Last night I was sat at home on my own whilst the boys were upstairs sleeping. I had the laptop open all evening and I was initially writing some first world problem post about whether or not my children watch too much TV (they do!). I was also watching Sport Relief at the same time.
The post I was writing didn’t really go anywhere – I was distracted by the TV and my mind wasn’t on the ball. Instead, I was busy watching Andy Murray being woken up in the middle of the night by Michael McIntyre to play a quiz show to raise money. It was pretty funny – particularly when he was initially woken from a deep sleep at 1.30am.
But then came a video. You know the ones. Those that show us where our money is going. How it is helping to save lives etc etc.
I have seen videos like this time and time again. They always, always upset me. But this one? This one really, really got me.
Little Abu (Note that child in the photo is not Abu and I have no idea if that’s how you spell his name but it’s how it was pronounced), had contracted Malaria. You know? That disease that if you catch it in time, can be treated. Only it wasn’t caught in time. Because he lived in a remote area and couldn’t get the healthcare that he required to beat the disease. And so he died. Right in front of his Mother and Father, he died.
But it wasn’t the fact that he had died that upset me so much. It was his face. His dear little face. So often in these videos, you can’t even really see their faces – so ill they are from whatever is killing them. But his, you could. Those big brown eyes of his that were looking right into his Mother’s. Those eyes were literally pleading with her. They were saying, help me. Mumma, help me. They were begging her. They held so much pain. So much anguish. For someone so small. But she couldn’t. She couldn’t help her baby boy. And he died.
He must have been a similar age to Oscar. To my precious baby boy who was fast asleep upstairs.
And do you know what? I have seen that look…that very same look that Abu gave to his mother.
I saw it when Oscar had bronchiolitis and was in a complete state between constantly coughing and constantly crying. Panicked that he couldn’t do both at the same time, that he couldn’t catch his breath. He looked at me, at just 8 weeks old, and his eyes said, help me mumma.
And again when he had chicken pox, when he was covered from head to toe in spots – itching, ill and weak. He looked at me, four months old, and his eyes said, help me mumma.
And I did.
The first time we went by ambulance to hospital. He was looked after by medical professionals within just moments of calling 111. From the paramedics, to the nurses, to the doctors. They all looked after him and made him better. I was there for the cuddles, the warmth and the boobs. They were there to treat him and make sure that his body was doing everything that it needed to do.
And the second time. For the pox? Well, that was all me (and the other half of course!). Oh and the pharmacy and supermarkets that we have on our doorsteps for the supplies. We together helped him through that. We softly bathed him in oats. We carefully changed his clothes. Carefully creamed his body. And I nursed him every single time he needed it, whether it was for food or comfort. I helped him. Looked after him. Until he came out the other side and didn’t need quite so much attention.
I did what that poor mother couldn’t do. I got him to a hospital when he needed to go to a hospital, and I helped him get through the dreaded pox at such a very young age.
And that is what made me so sad. Because I didn’t cry when the video said that Abu had died. Instead, I looked at the monitor, at my sleeping baby. And I remembered the look in Abu’s eyes. Remembered the same look in Oscar’s. And that’s when I broke down in tears.
Because I cannot imagine being in a position where my baby is looking at me, pleading with me to help him, and not being able to help him. I cannot imagine being that mother that has to watch their baby die, simply because they didn’t have the resources nearby, or the right means of transport to get them to the nearest hospital in time for the treatment that could have saved his little life.
We are so very lucky that we live where we live. I live in Hertfordshire, with two hospitals within a 20 minute drive from our house. I used to live in East London, a mere five minute drive from the hospital that I gave birth to Zach in (and subsequently had to take him in for bronchiolitis at 8 weeks old too!). I didn’t choose to live in the UK, I am just lucky that I was born here. Abu didn’t choose to be born where he lived. He didn’t choose to be born in a country where Malaria kills so many small children and adults. Where it killed him.
Sometimes life just doesn’t seem fair. And tonight, I discovered that it wasn’t fair for little Abu, or indeed his parents. And I can’t get the image of those eyes out of my head. His little face, petrified of what was happening to his body because he was too young to understand that he was so, so ill.
I don’t know that there is an actual point to this post. I’m not here to say, please go and donate to Sport Relief. This isn’t a charity campaign or anything like that. I think it’s more of a mind dump about something that really upset me. But also a kind of reminder to not take for granted what we have. Whether it’s to put a bit more appreciation into our children who tend to drive us crazy day in and day out. Or to appreciate what we have on our doorstep. Healthy food options, water that we can drink from a tap in our houses, healthcare within easy reach (even if it can be a nightmare actually trying to get an appointment with a doctor, they are there!). Sometimes I think we can forget what we have and we take it all for granted.
And so instead of writing that post about whether or not my children watch too much TV, I am going to scrap it. Delete it from the dashboard of my blog. Because who actually cares whether Oscar has watched the dinosaur episode of Something Special more times that I can remember. And who cares if he gets super excited when Waffle The Wonder Dog comes on the screen (he actually squeals at it). He is in the fortunate position that he can watch and squeal with delight. But poor Abu? It is something he probably never did and never will experience.