I had my early bird 30 years ago - is it different for today's parents?

(13 Posts)
Bigbarb Fri 21-Sep-12 17:03:59

In 1982 my beautiful daughter arrived 6 weeks early weighing just over 4lb. I had a son who was enjoying being a 'terrible 2' already and had been hospitalised several times due to bleeding heavily and bled throughout the pregnancy. The support at home was not good, no available help really and looking back I am surprised how I managed.
When my daughter was born she went into the special care unit, and I came home to look after my son. Their father (my ex husband) resented her 'for all the trouble she had caused', referred to her as 'it' and didn't take me to visit her much. I expressed lots of milk and stored it in the fridge and took it to the unit when we we visited. After nearly 4 weeks I roomed in for a weekend to see if she was strong enough to feed from me and then we brought her home. Whilst I was there that weekend a doctor passed me sitting in the garden and asked about my baby, when I said she was 6 weeks early he helpfully said that they 'lost' more babies at 6 weeks than 8 weeks or 4 weeks.
I only ever had one scan and my GP thought I was over reacting when I said that the specialist thought my placenta might be failing, although a nurse came to take blood tests in the last week or so, to see if the placenta was not working.
The reason I am on here is that I am now doing a psychology degree, learning about development of babies, and have suddenly realised that I abandoned my little miracle in order to go back home and look after my son, but really I think I was so sure that she was not going to survive that I tried to blank the whole thing.
My daughter is perfect in every way, and seems not to hate me and yet I am now wondering what harm I must have done to her by leaving her all alone for so long.
There was no contact from any health visitors, or doctors or anything.. I just left hospital after 2 days and came home.
I just wondered how much support you all had, and I suppose I am reading Mumsnet premature baby threads in the hope of seeing that what happened to me (or I did to my baby) doesn't happen now.
How did the medical staff treat you? I know that whatever Mums do they always feel guilty but looking back, why on earth did I behave like that? Tell me it can't happen today, please.

CMOTDibbler Fri 21-Sep-12 17:11:48

My ds was born at 35 weeks, 6 years ago. He wasn't very well when born, though he was 'big' at 6lb 5oz, but was only in SCBU for a week. But as soon as he could feed, we were out with no support at all - didn't see the HV for a week, and no mw visit.
I had managed to stay in hospital, on the PN ward, and then rooming in. But no care at all for me, even though I'd had a haemorrage

Melindaaa Fri 21-Sep-12 17:17:46

I had my twins at 23 weeks and they were in hospital for 17 weeks. Support was pretty much non-existent really. I think I could have left them at the hospital and no one would have even noticed.

I wasnt contacted by gp, health visitor etc at all until my babies were discharged.

They were transferred to a hospital an hour away and thankfully we were fortunate enough to be able to pay for travelling there every day, but I dread to think how much we spent on petrol, parking, food etc.

Mama1980 Fri 21-Sep-12 17:19:01

I had my son at 26 weeks 4 years ago following a car crash. I have to say I found the care and support incredible we both fought for our lives, there are pictures of me giving him kangaroo care when I couldn't move. I was encouraged not to leave him- he was a little wriggler and calmed when I was there. I was allowed to stay with him even after j had been discharged myself. Nothing was too much trouble. We left hospital having established breast feeding, again I felt fully supported in my determination to keep pumping to bring my milk in, with balloons and all sorts. He needed 4 operations and I will never forget the kindness of the nurses who stayed late to hold me while I just sobbed in terror when they operated. It took the very latest medical care to save his life and he was given it without hesitation. I am eternally grateful for everything the drs did and for the care we were given.
I am so sorry you felt less supported.

lotsofcheese Fri 21-Sep-12 17:23:31

I had a 29-weaker nearly 4 years ago & still feel angry about the lack of support.

Why is that women who have healthy, full-term babies have loads of visits from health visitors, midwives etc & are screened for PND at 6 weeks?

I had 1 visit from the midwives (to check BP) & was never screened for PND - despite a near-death experience, a baby who was in hospital for 95 days & needed home oxygen. I was stuck indoors for 24 hours a day for 3 months while he was on the oxygen machine at home & had no family nearby.

It was bloody hard. I wish units had counselling services for parents.

Melindaaa Fri 21-Sep-12 17:28:51

I should say, despite no actual personal support, I too am eternally grateful for the specialist care my boys received.

