Punishments

I guess it was inevitable that I would be punished in some way. I did, of course, leave my little poxy Medium for several days. I didn’t expect her to be quite so cold though, preferring my Mum’s lap to mine and looking at me through narrowed eyes with a sulky expression. She is furious with me. She’s three, she doesn’t understand that her sister was so poorly I couldn’t leave her. All she sees is that I wasn’t there.

I came home for two hours yesterday after Big was moved from the High Dependency Unit to a normal ward. I just needed to sniff Medium and Little for a moment. Lovely Husband insisted I got a cab as it would be dangerous to drive in my state of sleep deprivation, stress and heightened emotion. The round trip cost over £100, but I guess I’m quite precious too. I got home in time to have tea with the two littlest, bath them and then head back to the hospital to settle Big for the night.

And last night – finally – was the night she really turned the corner. The night before she had been very dependent on the oxygen machine, with it cranked up as high as 70% at times. All of my instincts told me that she needed sleep to recover. She needed to be left alone. When the consultant made her rounds with her nurse for the day the following morning, she said she wanted to repeat Big’s chest x-ray, take bloods and for her to have another session with the physiotherapists. “Fine,” I said. “But I want all of this to be done by 10.30, along with any medication that she needs to have, and then I don’t want her to be disturbed. She is not going to recover without sleep.”

I think they knew not to mess with a hormonal, stressed and sleep deprived pregnant mother. By 10.30, Big was fast asleep and I was guarding her like a tiger does her cubs. A nurse walked in, I growled, she put her hands up and left. My baby slept for nearly three hours, her saturation levels normal and her heart and respiration rate as they should be at rest. She woke up and the world was a brighter place. My little star was back in the room.

That afternoon, we were moved back to the ward and she continued to bounce back. Last night, she was disconnected from the oxygen machine and medication was given via a puffer, rather than a nebuliser. She slept. Boy, did she sleep. She slept through the monitors beeping away. She slept through new admissions joining us on the ward. She slept through the very poorly boy with pneumonia crying with every painful cough. She woke up as if she’d never felt poorly and wanted to go straight to the playroom.

We’re now home. As soon as the doctor said we could go home today with 72 hours direct access to the ward in case of a relapse, I nearly collapsed with gratitude and exhaustion. As I sit here typing, listening to the normal sounds of our family home – Lovely Husband calling the girls for tea, Big and Medium fighting over a toy, Little just shouting because that’s what she does – I feel an overwhelming sense of relief, of gratitude and that I can finally exhale.

But now the ‘What ifs’ start. What if I hadn’t tucked Big up on the sofa and had put her to bed instead? She was in severe respiratory distress. How much worse could that have got had I put her down for a nap and assumed she was sleeping soundly? She was admitted with suspected pneumonia. Luckily for us, it just turned out to be a very strange but nevertheless nasty viral chest infection. Other parents on the ward weren’t that lucky and now face what will feel like forever in the vacuum of the hospital, where time keeps to it’s own vortex and you have no idea what time it is, what day it is, whether it’s raining or that there’s an outside world beyond the curtains around your child’s bed. God, I’m glad we’re home.

I cannot fault the treatment we’ve received. From our GP’s immediate action to help Big, to the paramedics fast response, the paediatric A&E team’s calm and professional manner and the cheerful porters that tried to keep Big’s spirits up as she was pushed from x-ray to paediatrics. The nurses, the doctors, the consultants, the physios that finally got her to cough and move the phlegm, the wonderful play workers who distracted her through blood tests and sugar checks and the healthcare workers who brought me tea, told me to take five minutes, didn’t look at me like I was crazy for welling up every time I had to come up with some new story to persuade her to let the doctors treat her. Yesterday, the butterfly on the blood testing needle needed to drink her blood so he could go to Tesco and buy his dinner. I have no idea where that came from, but she bought it (“But he can only have a little bit!”), much to the amusement of the nurses helping with the procedure. All of them are wonderful. The hours they work are ludicrous. Our nurses worked from eight until eight. Some of the doctors started at eight and were still there at midnight. Think of these people if you want to malign the NHS, then think of how lucky we are to have them.

