Tomorrow is my daughters birthday. I don’t know if all mothers do this, but when one of my children has a birthday coming up, I can’t help but think of how I was feeling when their birth was imminent. In my daughters case, I remember pacing all around the living room, for hours. I was pretty certain labour was beginning, but nervous as it was too soon, and my c section wasn’t booked for another 3 weeks.
This year feels a bit different. Last year, I nearly lost my little girl on her birthday. We were on a weekend away. We’d packed a special lunch for her, and gone to a cafe for a special treat, so she could have a glass of lemonade. As I always do, I checked her seat, wiped the table, and made sure the area was free of allergens. She sat down, and took a sip of her lemonade. She started to cough. We thought she’d just drank too much at first, but then the coughing didn’t stop. After about a minute, I turned to my husband and said “I think she’s having a reaction, we need to get her outside”. He stayed with our baby and older son, and I carried her out, sat on the ground and laid her on my lap. I got the epipen out, ready, but was second guessing myself. Surely it couldn’t be anaphylaxis? I tried to get her to talk, so I could hear if her voice was croaky, but she wouldn’t. So I asked her to sing her favourite song. She struggled, gasping for air as she tried to get the words out. So I took the safety lid off the pen, and called an ambulance. As I was being connected, she lay limp in my arms, and I used the epipen.
After I called the ambulance, I called my sister to come and help my husband with the other children, and our car, while I went with my daughter to the hospital. The paramedics were nice. They gave her oxygen and a funny little knitted doll to cuddle. She recovered after about an hour, but we stayed for a few more hours, in case there was a secondary reaction.
It’s still surreal to think about it. Of course we’ve had so many chats with her doctors and nurses over the years, but you never really know how it’ll be until it actually happens. It was only a few minutes, but time slowed down as I held her that day.
Afterwards, we went home to the holiday house, and my sister had decorated her birthday cake. We sang happy birthday, and ate chocolate cake. Such a simple thing, but how different it felt, after a day like that.