Wednesday, September 12, 2012


To say it was a juggle managing an older sibling when Smidge was in intensive care is an understatement.
I really wanted to make things as normal as possible for Mister G but no matter how hard I tried, I found it very difficult to think about anything else but Smidge.

I'd return home to our make shift home in Southampton and I'd collapse on the sofa exhausted, my mind still racing about all the discussions I'd had that day, What was the various meanings of terms the doctors had used? Was the consultant being entirely honest with me? Did the nurse think I coping really badly?

Mr G would try to talk me in to playing games of  top trumps with him but it was no good, the second my mind tried to turn it's attention to something other than Smidge, anxious thoughts would overcome me. Trying to block out the days events just gave rise to more intrusive thoughts, accompanied by an  overwhelming urge to focus all that had happened, all that was said.

But one morning, I'd awoken to decide that I wouldn't follow the usual routine of going directly to NICU, I'd decided to take Mister G in to the town to buy him some home learning things. I'd hoped to spend some time with him to make up for the complete lack of attention, maybe go for a burger or a KFC.

I'd already phoned the NICU that morning and nothing too alarming had been reported, nothing I'd picked up on any way, so I decided to go ahead with my plans to catch the train to town.

But just after we'd purchased our tickets, I thought I'd call again, just to double check. I liked the illusion of being in control and a little reassurance would make me feel I was doing the right thing.

The nurse taking care of Smidge came on the line, she was stumbling a bit and trying to find the right words.

'I'm er...waiting for the doctor to ring you won't be long.'

'Ring me? Why? what's happened?' I said, my heart sinking.

'Oh..I think it's probably better if she explains it...I er...wouldn't want to get it wrong if you know what I mean...'

'Can I speak to her then?'

'Um...she's a bit busy at the moment, talking to her colleagues...She'll ring you very shortly'

I put my mobile back in my pocket.

'C'mon Mister G, I'm afraid we can't go to town now, we have to drop you back home'

'Why?' said Mister G, scowling a disapproving look.

'I don't know' I stammered heading back towards the house and picking up a pace.

'Why?.... Why Mum?...Why? came the eleven year old voice chasing along  behind me.

'I don't know, I've got to get to the hospital'

After dropping him off I got straight in to the car It was a stupid automatic thing we'd hired and there was a particular way to get this car started, a regime I had to follow. I did so slowly and carefully so as not to cause any further delay.

A doctor had never needed to speak to me outside of ward rounds before, I had no idea what was going on, was I going to get there in time? How bad was she?

When I arrived at the hospital there was team around Smidge. She was laid in her incubator, her stomach blue and distended with tiny little blood vessels apparent all over the front of her body.Her face was white and she lay there stiller than still. She was in 80% Oxygen.

Smidge had NEC, a deadly bowel infection and the biggest killer of premature babies in the UK today.

A transport incubator had been wheeled in and it was placed next to her cot bay. The consultant strolled over and out her hand on my shoulder.

'Okay' she said.

'I want you to know that I am a little bit worried about Smidge, We've been talking to our colleagues over at the surgical unit, and they'd like her to be bought over there, where they can monitor her more closely'

'We've stopped her feeds for now and the transport team here are going to take good care of her en route. She's not being ventilated at present, which is encouraging, but you should know that I think it's likely she will require an operation on her tummy at some point in the near future'

Tears sprung to my eyes as I looked at the doctor in disbelief  'She will be okay, won't she?' I asked fearfully.

The Doctor placed her hand on my arm  before offering a warm sympathetic smile and said 'I'll give you  a minute with her  alone'

"Can I touch her?" I asked the tears streaming freely now.

"You can put your hands in the port holes"

And as I did just that, I could feel the warmth Smidge's tiny body and see the weakness in her breaths.  I started to sing quietly to her,but this time the words seemed painfully more apt as I quietly sang 'Everybody hurts' by REM.

After a few minutes the doctor nodded her head and directed the transfer team to proceed.

I could only stand by and watch them wheel my Smidge away in the back of an ambulance and pray she made it there safely...

A day I'll never forget.

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