So this is a hard time of year my baby boy 2 years ago was admitted to hospital because his oxygen sats dropped too low. I’m spilt in 2 because there’s the logical side of me that sees the immense progress he’s made since. A year ago he wasn’t walking or even crawling yet now he’s confident on his feet after learning to walk in July. Then there’s not so logical side of me that remembers every single part of every single day 2 years ago. It’s the loneliest i have ever felt in my entire life. It’s the most terrified I’ve ever been aswell, you hand your baby boy to strangers and you have to entrust them with his life. Longest 5 hours waiting for news in my life.
I know he lived, I know he’s a healthy little boy etc etc I know all this. That doesn’t detach that it was still the hardest time I’ve been through. It’s not something you ever forget and its boy something you can get over in 2 years. It was a traumatic event and anyone who’s been through any trauma knows you don’t just get over it. Of course in years to come it will get easier and the awful memories and feelings of loneliness with fade. I don’t feel completely down I just remember how hard it was.
I find it hard to explain to people who haven’t been through it. Sometimes it’s like banging my head again the brick wall it’s pointless and it hurts. I don’t feel as bad as I did a year ago or even beginning of this year. I’m not going to let myself go down that far. I have a few days like this week where I’ve mostly felt crap with good reason. I might feel anxious and emotional this week because it’s a big week for my baby. Thursday his taster session at nursery and Friday is his heart day. The day he had 5 hours of life saving surgery to repair his heart.
I will celebrate his day and I will as always remain proud of him but I’m also allowing myself to feel however I want to feel. I’m not pressuring myself to feel great if I don’t. I’m taking each day as it comes. I’ve recovered once and I’ll do it again I have little support around me but I have a health visitor and if needed I don’t think she would mind me ringing her.
So I said that the charity that was the main support for me had lost funding so they couldn’t keep going with the sessions i was going to. A friend of mine V went to a counselling session for herself today (same one that I am suppose to be starting in a couple of weeks.) she was told that she can’t be seen anymore because she’s also lost her funding. It comes as yet another blow because I’m changing my son’s nursery day specially to fit around this counselling. I was told it would be every week on a Thursday but turns out it would have been every 6 weeks. But it looks like it’s not gong to go ahead anyway. I was relying on that to make me feel better and get better from this relapse. I was relying on to open up old wounds and get rid of old demons still haunting me, but now I can’t. What the hell will I do now? How am I ever going to feel better? And stop letting my past haunt me? How will I ever be able to talk about it.. I can’t go back to S2c because that will feel like a massive failure on my part. I tried other counselling and I couldn’t do it. I’ve fucked up my only chances to get real help.
I now have this genetics appointment through for 29th September at the hospital we always go to so I don’t have to travel too far. But to be honest it’s not the travelling I’m worried about. It’s the blood tests, the questions, the results, the whole fucking process. It’s not like it’s just one appointment. It might be 3 or 4 or whatever. What if there a genetic problem? I mean come on I’ve got one child with autism and one child with a heart defect it’s gotta be somehow my fault. I created them it’s my doing. My body let my kids down. I won’t have any other children now, i can’t put myself that through any of this again. There’s a possibility my youngest as well as having the heart defect could also be autistic. I can’t deal with it. I just try to pretend everything’s ok. My head is a shed.
Having an autistic child is extremely challenging it will make you question on a daily basis what you do wrong to start a meltdown. It’s tiring, it’s frustrating, it’s draining and upsetting when I don’t know how to help him sometimes. I wanna protect him from the world who judge him because he has a sensory disability. He hates hand dryers and we have to use the disabled toilets so he doesn’t hear the hand dryers. We get stared at for using them because people presume having a disability means a physical disability. He gets overwhelmed when its crowded, he gets overwhelmed at birthday parties. It’s a daily struggle so I can’t cope with two of them being autistic. It’s hard enough with one let alone both.
