I’ve been a parent for 18 years, raising 3 boys. When you become a Mum or even when you’re pregnant, I remember people telling me “parenthood is the most wonderful thing in the world” and it is. Well, not 100% of the time, but for most of the time.
Over the weekend, I learnt a few things – Mum Guilt is 100% real, I cry (a lot), Motherhood is an Emotional Rollercoaster and I found out how tough my kid is. My youngest, Mr 9, Billy was pretty sick this week.
What we thought was a bout of gastro turned out to be appendicitis. I thought only adults got appendicitis. WRONG. Heck, I didn’t even know what appendicitis really was, expect my Granddad’s brother’s exploded on a Whaling Ship in the 1950s.
7 days ago I woke at midnight with Billy, dry reaching over the toilet. There was an email sent out from his school teacher earlier in the week saying a gastro bug was going around so I assumed it was that. He had Friday off school, was eating a few things so didn’t think much more into it as he wasn’t really complaining either. Saturday morning, he started vomiting and he wasn’t walking properly because he said his back hurt. That was a little concerning, so we went to the doctor straight away. Please tell me I haven’t been the only person to bring a bucket to the Doctors office? I was hoping my GP was rostered on and good thing she was. We seen the doctor pretty much straight away, she felt his tummy and then sent us down the hall to get an ultrasound. Having had a few ultrasounds in my time and knowing that the sonographer can not actually tell you what the problem is (if any) I thought I would ask if he had any signs of gastro, knowing that it clearly wasn’t gastro by the way my GP was concerned. Then she confirmed it had something to do with his appendix. Back down the hall to the GP she rang the hospital, wrote a letter and off went. We stopped off at home first to get my husband to drive us to the hospital. We grabbed a pillow for the ride (which happened to have a Christmas pillow case on it) and his teddy Gordie. An uncle gave Gordie to Billy when he was born. For some strange reason Billy isn’t really into teddies, but Gordie is a constant sitter on Billy’s bed and seems to have a knack of coming to special events and holidays. So when grabbing a few things for Billy’s bag I shoved Gordie in there. I’m so glad I did. He’s never left Billy’s side.
We got straight into the Emergency Department at about 11am Saturday and Billy’s surgery was 5pm that afternoon. Amazing right? In the ED the surgeon explained that there was ‘gunk’ around the appendix, which I didn’t realise until later that that meant that his appendix had in fact burst.
I’m not sure if it’s my age (late 30s) or if I’m just at the part of my life where I give zero fu*ks about much, but considering we were in a hospital, emotions get the better of most people I was trying so hard not to cry in front of Mr 9. I hadn’t seen my husband since he dropped us off earlier that day. We figured that it’s better one parent being with Billy rather than 2 and at that point we didn’t know his appendix had burst and thought it was all straight forward and only in the hospital for 1 night (as we were told that’s normal) I soon discovered that I wanted my husband with me more than ever. For both me and Billy. All day I had tried not to cry to stay ‘brave and strong’ for Billy but to also stay strong for myself. But I caved. Apart from having 3 C Sections and a repaired hernia I’ve never been in an operation room. Until Saturday. Billy joked that it will be like Grey’s Anatomy (clearly didn’t lose his sense of humour during his ordeal) When we got to theatre we met the theatre staff and Billy was prepped. They put a gown and hair net on me, which I thought was weird because at any minute I knew I was going to cry. Like Ugly Cry – I was sure of it. But I was trying so hard not to cry because I didn’t want Billy to see me cry because I wasn’t the one about to have surgery on a burst appendix at the age of 9.
The staff were all ‘fun’ and Billy was laughing but at the same time shitting his pants because all he knew was that he was going to count back from 10 then wake up and I’ll be by his side and won’t remember much. The moment the theatre nurse told me to give him a kiss, seconds after he had been knocked out. The tears started, not uncontrollably, but pretty damn close. I am tearing up now even thinking about that moment. It hit all the feels. Every. Single. One!
One thing people don’t tell you about being a Mum is Mum Guilt. That shiz is REAL! Every Mum can tell you about something in their lives where they’ve had a dose of Mum Guilt. For example – not being able to have the day off work for the kids swimming carnival or sports day, sending your kid to school or kindy without their lunch, thinking you packed it in their bag and they had to eat jam sandwiches from the school office that day. Little things like that.
