Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Breath


A friend asked me recently how life had changed for me since Thea stopped breathing. "Everyone says be grateful for the time you have, but I wonder if there is more than that?" were her words. And I had to confess that I now live with a whole lot of fear. It was a loss of innocence, and our life will never be the same.

I was such a relaxed mum before Christmas. I gave my kids the freedom to run far; to explore and discover the wonderful world around them. But those two minutes on Christmas Eve when I thought that my daughter was dead have changed me forever. Try as I might to crawl back into that belief that life will always turn out okay - I now know that just isn't true. And that realisation is quite terrifying.

Thea came out of hospital a little bit different, and a whole lot more reckless. At first I thought it was the drugs, and once she had been weaned off the anti-convulsants she did seem more herself. But she has absolutely no fear (I carry that for her now) and she charges into the waves at the beach like she is embracing an old friend.

I took Thea to the beach yesterday afternoon, where it seemed half the town was splashing in the waves and playing on the sand. After spending an exhausting thirty minutes plucking her out of the shallows every time a wave came charging at her I sunk onto the sand next to some friends, then realised I could no longer see my baby. Four terrifying minutes followed, frantically scanning the shallows and the shore and the sea tossed foam before we found her on the stairs, blocked from view by the steady stream of people walking up and down to the beach. I scooped her into my arms, tried to still the heavy beating of my heart, and took my children home.

It is as if this child has been sent to teach me a lesson in attentiveness. My boys always stuck to my side like glue, and I used to occasionally resent their neediness. I wanted to hang out with the other mums sometimes, not always be the one coaxing my sons down the slide and holding their hand in a crowd of strange children. But now I have been sent this free spirit who will wander wheresoever she pleases; and her need for me is no less. My place, right now, is by her side. And we will be sticking to the rock pools for the rest of summer.


10 comments:

  1. Oh Alison. I understand.

    Being constantly alert is draining...especially having had a scare...and memories still so clear in your mind...

    I had some kinesiology last week to help ease some anxiety (something that I'd never experienced before as a mother or in my life in general)...but I had some butterflies that seemed stuck in my tummy...making me hyper protective and edgy. It did help clear things. And I feel a little bit more like myself again... although I seem to see danger and beauty in both equal proportions now...My girls, especially my eldest, have a whole lot of confidence and exuberance for life that can often result in risky behaviour...I am their protector too while they're little.

    Much love and peace!
    Nicole x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My sister recommended kinesiology as well Nicole - I might have to try it. I never expected my girl to be the risk taker, but she seems to be hooked on adrenalin already. Danger and beauty, they often come together, don't they? xx

      Delete
  2. Alison I so get this too. I think you just do whatever you need to do at that time to keep your children safe and yourself calm. It is exhausting being so attentive all the time, which makes those moments when all of your kids are in your direct line of sight, doing something relatively safe and no other distractions around...ahh, bliss. Unfortunately they don't often happen, well for me anyway. Do what you need to do...and besides rock pools are cool.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trying to keep all four within sight on a busy, dangerous beach is virtually impossible. But the nearly ten-year-old disappearing from sight out on the surf break on his body board didn't get me nearly as jumpy as my baby's vanishing act. Rock pools are awesome, and we have some beautiful one's to explore, some with a few little waves rolling in next to them to keep the bigger kids happy. And we are good at finding the beauty in our own backyard as well. Sometimes staying home is so much easier...

      Delete
  3. My heart stopped when i read that you had lost her in the waves. But thankfully she was safe and sound on the stairs. Oh bless this free little spirit! She is definitely here to keep you on your toes!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I understand that feeling of needing to always be alert and 'on watch', but the thing is, we cannot be watching every minute of every day either... it's hard to find that balance between letting our children have freedom to explore whilst also being protective of them and looking out for them xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is all about balance, and finding the risks which are safe and appropriate for their age. Water is one of those things I don't think we can ever let our guard down around. I have this terrible fear that she is going to stop breathing every time she falls over in the shallows, because that is what happened in the bath. But I think she does need to learn that she can't keep throwing herself into the waves and not go under... Slowly, slowly, the lesson will be learned. xx

      Delete
  5. Hi Alison. My tears have been welling over reading you express all these emotions about what happened to Thea. One of my twins, when he was very tiny, stopped breathing (twice) and turned stiff and blue (he was trying to breastfeed and hold his breath to poo at the same time) while I was home alone on our property with four children, an hour away from ambulance assistance. It all happened so so fast, including me looking down and seeing a blue baby in my arms, throwing his twin sister aside and patting him on the back, thinking he just had some milk lodged somewhere, but he was still blue. I lay him on the ground and resuscitated him for about a minute, and his tiny breaths returned just as suddenly as they had stopped. This was four years ago. As he grew bigger and stronger, my fears receded, especially amongst the general busy hubbub of family life. But the shock of how a tiny dependent life can falter so swiftly and easily – he was in my own arms – has never left me. Knowing that I was able to save the life of one of my children if I ever have to again was something I learnt and it gave me some strength. As for water – one tip that worked well for me in recent years was to put my youngest three all in fluro green rashies, so that I could easily and quickly locate them all at a crowded pool or beach.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Pauline. My Darcy turned blue a few times when he was a newborn, so some elements of Thea's ordeal I had lived through before. And living it again made me realise that those memories are indelibly imprinted on our bodies - as soon as I saw her face turning blue I was transported back to those moments of terror nearly seven years before when I was shaking my baby to make him breathe. Except it didn't work for her. I will move past this time and put a lot of this fear behind me but it will all come back to the surface given the right opportunity. I was so glad my mum was there and I was able to hand over Thea into expert hands. I can't imagine what it must have been like to have to resuscitate your own child, but I know I would have done it if I had had to. I am definitely signing up for a first aid refresher course. And thanks for the rashy tip! x

      Delete

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I really do appreciate them all.