Wednesday, June 18

When you are 8

Hannah turned 8 today. I don't know where the years have gone. She made an untimely entrance into the world on the 18th June 2000. She wasn't due to make that entrance until the 4th September. Arriving 11 weeks premature is a rocky start, but she amazed us all. Breathing on her own from the beginning she was a pretty determined little thing. I only got to see her for a moment before they whipped her away to NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). The next time I saw her she looked so small and helpless lying in the incubator with tubes all over her tiny body, she only weighed 1120grams (about 2.5lbs). I thought my heart would break

There were a couple of scares, a heart murmer that they treated but then it opened again, a blood transfusion and endless drugs and treatments to keep her alive. She handled it all - we tried to handle it as best we could, needless to say it was an emotional and stressful time. The worst day was the day I was discharged and I had to leave the hospital without her. From then on we spent all day, every day with her. Sitting beside the incubator with our hands in the openings talking to her, stroking her gently and holding her tiny hands. Eventually we were allowed to hold her for short periods of time and then when she 'graduated' to a special care unit we were able to do normal things like feed and bath her, change nappies and dress her as she built up strength and put on weight. All this time I was expressing milk every 4 hours. I had the alarm set for 3am and Tom would bring me a cup of tea while I sat attached to the electric breast pump, thinking about the dairy cows down the road that were doing pretty much the same thing right now. It was hell, but it was worth it. Each day I'd take those precious containers of milk to the hospital where they kept a frozen supply of them and Hannah would be fed by gavage. Eventually she could have it from a bottle and then, one day, I was able to breastfeed her myself - that was cause for celebration. Nine weeks after she was born we got to bring her home, she weighed 2.5 kilos (5.5lbs), still not very big really.

We are so lucky that Hannah has had no medical problems as a result of her prematurity, it could have been very different. Lots of premature babies have ongoing lung disease, brain bleeds and many, many other physical, mental and developmental problems. Hannah is healthy, happy and energetic. But every time her birthday comes around I can't help but look at her and marvel at how she handled those early days, all the pain and discomfort she must have felt and yet she fought on and survived. She is an amazing child and I love her beyond words.

For her birthday she wanted a Nintendo (I had to ask my sisters what this was and get advice on what to buy). She also wanted her ears pierced. So after school we did this..

Uh oh, am I doing the right thing...?

Too late to change your mind now....brace yourself...

That hurt Mummy.

Of course the pain was momentary and she is now delighted with her sparkly studs. We came home to a slap up birthday dinner and the best ear healing medicine there is....chocolate mud cake.

Happy Birthday Hannah Bear!!


miss*R said...

a happy birthday !! a gorgeous young girl.. congratulations on surviving those odds xoxo

I remember when I had my ears pierced, I was about the same age.. but mine were sleepers put in by a needle..ouch.

Dave said...

I got married on the 18th June.

It's also the anniversary of the Battle of waterloo.

I'm sure there's no connection between those two fact.

Cathy said...

welcome back!!!!

what a beautiful post - happy birthday to your miracle girl hannah! love that last birthday photo - it's beautiful...

and how wonderful that you have recorded her ear piercing ...this post made me cry and smile :)

Anonymous said...

Miss *r* Thank you on Hannah's behalf. My ears were also pierced by needle then sleepers inserted. Barbaric really.

Dave - Ok, if you could turn back the clock which June 18th would you rather experience? Perhaps you'd better not answer that. Oh and by the way I'm not suggesting that you were actually AT the Battle of Waterloo, let's assume you can time travel beyond your own lifetime :-).

Hello Cathy! Thank you, yes she is a miracle. I remind myself of that whenever she's being a typical 8 year old and driving me crazy, how awful life would be without her.