I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Big. I’m sorry that I grew you with ears that filled with gunk. I’m sorry that I made you have hearing tests and discovered your glue ear when you didn’t start to speak. I’m sorry I put you through two grommet operations and, today, a grommet retrieval.
I’m not sorry for the results. I’m not sorry that you stopped getting those dreadfully painful ear infections as soon as your grommets were fitted. I’m not sorry that you started speaking within two weeks of your second set. I know those two leaps forward weren’t a coincidence.
But I would have given anything to be the one terrified by the anaesthetist’s mask. The one to hold my hand away from the nurse and scream when they tried to check my veins. I would have let them treat me without anaesthetic if it meant you didn’t have to go through any of it. Maybe then I wouldn’t feel this awful guilt.
Today, I had to wake you hours before it was light. I bundled you up in your pyjamas and put you in the car, praying you wouldn’t ask for breakfast. I had to starve you. They told me to. You were so excited. You told your tiny sister, Little, that we were going on an adventure and she had to come to so she could still have her Mummy Milk. All the way to the hospital you talked about the special mask and that you’d have your ‘Rekrast’ (breakfast) after you’d had your special sleep. And that after your special sleep, your ears would be all better.
I tried my best to explain it to you and to prepare you for the day. I talked about the balloon mask and how you’d have a sleep. I said it wouldn’t hurt, but it did, didn’t it? You were awesome. You blew into that mask trying to expand that balloon with all your might. And then you went floppy in my arms, and I cried. It frightened me. You didn’t see me cry. The nurse rubbed my arm and said you’d be fine.
It was thankfully quick to hook the displaced grommet and clean up your ear. The surgeon said it was a good job we did it and that a problem had started to form. I can’t bear the idea of you being set back by poor hearing again. He said we did the right thing. So, why did it feel so wrong?
They called me down to you in Recovery because you were confused and upset. I had to ask a million times for pain relief for you. You were clutching your ear and saying it hurts. I held your head, my baby, and I kissed your ear and I willed it better. You wouldn’t take the Ibuprofen for the nurse, but you did for me. You trusted me so much and in my need to make things right for you, I let them hurt you. I’m sorry, my darling girl. I pray – really hard – I pray that you never need to have an operation again. And I pray – even harder – that you will never be hurt again.
I loaded your favourite films onto my Kindle and I promised you hot chocolate. You had both. You smiled. And I cried again.
Tomorrow is another day, my beautiful girl. And I promise to make you smile.