When will this road end???

6 years ago a baby boy was placed on my chest and from that moment I became a mum! When babies are first born you don’t stop and think about them getting sick or all the hurdles that you will be faced with, you relish and embrace this precious little life that you and your partner created. You enjoy cuddles, kisses and whisper sweet little nothings into their ears. You call them everything other then their actual name:) and spend your days gazing in disbelief that this little bundle of joy is all yours. You nurture them and show them off proudly to the world….and that is exactly how it should be! Then somewhere along the way they get their first runny nose, cough, temperature and you wish those newborn days would return!

I am a mum of three beautiful children who sadly have all suffered chronic middle ear infections. The road in this journey has been such a long bumpy one and still hasn’t ended! Bailey was our first born and as we all know your first child is always the guinea pig. He got his first ear infection at 6 months old. Like any first time illness, you ride the roller coaster and you get through it ok. Then one became two, which became three in a short space of time. I was always at the doctors and he was forever on antibiotics! My lovely doctor at the time was very thorough and kept a close eye on Bay because I suffered ear infections as a child as well. He got through his first winter with a handful, but it was the next winter that he was at his worst.

I remember one night having him in our bed listening to his crying of pain and feeling so helpless. Bailey is the sort of child who only ever wakes when there is something wrong, so we knew it must of been bad. Sure enough the next day at the doctors his ear was so bad his eardrum was close to bursting! Bailey very rarely got a single ear infection, most times double. It was at this point when my GP suggested he needed to see a specialist. This was a time where I wished I could turn back the clock and relish in those newborn moments. Bailey saw our wonderful specialist for the first time at 20 months. Dr Dave, as the kids call him, didn’t want to do anything at first as we were coming into summer and wanted to wait to see what the summer would bring. Of course he was awesome during summer.

As soon as April came and he got his first cold he got an ear infection, that one cleared up and no time later another, so the cycle started again! I lived in hope during the summer that his ears would get use to being good and would stay that way….a first time mum facing having her little boy put under a general anesthetic for a surgical procedure – I didn’t want this to happen! By now Bailey was 2 and his hearing had been affected, which was starting to make his speech difficult to understand, which caused a lot of behavior problems from not being able to communicate what he wanted. It was inevitable he needed grommets and adenoids out!

I’ll never forget the day we went through this for the first time. I was 36 weeks pregnant with Sienna and we thought for sure this was a one off….weren’t we sadly mistaken! Bailey had always been very fearful so we thought he would really freak out at the thought of the whole thing, but surprisingly he was quite good – it was us! I could not fault the Royal Children’s Hospital, they were so kind, caring and very thorough! What has always got me through this whole experience as a mother, is knowing that what my child was going through was nothing compared to other children. It’s awful watching your child be put under a general anesthetic, knowing that the happy cheeky little personality that left us, will wake up feeling rotten:( you wish like crazy you could go through it for them. I was so very grateful that my husband was the one to take him to the operating rooms, just seeing his reaction when he came out was enough to make me upset!

Bailey come out from his surgery upset but better than expected. The first thing we noticed was how much he began singing and I remember him saying “I love you mummy” so clearly for the first time….a tear jerking moment and one I’ll cherish forever! This poor little boy was obviously hearing such muffled sounds for so long, it was a new lease on life for him! From this point he caught other common colds and viruses but didn’t have to go on any antibiotics for the longest period his little body had gone! We then had to be careful to keep his ears as dry as we could and wear ear plugs when swimming. We were hoping his grommets would stay in for a year but unfortunately he got the minimum use out of them – 6 months!!!

This had to be the winner for Sienna. At least Bailey was only going in once a year, this was her 3rd surgery in 18 months! By now we were old hates at it. The staff knew us well and the kids were so brave and resilient! I was pregnant with Mia this time and I remember our specialist saying I hope that one in there is kind to you…again sadly mistaken! This was a good turning point for Bailey and Sienna. By the time Bay was 5 he was finally given good news and he is now 6 and has been ear infection free without grommets for over a year now:) Sienna had a bump in the road last year. We all got swine flu and she was a very sick little girl, the worst we’d ever been through and she got an ear infection so bad her ear drum perforated! This took quite a few months to repair but good news at the beginning of this year, she got the all clear and has graduated from the specialist like Bailey!

