In the U.K. information is given to expectant mothers on bonding with your baby, especially within the first few hours after birth. Midwives explain the best way to do this is through skin to skin contact, which simply means placing the fresh, newborn baby onto mother’s chest so their skin meets. That way baby can feel the warmth from Mum which helps them to adapt to life outside the womb.
I gave skin to skin little consideration when I was pregnant with my first. I had already made up mind, that as someone who dislikes guts and gore I was not going to be placing a bloody, gooey baby onto my chest, well not until he had been cleaned.
I stuck to this and once Finlay was born he was handed straight to David as per my wishes. I wanted David to hold him and spend time with him as I knew I would get precious moments alone with him in the hospital. Little did I know in four hours time he would be fighting for his life in an incubator, in twelve hours time he would be flown away to the nearest NICU and the next time I would get a chance to cuddle him would be three days later.
Finlay aged 5 days.
I spent hours sitting beside his incubator listening to the voices of doubt in my head: You can’t do this. You don’t know how to be a mother. How can you care for him when it was your body that made him sick in the first place? Voices of fear!
When we eventually made it home two weeks later I struggled to adapt to my new role as a mother. I would look at Finlay and think: “If someone were to shoot him would I really jump in front of the gun?” I had a lot of support around me from my mum and husband. Every day, despite the struggles, I worked hard on my relationship with Finlay. I tried my best to love him more than the day before, to make little memories just the two of us. I would take pictures and read him stories. But everyday I would watch as the bond with his father would grow. His daddy was the one he would want if he was sick, the one he would run to if he fell over, the one who could soothe him in the middle of the night.
Despite all this I persevered and eventually aged two we turned a corner. I had to spend time in hospital for three nights and on returning home Finlay ran to me arms open wide, gave me a massive cuddle and told me he loved me. We haven’t looked back since. Now aged four he will climb onto my knee to watch a movie, kiss my hand randomly during the day, tell me I look beautiful in my jammies and ask for hugs. He has equal weight of respect and love for both David and I and my heart could not be more full.
Many factors contributed to mine and Finlay’s early relationship: him spending time in the NICU, being a first time mother, dealing with the trauma of his birth and of course the lack of skin to skin.
As the birth of our twins approached I had it written clearly in my birthing plan that I wished to have skin to skin with my babies. Autumn was born first and the sheer relief of pushing her out meant I forgot about how bloody or gooey she was. I just wanted to hold my baby girl. My precious twin one.
Autumn fresh out of the womb
Our birth cuddles were short lived as I had a second baby to push out. The midwives were so kind and allowed me to have skin on skin cuddles with Isaac while David had skin to skin with Autumn. The time spent just the four of us in the delivery room listening to music on David’s phone is one of my most precious memories.
I bonded with the twins instantly which I believe is down to skin to skin contact and also them not needing to spend anytime away from us in NICU or SCBU. I can honestly say now, as a Mum of three, that my children are my most prized possessions. My heart is so full of equal love for them all. And believe me if someone was to put a gun to any of them I would most definitely jump in front of it.
Cuddles with my newborn miracles.
It took time with Finlay but I’m glad I had strong people around me who kept encouraging me to push through my negative feelings. My relationship with him now was worth the hurt and pain at the start. And I’ve definitely become an advocator for skin to skin contact at birth!
Spending some one on one time with Finlay.