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Is My Baby Going to Be OK?: Our Hospital Experience

As I sit here in my daughter’s hospital room, listening to the constant beeping of medical devices, crying children,the chatter nurses and other parents, she continues to sleep as soundly as ever. It is something she has become used to over the past five days since we arrived at the hospital. As she is only two and a half weeks old she has barely noticed life being different ,but as a mother of a sick child, being in the hospital has been an eye opening experience.

We arrived at Emergency at 2pm on Saturday afternoon after noticing our baby was not interested in her breastfeed and was feeling quite hot. We recorded a temperature of 39 degrees and after calling the Heathdirect nurses we were advised to take her straight to the hospital (this was my first scare as I have never had to take a child to Emergency).

On arrival, her temperature had dropped and she happily had her feed so I was expecting to have them send me home thinking I was just an anxious mother. However due to her age we were told we needed to be transferred to a hospital with a paediatric ward so she could be monitored, possibly overnight.
The poor little mite had to endure a cannula being placed into her hand, blood tests taken and a urine sample taken with a catheter. It was heart breaking to see her in pain and not be able to help her. 

waiting for our ambulance transfer

We were then transferred by ambulance to The Canberra Hospital where she again had to go through the stress of  two attempts of a lumbar puncture which they were not able to do successfully. I was glad that we were not present for it, as from what we could hear coming from the treatment room it sounded like she was very distressed.

The first night was probably the hardest as I didn’t know what was going on and of course I started to imagine the worst. I was initially given my own room which I thought was great but as time went on I found it hard being so isolated and it was hard hearing all the screaming children and imaging what they must be going through.

I kept it together for the first day but on the afternoon of the second day I called my husband broke down in tears. Not so much for my baby but because of the sadness of all the sick children and the parents who were there hoping their kids would be ok.
At 11pm one night they came into my room and said they needed my room and moved me to a room with four beds. A first I was upset at being moved but I soon realised that sharing a room was what I needed, as I was able to talk to other mums and hear stories of kids that were getting better and going home. It was also better as I was no longer across from the Treatment room where they do all the horrible (but necessary procedures to the kids). 

The doctors began IV antibiotics the first night we were there as they had found what seemed to be a urinary tract infection. Further tests revealed that it was a UTI which was caused by an infection in her right kidney. As she was so young they decided to continue the antibiotics for 5 days to make sure that she went home well. The great thing was that Alicia seemed really well and apart from a few scary moments she did not display any symptoms of being unwell.

Little trooper managing a smile in her sleep
For the most part of our time in hospital I was able to enjoy myself. I just had to feed my baby, cuddle my baby, eat chocolate, eat my meals, watch tv, eat chocolate, read magazines and eat some more chocolate. I actually found it pretty relaxing once I settled into hospital life. 
 

My time in hospital was a breeze compared to some of the stories I heard from other mums I chatted to while I was there. One woman has been back and forth to hospital with her 15 month old daughter since she was 6 days old. She told me she would have liked to have a third child but didn’t think it fair to bring another child into their lifestyle. Another mother visited her 5 month old daughter every day…her daughter had been in hospital her whole life, another mother was anxiously waiting for test results to explain why her daughter was having fits. 

These mums were just ordinary mums who have to be strong for their kids in such difficult circumstances. I may never see them again but I have been touched by them and have had my eyes opened to what other people go through who have sick children.

 I was also blessed enough to have my family and friends close by. My husband kept life going on at home, and lovingly brought two toddlers into the hospital to visit us twice a day (I am sure he now has a few grey hairs because of it) . I can only imagine the isolation people could feel when they are stuck in a hospital away from their loved ones.


Visits with sisters

I don’t think Emily missed me at all..she always went straight to Ali’s cot

When I looked around at the families in the hospital with me, I felt helpless to be able to do anything, and early on I just felt sad for them. However after a while I just started praying for them. I don’t know why these things happen but I trust that God is a loving God and cares about each of these kids and their families.
While praying for them is super important I also wanted to be able to do something practical. I thought of silly things like buying some plates for people to put their toast on instead of having to improvise with  paper towel (something that was slightly annoying while I was there) but it did not seem enough. Then while I was watching tv  I heard of Starlight day which the Starlight Foundation is holding to raise $2 million to help transform the hospital experience for seriously ill children from pain, fear and boredom to fun joy and laughter. While staying in the hospital I was able to see the great play room and fun activities which were provided for kids (my older girls also got to enjoy the room which made our time easier as small children and hospitals are not a good combination). So on the 4th of May they are holding Starlight Day and I will be supporting them as they raise funds.

I am also going to be involved in raising money towards the building of the new Ronald McDonald House in Canberra. It is such an important charity which allows families to have a “home away from home” while their children are in hospital. I will be raising funds through my Country Women’s Association group but donations can be made at http://www.rmhc.org.au/695/donate 

Having a sick child was a scary experience, but it allowed me to gain a small glimpse into what families of seriously ill children go through. I have realised that it is easy to feel helpless and sad for them, but what they really need is prayer and practical support. I am thankful that this experience has opened my eyes to this great need and hopefully by supporting these charities it can help these families, even in a very small way.



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