Posted by: Louise | October 24, 2010

Day 23 – your day, in great detail

I’m taking a liberty here and swopping two of the days around. I’ll be laughing in two days time, but for now here is a very recent 24ish hours of my life.


7.00 am
Alarm goes off, waking me from a bad nights sleep.

The Little Boy Racer has been developing a rash since the weekend. He’s does this kind of thing (part and parcel of being eczemic), but it hasn’t been this bad before. It started at his hair line and has been working its way down his back, over his bum and onto the tops of his thighs. He came home after school on Tuesday, stripped off from the waist up and got his playmate to scratch it for him with the back scrubber from the shower. Tuesday night and again last night he was pretty restless, but last night’s scratching turned into coughing and the beginnings of an asthma attack. It was pretty clear he would not be going to school today. And so I lay there in the dark, already very anxious because K and I had an appointment for relationship counselling, and now trying to work out who would mind the Boy Racer at such short notice, and in this condition.

K and I had been for counselling before, during the summer. It was not positive.

It was such a huge step for us to get to that place. The chasm that is Laura’s absence in our lives had worked its way between us. We loved each other (love each other still), but didn’t know how to talk to each other any more. We were nervous and tetchy around each other, unable to reach across the chasm, or even find a common ledge that we could cling onto together when the chasm overwhelmed us. Both of us thought (and still think) that our way forward is best. Astro Boy asked me one morning, as he lay in bed beside me, Why do you and Daddy sleep with your backs to each other? We were missing each other.

And so we had looked for help. But the therapist didn’t hold us carefully. We left the first few sessions feeling bruised and by the third session, I was broken. OK, I howled, I don’t want another child. It was a stupid idea all along. What was I thinking? (as if it were my head all along and not the very core of my being yearning for new life, for life) Is that what you want me to say?

I couldn’t look him in the face as we left. We didn’t go back again.

In it’s awfulness, it did help us find a way on to that common ledge, but we both know we are still clinging and it is a fragile place to be so we are going to try therapy again.

A chaos of teeth cleaning, yelling at Astro Boy to get his shoes and coat on as soon as he is done, both promptly forgotten as he leaves us in the bathroom, me wrestling the Giraffe Princess’s long locks into a tangle free pony tail.

My friend and her son, and the now very large puppy she is walking for the guide dogs, are at the door to walk into school with us. I check with her if she can mind LBR after we get back from the school walk so K and I can make our appointment. She has a coffee date in town, but can bring LBR there. W arrange for K to bring him down in the car a little later.

Children in school, a city centre school. My friend and I hang around waiting for K and LBR. Around 9.15 I confess to wanting to ring K and check on progress (our appointment is at 9.30 in town). Decide against it. I want to micro manage everything and its not a good trait. I head off and leave my friend to her coffee. Call the doctor to make an appointment for LBR later in the morning.

Call K to check on progress. All good. Just getting into the car now. Aargh. Mention our appointment is at 9.30. He had it down for 10.00 in his phone!!!!

Explain to new therapist I am here alone. Clarify that K is in fact en route, LBR, asthma, etc.etc.. She is very nice about it and says we can take more time at the other end. Spend, not the most comfortable, thirty minutes making small talk.

Emerge. Not feeling bruised. Or traumitised. My only tears were over how beautifully similar our recollections of what attracted us to each other were.

Collect LBR and head for the car and his doctor’s appointment. He is walking. A bit flatter than his usual self. Obviously under par though when he sits on the floor of the lift in the multistory.

In good time for the appointment. Get out of the car to find the doctor’s rooms. Our GP has a practice a few hundred metres from our house, but is only there on Wednesday and Fridays. I haven’t been to the other surgery before and realise quickly that it is not, in fact, where I thought it was. Ring them and get directions, then get back in the car. LBR complains of his chest being sore.

In with the doctor. LBR is put on a nebulizer

The last time LBR needed a nebulizer was the Wednesday before Laura died, 17 months ago. I remember being frustrated because I had only a few days left to write my final assignment for my MA and sitting watching CeeBeebies with my asthmatic son was not my preferred agenda. I remember putting on the birkinstocks I wear around the house as slippers to wheel him up to the doctor and noticing how my feet were starting to swell. I sat and chatted with the doctor about my pregnancy, about LBR.

