Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Mother gene

What is it with your ill child that makes you completely wake up and be at full, willing attention at 3am?

I was hot anyway. And awake. So why not put my insomnia to good use and go tend to a poorly little poppet who seems to have caught a vomiting bug overnight. She's asleep now. I'm not. And you know what, I don't care in the slightest!

If the LGBB was arking up, playing the fool, acting silly or (my pet peeve) whinging over something or other, I would have far less patience for being up and 'on' at this time of the morning.

But there's something about that call out, Nightingale style (sans the oil lamp and groovy nurse's kit-out), that really calls me to service. I feel so incredibly useful. Mind you, I'd prefer not to be beckoned in this way too often. But there is something very gratifying for me, nurturing perhaps a part of myself, in knowing I am offering my ill or frightened child some comfort, enough to allow her to fall back to sleep. I know what to do for her. Get a bucket, a little scented antiseptic in the water at the bottom, a cold flannel, tissues, spare night gowns and Homoeopathic remedy (for puking - oh totally, yeah, there's one for that!) on hand, along with rhythmic soft strokes of her forehead, and I am well equipped to give her all I know how.

I feel far more put to good use in this manner, compared to those days and nights spent alongside my other gorgeous girl. In the NICU, there is no way to really comfort like this. So new to it all, anyway, and in an alien environment, none of which is familiar to your sense of instinctive mothering, there is little that can be done. And even less which is allowed, depending on the hospital and the 'trends' of the day. During our stint with Ellanor, in January/February 2004, there was a distinct change in instruction for us: it went from quite blasé, even encouraging, views on parental-infant touch to something far less friendly. The day I was told by a Registrar that my touching my own baby was harming her progress was the day something broke inside me just a little bit more. We fought and won that battle, adamant that there couldn't possibly be so much harm done in cooing gently through a tiny plastic porthole to our dear one while we gingerly held a pinky finger so she could curl her fist around it, that it demanded a finite rule.

Don't get me wrong, I know I'm not "making up" for lost nurturing with Ella. My girls are completely different and, therefore, so too is my relationship with both of them. I would never ever dishonour Lolly's place in the world and in my life, our family, by overlaying my nurture or mothering of her with anything that I felt I missed out on with her big sister.

I do often wonder what the nights would be like if I had two wee sickies to dart between. Or if they tag teamed and got ill on alternating nights to stagger the overnight loss of sleep for me. Would I be nearly as tolerant of all this if I hadn't already lost Ella (and so many other bubbas who never made it)? I'll never know.

It remains yet one more extremely handy gift she has left me.

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