In June 2016 I gave birth to the most precious, beautiful, delicate, scrummy baby boy. Oliver.
He was breech and was born via emergency C-section. I didn’t actually realise that I was in labour, it all happened so quickly and the shock didn’t wear off for a good while.
I have so many memories that I won’t bore you with, but I think the most poignant would probably be the third or fourth night we had all been at home with Oliver. I was watching him in his Moses basket; he was settled and sleeping soundly. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the most overpowering sense of maternal instinct; it was almost animalistic. The love that I felt for Oliver that night was a surge of intensity, passion and fear. I was so scared, so anxious, so afraid that something was going to happen to him. He was so tiny, so vulnerable and precious, all I wanted to do was barricade him in the Moses basket and protect him forever. It was very, very strange. I burst into tears and had to hold him – somehow he stayed asleep. Maybe he knew I needed that comfort. I will never, ever forget that feeling.
I might have felt that way that night for a reason given what the future has ended up like, or maybe it’s a feeling all new mums have. All I know is that nothing can prepare you for having a baby. Nothing.
I was extremely vulnerable and low myself for the weeks that followed. I became a lot more aware and conscious of my own mortality and those around me. What would happen to Oliver if something happened to me? What would I do if something happened to my parents or Oliver’s dad? I literally did not move from Oliver’s side unless I needed the toilet. I watched over him even when he was asleep and tried my hardest not to drift off. If I did not have such understanding, loving and supportive family members I would not have gotten through it.
Being a first time mum is the hardest thing in the world, but being a new mum to a poorly baby is a world of uncertainty and undoubtedly draining. It pushes you to your limits and then beyond. All any mum wants to do is protect and take care of their baby; when they’re unwell you can’t do that for them and it’s difficult.
At one month old Oliver became very poorly and was admitted to hospital for a week. Little did I know that this would become a regular occurrence and the months to follow would be 100 times as testing as that first admission. I was turned away from the Doctors twice before I was taken seriously, which as a first time mum made me feel silly and I tried to convince myself that I was overreacting and that the doctors were right. Why wouldn’t they be? Of course there was nothing wrong with him, I was just being overprotective and hormonal. It was only by chance that our Health Visitor came round the day after, took one look at Oliver and sent him straight back to the Doctors and he was referred to the hospital from there.
Over time I have learned to trust my gut instinct with Oliver and to be confident with my own judgement as he has been unwell so frequently. To begin with, I was in denial. Oliver wasn’t a poorly baby, he just hadn’t had the greatest start in life. I clung onto doctors every word, was extremely thorough with all medical appointments (still am) and very understanding when they didn’t necessarily have a diagnosis or an answer for what was causing Oliver to be sick.
Oh how naive I was.
It’s taken me a long time to trust my gut, to go with my ‘mother’s intuition’ over every other reasoning voice inside my head. I’m ashamed to say there have been countless times where Oliver has been seriously unwell and I’ve hesitated. What if I’m making something a bigger deal than it is? What if he’ll be fine within the next hour? Don’t hassle anyone, he’ll be okay. All babies get poorly at some point, right?
Doctors try their very best, I cannot fault any care that Oliver has ever been given. They’re amazing and I do not know how they do it; seriously. I am so very grateful to every professional that has ever encountered Oliver. However, what I have learned is that they don’t know everything and can often treat Oliver’s symptoms but don’t necessarily know what they’re treating him for. They’re just trying to get him better and stable again. Which, in all honesty, is all I can ask for.
I’m an extremely anxious person who over thinks everything (seriously, everything – ironic that I would start a blog, ay?). I can honestly say that all of Oliver’s experiences, no matter how painful and difficult they have been, have helped shape who I am today. I have a backbone, confidence and a voice that I now use because of Oliver. I have realised that there is nothing wrong with asking questions, or in certain instances to disagree with medical advice or ask for an alternative.
I would say it took until Oliver was six months old and seriously ill (I’ll elaborate on this another time) and in hospital (again) for me to get the courage to fight. To voice every little niggle or concern, to query absolutely everything. To ask for second opinions and to chase results making damn sure my baby was being looked after as he should be.
It really is true that you know your baby better than anyone; I wish for Oliver’s sake I had realised this far sooner. Always go with your gut instinct over anything and do not, by any means, let that ‘what if?’ voice inside your head deter you.
Your baby doesn’t have a voice – it’s vital that yours is heard.