I feel my last post may have given the wrong impression of my parents. It needs to be said that although they (completely understandably) bumbled through doing something totally new to them the other night in quite an amusing fashion, they are, in fact, not bumblers at all, but on the contrary, quite extraordinarily helpful and capable. I am more grateful to them for everything they have done and continue to do for Mr, H and me than I could ever express.
Here are some of the reasons why.
My mum was, until very recently, the only person besides Mr and me who learned how to give H his tube bolus feeds (using a syringe and gravity) and vent his gastrostomy to burp him. She learned it in hospital and has helped us almost daily ever since. This is the most helpful thing possible for us, and it’s not an easy thing to master. She helps us enormously in general too – she helps me bathe him, then straightens my bed and folds some laundry. Dad will notice things we need in the house, like the endless supply we need of paper plates to put H’s syringes on, or apple juice, and stock up for us at the supermarket without us having to think about it.
Mum and Dad give H so much love. That is obvious. But it’s much deeper than that. Mum is an inspired storyteller and has her own style of telling H his favourite Winnie the Pooh story – the one where Pooh gets stuck in Rabbit’s burrow. She talks and sings and just connects with him all the time, and can always be relied upon to take over his care at the end of the day if I’m feeling exhausted and stressed.
And as a mother herself, she thinks of things no-one else does, not even the professionals. For instance, that it would work for me to breastfeed H at the same time as giving him a tube feed – that way he was calmer and associated feeding with his stomach getting full, plus we weren’t struggling to fit in one before the other. She knows H very, very well. She notices all the little things he likes and doesn’t like, and knows how to comfort him.
Then there is everything they did when H was in hospital. I don’t even know where to start with this. They visited him almost every day for five months, giving him everything they could from cuddles to telling him about the outside world waiting for him to monitoring every aspect of his care, and they also took complete care of Mr and me when we could not really look after ourselves. They shopped for us, cooked dinner for us, paid for taxis for us when we were coming back from particularly hard days at the hospital, and most importantly were just there all the time, dropping everything in their lives for months and months and keeping up our morale.
As a doctor, Dad was brilliant when it came to explaining medical issues to us. He attended most of the meetings we had with doctors, starting in the fetal medicine unit, and translated complex medical-speak into clear layman’s terms for us as well as keeping the doctors on their toes!
They are not young anymore, but the amount of energy they pulled out of the bag to support us in our time of need was phenomenal. They were repeatedly up at 5am after coming home at 11pm, to help us keep a 24-hour vigil over H when he was at Great Ormond Street. And I will never forget how Mum stayed up all night to watch over me the night we found out H had hydrops, when I was 29 weeks pregnant.
When we felt terribly low, they were the ones we turned to first, and they were with us whenever we needed any kind of help.
I only really realised once I had my own child what amazing parents I have and how great the upbringing they gave me was. Their love has always been unconditional, as is mine for them.