So, the past fortnight has really been a tough period for us. The poor baby boy unfortunately caught the measles bug and developed a high fever, a runny nose, bad cough and a terrible rash that spread to even his fingers and toes. To make matters worse, he subsequently contracted pneumonia. Yes, it all sounds quite terrible, right? As I type this post, I am watching my baby sleeping in his cot in the isolated ward at KKH Children's Hospital, where we've spent the last three days.
Do you know what's one of the worst things when your child falls sick?
It's not about feeling all worn out just looking after a fussy, whiny child who has been refusing to eat anything for a week. It's not about neglecting your other children and having to ask the hubby to look after them while you handle the sick one. It's not about spending lots of time, money and effort just to get to the root of the problem. It's not about being so sleep deprived like you feel like a walking zombie who still has to breastfeed the baby, since this is the only thing he takes in, every 1 to 2 hours. It's not about feeling guilty that you may have indirectly landed him in this state and feeling like a terrible mum (well, this one ranks close).
But, it's about watching him suffer in pain and yet you know that there is nothing you can do to ease that pain. That, I tell you, is heartbreaking and I can almost hear my heart breaking into a million pieces whenever he shrieks and wails. My baby, my little baby, what can I possibly do to make you feel better except being here with you and giving you hugs and kisses? I wish, I wish, I really wish that I was the one in torment, and not you.
Here's a heartfelt letter written to my youngest one, whom I hope will stay strong and recover soon from this ordeal.
It's our third night here in KKH and I'm watching over you as you sleep beside me. It's been a really tough time for you in the past couple of weeks, right? Even since you developed a fever 40°C fever 10 days ago, we've been rushing all over, going to a 24-hour clinic, visiting your PD not once but thrice before we eventually landed in the hospital two days ago.
You know, Daddy and I are the kind of parents who don't really like to let our kids take medicine and whenever possible, we prefer for our children to fight viruses and bacterial on their own and build up a strong immunity rather than having to rely on mediciation. That was because we stayed in Scandinavia for nearly five years and in the place where we lived, doctors would tell you to let your child drink Coke or eat ice cream if he is running a fever. As long as a child is able to sit, stand, talk and play, he/she is fine. So yes, please understand this mindset and forgive us for not rushing you to A&E when you fell ill.
That said, Mummy did bring you to Dr Tan, your paediatrician, three times over a 10-day period. During the first two visits, she didn't seem too worried about you and prescribed you with antibiotics and other usual medicine to treat your symptoms. Even when you showed up with a rash on your body during the review, she didn't think it would be too serious and perhaps it was just an allergy or a viral rash. It was only when you started displaying a shortness of breath and was grunting in the third visit that she decided to refer us to the hospital for a thorough check up. The funny thing was, even the senior doctors who first saw you here told me that it was unlikely that you had developed measles and they assumed that it was probably some other virus instead.
Well, they turned out to be wrong because your measles swab came back positive and the X-ray also confirmed that you had developed pneumonia. Uh oh. Oh gosh. Oh no.
Whatever we need to do to get you better, we'll do it. My only wish was that you would feel better and recover soon. You were not eating, you whined incessantly, you couldn't breathe properly, you were fussy about who carried you, you hated the nebulizer and all the medicine you were forced to swallow, you dreaded the swab and blood tests, you shunned from people who were wearing a mask on their face, you would wake up in the middle of your sleep to cry and what really saddened me was that you - my usually cheerful baby with that infectious laughter - had not smiled for so many days already. I miss your bubbly self, my dear.
Last night, the doctors decided to change your course of antibiotics from ampicilin, which you were taking orally, to rocephin, which had to be given through the IV cannula. That means that the nurses had to insert a cannula, which is like a tube, into your vein so that the antibiotics can be infused into your bloodstream directly. Sob, the moment I heard, I knew you weren't going to like it. It's easy to tell myself that this is for the better, for your own good, but that doesn't help me to feel better hearing your protests, your howls, your cries for Mama when they took you from me and asked me to step out of the room.
I'm sorry, so sorry that you had to go through all of this, my dear.
My heart broke when I saw you through the glass window and I felt every inch of your pain, and more. I cried when you cried, uncontrollably, and I tried to wash away my tears and looked brave when the doctor spoke to me. But no, inside I was tearing apart and it didn't help that daddy wasn't there to hold my hand and tell me that things were gonna be okay. I would have given anything just to ease that suffering of yours and I wish I could take your place. I wanted to shout to you and assure you that Mummy didn't leave you alone, that I was still by your side holding you up, cheering for you and loving you so so deeply.
Tomorrow will be a better day, yeah?
I believe that things happen for a reason in life and if this ordeal is one that we have to go through, let's make sure we emerge stronger at the end of it. Stronger body, stronger mindset, stronger bond, stronger you and me. You can't have a rainbow without the rain, right?
For now, I'm really, really looking forward to our rainbow but even if the rain continues, please know that we will be standing together hand in hand until the gloomy skies are gone. No, we don't need an umbrella. All we need is you and me, and the willingness to smile and dance in the rain. Hang in there, my child, and stay strong.
P.S. Thanks to Daddy who took leave to take care of us, running around every day to chauffeur the elder ones to and from school. We are also very blessed to have friends and family who visited us and brought so much food, balloon and well wishes. By the way, your jiejies miss you so much and I know you miss them badly too. I'm so happy they managed to sneak in to see you tonight, even if it was just for a while. That sibling love, all the the sweet touches and "I miss you"s might just be what you need to feel better tomorrow. We love you so much, baby!