I am writing this post cot-side at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, sat in a drowsy fog with blood shot eyes from nights of broken sleep in a narrow puse green chair, with a dead straight back and hard, cold wooden arm rests.
I’ve slouched down to reach my legs out and perch my feet on the beige metal siding of the cot as my poorly babe snores and wheezes, asleep (finally) on my lap. My left arm is beginning to tingle from the weight of his head, slightly damp with a cool, clammy sweat from fever. His chest quickly rises and lowers as he struggles for breath. The hiss and buzz of the breathing machines and faint, intermittent beeps of the monitors act as white noise, dulling the chatter of small children, parents and nurses passing along ward hallways. This is a place that I, unfortunately, have grown familiar with over the past few months.
My George has had a rough start at life, with jaundice, tongue tie and reflux consuming his first few months and multiple trips to Glos Royal and Bristol PICU dominating the rest. The panicked calls to 999 and rushing around gathering up what we think we might need in those first few terrifying trips to hospital have evolved into a methodical routine; bags left packed and ready in the wardrobe and Pediatric Assessment Unit on speed dial.
I haven’t cried this time around, the familiarity with the staff and procedures mixed with overwhelming exhaustion have left me emotionally drained.
The first weeks and months of motherhood tested me emotionally with my first son, Henry. The sleepless nights, constant crying (from both of us) and anxiety over whether or not I was making the right decisions; is he eating enough? Will he be too hot in that outfit? Are they supposed to make that sound when they’re breathing? All seemed completely overwhelming. The experience was difficult, sure, but I still felt a sense of purpose and joy at the end of each day. Being a new mom is hard for everyone, but even at my worst, after sleepless nights, illness teething, etc, I could never imagine what was in store for our family with our second boy.
With George we haven’t had much time to really enjoy one another. I felt robbed of the newborn experience and have struggled with my mental health with exhaustion and stress taking its toll. With each passing day, as Georgie grows in size and strength it all gets a bit easier. His body is able to fight off illnesses a bit better than before, he’s eating solids which has helped with his reflux and weight gain.
The experiences with my boy have rocked my world. I am so grateful that he is so tiny and will never remember the trauma he went through in his first few months of life, but as his mama I will never be able to forget.
A Guest Blog from Jessica DePlasco
Jessica DePlasco is a mother to two small boys, Henry and George. She is an expat of over 8 years from Tampa, Florida living with her husband, English Springer Spaniel and two boys in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire. She has recently begun writing a blog about her experiences, joys and challenges in parenting abroad. Jess has previous work experience with retail, training and recruitment, but has taken a break from her career in order to focus on raising her sons.