WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2020
During this year’s November NICU Awareness Month, and on World Prematurity Day, Miracle Mum Kylie has reflected on her experiences as a mum of a premature baby and has opened up about an often hidden issue.
Guest blog author, Kylie Quinn:
“On World Prematurity Day this month, I spent the day reflecting on our last six years since Summer blessed us with her presence. There is something I have never spoken about to anyone except my hubby and a small number of people I have met along the way, who I felt needed my experience to help them cope with theirs. However, I sit back now and think by saying nothing openly “how am I helping the ones suffering silently like we did?”.
The unspoken ‘something’ is POST TRAUMATIC SHOCK/TRAUMA.
It hits people in different ways, and I honestly don’t think that anyone can go through a life shattering experience and not walk away with trauma and the side effects that comes with trauma.
Summer was born six years ago. The moment she was born, I didn’t get to touch her - not for a few hours after birth, not for a few days but it was over two weeks before I got to touch her skin, let alone hold my daughter.
As a mother or a father imagine what that’s like? Not only feeling the guilt of your baby being born so early but not even being able to hold or comfort them at a time they need it most. And then being told to go home at night to an empty nursery and wake up the next morning not knowing what might have happened during the night. It’s pretty heavy, right?
How did I deal with it? I stopped eating. I just stopped. I would put food on my plate and clear it off before hubby got home from work, so it looked like I had already eaten my dinner without him. He was never to be any wiser. Nobody noticed my weight decline as a bad thing, nobody asked “Are you Okay?”. They always asked if the baby was okay, but I became an enigma. They presumed my baby was fine, so I was fine.
Before I knew it, Summer was home, happy & healthy, but I wasn’t. I was 45kg, still struggling and shut down emotionally. It got to the point my body started giving me signs that I couldn’t keep going like this. I went to a GP and tried to convince myself I had a virus … yeah right. Then I heard the words “Post Traumatic Shock”. I had never heard that term before.
My mind & body never dealt with the shock of having a premature baby; the constant adrenaline rush and guilt never seemed to settle. I was in a constant GO mode! I needed to come to terms with it not being my fault.
How did Hubby deal with it?
He buried himself in work; he had a big building project on at the time, so he worked flat out with extremely long hours. And when he was home, his mind also struggled to find the gear to slow down. So, everything he did was flat out - beers, mood swings, work.
He was going through the same thing as me, but just dealing with it differently. He lost friends, friends who he thought were lifelong friends but to them he was just being too hard to deal with - they just never asked “Are you okay?”.
We slowly got through it - we had each other.
I can’t emphasise the importance of asking people who are acting differently after a traumatic event in their life: “Are you okay?”.
And more importantly - keep asking it and keep offering support. One day, one month, one year, even 6 years on; one day they will give in and they will need you there to catch them!
So, my message during World Prematurity Day and NICU Awareness Month is, be there for your friends and family who have been through trauma. They could be acting out badly, completely introverted, or even nothing at all - check on your loved ones.”
If you or someone close to you is in an emergency, or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services 000.
Other mental health services include: Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36.
Otherwise, the Miracle Babies Foundation NurtureLine is a free 24hr family support helpline for families of a premature or sick newborn: 1300 622 243 (1300 MBABIES).