As you all know, I became a mom at the tender age of sixteen. (If you didn’t know, you can read all about it here.) Even though I was very young and so unsure if I could get the job done (even to this day), one thing I always had was a big support system. I have always had my mum, dad, sisters, cousins, aunties, uncles, friends and her dad’s family there whenever I needed help or advice. My village is in Barbados and I am in London…I can admit it now that I did not truly appreciate them until I didn’t have them around.
On November 10, Kiara woke up complaining of a headache. I confess Mini KP exaggerates almost every situation so I thought this was a moment where “sleep it off” would be sufficient. An hour must have passed and she was still complaining and so I gave her some medication. When you have kids, a quiet house is a blessing or it could be a warning and I needed to decipher which one this was. I checked on her again in the early afternoon and she had now developed a temperature- definitive proof that Mini KP was ill. I gave her more meds and let her sleep a bit more.
I’m not very good with taking meds for myself. I suffer through painful and heavy periods without meds sometimes, I get over the flu by the grace of God because I know I don’t take the medication every 4-6 hours like I should- if I do decide I deserve to take something for it. But if Kiara’s sick, I am on her like white on rice making sure she’s taking it when she should because I don’t like to see her ill at all. It’s hard dealing with a sick baba- it gets a little “easier” as they get older because they start to use their words to let you know what’s going on but the worry that comes with a sick baba is crazy. Plus, I’m a bit of a hypochondriac and that doesn’t help.
Later that afternoon, I thought I’d check on her again to make sure she was on the mend- the poor girl had spent all day in bed and I was starting to worry now. It’s about 5:30 and I go up to the bedroom and I debate whether I should turn the light on and potentially ruin her rest or fumble through the dark to check on her. It’s winter and these days the sun sets just after 4:00. Anywho, I decided to turn the light on. It was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made- OTT I know but you’ll soon see why.
I go to touch her and I notice these red blotches on her leg. It was at that moment that I threw trying not to wake her out of the window! I shook her awake so that I could check her body to see just how much of it was covered in this rash. Turns out, all of it. I didn’t wait for one second to pass before I called 999.
An ambulance ride. Quarantine in A&E. Hospital admission. Blood draws. Cannula. Antibiotics. Two days in the hospital. No baths. Discharge and now results…
After being discharged, we were told a community nurse would visit our home to administer Mini KP’s antibiotics so we wouldn’t need to be back and forth to the hospital. One less thing to worry about.
I got a call on Wednesday morning from a doctor at the hospital, ‘How’s Kiara doing?’
This would have been after three days on antibiotics (they started when we first arrived in A&E) and I could optimistically say she was doing a lot better. I could hear the confusion in her voice as she continued to speak. She informed me that the results were back from Mini KP’s blood cultures and they found meningococcal bacteria. By this point, I was 3 days deep in google searches and had already diagnosed Mini KP with meningitis so she just confirmed my worst nightmare.
I packed an overnight bag (we had just spent two days musty in the hospital because I didn’t walk with any of our stuff before and I was not about to do that again) and then we were on our way back to the hospital but I refused to tell Kiara why. It’s not like she would know what meningitis was but I didn’t want her to be scared…like I was. At this point, I needed my village. My mother was due to visit us at the start of December and she was already sorting things out before she needed to fly. One of those things was getting her US visa sorted and so her passport was with the embassy. It’s times like these that you need your mum, I’m not going even going to front. The only other person that would drop EVERYTHING for me; my dad. He was on a flight to London by that evening.
Every doctor that came to her room or that we saw during this ordeal reiterated one thing- good job mummy.
Mini KP spent 10 days on antibiotics and this was administered via a cannula on her hand. By day 7, we had to return to the hospital to get this changed as it was no longer viable. I had never been to this hospital before, I never even knew where it was, but by this point, I knew it like the back of my hand.
A few appointments followed, as a precautionary measure, in the event that it was meningitis. She had to go for an eye test, a hearing test and an MRI- luckily the lumbar puncture was no longer required.
We now know that it was, in fact, meningococcal septicaemia.
This was one of the trials we had to overcome in the 11 months since Kiara’s move to London but what this and every other one has shown me is, I do not know my own strength.
I get very anxious at the thought of being a bad mother or being perceived as a bad mother. As a single parent, the wins and losses are on me. So whether it’s her remembering her manners without being prompted or going behind my back and creating another IG account- I will be held accountable. The losses are hard to overcome because, in my mind, I think I’ve fucked her up somehow and I fear I can’t reverse it.
I’m still learning and at 28, I’ve only just got a friend that’s on this motherhood journey with me and so I believe she understands my life a lot more than most of my friends. When you become a mother, your needs and wants take a backseat to your child’s but if you don’t have a child, you might not be mindful of this.
A couple of examples:
~My flat has a revolving door and I’m Mother Theresa; I always have a lodger (maybe freeloader would be a better word because there’s no exchange of monies). Welcoming someone into my home is a big deal because it’s not only my space but it’s Kiara’s space too. While my expectations might be clearer, she too would not expect her routine and lifestyle to be disturbed. So while I’ve made my sofa bed available to you, it’s in front of the telly so be mindful that she may be watching one of her shows and I would prefer that she sit on the sofa than on the floor because I don’t want her so close to the screen. That might mean that you can’t just lay around the house that day.
~Kiara’s bedtime is 8 o’clock and while I’m sure she appreciates it if I’m distracted on a call so I can’t chase her down for bed and so that means she gets a few extra minutes up; I would much rather if my friends respected the bedtime and wouldn’t question me/continue talking when I say I can’t speak right now. Of course, I would love to talk about another wasteman we are no longer entertaining or just a general life update but Kiara and I share a room and we both know I talk really loudly. It wouldn’t be right for me to chat and keep her up. Plus, I’ll probably be saying stuff I don’t want her to hear. I don’t mean to cut you off and come across rude but she is my top priority and she needs to know that. I don’t ever want her questioning it.
The other day, I was focusing on things that I felt were slipping and made me a bad mom- like cooking for instance. MiniKP hasn’t been getting home-cooked meals as often as I’d like but she was being fed every day. Aside from ruminating on things I thought made me a bad mom, I was annoyed by all the weight I had recently gained. My friend reminded me that while I thought I had let myself go, it was evident that I refocused my priorities. And while I wish I was still walking home after work (because this is the only exercise I enjoy; I’m am yet to become a “gym bunny”), it would mean that Kiara would be home alone for an extra two hours every day. Priorities.
And on that note, Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. You’re doing a bombass job and don’t you forget it! 🙂
(PS my Mother’s day plans changed and I’m spending it indoors instead so there are no pics but I still wanted to share this story <3)