The youngest person yet to use a one-page profile. Baby James was just three days old when his mum created his profile to help hospital staff understand how best to support them both.
Written by mum Deb
James arrived a day after his due date, after around 16 hours of labour. The cord was around his neck, he was in a difficult position, and so we were advised that we needed a vacuum delivery. He was born just before 8pm under a blue moon. He was the most beautiful purplish slippery floppy thing that I had ever seen. After a brief cuddle, he was whisked away to the special care nursery to await a visit from the pediatrician. My friend and student midwife persisted with staff until they returned my baby to me, looking a healthier shade of pink and gazing endlessly at me with his deep dark blue eyes.
Aside from a bruised and swollen head, he was deemed healthy and okay to see the doctor in the morning. The nurses decided that I was too fatigued to responsibly look after my baby that night, so he was taken back to the special nursery and I spent a sleepless night euphoric, yet pining for my baby boy. My first night as a mother held the strangest combination of immeasurable joy and a complete sense of powerlessness. I knew my baby and I would both be better off together, but just couldn’t seem to organise my thoughts well enough to do anything about it.
James spent most of the next day sleeping and being woken for feeds. We struggled to get James to feed which resulted in us both being pushed, poked, guided and prodded in spite of the hospital’s ‘hands off’ policy in relation to support with breast feeding. By day three I was exhausted and emotional, and James had started to cry every time I tried to position him for a feed.
I had shared my own one-page profile with as many staff as I could, and virtually every new nurse that came on shift sat down with me and we talked through it together. A couple of staff used it as an opportunity to basically tell me I knew nothing relative to their extensive experience, but the majority listened attentively and asked clarifying questions. Heartened by this, I scrawled down James’ first one-page profile while he slept and I should have been resting.
In those early days of fatigue and confusion, writing out James’ profile helped me to make sense of my thoughts and to begin to understand this little person. At a time when any sense of control was fleeting at best, James’ one-page profile provided a way to assert how we’d prefer to be supported. I received mixed responses from staff, but I have one particularly positive memory that has stayed with me.
It was around two in the morning and a midwife who was close to my own age sat quietly beside me as I attempted to feed James. As she read our profiles she related stories about feeding her own three children. She talked about how each baby was different, each wonderful and puzzling, and each very much their own person from the moment they arrived. She was encouraging and reassuring, and she provided guidance without any sense of pressure. She told me that our profiles helped her to know exactly what we needed from her rather than guessing and having the usual feeling as though she’s just not quite getting it right.
An added bonus from writing James’ profile at such an early point has been looking back at it so many months later and remembering details that I am sure I would have forgotten otherwise.