Dot wrote: our brief stay in the National Children’s Hospital at Tallaght can best be regarded as a short, well-appointed prison sentence for incompetence. The initial observations by the triage nurse were reassuring – blood pressure, pulse, pupils, and attempts to bite the interesting medical instruments were all normal – but, as Ken mentioned, it’s routine practice to admit children under one with head injuries. So Prawn and I were ushered to our cheery cell on the Maple Ward, complete with the barred cot that he saw as definitely a playpen and not a bed, and then we settled in to be checked every four hours until the following day. I was told we would be discharged in the morning, but we didn’t actually get out until about 1.45pm. Various people kept on coming to see us to say that all the observations were normal and that the doctor would certainly discharge us, but it was after one before a doctor was available.
In some ways, if Prawn had to fling himself onto his tender nopper, he couldn’t have picked a better time. Because we were about to go to Galway, the car was packed with spare clothes, nappies, snacks, my pyjamas, our washing things, and far more toys than we would normally carry around. Moreover, the Children’s Hospital is right by the Luas line into town; Ken was able to chuck Hugh’s and my stuff out of the suitcase, leap on a tram, leap off at Heuston Station and catch a train to Galway by dint of running down the platform. On the other hand, Ken went off with my book, and Hugh was so determinedly wakeful I couldn’t get the stuff from the car until a nice nurse minded him for a bit. I felt some compunction about asking the nurses to do things like that – after all, there were children on the ward who were actually sick – but the nice nurse offered. As a breastfeeding mother I was entitled to a free dinner but all they had was an egg sandwich, so the snacks came in very handy.
So, in the end, the main challenges of the last 24 hours have been trying to get Hugh to sleep in an unfamiliar and very hot place, and staving off boredom. There was a TV in the room and we watched a programme about the man who wants to reintroduce wolves and boars and so on to his estate in Scotland. I sang songs and pretended to eat Hugh to make him laugh. He practised sitting up in the barred cot (and fell and hit his head on the bars, inevitably – but not very hard). A medical student came to conduct a survey about breastfeeding and was amusingly nervous when he heard I was a lecturer at Trinity (Tallaght is a teaching hospital of Trinity College). I had some success in spoon-feeding Hugh banana and apple puree from a jar. The boredom had an anaesthetic quality. Hugh was so patently healthy, and I had to concentrate so much on keeping him amused in the absence of many of our normal resources, that I almost forgot the sheer awful terror of hearing his little body hit the floor. It fell with a loose thump like a sandbag. I wasn’t looking at the time.
P.S. When we came home I was feeling absolutely dreadful from lack of sleep and not at all equal to restoring order to our hurriedly abandoned flat. My friend Sarah took the part of rescuing angel by inviting us over to sit on her lawn, play with her little sons and share her dinner. We had a very pleasant afternoon with her and I’m immensely grateful.
P.P.S. As far as I can see, Hugh hasn’t even got a bruise. He must have a head made of concrete.