Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Happy Birthday, Little Fish!
Better late than never.
Little Fish was four on Sunday.
Four years ago she was born, and immediately whisked away for life saving, life threatening, surgery. For the next three months, she was in hospital whilst complication after complication was discovered, some treated, some found to be untreatable. And eventually she was discharged into fostercare in the hope that she could experience some normal family life in the weeks she had left to live. Different treatments were discontinued in the knowledge her life would be short.
She was a limp, grey, baby. Her breathing could be heard from down the corridor at the hospital, over all the many monitors and other babies crying. She was Baptised before leaving hospital; a small photograph records the event with the hospital social worker holding her as the chaplain carefully poured the water over her head.
Once with her fostercarers, she remained very fragile for a while. Her foster mother took her outside the first time it rained, letting her feel the rain on her face so that she would have experienced it before she died.
And yet, somehow, she didn't die. And she managed to do so much more than simply not die. Her breathing (when awake!) improved, her vocal fold palsy resolved itself, her kidneys kicked in, she started to babble and hold herself up and make herself known to the world around her. The loving kindness of her fostercarers, her temporary Mummy and Daddy, and her fostered siblings, worked miracles.
Still, the prognosis remained bleak. She would never walk, never talk, never learn to sit up or hold her head up, never eat or drink. She would be a sickly child. A referral went in for hospice care.
And yet, she continued to improve.
And shortly before her second birthday, she came home to live with us. She's now lived with us for more time than she had lived with her fostercarers. A nice milestone to have reached. The love her fosterparents were able to give to her enabled her to love them and to transfer that love and attachment to us. Nowadays when she sees her fostercarers she is happy to see them, and happy for them to go again. They have a place in her life, but we are her family. I am grateful to them today. I am grateful too, to her birth parents, for giving her this life she has.
And now she's four. To the outside world, she's a small child bursting with health. That amazing smile, a beautifully squidgy body, bright eyes, and non-stop chatter. And she is, mostly, pretty healthy. If you set aside the ventilator, the feeding tube, the catheters, the allergies, the wonky brain, kidneys, heart and who knows what else, she's pretty healthy. Actually, when you look at most of the things she does have rumbling along under the surface, she's astoundingly healthy. It isn't that she's sickly at all - more that, if she does get sick, it's likely to be serious. Thankfully, MRSA and other staph type skin infections (and one pseudomonas UTI) aside, she's never had more than a cold.
Reading that back, I'm thinking it's possible my definition of healthy has changed.
But setting aside all that, on Sunday she was four, and we had a birthday party. Her first with us.
We had cake
and friendsAnd pass the parcel, and presents, and party food.
And funHappy Birthday, Little Fish.