The rhythmic sound of your sweet and soothing heartbeat gives me a slither of reassurance as my hospital bed is rushed through the corridors in the middle of the night. The few seconds of silence as we pause for the midwife to reposition the doppler against my burgeoning 30 week pregnant belly feel like hours. Relief fills me as again the beautiful sound of your heart beat returns and we continue on our frantic journey to the delivery room.
As I’m wheeled into the operating theatre, even the reassuring squeeze of my hand by the dear midwife whom I’ve gotten to know so well after being in hospital for the past six weeks doesn’t help ease the bubbling anxiety which is threatening to spill over. I look up at your Daddy, whose skin is a stark white against the deep royal blue of the hospital scrubs he is wearing. Our eyes lock and without a word being said we each know the other is thinking about the last time we were here, when we both met and said good bye to your big brother and sister. Silently we are both praying that you, our rainbow baby, will be ok and that we will not be saying goodbye to another precious child.
In what feels like no time at all, my belly is prepped and our trusted obstetrician peeks over the curtain to tell me you will be here in no time. You silently enter the world, just like your big sister and brother, but this time it is different, this time there is a sense of urgency from those around us, you are deemed ’viable’, you can be helped. I am both scared and excited to see you. Your arms move awkwardly as you are quickly held up for me to look at, the sight of you moving, evidence that you are real and alive overwhelms me and before I can take you all in, you are quickly whisked away.
While I lay still on the bed, my ears are searching for a sound, any sound coming from the small room just metres away. Eventually we hear it, a soft and tired cry and the tears which have been building inside of me are released in one big cascade of happiness, relief and terror.
Your Daddy leaves to go with you to the NICU, I know he wants to stay and is torn, but I beg him to go with you. As I lie there on the bed, I feel the heat from the burning theatre lights warming my face but a shiver still runs through me, as my mind tries to grapple the fact you are here – and you are alive.
After I am put back together, I wait in the recovery room for your Daddy to come. His eyes are red and his face creased with worry, but he squeezes my hand promising me you are doing ok. He shows me photos of you taken just minutes before. My heart hurts as I see you lying helplessly wearing a nappy almost the same size as you and surrounded by so many machines. Finally, after what feels like hours, I am finally on my way to meet you.
I struggle for breath as I take in all the cords, monitors and machines surrounding you. I watch as the lines on your monitors flicker with each beat of your heart and breath you take. A deep cold panic grips my very core as alarms chime every minute or two signalling all is not quite right. I still can’t quite believe that you are here and you are ours.
I wake up following day and lie in the darkness as I begin to comprehend what’s happening. Although it’s early, I want to see you – I need to see you and I get dressed and make my journey through the hospital to be by your side. As I walk through the darkened postnatal ward, I hear the cries of other babies and the soft murmurs of their mothers trying to settle them back to sleep and my already fragile heart begins to break. My need to be with you grows and I try to forget the pain as I increase my pace to be by your side.
It feels surreal walking into the NICU to visit you, my very own, precious baby boy. Your nurse gives me a warm smile as I sit down next to you and quietly tells me how you have been. I sit there and listen to the whooshing of the ventilator helping you breathe, and watch as your fragile and tiny body gently moves up and down as the air enters and leaves your body. In the stillness of the morning as the first rays of light begin to peek into the darkened room, I rest one hand on your back, while you grip one of my fingers on the other. You seem to know I’m there, your heart rate and breathing both settle, you know you are safe. I whisper to you and tell you just how longed for you are, how loved you are and how much we need you. I tell you to be strong, how you’ve beaten so many of the odds already and how you need to keep going. I promise you I will fight for and protect you, I will always be there for you and most importantly I will love you my precious rainbow boy.