My first thought – no more ear plugs!!!!! I was so so happy and being optimistic I even gave our specialist a hug and thanked him for everything he’d done for us over the 3 years of hell! Why oh why did I say goodbye cause I’d jinxed myself!!!!!!!!!!!

When I fell pregnant with Mia my first thought wasn’t joy, my first thought was I sincerely hope this poor child has good ears! I kept telling myself throughout my whole pregnancy that this baby wasn’t going to have ear problems, that surely one out of three would be ok! I really thought my optimism would win out but I guess you can’t beat genetics! Mia was my healthiest baby….hardest but healthiest! Where Bailey was sick by 3 months old and Sienna 6 weeks old, Mia didn’t get her first real cold until 5 months old! But like her brother and sister she started the cycle! It was the swine flu that started her off. I cried when I got home from the doctors. I was so dejected and felt robbed that not one of my children were given a chance to hear properly from such a young age!

After my melodramatic moment I pulled myself together and tackled Mia’s problems the same way I did for my first two children. My husband was and has always been a great support and was keeping my faith by saying things like maybe it’s a once off, she’ll bounce back! But from July last year to April this year, she suffered 8 middle ear infections and had glue ear at 8 months old….worse than her brother and sister put together! My relationship with my specialist was to start all over again and my littlest baby was about to undergo her first surgery. This was my 7th surgery I’d been through with one of my children and the worst one yet. Poor little Mia did it so tough in every way. Another helpless moment and a moment where I longed for those newborn days.

It’s been two weeks since Mia’s surgery. She was doing well for a few days, but unfortunately has been struck down with a throat infection now:( I feel so terrible for the little princess. No one asks to be brought into this world, so when babies end up here and they go through grief, they must think to themselves what’s this all about! But she will get there and her brother and sister are proof of that.

Many people think ‘ear infection’ is that all! One here or there is ok, but reoccurring can cause serious damage, hearing loss and speech delay….all very serious issues that can impact on kids when it comes to school and learning. I’ve done a lot of research on this topic and kids who are allergic to cows milk can suffer from ear infections. It’s the protein in cows milk that causes fluid build up which leads to an infection. They are genetically linked which is why my children have had them – I still find myself saying “but 3 out of 3”!!!!! I can’t stress enough to parents how important it is to be vigilant when it comes to their children’s ears. As a Special Ed teacher, I see so many children who have had their ears seen to by an ENT and their speech development is quite low compared to their peers, behavioural issues are evident as well as auditory processing issues.

Thankfully Bailey is doing so well at school, he is in grade one now and thriving. He had to have some speech therapy when he was 3 but all is good now. He displays some auditory processing issues, but that could just be selective hearing to lol. I’m so proud of how far Sienna has come. She hasn’t needed any speech therapy, but is due for a hearing test. She started preschool at the beginning of the year and is loving it – prep next year will be interesting. And then there is our littlest poppet who we don’t know where her road will end. I know this road will end one day, for Mia’s sake I hope it’s sooner than later!

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The precious moments when you first hold your newborn!

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Bailey upset after coming out of recovery….such a helpless moment:(

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Sienna needing lots of cuddles after her first surgery….she was still so little!

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Day 1 of recovery, mummy had to buy them some presents to make them feel better:)

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One of the happy moments when their ears weren’t giving them grief!

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Poor Sienna having to go back and have more surgery 4 months after her initial one!

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She wasn’t happy about that at all and I don’t blame her:(

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This was taken in October 2010….they haven’t been back to hospital since and have been given the all clear – fingers crossed it stays that way!

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Just after Mia came out of recovery….was a very tough day:(

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Mia wondering why she feels like she has been hit by a bus:(

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My 3 precious angels….it’s always so lovely seeing them happy after all the grief they have been through!

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