It has finally happened – Poppie is on the move! It has taken a long time, but finally my little girl does not look at me in pure frustration and clench her fists but actually reaches and achieves what she wants!
If I am honest I didn’t have as much faith as I should have done based on her previous ventures that we would reach the ever nearing 12th October and be able to tell our physio that she can indeed move from A to B. Throughout Poppie’s whole stay in intensive care there were moments when I thought we would never leave. The saying of 2 steps forward 5 steps back embodied our whole experience. At St James’ Hospital they have a corridor, and at the bottom is room 5 leading up to room 1. When you reach room 1 you are ready to head home. On arrival the nurse explained the concept to me, which at the time I loved, but as the weeks passed by I became so envious of all of the babies bypassing us. “Our time will come” they used to say, but Poppie was definitely in no rush. We started in room 4, after a few weeks reached room 3 only to return to room 4. Poppie picked up a bug that went to her lungs and so needed more intensive treatment, which room 4 offered. It took a while in room 4 before we ventured to room 2 and then peaked at room 1 and an overnight stay before we headed home. At the time I couldn’t believe we would leave. Then with a huge set back just 2 weeks after we left the hospital with a stay on Paediatrics Intensive Care I never really thought I would see the day when Poppie was independent enough to move herself. Determination has got her through all these ups and downs, and she is not stopping just yet!
Fast forward a year and we have the most inefficient art of bum shuffling. At first there were shouts of frustration and a longing look at me to move the toy she couldn’t reach. A visit from our lovely nurse suggested that we try her on the wooden floor to encourage movement. And voila it happened! Poppie reached a bit further than normal and whilst leaning on her shins she shuffled. Needless to say we were ecstatic. Fast forward a couple of weeks and now there is intent in her shuffling and no more longing looks. There is no speed to the shuffling and at times the leaning has gone so far that Poppie has fallen on her stomach, but it is all a learning curve for this little wonder.
Such a huge milestone has been hit and we couldn’t be prouder. Many people have warned us, “it’ll be a nightmare when she starts to move” and potentially it will when she gets a bit faster or starts to walk, but for us it has been such an amazing experience to watch her learn and become more independent. She is a true inspiration for me every day.
Before I write this post I need to state how much respect I have for the medical profession and the care that Poppie has received. Since day 1 she has been looked after impeccably, but this post is more about comparisons, milestones and Poppie’s journey so far.
Due to the fact that Poppie was born more than 3 months premature, being 13 weeks early, she qualifies to be seen by an occupational therapist at the hospital. We were first introduced at the hospital where I sat with Poppie cuddled close and given my own personal presentation about all things important to premature babies. That included ensuring that her little head was turned evenly so it moulded correctly. We spoke about Poppie’s central line, quite literally a line that you could draw down her centre, and how important it was for her to put her hands together and learn that she has two sides!
At the time I was eternally grateful and still am. However now we have been set targets for Poppie’s development and it seems like the pressure is on. At the last appointment the consultant was super happy with how Poppie is getting on – growing, putting on weight and starting to come off the oxygen. At the same time the lovely Jade, the occupational therapist who has been there with us pretty much every step of the way, was watching how Poppie moved, how she moved etc. It would appear that our gleaming proud faces about how well Poppie can sit were a bit short lived. Our explanation of Poppie’s strength when standing was met with a question of how will she move from sitting to standing as opposed to matching our glee. Also Pops didn’t appreciate being put on her tummy and so ensued a bit of a meltdown which I don’t think helped matters!
The goal is to get Poppie moving by October the 12th. At the same age as Poppie I didn’t move. I bum shuffled, but didn’t really feel the need to move far and went straight to walking. When you speak to other parents there are so many stories of babies that either skip crawling or take a long time to move at all. In fact talking to other mums of term babies gives me a lot of strength especially when I compare Poppie’s corrected age to their development. Yes they are attempting a bit more movement but I feel that up until now Poppie is one of life’s observers. Over the last day I have seen a bit more of an inclination for Pops to reach stuff, involving a few face plants. Today she accomplished her first roll from back to tummy and was so impressed with herself. She could only repeat it 3 more times even though I spent a lot longer trying to get her to repeat!
I feel very assured of the fact that Poppie will do things in her own time. She is such an adorable character, quite clearly communicates with us about her needs and is growing up fast. I sometimes feel cruel getting Poppie to do ‘tricks’ but at the same time want her to reach the goal that is being set. I think that every parent, on some level, worries about what their baby can and can’t do. But they don’t have a date and time (9am on the 12th.) when something needs to be achieved.
Obviously there will be updates on her progress and I hope that we can reach her target, but if not I will push the anxieties aside. There is so much love and happiness that oozes from the people close to our journey when they are around Poppie. Really I wonder what on earth can exceed such an amazing trait.
What a year! This time last year our worlds were turned upside down as Poppie hurtled into our lives. At just 27 week + 1 day pregnant a check-up by the amazing midwives at St James hospital turned into a visit to the delivery suite, followed by an emergency C-section and then Poppie arrived at just 1lb 9oz! We celebrated with a big party at my dad’s house last weekend and then today opened up all of her presents followed by a visit to tropical world.
Poppie’s arrival was so unexpected that obviously I turned to goggle and a specific statistic has stuck with me. 90% of babies born at 26, 27 and 28 weeks make it to their first birthday. She did it! In that moment a year seemed a million miles away but we are here and now it’s time to do the equivalent of shout from the roof tops.
Celebration of this little life is very much name of the game and has made me reflect on the highs and lows of the past 12 months. Looking back at photos of Poppie when she was first born seem unrealistic, especially when you compare them to the smiling, happy little girl in front of me. I don’t think that a year in my life has held quite so many tears and happiness sometimes only moments apart. At about 2 and a half months into our journey we met another amazing mum, who had a baby headed home on oxygen. She writes an amazing blog about her experiences of being mum to premature twins, grief and the challenges her little family has overcome.***
One of the huge parts of this year has been the sheer amount of love from near and far. When Poppie was born I felt very far removed from the situation, which may sound strange seeing as though I am her mum. This might sound funny but I felt like I was caught completely off guard as I was most definitely not expecting my baby so early. I managed to catch a glimpse of her as she was whisked away after being delivered. Pops then had to take a trip to the other side of Leeds where she would receive appropriate care for a baby so early. I managed a squeeze of her foot before almost 48 hours passed and with the help of an amazing midwife at St James I could see her again in her incubator. This was to be her home for a few more months. Those first few days are all a bit of a blur but a huge milestone was on day 6 when I got to have my first hold. Proud as punch doesn’t cover the feeling and I will never forget that moment. I looked forward to skin to skin and loved the feeling of holding her so close. During this time we were inundated with messages, gifts and cards. Every time I had a wobble I knew that someone was on the other end of the phone / whatsapp / just a train ride away. The words of congratulation on becoming a mum made the situation real and gave me so much strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
We continue to receive so much love and support. The amount of presents are testament to that, even if Poppie was far more concerned with the wrapping paper and cards! On days like today I feel so thankful for everyone who has helped us on our journey and I know will continue to do so.
We have celebrated today with such a super little girl. Our little miracle has come so far and I am so excited to see what the next year will hold for us. I am sure we will see more ups and downs, and there is a definite anxiousness about this next winter. However as her personality grows and her cheeky smiles brighten everyone’s day I cannot wait to see what the next year holds for us all.
***Check out Amy’s blog at https://thisismybraveface.blog/