A Micro-Preemie Mom Coping with Lockdown

My name is Becky and I am the mommy of a beautiful little girl, Sofia, who was born at 24 weeks in 2009.

Firstly, I want to give a huge shout out to the NHS/Medical Teams and Key Workers all around the world. We have family and friends who are dutifully serving their countries (England and America) as Key Workers. You simply are amazing and we are in awe of you all! You truly are the world’s heroes!

As the parent of a former micro-preemie, I know only too well the fear that this awful time brings. Many of you reading this will understand that life in a neonatal unit is an experience that will stay with you forever. Not only can it nearly break you; it also gives you an insight into a strength you never knew existed. Now more than ever, is the time to remember how strong you really are.

Our daughter Sofia, battled many of the life-threatening complications associated with extreme preterm birth and she has learning difficulties as well.

So yes, along with every other parent, I am working hard at keeping everything together emotionally at this time, which is particularly scary for a parent who has already sat at the side of their child’s life support machine.

I am not ashamed to admit that I had a breakdown following Sofia’s birth.

I will hold my hands up and admit that yes, I am a worrier but I am also the mother of a fighter and it is essential that not only do we try our hardest to stay safe but more importantly, it is vital that we try to ensure our children’s mental health is protected too during this time.

In England, many of us across the country take part in signs of solidarity and support for our NHS and Key Workers. We are standing together in the face of adversity and showing our future generation that a united front is a force to be reckoned with and we will beat this! On a Thursday night at 8:00 p.m., we stand on our doorsteps and clap. Many of us have also put rainbows up as well, which represents all the front line workers. I have crocheted our rainbow and put it across our front porch.

Crochet is one of my forms of relaxation and anxiety control. Sofia is currently re-styling her old dolls as part of her relaxation which includes changing the hair colour. She is also an avid YouTube follower and she will study videos of toys, collections or animations and carry out comparisons on anything that takes her interest. It is like living with a female version of Sir David Attenborough!

As the parent of a little girl (I keep saying little girl, she’s actually very tall for her age – giraffe size) with learning difficulties, it is particularly challenging because not only are we trying to keep Sofia physically safe but we are also trying really hard to keep her emotionally well too. She struggles to process information and understand at times. So this is a very frightening experience for her. Her normality and routine have been whipped away from under her feet.

Many people are able to abide by strict schooling regimes but not all of us are in a position to do so. So a more relaxed approach is needed in our home to try and maintain some form of normality. We have been practicing life skills. Learning to cook, folding, washing and cleaning. Helping mommy with the jobs. Sneakily building up Sofia’s ability to deal with everyday tasks that are essential as she moves into adulthood. Little bits each day.
Together, we have also worked on an explanation as to why isolation is so important at this time. Before my breakdown I was a Forensic Scientist, an expert in the field of DNA profiling. Part of my job required the ability to use Layman’s terms when addressing members of the Jury. Having a daughter with learning difficulties also means that explanations need to be adapted to her particular way of learning and understanding. With this in mind, we joined forces, and we created our CoronaVirus Bonfire. It is an illustrated explanation that will hopefully help explain a very complicated virus in such a way that is easy to understand. Sometimes visual representation is more helpful.

Sofia is one of life’s carers. She has an inbuilt need to look after people and if she thinks she can help you or make you smile she will.

Rather than plan lessons, we take it a day at a time. If we cannot do structured school work we look at other ways to teach skills that are not necessarily covered in school. I tried to put too much pressure on myself as a parent when the lockdown commenced. Convinced I had to do everything, be a mother, protector, teacher, cleaner, counsellor etc. The reality is that I am not superwoman, far from it. Pushing my daughter to undertake hours of study when she is trying to come to terms with everything will only serve to have a negative impact on her emotional wellbeing. So I have conceded that sometimes all you need are baby steps. One day at a time. Have a plan in place but also be prepared for the unexpected. Sit, cuddle (if you can), laugh and talk. We are all in this together. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to reach out and talk. We are after all, only human.

Sending you all love,

Becky and Sofia

Editorial Note:

Dear Sofia,

Thank you and your Mum for sharing updates of life at home in England.  You are very brave and we are so proud of you and your hard work to show your support for the NHS, your Mum and more.  And we get your frustration with school all too well.  Just try and that is what counts.  P.S. Your doll’s hair is really pretty!

– The Team at PreemieWorld.com