Looking back on the last 21 months, this statement has proved to be true on more than one occasion. When Elijah was admitted to NICU, he was in there for 9 days. I however, discharged myself after 7. I caught a fluey bug and I didn’t want to risk passing it on so I left my child in the hospital and went home 25 miles away. I didn’t visit him for 2 days until, on day 9, he was ready to come home.
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Are you now reading this wondering what sort of mother I am for leaving my child in the NICU?
I felt like a complete failure as a mother and that my baby wouldn’t even know who I was but I know now, I did the right thing. The Doctors were in fact happy for me to visit him, as he had to build up an immune system to these things. But, seeing how far he had come, and that we were on the point of Elijah coming home, I knew in my gut I was doing the right thing. There was a chance if I did visit him, pass it onto him, he may not have come home when he did, or if at all. Plus, I never would have forgiven myself if I had passed it on to another parent, who in turn, passed it on to their baby.
It was hard coming home with a new born who required surgery, yet you didn’t know when it would happen. Our lives were up in the air, that’s at the same time of dealing with the normal new born problems. Adjusting as a new mum, with Elijah’s Dad working very long shifts as you would expect, the lion’s share of the parenting fell to me. I was very ill post partem, and mentally was struggling a lot. It was clear this was the signs of my depression, and PTSD rearing it’s head. Then the catalyst of the problem came, Elijah developed silent reflux. He was refusing bottles, the health visitor wasn’t helping and mentally, I was on the edge.
I remember sitting in our bedroom crying, screaming even that I couldn’t cope and begging Greg to come back from work, as I didn’t know what to do. That we made a mistake having Elijah and I wanted to leave. I wanted to leave and never come back. I resented Greg so much, that he got to go to work, that he didn’t have to stay at home and try to get a screaming baby with reflux to feed. I wanted him to come home, I was so ashamed I was failing as a mother, that I didn’t want anyone to help me. That I would instead carry on even though the one thing that would have helped more than anything in the world, would have been a break. It’s funny how I was refusing the one thing that would have made the biggest of differences. I think I was in self-punishment mode and didn’t want anyone’s help.
Have you ever had to leave your child in hospital for an operation? Or maybe at the dentist?
I had to leave my child in the hospital while he went down to have open heart surgery and I didn’t even know if he would be coming back up again. To have to hold your child, while they put him to sleep, and then place him on the trolley, you do not know if he will be okay, if he will be coming back up. This was life threatening surgery. When they took him, I couldn’t even kiss him goodbye, I couldn’t face the possibility of losing my child. I then had to leave. Once again I found myself leaving my child in a hospital and walking away. I just had to escape, get away from everything that reminded me of what we were facing right now. So, we decided to walk, we walked for miles all the way from Great Ormond Street to Buckingham Palace. It was a fixed point we both knew we had to physically (and mentally) focus on getting to and back. It was a distraction of sorts. When we got back and got the call that he was out of surgery and it was a success I knew that if I had stayed around the hospital waiting for those 5 hours, I wouldn’t have coped as well as I did. I had to leave my child, he had to have the operation that saved his life.
Maybe, it was because Elijah did have a heart condition, and did have open heart surgery I think I had left him with maybe 2 people in 6 months. But, post-surgery when he had recovered and after my PTSD diagnosis, I knew I need to change this and get some help. In all senses. I went to the doctors and got medication, my thyroid disease was also now back on track and Greg had picked up some of the slack at home for a while. I spoke to my Nan about her and Elijah beginning to build up a bond, an hour or so at my house, then trips to town and to feed the ducks and then his first ever sleepover! Of course, I was worried about leaving him but I needed to, me and Greg needed to reconnect and I needed to see my friends. To make me feel like a person again not just a mother, or a mother of a child who had heart surgery.
You know when you have one of those days, which then turns into one of those weeks? Where everything went wrong, and the sproglet just doesn’t behave and you find yourself snapping or perhaps shouting, that bit louder and seeing them standing there in shock? When you know your patience is at an all-time low. This is when I know that I need a break. That it will take a bit more than a Gin at the end of the day to make me feel better. This is when as a mother I know I am making the best decision for me and my child to step back from it all. To take him to my nans for a sleepover. To go and do whatever, or even just sit on the sofa and get a good night’s sleep. I miss him of course I do, but I know it is best for my mental and physical health and that makes me a better mother to Elijah. I go through so many emotions over the week I miss him terribly on Mondays and Tuesdays when I am at work but I also am wanting to put an add on Gum Tree to sell him by the end of the week!
You may think reading this I am a terrible mother for admitting that yes, at times I have to leave my child. I enjoy leaving my child. I have to have a break. But, it makes me a better mother to Elijah, and after the roller-coaster we have been on, I think I am entitled to a night off and a Geordie Shore marathon don’t you?!
After all, I am human too, not just the mother of a heart baby.