This time last year, I was facing the toughest experience of my life. Sometimes it still amazes me that I got through it, but I did. I feel like I’m a completely different person to the one I was before Autumn fell ill and had her operation with Dr. Zahid Mukhtar. I feel different and I look at life somewhat differently. Hopefully one day I might be a stronger person for it all.
I’m certainly stronger than I was this time last year, but I don’t feel completely healed yet.
For those of you who don’t know our back story, Autumn was suddenly taken seriously ill at 2 weeks old. I was already very unwell myself, suffering with anaemia due to blood loss when giving birth, which was already causing me to experience a high level of anxiety. However, when Autumn fell ill, it felt too much for me to handle. As a mother, my baby was and is everything to me. Her suffering, us not knowing what we was going on, thinking we could lose her and her operation was extremely traumatic for the whole family, but especially me. Subsequently, I suffered such a high level of anxiety that I was almost hospitalised myself. In fact, the only reason I wasn’t hospitalised was because hospitals make me anxious. Fortunately, they were able to treat me at home instead.
When I reflect back, I am so grateful to all the people who have helped me. There was my health visitor who came to visit me, increasing the frequency of visits. There were the kind staff at our local hospital who cared for Autumn. All the staff we encountered at St. George’s Hospital in London were wonderful. Our local mental health team were also absolutely fantastic with me, getting me the help I needed as soon as they could. All of these people were part of our incredibly tough journey and I can’t thank them enough.
Once I was given medication to help me out, it was really my family, the charity Family Action, the local children’s centres and beginning to write this blog that helped me to get back on my feet again. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has also benefited me. I’m please to say that a year on, I am medication free. Although I feel a little more fragile than before I can live my normal day to day life normally.
Anniversaries of things always make me feel a bit on edge, so I’m concerned about how I’ll be feeling over the next month or so, remembering what unravelled this time last year. When it was the anniversary of her falling ill on October 6th, I looked at the clock and thought “Oh, this time last year she was projectile vomiting for the first time. I had no idea what on earth we were about to endure”. As I went through the evening thoughts like “This time last year she was screaming her head off in pain having a lumbar puncture down the hospital corridor” kept crossing my mind. Yes, I know that some parents go through a lot worse, but for me this experience really make it feel as though my entire world was shattering around me. I had invested so much time, effort and love into this baby that it was so hard to have to just sit there and see what life threw at us.
I felt guilt that perhaps it was my fault in some way. Only days earlier after giving birth, family had congratulated me for doing such a good job. What were they thinking now? However, of course, in the end it turned out that it wasn’t my fault at all. I did everything I could to ensure that I had a healthy baby and was in control of everything that I could be. Still, the idea that it was my fault haunted me for a long time and was only resolved months later in counselling.
So, when I’m thinking all these things and my mind carries me back to a year ago, I need to remind myself that it was a year ago. I need to move on and focus on the present, keeping my mind busy and not going back to such an awful time. It doesn’t change anything, so why am I letting my thoughts hurt me? I need to look at the beautiful little one year old in front of me who is so gorgeous, happy and healthy.
Dr. Zahid Mukhtar
I am so thankful to the amazing paediatric consultant surgeon, Zahid Mukhtar. He quite probably saved my daughter’s life. I never got to meet him, but if he ever reads this, he has no idea just how much of a huge effect he’s had on all of our lives and just how grateful we are. With such a huge cyst not shrinking, making her so desperately ill and seemingly preventing her from growing, I’m not sure how things would have progressed. I really don’t want to even think about that.
It’s also almost a year since I had to give up breastfeeding. Believe it or not, this is still something that upsets me greatly. This is despite the fact that Autumn is down to only one bottle of milk before bed now. I just wish that things could have gone differently, I feel like I had the experience stolen from me. Fortunately now that she’s older, she doesn’t have any bottles in public any more. This means I don’t have to deal with so many judgemental comments from people who don’t even know my story. Unfortunately, when it comes to breast feeding, many people take a militant stance. Breastfeeding is amazing, but we all just want the best for our babies. Unfortunately it just isn’t something that everyone can do for a variety of reasons.
As you can probably tell from this blog post, I’m finding my mind dilly dallying a lot at the moment. It tos and fros over the events of last October and November, even though I don’t want it to. Hopefully, now that I’ve written this post my mind will be more at rest. I’m hoping to be better at living in the present and appreciating where we are now, a year on.