Life events are odd things.
They shake you up, make you reassess everything.
To top it off your thinking pattern is suddenly altered.
Yesterday I was angry with everyone and everything and words that were spoken rubbed me up the wrong way,
made me feel agitated and cranky.
Even people with the kindest of intentions were against me, in my mind.
Luckily, I’ve learnt the art of holding my tongue
but when my family arrived I was short with them and made them leave earlier than they’d have liked
and then felt angry because they didn’t understand what this felt like
but this morning, when Immy called, she mentioned that she and Maddy had felt exactly the same way yesterday
and I suddenly realised that this is all part of the stages of processing.
First you are numb
and then there is overwhelming sadness
and then the anger starts.
I’m not sure what comes next.
Today I’m feeling pretty flat even though I can see that the girl is getting better
and I want to cry all over again.
Ivy is sitting up this morning, colouring in.
Each day is different in the recovery phase, a bit like the stages of processing.
There has been a lot of sleeping, some moments where she seems her old self
and some where I think she doesn’t look too crash hot at all.
In actual fact she is getting better.
We are out of the ICU and back on our ward and that is strangely comforting on so many levels.
It’s not that we weren’t given the best of care in the ICU – we absolutely were,
it’s the familiarity of our ward ‘family’ and the knowledge that if we are here,
we are safe.
Does that sound strange?
Perhaps, I don’t know.
I do know it’s nice to feel safe.
Her White Cell Count is coming down – it had basically halved yesterday from a massive 56,000 to 28,000.
Unfortunately her magnesium is sliding again, along with her potassium and phosphate
but Ivy’s doctor is replacing everything she can, as quickly as she can.
The girl had to be tubed again yesterday, so we could get some of the medications into her but she is so accepting of it at the moment.
I just want to say thank you for all of the lovely comments, emails and texts of support that we’ve received.
They have helped all of us – buoyed us through.
Some kind friends swept through on the weekend and decorated Ivy’s room with wonderful, cheerful Christmas decorations
and another lovely friend has started Christmas shopping for me because I cannot bring myself to leave the small girl right now.
It all means so much.
The teachers at both schools have been so caring and have looked after my other loves for me while they finish up their year
and we all try to cope the best way we know how when we are not together,
which is dysfunctional yet beautiful all at once.
My Christmas wish is that we can all spend that time together as a family.
My mood might be glum today but out shining that is the hope that it might just come true.
When I go to bed on Thursday night I don’t expect that we will be in the Intensive Care Unit with Ivy by the morning.
Nor do I expect to have to call for an ambulance
or administer an emergency injection into the girl’s small thigh.
Ivy has only been a little under the weather -
transient complaints of feeling unwell.
We’ve been back to the hospital for a doctor review and to see the Christmas pantomime that the doctors and nurses put on each year.
She is a little warm and a little lack lustre
but she enjoys the day.
I don’t know what happened.
One minute she is okay and the next she isn’t.
One minute the whole household is asleep
and the next all hell has broken loose.
She is crying at midnight and I give her some Panadol and Neurofen and she settles back down to sleep
but an hour later she is up and so very distressed with the pain in her back.
She vomits and vomits until there is nothing left
and after her fifth and sixth bout I lift her from the toilet
where she suddenly begins to seize in my arms.
After that she won’t wake up.
Her little body quite lifeless and her skin a terrible grey,
her lips blue.
I hold her in my arms and run into the hallway
and yell for help.
She is so floppy.
I call for David and for the kids and they come.
David keeps telling me to calm down but I can’t.
I keep telling Ivy to stay awake and try to get a response from her by rubbing her chest -
the way I’ve been taught as a nurse
but there is just…
I start running back to the bedroom and David takes her from my arms.
Immy asks if I want her to call an ambulance and I say yes.
She does it without hesitation.
I run to the kitchen and get our emergency vial of hydrocortisone.
My hands are shaking so, so badly as I mix the water and the powder together and draw it into the syringe
but I can’t find the intramuscular needle.
I tip out boxes and boxes of medical supplies but it isn’t anywhere.
I scream out for help and Maddy comes.
She finds the needle.
Fifteen minutes down and Ivy is still not with us when I inject the cortisone into her leg.
The dogs are yowling,
Upset by the drama unfurling before them.
Lily calms them as the paramedics arrive.
Ivy is just coming around – twenty minutes down, maybe more. I have lost track of time.
Drowsy, so drowsy
and her mottled blue-grey skin.
I think I have lost her.
Shaking, hyperventilating as the ambulance guys work on my girl
then swiftly move her to their vehicle.
Oxygen saturations in the 70′s and then the 80′s
The girls are all crying. Noah too.
I have never felt so frightened as I do right now.
Fluids are started – they can’t find a palpable blood pressure.
The oxygen mask is placed and Ivy couldn’t care less about any of it.
Driving backwards in an ambulance along the normally meandering country road is more like being on a roller coaster.
I see a few land marks but a trip that usually takes me an hour has taken them 30 minutes.
