Advice Column, Health

Picking Up The Pieces

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Previously we touched on understanding high risk pregnancy  and what causes prematurity , this month we will be taking a look at the conflicting emotions we go through when we have given birth prematurely. It can be a trying time for both parents, both emotionally and physically draining.

Whirlwind…

No one is fully prepared for childbirth let alone a premature one. Depending on the circumstances, it can be a situation of fear, disorientation and overwhelming bewilderment. I believe we all have that moment of realisation…what just happened was no dream. My daughter was born at 3:50am, I was unconscious through most of it. When I finally awoke at 7am, the lack of movement from her was replaced by pain. Alone in my hospital room and unable to move…I will never forget that feeling of devastation and hopelessness. These feelings were short lived as I sprang into action, I had a duty to perform. I won’t lie, I was emotionally numb. My mind accepted that was my little girl in the incubator, my heart on the other hand wasn’t so sure. Slowly my heart warmed, and I finally accepted that I was now a mother to an amazing little fighter. Sixteen months down the line, I am still working through the PTSD, but everyday gets better.

Life changing journey…

Parents may worry after a year, two years, ten years or twenty, that they have not “gotten over” the traumas and losses of having a premature baby. They may concede that they are more vigilant now.

They sometimes find themselves very afraid that something awful will happen to their child. Memories pop up in the most unexpected places. Tears well up without warning. They secretly wonder if they have PTSD or are not moving through the “stages” of grief in the “right” way. They imagine that the premature birth irreparably damaged something in them. In short, they fear that something is terribly wrong with them.

Parents who have uncomplicated pregnancies and full-term deliveries have a community of people that they join when they have their babies. More and more, they find the changes that they feel acknowledged and validated. Parents of full-term babies say with a chuckle, “I’ll never be the same again” and most other parents know just what they mean.

None of us will ever be the same again — but a lot of the time, we’re not so sure that anybody knows what we mean. Our journey was distinct. Our transformation took a startling path — perhaps a longer road or one with more twists and turns. We are different now. And the unease we feel, I believe, comes in part from our struggle to figure out who we are now, how we fit in to the world we used to inhabit, and how we want to move forward.

One thing is for certain. You will never be quite the same, again. But I would like to suggest that this journey leaves us altogether wiser, stronger, tenderer and more human. And it is the lessons that we learn that we pass to our children.

What can I do?

It’s ok to seek help, rather sooner than later especially if you are thinking of having another baby in the future. Take some time and think about the way things used to be — the way you used to be. Think some more about what this experience has given you. The journey is ongoing. The road you are on will never be the same one that you thought you were entering when you imagined parenting this baby. The parent you imagined that you would be is probably somewhat different than how you developed. But this difference does not mean that you are damaged. It does not mean that you have not “recovered” from the premature birth. What it means is that you are transformed. And that’s exactly as it should be.

Support & Preparation

Besides relying on support from those around you. Chubby Bunny is there to make the journey a little less stressful. Through education & support, Chubby Bunny’s main objective is to support families whose lives have been touched by prematurity.

Chubby Bunny is the first company in South Africa to supply critical starter packs for premmies. We supply high quality goods ensuring the little miracle is well cared for, from organic skin care sensitive for their soft skin, petite clothing small enough to wrap around their tiny bodies, Premmie nappies, a Premmie Support Booklet equipped to help parents understand the NICU and how to care for their Premmies. These hampers can be shipped overnight to main centres South Africa.

Visit our online store www.chubbybunny.co.za for more information on the hampers we provide or simply contact Sian at sian@chubbybunny.co.za.

Next month…What to expect…my baby was born before her/his time…now what.

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