With Christmas just around the corner, I find myself pausing to reflect on the journey so far. Self-reflection is such an important part of my journey. I realise I’m not a big fan of Christmas, yes, I do it but in recent years it’s become more of a chore than anything else.
The year that prompted the change was 2015.
2015 was the year Enfys was born; it was the year I became the mother of a heart warrior. The lead up to Christmas 2015 was spent in what felt like a frantic dash driving to the hospital daily; trying to be in two places at once and trying to be everything to everybody.
Christmas day that year was spent at Enfys’ bedside on the paediatric intensive care unit of Bristol Children’s Hospital watching a machine breath for her while Gareth, Seren, and Macsen unwrapped their presents with my parents. The wrench I felt that Christmas showed me what was important.
I couldn’t have come out of that experience and still be the same person, could I?
It’s only been this year, with the huge amount of self-reflection I have done, that I have realised how much the experience changed me.
In total, Enfys spent 3 weeks on a ventilator – most children are extubated 48 hours after surgery – because contracting RSV meant her body was so exhausted, she couldn’t do it all. Those 3 weeks meant I was surrounded by people who knew.
They were people who understood.
There was no need to try to articulate my emotions, my needs… without saying a word… we knew. Our children may have been given different diagnoses, but we were all in this together. Christmas in hospital. Christmas watching our children fight for survival.
What grew out of the adversity though was something unique, something truly beautiful. Friendship. Many of the friendships I made then are still there now. We don’t see each other but they, too, have been through something that changed what this time of year means to them.
For me, while I still buy the children their gifts, the social side is just too much. This year, once the children go to their Dad’s on Christmas afternoon, I am looking forward to spending some time alone. With a book, or a podcast, or something else. Either way, I am looking forward to the calm after the storm.