When you become a parent it never really enters your head that you will have a child with extra medical and developmental needs especially when you have had two perfectly healthy boys.
Then little River came along who is now 18 months old. River is our little baby and we had the same hopes and dreams for him as we did the other two and we still do in some respects, but milestones have changed to “Rivers” milestones and we get such joy and pride when he achieves them just like we did the other two.
River is a beautiful little boy (I may be biased but he is bloody beautiful) he has an electric smile and is very cute. River has medical and developmental needs something we were not familiar with prior to having him, but he has opened our eyes to a whole new world, opening our home to nurses, doctors, support workers etc was something we found very strange at first. I would frantically clean the house before they came over but now I think I have three boys in this house please deal with it :).
River is peg fed for 14 hours a day and this has gone down as it used to be 18 hours a day which was very hard to actually go anywhere as he was attached to a feeding pump. The one thing you never get used to is the stares at a tube hanging out of your child’s belly but in reality that tube is Rivers life line as it gives him everything he needs to grow and to thrive. I don’t mind people asking about the peg, its the muttering under the breath I hate. Children seem to be more accepting than adults as they are more forthcoming to ask questions…the boys just tell them “its just rivers tube” they have become experts now when it comes to River, which makes me so proud.
River has spent a lot of his life in hospitals which has been the most challenging thing as a parent being away from your other children, which I personally found so hard. I would spend a lot of the time in tears. I really did struggle with it as your not just dealing with your own emotions and Rivers, but you also have two other little boys you need to think about. I drove 150 miles home one day to see Alfie in his sports day so he had someone there to cheer him on and then drove 150 miles back to care for River.
During a three months stint in hospital I must have experienced every emotion possible. You begin to question yourself as a parent, you start thinking is this my fault?! I think deep down inside I knew it was not, but at the time I was at a low point, emotionally and physically drained, so I questioned myself. Your stuck in a hospital room with a screaming child who is constantly being sick, shitting everywhere. The bloody heating on constantly did not help matters, I felt like I was in a hole full of vomit, shit and sweat. This my friends was a low point in my life however I knew I had to be strong and I had to battle on to get River home which is what we achieved, we achieved this as a family me and the Husband stayed united throughout.
One thing that became apparent when you go through something like this, is who your true friends are and you realise who the people are that matter. Me and the Husband are very lucky as we had family who took a detour from travelling the world to come home and see us. We also had friends who rallied around to collect money, and day trips for the boys – this really did touch our hearts and made us feel so lucky as a family to have this support and family network in place.
We will continue to battle for River and for all he needs but are aim for him is the same as the other two, to live a life full of love, giggles, happiness and achievements and like the others he will always have us as parents in his corner, to help and support him along the way.