>It’s my first Guest Post Day and I am delighted to introduce you to Victoria from It’s a small world after all . Victoria, along with her husband and 3 gorgeous children are all set for a fantastic adventure, they are off on a round the world trip in November and Victoria’s blog charts her preparations for the big trip. I have read Victoria’s posts many a time in the past, what with my upcoming move to Spain, I have been bagging as many tips as possible about travelling with children and I can’t wait to see what happens on their travels.
Victoria has written an incredibly moving post for Guest Post Day that had me in tears when I read it. I hope you all enjoy the the change of author today and make sure you pop over to It’s a small world after all to check out some more of Victoria’s fantastic posts.
BEEP BEEP BEEP. The earpiercing alarm, jerks me awake. A wave of nausea washes over me as I sit up to look at my baby boy in the next bed. BEEP BEEP BEEP. Despite the horrible noise, he’s still asleep, his tiny chest sucking in and out with effort. I check the wires and tubes that are attached to him and notice that the oxygen sensor on his toe is loose. That’s what’s tripped the alarm. I switch it off, just as the nurse comes in to ask if he’s OK.
I lie back down on the narrow hospital bed. The baby is bathed in the yellow glow from the nightlight. It’s too light to sleep. It’s light all the time. Needs to be so the nurses can do their checks around the clock. I’m so tired that my bones ache. I lie as still as I can and finally manage to block out my boy’s barking cough and the crying of the other babies on the ward to fall into the abyss of sleep. I am floating off the bed, drifting away, oblivion beckoning. BEEP BEEP BEEP. I’ve been asleep for twenty minutes. Every twenty minutes, somewhere on this ward an alarm goes off. Every hour, my baby has his vitals taken. For four days now I’ve been woken every twenty minutes. I feel like I’m going to be sick.
It’s easier to think about how dreadful I feel than to think about the baby lying in the hospital bed. I daren’t think about how ill he is. I can’t. It’s a good thing I took him to the doctor when I did. Insisted on Sunday morning that even though he was feeding every three hours, I needed to see a doctor. At that point, I wasn’t even particularly worried. I had no idea. The doctor didn’t seem worried either. Just said, with such a tiny baby, it would be better to see a paediatrician.
So I drive to A&E, calling my mother as I leave, asking her to meet me there. As soon as we arrive, the paediatricians crowd round him. Inserting canualas, attaching wires, inserting tubes. I have to leave the room. I can’t watch. I know I should stay, but he’s mewing like a kitten and I just can’t watch. My mother stays and holds his hand.
When they’re finished I come back in. Why didn’t you come sooner they ask. Didn’t you realise how ill he is? No. No I didn’t. He’s not my first baby, but I didn’t realise. I just thought he was tired. That he had a cold. Well he’s not just sleepy, he’s dehydrated, struggling to breathe. Struggling to get oxygen into his blood. He’s very sick. You should have come sooner.
For a week, he lies on the bed in the tiny room. I lie next to him as he coughs and coughs and coughs. Oxygen helps him to breathe, glucose and water rehydrate him. He can’t tolerate milk, he’s too poorly. So I wrestle with the industrial hospital breast pump every three hours, day and night, stacking up the little bottles in the milk kitchen. Bottles that I’m not allowed to feed him anyway. It all feels pointless.
The nurses come and go. On eight hour shifts. Taking temperatures, attaching new bags of glucose to his tubes, counting his breaths. Some are friendly, chatty, say, isn’t he a lovely baby, lovely to see a baby who isn’t all scrawny. Others are brisk, rushed off their feet, trying to look after too many patients. One makes me cry at 3am, when I can’t settle my screaming baby. Here, give him to me. Don’t do it like that. He’s ill. Ill babies aren’t like well babies. I’m trying. I don’t know what to do. If my baby cries, I feed him. But I’m not allowed to. What should I do? I’m too tired to know.
After five days, he’s still coughing, but he doesn’t need the oxygen any more. That’s good says the kind nurse, babies who don’t need oxygen go home sooner. I’m allowed to give him a bottle. He’s hungry. He can go home when he’s breastfeeding again. But I mustn’t get my hopes up. The doctors say it can come back. Babies who’ve been this sick, will catch it again and again.
I listen but I don’t listen. I care but I don’t care. I just want to go home. And feed my baby. And go to sleep.
When my middle child was eight weeks old, he spent a week in hospital with bronchiolitis. I was the worst week of my life. He had further episodes over the next eighteen months, including an ambulance ride one particularly awful day. But it was never as bad as that first time. How parents cope when they have children in hospital for weeks and months, I do not know. They have my deepest admiration.