A kiss and a cuddle is a snuggle

Lil G doesn’t realise just how much it means and how much it makes me smile when I hear him say these words. It’s our thing you see. Our little phrase which we whisper to each other. It’s no ordinary cuddle you see, it’s the combination of a kiss and a huge squeeze, a snuggle.

As adorable as it is, it also breaks a little piece of my heart at the same time. I never had that first hold of our baby. It’s something I think about each day. That first skin to skin. That first kiss, touch and smell of our baby. It didn’t happen for us.

What’s even more sad is that Lil G’s first experience of this big world we live in was of sheer panic. No cuddles, no tears of joy, no kisses. Just panic.

Lil G arrived prematurely at 33 weeks. This was me the day before…

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As I made my way through town the day before a bunch of boys ran in the back of me by accident. I fell to the floor. I didn’t really hurt myself but within 24-hours a child was born. At 33-weeks pregnant there were complications with his breathing, his lungs, his temperature, his weight and the fact he was severely jaundice. He looked like he’d spent the previous 7-months in Marbella rather than in my belly. Well actually 1 of those months was in Thailand (I’ll explain later!).

No sooner had he birthed, he was whipped away as he wasn’t breathing. It was all a bit of a whirlwind. He was taken to ICU where Tubes, cpap and intravenous breast milk were the way forward for our little boy. We didn’t get a glimpse of our miracle baby until 10.30am the next morning. A whole 11.5 hours after he arrived into the world. We were so desperate to meet him, to hold him, to protect him and tell him that his mummy and daddy loved him so very much.

2 days old

2 days old and breathing all by himself

Sadly that didn’t happen for another 5-hours. Oh the agony. I remember slumping into my seat thinking why, why had this happened to me? Tired, post labour, emotions running high meant one very weepy new mummy.

I’d had a fabulous pregnancy. No morning sickness, nothing. We didn’t find out until we were 15-weeks which meant we were 8-weeks pregnant on our wedding day! So based on not finding out until the 2nd trimester I was actually only knowingly pregnant for 3-months. Fastest pregnancy ever. What a super announcement that would have made! However it may have meant that we wouldn’t have travelled around Thailand on our honeymoon. Thank The Lord I didn’t do that para-sailing! Eek.

A kiss and a cuddle is a snuggle …

These are the words which I have repeated to Lil G since the first time I held him. Some 16-hours after child-birth. Meeting your baby and then touching your baby for the first time through an incubator wasn’t quite what I had in mind when I signed on the dotted line of motherhood.

My first snuggle - 16 hours after George was born

My first snuggle – 16 hours after George was born (excuse the bad picture)

When you fall pregnant you sign up to a whole list of ooh’ s and aww moments. The sleepless nights, the worry, the sick, the growing pains. You think about that first hold, the first time your baby says mummy or takes their first step. What I didn’t sign up for was to have a premature baby. No I did not.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful that he survived. today he is healthy, today as I look at him sleeping you would never know the battle he had to suffer for those first 15-months. The severe gastric reflux, the colic, the weight loss, the struggle to put weight on, how every cold grabbed him so hard that he lost all the weight he’d put on in a nanosecond, the twisted neck syndrome, the flathead syndrome, the 3-types of medicine 3-times a day for 12 months. I was a walking chemist. The fact that he will always be tiny little (his words) and sadly some evil child on the playground might just pick on him because he is so much smaller than the rest of his friends. (That’s another post)

As I write this you’ll be pleased to know that Lil G who is now 3-years old is having the biggest growth spurt EVER. He is now in age 2 clothes, yay, and his feet are huge (he’ll be happy about that, I will worry about that!).

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To all those mummy’s which long for their pregnancy to end and their baby to come early, you don’t mean that do you? Now I know that you’re probably just saying it because you’re getting uncomfortable and as Lil G made his appearance at 33-weeks, I honestly don’t know how bad it gets. It makes me sad when you say it. To think that another mummy may not get that first hold of their baby.

What follows premature birth stays with you for a long time. 3-years in and I still think about those first few hours, unsure if our baby was going to survive. most days it creeps upon me. Wondering what tubes are being prodded into him today. What tests are being taken today. Has he put on weight? Has he lost weight? Is he rejecting the medicine? Will he be ok? Does he need his mummy? What does he think about all the Drs which crowd his incubator hourly.

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1 week old

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2 weeks old

Giving birth only for your baby to be whipped away was torture.

Mr H and I had to leave our beautiful boy in hospital for the first 3-weeks of his life. This was and still is the hardest part of being an adult I have yet to experience. I think I coped quite well. Actually I didn’t. I just didn’t show it. I cried a lot. Each night in fact as we drove away from the hospital. Mr H was a super star. My rock. I couldn’t have done it without him. Waking up with me every 3-hours so that I could express enough milk to keep Lil G going as he was fed via a tube.

The routine we found ourselves in led to us waking at 7am each morning knowing that we were about to spend the whole day with our baby, albeit sat next to his incubator. What wasn’t easy was leaving him at night. I remember so vividly a nurse asking me once if it was ok if she cuddled Lil G when he woke crying during the night. It broke my heart. I wanted to be there for him. I wanted to be the one to console him. The truth is we couldn’t be. Although we had 24-hour access we couldn’t sleep due to the ‘family rooms being reserved for critical babies. Thankfully Lil G only fell into this bracket for the first 12-hours.

A special mention needs to go to the most amazing Drs and Nurses you will ever come across. Neonatal is a very special place. The nurses care for your baby like they are their own. Although it is hard to handle at the time they really are the best people to be with your baby in your absence.

