Last weekend (Ace’s birthday) was great. Everyone had a fab time, and the birthday boy himself was brilliant. There are times when you get flashes of just how far your kids have come, that can be easily missed in the every day plod of forming your kids’ characters, and it makes you so proud. For Ace, who has always had issues with impulsiveness – not using thoughts and words before actions – it was so sweet to see him taking time to open cards and thank people before he even opened each present, with no prompting from us at all. He was really keen on getting everyone involved in the activities rather than just making it all about him, and he was so grateful for every contribution to his day.
On Sunday we were at church and in the middle of worship I thought about how well the weekend was going and how thankful I was, when I suddenly got blindsided by old memories and a horrible feeling of guilt.
Usually as a mum, on your kids’ birthdays you allow yourself to have a little reminisce about the day your child was born, but I rarely did when it came to Scooby and Ace’s birthdays because I didn’t enjoy it all. Not that excruciating pain, blood and the most undignified actions of my life is fun to think about on the others’ birthdays, it’s just that the other three births were followed by a relief that the worst was over and overwhelming joy at the prize at the end of it. For the twins’ birth, however, there wasn’t much pain involved as I had to have an epidural, and once they arrived the overwhelming feeling was more akin to panic that there really were two of them and now I was expected to take responsibility for them both at the same time. Due to lots of blood loss, I felt out of it and I was having out-of-body type experiences off and on for the rest of the day, so it’s all hazy in my memories. Once we were up on the ward, the two boys were only with me for about an hour before the nurse noticed that Scooby was grunting slightly, and wasn’t feeding at all, and he was taken to the neo-natal unit for tests.
This is where the guilt factor comes in. I was weak, hardly able to sit up, with another baby to look after, and Scooby stayed on the neo-natal unit for five days. I couldn’t get up there myself as I needed to be wheeled up, and the ward was so busy and understaffed that the nurses couldn’t take me. So I had to wait until Richard came to visit, for him to take me. So my brand-new baby only got cuddles from me twice a day for his first few days. Once I could start walking again, around day four, I then had to try and work out when I could go up on my own, between sleeping, looking after Ace, and producing milk to be taken up to Scooby for his nose tube. Every time I managed to go up to cuddle him, I would come back to a hysterical second twin who had woken up while I was gone and bawled his eyes out for who-knows-how-long?
At the end of the fifth day, Ace and I were officially discharged, and we then moved onto the tiny parents’ bay on the neo-natal unit, where finally I could be together with both my babies. Determined to get them both home (my feelings of panic had turned into resolve!) I persisted with feeding Scooby as often as I possibly could, day and night, so I could get his sucking reflex working and get that nose tube out of his stomach. All his tests came back fine, the grunting had cleared up, and once his course of antibiotics had finished on the eighth day, we were able to all go home and be an exhausted, chaotic family of five.
But those first few days continued to bug me for a long while after. I knew he was only on the lowest level of care on the neo-natal unit, and so probably had plenty of time outside of his little pyrex box, being cuddled by the lovely nurses on there, but it wasn’t me, the body he’d just come from, that he was getting his cuddles from. I felt like I’d been forced to choose between a baby with higher needs who had lots of people to look after him, and a baby who was physically fine but was completely dependant on me as no one else was there for him.
I hadn’t thought of this stuff for a really long time, but it all just flashed into my mind at that moment on Sunday morning. It hit me hard and unexpectedly, and I felt overwhelmed with grief and regret.
Attacked in the middle of worship. It’s an old, old story.
I know that my God is the God of turn around, so I gave it over and waited to see what He would do with it. And back it came.
First of all, never mind about what happened in the beginning. Never mind about what it is out of your control. Never mind about what you ended up having to do in the midst of a bad situation. Even if wrong decisions were made, the past is the past. Forget what is behind and fix your eyes on what was ahead. Didn’t you more than make up for those first five days? That kid was never EVER in doubt that he was loved, wanted and, for a long time, the centre of the family around which everyone else revolved. He knew how much everyone loved him, and how everyone did as much as they could, without complaint, to try and bring him health and happiness. You got hours and hours and hours alone with him, telling him and showing him how important he was. And the cuddles? Oh yes, more than you ever thought. You two were by his side the whole time, right to the end.
And where is he now? In the BEST place. With the BEST care, and without a single need at all. Better arms than the neonatal unit, I can promise you. So you just focus on the ones I’ve left in your care, including that twin brother of his. Don’t worry about your boy anymore – his past or his future. Your job is done, you’ve seen him safely home.
It’s all good.
Restored, refocused and equipped to fight again. It's an older, better story.