While debating with Max just now, who was gonig to go to the Post Office with all my parcels, i mentioned that if i went, he had to feed Josie her solids. Which he hates doing. And it occurred to us that this time 7 years ago, we were trying to work out how on earth to get liquids into a baby, never mind solids.
My mind has been occupied today, not with lingering regrets about the way that day went, but with the tragedy linked to from Sarah’s blog, the death of Toni’s daughter, a man i know only in passing from comment boxes but who i nonetheless feel quite bereft for. And reading the comments from grieving schoolfriends is very raw, even now, for me. Those feelings can be awoken like they only happened yesterday.
So today i choose to celebrate the fact that i have a beautiful, brave and wonderful daughter, who has reached the age of 7, passed all those operations that seemed such mountains once and now heads towards the final stage of a process that seemed insurmountable, 7 years ago today.
For just a very few days, i kept a record of my thoughts in a notebook that Max went and bought for me and i think now i’d like to put them somewhere where they can’t be lost. They are far from earth shatteringly interesting, but they have a feeling of something about them which i am glad to remember.
A Diary for Frances.
You were born by emergency caesarean at 2-10pm on 23 May 1998. You had been such a stubborn bump that it was really no surprise that you wouldn’t come by the usual route. You didn’t turn till the last minute, you didn’t put your head in the right place and you slept all day and kicked all night! Still after they had tried to pull you out and failed and opened me up to get you out, you stuck your head right down and they had to push you up again!
They whisked you out and called your daddy out and when they came back in they said you were a lovely little girl and that you had a cleft lip and palate. All i asked was how much you weighed. Straight away i knew it would be okay. They put you in our arms and while i was sewn up we just stared at how beautiful you were. From the first minute you looked like our little girl, with big blue gorgeous eyes and a beautiful nose. You had lovely long fingernails and dark blonde hair and the longest toes i’ve ever seen.
Almost within minutes, it seemed, people started bringiing us books of pictures of other children with cleft lips and we were all really well looked after. The baby doctor came in to chat with us and told us you were going to have to have lots of doctors caring for you really quickly and soon you would be looking very different. i could hardly imagine it because you looked adorable to me.
A Speech Therapist came to see us specially almost straight away and gave us some squeezy bottles because you might not suck easily but you were so clever you didn’t need them and over the next 2 days we tried a few different teats and bottles until we found something that suited you. You suck brilliantly and even pushed the bottle with your fingers to get it to the right spot.
On your first night you were happy as anything and lay on my chest and snuggled for ages. On your second day you were so miserable. Your tummy hurt, you were hungry and sick and you couldn’t sleep and even the midwives didn’t know how to help. Then after you had cried all night, your daddy arrived, picked you up and you fell asleep at once and stayed there for 5 hours.
Suddenly last night you got to grips with feeding totally. You had a good guzzle and i felt much happier with you, then you settled down and slept from 12.30. Its 7am now and you are still snoozing. You look a bit yellow from not eating enough but you seem very relaxed.
Yesterday, Mr H came to see you and had a good look at your face. At first he wanted to wait 3 months before doing your lip as he thought it looked very wide but when you stopped screaming, he had another look and decided to try next week. He was really kind and talked about you as if you were So important to him. Even though it was Bank Holiday he got in his car as soon as he heard about you. I was quite upset at the idea of waiting 3 months, not because i mind how you look but because it is gonig to be hard letting them hurt you and i don’t want to worry for all that time. Just now everything is so new that i can adapt. He explaiuned all the ops you’d have and drew pictures. It looks like it will be hard, but good for you.
Your daddy can hardly tear himself away from you. We both love you so much.
Well we have had you home for a few days and its been hard but lovely. You have an evening grizzle but mainly you just eat and sleep. Two nights ago you suddenly started to sleep through the night and we all feel much better now.
I’m having quite a hard time, worrying about you. I feel very responsible for your mouth even though people say its not my fault. I keep thinking i should have taken Folic Acid even though i wasn’t expecting to get pregnant or been more careful in France or stopped your Dad from smoking, ever. i had such a lovely holiday in France but now i just keeping thinking that that is where this happened to you.
You have to have this op tomorrow abd i’m so worried this will go wrong because if it does, it will be my fault. I even feel angry because i have been looking forward to having you for about 6 years and i feel like i have even messed this up. I was so looking forward to breast feeding you but i can’t get you to do it. So you have to have my milk in a bottle. Worst of all, you have such a pretty face, i don’t even want them to change it.
Today you had your lip fixed. They collected you at 5am and took you to SCBU. We stayed with you while they took your blood and blood pressure and put a drip in you. Then you fell asleep and as its very hot in ther, we left you. I just cried and cried but your daddy was wonderful and looked after me. When they called us at 7.30 you were already in the operating theatre incubator ready to be wheeled off and you were screaming. i was so upset. But a nurse came later and said that by the time you got there, you were asleep!
We went for breakfast and then came back to our room – your dad stayed too – i didn’t want to be far away, just in case. You were due back by 12pm but at 1.30pm we still hadn’t heard so i went to find out where you were. I was imagining terrible things. But somehow the message you were back had got lost and there you were. Darling, you were beautiful before, but now you are exquisite. You have a lovely nose, a gorgeous mouth and you look like your dad! What an amazing man Mr H is.
You have been as good as gold, not even bruised. Every time you look at me, your eyes are asking “What’s going on?” I love you so much.
I didn’t write anymore, i think i must have got too busy. Collect your tissues on the way out 😉
Frances’s cleft lip story.