On Monday, Rosie Grace, my sweet little terror, will be turning one whole year old. This makes me want to cry. She has six little perfect white teeth. This makes me want to cry too. She can pull to standing and makes very clear choices over what she likes and dislikes. Guess what? Again, it makes me want to cry.
I’m just not ready. Where did my baby girl go? My squishy little chimp who would fall asleep if I laid her on my chest. My tiny, premature baby who was ventilated and in an incubator. What happened to her? I want more time with that Rosie please – I feel like it went too fast.
I feel too like we lost a lot of it to reflux, and also partly to her prematurity and hospital stay. That precious newborn stage, we never got to really experience that because she was in an incubator and wired up to machines. She had such a lot of healthcare professional involvement in the first few months it felt like we never got a minute to be ‘just us.’
And the time that we did get I didn’t appreciate. Because of her reflux, and subsequent weight loss, a huge part of her first ten months or so was extremely stressful. She would cry and scream and be unsettled and I didn’t know what to do. My husband worked an awful lot, so that just left Rosie and I to tough it out together most times. And times were tough indeed. A traumatic, premature birth left me struggling to cope. I felt inadequate, at fault. What had I done wrong? I didn’t drink or smoke during my pregnancy, my husband and I had planned to start a family, and we had everything in place. So why had this happened to us? Why couldn’t I cope? Was I the only person in the world who wanted to run on the opposite direction when my baby cried?
I struggled to form a bond with my daughter. She was taken from me and intubated almost immediately following her birth. It was twelve whole hours before I could see her again, and longer still until I could hold her tiny fragile body. Everything I wanted for my labour had been taken away from me – I wanted a med free, natural birth with immediate skin to skin and delayed cord clamping in the hospital ten minutes away. What I got was sixty hours of stress and panic, an epidural, a forceps delivery, an umbilical cord that broke during labour and a fraction of a second of skin to skin – thirty miles from home. It was not what I envisaged.
And neither was bringing her home. I was truly out of my depth. Her reflux and screaming was so bad that I became desperate and would sometimes sit on the bed and cry with her, as I just didn’t know what else to do. No one would listen to me to start with, and even once reflux was diagnosed it took months for any of the treatments we tried to begin to work. My life was a vomit fueled nightmare, into which I had willingly put myself and out of which there was no escape. They were dark, dark days. Days when everyone else was basking in the glow of their healthy, pink, chubby baby, all smiles and cute daddy pics. And there I was, with my skinny, yellow, sicky, screaming baby, my husband at work, and struggling to keep my head above water.
So yes, the newborn stage and early months were not good. I feel cheated, in a way, that we didn’t get to enjoy it properly. I’d love to have the chance to revisit it and know what I know now; that the reflux would end, that we’d bond, and that I was doing ok, actually. But I can’t. And it makes me terribly sad that my sweet little Rosie is growing up far too quickly. Now that things are how they should be with her, I want to slow time right down and cherish every moment. Every sleepy ‘love,’ every hot breath on my neck, every cheeky little smile when she pulls herself up. Because that will all too soon be gone too.
I’m very proud of my beautiful daughter, and I’m more and more in love with her as each day passes. She’s my best mate, my little star, she challenges me to be my best and do my best. I wish I had understood that before, but I can’t turn back the clock. But I am now going to enjoy her every single day. Sod the housework, sod the pots, the washing, the tidying up, sod it all. It will all still be there tomorrow, but before I can even blink she’ll be at school, college, university.
This is precious, precious time. And now that I have found my groove and my way, there’s no looking back. I’ll always be sad that the early months weren’t what I had wanted, but I’ll always be grateful that she’s here now and she brightens up every day. My dear, sweet little Rosie. I do love you so much.