So after what feels like a never ending period of depression, the clouds dissipate and the sun comes out. Feeling ok is truly a novelty. I don't cry at the drop of a hat. The children are gorgeous and even when they do tag-team tantrum, or take it in turns to whinge, I rise above it. I don't have to endure it like torture and hide for 5 minutes in the toilet. I don't have that self obsessed fear that its all going to end in doom. I tentatively hope for a full recovery.
Its during this period of time I decide to diet for the first time in my life. My spirit cannot soar with pilsbury dough boy thighs and bingo wings. I do an online diet that sees me eating 1500 calories a day, with only a few goodies allowed and one pudding a week. Fruit, veg and soft toilet paper are my new hobby. The first two weeks I feel hungry all the time and get a headache.After a month I can fit in my size 12 combat trousers and I feel reborn. It becomes a bit easier as I get used to eating less. By November I'm pretty much a smug size ten. I feel well and confident again. I feel ready to go back to work and it all seems to be falling into place. I feel pathetically grateful to whatever force is keeping me happy.
My maternity is coming to and end and I decide that for the new year, I shall return to work. I'll do it part time, and this time I'm not going back pregnant. The reason I won't be, is that I have had a copper coil fitted under a general anesthetic. AS with birth where nothing gets out, apparently now, nothing gets in either. They tried to force it but everyone gave up.
So the second week of January my working life will begin again. I can now plan for Christmas and build myself up gently. Half way through December my youngest son gets a virus called Bronchiolitis. People with young children dread the months of December to February as they bring a myriad of nasty bugs that you have to fend off. Coughs, colds, ear infections, sickness bugs, croup, tonsilitis, chicken pox...the list goes on. We take him to the GP surgery where we are told that he should be seen at the hospital as his breathing is not good. I spend a night at the hospital with him and they send us home with the not so comforting, "He'll either plateau now and get better, or, he'll get worse. Time will tell." This fills me with fear as he is so small. We've got steroids to give him too. I feel very reluctant to leave hospital but understand why we aren't staying any longer.
Fast forward 12 hours. My husband is on a night shift, my eldest son is in bed and I've managed to get my youngest off to sleep. At 9pm he wakes up and he is so hot I can hardly touch him and he is struggling to breathe. I feel my stomach fall through the floor and I instinctively know that something is terribly wrong. I call NHS direct and through my tears explain the last 24 hours. She takes me through the questions to which I reply, yes his chest IS sucking in, he has got blue lips and yes, I think he is really ill. She tells me to stay where I am and says a paramedic will be with me in 2 minutes, to be followed by a blue light ambulance. I think he's dying and I am consumed with terror. Men in green and yellow ambulance livery pile into the house.I'm told to get my husband home as soon as possible. I ring him through the chaos as my son is given oxygen, and blood is taken from his finger. He's in a bad way and we have to stabilize him quickly and get him to hospital. My next door neighbour appears and tells me she'll stay at home with my eldest son and wait for my husband.Thankfully we've become friends following the insulted cat incident.
My husband arrives as we're getting into the ambulance. Wires and machinery are all over the place and my son is not really responding. We set off and the lovely ambulance man is calm, gentle but informative. He tells me we're going to a special room called the resuscitation unit and bypassing A+E. Half way through the journey, my son stops responding and the blue light starts screaming and I'm praying that God will not take my son. I feel like screaming and wailing but I can't. We arrive and he's rushed into a small area with so much equipment that I am horrified. He's given lots of medication and he looks tiny in amongst the technical area. I am rambling and suddenly get quite excitable. I think this is known as hysteria. After about an hour his temperature comes down, his oxygen levels improve, and his breathing is calmer. He will be ok. We get taken to a side room on the childrens ward and he gets a lovely little cot with a doughnut ringed pillow to snuggle in. He must be exhausted. He's still attached to the oxygen and will get regular pain relief and steroids. He also has to use a nebuliser. They can't tell me how long he'll be in hospital. Whilst he sleeps, I completely break down and sob uncontrollably. After I calm down I manage to ring my husband who is also petrified. He'll look after our eldest son, take him to nursery in the morning and then come to the hospital. There is a bed in the room so I am able to sleep for a few hours.When we both wake up I attempt to feed him a bottle of milk, but his cough is so bad, everything that goes in come straight back up. He's becoming dehydrated so they ask me to assist whilst they put a tube through his nose down into his stomach. He struggles and gags and I cannot believe that it is happening. Its a total nightmare.
If I reflect on this time, some of my behaviour was not what I'd expect of a traumatised parent. I mean this in the context of mania. My hysteria in the resuscitation area, my agitation and aggression with nurses, and also going to get a hair cut. A few weeks previous to this catastrophe, my hair had started falling out on the hair line on my forehead. Now, in the hospital its clearly about an inch. When my husband comes he tells me to go for a walk and take a break. Our son is responding now and he wants me to take a few hours out. Your life is temporarily suspended when you're in hospital for a few days.Its like being in a vacuum. Anyway, as I'm wandering about I decide to get my hair cut off. I ask the stylist to chop most of it off at the back and to give me a blunt fringe to hide the receding hair line. When I return to the hospital the nurses look at me with bemused expressions. Its out of character for a traumatised mother to go for a beauty makeover whilst her son is seriously ill in hospital. I also know this but everything has got a bit skewed. Yet again this is a period of severe stress and lack of sleep.
My gorgeous boy returns home after 6 days in hospital. He's been sent home with soluble steroids, an inhaler and instructions to keep a close eye on him. He will need to come back to the childrens consultant over the next year for regular check ups, and we are informed that he will struggle for up to a year if he gets coughs and colds. Quite frankly, we are overjoyed that he's made it through and we'll do everything we can to make sure he's ok.
I feel a little knocked sideways but rally over Christmas. The week before I return to work my grandad dies which means my first request on my return to work is to take a day off. Sometimes I wonder if I was a child murderer or a genocidal maniac in a previous life. The universe has a dreadful sense of humour and timing. Life does not wait for you to catch your breathe and regroup. It throws custard pies in your face as you run along the greasy path of day to day futility. Please let something nice happen.