November the 17th is world prematurity day, anyone that knows me personally, knows why this is such an important day for me.
I haven’t shared my story publicly, I was unsure wether I ever really wanted to. Its completely out of my comfort zone to write up and share such a personal blog post. But as something that changed my life completely, I feel maybe the time has come for me to tell it – in the shortest way possible.
Mischa Swain, was born in the city of Bielefeld (Germany) on March 11th 2011, 11:34pm, weighing 1lb 8oz. Mischa was born at 25 weeks gestation, fifteen whole weeks early.
She was my first child and I was only nineteen. The day of my labour, everything was as it should have been. We’d been re-located to the army housing in the beautiful small city of Gutersloh three weeks prior. Sam had started work at his new base, I was bumbling round the house trying to find things to clean amongst the empty rooms that were due to be filled with our belongings a fortnight later.
And then it happened. I won’t go into all the gory details but at just after 9pm I knew it was time to go to the hospital, this wasn’t something and nothing. We arrived, I met the wonderful staff. I was 3cm dilated and there was a chance this could be stopped. Twenty minutes later, that dream was crushed, I was 5cm dilated, our daughter was coming and fast. We were told the possibility of her not surviving was there and even if she did survive the possibility of her being severely disabled was high.
I was rushed into theatre, crying, terrified doesn’t even begin to explain. My baby was too small, too underdeveloped to survive on her own. I begged, pleaded with them to save her, before I was knocked out to the whispers of a german anathesiest trying to comfort me.
I woke sometime before midnight. Sam’s face filled with relief (I didn’t find out until afterwards, but due to complications he was told the possibility of loosing both of us was there. Poor sod.) We were told we had welcomed a beautiful little baby into the world, she was very poorly, but she had survived the C-section.
The days after were a blur. I lay in the hospital bed surrounded by heavily pregnant women, all going through the stages of their labour. My thoughts never straying far from what had happened, desperately trying to remember the first time I met my baby.
The journey that followed was a hard road for us all, I wasn’t used to being a mother, wasn’t sure what that even meant at this point. There was so much I wanted to do for her, feed her, change her nappy, even hold her. But she wasn’t quite ready, she just lay, fighting to survive.
Two weeks after she was born I got to hold her, it wasn’t at all what I had expected. I didn’t feel the rush of love, I didn’t cry, I didn’t laugh, I didn’t feel relief. I felt nothing, unsteady. I just wanted to put her back in the incubator, let the nurses look after her, they were doing what I couldn’t by keeping her safe and I couldn’t shake the feeling of worthlessness. Regardless of how I felt, I continued the kangaroo care, knowing one of these days I’d feel that rush I was waiting for. At this point the no pressure approach was the only way to function.
The weeks passed and the long days went on, we visited the hospital every day, 8am – 8pm. Every day she got stronger, taken off more machines. There were set backs of course, she received a lot of blood transfusions, she picked up a lot of infections. But she managed to avoid any major surgery and every day she grew that little bit more stronger.
One normal tuesday morning eight or so weeks after her birth, we arrived at the hospital, this day was special. I had been promised on this day I could bath her for the first time. No tubes, no machines. Just me cleaning my baby. We arrived, the nurse apologised, but she had been bathed not long before we had arrived. I burst into tears, for the first time I was furious at how absolutely unfair the whole situation was, I felt robbed. Something so simple, this was my moment with her. I was supposed to finally get a first. There were many moments like this, many were I selfishly hated the world, hated the women that got to do it properly, hated the people that got to go home with their baby. I hated my body for not keeping her safe, hated it more for not being able to produce the milk she needed. I hated Sam for telling me everything was going to be okay, hated the nurses for doing what I wasn’t able to. It was a funny ol’ place to be, one I have learnt to deal with as time has passed.
Eventually, twelve long weeks after her dramatic arrival in the world. Mischa, Sam and I went home. We went home with a healthy baby, we slept, we fed, we changed nappies. And two or so months after that, whilst feeding her, she smiled. My darling girl with wide eyes filled with love and curiosity, looked at her mummy and smiled. I laughed out loud, kissed her chubby cheeks and felt my heart burst with love for the strongest person I had ever known.
And thats my story. Now, nearly five years on we have a healthy, happy, clever little girl. One who lights up the room with her love for everything, one who’s caring and hilariously funny. A healthy child who’s smile makes me burst with pride every day. We are so incredibly lucky to have Mischa still with us, even more to have her here so healthy. I’ll never forget those early days and i’ll never, ever take my role as being her mother for granted.
The little woman pretends.
*For more information on World prematurity day, head over to the BLISS website *