Tuesday, 9 June 2015

:: the paradoxes of our precious little world ::

Behind three security doors at our city hospital lies a calm, quiet haven where our youngest baby currently resides. It's little world that we have become quite familiar with over the last few weeks. Each time I go in I walk past half a dozen, often sleeping, tiny little giants before I reach our own. Tiny in stature, giant in courage, tenacity against the odds, and the ability to finish developing their major organs in the outside world, rather than the safe haven inside their mothers, because they were born too soon. There is something quite holy about being in this space. As terrifying as it is in some moments, I truly feel like I am in the company of giants. A dozen and a half perfectly formed miniatures, many more of the staff who take care of them so wonderfully, and I like to imagine some pretty hefty-sized angels watching over each sweet and valuable life.

The courage isn't only limited to the babies. I see it in the smiles of their parents. Many of whom were thrown suddenly into this world without much warning, having to ride the ups and downs of the first days, weeks and sometimes even months of a baby in Neonatal care. I know myself that it's really really scary at times, and even when there are settled moments, the fear of another dip is almost overwhelming. When I meet and talk with other parents in our shared kitchen/lounge area, they inspire and touch me because I can see behind their warmth and smiles that tears have been shed along the way. They have admirable strength and an ability to laugh and be thankful for even the smallest of steps in the right direction.

I guess I expected this time around to be easier. We knew what 26 week old babies were like and had gone through the months of virtually living around the Neonatal unit. In the hours before Elea arrived, I figured at 31.2 weeks, it wouldn't be too bad. My expectations weren't very accurate as, I've realised, every baby has a different story. Even though every scan had showed she was growing perfectly well, she had quite a shock arriving into the outside world and her first weeks were pretty tough. There were lots of scary questions with heavy implications asked of us, as the medical team tried to figure out why she wasn't behaving like babies her age normally would. I've only heard the emergency alarm being used for her, and she's had it three or four times. I know in my head that the team are completely capable of doing a lot more for a baby that we realise and that she'll probably be ok, but the sound of the alarm, the rush of the senior staff and the calm way they directed each other as they helped our little girl who had changed from pink to purple to grey...there's only so much strength to hold back the tears and the fears in those moments.

It's an experience that holds such diverse emotions. Fear and worry on one hand, with thankfulness and peace on the other for all the milestones reached, the settled hours or days and the step by step progress. I have found it hard not to feel guilty as I've watched everything Elea has had to endure that, in an ideal pregnancy, she wouldn't have had to. But these things happen beyond our control, so often the guilt is replaced by remembering with thankfulness that she is here and safe, and a pride in her ability to battle on. This time around we're also doing it with three other children at home. We are blessed and very grateful to have my mum here to look after them and carry a huge load, not only running a household but coping with their out-of-character behaviour which is their reaction to their lives suddenly being thrown into a bit of chaos, not having mummy with them all day every day, as they did have. I've really struggled to balance the needs, making mistakes along the way. Wanting to be in two different places at the same time is not quite possible, neither is keeping each person happy. The load is hard on each of us for different reasons and, when we're tired and stressed, words and attitudes come out that are unintended and we interpret each other in ways far from the truth. So, while some of you have encouraged me saying I'm a wonderful mum (which I appreciate!), I am humanly human and haven't coped well or done very well in any of my roles at times. The reality is not quite as wonderful as I would like it to be. This is not said to ask for any sympathy at all...just to be honest. It's tough, it's scary, it's reassuring, worth celebrating and beautiful all mixed into one. And we're moving in the right direction. It meant a lot to hear the consultant and head of the Unit say last week that he estimated Elea would be in Neonatal for another 4-6 weeks. When things are unsure, which they tend to be with the small babies, there's a lot of hope that comes with a glimpse of a light at the end of the tunnel...however far off that might be.

And our little hero? She's doing well. She's had some rocky moments and some great moments. A few steps forwards, a few steps back. Sometimes she's caught in a bit of a vicious cycle where she needs something that causes something else that causes something else because she needs that something. But she's moving ahead in her own fashion that oftentimes is accompanied with the words "I've never seen that before!" It makes me wonder what big plans God has for her life with her ability to move ahead outside of the usual parameters of "normal"...a word that we as parents crave to hear!
Today she has been very settled and relaxed - I think the most settled, uneventful day of her life so far (we also like to hear the word "uneventful" in this little world!). So, as I drove home tonight for the first time in months, I was very touched as I recalled the events of the day, the people I had met, the precious world we are currently existing in, and the good and ugly parts of this experience of living under stress and tiredness with hope for a good outcome. I don't wish this experience had never happened, because there are good things in it. I grab a hold of some of those things, but stumble and drop them...and some are yet to be reached, but I'm thankful it's all been meant for us...and for every person who is part of it, from the staff, to the families, our family and many of you who have held Elea and us in your prayers and given us so much encouragement.

Thank you so much


  1. Oh Remaliah - my heart goes out to you all. Everyday I think about you and it is wonderful to hear and see her doing better and better. I cannot imagine the unsteady and emotional road you are walking. But I do like the image of these little Giants being watched over by scores of Angels. What a beautiful image and thought. I will continue to hold you all in my prayers. Lots of Love xx

  2. She is beautiful. May you all have all the grace you need for each other as you navigate the dance steps required to get you through this season. Love, love, love xxx

  3. She is SO BEAUTIFUL and you are such a wonderful mama to her and your other beauties - your family is amazing. Big hugs to you Remaliah xx

  4. I think of you all the time precious lady and the big load you have on your plate right now. I keep praying that every day brings better and better news for you all xx