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20 thoughts on “A kiss and a cuddle is a snuggle

  1. My little boy was born full term and his Daddy got to hold him right beside my head straight after the emergency C-section. However two days later our world crashed when he suffered a post-natal collapse in my arms followed by a pulmonary haemorrhage. I was lucky and got two days with my baby boy before he was rushed into neo-natal care, I really struggled to cope with all the things you mentioned. My little boy spent his 1st month in neo-natal care and I can’t thank the doctors and nurses enough as well as the transport team who brought him to a specialist unit as he needed an oscillating ventilator. I adore my 21 month little boy and he is due to be discharged on his 2nd birthday as there appears to be no lasting complications. You are correct no one signs up to having a prem or a sick baby when the consider being a parent.

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing this. Having had a problematic pregnancy this time, with talks of early delivery to ensure my baby gets the best care possible has hit me hard. I would desperately love to go to term as I have with my other babies, but it’s not to be this time. At least I am allowed (touch wood!) to now go to 37 weeks rather than 34. I agree with you- premature birth is not something any parent really wants x x x

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  3. Oh honey, I’m just going to cry and cry! Mr one was 5 weeks early, and I had no clue why. He wasn’t whisked away from us, we were with him every moment. But not knowing if your baby is going to make it or not is the worst worst most agonizing feeling in the world.
    I’m so glad you have a happy, healthy little three year old. I don’t know if we’ll ever forget those beginnings, or if they ever stop bringing the floods of tears that accompany them.
    You’ve written such a beautiful, yet heart wrenching post. Huge hugs to you!

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    • Thank you for reading lovely and for such sweet comments. I am so happy for you that you weren’t separated from your little one. I agree that the unknown is so tough, we knew nothing, it was like getting bloody from a stone however that was all done with the best intentions but I do believe they should take into account that the worry of not knowing any detail is far worse than knowing something, even if it isn’t positive x

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  4. Are you lovely lovely curly haired boy. 1) how fab did you look preggers? 2) I am so happy your story had a fantastic ending. I can’t imagine just how stressful it was for you lovely I really can’t. Thank goodness your boy had good help and he is growing into a big strong lad xxx PS congrats on Mumsnet xxx

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    • Aww thank you lovely brummy lady, I was extremely fit before getting pregnant from the 12 months spent in the gym before our wedding so I think that’s all it was! But thank you my dear. I loved being pregnant. How exciting ey, I took your advice and have been sharing my posts with them and hey presto they picked one up, hooray x

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  5. Such a wonderful post. My son Hugo was born at 24 weeks and sadly lost his fight aged 35 days. I miss him so much. Your little boy is gorgeous, and I’m glad he made it home. The life of a preemie, their parents and parenting in an NNU is rarely seen, so thank you for helping raise awareness of the challenges xx #brilliantblogposts Leigh – Headspace Perspective xx

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    • Hello Leigh, thank you so much for reading, you have made me cry, I give you a piece of my heart today and I really cannot express how sorry I am and how brave you are. Do you have other children? I remember there being a number of 26w babies around George in ICU and it was frightening seeing how small and almost glass like that they looked. You are a brave lady. So many of our friends are still unaware of the struggle. People just don’t realise how hard it it and how very tough it is on the parents. Thank you again for reading x

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    • Hello lovely, I thought about you when I was writing it, It isn’t silly about not having that first touch, don’t think that lovely, you are braver than me for having more than 1 child lovely, the main reason we have chosen to stick at one is because of this experience. I honestly don’t think that I am strong enough. I remember your post, however I will be reading it again. I cried so much writing mine but recently it has taken over my thoughts so as my blog is really my journal I needed to write it down. Thank you for taking the time to read it and comment lovely. I would love to meet you at some point x

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  6. Oh lovely. This made me well up. It must have been so unbearable in those early weeks not to be able to take him home. But what a little trooper and beaut he is. I am very glad the story has a happy ending. A lovely read xxx

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  7. Oh sweetie, I’m crying reading this, that must have been the most terrifying time. I can’t even begin to imagine how it feels to have your baby taken away as soon as they were born.
    When O was delivered during emergency c-section there were complications, and you know from how the doctors and nurses suddenly become a lot more serious. There were a few seconds when I knew he’d been delivered but there was no sound and it felt like a lifetime, I’d have been hysterical if I hadn’t been able to hold him.
    You are an amazingly brave mummy, and Lil G is just gorgeous xxx

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    • Good morning lovely, thank you for reading, it was such a long post. With still thinking about it 3years in I needed to write it down. Oh wow a c-section, I’m glad all was ok for you after. We knew there would be lots of nurses/drs in the room but when his heart rate went I can’t explain the panic as we saw so many people run in the room with all the noise of machines going mental. I kept a lot out of the post as it was too much for people to read. Lots of love x

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  8. Your post really touched me. My tall and grumpy, and absolutely amazing 11-year-old was born at 31 weeks. More than a decade later, I’ll always be a preemie mama, and as much as I cherish the extra two months of having him in my life, the memories that you mention – about having to leave him at the hospital to go home each night – still bring a tear to my eye. xx

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    • Aww thank you for reading Linn, You’re right, we did get to spend some extra time with our little ones, it’s just a shame some of that was in a hospital where he didn’t really feel he was mine and then all those weeks and months of hospital appointments. Tall and grumpy at 11-years old, that’s about right isn’t it 🙂

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