So, little Awena turned one at the weekend. The sun shone, which sandwiched between two horrendously wet days, was a great blessing. I woke up at 03.50 realising at that time last year I’d had my first skin to skin and Awena had by, now, 20 minutes after being born, been popped in an incubator.
One thing that can be very helpful in processing trauma or difficult events is allowing yourself to be able to revisit it with acceptance and positivity. I started the day by putting together a slide show of Awena’s first few weeks. It helped to look at the tiny thing, have a little cry as I acknowledged the struggle it was then as well as the gratitude I feel now for her amazing care and safe arrival home.
The day itself was full of flashbacks. I decided to go with it and remember how it was going to see her in neonatal. By pushing the memories down and not allowing myself to process them they would stay there as a difficulty I didn’t want to face. Although it was hard remembering it enabled me to look at the memories from a place where I now feel settled and safe. This is crucial when trying to move through a trauma. By knowing you are safe and secure you can revisit a difficult time in the knowledge you don’t have to stay there. In play therapy, the children who have a consistent and loving environment surrounding them progress significantly more. Processing trauma and allowing the thoughts to come alive is crucial to accept and move through. In play therapy we hope that the children will relive their challenges through the medium of play bringing a sense of understanding and normality.
The toughest day was actually the day after her birthday. This was the day I was discharged from the hospital and had to leave my baby behind. Totally unnatural and against every maternal instinct. I remember going back up to the ward in the afternoon and seeing Awena under the lights. I knew exactly what that meant. No cuddles. Fighting back the tears I told the nurse I was to be discharged later that day. I can never thank that nurse enough for allowing me half an hour skin to skin before going home. I was able to hold my baby close. Trying not to drench her tiny body with my brimming eyes I placed her back in her little eye mask and said goodbye. I’m tempted to say that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done as a mummy.
The empathy I now have for all those with little ones still in hospital grows stronger with every memory. I hope and pray that one day soon you too will be able to look back and process this time. There is an end to the tunnel. It might not always be the outcome we want or expect but one day it will be different.
Keep remembering. Keep processing. Keep communicating.