Mother’s Day 2012: painful, following an early miscarriage the previous December. Mother’s Day 2013: cautiously excited, as we made our way through the first trimester of our boy. Mother’s Day 2014: a day with Sam and Evan, blue painty foot and handprints, photo memories. Mother’s Day 2015: starting to hope for a brother or sister for our eldest. Mother’s Day 2016: our life turned upside down the day before.
On 5th March 2016 our little boy Alec was born at 23+5 weeks’ gestation, weighing 1lb9oz. Whisked away from us following his lengthy resuscitation, we had followed on after the ambulance who had transferred him to Addenbrooke’s. And now he was there, fighting for his life.
During the early hours of March 6th, Mother’s Day, I was wheeled around from the ward to see my tiny tiny boy. I chatted with the nurse Felicity (who became a very favourite and special nurse) and she brought out a little bag and handed it to me. Inside were a few items selected especially for Mother’s Day – a notebook, hand cream, pen etc, and, most special of all, a small ceramic heart with some tiny footprints on it.
“Are these Alec’s footprints?” I asked hesitantly, barely able to believe that they could be. Felicity replied that they were. Overwhelmed by the love and care of the NICU staff, to produce this special keepsake for all the mums that day, all I could think was how amazing it was that I’d had the opportunity to have the footprints at only a day old, not something I’d done with my older boy Evan. I was also acutely aware that this ceramic heart was going to be something I’d treasure forever, but potentially in a box of painful memories.
Our older boy Evan (who was two and a half at the time) came to visit Alec for the first time that day and I had both my little boys together. Again, I couldn’t shake from my mind that this was likely to be my only Mother’s Day with both of them. It was a special special time and Evan was so interested in his little brother. Fast forward a year and they adore each other.
Some other special mothers came to see us and meet Alec that day too – both our mums (who didn’t get cards from us, sorry!) were seeing this new grandson, yet feeling overwhelmed with how to support us – it was happening to their children. My sister came to meet Alec, pregnant at roughly the same gestation (her son eventually born on Alec’s due date) – every time she visited I could see in her eyes the awareness that the baby growing inside her was a similar size and shape, and the overwhelming feeling of needing to keep him tucked up safely inside.
I couldn’t hold Alec. I couldn’t touch him or kiss him. I couldn’t look into his little eyes (they were still fused shut). I was too nervous to change his nappy. However, on that first Mother’s Day, I was able to feed him my milk through a tube for the first time. I was fulfilling something in my role as his mummy. A different Mother’s Day, but one I’ll remember forever.