We’re home. She’s safe. Tonight I will be setting an alarm to administer medication at the right time and in between I will sleep. I will sleep knowing that her chest is rising and falling as it should and that we are the lucky ones that have escaped the uncertainty and the interminable time that seems to span decades in a hospital bed.

Friends, may you never ever have a week like mine.

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Punishments

A bit of a mishmash

Once again, friends, my apologies. It’s been a while. Truth be known, I’ve been dealing with a never ending snot trail that began with one child, transmitted to another and then another and then me, where it promptly turned into the sinus infection from hell and took a week of antibiotics to make it go away.

It’s been a rough couple of months. Medium and Little batted tonsillitis to and fro with serves that would rival Andy Murray. Big managed to ward off the germs until term finished and then the night before I was due to take her for a special treat to Olympia, her temperature suddenly rocketed to 40degs and instead we went to the out of hours doctor. A trip to Center Parcs was abandoned a few nights in and all three were on antibiotics by Christmas Eve. By Christmas Day, I could no longer move my head and looked longingly at All The Lovely Effective Decongestants in the medical box that I wasn’t allowed to take. By the time I saw our GP after the million bank holidays, I was in a right state and burst into tears as I sat down. Thankfully, Lovely Husband was off work and able to juggle the smalls, so I actually got to lie very still and concentrate on not moving my head. A further blip with Medium last week topped up my sleep deprivation levels, so you’ll be pleased to know that my eye bags are still capable of carrying a full week’s Big Shop.

Speaking of shopping, I finally bought something for the Miracle today. I’ve always been a bit superstitious about buying things for babies before they’re born, but unless this poor boy suits pink, he’d be a bit chilly, so I bit the bullet and bought him a very cute babygro and hat. It has to be said that shopping for boys’ clothes is nowhere near as much fun as shopping for girls. Everything either has dinosaurs or trucks on it.

I’ll be 23 weeks pregnant tomorrow. It’s certainly harder this time around. By the time I’ve finished the school run in the mornings, I feel like I’ve run a marathon. I feel huge and I’ve got aches on top of aches. My blood sugars, which will rise as the Miracle grows, are okay at the moment as long as I eat before 5.30pm. By 9pm, I’m starving. Despite this, I relish every moment that I feel the Miracle move. He’s a night owl (which doesn’t bode well for swapping my Tesco crate eye bags for a smaller, more chic tote bag, for example) and likes to have a disco just as I’m falling asleep. As time marches on, I can feel myself becoming cautiously excited. In 17 weeks, he will be here and we will be six. The love. There will be so much love.

I am always surprised by the way the love for your child can suddenly hit you ten fold in the chest when you least expect it. It happened to me today. I had a parent consultation with Big’s teacher. I nearly cried as she extolled Big’s amazing progress. Big is thriving at school; her teacher is her hero, and mine if I’m honest. My shy little button is getting stuck in. At pre-school, she rarely played with other children and struggled to understand them. Today, her teacher told me she is rarely on her own and always asking to be involved. This is a big step for a child like Big. She’s recognising other children’s emotions and trying to help them and, as she gains new feathers in her wings, her confidence is growing by the day. I’m so proud of her.

I’m also proud of myself. Over Christmas, Lovely Husband nearly bought me the horse of my dreams. I even flew to Portugal to ride him and have him vetted. He was delicious, and my heart was telling me to buy him, buy him, buy him. Sadly, an issue with his x-rays meant that I didn’t go ahead and I still feel sad about this. When I examine my feelings, though, I realise I’m sad about what he represented rather than the horse himself. He represented time to myself, a little freedom, an opportunity to be me, a childhood dream realised. I had an amazing livery arrangement organised, with a ton of expert support. But it would have been a dream compromised and I would have constantly been grappling guilt; guilt that I didn’t spend enough time with the horse (who frankly deserved a better rider and a more competitive home than I could give him) and guilt that my son spent too much time in a pushchair at the side of the school. My time with the horse of my dreams will come. Lovely Husband has promised me that. In the meantime, I will enjoy every second sniffing the Miracle and counting the dreams that have already come true.

