Cohen and Kason were born five weeks early, and spent almost a month in the Neonatal Unit before we were able to bring them home. It's a tough place to be, like a whole different world where time almost seems to stop. The constant beeping of machines and buzz of nurses and doctors, parents, babies and siblings make it so daunting, but you quickly get used to it. Well, you get used to blocking out everything that doesn't relate to your babies. You have to. It would be too much to handle if you didn't. I couldn't even tell you how many hours we spent in that place, where the only break I'd get was occasionally popping outside to the cafe to get a chocolate donut which I'd take back upstairs to eat in the Parent's Room.
We had a fairly 'easy' journey in the unit compared to a lot of other families. Neither Cohen or Kason had any major issues. They were in humidicribs for ten days because they struggled quite a lot with maintaining their temperatures, Kason had a touch of jaundice, and they both struggled with sucks feeds meaning they were gavage (tube)-fed until about four or five days before they came home. They only needed oxygen for the first 24 hours or so, and I'm fairly certain (I was highly drugged up!) they both had their drips out by day 2. Cohen in particular had a hard time keeping down his feeds. Most of our time in the Neonatal Unit was spent willing them to put on weight, 'eat' a few more mls, take a little bit more by bottle. The first two weeks, each boy was only allowed out of his humidicrib for 30 minutes a day for cuddles. That meant that the vast majority of my day was spent watching them sleep.
Not long after they were discharged, we started going to a Playgroup for neonatal babies run by the physio department at the hospital, and from there they graduated to another playgroup for neonatal kids. We still go to that, and the woman who runs it started a not for profit organisation helping families on the same journey. Last year, I started helping her out with playgroups. One of the things she does is provide morning tea, once a month, for the families in the unit. Several of us do baking, and drop it off to her the night before. Anyways, I went up to the hospital to help her out with morning tea this morning. I've been back once since Kase & Cohen came home – that was at Christmas when our group of Mums took up Christmas packages for all of the babies and their families.
Being back there today was strange. There were so many people that came in for morning tea, just to get a break and have a chance to tell their stories. And man, are there some stories. One mum has a 26-weeker who is now 36 weeks and doing amazingly well. One couple had a full-term baby born with major lung problems they hadn't known about – they are from the country and had to have the Royal Flying Doctors retrieve Mum & Baby so they could get the care they needed. Another baby was born 3 weeks before his due date because he wasn't moving much, he was found to have a massive blood clot in the arteries of his heart. He is now almost 8 weeks old and it now takes two hours to find the clot – that's how much it has dissolved!
These babies are so incredibly tough. They are so tolerant, resilient and such little fighters. They really do amaze me. Everything that they are put through, the pokes and the prods, the tubes up their noses and into their stomachs, the tubes and machines surrounding their tiny cribs. And they are so, so tiny. They all look so fragile, so delicate and breakable. But my God, they are strong. They are the strongest of the strong.