Tomorrow my eldest son will turn five.
He has been busy planning his Superhero themed party with great excitement!
And this year’s theme seems pretty apt for my Samuel Superstar.
I was 29 weeks pregnant this time exactly five years ago.
I was just starting to think about cots and buggies, cribs and baby grows.
I’d booked onto my antenatal classes, still weeks away, and was yet to confirm my last day at work.
This time exactly 5 years ago I felt a sudden panic – I wasn’t ready!
‘You’ve still got 10 weeks to go’ my colleagues told me as I began to fret about baby grows and nappies.
Yet I still felt a sense of urgency – perhaps my nesting instincts kicked in.
Despite this, I could have no idea what was to happen the very next day.
Having a premature baby sends you into a wild journey of uncertainty, shock and disbelief.
My son was born just hours after my waters had broken at home.
It didn’t seem real.
The room was filled with doctors, nurses and midwives as they attempted to resuscitate our tiny baby for six long minutes.
An alien looking capsule was bought into the room and our son was whisked away.
I was numb.
Just as quickly as the room had filled with people, quite suddenly we were alone.
I’d become a mum for the very first time,
but there were no cries of joy, no words of congratulations and I had no baby to hold.
This is how I became a mother, 5 years ago.
Becoming a parent to a baby born too soon;
having your baby taken away to neonatal intensive care, is one the hardest things a parent will ever have to do.
Saying goodbye to your tiny baby, leaving them alone in their incubator as you head home empty is perhaps even harder.
The NICU journey is tough, the effects of which cannot be underestimated and stay with you long after bringing your baby home.
But the NICU journey can also be special….
I witnessed my superstar as he took his first breaths without the support of a ventilator, and I was overcome with pride.
I watched in wonder as he learned how to co-ordinate the feeding reflex, (usually learnt within the womb) and saw as his micro nappies began to fit his tiny body.
We spent hours and hours together in kangaroo cuddles as I tried to block out the sounds around me,
And his strength for someone so tiny amazed me every day.
Now, five years on, I remember just how far we have come.
He is desperate to be a real superhero, asking me every day how he can get special powers like Superman or Spider-man.
Ideally he would like to be able to swing on webs or fly through the sky,
But to me he is Samuel Superstar, and I think he’s pretty amazing already!
If you believe that mothers & premature babies need more time together after neonatal intensive care please SIGN our PETITION to extend maternity leave for mothers of babies born too soon – https://goo.gl/KeLrVv