Christmas in Hospital

I remember telling an Intensivists at the beginning of December, "I just want to be home for Christmas". He said, "That's a nice goal to aim for, I don't think it will be before then but yes aim for Christmas". That's when the reality hit me that we actually might be in Hospital over Christmas. The thought broke my heart. This wasn't how things were supposed to go. I'd seen programmes on TV and read stories in "Take a Break" where children were so ill they spent Christmas in Hospital, but it happened to other people - not us.

I decided that I was going to ignore Christmas. As hard as it would be to be away from Osh and Isabella, I really didn't want them to have to spend Christmas in a Hospital. Osh would spend the day with his Dad and Isabella would be with my family. Mark would join me at GOSH to stay with me and Martha but it would just be a normal day for us. We would have our Christmas once we were back together again, whenever that would be.

But if you're planning on ignoring a major religious and (to the outside world) happy time of year, don't kid yourself that it will be simple to do that in a Hospital for sick children. Christmas was in full force at GOSH. They began putting up Christmas decorations in the Lagoon from early December. The gift shop was selling Christmas gifts and there were posters with details of Christmas activities around the hospital. The coffee shops along Southampton Row were selling festive hot drinks, the Brunswick Centre had the most fabulous Christmas tree and lights. There was no getting away from it, I think it was magnified x1000 because I was so busy trying to ignore it.

Looking back now, I can honestly say that the thought of being in Hospital over Christmas was actually worse than being in Hospital over Christmas. Almost every bed in Flamingo ward was taken, each of those beds had a family. This was the same across the Hospital and every other hospital around the world. We arrived on the ward to find Santa had been to see Martha Grace and had left her a gift. There was also a meal token for Mark and me inviting us to Christmas lunch at the Lagoon. Ward rounds took place as normal, we had a lovely nurse called Sophie looking after Martha for the day and luckily she was stable.

It wasn't until we went for lunch that I realised that we weren't alone. We weren't the only ones in Hospital over Christmas. The canteen was full of couples and families just trying to make their way through Christmas in Hospital. All wishing they were in their homes, but knowing they were in the best place for their child. For some of us, it was a one-off, for others it was just another Christmas in Hospital. Then, there were those that knew this was their last Christmas with their child as they neared the end of their precious lives.

No one wants to be in Hospital at Christmas, having been through it myself, I wouldn't wish it on anyone. But for us, it was worth it to be able to bring Martha Grace home a little under a month later. Some weren't as lucky as us. What that year taught me is that Christmas can take place any day of the year, ours finally happened on the 1st February 2014.

So if you're lucky enough to be spending Christmas at home this year, please keep those holding vigil at their childs bedside in your thoughts.


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