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Dear Staff Nurse – A Letter to the One I spoke to Tonight…

20th December 2015

Dear Staff Nurse,

You just asked if I could come in more… Dedicate more time to my daughter who hasn’t left the ward for 6 weeks.  You tried to explain that it’s hard when you’re busy to give her the attention she needs.  But your question, to a broken Mummy, sounded more like an accusation. 

I am broken.  Broken through trying to be everything to everyone.  Broken because I feel so guilty.  Broken to the point where I always feel tired, my hair is falling out and I can’t control my mood. 

Rainbow's SmileMy baby has been under your care for 6 weeks; 6 weeks I’ve been driving a 50 mile round trip on a daily basis. 

My husband works shifts; he needs to work these shifts to pay for the daily 50 mile round trips; the car I travel in; the fuel I use; I’m sure you are aware how much it all costs.

I have 3 other children; oh, how I wish I didn’t at the moment.  I have a 10 year old and a 6 year old who need to be taken to school and picked up; I have a toddler who has a snotty cold (and by bringing him in I’d not only be putting my own baby at risk but the other cardiac and renal patients on the ward); I have a home to keep ticking over (making sure there is food in the cupboards to eat and clean clothes to wear.

I understand that you didn’t mean it; but I already feel like I am failing.  My head is barely above water as it is.  Being on the end of the phone made it more impersonal and more of a criticism.  I don’t want to be down the hospital anymore. 

I want to be there for my baby.  But I’m trying to cope in whichever way I can.  You were on the receiving end of my anger tonight.  You hit a raw nerve… You caused my guilt to surface.

I appreciate everything you do for my baby on a daily basis… but please understand it isn’t that I don’t want to be there, I’m just trying to keep my head above the water.

The Broken Mummy

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15 Comments

  • Reply
    Mrs TeePot
    27th December 2015 at 1:14 pm

    I cannot imagine how hard this all is for you. Sending much love, I don’t know what else to say, but you are doing your best, you can’t do any more than that.

  • Reply
    Carley Stone
    24th December 2015 at 6:47 am

    Your doing your best by all of your children that in my eyes makes you a super mum, I struggle working 50 hours a week, whilst trying to be the best mum i can be and trying to keep my house in order alone so from one mother to another be proud of your hard work and your husbands your doing a great job x

  • Reply
    Sian
    24th December 2015 at 6:34 am

    Bless you. Wa it Ysbyty Gwynedd? I live on Anglesey and empathise with the fifty mile round trip! I also work in the NHS, but in the community. In my experience hospital staff are the sick child who they are caring, often forgetting that the is an extended family with their own lives, problems and worries? Speak to your Health Visitor, it is part of their role to support families under stress. You’re obviously doing a tremendous job keeping your family going.Merry Christmas. X

  • Reply
    Pooky
    24th December 2015 at 1:58 am

    I work on an Children’s Intensive Care and High Dependency ward…..iI would never dream of asking a parent if they were going to visit more. It must be understood that these parents dis not ask to be in the situation, they don’t WANT to be there…Making long journeys or spending extortionate amounts.of money on hospital food! These parents I’m fairly certain choose to be at home.
    I give the parents of the children I care for permission to not be there, to give them the option to leave and not feel guilty about doing so!
    In an ideal world things might have worked out differently and they would not have this guilt battle to fight!

  • Reply
    marie
    24th December 2015 at 12:17 am

    Where do you live Beth?
    May be a local church will bring you cooked meals for a few weeks?
    May be other parents will take and collect your children from school?
    There must ge help out there.
    Let’s see if it can be found.

  • Reply
    Leonie
    23rd December 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Having a child in hospital is hard for any mummy and when you have been there for so long and with other children you really do wish you had a clone or voted split your body up to dedicate yourself to all those who need you.

