Tonight, I borrowed the key to the parents' flat upstairs, and ran myself a bath. A long, hot, deep, scented and bubbly soak, away from the beeps and yells of the ward. Bliss. But that, in itself, does not make me the hospital Mum.
I soaked for long enough that the bathroom lights went out, forcing me out of my comforting cocoon, and into an inelegant bubble coated dance across the floor, to reactivate the motion detector. And that doesn't make me the Hospital Mum either, although I'm fervently hoping the sensor us only linked to lights and not to any kind of camera.
I dunked my clothes in the bathtub, as you do, to freshen them up for a slightly longer than the slightly longer than planned stay we seem to be heading towards. And that doesn't make me the Hospital Mum; it makes me a proud Eco warrior, doing my bit for the environment by reusing the hot water. That, or it makes me someone who forgot to buy soap powder yet again.
And then I looked at the wet clothes, and I swapped the countless white fluffy towels (thank you, housekeeping) for my pyjamas, and I realised that I was not at home but a long walk away from my child and my bed. And I wrapped another fluffy towel around my dripping hair, and shuffled myself out of the bathroom, away from the parents' flat, and over towards the lifts. And that, my friends, is when I became the Hospital Mum the woman who has been here long enough to walk around I pyjamas in public, without the somewhat dubious dignity of a wristband or obvious injury. I tried to kid myself that the baggy cardigan hid what lay beneath, but there's no hiding purple pyjama trousers, especially when matched with brown owl socks. And of course the dripping hair in a towel was a bit of a giveaway.
The walk of shame was reinforced by the number of people who took one look and decided to risk the horrors of the stairwell rather than being trapped in a lift with me. My somewhat tattered dignity mentally wrapped around me, I walked towards the ward and buzzed, hoping someone at the nurse's station would let me in before too much time had passed.
Finally, thankfully, I was back on the ward. And greeted with the message "Oh, the doctors were looking for you. They've gone now. I don't know what they wanted".
But this, this is what makes me the Hospital Mum; the bath was totally worth it.