Facing My Child's Mortality

>> Mar 4, 2010

-My baby is going to die.  Something is going to happen, he's not going to wake up.  They'll put him to sleep and that will be last time I ever see him.

My chest felt empty, my face hot and swollen with uncried tears welling up behind the skin.

I filled his milk bottle and carried him to the bedroom trying to hold the thoughts back, but I couldn't stop them

-This might be the last time I ever put him to bed.  This time tomorrow he could be dead.

I stopped breathing and my head swam as I placed him in his cot, my eyes soaking up every detail of his little tired face as he looked back at me over his milk bottle, confused, worried.  The pain must be showing on my face.

I smiled and brushed his hair our of his face.

'Good night my sweet boy.'  The words barely came out, catching in my throat as they did.  I bit the inside of my cheek to stop myself from crying and left him there.

Left him in his cot for what could be the last time ever.

My insides felt like a blackhole -empty and sucking everything else inside, my body curling up around the painful vaccum.  Tears poured down my face as I closed the door behind me and sat down on the floor, arms around my knees, sobbing, throat raw, body wracked in pain.

-My baby is going to die.

-He's not going to die.  It's a simple operation.  He'll be fine.

-No he won't, I just know it.  I just know something terrible is going to happen to him.

-Get up.  He'll be fine.  You're being stupid.

I pulled myself off the floor and walked to the kitchen wiping my eyes, my mind trying to move on, deal with the things that needed doing.  Food needed packing, clothes needed putting in the bag for the next day.  My body went through the motions, opening fridge, buttering bread, but my mind was whirling.  Every few seconds my body came to a shuddering stop as my mind is flooded with images of my little boy lying in a bed, eyes closed, not breathing.

-Oh God, what if something happens?  I won't be able to..I can't...

Tears again, large drops, splashed down onto the cling flim pulled taut in my hands ready to wrap the sandwiches.  My hands start to shake, my whole body full of grief and pain.

-I can't do this, I can't let them put him to sleep.  He doesn't need to operation.  It's just a blocked tear duct.  I'm not going to let them kill him.

Shaking too much I had to abandon the food.

I found myself standing outside his bedroom door, hand on the handle.  Half of me wanted to go in and see him, hold him, smell him.  Keep him safe.  The other half knew we had a long journey the next day and he needed his rest.  So did I.  With a whispered goodnight at his door I walked back down the coridor and to my own room, my heart breaking to leave him there.

I was being irrational, I knew it.  Sleep would help.

And it did.

2.45am the alarm went off.  Groggy, unbelieving, I peeled myself from the duvet, my husband already up, banging around in the kitchen.  It was going to be a long day.  We had a 7.30am appointment at the hospital over a 3.5 hour drive away.

I was tired and groggy but calm.  The fears gone.  My boy was going to be fine.

And he was.

But I can still feel that pain and fear in my memories, still feel that sharp taste of bile as I think of what could have been.  Monday was by far the hardest day of my life, handing him over to someone else, putting his life in someone else's hands like that.

I start to shake every time I think of it.

But he is fine.  The operation was a success, tear duct unblocked and he is well and at home driving me to distraction once again.

This parenting stuff is one hell of a rollercoaster of a ride, isn't it?

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