When it comes to our kids' health, we haven't had a whole lot of luck. Liv clocked up an average of an illness per month from the time she was 6 months old until around 18 months, including a week in hospital for pneumonia (that's the poor, sick little possum with her Dad above). Clearly we have some "dodgy lung" gene in there somewhere.
Having to watch your kids suffer with sickness, and nurse them through many a sleepless night, isn't something you really think about when you decide to have children. For me, reality struck when Olivia was two days old. She was in her crib next to my hospital bed when she started to make strange, choking noises...and I suddenly realised this little person was my responsibility and I had absolutely no idea what to do. None. And I was petrified.
That first fear never really goes away. With every new illness it rears its head - it becomes more manageable as you go along, but always lurks beneath the surface. Because there is nothing more terrifying that the thought of losing your children.
Having been through an horrendous first year of illness with Liv, and then seeing Sophia nearly not make it, I feel like a bit of an old hand. If Sophia had been my first child I would be FREAKING OUT RIGHT NOW...but Liv's bad run at least served to give me some confidence in my abilities as a mother and carer - but that doesn't mean it's ever easy.
And, in the dark hours before the dawn, when you're holding your sick little baby all the experience in the World means nothing...because you're just a mum wanting to take the pain away.
To end this post, I want to share a few things that have helped me make it through some pretty awful times, and hope that you rarely (if ever) need to call on them:
- Baby Love by Robyn Barker - the bible for Australian mums...if you haven't got a copy, get one. Now.
- When Your Child is Ill by Dr Richard Valman - practical advice for parents with sick kids.
- The Caring for Kids course run by St John Ambulance - it's a short course which teaches you how to deal with medical emergencies and administer first aid to kids - and it gave me so much more confidence that I'd know what to do if something bad happened.
- Health Direct - 24 hour reassurance when you're just not sure what to do.