The trauma of being told that your 15-month-old baby may be brain damaged or may not live.
As an older woman, I write this post with tears rolling down my face acknowledging that I battled through trauma audaciously and thrived during many difficult and challenging moments.
In the ’70s as a single young mother with a young baby, no matter how young you are mother’s intuition is never wrong from my perspective.
What do you do when your 15-month-old baby who has been walking for a few months suddenly loses balance and falls. Normal one would think as she only started walking when she was 12 months old what do you expect. For me, I knew something wasn’t right with the way she lost her balance.
So what do you do as a mother, take your child for medical care? When you do your duty to seek medical assistance you are scoffed at by a doctor and told what do you expect she is only just started walking. I didn’t respond as I was very shy and lacked confidence. Deep down I was still a child looking after a child.
I knew something was wrong. l with my 15-month-old daughter as she would cry when she was in the light. It was a piercing cry, not normal I don’t recall how long she cried but I knew something was wrong. Then one morning I awoke and found her limp and eyes fixated.
As a 19-year-old teenage mother living on my own, I called the doctor with fear and dread., When the doctor arrived she took one look at her and called the hospital to inform them that I was on my way with a young baby.
Arriving at the hospital she was taken from me and rushed away and examined. She was given a lumber puncture and other tests that confirmed she had TB meningitis. They questioned me to find out who I had been around and I recalled that we had been around someone with TB ( only knew that they had TB because my fiends’ partner at the time had a cough and was taken to hospital) and my daughter was tested as were the other children and all were fine. However, my baby developed symptoms much later.
She was now in a coma and she had developed water on the brain and her head had swollen a little. They said the longer she was in a coma if she survived she would be brain-damaged. How much brain damage they were unsure.
My beautiful baby girl was born normal. Was very, very ill and it wasn’t looking good at all.
I was in shock, frozen, in disbelief didn’t know what to do but informed my family who supported me. There was nothing that so could do at that point but go home to return the next day. All alone that night I sobbed as if my heart would break.
I wasn’t a praying person at that time. However, I prayed to God asking to let her be well, and if she was brain-damaged that it would be good if it wasn’t a great part of her brain that would be damaged and she would be badly brain-damaged.
To cut a long story short about 6 weeks later she came out of the coma and her brain and not swollen much further. Arrangements were made for her to attend a special nursery daily once she left the hospital.
She was given lots of therapy to assist her, speech, and physiotherapy. She went to a special nursery, she was bright cheerful bubbly but couldn’t walk. I was with her every day and would sometimes leave just for a bit of fresh air.
One day I left the nursery to go for a walk. When I returned the adults and parents in the nursery were excited and running towards me and babbling away. I don’t recall what was being said. As I entered the nursery there was my daughter running with a limp in the playground so fast it was unbelievable. That was the start of a journey where the fun began to keep her safe but not let her lose her bubbly personality.
How did I get over this trauma?
It took many, many years as I was in disbelief and frozen that my daughter wasn’t normal ( whatever normal is) and in my mind wouldn’t do things that other children would be able to do. This isn’t true for most children can’t do everything other children can do. They all have their unique gifts and talents.
However, I never denied her the support and help she required despite my own reservations.
I supported her in everything she needed to do, I was there at every parent’s evening, sports day, and the joy each time she saw me watching her perform.
The years have been challenging and more so for her as an adult. I still have others with the skills to support her needs which helps her in her life to and be very independent. Which she is, she teaches me things that I have never done or considered.
Over the years I accepted and acknowledge each stage of her development and growth. Now in her 40’s, she is a well-rounded woman in her own right. Encouraging, supportive, kind, and generous.
What should I have done?
What I didn’t do for myself is seek counseling. In the ’70s counseling wasn’t something that was offered or thought about. I would strongly suggest when going through trauma to seek support. I wouldn’t change her for the world.
I never blamed anyone including the person who had TB and unknowingly passed it on to her. I also forgave myself very quickly for putting my daughter in an unknown environment of ill health.
Forgiving yourself and others are key to healing.