I was reading earlier this afternoon that only 9% of babies born at 23 weeks ever leave the hospital, and only 3% of those have no lasting effects. Thanks to the teams at Portsmouth and Poole, my tiny 1lb babies (both male who statistically do worse than girls) are utterly perfect.

They have no eye problems, no brain problems, no hearing issues, they talk, walk and run and have just started preschool.

I had DS 8 weeks early 3 years ago, weighing 4lbs. DS was in SCBU for 23 days, I went home after 6. The SCBU staff were all lovely and helpful and were happy for me to be in and out all day (the chocolates, cakes and magazines probably helped), often not leaving until 11pm

The morning after I roomed in for the first night, DS was as pale as a ghost and was moved back to the first room (they had 3 rooms, room 1 was for the babies needing the most help, room 3 was ready to go home) and ended up having blood and platelets for 24 hours. It was heartbreaking seeing him covered in tubes again. Sadly, at this point the support was awful. The doctors didn't explain what was going on, or what would happen next. The day after, they had scheduled DS for a brain scan but the first I heard of it was when somebody came to collect him, I was just leaving the room to go to the toilet and it terrified me. Turns out, it was a routine scan that they always do after a transfusion. Nobody thought it would be a good idea to tell me hmm

All was well though and we came home the next day. A HV visited us 2 days later and she was lovely but was covering for 'my' HV. 'My' HV never ever stepped foot in my house, never called and only saw DS if she happened to be covering the baby clinic. At baby masssage I found out that she had been to visit other new mums in my area regularly but obviously couldn't be bothered with me.

I moved after 6 months and had a lovely HV. He called the day after I changed my address with the GP, and popped round a few times to check on us.

From what you have written, I don't understand the 'Why did I behave like that?' You did nothing wrong, your DD needed to have medical care and you had another young child to care for. Your Ex was an utter twunt but thats not your fault. I am sorry you were not supported though

olaybiscuitbarrel Fri 21-Sep-12 17:55:39

My DD was born at 35 weeks with a serious problem that required major surgery. She was in hospital for 28 days. The support was excellent - in hospital I was encouraged to get involved in her care, given access to subsidized accommodation, and given support to express and then bf once DD was able to. My hv was very supportive when I got home, and we also had visits from an outreach nurse from NICU. And my GP rang to check we were both ok.
This was 3 years ago. I'm sorry to hear that it isn't like that everywhere. In fact, with all the cuts since DD was born, I wonder if its still like that round here...

Ooops, sorry for the mammoth post blush

VivaLeBeaver Fri 21-Sep-12 18:08:26

I can tell you what happens from a midwife's point of view if you like.

On the postnatal ward we now are for what we call transitional care babies. So these are babies that need a bit of extra care but aren't poorly enough to need scbu. The majority but not all of 34 week gestation babies would beon transitional care. So they stay with their mum on the normal postnatal ward but are in a special bay where scbu nurses come and work alongside the midwives.

I also look after women who have babies that are in scbu. They stay on the postnatal ward until they're fit to be discharged and then they either go home or if there is a room available on scbu they might get a parents room. Women not initially bonding with their baby and/or limiting visiting because they're worried that the baby may die certainly happens. If the mum goes home then her community midwife will visit her at home. On the ward if a woman has a baby in scbu I will always ask her how she is, does she have questions, etc. if she's upset I'm happy to chat and provide a shoulder to cry on.

You wouldn't have done any harm to your dd by leaving her. I have in the past worked in a scbu unit and I can promise you that the nurses are very happy to cuddle babies!

CMOTDibbler Fri 21-Sep-12 18:23:05

Viva - you sound much nice than the mw where I was !

VivaLeBeaver Fri 21-Sep-12 18:25:29

Thanks CMOT, I try my best.

Bigbarb Sat 22-Sep-12 16:40:42

Oh thank you all so much, especially Viva for explaining how it happens now. I know that I will always feel guilty about the way that I coped (or didn't cope) with the situation and I think that the guilt thing came from my home situation too, as I was never good enough at anything according to my ex. Luckily I escaped after 30 years and did all the things that I didn't think I was capable of ... which is how I come to be doing this degree, encouraged by my lovely SECOND husband to believe that nothing is impossible if you want it enough!

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