Monday, 23 November 2009

To have a sick child...

Before I became a Mother I used to cry at programmes like Animal Hospital or Vets in Practice as I imagined my poor cat Chloe in some dire emergency that required me having to choose between her life and death. Back then, as I welcomed the black ball of fur into my bed and gazed into her beautiful green eyes, listening to her calming purr, any harm to Chloe was the absolute worst thing that could ever have happened. And even when my Mother warned me that once I had children poor Chloe the cat would be relegated from my affections, I found it hard to believe.

Unfortunately for Chloe, my Mother was right. Thirteen years on and Chloe still demands attention, but with every child produced she has gone one further down the pecking order.

These days I no longer cry at Vets in Practice. Understandably, it's always the children's sob stories that make me well up. That and Extreme Makeover, Home Edition, of course. Oh yeah, and I did go through rather a lot of tissues when I took the girls to see Disney's 'UP' in 3-D, although that could have been to do with the odd focus required for the 3-D glasses and nothing to do with the perfect marriage and love the old couple had. No nothing to do with that whatsoever. *Sob sob*.

Anyway, that is not the point of this post. The point of this post relates in part to the bit where I cry at children suffering hardship.

When you become a parent the need to protect your child is overwhelming. It hits you with such a force that you'd be forgiven for thinking that you were suffering from some middle ear infection and needed to spend a few days lying flat in bed. I first felt it when Renée was a day old and the paediatrician at the hospital had come to perform a heel-prick test. Never one to hold back her emotions, even as a newborn, baby Renée sobbed and shook until my heart was literally broken into a thousand tiny pieces. Or at least that's how it felt. And while I held her writhing little body, I remember looking at her hysterical face, purple with rage and discomfort and thinking that I would do anything to take her pain away. As corny as it sounds, at that very moment, I knew I would give my life for hers.

Fortunately it was just a heel-prick test and we both recovered from the trauma.

Six months later, she returned to spend a few nights in hospital. It was nothing major, as it turned out, just a small kidney infection, but it had involved her turning blue and convulsing, me on my own, calling NHS Direct who in turn called an ambulance and the two of us taking a trip to children's A&E in complete panic.

At the time, Brighton's Children's hospital was a decrepit old buidling held together by bits of string and lots of Blu Tack. The care for the children was good, but for the parents of the children, not so good. As I was still breastfeeding at the time I needed to stay near Renée at night. Unfortunately all they could offer us was a cot for Renée and a tatty old upright chair for me. For three nights I slept next to her cot on two chairs pushed together. I probably would have opted for the floor, but it didn't look all that clean.

It was a truly horrific time. My husband was away working and I was a new Mother, all on my own. As I held Renée's limp and bruised hand and tried to stop her from pulling out the tubes up her nose and the drip in her arm, I felt overwhelmed with the responsibilty of being a parent. A parent of an ill child. Not surprisingly, I cried. I cried quite a lot as it happens.

Luckily, Renée recovered. As did Edie a couple of years later when she spent New Year's Eve in the very same hospital at just six weeks old with Bronchiolitis.

My little ones have been lucky. Unfortunately, not every child is as lucky and when I received an e-mail from Emily at Brits in Bosnia asking for bloggers to post about the single that the X-Factor finalists have produced which is raising funds for Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, I wanted to help. Unless you've spent a night in hospital with a sick child you can't imagine how truly horrendous it is. And you also can't imagine just how much care is needed to provide round-the-clock assistance for every child.

If you click on this link then you'll be able to see a story about a very, very ill child who Great Ormond Street Hospital have helped save.

And if you click on this link then you'll be able to see the video that is hoping to raise funds for the hospital.

And finally, if you click on this link then you can help donate funds by purchasing the single itself.

And now all that's left for me to do is to go and hug my children and thank every power that be that they are happy and healthy.


  1. Now you have made me cry. We have brought the single and Top Ender donated some pocket money too.

  2. I spent quite a bit of time in the Children's Hosp in Brighton as a kiddy. I also raised funds for it when I was older doing a pub crawl - I obviously need to urgently get myself back down there!!

    Lovely post and witty as ever. xxx

  3. Lovely post and such a good cause too. Our friends' little girl has been battling a rare form of Leukaemia for the last 3 years and I can't even begin to imagine how horrific it's been for them.

    We should all be so grateful for our healthy children and try and support those who've been struck such a raw deal.

  4. there is nothing worse than the panic of a sick child. I had to stay overnight with jess when she had an asthma attack and she was all wheezy and her oxygen levels were poor. She had an oxygen mask on and i remember looking at her and i just wanted to cry.

    I felt so guilty that i couldn't do anything for her. Thankfuly tameside children's ward had a pull down bed and bedding which was very comfy but i hardly slept a wink due to worry. But they had an endless supply of tea which kept my spirits up and jess had endless toys to play with too xxxx

  5. My son is asthmatic and we've had some awful moments (loss of consciousness, etc) but nothing compared to what some of these poor children have to go through. A friend of mine has a daughter with a very rare condition and doctors are amazed she's survived this long. I don't know how they manage it but somehow they keep smiling through it all. A very worthy cause x

  6. Oh wow, I know.

    One night at one and a half years old, My Girl woke up in the early hours and couldn't stop vomiting. I cradled her, cleaned her and waited a while but it kept coming and she was pasty and lifeless. I rang NHS Direct.

    "Has she banged her head?"

    Yes, she had. At Mum and Dad's a few hours before and she really cried at the encounter with the side of the heavy dining room chair. "She's always knocking herself, it's nothing."

