Sickness

I guess we’d got complacent. Not a night in the hospital since we left the labour ward. We took our eye off the ball.

Over the course of a week he lost his appetite, brought up every feed, brought up blood. Then he had a seizure, a long one, eyes glazed, foaming at the mouth. And we found we didn’t know what to do. We had no bag packed, no plan for looking after Jackie. When I called NHS24 we had their old number. They called us an ambulance.

So here we are in the Sick Kids, in isolation, doing shifts day and night to be with Benjamin, go to work, care for Jackie. It’s certainly made me realise what we had, how lucky we are.

In the hospital, time seems to stop. A day passes in an instant, a flurry of consultations and treatments. It’s constantly noisy yet so, so quiet. Benjamin no longer smells like my Benjamin, he’s harder to cuddle, reluctant to smile. I come out, blinking, unsure not only what day or what time it is but who I am and what I’m doing here.

I notice, now, all the things that Benjamin could do. His smile. His cuddles. His stiff, straight-armed wave when I came into the room. Breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, spoon-feeding, enjoying his food; telling us with his eyes and lips when he was full. Falling asleep in my arms. Falling asleep next to me in bed. He’s come so far and I hadn’t taken the time to notice. All I did was complain about how much care he took.

At home it’s worse. It’s wonderful to see Jackie, of course, and special to have a bath-time just the two of us. But Benjamin’s room is empty. In the kitchen his chair stands idle. In the lounge his toys are unplayed-with. His baby monitor is silent. There are no nappies to launder. The free evening that I used to dream of stretches before me, and I can’t think of a thing to do.

Get well soon and come home my sweet boy.

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