Donegal Mammy Is Stronger Than She Thinks!
This weeks guest blog is from a fabulous #DonegalMammy called Tanya Roberts Browne and although the blog is way over word count I just couldn’t cut it back as it is an amazing story that needs to be read the whole way to the end, about life and how to deal with it and what amazing joy you can be given and yet you just aren’t aware of it at the time… read on!!!
Hello, I am Tanya and I’m delighted to have been asked to guest blog for the Donegal Mammy. I was thinking long and hard about a topic which was important to me on which I could write about, after starting various times with many different headings I settled on ‘Me, A Donegal Mammy!’
So for my first blog post I’m going to tell you my story on how my journey into Motherhood began and how everyday I’m still learning and adjusting to being a Mum of 3.
People often say to me, I don’t know how you do it, I couldn’t do what you do. Let me tell you, yes you could, I didn’t choose this, it chose me. There’s good days and there’s bad days, but we have to get on with our days, and every day is a new day.
My journey didn’t start easy, it wasn’t a path I was on it was more like rollercoaster ride that I couldn’t see stopping, it was like the controls were broken and things were being fired at me right left and centre.
I was 17 when I found out I was pregnant, obviously I thought my life was over, it would be the end of everything I ever knew, I’d probably never dance again, probably never play sport again, I’d have to take time out from college, probably never hang out with my friends again, truth be told I was embarrassed. What kind of future would I have now. Things like this shouldn’t happen to me.
With the support of my family I decided all I wanted to do was protect my baby, I was going to be the best Mum I could be.
At 26 weeks I went into labour, no signs, no warnings, I got to the hospital on Sunday 11th June at 11.45am and my baby was born by emergency section at 12.15pm.
He weighed 900grams, smaller than my hand. Baby Oisin. Little did I know what lay ahead of me after that day.
Oisin was transferred to Holles Street in Dublin that night, his heart stopped a number of times in the ambulance on the way down. I was transferred the following day to be closer to him. Monday night Igot to see him for the first time, the tiniest human I had ever seen in my life.
He was perfect.
I remained in hospital for the next 3 weeks as a patient and after I was discharged I would travel back and forth to Dublin to be with him. I was breastfeeding so I had to pump milk and transfer it back to the hospital every couple of days.
He was one month old the first time I got to hold him. It was the happiest moment of my life so far.
He remained in an incubator on a ventilator with wires covering his whole body and surrounded my machines. This just became so normal.
I was informed after a number of weeks Oisin had been born with an intraventricular bilateral haemorrhage, he also had a hole in his heart, chronic lung disease, retinopathy of prematurity and he had developed hydrocephalus.
He also needed a number of blood transfusions. I was handed leaflet after leaflet of information and I tried to adjust to all this new medical terminology.I had no idea what I was doing. I watched this tiny human being poked and prodded, I watched him go for surgeries to repair hernias, to drain cerebrospinal fluid from his head, to have laser eye surgery and at 3 months old I kissed his tiny forehead bye as he was taken for surgery in Crumlin to have a ventricular peritoneal shunt inserted. He remained in ICU afterwards for a number of days and eventually I was told the surgery was a success.
At 4 months old he was transferred back to Letterkenny and eventually discharged after spending almost the first half of his life in hospital.
Everything I went through at that time was normal to me as I didn’t know any different, not only was I learning to be a Mum I was acting as his nurse 24/7.
When Oisin was 1 he developed Epilepsy, which meant another couple of weeks in hospital in Dublin , he was prescribed medication and his seizures settled. One day Icounted 10 seizures, never in my life did I feel so helpless.
My days and weeks consisted of hospital appointments, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and administering medicines. This is what being a mum was to me.
Fast forward another year Oisin was rushed back to hospital In Dublin, we were told his pulse was almost flat line when we got there. His shunt had blocked and he had to be rushed to surgery straight away. Thankfully he came around ok but it was just awful to watch him go through yet another surgery and to see him bandaged up in pain afterwards. Before we got to Dublin the paediatrician working in Letterkenny said to me, “you know he has Cerebral Palsy?” I knew deep down in my heart he did but hearing these words spoken out loud for the first time was like a knife going through my heart.
