Wednesday, March 6


Mother's Day.

I'm not really looking forward to it.

I feel I should love it, cherish it and feel proud of myself that day.

But it makes me remember too much.

Now, in the run up, like last year, my thoughts are constantly back at my first Mother's Day. Sunday 3rd April 2011. Spent in an isolated cubicle in PICU with my critically ill baby in an induced medical coma. I remember it vividly, the whole day. That whole weekend.

Our trip to PICU wasn't supposed to be the length it was. It was supposed to be a few days to help Wriggles over the worst of her illness. It was not supposed to nearly cost her her life. We came in Tuesday morning. Friday morning they were confident about extubating. The hours ticked by, then just before lunch they proceeded. I got to hold her for the first time since Tuesday morning. Oh sweet joy to have her, albeit semi-unconscious, on my lap.

20 minutes.

20 bloody minutes.

And she collapsed. The team rushed in and they had to put her back on the ventilator. The room stopped, I was frozen as the alarms sounded and the room swarmed. As they worked quickly to re-intubate I broke and called my best friend in tears. I couldn't say anything but "just come, please come." And she did. My angel that day. And what an angel I needed.

After re-intubating, Wriggles took a lot of knocking out. From 2pm to 11pm. They kept increasing and increasing, adding in more and more drugs to try and get her under. Just before she finally succumbed to her chemical sleep they remarked they'd in effect sedated a herd of elephants with the amount of drugs they'd pumped in her tiny body.

As she drifted off, Nicola the nurse and my friend A tried to distract me. We talked about Nicola's forthcoming wedding and gave verdicts on her dress options she scrolled through on her iPhone. It was a little tense, but hooked up to the ventilator, Wriggles finally at peace, the rest of the night looked simple. But I couldn't leave. I put it off and put it off. Midnight ticked by. I just couldn't leave.

And then it happened.

Nothing outward, nothing obvious.

But in a flash, Nicola had pulled the crash buzzer and the alarms had gone mad.

Wriggles had gone into cardiac arrest.

I've never seen people move so fast, so quick. Never knew there were that many "spare" doctors and nurses on a unit. But here they were. Shouting numbers and instructions. Adrenaline. Chest compressions. More shouting. Bagging. 

We sat, A and I gripped in fear. In shock.

1 minute 30 seconds was all her heart had stopped for.

The longest 1 minute 30 seconds I have ever, ever, ever known. It could have been hours for what I knew. I was shocked when I saw it written down later. Only 1 minute 30 seconds? But it went on for so much longer.... And of course, the fuss did. Stabilising her was much longer than 1 minute 30 seconds. Because in that time, the game has changed. The odds had gone from her being a little sicker than suspected to not knowing if she would be there the next evening.

It was April Fools Day. Ha fucking ha.

Saturday was very bleak. She needed bagging several times as stopped breathing even on the ventilator. Her blood pressure was far from stable and continued to drop throughout the day, upping the odds of a second cardiac arrest. She went from 15 minute obs. To ten minute. To five minutes. To continuous. 

"She is very, very sick indeed."

I was told she was the most unstable patient at that point in PICU.

Gently, they told me I should call family. Make sure people could come.

On Mothering Sunday, our nurse was Dominic. He had his own baby girl, just days apart from Wriggles. I think he felt it quite keenly, the close ages of them. He was very, very compassionate. When I came in, he had given her a bed bath and dressed her gently in a pink and red striped sleepsuit with the front open for medical access. Her Sunday best. And there on the side there was a bright orange card in the shape of a teapot with a poem and stapled teabag. Wriggles has somehow found time to wake up and wield a felt tip pen! To this day, that card is one of my most cherished possessions. It meant so, so, so much that someone remembered. Remembered even in the sickest situations that mothers were not just desperately hurting and scared but needed celebrating. My friends came in and bought me a card. My parents bought me a card. I kept them all. Over in the parents accommodation, they were my solace on the bedtime table. My arms ached for my baby girl, my nights bleak without the breaks of night feeds. The room was quiet, too quiet. The cards filled that gap just a little. They gave me some strength.

And my mother came, and would stay for the next fortnight whilst we held our breath before finally coming home. Mothers are amazing creatures. I never needed someone so much.

But that is what I will always, or at least for now, think. That first Mothering Sunday. The worst weekend of my life. One I wish I could forget. The kindness of others was incredible. Our family, my friends, some wonderful nurses who went beyond their duties; but it doesn't take away from what happened. 

Last Mother's Day, Wriggles "made" a card at nursery. Two purple splodge hand prints on pink card. I cried like anything when nursery handed it over. They didn't know the significance; last year she was holding on to life by a thread. This year she is painting cards! Why can't that memory block out the other one? Why must I re-live that first day? That first I didn't want?

This year will be better still. I has to be better still.

But right now, I just want to get it over with. I know I will re-live the dates, a month later in the same way. The same anniversary of the same thing. So please brain, in light of that let me forget just a little this Sunday!

Because there are so many nice things to remember.

Because there is this:

 photo DSCN8463_zps2fd92c9f.jpg

Which two years ago this Sunday, I wouldn't let myself dream I could have.


  1. Gorgeous photo. Every year will be easier I'm sure. Btw - I'm writing this with two fat tears rolling down my cheek. Happy Mother's Day. xxx

  2. Sorry you have bad memories of Mother's Day. Hope you and wriggles have a lovely day on Sunday! x x x

  3. Beautiful, beautiful wriggles. I am crying as I read this. Loads of hugs to you brave brave woman.

  4. Oh Amy, you have completely reduced me to tears reading this, it's just so heartbreaking to see just how much you went through that Mother's Day. For me too, Mother's Day isn't an easy one - Adam was born just a week before my first MD and so we spent it in neonatal. In our case, he had just been taken off the ventilator the day before so he was ever so slightly more stable than he had been but still very very ill. That day was the first time I was allowed to hold him since he had become so ill, which was of course a precious moment, but one that lasted for precisely five minutes. While he was in my arms, the shuddering and convulsions stopped but when they told me he had to be put back into his incubator, he immediately began shaking again as they took him from me and I dissolved into tears. Even now, I can intensely feel that heartbreak as he was taken from me - the fact that it was done gently wasn't the point. This week, as I drove to my placement church (where I have to be as part of my training) I was mentally arming myself for having to participate in a day of celebration. It was hard but I was grateful that the minister actually spoke about the many different feelings women feel on this day from happiness to intense grief for many different reasons. Still, it's not an easy day even two years later and I suspect it won't become so for a very long time, if ever. <> x