World Prematurity Day, is a global movement on November 17th to raise awareness of premature birth. A huge thank you to Emily for sharing her experience of Mum guilt when her son was born prematurely earlier this year.
Mum Guilt, something that exists even before your child is born, maybe because you ate something 'forbidden' to pregnant ladies or because you haven't thought about that growing bump all day, Mum guilt never, ever, ever goes away and I can certainly say it definitely multiplies when your family does. And I felt the full force of it, when one of my babies was extremely poorly and I was torn between both of my sons.
If you follow me on social media, you'll have probably seen that Patrick unfortunately spent the first week of his life intensive care, for a couple of days it was very much touch and go with words like Sepsis, meningitis and brain damage freely used in updates on our little boy, it was an incredibly scary time and one I'm glad is behind us. Of course when I went in to have little P, never in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen this happening, I expected a longer stay as I was aware he may need some IV antibiotics due to my waters breaking, but in no way did I think I'd spend over a week in that hospital. Over a week separated from my biggest boy.
Before P was born, I'd never spent more than 24 hours away from Noah so this was hard, tear inducing and heart hurtingly hard. Nothing can prepare you for feeling so torn between who needs you most and having to so obviously put one of your children first so soon. We'd done everything we could to prep Noah for our new arrival, we'd bought the books to read to him, we'd let him pick out a present for the baby and had prepared one for him to receive too - I thought he'd feel so included and it would be more Patrick fitting into our lives than anything, I desperately didn't want him to feel left out. But now, how could he not? For all he knew this baby had come along and he hadn't been at home with his Mummy since. I spent so many hours awake, crying, wondering what he would be wondering. Would he think I'd left him? Would he resent me, or Patrick? Will he be acting out or regressing? Noah visited us, of course he did, but it wasn't the same, he'd lose interest quickly and start to act up - who can blame him, he's 2 and hospitals are pretty boring for 2 year olds. He wanted to hold P and couldn't really understand why he couldn't do that. It was an upsetting week for sure, the above picture is how they met and it's in no way how I could of ever saw that huge milestone happening - but it was special nonetheless.
When I was discharged from the Maternity Unit after 4 days, I was offered a flat on the NICU ward to be near Patrick and I feel thankful that at that stage, we knew he was probably going to be 'okay' & out within a week so I chose to stay. It was such a hard choice, picking between my children so clearly, but Noah could visit, he had so many people around him who are obsessed with him that I knew he would be ok. I decided Patrick needed me just that little bit more. During that crucial week, Noah was looked after so well by both of my parents and at times my Nan, and if I'm truthful Noah was elated at the fact he got to see his 'Gangan' (My dad and the be all and end all for Noah) every single night before bed. He was so happy and content, but I think that almost made me feel more guilty - he was so accepting and understanding that 'Mama was looking after Patrick at the hospital' that don't know if that was worse or not.
Throughout Patricks time in Intensive Care, I definitely found fellow Mummy Charlotte summed everything up so well in her posts about her beautiful Daisy and Bill. It felt so surreal reading her updates when pregnant, and then being in a similar situation but her words of wisdom definitely helped me through those hard days. I know this post is a little rambly, but it's hard to sum up such feelings that you haven't quite got your head around yourself just yet. I still feel guilty towards both boys, like we need to make up for lost time and I know that is ridiculous and we should live in the moment. But that is Mum Guilt, and something I've never felt so overwhelmingly consumed by till three weeks ago.