My son was just 8 weeks old when he needed an operation. He was tiny, medically just 2 weeks old and even then he was small for his adjusted age.
With a shaky hand I signed the papers explaining I understood he could die and the general anaesthetic could cause complications (which it did) before we went to the operating theatre. As he screamed and fought while they put him to sleep, the nurse turned to me and told me to “kiss him goodbye”.
I had worried, not slept and felt sick for days before we took our so-very-little boy to the hospital. I cried in the morning in the bathroom, away from his dad and sister but outwardly I was holding it together. Until she said those words.
I know what she meant, I knew then too, but what she had just said was what I was so afraid of – that this might be goodbye.
My now 15 month old son went through a lot in his first few months, NICU, SCBU, minor procedures, too many appointments to count at the hospital and then an operation – you would never have known to look at him, he couldn’t stop smiling and seemed to find most things absolutely hilarious (still does!) but the pain those words caused stayed with me for a long time.
It was certainly the most awful, but definitely not the last time people said things that made me question if the connection between their mouth and brain had been severed. To the medical professionals out there how about “Give him a kiss mummy, we’ll take good care of him for you”?
And to everyone else, here’s a handy guide for the next time you encounter a mum / twin mum/ mum-to-be … It’s actually really lovely that you want to chat to a complete stranger / vague acquaintance, and I found it very touching (mostly) but please, choose your words carefully!
(And yes, they all happened to me!)
Don’t tell a pregnant woman she looks massive. She is almost certainly far too aware already. And a raging ball of hormones.
Please don’t tell someone with twins that it is your idea of hell / a nightmare / you’d never stop crying. Those are my kids you’ve…