear, so when she looks back at photos, she can see how tiny she was. I made the mistake, however, of getting the parcel delivered directly to Millie Young. When the poor postman delivered the parcel and said they had a parcel for Millie, I burst into tears! I wasn't going to make that mistake again..
It was now Christmas eve, and we had cancelled all of our Christmas plans. We were going to spend it as a family of 3, just like all of those other new parents from the maternity ward. However, our Christmas was going to be different. We were going to spend our Christmas in hospital. Eating festive sandwiches from M&S for our Christmas dinner and opening presents under the incubator, instead of the tree.
To be honest, it was the best Christmas we have ever had, not only did we get to open Millie's presents from home, family and friends. But Father Christmas visited her at the hospital - She had 2 stockings hanging on the end of her incubator, full of gifts which ex-NICU parents had donated. It reminded me that we were not alone on this journey, 1 in every 13 babies in the UK are born premature and each of them have the strongest parents, who have not forgotten their roots.
However, I wasn't going to get that first cuddle on Christmas day.. :(
I got it on Christmas Eve.
And it was the best cuddle ever