    But she HAD banged her head so we went to A&E

    The young doctor looked her over, did some tests and then, after about half an hour, she didn't react to anything at all, just laid there, no movements. The doctor ran out and cried to colleagues for help. They all rushed in and I felt like I was being filmed by another camera; everything went out of focus. I was detached from the scene and could do nothing. Within moments, she cried and came to. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    "We'll have to do a brain scan on your baby. See if she has bleeding on the brain."

    I called my mum. I went with My Girl for the scan as she hugged her Green Lion. The next 40 minutes/hours were the longest of my life. She is my baby, I can't loose her, I wouldn't be able to live without her. Selfish, maybe, but true.

    She was fine and is very healthy and happy and they never found out what caused the sickness and lifelessness.

    I refuse to let this experience make me wrap her in cotton wool but I never, ever, want to go through anything like that again.

    I am very lucky.

    Now I'm crying but that's healthy, isn't it? Thanks for this post x

  7. My toddler wasn't well and had two operations at four weeks and nine weeks old at the Brighton Children's hospital just after it opened and was brand spanking new. We were very lucky, the facilities were amazing.

  8. My son had asthma and we spent much time in hospital when he was young. We've bought the single, of course. It's a fantastic hospital.

  9. Oh my goodness, you poor thing! That must have been horribly frightening as a new mum, and to have to deal with it on your own... When ever I hear of kids having to go to hospitals I become a little more thankful for my two healthy children.

  10. It's a completely different feeling, isn't it, the love for a child? I still feel it now, and mine are 20 and 30... Wait until you have grandchildren.

  11. I remember that hospital in Brighton. Liam had to go there once. Not a barrel of laughs.

    GOSH is one of the best for kids. My friend's son had a brain tumour and if it wasnt for all the care, attention from the staff and donations from the public, that little kid wouldnt be here now. (He still goes for check ups now).

    GOSH is an amazing place.

    Love RMxx

  12. What a lovely and thought provoking post. I'm welling up with emotion.

  13. Lovely post - about to go and click on those links. I have my tissues to hand x

  14. It is hard having a sick child.
    I've just done a blog about a little boy we met in Dublin. He had heart surgery today and the next 48 hours are critical. He's only 3.

  15. Lovely post Emily. We are very familiar with hospitals too.

  16. What a beautifully written post (again) - makes me feel guilty for just blathering on about Simon Cowell and Peter Kay when I posted about this. Thanks Emily for showing us how it should be done! Much love. x

  17. A very moving post for a very good cause. My daughter spent a week in hospital when she was 4 months old. It was a horrendous time that I would never want to go through again, yet so many children and their families and living through that right now.

  18. Pippa - Oh you are good - and Top Ender too - what a honey - but then I already knew that!!

    Reasons - Oh how funny - that you did a pub crawl for them!! I can just see it now... But thankfuly it is no more seeing as it really was falling to bits. Apparently the new one is fab, though luckily I haven't set foot in it yet (touch wood).

    muummmeeee - Oh you're so right - how awful for your friends. Yes, I am so thankful for my two little ones. You just never know what's around the corner...

    Amy - Oh I remember when you went through that - you poor thing. And yes, it's just the feeling helpless as well and knowing that it's totally out of your control. Am so glad Jess is better...

  19. Liz - Oh I think having an asthmatic child can be very scary - I remember when Edie had bronchiolitis and she was finding it very hard to breathe - I was scared to bits. Poor you. And your poor friends too. Yes, having an ill child is so desperately worrying...

    Weston - Hi there - and thanks for popping by and leaving such an amazing comment. You poor, poor thing - how totally hideous for you. That scenario just sounds so scary - but I can totally understand. Yes, sometimes I do wonder what I'd do if anythign happened to my children - would I be able to live with the grief, etc. Hopefully none of us will ever be put to the test. Thanks for sharing. And yes, it is healthy to cry x

    Chic Mama - Gosh you poor thing - and that must have been fairly recently because the hospital hasn't been open that long. I'm glad the operations were successful and I hope he's doing well now. Lots of love to you x

    Diney - Ooh well done you for buying the single. And yes, it is a great hospital. Asthma is very scary in children - you poor thing x

  20. Lady Mama - Yes it was awful and scary and all of those things, and I was beside myself with fear at the time, but when I hear about other people's experiences which are often far, far worse, I feel thankful.

    Maddie - Oh I know - my parents are in love with their grandchildren - definitely something to look forward to! And love for one's own children - it blew me away.

    RM - Ooh a brain tumour in a child - how hideous. Your poor friend. And yes, I'm glad Brighton children's hospital has closed down - I spent rather a lot of time there and don't miss it one bit!

    mama - Well tahnk you for your lovely comment x

    bakingmadmama - Sorry honey! But then it's never a bad thing to have a good old cry!

  21. magnumlady - Oh crikey - how awful. I hope he pulls through. Just three - that makes me so sad. Fingers crossed for him x

    Modern Mother - Oh it's never a good thing is it - but I guess the more children you have the more familiar with hospitals you are. One way to combat all the worry - never have children!! But no one warned me in time!

    Linda - Oh bless you sweet pea. There are infinite ways of answering most things I think - I must have been in an emotional mood. And guess what? I'm over-exhausted today and wasn't planning on answering these comments until I had more energy, but then I just read your post about commenting and I felt I had to!!! Having said that, I do always answer comments, it just seems to be taking me longer and longer these days...! Anyway, thansk for the lovely comment. Always appreciated lady xx

    rosie - I know - it's unbelievable to think that so many people are going through it. I remember when Renée was in hospital and I was by her side 24 hours a day I noticed that a lot of other children often didn't have anyone there for them - that was so sad - but then it ocurred to me that these mothers have other children to take care of - it was a weird thought - I couldn't imagine not being there for my child...