“Incredibly small and very, very frightening” – by Fiona Mylchreest
Fiona Mylchreest, mother of five and wife of Borne Chairman Julian Mylchreest, shares her experiences of her son Cormack, who was born prematurely.
I know it’s common for mothers to find their children have outgrown them, but the remarkable thing about Cormack is that he started off so teeny.
My giant son started off his life several weeks too early, about the size his fists are now. He was born in a strange drama of blood and bells and running feet and was carried off to intensive care.
He seemed tiny and perfect and still as I sat by his incubator and I marvelled at how angelic he was, how well-behaved. And then a nurse in scrubs came and said he wasn’t well behaved, his little heart was wiped out after all the trauma. She gave him caffeine, a tiny injection in a vein thinner than a scrap of blue thread. I wanted to put him back inside me and keep him safe from the world. He wasn’t ready.
“I wanted to put him back inside me and keep him safe from the world. He wasn’t ready.”
I didn’t know why he was born early and mostly I didn’t think about it. I was just relieved he was alive. There were other babies much smaller and sicker than Cormack.
Some never went home. I realised how lucky we were to be in Chelsea and Westminster receiving expert care.
I was grateful, but I wanted to go home. There were all sort of criteria babies had to meet to go home, and one was size; I was so frustrated that baby Cormack did not grow faster.
The nurses said the reflux would be better when he was bigger, but he couldn’t get bigger. The babies were weighed twice a week and I would look forward anxiously to weighing day, as if I were doing a test.
But it shouldn’t be about luck. Every small sicky bundle should have the chance to grow into a hulking great lad. Every tiny early baby should be able to grow into a healthy young adult. Every parent should have the experience and joy (most of the time!) of watching the transformation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Fiona Mylchreest is mother to five children, all of whom were born prematurely. She has written a number of pieces for Borne where she shares her experience and reflects on the implications and lifelong challenges caused by prematurity.