Sometimes, even the words Great Ormond Street Hospital can make me well up. It’s partly the crying-at-everything phenomenon which has struck me in my 40s, which the lovely Tara of Sticky Fingers has written about here. It’s partly that I’m the mother of (touch wood) two healthy, gorgeous girls and I feel so sad for those who are not as fortunate. And, of course, I am in awe of all the amazing doctors and nurses who perform miracles in the hospital on a daily basis.
I first went to the hospital when Child One was three weeks old. We were visiting a friend’s child who was not doing so well. My little Child One was perfect in every way, but she had a demon suck on her and my poor bosoms were pretty mangled. I remember feeling quite sorry for myself. I was even contemplating bottle feeding which, in those days (I’m not sure if this has changed) was akin to announcing you were about to give your baby paraquat to drink. We went up to the intensive care ward, where there were babies the size of bags of sugar. Their tiny little limbs and diddy hands and feet reminded me of weeny baby birds’ claws. The ward was silent, apart from the hum and muted beep of the machines keeping the babies going. They were arranged in little see-through incubators and each of them, no matter how tiny, was moving those frail arms and legs. These little kicks and arm-wavings were signs of a heroic struggle for life that, thank God, until that moment I had known nothing of.
I’d like to say I never moaned about anything ever again, but of course I’ve made quite a career out of my whinges and go on, admit it, you’d be lost without them. I suppose the important thing is that I did realise then, as I realise now, that I am a very lucky woman and that Great Ormond Street Hospital is a magical, wonderful place which shoud be supported by every parent in the land.
As I’m sure you know, Peter Pan, the little boy who never grew up, has had special significance for Great Ormond Street ever since the author JM Barrie gave the hospital the rights to his creation in 1929. Now the hospital is hoping to organise the biggest ever Peter Pan dressing up day, with an attempt on the Guiness World Record on Friday 30th April at 9.15. The record attempt will come at the end of a whole week (26-30 April) of Peter Pan activities. Have a look at the website to see how to make your own costume (obviously I will be making my own off-the-shoulder number!) and see if you can get your children’s schools involved.
Go on. It’s a good cause.