In September, two weeks into the new term, Sam had a cold. Nothing spectacular, just a bit chesty. ‘Probably just needs to cough’ we said as we popped our little darling onto the taxi and waved him off.
I swear, those words will be etched onto my tombstone. Just before home-time school called for us to pick him up, his breathing was noisy and he wasn’t happy.
We didn’t make it to school; the next call, minutes later, had us heading to the hospital to meet him there.
Cursing ‘he just needs to cough’, we arrived at resus and froze.
Sam surrounded by medics, monitors screaming, oxygen horribly low. My baby couldn’t even cry, he was working so hard just to breathe. Maternal autopilot kicked in, as I comforted him while the Dr’s worked.
Suddenly he took a huge breath in and screamed the place down, the Dr looked a little surprised as I said “Oh thank God for that!”. A child making that much noise is a child who is breathing properly again.
Two nights on HDU followed before he was well enough to come home. And I was fine.
Until we took him a few days later to Smyths as a reward for bravery. I was fine, right up until I saw the scooters and bikes.
And then the room got very hot and suffocating, and I couldn’t see properly.
Like some sort of fragile sculpture, my calm, together exterior crumbled away at the sight of those bikes, toys my boy will never be able to play with.
And the horror of the past 5 days hit me like a tsunami. You see, when your child is that ill we retreat into defence mode – becoming hysterical in resus doesn’t help anyone least of all the child, so we hold it together.
SN parents have more than a little experience of seeing our children fighting for their lives, or dealing with painful and distressing procedures.
We’re not immune or numb to the events surrounding us; we hold those emotions back because at that moment the Dr’s need us to be calm and to keep out of their way, so that they can do their jobs and help our children.
But there are side effects to having to hold those powerful emotions at bay, and sometimes crumbling in a toy store is one of the inconvenient ways those emotions find a way to escape.