Four months have passed by since our beautiful baby boy Rupert came and forever changed our lives, where on earth did that time go? I am enjoying every second with him, watching him grow and seeing his character developing, yet I wish I could press pause and live in these days with him a little longer.
I often find that when I look at Rupert, my love for him is so overwhelming that my eyes fill with tears, and I can’t believe a little boy so perfect is part of me.
Regardless of how many times family, friends and even nurses have told me by holding him all of the time I am making a rod for my back (a very sore back at this point), I will continue to cuddle and hold him until both our hearts are content, as this time is flying by all too fast and right now he needs the cuddles and comfort as much as I do.
Looking back over these last four months I can’t get my head around just how much he and life has changed.
Out and About; we were fortunate that although for the first two weeks of Rupert’s life only Chris and I could hold him, when we came home from hospital our family got to meet and have cuddles with him. We even managed to take a handful of trips out. My birthday being one of the outings when Chris, Rupert, my mother and I visited a local National Trust garden (Winkworth), for a wander and some lunch.
We hoped to see lots of daffodils, at Winkworth as they are normally here in abundance in late February/March, yet I think this year there were more in my mother’s garden.
Rupert and I also had a trip down to the coast accompanied by his Godmother Jill; I had booked to have clay impressions taken of Rupert’s six-week-old hands and feet in Worthing. Rupert was not overly impressed by this experience; mostly my fault as I almost face planted him in the clay while trying to get his hand imprints! Thankfully, all was forgotten within minutes and we made our way to the beach for lunch and took a rather blustery walk on the pebbled shore.
The last trip out was on a beautiful spring day in March to Nymans Gardens with my mother and sister, it was at the start of when social distancing measures were coming in to play. Little did we know it would be the last time we would all be together for many months.
Health; Rupert had weekly visits from the outreach nurse to monitor his progress and ensure he was gaining and maintaining weight; after around one month the nurse was satisfied, and he was signed off.
A couple of weeks after being home Rupert started to become terribly upset after a feed, he would scream and bring up his milk in large amounts, it would then take a long time to settle him. I did some research, and everything pointed in the direction of Reflux. After a visit to the Doctors he was prescribed Omeprazolesome to help relieve his discomfort. Its gradually improved so fingers crossed Rupert is now over the worst of it, and it will not be long before he can come off the meds. It was upsetting to see him in so much distress.
When I took Rupert for his eight-week vaccinations I was anxious about him having them, as at the time his corrected age was only two weeks old and I felt this was too early to overload his little body and immune system with vaccines. After about half an hour of debating with the nurse who was trying to assure me it was standard practice for preemie babies to receive vaccines at the same time I decided to go ahead in part with the 6 in 1 but we would delay the Men C as I understood that together the 6 in 1 and Men C cause a fever And I wanted to limit any chance of this. That was on a Friday by Monday the nurse called wanting to book in for the Men C, my intuition told me it was too soon after the last lot yet the nurse somewhat reassured me it was fine that afternoon he had the vaccine. Under 48 hours later Rupert got extremely ill to the point NHS 111 sent an ambulance out and he was taken into hospital.
We spent the next two nights back in Chichester hospital which in the middle of a pandemic was extremely scary. More so as Chris who had followed the ambulance down in the car was turned away. This time there would not visitors and only one parent allowed. Stepping out of the ambulance I was handed a mask and with Rupert in my arms and one of the paramedics by myside we entered the doors we had not long walked out of and that had become so familiar. Yet the hospital had none of its former familiarity, it was empty and all the staff worse masks, gowns, and gloves.
We were taken to a room for obs to be carried out before being wheeled up to paediatrics where we saw a Doctor. Rupert had a canular inserted, started antibiotics, had bloods taken and I had to try and catch one of his wees in a pot, this was not an easy task. I was told to prepare to stay in for at least a night. We were then taken to the wardroom where there were six empty beds and waited for all the results. Within an hour the Doctor returned with nurses and said they needed to do a lumbar puncture; I was advised not to stay but it was my choice. With teary eyes I looked at the nurses and asked if they had children, they said yes and that in my situation they would step out of the room, and so I did. Alone and worried, a lovely nurse took me to a quiet room and made me a cup of tea saying that ordinarily she would give me a hug but was unable to due to the recently implemented rules.
Slowly the results started to come back, and they showed high infection markers but at the time no infection was identified. Later urosepsis was identified and he continued the antibiotics.
On the third day Rupert’s infection markers were coming down and he was discharged, however he would need to continue with the antibiotics as an outpatient for the next 7 days.
On the second visit he decided at the end of the treatment to rip the canular out of his arm. We then opted for the antibiotics via injection for the remainder of the week. This immediately made Rupert much more comfortable.
