It’s rare to think of hospitals as a place of joy, but they can be. I gave birth to both of my beautiful daughters at our local hospital and I struggle to think of two more joyous occasions in my life.
But children’s hospitals present more of a challenge on the finding joy front.
Eight weeks after the fairytale birth of my daughter Summer, a quick visit to my GP – intended to reassure me that her soaring temperature was nothing to worry about, ended in a not so quick trip to the Sydney Children’s Hospital.
I was completely in shock. Parenting the second time round is in many ways a lot easier – you’re not as paranoid about safety, sleeping, eating and pooing, and you’re less alarmed by rashes, runny noses and temperatures – even soaring ones.
As I drove from my GPs to the hospital I struggled to make sense of what was happening. I’d been strongly advised that I didn’t have time for the 15-minute detour to my home to collect a few necessities. I kept asking myself, how sick is she if 15 minutes is critical? And what if I hadn’t taken her to my GP – I’d only done so because it was Friday and I was concerned that if she worsened over the weekend it might be hard to see a doctor. I really hadn’t been that worried about her. I was now.
Driving, while crying, and at the same time piecing together the picture for disbelieving husband, the world suddenly felt very unfamiliar.
I parked in the same spot my husband had two months earlier when rushing me in heavy labour to the women’s hospital. I raced through the maze of corridors with Summer in my arms, physically lost and emotionally distraught. I was vaguely aware of people watching us. We finally found where we needed to be – a million miles away from the car park and even further from normality.
Summer and I were both treated with the upmost respect and care, which was important, because although she was the patient and obvious priority, I was extremely scared and appreciated the sensitivity of everyone who was trying to help us.