Yesterday I missed something, an event in Ethan’s school life that I should have been there for. He received two certificates at premier assembly and I wasn’t there to see him standing up in front of everyone. I didn’t see his face, searching for me in the crowd and smiling, and me smiling back so proud. I know there’ll be others and he’ll soon forget it but it really upset me. I was over emotional after a long week where I hadn’t felt well and was ready for a break, but there was something else behind that mum guilt. It was a guilt that has been there for six and a half years.
My boys were born at 34+4 weeks gestation. I wasn’t ready, I wanted to keep them in there for just another 10 days but they had other ideas. There’s guilt I have for not taking more control over my labour , but this is another guilt, guilt at not being there for him all the time when he was in the neonatal unit. I’d lost a lot of blood and was severely anaemic and hardly mobile for the first 24 hours after my c-section. The first time I saw the boys properly was from my hospital bed as I was wheeled into the unit. I don’t even remember what time it was, how old they were then. The next time must have been some time the next afternoon when I was able to be wheeled down in a wheelchair by Matteo. I held Oliver that day but Ethan was still a bit poorly so we left him in the incubator.
I was so overwhelmed and couldn’t even begin to think about how I could split myself in two to spend time with both of them as they were in separate rooms. I hadn’t prepared myself for this and my brain couldn’t comprehend what was happening. I knew they were ok and doing well but being separated if only for a few days had such a big impact on me for the next few months.
I feel so bad when I think of other families whose babies where in NICU for weeks or months and how much of a struggle they had but I think however long your children where in special care for, it’s an experience that shapes your family because we all share a journey however long.
Ours is still ongoing in terms of Ethan’s breathing issues albeit only an open hospital appointment, but it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride and one we probably wouldn’t have been on had they not been born early. I had steroids at 28 weeks because of a bleed and so often wonder if it could have been worse i.e. they could have been born then or if I didn’t have the scare and the steroids what would they have been like at birth at 34 weeks?
Six and half years later we have an amazing bond, my boys know they are loved and everyone comments on how happy they are. I know I must be doing a good job somehow. I apologised to him and he said it was ok but I’ve still had a little cry because I felt like I let him down again. My little boy who still needs me so much, who I do still struggle sometimes to know how to divide myself in two and give enough time and love to both him and his brother. When he was in hospital with pneumonia we had to decide who would stay with him and who would go to work and take Oliver to school and pick him up and so he spent a lot of time away from me then too. One day I hope he’ll read this and understand. Being a parent is the toughest job in the world but I would never give it up. I just accept now that mum guilt is part of it.