Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Singing a single mother praise, and a trip to ER.

Last night I started writting a blog about single parenting and how tough my three days of it have been. My girlfriend then arrived for a cup of tea and a chat. I didn't get to finish my blog last night as Oliver woke up at 9:30 with a swollen fontanelle and we rushed to the ER after calling healthdirect NSW. This is what I wrote:
              I am not single. I have spent the last four years of my life with the most amazing man. He is kind, loving, generous, dedicated, attractive, respectful and he loves me. But he is also a sailor.
In our four years together, we have spent approximately 8 months physically apart. Three and a half months of this was whilst I was pregnant. We are lucky, most defence couples spend about six months apart each year. But I am not them, I am us, and it sucks.
Since Oliver was born, James has spent approximately 10 weeks away. Six of these were in one trip, and the other four were just Monday to Friday runs. I was in Melbourne for those six weeks, and I somehow struggled through those weekly runs.
This was all last year, and Oliver was so little then. I can barely even remember it to be honest, it is just a sleep deprived haze. But we got through, and I considered myself the lucky one. Lucky because I got to see our Oliver everyday. I was there when he rolled over for the first time, when he laughed for the first time and when he went for three days with out a poo for the first time. Most parents will know this is a big deal. James got several emails, "he hasn't pooed", "still nothing", "I'm booking a doctor", and then finally "IT WAS HUGE!" But I got to experience all this and James did not. I also had his support via email and the occasional phone call. He was still a predominate part of our lives.
This Sunday I dropped James of at work at 7:30AM and waved goodbye until Friday, with a chance of an arrival on Wednesday. Easy Peasy.

Then I blissfully closed the lid of my laptop, popped on the kettle and enjoyed some female banter. When Oliver woke up at 9:30 I knew this kid had no intentions of going back to sleep until he had some milk. So I got him out of bed and fed him. Whilst I was stroking his head, which is a common occurrence during feeding, I noticed that his fontanelle (aka soft spot) on the top of his head was bulging. I called healthdirect NSW (aka nurse on call in Vic) and they directed me to go to the ER. Jo offered to come with me. So off we went.
When we arrived no one seemed overly concerned with his symptoms and were completely perplexed with how happy he was. He was playing and giggling and so very alert. They told us it was quite a wait, so I sent Jo off to get the pram and set up camp in the waiting home. Now most mothers take for granted the use of the pram, the way we unfold it; clip it together; and turn off the brakes. About 15 minutes later a frazzled Jo comes back with the pram laughing through the door.
"I figured it out", she declared, looking very proud in herself.
As we were sitting in the waiting room I googled. Bad choice. There were no simple answers to his symptoms. A reoccurring word kept popping up, meningitis. Then the rash arrived. Another symptom of meningitis. I told the nurse and she took him back to the doctors to get them to check it out just in case. They all were completely perplexed by how alert and happy he was. His symptoms meant terrible things, but he was far to happy to be this sick. So we waited, and waited, and waited.
Three hours later they finally called our name through the door. I hoped they would laugh at me and send me home. I hope it was a colossal waste of time. They didn't, and it wasn't.
The doctor again seemed confused as his symptoms pointed at meningitis, but Oliver looked like a happy, healthy baby boy. It was 1AM at this point and he was happier than most healthy babies would have been at this time. But his symptoms were too problematic to ignore so they ordered a blood test, a urine test and they wanted us to stay the night to get a second opinion in the morning.
Now Oliver is what I like to call a chubby baby, like the michelin man. His wrists are fatter than his hands. Everyone always screams with delight and affirm, "it means he's very healthy." It also means it is nearly impossible to find a vein.
Most mothers know what it is like when a child has an injection. Imagine that scream, whilst trying to hold your baby still and the doctor is wiggling a needle around trying to get some blood out. It was my worst nightmare. And all for very little blood.
 They then opted to prick his finger, and just get a few drops to test for abnormalities. Then if abnormalities occurred they would try to draw more blood. More holding him from moving, more screaming. I was besides myself, I actually couldn't look at him at one point. I had to turn my head and pretend I was elsewhere. I saw Jo there, and she put her hand on my shoulder. This meant more to me than she will ever know. Then it was over, we could go to a cot. After, of course, we managed to catch a urine sample from him.
Jo and I stood there for about 45 minutes waiting for him to wee. It was about 2:30AM at this stage. I stood him up, Jo had the cup in her hand and just like magic he weed. Right in to the cup. Success, and he could finally get some sleep.
Jo then washed her hands, dropped of the urine, delivered me a magazine, and took my car back to my apartment and stayed the night with my dog. By now, she had more than earned her title as Auntie Jo, and one of my best friends.
We had only met just over a month ago. She is dating a sailor and we are both part of an online support network. We are both from Melbourne but living in Sydney with very few friends and family in the state. She moved around the corner from me. We clicked instantly. Both my dog and my son adore her. They are great judges of character so I trust them. I'm glad I did.
After about three hours of sound sleep on a terrible hospital trundle Oliver decided it was time to play. This was just fine by me. He was still so alert and happy. This was a great sign.
After several nurses and doctors checked him over we finally got a prognosis. A colossal waste of time? Not exactly. But nothing serious. It turns out my son has a massive head, which makes it seem as if the fontanelle is bulging. He also has a virus, but nothing serious, and is teething. So whilst individually these symptoms weren't serious, when put together they were the equation to something much more serious. I was so relieved. No more blood tests, no more urine samples, no more poking and prodding my little Mr, and we could go home.
Jo then came and picked me up, hot cross bun in hand, took me home and stayed for an unwind and a coffee. The whole evening I was in touch with James. Luckily he swapped service to telstra and was able to get service out at sea. But honestly, I could not have got through it alone. I would have had a ruined apartment from my dog, a parking fine from parking in a 2hr zone and I would have completely and utterly fallen apart.

