Becoming a parent for the first time was overwhelming, a heady mix of feeling madly in love and being completely unqualified for this new job. My biggest fear as I cradled my first born back in the summer of 2014 was how I’d be able to tell if he got ill? “You just will, he’ll let you know” a friend said. I was lucky in that my fears were unfounded and my son has never really got ill so far apart from the odd sniffle and one short lived tummy bug.
So when my baby girl arrived in May 2016, I felt waaaay more relaxed about the baby bit. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy 2nd time round. What had I worried about so much the first time?
And then she got ill. But she didn’t “let me know”, as in she didn’t cry, which has been my basic approach to parenting this far (if they’re not crying, they’re ok!) she didn’t do anything really, just went very pale and still, stopped feeding and the little bits of milk she did drink came straight back up. I was supposed to be taking my 2 year old to a playgroup that morning as I felt so guilty about not giving him as much attention as he’d been used to and I could have SO easily ‘given it another 24 hours’….but I trotted off to the docs, fully expecting to be sent back home feeling like a neurotic mummy. But I wasn’t. We got sent to the hospital. Where she underwent several blood tests, a chest x-Ray, a lumbar puncture and was finally diagnosed with Bacterial Meningitis. Sorry, what? She didn’t even have a temperature!
Ironically, a really close friend of mine went through the same thing in 2014 when her baby was 7 weeks old, so I should really have been much more aware of it but I just didn’t think it would be something that would ever actually happen to us! So wrong! I didn’t even realise paleness was a symptom! Did you?
Now I KNOW there are people who deal with much, much worse, and I have the utmost respect for those people, but this was MY baby and it felt like my world had just stopped turning. Look at her…so helpless and so tiny.
Thankfully, we caught it really early and the antibiotics helped her to show quick signs of recovery. I won’t bore you with the details but 3 weeks in hospital was tough going. Sleep deprivation, crap food, hospital noise, the worry, and of course, the GUILT over the fact I was there with my baby and not at home with my 2 year old.
I was a broken woman. As demonstrated in the below pic, which was supposed to be a fun selfie of our first ambulance ride together (a week into treatment, going to a bigger hospital to get her long line inserted- don’t worry, I was not pratting about taking selfies when we took her in!) I also gained a whole stone through comfort eating. Most people lose weight when stressed, I am not one of them!
Anyway, she was the absolute priority and after 2 weeks of successful treatment, we could go back to the comfort of our own home. Yay. She passed her hearing test 6 weeks on. She’ll have another at 8 months, but I know she can hear just fine. She’s doing amazing, growing well and such a happy little sausage. Here she is at 4 months. I am so bloody lucky!
Except sometimes it still hits me like a ton of bricks right into the pit of my stomach. “My baby could have DIED.” She didn’t come close as it happens, but what if I hadn’t noticed, what if I’d left it 24/48 more hours. Doesn’t bear thinking about. It’s completely irrational thinking, hard to explain and doesn’t make sense because shes completely ok now, and so am I for the most part, but it still catches me off guard occasionally.
She’s completely none the wiser of course, she won’t remember the lumbar puncture, the General anaesthetic, the operation, the blood tests, the x-ray. But I’ll never forgot how it felt handing my 6 week old baby over to that anaesthetist and being told to go wait elsewhere for 2 hours.
Absolutely. Bloody. Petrifying.
People congratulated me on my parenting instinct and for spotting it early. But I didn’t. I knew there was something wrong but I never in a million years expected it to be THAT. I may seem a little baby obsessed and I might share a few too many photos online, but I’m just so proud of her. She’s been through so much. Same goes for my son, things like this just puts stuff into perspective & you don’t need me to tell you life is precious and short!
Has it changed me? I’m probably a bit more anxious now and quicker to seek medical advice, even the flipping dog gets rushed to the vet more often! I love my little family with a ferocity, although I’m sure I would have regardless and I’m sure I’m no different to any other mum. One thing I am sure of though is that I’m much more bothered about living each day as fully and positively as I can as nothing in the world is more important to me than being the best mummy and wife I can and creating lots of happy memories with this lot.xx