Today I got a voicemail from Alder Hey asking me to call them about Zac. My breathing became more shallow than the Kardashians and the shake my hands decided to do made it nearly impossible to dial the number. The voice on the message had remained neutral so it was hard to read anything from it. Was something wrong? Had his condition worsened?
The answer was none of the above – he was coming home.
This came out of the blue as they’d never put a definite date on his release, just that it would be when he was ready. The longer he’s stayed there and the more I’ve spoken to other parents on the unit the fear has grown that it could be weeks or even months. But he’s coming home tomorrow.
I offered to go and pick him up because ‘otherwise he’d have to get three buses’ but the attempt at humour fell flat down the phone as I could barely string a sentence together. My voice was quivering like an agoraphobic headlining Glastonbury.
So my wife set off to visit Zac at Alder Hey for the last time and I looked after Ben at home for the first time. It had been easy in the hospital (apart from the odd nappy change) but I’d been surrounded by medical professionals there. Today I was walking the parental tightrope without a safety net.
Ben woke up and started crying. No problem, I thought. I’ll sort him out a bottle. But the bottles we’d bought were still in the box and covered in that shrinkwrap stuff that’s tighter than Bono’s pants. So was the sterilizer machine which turned out to be harder to get into than prog rock. I was tempted to just trust that the bottles would be ‘box fresh’ but after all the breast pump cleaning I’d been through
I wasn’t going to trust anything.
There was going to be a delay before I could feed him so I picked him up and put his face right in front of mine. He opened one eye as I murmered to him, ‘It’s okay. Your daddy’s here. Everything’s fine.’
He instantly stopped crying and suddenly seemed content with the world. It felt incredible – connecting with my son on a deep and emotional level. The words I used weren't important to him, but the person who said them was.
This was going to be a doddle.
So I put him back in his Moses basket and he started screaming and then threw up on himself.
We’re so excited for tomorrow. We’ll make sure the cards are all up for when he arrives home. I doubt he’ll notice but you can't be sure. And who knows, maybe one day he’ll read this.
Back / Zac tomorrow.