I realised that today marks two months since we bought our little boy home from hospital for the second time. I can’t tell you how quickly those two months have passed. I’ve spent so many hours just holding and staring at my beautiful baby and just thinking about how lucky we are. Frank’s had several follow up appointments already including a brain scan, a hearing test and several physio appointments and so far all seems to be looking good. I feel so incredibly lucky to watch him grow and change every day and already we’ve had a few of those ‘firsts’ that every parent dreams of – first smiles, first time sleeping through the night. (Tough call on which of those was my favourite if I’m honest) He even rolled over for the first time this weekend!
But the point of this post isn’t to brag about my little man (although I could’t resist sneaking a bit of that in!) :) I wanted to write something about how we are coping two months on from what was undoubtedly the most difficult time of our lives so far (and hopefully will remain the most difficult for the future also!)
I remember the day that Frank was discharged from hospital, one of the Doctors who had been looking after him came and sat with us. She seemed so serious that I was terrified she was going to tell me something had changed and we couldn’t take our baby home. But instead she simply said ‘Don’t expect to go home and suddenly everything be ok. You have been through a tremendous shock and it will affect you. If not straight away then perhaps in a few weeks or months even.’ Turns out she was one wise lady!
The first few days at home I was so very grateful. Obviously for the fact that Frank was doing so well but also for all the simple things in life that you just don’t appreciate normally – sleeping in my own bed, next to my husband, rather than on my own in camp bed in a hospital room. Having a home cooked meal rather than a Sainsbury’s microwaveable. Washing in my own bathroom, choosing clothes from my wardrobe and not a little suitcase…You get the picture. We began to adjust back to our normal lives, albeit with the addition of a newborn so of course much less sleep. Slowly we began to feel like ourselves again. We laughed and joked, something that we hadn’t done for a while. And this lasted for a few weeks. I didn’t think about what had happened, didn’t go over everything we had been through. I just enjoyed every minute with my gorgeous little boy.
I knew that I wanted to write about what had happened, mainly to raise awareness but also as I have always found writing to be quite therapeutic. So every day I wrote a little, and then closed the laptop and parked it for the day. It wasn’t until the day that I published my post sharing our story that it really hit me. I spent a good 95% of that day in tears. Crying at messages I received from people that had been through similar experiences. Or just at messages from people telling me how happy they were that things had worked out. Just crying at anything and everything really. When I looked at Frank that day my heart broke for what he had been through. By the time Chris got home from work I was a complete mess. We spent the evening talking about everything, about how we felt at the time, about how we feel now. About our hopes (and concerns if I’m honest) for Frank’s future and for ours. It was an emotionally exhausting day, but one that we needed.
It’s such a cliche but when you go through something like this you really do find out who’s there for you. It’s incredibly upsetting to be let down by those close to you. In my mind sadly the behaviour of some has been unforgivable, and my relationship with those individuals will never be the same. But for the one or two who have disappointed us there have been so many others who have been there for us every step of the way. And actually so many that have surprised me with just how much they seem to care. People that you just wouldn’t expect to rely on in such circumstances – friends of friends, old work colleagues, people that I only know through the squares of Instagram! I’ve received some of the most kind and thoughtful messages from people I barely know, some whom I haven’t even met in real life!
I think it can be easy to assume that because we got to bring Frank home, that the second we were home all would be fine and dandy again. That because it all worked out ok in the end that we would just forget what happened. But the truth is very different. I’m not for one second comparing almost losing a child to actually losing one, of course I’m not. All I am saying is that even if the ending is a happy one, you don’t come out the other side unscathed.
There’s not a day that goes by now that I don’t say a little prayer and a huge thank you for the fact that Frank pulled through, but those few days that we spent not knowing whether he would or not have not been forgotten, and I don’t think they ever will be. I’ve changed as a person, I can feel it. Perhaps that’s just down to becoming a mum, perhaps it’s because of what we’ve been through. Most likely it’s a little of both.