A Day in the Life

While the 5th of March is a happy date, as the date our son was born and the birthday that he shared with my Dad, his Grandpa, 4th of March was a date when two of the most frightening things of my life, happened :

  1. 21 years ago, on 4th of March, my husband drove me to hospital to have my overdue baby induced. He had to leave me there, all alone in the world, and afraid of what horrors were about to befall me. I was shown into a shared room, was examined to see if by some miracle my labour had started with just the threat of being induced and was given a pessary to move things along. It seemed that very quickly I was sick and I began to experience stomach cramps. I asked the nurse on duty if I could have a bath to ease the pain and she agreed, but later she told me off for locking the bathroom door. I was still in pain after my bath and the nurse gave me some paracetamol. when she examined me later, she decided that I was ready to go to the labour ward and she called my husband to ask him to hurry back.

I then lost track of time as there was a crowd of medical professionals in the delivery suite, with a growing sense of urgency , and I was using gas and air , which certainly numbed my senses more. It was decided that Joshua needed to come out quickly and then began to prepare me for a caesarian. My husband tried to object, saying that it was not what I wanted or had planned. At ante-natal classes, the midwife told us that a ‘Birthing Plan’ was key to getting the best labour experience, but on 4th of March 2001, my choice was effectively taken away, in Joshua’s best interests. Thankfully although we made it to the operating theatre, I was able to deliver Joshua naturally, with a little help from venteuse apparatus. Joshua was taken away to be cleaned up and then he was taken to incubators as he began fitting . So my 04/03 fear continued into 5 March, and beyond, as we struggled to get updates on the status of our new born baby, asking one nurse after another. Finally we were told that he needed specialist equipment and he was going to be transferred to the Special Care Baby Unit across the city, so they tried to get him stable enough to travel in baby transport and I was to follow in an ambulance.

So that 4th of March was a terrifying day and the first thing in my life that felt was beyond my control. Previously in my life, if I worked hard and wanted something enough, then my wishes would come true. But having a baby, showed me that you can do everything right in terms of exercise, rest and diet, yet still something went badly wrong for Joshua. We never found an explanation for Joshua’s stroke and have had almost 21 years to try to accept that it was ‘just one of those things’

2. On 4th of March 2014, on the eve of Joshua’s 13th birthday, Joshua was admitted to Great Ormond Street hospital for brain surgery. We had been given good odds that a hemispherectomy could dramatically reduce his seizures or potentially, stop them all together. It had been a long period of research and discussion to reach the point when we all three walked through the door of the Koala ward of GOSH. Living so far away, we had stayed the night before in hospital family accommodation so that we could check in bright and early, although I think I only had 20 minutes sleep the night before. Joshua was the first on the ward to have his surgery, so after some administration, we all went down to the surgical area where he was given his general anesthetic. I always find it shocking how quickly it takes effect and he goes completely floppy and inert. We said our goodbyes and then were sent away for the morning, asked to occupy ourselves, so we went to a local cafe to have a hot drink then we hired ‘Boris Bikes’ and cycled to Covent Garden, where as it was Shrove Tuesday, we had a pancake. It was, of course, impossible to concentrate, knowing that our son was having his brain cut apart and so we decided to cycle back and to wait on the ward for him. When I called my Mum to update her, she joked that we were taking more risks than Joshua by cycling in busy London traffic.

After what seemed an age, we were collected and taken to the recovery room where Joshua was taking his time to come around from the GA, and they thought that familiar voices might help. Slowly our son woke up and he looked terrifying, with a bandage across his skull and a drain out of his brain, but he was alive. We spent the rest of the day sitting by his bedside back on the ward, where the nurses were very attentive, and he mostly slept. My husband stayed in a local hotel and I ‘slept’ on the ward on a camp bed. They kindly brought him chocolate cake for his birthday the next day, and to our amazement, he sat up in bed eating it. The following days were hard as he had to start to learn to walk again, but it all started on this day 8 years ago.

So that is why 4th of March will always be a significant date for me

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