Tuesdays. We love Tuesdays. Because every Tuesday me and Amy (now 7 months or 3.5 months corrected) go to the cinema with one of her Amyazing NICU roomies and her mummy. As mums, this is the most perfect date, we get to do something that stimulates us while our wee bundles get fed and cuddled for at least two hours!
I recall the long (143) days spent in hospital where my fellow NICU mummies and I would dream of the day our little ones would eventually get home and when we could do normal newborn baby ‘stuff’. Like hanging out all day at home (and in our pyjamas). Like going for a walk. Like going to Dundrum Town Centre but most especially making a trip to baby cinema. And so every Tuesday off we go, apnoea monitors in tow, to forget the stress of what has been (and sometimes still is).
Three films in, we’re now in the groove and things are starting to feel ‘normal’ although there are constant reminders of our journey. The movie of choice last week, Bridget Jones’s Baby, was one such reminder. While I laughed (and I mean belly aching laughter) there were parts of it that struck a raw nerve and served as a reminder of a pregnancy that was so dramatically shortened. It got me thinking how different a film it would have been had it been written as ‘Bridget Jones’s Preemie’:
The scan: as Bridget Jones watched the ‘miniature miracle’ growing inside her in the cozy natural surrounds of her womb, parents of preemies get the live action version while watching their baby grow in the, not so natural, surrounds of a glass womb (aka an incubator)
Those dungarees: while Bridget proudly paraded around in those super cool dungarees, a mum of a preemie doesn’t always get to show off that beautiful baby bump. Having given birth to a baby at 25 weeks, the maternity clothes (other than maternity jeans) hadn’t yet featured in my wardrobe. The bag of clothes came down from the attic only to be put back up shortly afterwards. (except for the maternity jeans, would wear those forever if I could!)
Nesting: While Bridget and Jack joyously prepared for little one’s arrival; getting all the baby bits ready, nursery organised and Mum-to-be pampered, the preemie nesting phase happens somewhat differently. Not in your wildest dreams, or nightmares, are you prepared for the arrival of a baby in the second trimester and so this preparation happens AFTER the birth of baby when you get word of a discharge date from NICU. It’s a happy time but somewhat lacks the same energy and joy.
The journey to hospital: Bridget Jones’s baby finally reaches term and so follows a frantic and hilarious scene as she makes her way through London to the hospital in anticipation of the new arrival. While the journey to hospital with a preemie can have equally frantic scenes (and in our case was a manic journey including a drive down pedestrian streets as we tried to navigate the many road closures around the Rotunda hospital), the anticipation however is entirely different. Amidst the panic you are not entirely sure of the outcome, labour at just 25 weeks, this couldn’t happen, could it?
The birth: in preparation for this scene apparently Renee Zellweger watched countless episodes of “One Born Every Minute” and so Bridget Jones’s baby was delivered in stereotypical fashion; very dramatic and loud. The delivery of a preemie on the other hand is so very quiet. I’ll never forget the silence and most notably from our obstetrician who, so deep in concentration as he tried to delivery this tiny baby as safely as possible, never uttered those words: it’s a girl!!! The tiniest squeak of a cry was heard before our new arrival was whisked away to be intubated. And then it was silence again.
The après birth: as Bridget Jones’s friends and family excitedly arrive at the hospital laden with balloons and presents and to see the new bundle of joy it’s such a happy happy occasion. Post preemie, the après birth lacks that same happiness. There is no bundle of joy that everyone is allowed to see and while you’re inundated with messages of love and support, it’s all a bit awkward. “Congratulations” didn’t always seem appropriate and balloons most definitely weren’t.
Bridget Jones’s Preemie wouldn’t make for a good rom com. There are times when it felt more like a thriller, and other times like a horror movie. But as I look at my bundle of joy now and how far she has come, I know, like Bridget Jones, I have my happy ending.
Images sourced online from Bridget Jones’s Baby promotional material