Sunday, October 7
One of the precious things that our neonatal unit gave us was a disposible camera that lived by the incubator. Even in the era of whizzy phones and digital cameras, these were perfect for when you had forgotten or ran out of memory. Even better than that, they were indispensible for nurses taking pictures for you at moments when you couldn't be there or for them sneaking pictures when you weren't quite aware or when you were there on your own and wanted to commemorate a snapshot in time.
I always think of 7th October being the date when everything fell into place and I knew that come what may, I could never ever say goodbye to Wriggles and that however dire things panned out we would just make the most of it with each other. This picture however, must have been taken a few days prior as on the 7th October she started requiring some oxygen again so would have had cannulas taped her her cheeks. There is another picture that goes with this, and in both I look so relaxed and blissfully happy with her in my arms. I'm pretty sure this was taken when the nurse's had changed over to night shifts. Once I felt more comfortable in NICU and less able to leave willingly, I would stay as late as I could before catching a late metro back home.
Being able to look back at these is very special. The first few weeks were so fraught, both medically and emotionally and I really wasn't myself. I remember very clearly repeatedly describing myself as "drowning"; being underwater and not being able to break through to the surface where not just real life but also my real self and feelings were. For what felt an age, I felt nothing but pure shock and really struggled to connect emotionally to anything at all. So being able to look back and recognise that whatever I felt inside, I also obviously had clear signs of being and falling in love with my daughter despite so many concerns. It is so easy to look back and brand things with sweeping statements and how we perceive things happened: for a while I made myself quite mentally unwell by torturing myself with the thought "I will never be able to make up for her early start and for not falling in love at first sight; however much I love now will never be enough". When I read back my special care diary and pieced things chronologically back by photographs, I actually halted any possible not-keeping-Wriggles proceedings far earlier than I thought and then with help was a busy bee trying to make things happen in the best possible way for her coming back with me, which she of course did, just over two months after her birth. What I think of as being a very bleak time was in actual fact little more than two weeks. When I think of how I let those two weeks define almost a year for me, it makes me sad as it feels like I missed out, trying to be some kind of super-brave when all I had to be was myself.
When I look at it now, two years on, I can see a little bit there of who I was to become. Little glimpses of a proud mummy and a woman stronger than I might think or admit. So much of Wriggles' little life has been blighted by worry, fear and very real concerns and wrong turns, that it makes the good moments so much more precious. Somewhere inbetween all those things, we've built up a happy solid little life. It may not be all singing and all dancing, but it's ours and I love it. And I think somewhere in this photograph is a sense of belief that it will all be alright in the end.
This doesn't look to me like a mother preparing to say goodbye, this looks like someone treasuring what is to come.
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