High Dependency Unit

HDU – 20th February 2020 – Zach is two days old

I remember the phone call so clearly. I was sat up in bed on the post-natal ward. Downing my morphine tablets and eating my cold toast and tea when they rang.

“Hi its Emma from HDU, EVERYTHING IS FINE.” She said this first, right out of the gate. I was holding my breath until she had finished that sentence.

“Zach has been moved to HDU” She continued. I stopped breathing again. What on earth was HDU?

“He is doing really well and he didn’t need the support in NICU.” She added.

“Oh really.” Was all I could come up with

“HDU is lower support than NICU” She explained realising my confusion.

“Ohhhhh” I said, “that’s brilliant. I am just eating my toast and tea. I will be over as soon as I can.” I told her with excitement and relief.

We said goodbye and hung up the phone. I turned to Emmanuel and retold the conversation to him. He had heard it, but I think I needed to say it out loud once more. He was doing so well after just two nights that he had been moved to High Dependency Unit (HDU) and out of Intensive care.

I gulped down my tea and ran to the shower doing ten-star jumps and some night fever arms for good measure. I put on a beautiful gown and danced my way to my son. NO. What actually happened was I had to ask Emmanuel to come and help me out of bed. So lucky he has strong arms. Then I waddled to the bathroom and prayed that I would be able to erm…..use the facilities. No such luck. But I powered on and stood in the grotty shower and washed the best that I could without being able to stand up fully.  I was relatively clean. Drying was another mission, but all I wanted to know was where my son had been moved to. What number was his bed? Did he have a good night? Had I missed anything at all. I had to get dressed with Emmanuel’s help. Yes, he had to help me put my underwear and trousers on! I guess at home you would just stay in you pjs but I had to put something clothe worthy on before leaving the room. I managed to tie my hair up and put some moisturiser on my face whilst Emmanuel showered as well. Despite our best efforts, it was still an hour before we made it across the hallway to his ward. We found his bed number and parked my wheelchair beside it. I could stand and walk but walking across the wards would have taken me forever and I would have been in agony. It was far quicker to just chair it across. We stood by his bedside staring at his sleeping form. The same wires, the same bed. They move the babies in their beds. So, for the majority of their stay, they are in their own cot. It’s the easiest way. We had an addition to the cot; we had a poster of his name that somebody had made and coloured in. It was the picture of a parrot. A squawking parrot, because our son squawked when they came to do any procedure on him. He had been given the symbol of the parrot. We loved it. It was laminated and stuck to the end of his cot across the top where the heat lamp lay above his head parallel to Zach.

Zach lay sleeping soundly in his bed oblivious to any fuss around him. He was two days old and he was blissfully, thankfully for him and us, unaware. Or at least at that moment, he was. His nurse came over and introduced herself to us. Emma. She explained that during the night Zach was doing so well that he didn’t need the one on one care that they have in NICU. So, they moved him over here. We immediately liked Emma. She had a warmth about her but also a very professional manner. You could just tell she was experienced and knew what she was doing, but that she cared and understood. Because of her, and perhaps the Morphine I was on, the next two days in HDU were actually pretty good.

Zach had no horrible procedures, caused no trouble and slept a lot. We almost had the experience that most parents get. We got to know our new tiny human. We laughed as he wiggled in his sleep and made cute faces. We handed each other baby wipes as we changed his nappy. And by we, I mean his daddy. What! It was hard for me to move around still. I don’t think I changed a nappy until Zach was four days old. Whoops. I missed all of the meconium fun! My parents came to visit us. We had to swap out a person each time as we were only allowed two people by his bed at any one time. I think we cheated once or twice and had both my parents there with me for a period, but we were well behaved. My mum held Zach in her arms with a beaming smile on her face. My dad told me about their visit to the National Portrait Gallery they had gone to visit that morning. It could have almost been my living room. Except for those beeping machines and wires attached to Zach.

Then it was time to start breastfeeding. Emma informed us that the doctors had instructed: “to get him feeding.” I was up, my role was here and I was ready. Or was I?

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