“I’m only up to Chapter Six in What to Expect When You’re Expecting!”, I told the midwife in the ambulance on the way to the closest hospital that was equipped to deliver a baby so premature.
We both laughed – her with genuine mirth, me in sheer terror.
I was 30.5 weeks pregnant. Vomiting all night – with suspected listeria. Now suddenly in labour. Being whizzed from the small hospital where I’d hoped to give birth (at least eight weeks later) to the ginormous hospital that was equipped to save what would be an infant of unknown fragility.
Suffice it to say, I did not know what was going on.
My mother, father, and two of my sisters had left the country the day before to attend my grandmother’s funeral in India. I became ill six hours later.
So much for any birthing plan I’d wanted to write. Lol to that.
LISTEN: TV Presenter Bec Judd speaks about the first six weeks she had with her baby, on our pregnancy podcast Hello Bump. Post continues after.
So the first six weeks of becoming a mother were different to that experienced by most mums I know. But then again, mine is also the story of so many mums out there. Thousands of babies are born prematurely across Australia every year, so I know my experience isn’t unique.
I know I’m not the only mum who didn’t have a baby bag packed to take to hospital. (I might not even be the only mum whose brother-in-law had to rifle through her underwear drawer to find any suitable post-op, aka huge, undies.)
I’m not the only new mum who’s stood by a humidicrib in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with tears in her eyes, wondering why her premmie baby was in there and not still inside her. Not the only mum who felt totally robbed of the amazing experience of being pregnant, which I’d endured three rounds of IVF to achieve.
I’m not the only mum who was discharged from hospital and had to go home without her baby, leaving him to be cared for by extremely excellent medical staff who were nonetheless not his mother.
I know many other mums have also vigilantly sat by a humidicrib’s side, day after day, week after week, hoping their child would grow stronger, hoping no further medical issues would materialise.
Today, on Mother's Day, is the tenth anniversary of me becoming a mum! Oh, which also means this kid is now…
And it was that precisely – that omnipresent fear – which defined the first six weeks of motherhood for me.
My son had been born so early – so much of him wasn’t fully developed – and I was forced to witness him fight for it. It was scary as hell.