Once again I find myself alone, staring at the ceiling of a hospital room. This time there is nothing but stoney silence. It’s a weird silence. An unknown silence after the chaos of the last 24 hours…I’m not sure what to think. I’m full of emotions and my mind is racing at a million miles yet numb at the same time.
I try to reach over to get a drink of water off my table but I’m stopped sharp as pain shoots through my body. My stomach feels wretched, the stabbing pain is relentless. My abs clearly don’t exist and I’m doing everything not to use them.
I try to push myself up with my arms but I’m met with pain on both sides. ‘Damn it!’ I mumble as pain shoots up both arms. One is from the cannula (some bright eyed person put it right on the crease of my wrist and I’m stabbed every time I use my hand), the other arm…I don’t know. There’s a deep shooting pain that takes my breath away every time I move! If it wasn’t my right side I’d say I’m having a heart attack! Nothing but pain when I take a breath or lift my arm.
‘F**k this’ I yell in frustration and pain!
It’s ok to yell now. I’m in my own room. A moment of grace came my way when I returned from seeing the boys for the first time as I was moved to a private room in the public maternity ward. It’s a blessed feeling not to have to listen to everyone else’s babies making me want mine more. Yet somehow, it’s incredibly lonely!
I had left them in the NICU just before dinner. I’ve quickly learnt that it is an ongoing heartache every time I have to leave them. We are allowed to visit regularly through the day but I need my rest to recover myself too.
It’s now night again. After something that resembled food (and makes the private hospital look like the Hilton), I find myself back within my thoughts staring blankly at the food network…again.
I buzz the nurse for some pain killers. I try to ask her what is causing the pain in my arm, she shrugs it off and says it’ll go away soon. After a heated discussion about my pain plan not being adequate in which she disagreed, she asked me how the expressing was coming along….the whatty?????
“Oh has no one been through this with you yet?’ (clearly…no!) It’s what you need to do to get the breast feeding under way.”
For a moment I thought this nurse had gone cray cray…um last time I checked my babies were being tube fed in a box where I can’t touch them and they can’t suck, swallow, breath? umm…did I miss something?
‘It’s important you start stimulating the breast’ she said ‘to try and get as much colostrum as possible into the babies milk! It’s the….”
‘ I know what it is!’ I bluntly replied. ‘what am I supposed to do?”
‘Has no one gone through this with you?’ She said.
My blank, expressionless face must have answered he question as she ducked off out of the room and moments returned with a bucket full of stuff.
At this point in time the nurse began to explain how they needed to try and get the expressing process under way and that I had to start getting tiny amounts of colostrum from my boobs to try and put into the boys feed.
It made sense but the process is bloody difficult. I was talked through a combination of massaging, squeezing and awkwardly handling my boobs to try and syringe off a ml or 2 of colostrum.
To be honest I found it an incredibly disheartening process. Every few hours I’d try all these different techniques for a damn ml or 2 but I was told to keep going!! So I did. Waking myself every few hours in the middle of the night, trying to express a tiny bit here and there for my babies upstairs. It was hard…bloody hard. One nurse said to me think of your babies and it helps…I don’t think she realised I didn’t really know them yet I was only seeing them for 20 mins here and there!
The next few days became routine pretty quickly. The boys appeared to be stabilising which was great. I spent almost every moment I could sitting by their side. Fully wheelchair bound, I was unable to get to see them without assistance so if Chris or my family weren’t there the hospital simply didn’t have the resources to help me get up to see them. I found this incredibly frustrating!
While I knew my babies were in the best of hands, my experience of the hospital was the opposite. In fact recovery for me went sharply down hill in the first few days. A lack of food (I was once given one round egg on a plate for breakfast. That’s it nothing else), extreme pain management, extreme pain and exhaustion from the emotion of babies in NICU, not to mention the endless battle to get a ml or 2 of colostrum, I was fading fast in hospital.
I know hospitals are grossly under staffed and I know they are doing their best but I was honestly appalled at some of the treatment I received. No pain killers. Missed meals. No assistance to carry heavy breast feeding boxes back and forth straight after a c-sect, no assistance to get in and out of bed, a cannula left in my wrist for days on end causing more and more pain, shooting pain in my right arm that I was told to forget about and the list goes on. The breaking moment for me was when I spilt some water on the ground. I called the nurse as I was worried I’d slip. She looked at it and left it! Chris cleaned it up when he arrived back.
As the boys continued to gain strength the question then arose of the possibility of being moved back to the private hospital. This thought came as a delight to me! I’d been at the end of my tether with the place when I left but now it looked like paradise. I missed the friendly reliable staff. The predicable but more than satisfactory food, the individual assistance and overall the whole place! I couldn’t believe I missed it!!!
4 days after the boys were born and a ray of light came our way after we were told the Private had enough room for the boys to be transferred to their special care. They had the humidicribs for them, the boys were doing exceptionally well with stabilising so they may even be out of them soon and all in all we had the green light to transfer back! I’ve never been more excited to go to a hospital!
The next morning was transfer day. Little did I know this was an almighty process in itself. We packed my room and discharged. Chris had my things and I was to be transported with the babies! Now bare in mind it’s only a 5 min drive or 20 min walk between the 2 hospitals. However it quickly became apparent that this was a million mile mission.
I made it up to the NICU at around 10am to find an ambulance driver, doctors, a paramedic (apparently specially trained in baby transport) and nurses galore. It was an epic process in handing over docs, getting monitors ready and charts organised. Then we had to get each of the babies into the special humidicribs on a special stretcher to be transported to the ambulance!
It was unbelievable, but soon I found myself being pushed behind a trolly of cribs and monitors down to an ambulance. The stretcher was locked into the back of the ambulance with the medic monitoring the boys constantly! It was a very impressive sight and one hell of a process to get from hop A to B! It was unbelievable! All in all it took us around 4 hours!
I’ll never forget that moment I walked back into the private hospital. The boys had been taken ahead and were being settled in their care unit, Chris had already arrived with my bags and headed to my new room. he came to meet me at the ambulance and as I was pushed back into the private I was overcome with emotion. The familiar nurses faces, the friendly chorus welcoming me back and the comforting smell. I was instantly relieved…I was home…well almost, and I knew now we would be ok.