Back to Lewisham Hospital

We had to go back to the hospital with Millie on Friday evening, which was very strange. The same dreadfully familiar train journey from work, the same short walk to Lewisham Hospital, just a different ward this time.

First of all, Millie’s fine.

I’ll just repeat that: Millie’s perfectly all right. We were told to go to A&E by our GP but only as a sensible precaution and because it was the quickest way to see a pediatrician.

Now, as many of you will know, Millie has a pretty frightening-looking lump on the back of her head; it’s called a strawberry nevus (amongst other names) but it’s basically a scary-looking bumpy red birthmark that, given a few years, will almost certainly disappear (and even if it doesn’t it’ll be hidden by Millie’s hair).

This, we noticed, had scabbed over partly, and had also been a bit of a sensitive spot for Millie for a few days – which isn’t unusual – but then we noticed there was a little bit of a smell around it.

Not an awful smell but a slightly unpleasant metallic sort of smell. Millie was otherwise absolutely fine but since babies aren’t supposed to smell like this the Lovely Melanie took her to the doctor’s on Friday, and they recommended Millie be checked out at the hospital.

Lewisham Hospital were very helpful, as always, and two doctors both agreed that there wasn’t anything to worry about at the moment, but that we should keep an eye on the lump anyway, and they gave us some cream to put on it (more to give us something positive to do to help than for any real practical reason, I suspect).

Still, come Sunday the smell was still there – detectable from about a foot away from Millie by now – and we were still worrying about it. There was still no change in Millie, she was still fine, but in the afternoon during a feed I suddenly noticed that where the scab had been was now a small empty round hole in the middle of it and some pus (or something) visible inside.

I confess, even I was a bit shocked by this – the hole was wide enough to fit a headphone plug and maybe a third of a centimetre deep, which doesn’t sound like much but on a small baby like Millie it looked more.

A bit of an anti-climax really, but we put some more cream on, checked Millie was OK and have since kept the area even nicer and cleaner than before.

The good news is that since the scab/wound/whatever has “burst” the smell has definitely gone, and Millie has still yet to even notice anything wrong. She’s going for a regular hospital checkup tomorrow anyway, so the Lovely Melanie’s going to point out the problem again to the doctors and may well ask to be referred to a dermatologist, as quite apart from this whole thing not being good for Millie it’s rather disconcerting for us, her parents, too!

The lump has always made it slightly awkward to hold her (particularly during feeds and bath time) but if there are going to be problems with infection then I think perhaps we need to look seriously at getting something done about it – despite the fact that most doctors prefer to leave such things alone and let them sort themselves out. But we’ll see.

In the meantime, shortly after all this, I was getting more worried about something entirely different.

Millie’s technically six weeks old now, and although she’s putting on weight and feeding and everything else physical we’ve yet to see her properly smile. Not only that but according to some experts by now she should be making regular eye contact with us, responding to our presence and engaging in other such little rewarding activities for the parents.

And the fact is that Millie doesn’t really make much eye contact – in fact, she often seems to deliberately avoid eye contact, preferring to stare at walls, bookcases, windows, lights, the TV, etc.

I hadn’t been bothered by this until I suddenly read something about baby development yesterday, and was suddenly seized by The Fear.

If you’re not a parent then you probably don’t really get it, although you might understand what I mean: that your child might have something wrong with her. I don’t want to even write the words particularly, but, yes, autism or something.

So I can’t tell you what an astonishing relief it was to all of a sudden, out of the blue, for the first time Millie smiled at me after her feed last night.


We’d had a particularly dispiriting feed, what with the lump on the back of her head, Millie spraying milky sick everywhere, and with me – suffering from The Fear – constantly trying to get Millie to meet my eyes or acknowledge my presence somehow.

She absolutely hadn’t been doing it – not matter how much I smiled at her, bobbed my head about or chatted endlessly away to her, she’d rather look at the wall than at me.

It was a bit of a low point, I have to be honest.

Which only made it all the more amazing that suddenly, out of nowhere, right then, just when I needed it the most, her eyes met mine and she gave me a huge smile! I shouted out to Mel, and she ran in and told me it was just wind or coincidence, as usual. So we did it again: I sat Millie in front of me, looked her right in the eyes, smiled and told her how clever she was…and she looked me in the eyes right back and beamed!

Her mum cried, her dad almost cried, and we were so happy.

Then for her feed this morning, she wouldn’t look me in the eyes again, and I thought, did I imagine it last night? Are we building nothing up to be something…? But no, again after her feed she looked at me and smiled like a goddamn bona fide angel, and all our fears were allayed.

Until the next time, I guess.

So…kids. It’s a roller-coaster ride. And if it’s not one thing it’s another. I keep thinking, surely after all we’ve been through we must be due a nice, quiet, easy couple of years…?

And apologies to any grandparents whom I may have just accidentally scared the Bejesus out of with this post. We didn’t tell you any of this over the weekend because we didn’t want to worry you (and no, there isn’t anything else we’re keeping from you!)

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