The baby is still broken.

by Veronica Foale on September 26, 2012

in Children

I held my baby while she seized and seized and seized. I snuggled her closely into my chest, wiped the spit from the corners of her mouth and caught the vomit in a tissue when it happened. I rubbed her head and stroked her stomach as she twitched and rolled her eyes, her little tongue poking in and out.

When she finished, I laid her down and carefully administered the anti-convulsants that she was due for. I let her suck on my little finger as I dripped bitter medication into her mouth, encouraging her to swallow. I tried to ignore the fact that I am giving my baby an addictive drug in the hope that it makes her better.

[It’s not working.]

This is not what new motherhood should look like.

Every molecule in my body screams that this is unfair and why Evelyn? Why us?

[Why not us? Why are we so special?]

I want to rage against the world and shout on twitter that my baby is having seizures, more and more of them and that this isn’t right and yet I stay silent and kick the door on my way through it instead.

She’s sleeping now, drugged and exhausted. In a moment or two, I’ll pick her up, hold her close and take her to bed.

It feels like hyperbole, every time I write about my smallest child and yet, none of this is drama. Drama is the six year old shouting that putting her school bag away is “NOT FAIR AND WHY DO YOU MAKE ME DO THESE THINGS?” Drama is the three year old throwing himself to the ground because I gave him the wrong cup.

Drama is not my baby having seizures.

This is not drama, or hyperbole, or drummed up excitement to garner blog traffic.


This is my baby having seizures, and it’s fucking heart breaking.



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No distraction is enough

by Veronica Foale on September 8, 2012

in Children, Me

We fell down the rabbit hole and then carefully, slowly, clawed our way back out.

And then my baby got sick again, and landed back in hospital.

I am stuck on that point. My BABY is SICK and no one knows what is wrong with her. No one can fix her yet and everyone just wants to poke more needle holes into her tiny precious skin. This child of mine who lived under my heart is sick and I cannot magically fix it.

She’s having seizures – we know that much. Tiny seizures that come again and again and again and exhaust her body and brain. Tiny seizures that make her face and eyes twitch and the muscles in her back jump like she’s being nibbled by ants. And yet, no tests show anything, denying the truth of what we’re witnessing over and over.

I spent three days sleeping on a recliner next to her cot in Paediatrics and then we were sent home on weekend leave, with no solid plan in place. The tests are the be all and end all and with negative results, no one knows what is happening and why.

My mama instinct tells me that this is WRONG, that there is something WRONG and why is no one fixing my BABY?

I can’t breathe, because my baby is sick and no one is fixing her, because no one can work out what is happening.

She’s asleep now. She’s always asleep now, exhausted by her muscles twitching when they ought to not be. But she’s asleep now and I type this and watch her and wonder what is happening here. How do I distract myself from worrying about brain damage and developmental delays and the fact that my baby is sick?

There is no distracting from this.

Not now.

Not yet.

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Down the rabbit hole

by Veronica Foale on August 27, 2012

in Children, Me

I had a baby and down down down I fell, into the rabbit hole of new motherhood and adjustment.

When Alice falls down the rabbit hole in the children’s animated movie, she floats down safely, spinning a little, landing carefully at the end.

Becoming a mother is nothing like that. Not for the first time, not for the third time.

I fell down the rabbit hole and landed ungraciously at the end, with my legs akimbo and my underwear on display. Figuratively, not literally – by the time my baby was born, there was no underwear for me. Or any clothes, really.

I was due to give birth this week sometime. Instead, my daughter is four weeks old and I have spent the last month trying to recover from the advent of her early arrival and the trauma of her first week of life. Not that it was traumatic for her – she was lucky enough to escape her premature birth with nothing worse than a plethora of heel pricks and a raging case of jaundice.

When you give birth to a well baby, at term, they send you back to the ward with your child and it’s sink or swim, baby. You change nappies and learn to feed, while eating your breakfast one handed and hoping that you can manage a shower before they stop napping. I’ve done this, twice. You’re an instant mother, making the decisions. On day two, or three (all going well) you take your child home and your new life begins.

A premature baby is a whole different kettle of fish.

I held my daughter for two hours after birth, feeding her and loving her, before I had to walk her around to NICU and leave her there with strangers. A stranger dressed her for the first time, while I sat in the chair next to her and tried not to cry. A stranger explained the visiting rules to us, and a run down of what would likely occur. A stranger stole drops of her blood. And then, a stranger smiled at me as my husband and I left our baby there, alone, without us, and went back to the ward.

I cried until my head hurt and that feeling of having accidentally misplaced something important lodged itself inside my chest. An hour later and I was alone on the ward, trying not to hate my body for expelling my child early.

(I was meant to keep her safe, my body was meant to keep her safe. Oh God, what have I done?)

Over the next few days, I became intimately acquainted with the special care unit and the nurses that worked there. No longer strangers, but still, they were the people making the decisions for my child. MY child, not theirs.

That feeling of unreality as you sit next to a plastic box, knowing that they aren’t truly yours, not now, not yet.

My daughter got better, fast. We were lucky that she wasn’t a sick child and in the end, probably not as premature as they suspected.

As a new mother, you’re meant to be overwhelmed and covered in spit-up. Not holding your baby’s head in place while they insert a nasal gastric tube, or dripping sucrose into the corner of their mouth while a nurse pricks their heels yet again. You’re meant to get covered in milk as your breasts leak, not blood, as the bandaid doesn’t quite cover their wound.

In the scheme of things, we were lucky. I fell down the rabbit hole and we all emerged relatively unscathed.

But I can’t say that it wasn’t (isn’t) traumatic.

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Downloading words from my brain

by Veronica Foale on March 22, 2012

in Children, Life

It’s not that I want my children to be sicker – no, I don’t. I just want them to be silent, for a little while. The elder one is on day three of an ear infection (but there is no vomiting today so far) and the younger one is on large amounts of prescribed laxatives. Just enough to make them both grumpy and screechy and for my nerves to be, ultimately, shattered.

And so I hide from them, stealing all the good jelly beans and locking myself into the bedroom. I hide and even though I’m not alone, being bothered instead by a kicking uterine resident, a peeping duckling and a smooching tomcat, no one is actively whining at me and that improves things, rather a lot.

Some days are easier than others, but then, some days do not contain fluffy ducklings and jelly beans. So even if today is not the easiest of the lot of them, I am practising being thankful, just as I practise being unavailable right now.

Sorry, your mother is taking a mental health break. Leave a message at the door and she’ll get back to you, just as soon as she finishes downloading the words from her brain and eating this chocolate bar. BEEEEEP

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by Veronica Foale on November 21, 2011

in Children

Sitting in Emergency last night with my feverish son, I wondered if maybe the Universe was trying to tell me that completing NaBloPoMo this year wasn’t a great idea.

I’m still wondering, even though we’re home now.

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