Coping with having your baby in neonatal for any amount of time is hard, you emotionally shut down and you truly are simply existing and not living. Going through this experience when you have older children at home adds additional pressures and guilt.
All you want to do is be beside your babies incubator 24/7 because even though you feel useless you also feel like the only way to truly begin to feel like their mother is to be with them. It isn’t natural or bearable to be apart from your newborn child but as much as you want to be there so the voice they hear the most is yours and the scent they smell the most is yours, when you have other children you simply can’t be.
Mixed into the cyclone of emotion you are already going through is the guilt you feel for your older children.
“Where are you going mummy?”
“Mummy has to go and visit your brothers again”
“Mummy’s upstairs expressing for your brothers”
“Why is mummy sad”
“Mummy misses your brothers”
“Why can’t mummy come to the park”
“Mummy’s at the hospital”
Your heart is being torn in half as you are forced on a daily basis to choose between your children.
‘Do you go to soft play with your eldest or visit your tiny babies? Maybe if you go later that would be better but then you miss eating with him again and putting him to bed and besides you don’t think you can last until the afternoon without seeing your babies. What if they’re in pain? What if they’ve had a bad night? What if something is wrong? What if they forget who you are? Oh and wait if you don’t go early enough you’ll miss doing the 1pm feed and the next one is a tube feed and then it will all clash with having to express so you’ll have to go and sit and do that which will waste time. Hang on can you even get a lift at that time as you still can’t drive after your c-section.’
“mummy, mummy, mummy, mummy are you coming to soft play this time?”
‘Shit what do I do, what do I do, WHAT DO I DO! HELP ME HELP ME, I FEEL LIKE I’M DROWNING, I CAN’T COPE WITH THIS ANYMORE! I WANT MY BABIES, I JUST WANT MY BABIES AT HOME, I WANT TO BE NORMAL, I WANT TO BE THEIR MOTHER, I WANT TO HOLD THEM AND SMELL THEM AND ROCK THEM, I WANT MY BABIES! oh god look at my brave big boy, he’s such a good boy, he never moans, he’s been so good, god I hope he know how much I love him, what if he thinks I don’t love him anymore, what if he’s jealous, what if he doesn’t like his brothers or me! THIS IS SO UNFAIR, MY POOR LITTLE BOY, I’M A SHIT MOTHER, WHAT DO I DO, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO, WHAT DO I DO!
“Mummy, muuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmyyyyy, are you coming?”
You are in an impossible situation every single day and the pressure, anxiety and confusion can be impossible to navigate your way through.
I feel guilty to this very day for the amount of times I had to let my eldest son down during our twins stay in neonatal, this guilt is equal to that which I feel for only spending 2-4 hours a day at the hospital with my tiny little miracles in order to try and keep things as normal as possible for my eldest.
What I have come to accept though is that there was no answer, no equation which would have meant I felt guilt free or like I was making the right decision. It is an impossible situation that you simply have to try and navigate the best yo can.
You are a mother, you love your children more than you knew was possible, your love consumes you and even in the depths of your disspare and heartache when you feel numb and lost the very fact that you feel so torn means that your love is shining through your pain and into the lives of your children.
Be kind to yourself, you are doing the best you can in an unbearable situation and your best is more than enough. Your love is clear and pure and felt by each child equally and you are an amazing mother.
Children don’t have an understanding of time, they don’t compare gestures or the decisions we make, they don’t remember if you missed a couple of swimming lessons or trips to soft play these are all things we do to ourselves through our maternal need to show our love equally.
Focus on the long term and the things they are all going to gain, the friend for life you have brought into the world, the play fights, the laughter, the sibling bond they will have which will outweigh by a million the weeks mummy had to spend missing things.
Hold onto the future and the love to come and know that you are a warrior of a mother and your children are bathed in your love today and always.
Stay strong preemie momma, love An Ordinary Mummy xxx