So whilst I still sing the praises to single mums, I now realise the importance of their support networks. Their friends and family. The ones who put their hands on their shoulder when they need it. The ones who bring them hot cross buns after a night on a trundle bed in emergency. The ones who make them laugh when they have every reason to fall apart. The ones who are there when no one else can be. Single mothers are the strongest people alive, but they still need help. Even just a shoulder. Just someone to let them know they are not alone.

Last night was, hands down, the worst night of my life. But something great came out of it. I created a bond that does not just form over night. Normally it takes years to form, or just one night in emergency room with a sick child and everyone thinking the worst.

Oliver is now okay, he is blotchy and a bit grizzly but generally well. He also has a tooth, and pulled himself up to standing for the first time whilst in emergency. We are very lucky it was something so minor. James is home tonight and is up to date with the prognosis. And Pandora? She is just excited that she got a sleep over with Jo.

As for myself I must say I am proud. Proud that I followed my instincts and didn't take the easy way out. Proud that I asked for help. Proud that I didn't completely fall apart. And most of all, I am proud to be Oliver's Mum.


  1. oh my goodness, what a story. I couldn't read it fast enough. Im so glad your little one is okay- there is truly NOTHING worse than when they are sick. You were so lucky to have your new friend Jo with you.

    Hope your hubby returns home safely soon

    xo em

  2. You poor thing - sounds like a very scary time. Glad everything is ok now. Hope your hubby comes back to you soon. And on another note - yay for Oliver's! x

  3. Oh my gosh, this had me all teary!! What a beautiful friend you have there! She definitely has earnt the right to be Auntie Jo!!! And you are a beautiful mother, and Oliver a beautiful little boy, James a beautiful daddy, and Pandora a beautiful older sister! Everyone is just beautiful haha!

    I am glad everything is okay now!

  4. Hi Cas! I found your blog through FB. I'm sorry but I had to laugh at the diagnosis that Ollie had a massive head. LOL. I can laugh because I know he's ok. Isn't waiting for a baby to pee AND catch it fun? At least you caught it the first time, we blinked and missed. I didn't realise how much of an ordeal you went through I can just imagine how scared you must have been.

    M & E (from Mothers' Group)

  5. This is just AWFUL!

    But positive too. But awful.

    I'm so glad you had Jo there, she sounds amazing!

    Hold on to her with a vice like grip xx