Clara, our Christmas miracle, was born on the 19th December 2017.
As is often the case with premature babies, Clara was born with high jaundice levels. Aside from her dark yellow skin, she was the picture of happiness. She was also the picture of squishiness with her flat nose that was squashed to the side, her oblong head, and her chubby cheeks. To us – she was pure perfection.
Clara loves cuddles like most babies and milk like most babies, but she’s not like most babies. She certainly loves showing off her long legs though!
Over the first two weeks, Clara suffered terribly with jaundice. Her levels were checked at least twice a day, often involving a midnight trip down to the High Dependency Unit (HDU) to be reviewed by consultants. However within days, she was a live-in resident of HDU, whilst I remained based up on the wards. To feel like her mum I’d ensure I was there for every feed, nappy change, and cuddle, all day every day. Sleep was the last thing I needed to make me feel better.
During this time, Clara’s jaundice levels spiked dramatically above and below the treatment line meaning she was regularly under photo therapy lights. No longer in a cot, Clara was in an incubator. Not able to wear clothes, Clara could only have on a nappy.
I was worried. Clara, meanwhile, thought we’d booked her on an all-inclusive vacation somewhere nice and warm:
On her worst jaundice days, Clara had additional eye protection, extra lights, and monitors on. I couldn’t pick her up and cuddle her whenever I liked, I could just sit next to her and hope she took comfort from my voice. We were desperately counting down to each blood test to see if she was any closer to coming home – but every time we got one step forward, it was two steps back.