I have been in to the unit for a few weeks now.
My second visit was really positive - I felt so much more confident, just recognising a few faces and being able to sit and chat a bit longer to some of the mums. There are families who will have to spend quite some time on these units and it brought back memories of our experience as a family when our son was born.
He arrived as an emergency after a very long labour. I was very poorly and he required support to and as such we were separated. He was on the special care baby unit and I was on the ward, unable to transport myself to where he was. It was a confusing, emotional, exhausting, traumatic time. One thing you can never prepare for whenever you go into a hospital is that sense of feeling totally powerless. It's like you get to the hospital door and any self assurance you have is secretly removed and you start to ask a doctor or nurse permission to do anything. The same is true when you have a child and everything is good. Imagine what it is like when things don't quite go to plan.
Eventually I got on my feet, but had lost all confidence and felt the need to ask the nurses permission to feed and change my own child. The longer we spent in hospital the worse it got and the more frustrated and emotional I became. I felt anxious to ask some questions in case it meant we would have to stay longer, every day you are hanging on to every detail, every monitor reading, every blood test result, hoping that you will get sight of a day you can go home. It is a roller coaster of fear, pain, joy, frustration and hope. Your entire world is your baby and the hospital routine - of which you have no control of. You sit and look at pale blue walls for hours and wait for the next rounds.
And then you are told you can go home..... and the fear hits you...... you have become institutionalised, the freedom you have craved is now terrifying as you don't have anyone to refer to or lean on or to reassure you that each little noise is ok or that they have fed enough or are warm enough.... it goes on and on.
I struggled when we got home, that is for another blog.....
So I have a little understanding of how some of these families are feeling and to be able to give them time to talk about whatever is on their mind is a real privilege.