Mother’s shouldn’t feel guilting, we go through ALOT and some days we are just lucky that we have kept the kids breathing and feed. But Motherhood can be a total bit*ch and we cannot help it. The weekend my Mum Guilt was a classic of – should of, would of, could of. I should of known that Billy didn’t have gastro and it was something worse. I would of been able to go to the GP quicker and I could of not gone to work on Friday so I could see that it was worse than what it was. Then all this wouldn’t of happened. Doesn’t work like that though!
Now I’m no doctor and I couldn’t of possibly know any of that. How do I know that if I had went to the Dr on Friday that she would of said that it was gastro, I don’t. As I left Billy (while I was Ugly Crying) and the surgical team on Saturday for his operation I knew that my Mum Guilt should get stuffed. I was hugged by the surgical nurse who told me a story about how she sent her son to school after he said he wasn’t feeling unwell and then told later that day that his kidney stones needed to be removed. Mum Guilt! She felt it as hard as I did.
I must admit I watch WAY to many medical shows and lots of weird shit was going through my head while I was waiting for the operation to finish. I was craving a hamburger and chips, I found a snack bar, was eating it and it was the most horrible burger in the history of horrible burgers. Dead lettuce, the thickest end of a tomato and no cheese. So I sat at a table in Southbank surrounded by Bin Chickens and I cried. Not for long, but long enough for me to realise that I should probably pull myself together. I almost went back to the burger place to give them a piece of my mind but I didn’t. I went to Happy Pops instead and got an icecream. The icecream I picked had diary in it, so that was fun, eating that when you’re dairy intolerant. Then sat on the grass looking at the time for the next 20mins while my stomach grumbled at the fact that I just ate dairy.
The operations was to be 1 hour. I thought by the time I walked back to the hospital it would be near 6pm, the time it was to finish. So that’s what I did. I waited. It was now 6:40pm. I finally got the phone call, but in the meantime I seen the surgeons on their way downstairs. They explained his appendix did burst. I started to cry. Then thanked them a million times. I got to the recovery room I cried. Technically I was still crying from talking to the surgeons but this time I was Ugly Crying. Again. Seeing your kid hooked up to drips and his teddy bear next to him with bandages, hair nets and a mask on. Makes the heart melt.
The next night, Billy had trouble breathing and had a temperature. He got sent to get an xray. He didn’t really know what was going on, nor did I. Seems when you have your appendix burst your lungs can collapse and that’s exactly what happened.
During our hospital stay Billy cried, he got angry, he got frustrated, it was an Emotional Rollercoaster for both of us. By day 3 post operation he finally came good – was back to his cheeky self. Thank goodness. This made me think how lucky Billy and our family are. Not only to have an amazing hospital and hospital staff and access to health care. Thankful that my Billy will be home for Christmas as there are many kids that aren’t as lucky and have to spend Christmas in a hospital.
As I write this, Billy is currently playing in the Starlight Children’s Foundation Australia Room. It’s heaven for Billy. There’s a PS5. Someone donated to the hospital a PS5 – how amazing is that? Billy also got a blanket from volunteers. There’s thousands of blankets that volunteers make and the hospital give them to kids that have to stay in hospital for a period of time. Then there’s a program where kids can hire iPads and Nintendo Switches to keep them busy while they stay in bed. All these things I had no idea about. I’ve been lucky that none of my boys (until now) actually needed to stay in hospital for longer than 1 night. If you or your family ever stay in a children’s hospital – ask about what is on offer – seriously it will ease your mind and you might even be able to get some well earned sleep.
We get to go home today. I think. If not this afternoon, then definitely tomorrow. Whatever day it is – I’m just glad we get to go home and sleep in our own beds, see my husband, my 2 other boys and Sargeant, my dog.
This isn’t the best way to end 2020 but I’m most grateful that Christmas will be at home and next time there’s a fundraiser for the Queensland Children’s Hospital at Woolies or on the tv – this family will be donating. Hope you can do the same.