I’ve been very lucky; I have very healthy boys. As parents we have manged to avoid the painful drama of visiting A&E at daft-a-clock and as health goes the children have had a fairly smooth run (meanwhile us parents continue to fall apart as our immune system plummets under the pressure).
However, my middle, adorable boy has suffered with chronic nose infections since he was born and we finally got forwarded on to a specialist who,without hesitation, booked him him for an op.
I was so focused with him getting better, I didn’t absorb the whole “operation” procedure and what, emotionally, this entailed.
So the day we took him it hit me like a wrecking ball in the chest.
The Childrens’ Ward is full of heartbreak. No matter how clean or colourful or how many toys, DVDs and smiling nurses, they can’t plaster over the fact that children don’t belong there. And every colourful wall is darkened by the broken look upon a parent’s face.
We had to wait 5 hours on this ward before he went down to theatre, then an agonising hour and a half till he came back. Because I’m breast feeding the baby I had the perfect excuse to opt out of the hard bits; like carrying him down, watching him go under, leaving him there.
But I have three images I’m struggling to shake: his tiny teddy-bear-patterned gown folded on the overbed table; his dad carrying him down, a heavy eyed bewildered expression upon his face; him returning, sleeping silently with a tiny cannula bandaged against his little foot.
That night his dad stayed with him in hospital, I went home and slept with both his brothers in the bed with me. I kept waking in the night finding myself looking for a third child in the bed feeling like “I’d lost something”.
Those images, that feeling, remind me how lucky I am. For us it was just two days.
The doors to Childrens’ Wards are never still. Tiny veins have seen a life time of needles, beds are changed but rarely empty, some children go in and they don’t come back out. I have the up-most respect for parents who have poorly children, parents who are on first name terms with doctors, who have to spend hours, days, weeks, in waiting rooms, waiting for appointments, waiting in children’s wards.
Two days was enough for us to feel the strain.