And I think this what the toddler really thinks, as he flies from the sofa with his magic undercrackers on his head…
But seriously. I have a bit of a Jekyl and Hyde going on here I think. The toddler is two different people. For The Big One, he is everything a little brother should be. He walks into the room where his big sister is quietly reading and he snatches her book, runs away and kicks her as he goes. He pulls her hair. He sits on her head at the dinner table (and with his recent passion for nakedness at the waist down, this is not pleasant). He takes games away and he shouts over the TV. In the car, he is in prime position to annoy. He again pulls hair, scratches and pinches. He takes books away and he leans over into her side too much.
Little brother is SOOOOOOO annoying.
But big brother sometimes makes up for it all.His face lights up when The Baby enters the room. He crouches down to say hello, calls her Pretty Lady and exclaims how cute she is. He snuggles next to her on her playmat and is careful that his flailing legs only lightly skim her face. He strokes her arm, calls her cute and giggles at how tiny she is.
Big brother is adorable.
And so this is how it must be. As Little brother, there is a lot of work to be done- and most of that has to be done by his big sister. As Little brother, he is a superhero.
I’ve been watching you learn to play. I’ve been watching the world turn into a huge playground just for you and the realisation has been sneaking up on you: this world is for you!
I’ve been watching your dreams grow inside you as you try to make limbs move in the ways you want them to. Arms that don’t quite reach and legs that wobble. I’ve been watching your determination and self-belief spreads over your face like a mask. I can hear you tell yourself I can do it I can do it I can do it.
It may only be the last piece of toast on your brother’s plate. It may only be that Princess puzzle piece in the corner of the room. It may only be the smallest but shiniest piece of discarded nothing. But you see it. You want it. You dream of it. And one day you will get it.
Dream big, baby. Because one day those big dreams of impossibility will be right there for you to take. One day those legs will walk and that mind will speak out and make sure it does. Hold your power close to you and reach for that tiny, shiny object. Reach out and take your chances. Don’t leave anything you want to do undone. Don’t leave any book unread or stone unturned. Ask questions, explore, excite. Don’t wait for somebody else to fix the things that are wrong- be that somebody. Never settle for half measures. Remember that YOU have got what it takes to get those dreams that you dream… but remember that it will take everything that you’ve got to get there. You can do it. Be brave. Be strong. Be yourself.
We haven’t had the best weekend, it’s fair to say. The baby started vomiting Thursday night and spent the whole of Friday night sleeping for about twenty minutes before waking in pain. I lost count of how many times I scooped him up to calm him down… somewhere around twenty-seven, I think. He eventually fell asleep around 3.30 am and woke at 7. It didn’t click then. He started vomiting again on Saturday night and woke at 10.30, again screaming in pain. It still didn’t click.
This is where doctors failed my baby once more. I called NHS Direct at 11pm and was told that a nurse would call me back within SIX hours but that I should call if he didn’t settle and was still crying. I gave it two hours (of pacing, crying, pacing, crying) before I called back and was put through to a nurse. The nurse told me that an out of hours doctor would call me back, which he did. The GP informed me- I would say politely, but that would not be true- that he was not a peadiactrics doctor, he could not prescribe anything for a baby and that the only advice he could give was to take the baby to the hospital. In my heart of hearts, I didn’t think he needed the hospital (it still didn’t click) but I felt too afraid not to. At 2am, alone and exhausted, it felt wrong to ignore a doctor’s advice.
The drive calmed him down and by the time we entered the land of late-night ghosts, he had stopped crying and was just staring at me, pale, red-eyed and confused. We sat amongst the accident prone and the unfortunate and we waited. The nurse that saw us was most displeased that we had inconvenienced her by arriving in A&E. We shouldn’t have allowed the GP to send us here, the raging temperature had gone down and I was clearly a terrible mother for bringing the baby out in the middle of the night. My punishment would be a four hour wait or to go home with no examination for the baby. I looked at him. And THEN it clicked.
We’ve been here so many times before. We thought we’d passed the pain and the screaming and the vomiting. We thought we were ready to wean the medication. It seems the Reflux had other ideas, still wanted my baby as its play-thing for a little longer.
It seems the tummy bug has irritated his oesophagus and set the flame a-fire again. We’d only dropped one dose of his meds but it had been a week and so the levels in his body were too low to fight the pain. Of course, I’m only guessing at this, since I left the hospital and decided to battle this out on my own again. The signs are all there- I know I’m right.
Tonight, my baby has eaten little and refused his bottle. He has been too scared to go to sleep and just when I began to feel that I would not be able to get through tonight with yet more broken sleep, screaming and pacing the floors… I sat down beside his cot. At first, I was defeated. I actually thought, I’m not good enough to do this. Then he looked at me, sadly, and reached out. He tugged at my sleeve and put his head to his sheets. I put my fingers through the bars of the cot and he held on to me tightly. He finally fell asleep. After three days of screaming and writhing and kicking and arching and wailing and whimpering and pain… he fell asleep holding my hand. Through the bars of the cot.