I’d never really pictured my child having to come and visit me in hospital. I suppose if I had I would have imagined her coming in with her Dad to meet a brother or sister, me smiling with a bundle in my arms, and us all embracing for a family cuddle, an indulgent smile on our faces.
What I didn’t picture was her coming in to see her Mumma a day after she has been hospitalised due to a throat infection. I mean seriously, it feels ridiculous. A throat infection?!
Yet, here we are.
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Hospitals are scary places. I’m fortunate enough to have a private room, so that’s something. But still, it’s at the end of a long corridor of people in hospital gowns, with bandages over them, or lying down in agony, unable to resist looking at the blonde-haired little three-year-old doll bouncing down the hall to see her Mumma. More likely than not making her feel a little nervous.
She arrives and gives me a big smile, but stays at Daddy’s side, and buries her head into her shoulder. She’s nervous. And she’s worried. Our little sensitive girl normally gets very withdrawn if I’m just laid up with a cold for a day so this is pretty big in her little world.
It’s my birthday, so she has come clutching a homemade card. A paper flower stuck to the front. It’s the best thing in the whole world.
Still, it’s probably a good 20 minutes before she points out the unicorn on the card that she drew me.
Then, I show her the bed. Is there anything more amazing than a bed that can go up and down? She laughs. I’ve cracked her! She’s back.
The questions begin (and I inwardly curse myself for being incapable of making things up over the truth – I blame the fact that my Dad told me so many half-truths that I spent most of my childhood looking like an idiot as I quoted the man of many facts):
– “Mummy, what’s that?”
– “That’s for them to put my needles in to make me better”
– “Excuse me Mummy, why is there red there?”
– “That’s blood. It doesn’t hurt, it’s just from the needles.” She squirms and looks at my hospital bracelet.
– “Why do you have two bracelets?”
– “So the hospital knows who I am.”
– “Mummy, I love you,” she says, and nuzzles into me. Concern on her little face.
For the next hour or so hubby and I try to distract her. Visits to the cafe, more TV than she is ever allowed at home (so I can cuddle her without her busily doing something else).
But she’s uncertain. She’s scared of the needle in my arm (and my need to protect it as she bounds into me).
This isn’t meeting a baby. This is coming to visit a sick person. A sick person who she wants to be home. Who wants to be home with her if I’m perfectly honest.
Leaving is not easy.
“Are you coming with us Mummy?” her big blue eyes implore. Breaks your heart.
And then silence. I miss her little body being up against mine, the sweaty, sweet smell of her.
When asked what the best part of hospital was she said, “cake and telly” so that’s something.
And today, day four, I get to see her again. And my man.
But it sucks. It sucks for her. It sucks for me. It sucks for my husband who has found sanctuary in work, being the only break from full-time parent.
This piece was meant to be about tips to make it easier, but honestly, you can have all the cake, telly and moving beds in the world, having a parent in hospital isn’t (we hope) a state of normal for most children, so I think it’s just about making them feel as secure as possible at what feels like a very uncertain time. And FaceTime. FaceTime is amazing. Then they don’t have to be in a hospital room to talk to you.
Next: To my three-year-old on her birthday