Well once again I find myself sat on a camp bed in a busy children’s ward with my little dude. This now totals his 4th hospital visit, I’m starting to get a complex that he may actually prefer it here. We were referred by our GP as the little man was having breathing and feeding troubles and generally looked pretty darn poorly. I could almost hear the theme tune to Cheers playing as I walked onto the ward….where everybody knows your name…. And they did. They took one look at us and said ‘Tobias is back let’s have a look at him’ within seconds of looking at him he was admitted, put straight on oxygen and had an NG to get some food down him. He has been diagnosed with bronchiolitus, a very common and usually mild illness in the under ones but unfortunately some do need hospitalisation. Toby being a tiny 9lb (despite being 5months) preterm and contending with several other medical ailments sadly puts him in the vulnerable category and the common illness just proved too much for him on this occasion. So here I sit facing a third night on the children’s ward – a night I might add I was meant to be going on my pre paid Christmas mums night out, not that I am bitter.
Anywho the children’s ward is a pretty rough ride at the best of times but winter is a whole new kettle of fish. Every baby on the ward has bronchiolitus, every baby is coughing, crying, on oxygen, requiring suction, needing lots of care and attention from mums and medical staff 24 long hours a day. Fortunately they are all in the best place and receiving the care they need. Mums on the other hand, not so much. The 6 of us are sat here looking pretty pissed off, as a general rule we look and feel like shit (sorry mums). I know we’re not allowed to moan about the shit we do when our kids are poorly (it’s part of the job description after all) and it really sucks to be the poorly baby but, well, it sucks to be the parent too and here’s why:
1. We’re bloody knackered. Sleeping (lying awake) in the same room as one poorly baby is rough enough, but six! Six lots of coughing, six lots of crying, six lots of machines beeping and six different feed times is a killer. It’s a cold day in hell when all 6 babies are asleep at the same time so it’s an even colder day that mum sleeps for any meaningful period of time. Top tip if the staff offer to do a night feed for you – bloody let them! If they are doing your babies observations you do not need to be awake – they will tell you if something isn’t right, I know this might seem harsh at first but as a frequent flyer in the children’s ward I’ve made my peace with it. I have also taken to wearing a hooded jacket in the night over my head to darken the room, chances are the lights will be on, all night.
2. Most of us have other children at home and we are juggling childcare, the school run and navigating dad through the nighttime routine and where to find the clothes over the phone. It’s a nightmare. We miss our other children and I find it particularly hard because my other one is too little to explain the situation to. Mum just isn’t there. Top tip FaceTime it’s bloody brilliant, if nothing else you get to see your other children and they get to see you! Every little helps and all that.
3. The bordem. A lot of the time you’re children will be sleeping, which really is the best thing for them. Or if like me your child is a baby and communication just isn’t their thing yet the day’s staring at cots and fishes on the wall can be quite dull. Top tip I have brought my iPad with me and connected it to my personal hotspot on my phone and now have the Internet at my disposal! Blogging , Christmas shopping, Facebook stalking, the possibilities are endless, I could even catch up on the latest episode of The Affair. Alternatively you can pay for wifi, or, I also have a stash of good old magazines with me!
4. The food, hospital food is pretty atrocious not to mention extortionate. I imagine inmates at her majesty’s pleasure dine better than those of us frequenting the hospital cantine. Now I like to eat so I will generally stomach most things if means I’m fed but even I’ve struggled with the cuisine at times and there’s only so many packet sandwiches one can eat. Top tip most children’s wards have a parents room which usually comes equipped with a microwave, get the OH to bring in a microwave ready meal for you or if they are that way inclined to plate up a portion of whatever they’ve had for dinner. I know it’s not exactly fine dining but it is a marked improvement – trust me.
5. Spare a thought for dad. Whilst we’re all sat here worrying about our little ones and climbing the walls with match sticks in our eyes, the OH has been chucked in at the deep end and is juggling work, the home and the other children. It’s not plain sailing there either. Top tip although you might feel a little resentful at living in the hospital try to remember no one has an easy ride, appreciate each other and try and work together to get through the little blip and before you know it you can go back to moaning about what the other does or doesn’t do!
So if you do happen to find yourself at casa de NHS this winter, first and foremost I really do hope your little one is ok, makes a quick recovery and doesn’t need to be there for too long! It is after all truly horrible for them and for us to see them so poorly. But also for you, look after yourself as the children’s ward can be brutal for parents at times and our needs naturally take a back seat. There are lots of people looking after your most precious asset so make sure you give yourself (and the OH) some tlc too.