In 2008 when Conall was born and I lay beside him in Holles Street, I had a whispery little chat about what was what in the vein of Only Fools and Horses when Damien was born. The gist of it was an apology that he would be an only child as I was not prepared to suffer again as badly as I had in that labour ward.
A few years later when the memory had faded, I approached Ossie and explained my feeling of encroaching broodiness; we were renting a 2 bedroom apartment in Ashbourne at that point and being the sensible one as always he asked me to wait until we had our own place.
As soon as we had paid the deposit on our semi-d, I reminded him of his promise and as I crossed the threshold a new owner, little did I know that a new life was starting it’s own journey in my body. I was spending a fortune day by day on pregnancy tests so it was a good thing it happened fast or our first mortgage would have been late.
Me and Ossie went for the scan together during his working hours and before my shift started in Boots and were delighted to learn it was another boy… “a friend for Conall” etc.
I really took the piss in work… I hadn’t experienced the joys of an “Irish working pregnancy” before and I was cossetted beyond belief. I plonked my sizeable ass on a stool and served from there; not many people wanted to work beside me due to the horrendous flatulence I suffered with. My pregnancy was quite easy.. The only issue was breathlessness…. and at night I would dream of running in an open field taking large gulps of air as the air seemed thin and unsatisfying in my room and I would often wake Ossie to tell him this.
My baby’s due date was April 1st and I had my friends Aine and Susan over the day before for a playdate (their kids and mine, not us). I kept stopping mid-sentence to hold my belly and they were getting slightly concerned and made me ring Ossie who said he was on his way. We drove to the hospital late evening and I was told I was in early labour. This sped up considerably when my waters spontaneously broke on the bed and labour followed at 4am that morning.
It was an easy enough birth with only 2 stitches and not too much pushing. He was and is such a good boy, arriving on his due date and causing minimal pain. The midwife was so lovely and said she had a private room free for us even though we were public and I was elated.
Koray was enormous and the nurses really thought he would weigh more than 9lb 6oz and I was experiencing post-birth euphoria while Ossie seemed concerned about something…he was a little blue in colour but nothing to worry about I thought.
The midwife called for a doctor and explained to me that she suspected a heart murmur and not to worry
However we could not be given the private room as we would have to be close to the emergency services. I got into my bed on the public ward and turned towards the noise of a freight train snorer next to me. Ossie kissed me sympathetically and I told him to go home and get some sleep.
A nurse doing the rounds was concerned about Koray’s temperature and I had to put him down my top for what seemed like hours. Another nurse came and told me she had to take him off for an echo and would be back within the hour. I waited for what seemed like an eternity and my phone started to die. I asked a frazzled nurse if she could find me a charger and she said she’s see what she could do. An elderly dcotor came to talk to me then and said Koray had a poorly heart and he was going to have to stay under observation in the neonatal ward and someone would be with me shortly to take me there.
I felt like I had been punched in the face and it was all made worse by the surrounding beds filled with “normal mothers and normal babies”.
I rang the bell for the nurse and asked again for a charger and she snapped at me that she had lots to do and I shouldn’t ring the bell for such things. I tried to explain my predicament but started sobbing and she let me use the office phone to call Ossie and tell him to come back. I was escorted to the NICU and it is a scary place to be… my big baby filled the incubator and he was now attached to many, many wires.
I’m a crier but I have never wept as much as I did sitting beside that incubator waiting on information.
Eventually Dr Orla Franklin, a predominant paediatric cardiologist approached me and told me that Koray had as aortic stenosis. She was so kind and explained that if you were to have a heart condition that this was the one to have (this always stuck with me). He was to be taken to Crumlin as soon as there was a bed available. Ossie arrived and I was all out of tears… action had to be taken. I discharged myself from the Rotunda and as soon as we got news that Koray was to be moved… we drove to Crumlin children’s hospital.
He was placed in a tiny cot and I took up residence beside him on a leather chair. A children’s cardiology wing is a real eye-opener and things began to gain perspective as I knew this little pudner would be ok. We stayed in the hospital for about 5 days and that is where he met all his immediate relatives for the first time and despite meeting them, he went from strength to strength. I breastfed him as much as possible and soon we could remove the wires.
Dr Franklin discharged him but we are still outpatients and have to visit yearly. He is normally told he is doing exceedingly well but on the last visit I was told that his faulty valve is leaking..he will need surgery but not for awhile. I don’t google this because I am happy not to know until I absolutely have to. He is thriving and you would never know anything was up with him.
He is a very clever, charming and loving little boy. He knows about his heart and will use the excuse my pipes hurt to get out of doing stuff A LOT! He climbs trees, swims, plays unsuitable video games behind my back.
He is currently obsessed with saying bum and penis and I fear I am raising the next Adam Sandler.
He is desperately handsome and is always surrounded with a little fan club of women… I don’t fear for his heart (maybe a lil bit) but for the ones he will break as a young player on the dating scene.