To be sure there was nothing underlying going on, a week later and Rupert was booked for an abdominal scan. Thankfully, this showed his kidneys were fine and we were sent on our way. Unfortunately, it took almost a month before the settled Rupert we had originally left the hospital with back in February returned. Since his stay in hospital he became very needy and refuses to be placed in his crib to sleep so he now co sleeps with us.
I know it could just be a very unfortunate coincidence that he fell ill after his jabs however I am now even more anxious as I do feel that there was a link between the two. At present I am trying to find a private Sussex provider for his jabs as we will not be having NHS ones due to the high volumes of aluminium used in them, additionally we want to have the choice of the scheduling so as not to bombard his still developing immune system at any one time.
Sleep; The first twelve weeks were extremely tough and I still don’t know how we made it through. He was waking every couple of hours at night for a feed (if we were lucky), it would then take another hour to settle him back to sleep. Thankfully those days of sleep deprivation have passed and Rupert will now sleep through from 9pm until around 4.30am.
Naps are taken all over the place aside from where I would like him to take them, in his cot! He sleeps well on the move in his carrier, his car seat, my arms or if he’s been pushed to sleep in his pram he will continue to nap provided as soon as the pram is still I switch the Rockit on. Otherwise at home I have to nap with him in our bed.
Whenever he wakes up he does an almighty over the head, arm stretch which never fails to make me giggle.
His bedside crib has unfortunately become an extension of the bedside table. I love having him co sleep, however I am aware that this could cause challenges when he one day moves to his own room. For now, though this is how we all get sleep and can continue to function. I feel I need to come to terms with moving him out of our bed just as he does as I adore having him close to me. Chris often comments that Rupert has become my comfort blanket.
Development; As you know Rupert was a preemie baby and his current development age is two months. It took me a while to remember this and stop comparing his progress to that of our friend’s babies who were all full term. He smiles and is cooing all the time now, I think he is going to be a real chatterbox! He is super observant and interested in his surroundings and is almost fully holding his head. He gets lots of tummy time and enjoys simple playtime activities. Also in the last couple of weeks he’s discovered he has hands, and he loves nothing more than trying to fit them in his mouth! He is able to grasp and hold on to things, and is especially fond of my hair.
Aside from his smiles, the other things he’s treated us to recently has been his laugh which is quite possibly the best laugh I have ever heard. He also makes us laugh immensely when he hears or see’s something that he is confused by as his eyes widen and he raises one eyebrow.
I have been constantly worried that given lockdown, that Rupert may not be getting the stimulation he now needs. As such I have joined a few Facebook groups and downloaded apps to give me ideas of ways to aid his development. Aside from this I read to him every night and I’m forever chatting away to him about anything and everything. Additionally, the dogs are a great source of entertainment and wonder for him as are our daily trips to the horses.
He is often awake at the beginning of our walks these days and likes to observe the scenery from the comfort of his carrier.
Growth; Rupert is growing remarkably well. Clothes wise he is in size 3-6 months and he is more than double his birth weight (4.11lbs, he went down to 4.5lbs). I can really feel this increase when he is in the carrier an hour into a walk. He’s also measuring up to 61cm!
When I look back at the first photos I took of him in the hospital and when we came home its hard to recognise the baby he once was as he is now so chunky and full of life.
Motherhood; We have had many bumps in the road over these last four months, and this is not the way I envisioned the first few months of motherhood to be. Like so many others entering motherhood (or parenthood) in 2020, the house has been empty of family and friends, very few coffee dates and outings have been had, and navigating the transition to motherhood without the support of a village has been lonely at times and for Chris too.
More than ever I crave my family and friends to witness our beautiful little boy grow and for them to have been able to put an arm around me when I have needed it most. I am lucky that Chris has been working from home yet outside help, love and support have been sorely missed.
When we first went in to lockdown I took the positive stance that we were getting time back we had missed out on in hospital, yet now as every lockdown day passes I feel incredibly sad that every day he is changing so much, and our nearest and dearest are missing out on him in person or when they do see him its from a distance. We will never get this time back and on my side of the family he is the first grandchild, which makes it even sadder still as my parents have not witnessed their grandchild grow, those first smiles and cooing and interest in the world around him. My father more so as he’s not local whereas my mother has been able to see him from a distance most days, yet is desperate to cuddle him. The other week we drove across to surprise my grandparents over in East Sussex who had yet to meet Rupert, were only stayed for a 20 minute doorstop introduction but it was worth the drive to see their delight at seeing their great grandson.
I cannot imagine what I would be doing with my life right now had I not had Rupert, he has given me purpose, hope, love and a heartful of gratitude during the darkest of times. When I feel his little fingers curl around mine, while he sleeps warmly on my chest, or he smiles at me, I realise how much better he has made my life. He’s brought so much happiness to my life and I feel extremely grateful to have him and despite our rocky journey he’s happy and well and I love him more than I ever thought possible. There are good days and there are bad days, on the bad days I hold my little bundle of joy that little bit tighter.
Love for now