After having a had a perfectly happy, healthy little girl and then a bit of a struggle with some miscarriages we were absolutely overjoyed to make it to the 12 week let-your-breath-out ultra sound with our boy Jack. In reality, it was where we just took one even deeper breath and held on for the ride of having a baby with Rhesus blood issues.
You can’t imagine the bravery and courage of my wife as she endured countless fetal blood transfusions where 20cm syringes were plunged into her belly and then gently navigated into minute arteries in amounts as small as 8 mls. All of this done blindly with just a hazy ultra sound screen to guide the needle – I’d like to see our surgeon on a Playstation that’s for sure! Day after day spent in fetal monitoring and dozens of ultra sounds all trickled towards our time in NICU when Jack was finally born just on 33 weeks.
Who can forget the beeps and whirs of those amazing places – it was more like the stock exchange floor when I rushed down with him straight after delivery to commence a sixteen hour double blood volume exchange while Susie recovered from the Caesar. Having done natural and the old “sunroof” job she can’t believe anyone says the latter is the easy way out – it was bloody awful! And so, like so many of you reading this letter I stood in tears as I watched our boy pricked and poked like a pin cushion as they tried to find “fresh veins” for all manner of lines and transfusions. And yet I never heard a cross word in that place. Never met someone who didn’t smile or ask how we were. In a way it was a bit eerie because you couldn’t gauge how serious things were with a cheeky nurse and casual doctor always popping by.
After a few weeks things were on the up when suddenly Jack contracted the Rota virus. Susie was rushed back to hospital gravely ill with it and Jack stepped so close to the edge that we nearly lost him again. What a bizarre and surreal world it is when you find yourself in a tea room watching the cricket with another Dad whose kid is hanging on for dear life. Pulse rates and CPAP levels are bandied about like bowling figures. At times I felt like I was drowning in sorrow and helplessness and yet at others there were these transcending moments when you connected with someone going through it as well. I guess it is a bit like a club – one that there should never be a waiting list for! Of course one of the most surreal sensations is the guilt you feel when it’s your turn to finally leave.
You should feel ecstatic and everyone wishes you well and all you can think of is the others who still have the long haul ahead of them – maybe they won’t get to take their precious one home at all. And then it fades. Just weeks ago your life was this amazing centripetal force towards the hospital and now you’ve moved on so quickly. And then there’s a first birthday and the chance to reflect, a teary speech, a warm glow, a broken glass and fairy bread smeared on your crutch and again the frenetic pace of life rushes you on. And so we have, only to find ourselves full circle with another little one due in weeks.
Of course the Mercy has moved now and the new NICU is amazing. It just won’t be quite the same. The carpet is too new, too dry as fresh tears bounce off the patented Stainmaster Deluxe. But the faces are still the same and the warm touch of the night sister will never need renovation.