Rhea-Jane's Recovery Story

Day 1
As my heart beat out of my chest whilst I felt the numbness of labour pain in my lower stomach and legs, I couldn't hold my excitement to hold my little girl in my arms again. She was so pale white and tiny when I first held her that I just wanted to hold her close to my heart and tell her I will care and love her for the rest of our lives. 

Midwives flooded the long, bright, hallways and smiled ever so politely as I passed them all nervously. Where was my baby and why is it taking so long? It really wasn't a long time, she was only on the lower floor and a few doors away. 

Palms sweating, I reached the Intensive Care doors. Alexander pushed me through them and led me to my baby. Looking around the room, I saw tiny crying, sleeping, and happy babies peacefully being looked after by nurses and the babies' parents. Wires were linked, drips were inserted and tubes were in the noses of these fragile creations.

There she was, my baby. My beautiful, delicate flower, lying so still. How was she? Is she Okay? Can I hold her? What's wrong with her? 

Taking a deep breath, I peered into the incubator surrounding my baby girl. She was just lay there - peaceful and inquisitive. Her eyes were so big and dark blue, squinting and looking around at her surroundings. Such a tiny 5lb baby, mesmerised by the world she was only just born in half an hour ago. Her hand had a drip inserted so that her sugar levels and hydration would stay normal as she was not yet having actual food. IV was a short term substitute.

A bubbly nurse strolled over and Alexander asked if it was okay for me to hold Rhea-Jane, she told me it was perfectly fine and I could try and see if my baby would latch on and feed. I couldn't hold her at first - too small and fragile. I thought I was going to hurt her or drop her. Eventually, I plucked up the courage and Alexander passed me my baby. 

Fiddling and figuring out how to hold such a small baby, I finally placed her in the right position to breast feed. Rhea-Jane tried with all her might to lean her head back, open her cute mouth, and find my nipple. She found it. But couldn't hold on. She just licked it and wouldn't suck. Baring in mind that she was 4 weeks and 1 day early, I understood that it could take a few days for her to get the hang of it, for me too. Either way, it was still disheartening. 

After a little while, my body started to hurt as my painkillers were wearing off. I needed to go back to the ward and rest, but my baby would have to stay in Intensive Care away from me. Alexander helped me back upstairs and stayed by my bedside until I was drugged up and ready to go back to Rhea-Jane. My Step-Dad and twin sister visited me at my bedside and asked if they could see Rhea first. It was fine, I needed to keep resting and Alexander obliged to take them down to see her.

That late evening, I felt strong enough to [with the help of Alexander] walk down to the Intensive Care Unit, but what I didn't know, was they moved my baby to the Special Baby Unit because she did so well in Intensive Care. To my horror, I saw my little babba in an incubator with a blue light surrounding her. Please, no!

My baby was jaundice.

My heart sunk so low that I felt sick to the stomach. Why was my baby jaundice? How long will she be under that light? Does this mean I can't hold her? Is that mask there because the light will damage her eyes? What if she pulls the mask down/off? Will she go blind?

Comforting me with the answers to my questions, one of the neonatal nurses told me that the light doesn't damage babies eyes, they are only masked to help them sleep and to see darkness. I would be able to hold her and change her nappy like a normal mum, too. Thank God! My baby's [can't remember the name] levels were really low when her blood work came back, that the light had to be on for 24 hours depending on what her next blood test shows.

Sadly, her IV was still in her hand because she still wasn't supposed to be feeding. I really can't remember why she wasn't allowed to eat. I think it's because once the IV is inserted and the drip was on full, that they would have to slowly transition IV to food, which means slowly turning down the IV and however many numbers it drops, is the amount of ml my baby gets of formula.

As I wanted to breastfeed, I had to hand express colostrum from my breast into a cup. The more I expressed, the quicker and more my milk would come in. You are never warned of how stressful and arm-aching expressing a tiny few ml of colostrum out of your breast is. 

Day 2
Waking up in a daze, I saw a midwife at the end of my bed taking notes and leaving me a few painkillers. "Why don't you try and walk down the corridor to the bathroom and take a nice hot shower. I can help you walk if you like or I can wheel you down there and help you shower?" No thank you, I want to be able to do this on my own, to be strong and show my little girl that if I can get stronger, so can she.

Slowly trailing myself to the bathroom, I sat down to empty my bladder but could only feel warmth and the stings from my wound. Stitches on your vagina don't half make you want to cry. My lower back and hips were still numb from pain and my legs were shaking, but I managed to waddle to the shower and stand up as best I could. Washing was not easy and I wish I did accept the offer from the midwife. Accept all the help you can get, childbirth is crazy painful and causes so many fuck ups to your body before you are recovered.

I felt my belly, it was so soft and smooth, almost jelly like. It didn't feel like my skin as my nerves were all numb. It was a crazy sensation, yet I couldn't stop feeling it. 

Alexander rang and told me he was on his way and I told him I would meet him in the Special Unit as I was dying to meet my little girl again. Once again, I waddled so slowly, taking a long time just to get out of my ward, into the Lift, and down to the bottom floor. It felt like a mission, but it wasn't mission impossible. I would walk the Grand Canyon, no - route 66, in this horrible state just to see my baby again. 