The youngest with his heart defect is seeing him before his operation struggling to finish his bottles because he got breathless quickly. He constantly fed. He still gained weight but he was always feeding. He wasn’t allowed to cry for long periods of time because he turned blue. Then taking him,down to the theatre and kissing him goodbye for what you think maybe the last time. Waiting for news for the longest 5 hours of my life. Seeing him in picu hooked up to machines breathing for him giving his heart a rest. It’s something you never get over. The struggle didn’t end after surgery it’s not like surgery is a cure it’s just fixes his heart his heart will never be normal he will always have tetralogy of fallot. This is why I will never have more children this is burned into me for life. I can’t take the risk of having another child with a heart defect.
Some days I don’t really have much to feel in the way of anxiety and depression in this relapse. It’s weird I can go from one night feeling absolutely shockingly shit. I’d be crying, writing over thinking and feeling like I could crawl under a rock and not come out. Then the next day it’s almost as if I didn’t feel that shit, that upset, that bad. Is that normal? Is that how this works or is this what I’ve had to get used to doing and now it just comes naturally that I have to pick myself up and get over it?
Night times are the worse. I feel stupid because I want to be alone. I don’t wanna socialise at night once my kids are in bed but then everything comes pouring out and the tears start to fall and I feel lonely as hell. My husband doesn’t get it he thinks everything can be fixed with a hug. I don’t need outsider support because I have him. I tell him I didn’t sleep well funnily enough neither did he. Even though we don’t share a bed. I co sleep with my 2 year old. I’m happy with my arrangement. I feel like shit guess what he does too. I can’t win whatever I do he has it much worse.
That outsider support is what I’m missing I need that someone not connected to my family or my personal life to talk to. I need that outsider perspective. Someone who asks me if I’m ok because they are genuinely concerned and wanting to make sure I am. I went to the open door sessions where kids can go and play and have a snack because it was judgement free (most of the time) now more so because there’s more understanding that my 2 year old has tetralogy of fallot and that despite being repaired it’s a life long heart defect. I don’t know what I’m going to do there’s still so much going on I’ve had a mini break from it all a taste of life with hardly any proffesionals involved and now all of a sudden once September gets here it’s all going to start back up again. He’s making great process with speech being the exception so I don’t know why I’m so worried.
Reading back through some of my blog posts at the end of last year I realise how much of a dark place I was in. Reading the things that went through my mind on a daily basis. We’re almost 8 months into this year and already things have dramatically improved for me.
By the end of April I got my wish of being depression and anxiety free after I got through counselling, I got my eldest son’s autism diagnosis. I re connected with my mum and younger sister. I think once my thought pattern changed, I realised I was never going to change them. If I was never going to change them why bother trying? I made more effort and in turn they did too. They accepted my children are different and made more effort with them too. I see them on a weekly basis now, there’s more communication between us.
My life has improved no end since April. Hearing the news I had waited 2 years for finally freed me from the weight of feeling so shit. I love how my life is and it’s not perfect it’s still hard work but I don’t hate my life. I don’t think about clothes 3 days in advance. I don’t hold back on what I say anymore afraid of hurting people’s feelings or them not liking me anymore.
Things are heading in the right direction. I’m starting to understand my children more. My 6 year old with his needs and wants and how he has to do things his way, I’m teaching my youngest son makaton, he’s copying things we do when we teach him. He started walking 3 weeks ago and he’s got such a funny character to him.
Life is what you make it, you can cry, kick and scream that you haven’t got perfectly healthy “normal” children or you can grab life by the bollox and say I’m doing a bloody good job at raising my children each with their own individual extra needs. Things can only go forward from here. No more looking back. ✌🏻
After the call last Tuesday from the charity I mentioned I received the final draft via email this morning. I know there’s hardly anyone that gets what a big thing it was for me to share my sons story but I’m proud of myself. It was hard and emotional telling it but I hope that it can provide some comfort to another family dealing with what I dealt with.
Here’s the final draft obviously for my privacy I’ve removed names and any personal details inline with my blog.
