Lets go be brave, mama!” That’s what Parker-Grace said as she took my hand to walk to the hospital this past Tuesday,right after my quick pep talk to her in the car. Or more accurately, she said, “let’s go be BLAVE,mama“.
This was not the post that I had planned for next. (Oh, Life, how you love to play out your irony in all parts of my life – even this blog. ) The post I had scheduled was a happy one with exciting news to share, but there was a little niggly feeling inside of me that said not to click “schedule” just yet. And as usual my gut feels didn’t disappoint – although, I really wish it did this time.
In a nutshell, our home was a bit of a hot-mess this past week with all the viruses coming out the wood work. And with it, all our joyous travel plans getting flushed nicely down the proverbial loo. Or at least, shoved to the back like the unwanted red-head step-child.(or some other ridiculous comparison like that – ’cause, excuse my lack of sharp wit here, but I’ve spent the week on a lazyboy in hospital, needless to say my brain is near flatlining. The wit department was the first to close up shop.)
Monday evening I came home to my little Pax wanting to climb up on and bury herself in every nook of body, from the moment I set foot in the house. She was only slightly warm, but I know that when she does this clamber, it’s only a matter of minutes before her temperature shoots up. So I got the meds ready, gave Morgy a sandwich and quick craft to busy herself with next to me, then nestled in on the couch with Parky on my chest and prepared myself for the possible wild ride ahead. Fast forward 15 minutes later, she was flushed in the face and shaking cold with fever. And so that ride began.
A restless night led into a rushed morning to get her to the doc – vivid memories of my nine months old Parker being admitted to the hospital for pneumonia have never left me. They haunt me in fact, and keep me questioning every runny nose she gets and every slight cough I hear in the dead of night. Although to be honest, I was really hoping to not get the same diagnosis this time. She was hardly coughing, but as I watched the doc listen for longer than usual on the same spot on her chest over and over again this recent morning, I had my stomach in knots already. Doc confirmed my stomach’s gymnastics with his diagnosis that felt pretty much like a swift kick to my proverbial nads: The beginnings of pneumonia, with tonsils the size of a house, and an ear infection just to round it all off.
While the doc, hemmed and haa’ed over how conservative we should be with treatment, I mentioned our travel plans, which immediately up’ed the ante to immediate hospitalization. Which I whole heartedly agreed with – not because I’m a sucker for punishment, but because I wanted her to be absolutely healthy and able to enjoy all the experiences of our pending vacation. But it still didn’t take away, the sinking feeling of my baby being that sick.
I barely looked at the doctor as he spoke to me about it all – I just stared at her, happily playing in the toy box. I leaned over to her and explained, “ok, honey, you and I are going to have to go to the hospital today, yes?”. She stopped playing, and looked over her shoulder to me, and said under her breath, “but I don’t want to go to hoss-pee-turl”. I explained again, and she hesitantly nodded in agreement.
This was really not how I had planned for the week to go. Far cry from it, in fact. But as Parker and I pulled up in the hospital parking lot, I breathed those thoughts out, inhaled the present situation and decided she and I would do much better if we got our heads into the game. So I turned to her and gave her a break down of what’s going to happen and that I knew she could do it because she’s always so brave. That’s when she both melted my heart and fortified my strength with her simple yet inspirational statement: “Let’s go be brave, mama”.
How’s that for the wisdom of a two year old?!
And boy, did she ever live up to her word. There was nothing that broke her steely grip on life in there. Not to say she wasn’t scared or nervous. In fact her tell-tale sign for when she’s feeling scared, is when she…wait for it…when she roars at you! Kid you not. A proper full on roar. That’s usually her first reaction, the next is a solid left hook to your face if you don’t back up, after her roar – true story. Her first reaction is never to cry or call for help, but to defend herself solidly. And there’s something in that, that speaks so well to her character. Sometimes a little hard for Mike and me to handle, but definitely something good in there, that we need to be sure to steer in the right direction.
So drawing of blood? Insertion of the IV drip? Apparently, ain’t no thang for sister over here. After she roared a few times at the nurses, and before the left hook came, I ,instead, prompted her to tell them of how brave she was. She then regaled them with these legendary stories of how she wrestles crocodiles. (Don’t ask).The nurses were floored as to how still she sat through everything, and how she could still laugh and giggle with them about her crocodile stories, while have a needle threaded through her skin for several vials of blood taken for tests and an IV stuck up. She even thanked them afterwards for putting in the drip with a smile. Damn – even I was floored.
She calls it her dragon.
At night? Slept through the whole thing, just like when she was a baba. I put it down to the awesome nurses of back then when she was a baba, who firstly allowed me to give it to her the first time, so that she could learn to trust the process. There was also the lovely night shift nurses of back then, who sang her back to sleep while they gave her nebz. They made it the least traumatic experience for her, and it seemed to have paid off.
Then there was the physio. Can you believe it? It was the very same physio that treated her two years ago, and she still remembers him – and liked him- just as she did two years ago! In fact, when he came around, it was the first time for our entire time in hospital that she let go of my hand. He popped his head in, called her over, and she tossed my hand just like that, to follow him. As a baby, Parker-Grace fell asleep while he did the physio on her. Now as a 2 year old, she did it once more with a smile, and couldn’t wait for him to crack another joke or tickle her. He really has a wonderful and gentle way with the children, as every kid there seemed to have a soft spot for him. If your child ever gets him as a physio, know that they are in great hands.
