Bonding With My Premature Baby
I was rushed into the hospital at 27+6 weeks after being in a lot of pain and starting to bleed. I was relatively calm considering it was my first pregnancy. Once I was at the hospital, the monitors were on and I was examined. I was in labour and 8cm already! The midwives and doctors flooded the room. I was going to have my baby.
Once my son was born, I was shown him for thirty seconds and then he was rushed away for lots of tests. I felt cheated, confused, normal, there were so many feelings going through my head. But one thing was for sure, I didn’t feel like a mum, like I'd just given birth. I could have ran down that corridor. The pain of labour had completely disappeared as soon as he came out. I instantly felt like me, not a mother that had just given birth. Hours went by, and still I couldn’t see my son.
Twelve hours later, I went down to ICU. This tiny human lay there in an incubator with tubes and wires everywhere. He could fit in the palm of my hand. So small and helpless. A doctor came over and explained they were moving him to a different hospital as they didn’t have enough nurses here. My world fell apart. How could they do this when he needed so much help? Why did they think he was strong enough to make this journey? It’s over one hour and thirty minutes away! He was twelve weeks early! So many questions and feelings.
After over forty-eight hours of no sleep, we were travelling to the new hospital. I knew my son needed me to be there every minute. I didn’t want to leave his side. But I struggled to feel like a mum. I hadn’t even held my son yet. He was too fragile and needed to rest. I was on auto pilot for the first two weeks. Expressing milk, feeding him every few hours through a tube, doing mummy duties, talking to him, just being there, but, that bonding feeling, the feeling of being a mum just wasn’t there. I felt alone, like I couldn’t tell anyone as they would think I was a terrible mother. Nothing else in the whole world mattered to me more than me being in that hospital but I was lacking that bond, that connection, that love. Two weeks in and a move back to the original hospital, I completely broke down. Nurses questioned why I was so upset when my son was fighting so well. But I had not shed a single tear up until this point. All my emotions came pouring out. It was good to finally have a good cry. It can feel so lonely in ITU/ICU. There are many other mothers and fathers going through their own journeys with their little ones in there. I felt like I could never be happy there if we were having a good day as so many others were having a bad day. It was actually quite a sad and depressing place. But you had to do it for your little one. It was the best place for them. You just wouldn’t be anywhere else. Days later, panic struck when they suspected my son to have NECK. This is potentially life threatening as the intestines die. He was immediately monitored and tests were carried out. It was later confirmed he did not have NECK. We went through this roller coaster three times. It wasn’t easy having a premature baby. Your emotions are all over the place. You take two steps forward and then ten back constantly.
Coming out of the hospital three months later, I felt so lucky to have a healthy little boy. Those four walls in that hospital had become our home for so long, it was strange to finally be at home. But a great feeling. I would constantly wake up to make sure he was still breathing, petrified that now he didn’t have the nurses or the machines he would stop breathing. After a couple of weeks, I got use to the fact he was going to be okay, and I could relax a bit. I also started to feel the motherly bond I should have had at the beginning. The three months of being in hospital and all the trauma and stress started to feel a distant memory. But, I will never forget what we went through. Only people who have had a premature baby will ever understand those feelings and emotions. I have stayed in contact with a couple of mothers I met in the hospital and I take comfort in connecting with them and seeing how their children have grown too. But most of all, Adapt is a charity that gives support to parents with premature babies. I wouldn’t have gotten through some of those times I had in hospital without them. They were amazing.
Now my son has just turned five! And I have gone on to have another child who is now three.
Natalie, 33, is a mother of two living with her partner and children in Leicestershire. She is a level 4 beauty therapist and in 2014 opened her very own beauty salon.
If she is not pampering her clients, Natalie enjoys health and fitness, catching up with friends, fine dining and travel.
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