Slowly but surely, I made it to her incubator. Still under the blue light, it hurt just as much to see her in the same situation. Vulnerable, adorable, and sleeping. She never cried, even the nurses who looked after her the night before came over to tell me she just whimpered when she needed her nappy changed.

I couldn't believe it. She was such an angel. I held her and felt her soft skin. Beautiful. Not long after I had sat down, Alexander joined me with cuddles and kisses on Rhea-Jane. Pictures were taken, saved, and sent to my immediate family as I wanted to share my daughter's beauty and progress with them. All day I stayed with my daughter, unless it was when Alexander dragged me to the canteen to get some food. After all, I needed to keep my energy levels up and food to get my milk flowing. I was still hand expressing.

The same evening, when I was back upstairs on the ward to have a nap, a midwife came over and told me I was being discharge but my baby had to stay at the hospital.



I wanted to be with my baby; by her side; watching her progress; looking after her. I couldn't leave her! Politely, the midwife told me there were rooming rooms opposite the Special Baby Unit and she will ask if I could stay in there until my baby is strong enough to come home from the hospital. I was told it could be upto TWO weeks! 

Not long after being handed painkillers, the midwife came back to my bed side and handed me my keys to the room. Oh My God. I was allowed to stay until my baby was strong. Words couldn't describe how blessed I felt to be able to stay at the hospital and not have to leave my baby in a hospital away from me and her Dad.

Alexander helped me gather my things and take them downstairs to the room. He was even allowed to stay in the room with me! Bonus! I felt like crying because of how amazing the staff were. They do anything for you to make you happy and comfortable. Once we got everything downstairs, we headed back to Rhea-Jane and stayed by her side until we were both close to passing out from tiredness. Sleep time.

Day 3
All night the amazing neonatal nurses looked after my baby girl, and as she wasn't yet feeding, all she had was nappy changes. Yes, we took advantage of the help, but I really needed a full nights sleep. Early that morning, I quickly woke, slowly got dressed, took my medication, and went to see my baby.

Soon, a doctor came round to check the nurses notes, and me and Alexander were both told that another blood test was taken and the results will be back shorty. If the results show her levels have grown then she will not need to jaundice light, and she will be out of the incubator and into a normal cot. I couldn't help but keep hoping that she was getting better, her levels were growing, and she was getting stronger.

Around late dinner time, her results came back.


Both me and Alexander were ecstatic. Our baby could get dressed into a tiny vest and onesie with a little hat, and sleep in a normal hospital cot. We can be proper parents and care for her properly.

More good news. A tube was being fitted into her nose, down her throat, and into her stomach. It was not nice to listen to my baby cry, but it didn't take long. 19cm of tube was inside my baby! Ouch! Sadly, she had a mini nose bleed but she was perfectly fine. The milk I expressed that morning was then syringed through the tube, she was finally getting the colostrum and antibodies she needed. Most important part of breast milk was finally going into my babies system - just what I wanted to happen.

Of course the IV was still in her hand, but the nurses lowered it a few numbers so Rhea-Jane could have a few ml of formula and expressed breast milk. The start of a long recovery to feeding properly and being able to come home.

All day, again, like the rest of the days I have just written and going to write, me and Alexander cared for Rhea-Jane and stayed by her side until night fall. I even dropped off my breast milk to the nurses for her night feeds.

Day 4
Waking up flooded in tears, I felt Alexander grip me tight and I heard him tell me that everything was going to be Okay. The baby blues had begun. I couldn't help but cry. It was too much. My baby was in hospital and I hadn't yet become a proper mum to her. I had just gone through a traumatic labour and now I had to watch my baby wired up to a drip with a tube in her nose, too. Too much. It was all too much. I needed to be held - tight.

Excuse me? What? Rhea-Jane did so well over night that the nurses lowered her IV amount and upped her formula/breast milk intake? Hell YEAH! Rhea-Jane was progressing quickly and I could not have been more proud of her. After a few hours a nurse came over and told me that they were happy to take the IV out of her hand seen as she has the tube in her nose so she is able to be fed. Double HELL YEAH! It was such a good day for my little star.

A few more nappy changes and feeds later, another nurse asked me if I wanted to give Rhea-Jane her first bottle to see how well she will do. She downed the bottle like a pro, and Alexander started to tear up as he was so proud of his little princess. It honestly tugged on my heart strings. She was such an amazing, strong, little baby. 

Attempt after attempt with each bottle, she would only drink a small amount before the rest were poured down the tube. However, she did get the hang of it but did end up having a couple sicky burps, but all was good. How about a Triple Hell YEAH? Her tube was taken out that evening, seen as she was taking her bottle even if it was a small feed (70ml) she was having - she was demanding every 4 hours. Four hours is standard for the hospital. If a baby demands every four hours and is drinking an equal amount for a 48 hour period, the baby can go home after the 48 hours is up.

All day I had a huge smile and feeling of hope that in just a few days my baby would be able to go home! There were a few hiccups with her feeds but she quickly got back on track.

