My Premature Baby and the SCBU – Part Two

My Premature Baby and the SCBU – Part Two

My baby was born at 33 weeks, and for the next month, home was the Special Care Baby Unit

Beeps Still Remind Me Of My Premature Baby Experience

The Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) is, indeed, a special place. When your baby is born too soon, and you need to check-in and stay a-while, you must learn to live in what can only be described as a bubble. The outside world seems so far away, behind the double swing doors, security cameras and buzzers and, of course, the bleep, bleep bleeping of machines that are monitoring your tiny, precious babies 24/7. It’s a strangely quiet place, apart from the beeps, running water (everyone is constantly hand-washing), and the whispering voices of nurses, doctors and families going about doing everything they can for these tiny, helpless babies.

He Was Just So Tiny

Our baby checked in 6 minutes after being born, which is quicker than any top hotel can get you a bed. When I first saw him, I was shocked by just how minuscule and fragile he was. I had been under general anaesthetic during the birth, so seeing him all wired up and in a sealed incubator, save the hand holes, was tough. The machines were, indeed, beeping, and he was in a room all alone. No other babies – just him. He sported only a nappy that looked ridiculously too big, and I worried that he might be cold. It’s mad what runs through your mind in the middle of a family crisis.

My Premature Baby Needed To Be Resuscitated Three Times

I learnt that this room was a holding room – the place where the babies came straight after delivery. It was here that the tests were taking place, assessments being done, and decisions being made. It was here where my panic set in. Would he be ok? Had he suffered any lasting damage? Would he even survive? He had already been resuscitated three times. I felt clueless, helpless and terrified. I was at the mercy of the SCBU nurses and hubby and I were powerless. We couldn’t even hold our son as it deprives the baby of much-needed energy. We could touch him through the holes. That was it.

All That Mattered Was My Premature Baby

Those first 36 hours were simply awful. No real news of how things were going to pan out, just lots of touching through holes and worrying. We did get to hold him after 24 hours for a brief skin-to-skin session, which was the most wonderful feeling. The emotion of that moment was overwhelming. I was still hooked up to a drip, could hardly walk and felt physically battered but when you have a child who is very vulnerable and whom you need to fight for, it’s incredible how you can muster up a ton of resilience.

I Found My Inner Super Hero 

We were powerless in terms of decision making, but I was very much in demand. The baby needed milk, and I was the only one who had it! So, I discovered the joys of expressing with hospital-grade electric machines while hooked up to a mobile drip (I can’t even remember what that was for) and being injected by midwives every few hours with something or another that I needed. It was a tough job, but I put on my virtual super-hero cape and got down to business. I cried a lot while doing it and I felt like a cow but wanted to be by my son’s side – not in this little room all by myself.

I Needed To Take A Break For My Premature Baby

After what seemed like hours in there on the third day, I snapped. The drip was gone, but the jabs were still happening, and I couldn’t cope any more.  Hubby packed up my room on the labour ward, and I checked out of Hotel Hospital. I went home (I hadn’t been there in a week) and spent an hour with my other two children. I showered, put proper clothes on and some make-up. By this point, I’d so overdone the walking around that I couldn’t walk anymore. We went back to the hospital, and a wheelchair was required. Those corridors are very long!

I Was Ready To Switch Gears

From this moment on, I was back to being strong and calm. I did what I had to do over the next month. Life also became a little easier when our boy had been moved to the baby room with other little survivors. I became the queen of double-pumping, and with the help of my mum, hubby, a brilliant local taxi-driver and some good mates I was able to juggle two kids at home and a baby in SCBU.

My Premature Baby Couldnt Feed

He wasn’t going to die and there was no lasting damage. He just needed to grow. At 33 weeks, babies do not have the sucking reflex and so he was fed via gastric tube. We learnt how to feed him this way, how to take care of all his needs and how to bathe him. The nurses were incredible, and we owe them everything.

The SCBU Did Not Let Me Leave

If you want to check out of a hotel, you can just go. Checking out of SCBU is harder. The baby needs to feed on the breast or bottle and be a certain weight. If you don’t tick these boxes, you don’t get to leave. My boy would not breast-feed. I tried and tried – so I was doomed to months ahead of expressing like a cow, almost hourly at first. It was not easy, but it was all worth it. Over the years, he grew into a super big boy with no health worries at all. We feel very blessed.

One month, minus one day, after his traumatic entry into the world, the three of us left the hospital.

It was one of the best days of my life.


  • My Premature Baby – Part One Here.
  • The Realities of a C-Section from a Father’s Eye Here.

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