I was used to pregnancies ending early. At six or twelve weeks. And if they lasted longer than that, I was used to delivering early. At 18 weeks. Or at 24.
So when Maeve was born after 40 weeks, big and round and full-term, I could hardly believe the size of her. She weighed eight pounds and looked to me like she could have been eating a toffee apple at a school fete.
I’d only had a one-pound baby in an Intensive Care Unit. Elsie had her own nurse, one-on-one, 24 hours a day for the first three months of her life.
I was used to sitting with that nurse and answering, ‘Yes please,’ when they’d ask if we wanted to touch her or help change her nappy through the portholes in the humidicrib.
When Elsie graduated from Intensive Care, she spent a further two months in a Special Care Unit, where she’d shared a nurse with a few other babies. Even that hadn’t seemed right.
Now this big crawling-sized baby we’d named Maeve was laying there in her crib with no one watching her. No wires, no monitors, no alarms to let us know if she was breathing or her heart had stopped or her oxygen levels had dropped too low.
It didn’t seem right.
The nurse scribbled something in my chart and placed it back in its holder.
‘Isn’t anyone going to check the baby?’
‘She’s not the patient,’ the nurse said. ‘You are.’
‘Can I hold her?’ I asked.
‘Of course,’ the nurse said. ‘She’s yours.’
I walked over and scooped her up.
I looked around. It was just Maeve and me.
There had been no plan, no extra nurse called in to assist, no armchair wheeled in close enough for the tethered baby to remain connected.
‘We’ll look after you, little one,’ I told her.
And we’ve had the absolute joy of doing so for the last 11 years.
Happy birthday, you beautiful big kid. Thanks for choosing us.