On Being Lost

Today I took Mr Boo to his first two-hour settling in session at nursery. It shouldn’t have been too traumatic. Mr Boo is incredibly sociable and loves being with other people. Moreover, I know the nursery well as Sissyboo spent part of four days a week there for four and a half years. I’ve been in to see them several times about Mr Boo’s unique needs and have been repeatedly reassured. But I felt awful being without him. It wasn’t just that I felt guilty because I am going back to work in three weeks. It wasn’t just that I missed him, worried about how he’d be or that he would love his keyworker more than me. I felt all of these things with Sissyboo and none of my worst fears was realised. But this feeling was different. Awful.

I felt lost. Irretrievably lost. Like a child separated from its mum in the supermarket, I felt frightened, as if things would never be OK again, and I felt utterly paralysed by confusion and the disorientation of being separated from someone who I need as much as he needs me.

The only thing worse than the feeling itself was my intense recollection of having felt this way before. Having your baby lie in an incubator, dependent not on you as they should be, but on people you’ve never met, who have to teach you how to cuddle, bathe and change them so as not to disturb wires, cannulas and ventilators, is one of the most unsettling experiences I have endured. But it is nothing (and I mean NOTHING) to how profoundly, gut-wrenchingly wrong and unnatural it feels to leave your baby and go home. But that’s exactly what I did, the morning after Mr Boo was born, even though I could have stayed a day or two longer. I didn’t want to go, but I had my reasons. And one day I hope to forgive myself. But not today. Especially not today.

7 thoughts on “On Being Lost

  1. Kylie Hodges (@kykaree)

    Joseph is almost 4 and in January I started full time work for the first time. Leaving him still brings back the memories of leaving him in hospital and I have to remind myself that he is preschool doing fun stuff and having a fun. I have been doing unit visits for the past 3 weeks and seeing the babies lying on their own in cots and incubators has felt so upsetting, but a sage reminder of just how far we have come.

    I don’t think the horror of that separation, for that is what I think is the hardest part of the journey for parents, that separation, ever truly leaves us.

    1. mrboosmum Post author

      Thanks, Kylie. You’re absolutely right about separation. I felt it wheb I went back to work after having my daughter. She was only 6 months. But this is different because of that most unnatural of separations that occurs when your prem baby is taken from you. I wasn’t prepared for feeling quite so unsettled. But, if I can make working work (and having just drafted a DLA form and listed all of Mr Boo’s challenges, I’m not sure I can, I think it might be good for all of us. I was so naive in the NICU when I thought we’d get home and it would be OK.

  2. Christina E (@Beadzoid)

    I’m sorry the nursery visit felt so awful. It is a huge thing for any parent, let alone the preemie mum. But it does get easier – but, only when you’re ready. The first time I had to take C to nursery was a year after having her when I returned to work just two days a week. The wrench was horrendous and I cried my eyes out. Each day I would dread reaching the gates because I didn’t want to take her. My PTSD was already beginning to take hold and almost 5 months later it would see me leave where I worked forever. I wasn’t ready, and neither was she (her Chronic lung disease).

    I hope that it is easier for you and that you are both ready. But if you’re not, then please don’t suffer through it. And watch out for anything that could mean that you too are suffering PTSD. Kylie above did, I did, and it is extremely common for the preemie mum.

    Take care of yourself xx

    1. mrboosmum Post author

      Thanks, Christina, for such a thoughtful comment. I have struggled with depression and anxiety since having Mr Boo, especially since Christmas, when he developed infantile spasms and we were hospitalised. I have just finished a course of CBT, which was very helpful, but ended just when I felt I was starting to get somewhere. My therapist said she thought I had reactive depression, which becomes acute when things go bad for Ben, but she did skirt around PTSD a couple of times. I’m not sure, but it’s no coincidence I started this blog the week after Mr Boo’s birthday to deal with my difficulties in dealing with the flashbacks I felt in the run-up to the big day. I feel that I need to give work a go – it would mean huge changes for us all if I didn’t and I do love my job. But if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t. He is too important. Although actually, I think he will be OK. It’s if I can manage. I guess I won’t know until I try.

  3. mushywalnut

    Thank you for writing this post. I’m going back to work soon and have to leave my daughter in nursery.

    My baby was a ‘surgical’ one (as she was called) and so I knew when she was born she’d be taken away from me and I’d have to walk out that hospital without out.

    I never thought about how that would still affect me now, nearly 6 months later. I guess that’s why the thought of leaving her again is hitting me so hard.

    Now you’re back at work, has it got any easier at all?

    Thank you for your blog x

    1. mrboosmum Post author

      I so feel for you. I have a 5-year-old too who is fighting fit and born without any complications. So I went through the going back to work pains with her. She was five and a half months then. It was so hard. But it DID get much easier with time.

      With Boo, having all the problems he has, it’s been difficult in other ways. He is at the same nursery his sister was at so the trust is there. This makes a huge difference. And if you are experiencing a childcare provider for the first time this will take some getting used to. It was so hard to leave him but he is very happy there and once I realised that, I did much better.

      The guilt never totally goes away, but I need to work. We would lose our house if I didn’t. And work is a part of my identity. I want both my kids to see women can work and have children if they want to do so. It has also been good for Boo to be around other kids and people. He has been isolated for so long.

      It’s not easy, but it gets much easier. I hope this is your experience, too. Thanks so much for reading the blog and commenting. Hope you keep in touch!

      1. mushywalnut

        Thank you for replying 🙂

        My daughter seems to thrive in company and though my head knows it will be good for her, my heart says something else. Once we were home I didn’t join any baby groups – partially I was trying to get used to the idea if being a mum (I hadn’t thought about that just incase she didn’t make it) and I wasn’t up to the constant reeling off of what happened to her. Other mums obviously want to know when they meet you!

        But, like you, I recognise that the company is good for her and now we’ve moved I’m forcing myself to go out before starting work. I’m also looking forward to regaining a little of my sanity.

        Thank you again for your eloquent thoughts and honesty. I’ll continue to read and sending supportive thoughts your way!

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