I have learnt so much about kindness over the last 12 months. From family, neighbours and lifetime friends to friends I have met in more recent years (who will now be lifetime friends), from NHS staff, community volunteers to virtual friends through shared interest Facebook groups, they have proffered such overwhelming kindness to me and my family. What a wonderful thing to be able to say.
Focussing on the positive
Like anything, it’s not all perfect: I have been surprised by the absence of some friends or the very few NHS staff who didn’t get it right, but I choose not to invest negative energy in thinking about that. Again, one of the valuable lessons from life threatening trauma is that it more than puts life into perspective. Time spent worrying or being offended by others, is positive time taken away from me and my family. Time is precious, and when you nearly lose it, you learn to value it differently. That is a gift to come from trauma and the skills learned through CBT and mindfulness. For those who have disappointed or upset me, I can’t change their behaviour, but I can change how I respond to it. I also respect that people have their own things going on: you just never know what is happening behind closed doors and that is another reason to be kind.
It’s an enormously freeing perspective. I choose to focus on the people that bring positivity and kindness into my life and spend time with them.
On the day that Amelie came home from hospital for the second time, I received a message from my friend Rachel (I had met Rachel at a baby group 3 years before with my then baby son, Felix). Rachel asked me what she could do to help. As David was staying with Maya at Heartlands HDU, I was on my own at home with Amelie and Etta. My nephew’s girlfriend Jemma came to stay and Rachel arrived that night to help too.
Rachel held Amelie all evening as she cried inconsolably in pain as the morphine left her body. This gave me some respite to do jobs as Amelie was to cry all night. The next day Rachel came again. This time she brought food for the family so we ate something other than toast. Over the following days she brought round essentials such as my favourite coffee 🙂 and regularly asked if there was anything we needed.
Rachel would arrive almost daily with wholesome food for us for what seemed like weeks. I remember sitting at the table with Felix and David, eating a proper dinner prepared by Rachel. To have time to sit together with Felix was such a rare occurrence in those early weeks and only made possible because of Rachel’s kindness. I wouldn’t have had time to prepare a dinner and actually sit down to eat it too.
Rachel gave her time and words of comfort and became another source of continuity in the girls’ lives. I was overwhelmed and comforted by Rachel’s kindness and will always remember it because it made an extraordinarily challenging time much more manageable.
Rachel has continued to provide support, being a trusted babysitter for when we’ve had to attend various hospital appointments for one or the other of the girls, including this week when Amelie has her surgery.
Prematurity and suppressed immunity
You see, aside from the logistics of taking all of our babies to accompany their sister to hospital, it’s just not safe. The girls’ paediatric consultant has advised us to keep them indoors with ventilation during winter and away from public places whilst they’re under two. This is because of their premature lungs and suppressed immunity. A simple bug to us could be life threatening to them, as we have already found out.
My childhood friend Claire had visited us in hospital before (narrowly missing being my birthing partner) and after the birth, had helped David on various occasions whilst I was at one hospital or another and offered to help whenever she could. Claire also provided us with vital hand me downs such as a spare cot, baby toys and beautiful clothes. Our children are already great pals.
My friend Sarah became another trusted babysitter, and there aren’t many people we’d have trusted the task to. Aside from the logistics of having triplets, two of our girls had significant reflux and great care was needed when feeding them.
I can’t remember all of the times Sarah came to help us, but I do remember her giving up her Saturday to look after our girls so that I could give Felix a 4th Birthday party. This felt so incredibly special because so much of our attention had been taken with hospital stuff and the beautiful chaos of looking after baby triplets. Maya was days away from having heart surgery at the time. To be able to do this for Felix and give him a day all about him meant such a lot.
Sarah was also one of the people who joined my cuddle buddy rota for when Maya had emergency heart surgery and spent nearly a month in hospital in March.
Due to not being able to take Etta and Amelie into the hospital for their safety, and needing to be home for Felix too, we struggled to spend enough time at the hospital with Maya, which still breaks my heart to this day.
Sarah also arrived at my door several times with gifts of flowers, chocolate, food and a listening ear and I felt overwhelmed by her thoughtfulness and kindness.
