My daughter was told she would probably not be able to have children. So when she became pregnant it was a thrilling and exciting time. You think of all the things you will do as a grandparent. I started sharing and planning with my daughter. Going shopping and looking at baby things. It is a special and happy time.
Then one day I got a call to say “Mum, can you come to the hospital”. She was just under 25 weeks pregnant and labour was not ideal.
When you think of having a baby or grandchild, the image is of having a healthy baby, with all the lovely things and feelings that go with it. Having a baby early does not even cross your mind. As a mum I had to be there for my child, even as a woman she is still my child. I want to protect her and take her pain away. I want to make everything OK. On this occasion I couldn’t make it OK for her. I had to suffer my own pain watching my child go through 4 days of emotional turmoil and pain. My heart was breaking for her and my unborn grandchild. For 4 days we sat and waited and prayed the baby she was carrying would stay put. That precious baby had other ideas and made an appearance looking like anything but the image of a bouncing baby I’d had for so long.
I had to be brave and put my feelings and emotions aside. I had be there for my daughter and her baby. They needed me more than ever. My natural instinct was to love her and make things better. I couldn’t make things better. My little grandson weighted 1lb 10oz and had a real fight on his hands to survive. My daughter had to cope with the thought she could lose her baby. As her mum and his Nana, I had to be strong for them both.
For the next 17 weeks we lived on NICU. This is not how having a baby should be. The journey you take is full of ups and downs. Far more downs than ups. You can’t hold your baby in the way you expect. You spend hours by an incubator and can only watch as your baby fights for life. This is not how it should be. As a grandparent you have double responsibility. Not only are you worrying and caring for your child but also your grandchild.
The emotions you feel have to be suppressed and the needs of the 2 people who are the most precious things in the world to you are put first. You want to make it all better and just say it will be OK. You can’t promise that. At no point can you say it will be OK, things are far from OK.
I am very lucky to have such a close bond with my daughter, It was a privilege to be at the birth and be there every day during his struggle. I had to be strong for my child and grandchild. You are the rock for your family. It is hard but you have to do it. I would have given anything to take their pain away.
You live a completely different existence. NICU becomes your home and the bleeps and routines are normal. It becomes normal to look at your baby through a plastic box and touch him through a hole in the side. Having tubes and equipment all around is normal for NICU babies. You very quickly adapt to your new routine, and environment. You focus on completely different things that you never even imagined you would need to focus on. The first cuddle is the most amazing thing and stays with you forever.
I was lucky enough to be able to cuddle my little grandson and my heart melted. He is one amazing little boy. He has fought to be where he is today. He had surgery within weeks of being born and with determination and fight has made it through. Leaving NICU is only the beginning. Once you get home you are faced with a whole new set of issues. But with strength and determination that little boy has just had his third birthday and is amazing.
I am so proud of these 2 amazing people. I have been there every step of the way and have got the most amazing bond with Bobby.
When you first hear you’re are going to be a grandma you’re so delighted. When you start off in NICU you have a whole new set of emotions. The role you play in your family who you have seen grow and flourish, is taken to a whole new level.
You are the one who supports both mum and dad. You try to be positive and sensitive to their needs. You have to put your own feeling and emotions on hold and concentrate on your family. That journey is very different than the one you imagine.
As a mum you naturally want to protect and shield your children from hurt and distress. When a premature baby arrives, everything changes. You have another little person to protect. You put your own feelings aside and their needs become your priority. You go through a roller coaster of emotions but have to stay positive and focused for your family.
I have now have been able to give back as a volunteer and hopefully can help other families going through what we went through. It is a hard journey for any new mum, so the support and love of your mum can make a huge difference.
I was very privileged to be able to share my grandson’s start in this world. Watching him grow into the little boy he is today makes me so proud. My heart is filled with so much love and admiration for him. As he grows he faces a new set of issues but with our love and support, he will make it through.
Read more about Bobby’s Journey
As a mum it is a rocky road watching your children grow and flourish. Once they get to the stage in life where they want a family of their own, you think happy times are to come.