We started the day with such joy as we helped celebrate my eldest son’s birthday. He and his friends had a ball at the party and I celebrated how lucky we are to be surrounded by so many lovely parents and children.
Then the day moved on. The second half of the day was not joyful. Here’s what happened..
We got home from the party and my younger son, who had a little cough, suddenly began to breathe more and more irregularly. We were about to drive him to the hospital, when he began to struggle for breath even more. We made a quick decision to call an ambulance. He was in moderate respiratory distress.
Many thoughts went through my mind. “Surely it’s not that bad.” Next, I thought ‘OMG, what if he stops breathing!’ Then I realised that to be in my best state of mind for my little one, I needed to accept what was happening and deal with it.
I don’t like it, I don’t want it, but it is what it is. I kept saying this to myself for the 6 hours we were in Resuscitation A & E.
Fortunately, the doctors managed to stablilise his breathing with meds and oxygen. Meanwhile my little man was a trooper and barely complained the whole time. When his breathing stabilized and the lethargy lifted, he began to entertain the staff with questions. I knew he was on the mend.
We were then admitted to a ward. All was going well and my little trooper was fast asleep. He and I were exhausted. Remembering the advice of my midwife from all those years ago, I tried to sleep as he slept.
Each time I went to drift off I heard a piercing tone from a piece of machinery attached to my little boy which drilled into my ear. At this point I was thinking, ‘What is that noise, can’t they turn it off? It’s my second night of little sleep…’Why me? Why him? Why now?’ I could feel my shoulders and jaw tense with frustration. Noticing this, I began to feel more frustrated. So now I was feeling frustration about my frustration! I was moving on a downward spiral fast.
Then Dylan’s oxygen levels dropped. He was finding the mask very uncomfortable and so kept pulling it off. The nurses came in to tape a nasal cannula to his nose. He was woken up from his deep sleep and screamed at the top of his voice, “I don’t want this. I don’t like it. Get it off”. The nurses quickly did what they had to do and left asking me to lie on the bed with him to check the oxygen cannula remained in place.
He screamed and fought and screamed and hit and screamed some more whilst I held his hands from pulling out his oxygen supply.
I suddenly realized that this is why I am here. I turned to my little man and said, “My job is to protect you and keep you healthy and safe, and whilst you don’t like this (pointing to the cannula), it’s for you to feel better and it is staying in.”
He continued to fight and scream and hit for a few more minutes but I held my position calmly and firmly. He began to accept this to be true and to calm down. I then changed my tack and told him how brave he is and how brave he was when the nurses were putting the cannula in. He quickly drifted off to sleep whispering, “I don’t want it mamma…” I felt a few tugs at my heart but I knew I’d done the best thing.
As I write this he lays peacefully asleep, oxygen in place, doing its job. As I look at him now, I feel the full joy of having him in my life. My heart swells and tears well up in my eyes as I step back for a moment and recognise – THIS is the joy of being a mum. Being there in fun times, being there in times of distress and despair and times in between…This is my privilege as a mum. Knowing this and seeing him sleeping there in all his purity and innocence gives me immense pride and joy and now hopefully some sleep…!