What's in the box
I thought I would share with you the contents of Millie's memory box, which we started during her time on NICU. When I emptied it this morning, I couldn't actually believe how much stuff was in it! She is going to be the most popular kid in school when they have a show and tell!
There is all sorts in there, tons of leads from her sats monitor. Dummies, hats, masks.. I'm not quite sure how she managed to accumulate so many teddy bears!! But I am sure she will love looking through this lot when she is older!
Looking through myself, I still can't believe how small she was. Millie was 2.2lbs when she was born, and she wasn't allowed to wear clothes until she was 3 weeks old. Finding clothes to fit a premature baby was a nightmare - My husband and I were desperate to buy Millie her first outfit. We searched everywhere. The only high street store we could find which sold clothes specifically for premature babies was Mothercare. They ran a collaboration with an excellent premature baby charity, Bliss, and worked alongside them to design the range. The clothes were brilliant - The whole body folded out flat, which made it so much easier to work around all of Millie's wires. However, we got the smallest size we could find and that was still too big for our Micro Mills!!
It is strange to think, that dressing Millie for the first time was a huge milestone for us, when it should just be the norm from day one of birth. Even now Millie is home, people find it strange watching us dress her. We have to take everything off and on from the bottom up. We can't put anything over her head as it would get stuck on her nasal cannula. I find it odd when people comment on things like that - Upside down dressing is perfectly normal for us!
I also cant put into words how amazing these are.. Such a simple concept. Who ever came up with the idea of these is a genius! They are 2 knitted squares: 1 stays with mum and the other goes in babies incubator. After a day or so, the square has picked up with scent from its environment, so you swap them over. Baby then has a square which smells like mum, and mum has a square which smells like baby.. The best smell in the world!! I absolutely loved my square, I used it all the time. Whenever I was away from her and started to miss her, I would smell the square. When she was really sick, I started sleeping with my square every night - Taking comfort in the fact it felt like she was close to me. I still have a square on my bedside table actually.. I don't think it will ever go!
We also had a square for the dog, so that he could get used to her scent before she came home. Obviously we couldn't do any trading between them, but Louie loved it - and now they are best of friends!
Oh! and not forgetting the letter we got from the House of commons, in response to a petition we signed to change parental leave for parents of premature babies. My husband had to return to work while Millie was still in intensive care, and I spent the first 3 months of my maternity leave in hospital.. As parents of a premature baby you are not entitled to any additional leave, compared to parents of a healthy baby born at term.
Premature babies have an actual, and a correct age.. Millie's corrected age is 4 weeks old (how old she would be if she was born on her due date) she is therefore expected to have the developmental capacity of a baby born at term, who is now 4 weeks old. However, Millie is actually 15 weeks old - and my maternity leave started on the day she was born. How is it fair that, as parents we will loose 11 weeks of precious development time with Millie, before I have to go back to work. Don't even get me started on the law for men..
Luckily my husband's employer was absolutely brilliant, and extremely supportive. However, there were so many dads on the unit, I saw tirelessly coming in every evening after work to spend time with their children. It's is exhausting enough being on the unit all day, let alone going to work and going to hospital in the evening. It is both mentally and physically draining. There has been some exposure of this in the news recently and the BBC are a company who have stepped forward to take action for their employees - extending the leave allowance. I really hope more start to take a leaf out of their book.