Reading in Neonatal: Laura's story
As an English Teacher I’ve always appreciated the importance of reading to children and for children to read.
However, one particular book has played an important part in our neonatal journey.
When I had Lila at 30 weeks she was in a very bad way. Doctors didn’t expect her to live and if she did, what the effects of her start would have on her.
When you are confronted with that as a mother you feel terrified, but you start to immerse yourself in the practical aspects - mainly commitment to pumping sessions and kangaroo care.
I watched as my husband felt completely powerless throughout the whole journey - the fast and traumatic arrival, the labour room resuscitation and the resulting care Lila received.
When lockdown began a week after Lila’s arrival, the hospital introduced strict restrictions and my husband and I could only visit our daughter for one hour each, separately. While I was consumed with how to establish breastfeeding in that time, he was left with what we called the “graveyard shift” after his days’ work was done and helping with our 3 year old. He would go to the unit late at night and cuddle Lila in his shirt and read to her. The story he read was Roald Dahl’s Matilda.
My husband told me that he didn’t know what else to do but to read to Lila and that became their thing. He said that when he got to the words “I know that you are only a tiny little girl, but there is some kind of magic in you” and a feeling passed through him that in his heart he just knew she was going to be ok. He said he remembered sitting by the incubator with his hand resting on the top, the book in his hand and knowing.
He went home and unknown to me he ordered a limited edition special print of Matilda and that specific line that filled him with so much hope. He hung it on her wall for her coming home, a full 10 weeks after she arrived into this world. Every time I look at it, it fills me with love!
Lila is a little girl who remains full of magic to all that know her. It is magical to us what she survived at the beginning of her life and just how perfect she is now. And they still read together every day.