Today's entry is all about bonding. Not the use of adhesive to stick things to walls you understand, but rather more about the formation of the Mother/child relationship or more specifically the Mother/Smidge relationship.
Now it's not uncommon for Mothers to report feeling an 'overwhelming sense of love' upon seeing their newborn for the first time, yet if the truth be told this didn't seem to happen to me, not with either of my two.
If I am honest I am marginally disappointed about this, You see not only would such a scenario help to validate my Earth Mother status but it would undoubtedly give both Mr. G and Smidge the glory that they rightly deserve.
In my case, for some unknown reason, the formation of the Mother/Child relationship relies on the 'feeling needed factor.'
That is correct. I only love babies that make me feel important. It could even be argued that I love 'conditionally.'
Needless to say when Smidge took up semi- permanent residence in the intensive care unit, Our early relationship was inevitably affected by fear and trepidation. To this day I am consumed with feelings of guilt and shame as I question myself over and over.. Did I allow myself to love her enough when she needed me the most?
To say I had some difficulties coming to terms with the situation is the understatement of the year.I found it very, very hard to go to the unit each day to see my baby, so vulnerable, so sick and so small.
So rather than go myself, I would often send Mummy-bot instead who was far more suited to role of nicu- mummy.
Mummy- bot was good in the respect that she looked and dressed just like me, yet Mummy-bot's ability to experience things was limited which meant she could process information more effectively.
Mummy -bot would arrive at the unit each day and check the monitors for imminent concerns.Mummy-bot was very good at engaging with the machinery and illuminating the input of the nurses who she classified as an 'unreliable source.'
Mummy -bot would however process consultant data. She would then attempt to ascertain it's accuracy by asking multiple questions to different sources. In the end it turned out that Mummy-bot's system was not sophisticated enough to deal with the data, causing the system to go into overdrive.
Inevitably it had to be re-booted.
I thought Mummy-bot's identity remained a secret but it actually turned out that we weren’t fooling anyone as the nurses
dared to tell me gently pointed out that I was 'attaching myself to the wrong things' or 'might benefit from doing more skin to skin.'
I thought it might help me today to compile a list of the things that I found hard ( in an attempt to justify why I felt compelled to send Mummy-bot to the unit instead of attending personally.)
- Loss of Control. This was something I really struggled with and it bought about a lot of mixed emotions for me. On the one hand I was really grateful for the fact that they were saving my babies' life, Yet at the same time the fact I needed them reinforced a sense of failure on my part and I resented them for that.
- Invasive procedures. Being born so tiny,Smidge had to have so many invasive procedures. Being born at just 25+1 she had many cannula' s,long lines, eye examinations and surgery. None of these were pleasant to see.
- Milk intolerance. It was hard that for the longest time Smidge couldn’t tolerate her feeds. She was over two months old before she finally got up to 2lb from 1lb 7. She had numerous set backs and infections plus two referrals to surgical units on account of it. She was still having trouble with this at 36 weeks gestation. It breaks my heart that when she did most of her growing it was from false nutrients on a drip and not from the milk that I provided.
- Slow Progress at first. I would find it upsetting when other babies born after Smidge, weighing less would move on quicker than she did. Mummy bot would often listen in on other babies progress reports and compare against Smidge in an attempt to balance probabilities – Naughty Mummy-bot!
- Feeling Judged. I always felt like I was in the middle of some reality TV show, that people were looking at me, trying to work out weather I was going to crack up or not.
- Apnoea's. An area where Smidge excelled. Sometimes doing ten or more a day if she was unwell. I just never knew where to put myself when this happened.I felt so helpless. I'd just hope they could get her breathing again before I had too much time to think about what was actually happening.
- Uncertainty. The not knowing weather she would live or die was by far the hardest thing and this just seemed to go on for so long. In fact it only really became clear on the day I heard those magical words *discharge planning meeting* 117 days after she was born. It was only then that I knew I was actually taking a baby home with me!
It's funny because when I compare these points against another list I wrote recently which describes some of the many things that I love about Smidge, it makes me realise just how much our relationship has grown and developed since leaving hospital. I can't change the fact that I found those early months a challenge and I cant change the way I dealt with it but I can learn from it and grow both as an individual and as a Mother to a Miracle baby.