A bit of a mishmash

The torture of sleep deprivation

The pixies have been poorly. It’s been about five and a half weeks since I had more than about 45-minutes of uninterrupted sleep. There have been far too many nights where I’ve had a total of two hours sleep. I don’t know how I’m still standing. As it is, the world is a little hazy and I have a tendency to zone out and concentrate on the tinnitus that’s taken up residence in my left ear.

Little was first. She succumbed to tonsillitis, which is horrible as an adult let alone as a tiny person. She shared her germs with Medium, who, always a generous child, thoughtfully passed them back to Little when she’d finish with them.

Big managed to evade the evil pus-filled tonsils until school was out. The following morning, her temperature started to climb and we made our second trip to the out of hours service in a week. Of course, she then refused to take her antibiotics and had to see a second out of hours doctor the following day to get an alternative.

By Monday, her temperature, though still up, was a little more stable and we set off for Center Parcs where Medium decided to throw a few new spiking temperatures and a few vomiting sessions to keep us on our toes. Big, not to be outdone, developed the cough of doom. We left early.

Today, all three have been seen at our doctors’ surgery and all three have shiny new bottles of antibiotics to combat their rattling chests and spiking temperatures. Merry bloody Christmas to us. Lovely Husband and I are also coughing up a lung every so often, but apparently, my cough is viral. HOW DO THEY KNOW? How do they discern the difference between our children’s coughs and ours?

I am not the type of mum that panics. I thanked my religious viewing of Casualty and Holby City for giving me the foresight to turn off the engine when I was upside down in my car with an arterial bleed and my hand de-gloved. Likewise, when the kids are poorly, I don’t panic and follow my instinct. Until the thermometer says 40 degrees, and then I panic that they’ll fit. If they start throwing up at the same time, I’m dialling 111 quicker than a… Well, a very speedy dialler.

As I prepare for another night of soothing a whimpery Big, trying to stay awake while a hot and fractious Little dozes on my shoulder (feeling the flutters of the Miracle make this quite a special time) and then attempting to get a few hours of zzzs while Medium (who has taken up residency in our bed as she can’t possibly sleep without Mummy when she’s poorly!) lies across me and flings her many stuffed friends at my head, I am most thankful for Lovely Husband. While he can sleep through the nocturnal nursing that the smalls demand (how? How does he do that?!), he’s getting up every morning and leaving me to go back to sleep.

If only he could administer me a general anaesthetic, I think he might just be perfect.

A very Merry Christmas to you all, and a happy and HEALTHY New Year.

The torture of sleep deprivation

A plethora of challenges

How has your summer been, friends? It feels like yesterday that I was wiping away a tear at being handed Big’s registration card as she left Pre-school. I feel like I fell asleep and missed a chunk of the holidays. They’ve whizzed by.

Sleeping is not something I’ve been doing much of, though. Medium has always been a tricky sleeper. Ever since she was tiny, she’s bed hopped in the middle of the night. This has never bothered us. She would just snuggle up and go straight back to sleep. In the last month, this has changed drastically. She wakes several times a night and just screams. She’s awake – it’s not a night terror – but there is no reasoning with her and, as yet, we’ve not found a way to calmly settle her. She can be up for hours, intermittently screaming, crying and settling. A nasty ear infection and perforated ear drum hasn’t helped. That, coupled with her insistence that she can’t fall asleep unless I’m in the room, is both worrying and exhausting.

I had successfully employed the Gradual Retreat technique when she insisted on me being in the room some time ago. I will brush that one off and try it again, but discussions with the Health Visitor about the midnight screaming haven’t really helped. She believes it’s associated to Medium’s developing imagination and awareness of her dreams. I’ve bought books to read to her to help her understand this, but I don’t hold much hope. I don’t hold much hope of ever sleeping again. I’m averaging between three to four hours a night and I can feel my grasp on reality slipping a little. I made a cup of tea this morning, then swiftly threw it in the bin and put the teabag in the dishwasher. It’s amazing how your ability to function deteriorates along with your sleep.

Alongside employing sleep training techniques with a very stubborn Medium, I’ve started my journey back to health and fitness. I’ve joined Slimming World and the gym. Dieting with a side of sleep deprivation is hard. My body is crying out for chocolate, crisps and caffeine to get through the day but, as yet, I’m staying strong. It’s fine to fall asleep in yoga though, right?

A plethora of challenges