The rapid response team are ready for the girl and they start resuscitation.
Her heart rate is increasing – 180 beats per minute.
Enough to make anyone sick but for a small girl who doesn’t weigh a lot, it’s tough.
Her little chest rises and falls over sixty times per 180 beats
but the scariest thing of all is her blood pressure which is registering lower with each observation.
The big girls arrive, unable to settle, with bags and Ivy’s medicines and tears and more hugs.
We stand like sentinels, watching.
More lines are placed in Ivy’s arm.
She barely registers the needle as it slides into the vein.
Doctors come from ICU – she’s in septic shock, her body is shutting down.
Dopamine is started and fluids are forced into her body at an alarming rate.
Antibiotics and more high dose steroids go in too.
She looks so small and pale and her lips are still that blue that nobody likes to see.
Suddenly her own doctor is here. She has kind eyes but she is very serious.
A CT scan is needed because Ivy has had a seizure – her first
and a lumbar puncture too.
Ivy twitches and shifts on the bed and I worry there is another fit on the way
but she holds her own and slowly her lips begin to look better.
Her magnesium levels are very low and we are told this is probably what caused the seizure.
She is very very sick – the sickest I have ever seen her,
the sickest she’s ever been.
We are moved into the Intensive Care Unit – Ivy’s first time.
David arrives and I cry.
I cry when each of her doctors come, when our beloved nurses arrive -
one by one to make sure we are okay.
I cry even when I have already said everything that needs to be said.
The tears keep on coming.
Big, stupid tears of sadness and relief
as the girl sleeps on and on
and her body begins the long road to recovery.
While Noah and a group of his friends went laser tagging this year,
the small girl decided that she would prefer to have a high tea at home for her birthday.
I love planning and making a party happen and Ivy and I have enjoyed looking through the internet on hospital days deciding just what she’d like
and because I’ve found a lot of great things along the way to the great high tea of 2013
I thought I would share.
Also, I just want to show you all of the photos!
I had so much fun making this party a reality.
First things first -
Ivy and I sat down and talked about what she wanted for the day.
The first thing she said was a lolly bar
and the second thing she said was a rainbow cake.
She thought a craft activity would be good and some games as well
and she also liked the idea of a photo booth, which was my one and only suggestion for the day.
The party was scheduled to go for two hours, so I thought we would need to keep things structured and simple
and she wanted pastel colours.
These were printouts made by the same company that I bought most of the party paraphernalia from.
I was sent the files via email and just printed them out at home.
Of course, you could easily make them yourself if you wanted to. I just didn’t have it in me, so I was thankful for someone else’s handy work.
So sweet and we dressed them up with ribbon from the two dollar shop and little cards from Typo.
Sweet Little Soiree is an online store and reasonably local to us but they delivery Australiawide.
I first came across them at some markets, where I was drawn to their lolly jars.
After getting a few things I ended up ordering a package online.
They have everything you could imagine and then some for that kind of old world feel and everything in between to make the party as whimsical as you’d like.
Their service is super fast and they are friendly too.
Note: while all care was taken by the company, Australia Post were a bit rough on the delivery and consequently a couple of things were broken.
My advice is, if you can buy them and bring them home personally then all the better but home delivery is still a good option, so long as you’re ready for the possibility of breaks.
I replaced the two broken jars with two deliciously shaped ones from one of those Hot Dollar places
and then because I am a sucker for home wear, I bought two more from a different bargain store.
While it is very easy to spend loads of money on party things these days (the initial outlay for the package was roughly $200) it’s also easy to add to it quite cheaply.
Those bargain shops were fantastic, once I knew what I needed.
We bought extra paper staws, paper lanterns and paper pom poms, some diamontes and other bits and bobs from there
along with some cute little dixie cups, which came with cute wooden spoons for ice cream.
It’s also where we got all of the party favours and the jars that were used for the girls’ take home sweets
and it’s because of shops like this that I was able to afford to do it.
I had so much fun repainting an old side board that we had been given when we first moved out of home
and an old table that I purchased, along with some old wooden apple carts from Molly Retro Store
Other things that I purchased for the day included a cake tray or two
and these gorgeous display stands from Sorelle Designs.
I found them when I was exploring Pinterest for ideas – they were Australian, I loved the colours and the prices were good too.
On a side note: Pinterest has the best cache of everything party.
You can spend hours just getting lost in all of the beautiful things pinned in there.
Bunting and garlands seem to be the way to go for parties like this, so I started by taking the little print outs that came with the ivitations
and attached them to some twine, with sticky tape. I scratched them up a bit to make them look worn and then added in doilies, folded over 1/3 of the way and glued to the string.
In between each bunting flag I added in off cuts of ribbon.
They turned out really nicely and Ivy was very happy with them.
I used some little felt ball garlands from Typo that I found (which were on special) and gorgeous fabric bunting that a friend made for the girl.