Oisin recovered well and soon we were back to Physio and Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language. I continued at home with his exercises and I always played music for Oisin, I used to get such reactions from him when we would listen to music.
During this time I decided I wanted to do something for me again, I started a childcare course which surprisingly I was really enjoying. I met other mums and we shared stories of just being Mums, it felt normal, it was nice. Oisin was enjoying being in crèche too.
Oisin had a number of other surgeries in the following year, one being a Hip Osteotomy, I was so hopeful this would finally help him walk.
When Oisin was 4 a doctor told me he would never walk, it didn’t look like he would ever talk either. I remember walking into the shop and going to the deli counter, the girl working asked me what I would like and I broke down crying, I was a broken girl. I told her my son would never be able to walk and she just held me and let me cry.
I can’t count the nights I cried myself to sleep grieving for the little boy who I felt was trapped inside this body.
One day it just happened, his first word.
No really, his first word was hallelujah!
He wasn’t trapped, he was just hiding in there. He became obsessed with listening to music and I truly believe it helped him in learning to talk and communicate. There is not a song in this world today that he cannot sing after hearing it once, you’ve heard of photographic memory, he’s gifted with music memory! He’s a whizz on the iPad and can create a YouTube playlist in seconds!
So let’s fast forward again, I was 22 and Oisin was 4 when I had just set up my own business with my best friend, we opened a Preschool locally. Oisin had just started school so the hours were perfect for me, and what could be better than being your own boss! Especially in a situation like mine.
A few weeks later I met Paddy. You know when you just know, well we knew. We married in 2013 and it was the most perfect magical day.
Paddy always just seen Oisin the way that I did, perfect, he didn’t know any different either so my normal was his normal. Paddy’s family were just the same, welcomed us with open arms , saw us as beautiful not borken. I will never be able to thank them for this kindness.
We became a family and soon added to it. It was only being pregnant for the second time at 26 that it hit me what I went through 8 years earlier. I cried for my 18 year old self. How did I go through all that, it was because I didn’t know any different. But now I did. And I have to thank my amazing family who were my rocks. I couldn’t have got through any of it without them.
Bobby was born and I got to hold him straight away, I’ll never forget that smell of newborn, something I never experienced before. He was placed on my chest and I fed him, another thing I never experienced before. A couple of days later I’m told I can go home.. what?! All of a sudden I’m at home with two kids! It was difficult, Oisin is a full time wheelchair user, he’s dependent on me for so many things and now I’m trying to divide myself between two people. Thankfully Oisin adjusted really well to having a baby in the house and after a few weeks we all forgot what it was like when it was just the 3 of us.
We’re now a family of 5, Lily Rose was born in September 2016 and the boys just love having a little sister. I’ve adapted pretty well to being a mum of 3, life is busy but I can’t remember it before now! Some days I joke saying I’d love to check into a hotel on my own just for a peaceful uninterrupted night’s sleep but this isn’t for long, they’re small for such a short period!
Oisin will turn 12 this year and when I think about it, it overwhelms me that I’ve been a Mum for 12 whole years.
I turned 30 last month and for the first time in a long long time I sat back and reflected on what I achieved in my twenties.
I’ve learnt more from Oisin than I’ll ever learn from anyone or anything in this world. He is the smartest, funniest, most gentle child and I couldn’t be prouder.
Yes it’s hard at times to juggle everything but it’s important to always make time for yourself, some days you feel like you’re just a Mum, but you know what that’s ok. I thought having Oisin at 18 I’d never get to do anything for myself again, that couldn’t be further from the truth. My business is open 8 years this year and it’s continuing to grow from strength to strength and I’m so lucky to have such a fantastic and understanding business partner and friend. I play football at the weekends and train during the week, I’m not limited in anything I can do.
I’ve had to fight the system, I’ve had to fight as a parent of a child with special needs but we all have our own fights and battles. People say being a Mammy to a child with special needs is hard work, but being a Mammy in general is hard work! It’s fantastic, it’s rewarding, it’s fulfilling, it’s amazing, but jaysus it can be hard work!
So that’s most of my story, there’s still plenty of blank pages to be filled in yet and I have many more paths to go down but for now I’m enjoying taking in the scenery from the top of this rollercoaster ride.
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