“The first time ever I saw your face I thought the sun rose in your eyes, and the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave to the dark and the endless skies” Roberta Flack
‘They held you above me for the briefest of moments and then they took you way, you made the tiniest cry, so weak, such a struggle. Then you were gone and I felt like you were a million miles way. I closed my eyes to shut out the words and the chaos that surrounded me and tried to remember your face.
Tears stinging my eyes because I didn’t know if I would see you again and pain gripped my heart tearing it in two. Then there was bright lights and white walls, masked people all around me, then darkness took me captive and try as I might I couldn’t remember your face.’
There are no words to describe the first time you see your baby. For nine months you wonder and try to picture the life growing inside you. What colour eyes they may have, if they will have hair and if they will inherit the tiny dimple you inherited from your mother and her mother before. When your baby is born and all has gone well with your birth, you are handed your baby to hold and you get to know every detail, every finger, every toe. You breathe in their smell and stoke their face and love for your baby envelopes you like an enchanting spell.
But when your baby is born early or if there are complications during birth, you may not get to hold your baby for hours, days and sometimes weeks. The emotional impact on you can be enormous and long lasting. The guilt of not holding or being able to be with your baby in those early hours and days can weigh heavy on your heart for many weeks, or months after, sadly sometimes even years.
When my daughter was born six weeks early she was taken from me to the resuscitation cot, it felt like a lifetime before her cry pierced the room. The midwife held her above me for a few seconds and then she was gone, taken to the neonatal unit to be cared for. I was then worked on by the medical team for a retained placenta before being rushed to theatre to save my life. As I was whisked down the corridors all I could see was the blinding bright lights on the ceiling, so I closed my eyes and tried to picture my daughters face, but I couldn’t. I believed I was going to die and I would never get to know what she looked like, if she had any hair, what colour her eyes were and if she looked anything like me. I didn’t even know how much she weighed.
‘They finally brought you to me and my swollen, battered, weak arms held you. In a sea of blankets you lay and I couldn’t believe my eyes. You were the tiniest thing I had ever seen. Your features were so dainty. As I moved the blanket I could see you had golden hair and as you turned your head little pointy ears. Your fingers were long and curled around mine with ease. Your arms and legs covered in a soft furry down. As you opened your eyes and looked at me for the briefest moment in time, it was like magic and as if the sun had lit up the whole room. I wondered if you knew I was your mummy, that I loved you with all my heart and I was sorry I couldn’t be with you and then they took you away again.’
It was almost 24 hours after her birth before I finally got to see and hold my daughter for the first time and for the three days I was in HDU I saw her twice. When I was finally well enough to be moved to the postnatal ward the arduous journey to neonatal to see her everyday began. The vision of her in my head kept me going, kept me fighting to stay alive. Every time I saw her laying in her incubator I marvelled that she was really mine because she was like a fairy that had lost her wings and had been given to me to love. When finally she was well enough for me to hold I couldn’t get enough, I was intoxicated by her smell and felt love that invaded my soul, crept and flowed through my veins, and I was never going to let go. When I did have to let go when she went back in her incubator and my arms were left empty it felt like physical pain. I still remember those precious moments like the greatest gifts the universe could give me and it felt like time was standing still.
Any parent that is separated from their baby at birth will tell you how wonderful it is holding their baby for the first time. It is so important that mom’s and babies are kept together because it benefits them both, facilitating skin to skin and the holding of even the tiniest, smallest babies should be supported as much as possible. In the warm of their mothers arms they will be enveloped in love and this is the best place for them to be. For the mother the holding of her baby whether straight after birth or hours or days later nothing can compared, for their baby gives them gifts that are as precious as the moon and the stars to dark and endless skies.
The first time ever I saw your face, your face, your face…………………….