Since the day my little lady was born people have commented on how chilled she is, she’s a calm contented little thing who smiles at strangers. She’s a dream. Ok I will stop bragging before you stop reading!
I remember the day she flashed her first smile at me, well it technically wasn’t at me it was at her big brother! But I was lucky enough to catch it on camera. She was 6 weeks old.
I know it’s a cliché but my heart literally skipped a beat. It gave me all kinds of happy feels and I will never forget it. But this is not the milestone I want to share with you, for my darling baby girl fought a battle at a mere 4 months old that temporarily washed her gorgeous smile away. So this is about her first smile, take two.
After a 10 day stint of suspected bronchiolitis my little girl was showing no signs if improvement, she was refusing feeds, sleeping lots then not sleeping at all, she was just downright miserable. We were admitted into hospital so she could be tube fed whilst they did further investigations. Whilst in hospital (the amazing St. Georges, Tooting) she developed a terrible stridor, the sound of her hoarse, dry and raspy voice with every breath haunts me to this day. The amount of energy it must’ve taken her tiny little body to just breathe in and out breaks my heart. Steroids and nebulisers eased the discomfort but the doctors just couldn’t piece together this puzzle. It wasn’t until we saw an ENT consultant (my hero) that we knew what was really wrong. I was alone when I found out, the other half was on the school run with our son. It didn’t occur to me I might need him there, that was until the sting of hot tears on my cheeks and sheer panic took over. My little girl, a tiny 4 months had a mass in her airways. It was seriously compromising her breathing and they were rushing her straight to emergency theatre. What? How? Hold on, this can’t be happening! Dressing her in a hospital gown that drowned her tiny body, surrounded by wires and plastic.
Panic, fear,despair, the feeling of its not fair, why us.
After the longest 2 hours of my life we were taken to recovery to see our little bean. The surgeon explained that the mass was a parapharangeal abscess, an infection in the deep nodes of her neck. They had drained almost 40ml of pus from it. It was a very rare condition, especially in babies her age. They wanted to do further investigation once she was well to see why she could not fight this infection and why it developed into something so serious. She spent 4 days intubated in intensive care whilst her airways recovered. This was the hardest part for me, I felt so helpless. I couldn’t feed my baby, change her nappy or even cuddle her. She didn’t look like my baby, a tiny little face distorted by tubes and plasters. Once woken up her strength and determination amazed me, my darling girl came on in leaps and bounds and we were transferred from PICU to the high-dependency ward.
I wasn’t allowed to sleep at the bedside but was free to visit at all hours. The first morning after being transferred I rushed to see her, she was coming off a cocktail of drugs so I had been warned she’d be slightly out of sorts. But when I got to the cot and peered over the bars I was met with the widest, cheesiest grin, it was almost a smile of relief. My baby girl knew it was all over. Metaphorical sunbeams filled the room. There was my girl, that smile that I’d missed for far too long. She’d made it.
My baby girl made a full recovery, has been happy and healthy since and her 1st birthday is now a matter of weeks away! What a journey. I’m eternally grateful to all the amazing nurses, healthcare assistants, consultants, doctors and surgeons from our wonderful NHS that looked after us.
So here’s to my special baby milestone, the first smile- take two. This post was written as an entry into the Tots100/Water Wipes competition.