A baby crying like an injured kitten. Slumdog Millionaire on the moveable TV above my head. A plastic cup of prosecco on the table next to my bed, my beautiful little boy lying asleep next to me in his fish tank. He is smiling again but with little holes in his hands and feet, a bandage and splint on one foot with his cannula in, streaming intravenous anti-biotics into his veins every 6 hours. My poor darling baby.
It’s been the strangest New Year ever but also the most amazing … full of strength, love and hope.
It started with a chest rash on Christmas Day, my little boy aged just 10 weeks started becoming more upset, hot and bothered. A few days later, a few more symptoms prompted the obligatory Google and there was enough matching the dreaded M-word to warrant a call to the doctors … Being in the middle of nowhere in Cornwall on a beach, at 8pm in that in-between-Christmas-and-new-year-limbo period, it wasn’t the easiest emergency to deal with.
A few questions from 111 and I went from laid-back Mum to terrified Mother-in-hell. An ethereal primal instinct took over. On advice, we raced to the nearest open surgery, 45 mins away in Newquay and made it “by the skin of our teeth” (in the receptionist’s words) at five to nine at night. With a temperature of over 38 degrees, the ancient GP wasn’t taking any chances and once again we took to the dark back streets of Cornwall. Debs in the driving seat of her Mum’s Fiat 500, me with a screaming Daniel in the back, tears streaming down both our faces, Hilary in the front, fiercely noting down directions before her smart phone died as there was no sat nav and all of our mobile phones were either out or nearly running out of battery … The back routes were literally that and just as it felt as if we were about to launch into the sea or fly without trace off a cliff, civilsation a fond memory … a ghost hospital loomed out of the horizon towards us and … yes… it was it. We had arrived … via the back entrance. A fairytale castle in Sir Arthur’s county.
My poor baby. A high temperature under 12 weeks is a no-no and the doctors took it seriously. We couldn’t have been in better hands, although at one point, when Daniel was being given a lumber puncture, me kept away in another room, I just could not bear it. I felt the vast chasm of what it might feel to lose him. Unthinkable. And when he came back into my arms, tears running down my cheeks, holding him so tight I recited words from a story I had been reading him since he was in my womb …
If you’re still my small babe
Or you’re all the way grown
My promise to you
Is you’re never alone
You are my angel, my darling, my star.
And my love will find you
Wherever you are.*
Daniel was fine. Everything came back clear. He fought the illness on his own, bless him … a viral infection, caught by droplets in the air and difficult to avoid at this time of year.
There are some people that stood out during this time of turmoil … My dearest childhood friends, Debs and Hilary, so solid, strong and comforting in the face of my primal panic and fear that only a mother will know and truly understand. My Mum, the awesome Mother Ship who in the irony of moving up from Devon to Bristol to be nearer us, having just arrived home from Christmas, promptly turned around and drove all the way back down to Cornwall without a moment’s hesitation. And last but certainly not least, the nurses, carers and doctors at Trelisk Hospital. All completely amazing and I owe them everything.
A couple of days ago I didn’t know what positive to take from this … the thought of losing my precious little boy was just too much to bear … but as well as the anti-bodies and strength he will have gained, we have really bonded over this ordeal … I feel we’ve become even closer to go through something like this together … but DO NOT want to experience anything like this again! My heart goes out to the other little babies and families here. Thank God it wasn’t serious for us. Happy New Year everyone. Xx
*’Wherever you are, my love will find you’ by Nancy Tillman