parents

"Why the first six weeks with my newborn have been a breeze."

It’s 3am and my daughter Maisie just woke me up with an ear splitting scream to let me know she’s ready to eat, puke on me, have her nappy changed and be rocked back to sleep after crying for a while about seemingly nothing.

It’s a routine that we’ll repeat throughout the small hours of the night without much rest in between – and you know what? It doesn’t bother me one bit.

Sleep deprivation, cleaning up all matter of bodily fluids, trying to figure out the needs of a creature who is incapable of communicating with me – I do it all with a smile.

The reason why I find it all so easy is that this is my second time around. With my first daughter, Zoe, those first six weeks were very different.


sarahsalmon2Baby Maisie.

She didn’t wake me up with a scream because she was physically incapable of screaming, so I would set alarms through the night to prompt me to get up to feed and change her.

I didn’t have the privilege of breastfeeding her because she didn’t have a suck or swallow reflex and so my little one ate formula through a feeding tube.

And when she spit up, it wasn’t a matter of just wiping it up, it was a signal for me or my partner to make a panicked dash towards her to attempt to use the suction machine to clear her airways so our newborn didn’t choke.

Those first six weeks were like walking across a minefield, we never knew when something was about to go spectacularly wrong.

sarahsalmon3Baby Zoe. 

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But the biggest difference between Zoe’s first six weeks and Maisie’s is that Zoe only got six weeks before she passed away late one night with her father and I looking over her. You see, Zoe was brain-damaged at birth after an undetected cord accident during labour left her starved for oxygen for far too long.

She was in the NICU for weeks but in the end there was nothing they could do to reverse the severe damage.

We took her home and she remained in a comatose state until she passed away.

All that, in just six weeks, the shortest and the longest weeks of my life.

And so, when Maisie entered our lives, screaming, pink and healthy I immediately felt like I had won the lottery.

All those tricky little things that come with having a baby just don’t seem as difficult when I’m staring down at this perfect child. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not some perfect stepford wife who never gets stressed out.

sarahsalmon1Nina and her daughter, Zoe.

But when I find myself at 3am, tired, frustrated and emotional I think about how somewhere else in the world another mother is pouring formula into their child’s feeding tube. Another is sitting by a cot in a NICU, praying that their child will wake up and be ok.

These women have a lot of things on their mind, but worrying about their lost sleep isn’t one of them. They’d give anything to be nursing their healthy child late at night and I try to remember that as I look into my daughter’s big blue eyes.

I realise how lucky I am, and that’s why motherhood is easy this time around.

Leave a message of support for Nina and other parents dealing with the loss of a child, below. 

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