Day 5
During the night I visited Rhea-Jane and gave her a few feeds. I missed her every time I went into my room and it was hard to sleep. Every couple of hours I had to wake to express milk into a bottle and take it to Rhea-Jane so the nurse could make up her bottle 50/50 of breast milk and formula, and then watch me feed her.

Every little thing Rhea-Jane did, they wrote in her notes. Every time I fed/changed/cuddles my baby, they wrote it down in their notes. Every day, a doctor came round to check her notes and see how well she was progressing. 

Today was the day a nurse came over to me and told me I could take my baby home on the Wednesday as she was meeting all the criteria and ticking all the boxes. Not much happened today except that she was feeding regularly like she was supposed to, and she was beginning to wake up a little more.

Day 6
As it is a Monday and Alexander had took a week off work, he had to go back to doing his usual daily work crap. He was absolutely gutted that he had to leave both of us... but a few hours later, he received the best text he could get from me: I could wheel my baby to my room so she could sleep with me and her dad before I could take her home the next day. We were even told we could bath my baby for the first time, with the help of her and Alexander. It was so scary! I had watched my sister bath my nephew, but I had never bathed a newborn in my life. What if I dropped her? Will she slip out of my arms into the water? What if she swallows some water? Will I be Okay? Will she be Okay?

Yes, I worried. A Lot. But as a new Mum, I was cautious of every thing and everyone.

Bathing her was so fun. She cried at first but once the warm water comforted her, she loved it. When we dried her, she was even sucking her thumb; cuteness overload! It was time to wheel her to my room ready for her big day.

All evening we cared for Rhea-Jane on our own like a proper family. I was so happy and constantly gave her cuddles and kisses. I was able to have Me and Rhea-Jane time - just us - no nurses, or other parents surrounding us and hearing the beeps of machines going off because a baby's blood pressure dropped slightly. Oh the ringing of the alarm, a noise I will never forget. Even Rhea-Jane's kept going off in there. Horrible.

As Rhea-Jane didn't have the blood pressure monitor on her foot anymore, she had a mat under her mattress instead that sounded an alarm if she stopped breathing. She never did. She was so strong and her progress was incredible; I was so proud of my little girl.

All night we watched and giggled at her facial expressions as she was such a bubbly and bright little character! She even smiled at her Dad for the first time - no it wasn't a windy smile either. I know the difference.

Neither of us slept, we just watched Rhea-Jane sleep, fed her and changed her when she whinged, and admired our little creation. Morning soon arrived.

Day 7
It was the day we got to take our little girl home!

But first...

Alexander headed off to work, sadly so disappointed that he wouldn't be there to take our baby home together. I couldn't blame him for being angry yet upset at the same time. I felt really sad for him, but I got to be with my baby myself. 

Not too long after dinner, one of the neonatal nurses asked me if she could bring Rhea-Jane back into the Special Baby Unit so she could be checked over by the Doctor before her discharge forms were signed. She was weighed and lost a few oz's but was not a worrying amount as newborns do lose weight in their first few days. Another nurse came to see Rhea-Jane and did her newborn check, which should have been done on Day 2, but because she was in an incubator, there wasn't anything they could do and she had to wait for the check.

It took a few hours for the doctor and the nurse to arrive, but whilst I waited, the neonatal nurse looking after Rhea-Jane did the car seat check and made me watch a CPR video of a fake baby not breathing, and what I should do if this ever happened. It wasn't too long after when all the forms were signed and whoever was checking Rhea-Jane, came. 

Finally, my Mum arrived to come and pick me and my gorgeous daughter up and take us home. I dressed and changed Rhea-Jane's nappy, but noticed she still had the tube sticker on her face. I asked the nurse how I, ME, would take the sticker off, like with warm soapy water and slowly pulling it off, but you know what she did? Said: "oh, I will do it now." And ripped the god damn thing off her face! My baby cried in pain. What an absolute bitch! Me and my Mum were livid. How Dare She! 

We got Rhea-Jane into her car seat, I took a few bottles of formula from the hospital (well, they nurses told me to take 'some') and we headed home.

I text Alexander to tell him I was on my way home, but also what the nurse did, and he flipped out. If he was there, he would have given the nurse a right mouthful! My baby's cheek was bright red and raw, that I had to put nappy cream on her cheek to calm it down. Poor little girl! 

Home. Sweet. Home.

Every single day and every single night my family came to visit me. I felt so happy that they would take the time to come and sit with me and Rhea-Jane. I watched nurses care for every baby as if they were their own flesh and blood. It was heart warming; it was amazing; it was comforting. I trusted them with her life. I couldn't be more thankful to every neonatal nurse that looked after Rhea-Jane and every midwife that took care of me. They made me feel blessed to have such an amazing team working with me and my baby.

I want to thank everyone who was there for me wishing me the best whilst both me and Rhea-Jane were in the hospital. It meant so much to me! I also want to thank all the hospital staff who lent me their equipment so I could express as much milk as I could, I also want to thank them as they looked after Rhea-Jane as their own and made sure I was comfortable during my own recovery.

This was not an easy recovery for my baby girl.
I would do this all again for her, though.

Much love,

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