For months, and still occasionally, I wondered, What if I had told her about the really strong Braxton Hicks (or did I tell her and it just wasn’t significant enough to raise alarm)? What if she had checked Laura’s heartbeat? Would she have noticed anything unusual? Would any of it ultimately have changed the outcome? One broken heart – a whole family – a community of broken hearts.

The nebulizer hadn’t even finished and the doctor was mouthing over LBR’S head that she would need to admit him. Usually a stint on the nebulizer has him flying again, but not today. It hadn’t made a difference. She prepared the necessary paper work and gave me a choice of hospitals.

Utterly calm, in the way of a swan paddling furiously, I had the presence of mind to choose the hospital two streets from the kids’ school and minutes from K’s work. He could pick up the car and take it home. It was also NOT the hospital where I had sat with K for a month watching him battle a life threatening dose of pneumonia, NOT the hospital where I had delivered Laura into this world a year later, NOT the hospital in whose chapel we had bid her farewell, NOT THAT HOSPITAL…

The doctor gave LBR a sticker, a pen and notebook to draw in at the hospital and a dose of steroids. We were on our way.

LBR pukes all the steroids back up again as, still driving, I frantically look for a sick bag and a safe place to pull in simultaneously.


LBR admitted and wheeled to his room. It had taken 4 doses on the nebulizer to get his oxygen levels to steady. He wasn’t going home tonight. Nor, it would appear was I. Every bed had a barko lounger beside it. Parents are encouraged to stay. I cried with relief.

K and the kids come in for a visit laden with bags. Dinner for me, laptop, dvds, night clothes, hot wheels, a magazine, some books, my phone charger. Typically my phone had been beeping all afternoon in that ‘any second I am going to give up the ghost and leave you feeling completely isolated at this time of need’ way. I had been willing people not to ring me.

Friday was to be a party day in school. Everyone was dressing up for Hallowe’en – last day of school before the Hallowe’en break. The Giraffe Princess had been planning her outfit for weeks. LBR was unwavering in his determination to be a pirate again. Astro Boy needed pinning down. Trying to sort a costume and get two kids out to school in 40 minutes early on a Friday was not something I wished on K. One conversation later and Astro Boy was settled on a “Tormentor”. All he needed was black clothes. Life really does go on – Child in hospital? Hallowe’en party still needs tending to. Baby dies? Groceries still need to be bought.

LBR happily clad in Pirate jammies. The others depart.

LBR finally keels over – head hanging off one side of the bed, feet off the other. He’s been saying he’s tired for hours, but the heavy doses of steroids finally kicked in. I’m sleepy. I’m hungry. What can I eat? I want to play with the toys? I’m just going to skip from one side of the room to the other. I’m sleepy.

All notions I had of watching ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ or reading a magazine forgotten. I lever up my foot rest and slide as far down as I can on my lounger. Cue very very fitful nights sleep. Armchair beside a large window with a bright light in the ceiling just outside. No blind. Regular check-ups by a nurse. In between, LBR sleep walking or his five-year old room mate moaning in agony.

LBR wide awake. Ready to play. Nnnnrghh…

Giraffe Princess and Astro Boy arrive at the sleepy children’s ward clad in full dress-up, armed with face paints and wire.

After a frenzy of face painting, and hair wrestling, we abandon K and the LBR. I run with the Tormentor – a vision in floaty blackness – and one half of a Twin-Terror (dead school girl – hair plaited and wired to stick up straight), her best friend and other half of the twins waiting patiently in school. We race down four flights of stairs and along corridors, turning the heads of all the early morning hospital staff, out into the fresh air and through the streets to school.

Post script.
The LBR was allowed home on Friday afternoon, still high on steroids but breathing well.

Life goes on.



  1. A day in the life of a mamma living and breathing after loss.
    You are a wonderful mother.
    So glad he is better.
    Love and grace- L

  2. what a day!

    Good to hear LBR is feeling better. Hope you have a good (long) weekend with time to cover from all the turmoil.

  3. Thank you.

    He has currently locked himself in the bathroom and is mixing potions. All back to normal.

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