Or’s story K already had a son, O when she and her husband decided to try for another baby. They had no trouble getting pregnant and the nine months of pregnancy passed without incident. In April 2015, little Or arrived by emergency caesarean section and seemed perfectly healthy. However, the next day, during Or’s newborn tests, the medical team noticed a heart murmur. Although relatively common in newborn babies, Or’s doctor decided to investigate further they did an ECG and Or was sent for an echocardiogram later that day that revealed he had a congenital heart defect – Tetralogy of Fallot. K was in complete shock and couldn’t take anything the doctors were telling her in. Her little boy had been feeding well, his colour seemed fine – she couldn’t believe this was happening to her baby. Why Or? K blamed herself – thinking Something she had done during pregnancy caused Or’s condition. Tetralogy of Fallot usually does not require immediate surgery, so Or was sent home from hospital and began to settle in with his new family. His first cardiology appointment was at 4 weeks old. It was during that appointment that she was told the full extent of Ors condition and that it required open heart surgery at around 6 months old. K was warned to keep an eye out for any signs of heart failure – colour change, lethargy and rapid breathing. They had regular check-ups – and one month before Or was due to have surgery, at 5 months old, The community children’s nurse noticed that Or’s oxygen levels were dropping. Immediately blue-lighted to their local hospital and then, after a further drop in oxygen levels, to the regional cardiac unit , Or was beginning to turn blue and was breathless. His heart was beginning to fail. Five days later, when he was strong enough, Or had open heart surgery to correct the defect. It lasted 5 hours. Finally K and Her husband were told that it had gone well, and that they could come and see their baby boy. The relief that K felt was so strong that it overrode any pain and fear she felt at seeing her little boy hooked up to machines. He was alive, and that was all that mattered to her. After a week in Intensive Care, Or was transferred up to the ward, and 8 days after the operation he was discharged from hospital. K felt elated. She couldn’t wait to get home, back to normal and back to her own bed. That was 1 year ago. Despite a few small issues since then, Or has gone from strength to strength. K says, “We were so lucky. If the newborn checks hadn’t been done so thoroughly, and if the ECG machine hadn’t been on site, our story may have been very different. Or is a cheeky, mischievous and very observant little boy, and he utterly adores his big brother, O. The work of T T is so important to find babies like Or. The earlier these defects are picked up, the better for the baby and their family. I am so grateful that Or was given the chance to fight his condition.”
Still feel emotional reading this even though I’ve read it over several times. I’ve written this story myself in my very first couple of posts but this is written by someone else as told by me.
I read this on Facebook and it brought tears to my eyes. It’s a re order that CHD children and babies are so incredibly special. They all share that little faded scar down their chest known as a zipper scar.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that little scar inadvertently saved my little boys life. It’s a scary thought. It’s getting incredibly close to his heart anniversary. And I start thinking back to the scariest and most worrying time of my life. I’m grateful he’s still here more then anyone will ever know, I look at that scar and remind myself of what he went through and realise I’m so incredibly lucky. Many CHD mothers haven’t been so lucky they lost their little angels to something that couldn’t be defeated. I am reminded every day of to struggle he’s had over his life and he’s only nearly 16 months. I feel so envious and jealous when I see younger babies crawling, rolling over and walking. All the things he could have been doing by now if it weren’t for his heart defect and his open heart surgery. Every little milestone not important to anyone else is huge to me. I know some people don’t get it and they don’t share my excitement. My baby boy stood unaided for like 5 seconds today something that made me so incredibly happy and proud but who do I tell? Why share it? It’s not a big deal to them like it is to me.
It’s a lonely world of the possibility of a cough being a chest infection rather then just a cough, infections being picked and treated asap, its infections every few weeks or months, it’s trips to a cardiologist once a year. Physio every few weeks and people asking if he’s crawling yet. This is easy compared to what it was this time last year. It was weekly sats checks, monthly hospital visits and weekly weigh in’s on top of everything else. Some parents don’t know how lucky they are have to have healthy children they take it for granted and ignore their kids in favour of mobile phones and websites and sitting and chatting rather then interacting with their child. Sometimes I wanna scream it to the top of my lungs everything my little boy has been through but neither of us need pity. I don’t want people to pity him and ask questions which is why I keep it quiet.
That article published last Sunday I’m thinking and hoping no-one I know from baby groups saw it. Because once they know it’s out there and it’s staying on there. They ask too many questions as it is and they don’t know anything. I like my life being private. Other shout about their problems I choose to blog.