|The first night in hospital, |
before we knew.
|In the pediatric ICU|
|A few hours before we took you home.|
The night you were admitted to hospital on a drip for dehydration - that was the start of it. Following months of pain and illness that doctors could not identify or take seriously, you suddenly started vomiting. You refused food, were lethargic all day and hadn’t weeed in your nappy all day. We took you to A & E again, and this time had the fortune to meet a Doctor who was duly concerned. More blood tests were ordered and you were force fed dioralyte, which you vomited. So they put you on a drip and we were admitted overnight.
You’d been constipated for months and even that night, all the Doctor on duty, the third one we saw, could say after looking at your x-ray, the x-ray that only happened because your Daddy insisted on it, was, “It’s just really bad constipation. We’ll give him a glycerine suppository to get things moving.” The nurses on the ward were wonderful. They brought in a bed rather than a cot so that I could sleep next to you. Your Dad and I took turns watching for signs of poo, and adjusting your IV line when you thrashed about or turned over in your fitful sleep. Some time near dawn, there was dark blood and what looked like coffee grounds in your nappy. I knew it was blood straight away, even in the dark. The nurses weren’t sure, but I knew.
In the morning, a new Doctor came on duty, a consultant. Someone more careful and thoughtful. He looked at your x-ray again and asked us questions and he listened. He didn’t take notes while he spoke to us, his eyes didn’t stray to his shoes or wander off to something more pressing in his mind. He looked at us and he listened. It struck me that it was the first time we were really being listened to.
After listening to us and going away to consult his colleagues at the Royal London, he came back. He sat down and told us that they didn’t know exactly why, but that you were seriously ill, very seriously ill. I was holding you at that time, your head was slumped on my shoulder, still lethargic. I was suddenly hit by tears. Up until that point, I hadn’t really been afraid. Not really. Up until that point, I had no idea what fear really was. I held you closer to me, trying not to shake. When he left, I allowed myself a little cry. The tiniest of cries. And then that was it. I had to be strong. I had to hold it together for you. And I did.
I didn’t cry again for the rest of your time in hospital. Not when we were taken to the Royal London in an ambulance, not when we were told you had to have surgery, not when we were told, after your surgery was a success, how close we’d come to losing you. Not when you were in the ICU, connected to all those machines. Not when I realised I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed you anymore. And not even through all the ups and downs we went through in the month that followed before we could finally take you home.
I don’t know how I did it. I don’t know where my tears went. I’d never been so afraid, so worried, never so aware of everything I had to lose. But I couldn’t cry. The day of your surgery, when we were waiting to hear how it went, your Daddy cried. The next day, when he went home to pick up some clothes for all of us, he cried. But I didn’t.
Since we brought you home and started putting it behind us, I’ve been expecting those tears to appear, to pour through me like a flash flood. But they haven’t. I love you more than anything in the world and my loving you brings up the fiercest of emotions in me. I’ve cried from exhaustion and cried with joy, but for the worst feelings in the world, for the worst I’ve ever felt, there are no tears. Is it because it’s inconceivable? Losing you is inconceivable, so mourning that loss is unthinkable. Sometimes I fear it means a part of my heart has hardened, that something in me has been lost, even though nobody seems to notice it. But then you smile or look at me or call me Mummy or ask for cuggles and all of me becomes love for you. Even when you’re screaming. Even when you’re so cross with me you do the opposite of what I ask. Even when you’re glaring at me, defying me, daring me, you’re the most wonderful person in the world.