On that first day, there was one who pulled the red emergency cord but she is not the one I remember. I remember the midwife who supported me through a short, healing, beautiful labour. She made me focus on what I had to do as the room erupted in chaos around us. She kept my body safe while people worked to save his. I don’t know her words but I know she spoke them, kept her head, made me hear her, kept us calm. Helped get me to his bedside, made sure I saw his first day, every moment of it that I could physically manage. She left notes by his bedside during his SCBU life, came to his funeral, never forgets his birthday. We only got 11 days; it’s thanks to her and the people working with her, that his first day was not also his last.
And all those SCBU nurses, the consultants, my doula who they welcomed and understood the need for, the people who scanned my next pregnancy practically weekly, were tuned in and alert and believed me the day I knew that enough was enough. So many dedicated people to usher in two little lives so that even though one of them was short, it was bearable.
One wonderful midwife to care for both pregnancies, another midwife to care for both births; affectionate, trained, clever, able, articulate, thoughtful women in clean surroundings with everything they needed to hand when (neither of them) started off knowing how to breathe. Cried with us, cheered for us, waited with us. Above and beyond the call of duty; certainly women who have dedication far beyond the wage they earn.
Two first days. Freddie and Bene. Not the happiest, sunniest of stories but happier than some people ever get. And were it not for the medical staff looking after us, Bene would not have survived his first day either. He went to SCBU that night, carried there and cared for by a nurse who had known his brother and promised me she would bring him back, that he was not going to die too.
Save the Children believe that every child should survive their first day, that no child should be born to die. I cannot begin to describe the trauma, when you live in the modern world, of watching your child die, of hearing the frantic sounds of the resuss table, hearing a whimper that is not enough, just not enough to sustain life. I cannot tell you the fear of a SCBU parent, the helpless dread as minute after minute rolls and changes and brings hope and despair. I cannot imagine how it would feel if my baby had died because there was no one on hand to perform the simple tasks to save him. Everyone should have the right to that care.
You can support the Save the Children #FirstDay Campaign by tweeting, blogging and donating online; a donation of £3, the price of a cup of coffee, could save 10 newborn lives by buying 10 tubes of antiseptic cream. Text COFFEE to 70090. You can sign a petition to ask David Cameron to support a global campaign to make sure every mother has access to a trained midwife. You can read the blogposts on the 100 words blog hop on how midwives helped babies to have a first day.
Everyone should make it beyond their #firstday.