In late December we popped back into work for a Royal Visit- as you do! I work for a charity which supports surivors of sexual violence and HRH the Countess of Wessex came to visit and celebrate our 25th anniversary.
Harry came along too as I was still breastfeeding. The Countess was captivated by Harry and all of our meticulous planning went out of the window when she cuddled him and he cooed! She stoked his face, smiled politely at the little bit of baby vomit, which he smeared over my shoulder, and talked to me Mum to Mum. I told her about Harry and said that we were actually going to the hospital that afternoon because his head had grown. She seemed really concerned and kept saying, “what a beautiful little boy- he’s captivating.”
As soon as the Countess had left we took Harry up to St Georges Hospital. I was fairly relaxed at this point. The Royal Visit had been a success, which was great for the charity, Harry had been ridiculously cute and I was feeling like I’d winged it well- let’s be honest; only one nappy, not too much baby puke and my boobs hadn’t leaked (much!) in-front of either the Countess, or the Mayor. Even my hideous braces hadn’t ruined the day so far!
We sat in a very bright, very bland, little side room on the Ward waiting for the Neuro-nurse. When she came over to us, she smiled and said ” his head looks normal”, great I thought. The Consultant and his entourage then came in. “He looks good” he said. They talked amongst themselves about sending Harry for another MRI- ” To be on the safe side”. On balance it was decided that, provided I could settle him by breastfeeding (meaning that he wouldn’t need an anaesthetic) that he should have one.
I feed him in the MRI suite and he settled well so they whisked him off and into the MRI. “We’ll take good care of him” said the Radiographer, kindly. We sat and waited and fiddled distractedly with our phones until the door burst open. “Please don’t feed the baby”! the Radiographer said. His facial expression had changed- I have since learnt to study faces and expressions for clues…I am now pretty good at deciding whether or not to stand or sit as they walk into the room.
The Radiographer explained that the cyst had grown and that he would need surgery- probably tonight. I stood there shaking and staring at Matt for help, who had suddlenly turned really white.
The Radiographer said that he would email the results straight to the Consultant, but to stay put whilst he did. They then brought Harry back. All I wanted to do was hold him, feed him and smell his beautiful head.
The Consulant reviewed the scans and said that although they would “need to do something” he was happy for us to go home. It was horrible- I wanted to see him in person. It felt unreal walking out and the weight of responsibility felt overwhelming.
The consultant then phoned me two days later. They had dicussed Harry and had decided that “he would need to be shunted”. To be honest I wasn’t really sure what that meant, but Ok we will bring him on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Christmas was almost upon us. The children had picked up on anxiety in the house and wanted to know what would happen to Harry. “Will Harry die”? was Lewis’s innocent question. I sat on the floor, looked up at Lewis and said ” I really hope not poppet, I really hope not” How the hell do you begin to explain Hydrocephalus and needing a shunt to a five year old. But Lewis is a genius (he didn’t get that from me!) so to help I drew him a picture. children are brilliant- he cried then asked to colour it in!
On the 20th of December we took Harry into St Georges to be ready for brain surgery the next morning.