    I just wanted to say you are a fab mummy and your doing great! I hope your daughter feels better soon and you get home quickly X

  • Reply
    Cathy
    23rd December 2015 at 9:53 pm

    Your letter has really resonated with me, Beth. A few years ago, my then 5 year old ended up in hospital with a very severe case of tonsillitis. It was obviously a horrible experience but made worse by the fact that it was really hard to get my frightened little boy to take his medicine and he kept pulling out his drip line and quite a few medical staff made me feel that I wasn’t helping him to co-operate; even though I was trying everything I could, hadn’t slept in days and was emotionally exhausted. Grandparents were also looking after our 2 year old at home and work had kindly given me leave. He was eventually sedated for 24 hrs in order to get the antibiotics into him (I felt weirdly helpless and almost relieved at this point) and when they brought him round he was still fighting them! He was then transferred to a normal ward, although it was unfortunately all babies- I think if he had seen other children with drips etc it would have helped. We then had a few more days trying to encourage him to take his medicine before he was well enough to go home- with all of us a bit traumatised. A few months later, he had a scheduled tonsillectomy which we were able to prepare him for with books and lots of conversations/role play and it was thankfully a much better experience. I hope that things improve with your baby soon so that your family can get back to normal xx

  • Reply
    Elle Jay
    23rd December 2015 at 8:45 pm

    I understand.p and fully sympathise. You are doing the best you can. Life doesn’t come with instructions and back-up-plans.

    My son has a chronic, progressive lung condition. Even when healthy he requires 6 weeks per year of routine IV antibiotics that are administered in 3×2 week stays. That’s when healthy. A best case scenario that rarely pans out that way. My husband works nights and I am a full time, mature teaching student with two other you get, school age children. Hubby only gets four weeks paid holiday and we selfishly like to use a week of that for a family Hol, I have placements and exams.

    We do our best and visit as often as we can. Every single day. Except it’s never for long enough around school runs. Hubby too but with working 6pm-6am, sleeping until 1am, these visits take up the rest of his time. I miss uni when he’s in but that just leaves me stressed and frazzled trying to catch up when he’s home.

    The nurses and play specialists are amazing but I constantly wonder what they are thinking about the one mum who isn’t there 24/7, who doesn’t sleep in the uncomfortable put-up beds at the side of her precious sons bed for the entirety of his stays. The parents who are visitors rather than the constant presence of other parents.

    The entire situation highlights me as inadequete. Yet simply is succeeding for us!!

  • Reply
    Alma
    23rd December 2015 at 8:27 pm

    I feel your pain….One of my twins was in hospital for 10 months after she was born, the other one came home after 7 weeks. Constant juggling between my two babies left me totally exhausted but I felt like I was failing both of them at the same time. They’re now 2 and I still feel guilty even though I know I shouldn’t. Chin up, you’re doing a great job! And I really hope your baby will be home soon xxx

  • Reply
    Madeleine lapworth
    23rd December 2015 at 8:22 pm

    Time for your partner’s employers to step up and give some paid compassionate leave
    And for your friends to get a Rota together to have the other children
    Good luck and hang on in there

  • Reply
    Lacie
    23rd December 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Wow! What a truly inspirational woman, both for what you’re going through (and managing to go through it), and for being so honest.
    The first thing I thought when reading this story was; where is she? I hope she’s close, I could help her. But it looks like you’re in Wales.
    I am or sure what your baby is going through, but I hope she gets better soon and you are able to carry on with life, without 50 mile round trips and days where you feel like you’re failing.
    I can tell you now, from a woman who came a mm close to failing, you are not failing. You are doing this, and you are inspiration to us all!
    I hope your Christmas is as good, and as stress free as it can be.

  • Reply
    Amina
    23rd December 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Keep going, you’re doing brilliantly, coping with it all. Be kind to yourself x

  • Reply
    Mummy Barrow
    23rd December 2015 at 11:27 am

    oh Beth. People can be so thoughtless sometimes with their throw away lines. You are doing the best you can. Of course you feel torn between all the demands on your time and there is only so much you can do. Please don’t let her make you feel bad. You are doing an incredible job and should be mighty proud of holding it all together. I understand the feeling of being broken but really you are a strong, brave and courageous woman and fighting everybody’s corner.

  • Reply
    Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love)
    21st December 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Oh Beth, I’m so sorry that the phone call from the staff nurse made you feel this way. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it must be to try and juggle the needs of your other three children, and keeping your home afloat as well as trying to make sure that you are there for Rainbow too. I have no doubt that you are doing your best to be there for everyone and you must feel like you are split in so many ways. Just wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you all and sending lots of love and huge virtual hugs your way xx

  • Reply
    Kate Takes 5
    21st December 2015 at 9:48 am

    That must be so incredibly hard to deal with. It’s stressful enough just juggling normal life with three kids at this time of the year. I do hope you get some space and time to yourself and that your beautiful daughter comes home to you all soon.

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