Last Christmas we were still in hospital with Jasper, his due date was Boxing Day but he decided to come in September. Our pregnancy announcement in the June of 2019 even featured Christmas, as young, naive first time parents, we had absolutely no idea of what was to come and just expected our baby to arrive on his due date.
We spent in total 14 weeks across two hospitals but, in the weeks running up to December, I was a complete wreck. Jasper fell ill and on the rare night my husband and I had come home, over an hour away, to put our tree up, we had a call at 4am that he had been rushed back in to ICU. I was broken. Our baby who was starting to thrive, was sedated, intubated and sick. I was at my new lowest point.
My heart was so profoundly focussed on Jasper coming home for Christmas, it ate away and began to spoil every positive thing that Jasper was starting to do and now, being back in ICU, I felt all hope of him being home for Christmas was gone. I remember sobbing by his incubator and his nurse just sat with me, holding my hand until I was ready to talk. I told her how I was starting to resent Christmas. I couldn’t listen to the songs on the radio. I avoided the Christmas aisle in Tesco. I didn’t even buy an advent calendar. I honestly felt like the Grinch and my mental health was suffering.
Then, on December the first, we arrived at his side to a surprise. An “elf” had delivered Jasper his first ever advent calendar. Well safe to say, what little piece of my heart that was left, shattered there and then. How could someone be so kind?! So thoughtful! That small, selfless gesture was all it took for my heart to begin to heal and the word ‘hope’ began swirling around my soul. The nurse told me that on every door of the advent calendar, she wanted me to write what had happened to Jasper that day. It gave me a focus. She also practically forced Jack and I out of the hospital and she directed us to a beautiful Christmas market, at a near by castle. Of course, my anxiety was all over the place. Why should I go and have fun whilst my little boy is still fighting for his life?! The whole way there I cried and think I called to check in on Jasper at least 3 times. But once we smelt the mulled wine and saw the beautiful decorations, we couldn’t help but smile. It was there that we bought Jasper his first Christmas tree decoration, as although he may not be home, he was still here.
A week or two passed and we had transferred to our local hospital. This brought over a whole new wave of fear, joy, anxiety... very emotion. We didn’t want to leave the hospital we had called home but this was a massive step closer to us bringing him actually home!
On the night of Jasper’s transfer, my husband had persuaded me to attend my work Christmas party. I needed that. I really needed to see my friends and let my hair down. For that night, the first night since September, I found a little bit of me again. Being in a new hospital was really difficult. New staff. New surroundings. And as we were now in a SCBU, the level of care was so different to what we had known. I really struggled with this and I was constantly on edge and I felt myself being so hyper vigilant and I don’t think I left Jaspers side for a second. Christmas Eve came and we were lucky enough to be “rooming in” at the hospital. We had kindly been gifted the story “‘Twas the night before Christmas” so, together Jack and I read our baby boy his first Christmas story. We finally allowed ourselves to think about family traditions we wanted to start and we even made our families ‘mistletoes’ Christmas cards! It was truly amazing waking up and knowing our little boy was right there; a real like Christmas miracle. The day bought another rollercoaster of emotions but when the doors opened and a band came onto the ward, playing ‘Away in a Manger’, I felt whole. Holding my baby and hearing that music was so healing. And then, on my birthday, the 27th December, we finally bought our baby boy home forever!
This festive period may not be how you had planned and maybe, you don’t know how to find a way to feel joy whilst those around you embark on many exciting Christmas activities. I am now in a tier 4 area which is completely devastating, having made plans for some very close family to spend Christmas with their grandson for the first time. But, we will now be enjoying time just the three of us, just like we had longed for last year. So please, take joy in those tiny miracles. All you need is you and your baby. That is the true meaning of Christmas. My DMs are always open.
Merry Christmas x