At one point though, he was dreading the suction part of physio. (They stick a tube up the nose to get the loosened gross stuff out.) I was surprised by his apprehension, and asked if he was sure that SHE would have a problem. He just flashed me a look of incredulousness, and explained that two year olds were particularly difficult at this. I said, we’ll take it as it comes, and turned to Parker to explain what he was about to do. She nodded, and did the suction no problem, almost not even a flinch out of her. (The size of this girls balls, honestly?) The physio therapist was gob-smacked, and explained that he had never come across that in a child before, and asked how did I manage to get her to do that – as if I actually had anything to do with it.
The thing is, it’s nothing to do with me or Mike – it’s all Parker-Grace. That’s her nature – to be brave. To weather the storms – which actually fits in all very neatly with my Mama Bamba session I had with her. Pretty much to a T, in fact. And as life goes on with her, that session makes more and more sense.
Ps. Slightly off tangent here: Have you ever tried a Mama Bamba meditiation with your unborn child? If not, good God, friend, go now! It is something I would encourage all mamas to try. So, if you’re pregnant now, I urge you to explore the connection you have with your unborn child in the deepest spiritual and yet most natural way. Mama Bamba is an excellent guide for just that. You will not be sorry you did- I promise.
Back on tangent: My friend recently asked, me, “but how am I coping”, given with all that we’re dealing with – and there’s a lot. A lot I don’t blog about it…and I could honestly say, that it was a bit of a surprise to me that I was dealing so well. I literally felt the calm in me, as the storm raged around us. I felt very present, patient and just took everything as it came, one step at a time.
But on closer inspection, I think it’s Parker who, as small as she is, managed to inspire me. She kept my big girl panties firmly in place. Every time I even thought of wanting to chuck my hands up in the sky in frustration and exhaustion, I’d look at her, just dealing. She was the one who’s lungs had the horrible infection, the ear that was throbbing in pain, the tonsils that swelled with pain, nearly closing up her whole throat. She was the one who couldn’t get much sleep, as the nurses did their necessary rounds and check-ups. And yet, there she was, acting like the cute little goofball that she is. Still the one making jokes. The one smiling back me every time I caught myself staring at her in worry – and then pulled a funny face to crack a laugh from me. She was the one dancing in her hospital crib (“I shake my boom-boom” and “Look, I ballet!), entertaining the nurses. Or patiently read her book or drew while her antibiotics flowed into her through the drip.
Nonetheless, it is honestly the worst feeling in the world – ask any parent- when your kids are ill. Multiply that horrid feeling by a bajillion, if it lands them up in hospital. The universal feeling of helplessness, anyone who has been there, knows – because honestly, you’ve probably tried damn near every trick up your sleeve to keep them from landing up in here. And yet here you are, in the stark light of the hospital ward, pouring over your child.
But I have found that when my child is ill, it is the one of the times that I am absolutely focussed and present, and my patience is at levels I wish they could always be at, as a mother. I am attuned to my child’s body, and her needs. Mostly, because there is no other way – and my child needs me to be at my best. I know I am the one they will seek out, and that they need me. When they’re feeling insecure or scared or when their little bodies writhe in pain and fever and they don’t know what’s going on, I know I am the one they will seek out, and the one that can offer the comfort they beg for. And I know that, with Parker-Grace, it is my presence that gives her the security and space for her bravery to come to the fore.
So even at the times when Mike gladly offers to take the night shift in hospital and knowing that he is absolutely capable, I will always refuse, because when she rouses in the middle of the night, I know it’s me that she’ll need. And I’ll know exactly what it is that she’ll need. And similarly, when Mike pitches up early to take over the day shift to give me some much needed rest, I refuse to leave her side until she wakes, so that she knows mama never left her side- just as I promised her before she fell asleep. A fact that I want her to learn that she can rest assured on for the rest of my life.
Although, even though I want to be there for her for everything, I know I am human and need to recoup, and have to do that stupid but very necessary thing, called sleep.
It can sometimes get a bit much, though right? Trying to, not only keep all the balls in the air –even it if it’s just that one, that very necessary one- but also the necessary background work to ensure you’re enabled to keep that ball in the air. Like somehow squeezing sleep into it. Or the demanding job. Or tend to your special needs child. Or your precious premature baby. Or insert your current challenge here…It takes much. And it can be daunting. But, you know what mama? You can do it. Be brave! And know that you can do it.
That is that is a life lesson reinforced to me by my two year old daughter this past week. One that is forever etched into my mind. And the casual way in which she lives out those words without hesitation, remains forever inspirational to me.
We’re now home, after a few more dramatic bumps along the way since Friday, including Hand Foot and Mouth disease that reared it’s ugly head on Wednesday, and another infection. But we’re home, and our little beasty is well on the way to perfect health again.
Also, to any momma who is currently facing their child being hospitalized for a pneumonia or the like, know that whilst it is heart breaking, and soul smashing to know that your child is that sick, take great solace in the fact that, right there in the care of those dedicated nurses, is the BEST place your child can be. Your child will get round the clock attention, cared for by trained professionals, receiving the most appropriate treatment and where all your questions can immediately be addressed. It’s a peace of mind that you will crave and the care that your child absolutely needs.
Yes, it’ll still suck to be in the situation, but it’s the best route towards your child’s health. Also, gratuitous tip on mastering those Lazyboys for sleep? Take two pillows with you, one for your lower back and one for your neck. You’ll thank me if you do.
So, whatever challenges you are facing this week, mama, strap on your ass-kicking boots, and pull up your big girl bridges …and let’s do it…Let’s go be brave!! X