The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) was a scary place. Unlike the ward, with screams, shouts, hustle and bustle , ICU was quiet. No noise from the children entombed there, just mechanical noises and the occasional chat from the omnipresent Nurses and Doctors.
Mayhem looked awful. We wept to see him looking so fragile, tiny and skinny. He always had a round tummy, we thought he just had a little bid of a podgy buddha belly but in retrospect it was the tumour. He was completely squished by this ‘monstrous tumour‘, no wonder he couldn’t breathe properly and that his heart was working so incredibly hard to keep his body going. All the food, all the breastmilk, all the everything, we had been feeding his tumour, no wonder he was dropping percentiles. No wonder his burps got stuck. I knew there was something wrong, but never in my wildest dreams would I ever, ever, have considered that my little baby boy was being consumed by such an evil germ.
He had an array of lines plugged into his neck delivering him various drugs and fluids that looked like deranged dreadlocks sprouting from this alien place. A large drain inserted into his stomach, below his sternotomy wound, a catheter to help him wee and lots of stickers and wires monitoring his progress.
It wasn’t too long before he came round but he was obviously medicated so very drowsy and disorientated. He grabbed a bottle of expressed breast milk and guzzled it down like a student downing a shot on a stag night. He had never, ever, taken a bottle of milk before, (despite trying and spending a fortune on every teat and bottle imaginable) he was a boob monster, but as hubbie said, survival instincts took over, he knew he needed milk and he went for it big time! I was so relieved, he could feed without me! He even managed a drowsy smile, he was back!
I expressed every 3 hours, I totally feel for pumping mummies, nursing through a tongue tie hurts but pumping was another level of nipple tugging and inflation that my poor battered nipples weren’t used to, but he needed the milk, so I did it, so did lots of others. No question. Since Mayhem was born I’d never slept for more than 3 hours stretch, so pumping through the night was no problem. Hubbie took the first shift late into the night and I took over very early in the morning. He reacted to some medication and had a massive itch-fest whilst hubbie was looking after him but apart from that he slept, drank milk and recuperated.
We had to leave Mayhem’s bedside whilst there was an urgent procedure on another child on the ward. He was asleep at the time but he procedure took over an hour and he soon woke up. I’d been pumping in the relatives room adjacent to the ward. Nobody heard any noise from the ward but then a child started to cry. I knew straight away it was Mayhem. One of the other Dads said it was nice to hear a cry as you don’t normally, it meant that at least one child was recovering. That’s my boy, he wanted milk. His nurse had to come and get the newly pumped milk..hungry boy on the road to recovery!!
ICU was a terrible place, full of seriously sick children, you felt like you were in limbo, we couldn’t wait to get out of there.