Along with the paper lanterns and tissue paper pom poms we used a gorgeous tea set, that was lent to us by a friend as the table’s centre piece and filled little tea cups with flowers.
We popped them around the house, with some of Ivy’s favourite ornaments and were really happy with the way things looked.
The little owl vases also came from Typo and were perfect for holding the lollipops and the party favours.
You can’t have a lolly bar without lollies and lots of them and I sourced these from an online lolly wholesaler called The Professors.
They have an amazing range and have virtually anything you could imagine, including lollies that are gluten and dairy free.
We wanted to stick to our pastel colour scheme too and they made it very easy to do that.
In the end Ivy and I chose;
* yellow shimmer gumballs
* pink and white jellybeans
* bubblegum flavoured clouds
* pink piggies
* blue acid drops
* pink sherberts
* white chocolate frogs (not gf or free of lactose)
* rhubarb and custard bon bons
* “love notes” (little, hard, chalky candies with words of love printed on them)
and these little purple things called “sixlets” which are a bit like M&M’s as in they had a hard shell and chocolate in the middle.
Finally the girl picked some yellow and pink swirled lollipops too.
On a side note, I ordered quite a lot and this was because I doubled up for the boys’ party bags, for Noah’s party too.
We made cupcakes, iced biscuits, fairy bread and the macarons were sourced from a little place called Exquisite Cakes locally.
I also made homemade sausage rolls and chicken bites and everything was gluten and lactose free.
The girls were none the wiser.
To finish things off, Maddy made some strawberry shortcake ice cream.
For drinks I made one big vat of strawberry lemonade and another of (lactose free) strawberry milk, which we served up in little glass bottles and were loved by everyone.
Because it was an afternoon tea we only really made enough for each girl to have one or two of each thing, knowing that the lolly bar would be kept until the very end
and that the girls were welcome to go crazy there.
I wanted something easy that went along with the theme of the party and so we decided that we would decorate hats.
We purchased $2 hats from the Hot Dollar store, along with some feathers, flowers and ribbon.
The girls each decorated their own hat – they could make it as simple or as flamboyant as they liked and then the big girls helped them to stick their accessories on with a hot glue gun.
Everyone had fun and finished their headwear off with a feather boa (which I brought from here) to drape around their necks.
It completed the picture of twelve little ladies (and one Gran) who had come to tea.
I had a couple of games up my sleeve for the day but in the end we only had time for one.
The teapot relay is a team game where each child scoops some water into their tea cup, carries it as quickly as they can on top of their heads
and then without the cup leaving its position they attempt to pour the water into the teapot.
It had been pouring with rain just the day before and so at the last minute I decided that water races inside the house wasn’t going to end well for anyone
so I switched the water for glitter (not much better inside , I know but at least I could spread it around a little more with the vacuum cleaner afterwards).
As it turned out the sun was shining the next day and we could play outside.
It was fast and furious
The reason we only had time for one game was the photobooth.
I set it up simply, with a sheet pinned to a wall.
Sweet Little Soiree had a cute cut-out package full of glasses and moustaches in the package
but we added some felt animal masks that were made in pastel colours by the talented people at Mahalo
and some floral head pieces, along with their hats and boas.
Add in a dog or two and some funny faces and you easily have over 30 minutes of fun.
The girls all had a blast (especially my crazy girls)!
Ivy decided that she didn’t need a huge cake but she wanted it to be pastel rainbow inside, none the less.
I found some mini moulds in a Japanese shop called Daiso but you could also use a large,clean tin can as well, which I’ve done before.
It was just a matter of making up one big cake mix and then separating it into six, adding the colouring and then after they had cooked,
layering them with icing sandwiched in between.
I always find that if I make the cake a few days before and freeze it it will
a) be ready on time (very important!)
b) hold together really well when you ice it
and c) stay fresh while it’s on display at the party.
In the end I kept it very simple on the outside, with baby pink icing
and topped it off with a china teacup, full of roses and a sweet little sparkly 8 (which I found at Spotlight)
and candles, of course.
I was pleased with how it turned out and the small girl was thrilled.
At the end of the day (party favours).
We had the lolly bar – where the girls were able to select their own lollies.
This was such a novelty – I would definitely do it again.
The girls loved being able to choose
and it was quite sweet that when they were asked how many of each lolly they would like, how their eyes lit up when they were told they could have as many as they wanted.
To thank them for helping Ivy celebrate each friend was given a little teacup and a trinket box with a nail polish and a little eraser inside,
they could also choose, if they wanted a pencil and some bubbles to add to their stash
and they were each given a balloon to take home.
It was a really nice couple of hours and with lots of forward planning and preparing, I was able to enjoy all of it too.
Ivy (who was unfortunately not feeling the best) had a lovely day.
As much as I love doing together things for the twins on their birthday there was something to be said for separating their collective parties.
We celebrated as a family in the morning, which was great
but it was so good for David to be able to spend good quality time with Noah and his friends being as wild as boys can be
and for me to be able to make Ivy’s birthday wish a reality.