Our Midwife Lisa, helped us to get extra support such as volunteer services from Homestart and access to a local charity supporting families after childbirth, Acacia. This also involved us receiving a food hamper at Christmas, and I was most impressed that it included M&S triple chocolate biscuits!
Our health visitor would come out to us twice a week, helping with feeds and providing emotional support when further health traumas occurred.
As a result of attending the local charity I was fast tracked to Birmingham Healthy Minds, where I met my amazing therapist Ellie, who was to help me to process the traumas that had occurred at that time relating to the premature birth and associated dangers to me and the babies; initial 11 weeks of hospital for the girls; Amelie’s coma; Maya’s emergency heart surgery.
I also attended a CBT group at Acacia, where I was able to find solidarity with other women who were struggling for a variety of reasons.
My homestart volunteer, Lynn, has become another constant in the girls’ and mine lives and she’s so beautifully kind to us. It is a pleasure to welcome her into our home every week.
Facebook Groups provide kindness and support
I’ve met other gorgeously kind people through Facebook groups who have shared similar experiences and time and time again I have learnt the importance of kindness and how it can lighten the load. Like the fellow triplet mummy Emma, who contacted me 5 days after the girls were born. I was on my own in Worcester Hospital feeling overwhelmed with all that had happened, surrounded by other women who had their newborns with them, whilst mine were in NICU. To see my girls required me waiting on someone to take me in a wheelchair to get to them. Emma sent me a lovely message.
Fabulously kind people
In her message Emma sent me words of support and asked if I’d like little outfits and snowsuits to bring the girls home in. As the girls had arrived unexpectedly we hadn’t bought much in the way of clothing and all of my time was now spent in the hospital with them. Emma wouldn’t take anything for them and just wanted them to go to a good home and be used. When they arrived they were so beautiful and I was so proud to have such gorgeous going home outfits for my girls.
It always makes me smile when I think of Emma’s kind special gift to us. I’m very happy to be meeting Emma in April at our annual triplets meet up in Edinburgh.
On reading that Amelie is going back into surgery this week I had a beautiful message from another triplet mummy Natasha, who asked for my address so she could send a little something for the children to lighten the load this week. I was overwhelmed by her thoughtfulness and kindness. Again I’m so happy that we will meet in April.
I have a wonderfully positive friend Alison, who just happens to be a life coach. For years Alison has been there with words of wisdom and kindness, knowing just the right thing to say and reminding me of all that I am capable of.
Most recently my friend Dave has had to help this Luddite to become familiar with various forms of social media, so that I can talk about things that matter to me and hopefully in turn reach people that will benefit. To give his time to help me is so much appreciated. It’s extremely helpful to know kind and clever friends.
There are so many people who have been kind to us: giving time and words of comfort, sending gifts and clothes – this would be a very long blog if I was to include them all. I only hope I can be half the friend to my friends that they have been to me.
Kindness mattered so much to me during turbulent times. The experiences would have been much more difficult to manage without the kindness we have received. It’s beautiful and refreshing to learn that kindness exists like this, but it has endorsed for me a valuable lesson that I hope to teach my children: just be kind. It feels so much more fulfilling to be kind, just as it lightens someone’s day to be on the receiving end of kindness.
My Unicorn Family
I can’t write a blog about kindness without talking about the special man that I have married. David has held me when I’ve cried fearful tears during the various health traumas that have occurred, though he would have felt fearful too. He’s been patient when the PTSD surfaced and supported me throughout. He’s been there with a listening ear and lots of cuddles. He’s kept the house going when I wasn’t there or able to do it with him. He puts everyone before himself and is the definition of kind. To have nearly lost this life, is to truly appreciate all that I have in it, and never have I felt such an overwhelming appreciation of the man that is my husband. The girl did good.
And my little boy Felix, who amazes me already with the kind things he says and does. When I tell Felix and his sisters how much I love them, Felix will always remind me to love myself: “And you Mummy, don’t forget to love yourself”. I wont Felix, Thank you for reminding me.
Kindness matters. One kind word can change someone’s entire day.