Thanks to the great support from Samuel's carers/nurses and friends, as well as the military precision of Shirley's pre-holiday planning, the week has gone incredibly smoothly and the girls have adapted amazingly well to 'Mr. Mom' - I think the excitement of the new DVD's I bought for them on my last trip have helped! Samuel said 'mama' once yesterday when I think it dawned on him that he hadn't seem his mum for a while. But he really is a different boy since his GJ operation, he's more contented and happy from the moment he wakes and is sleeping much better as well. I've been fortunate to have our 'sleepover' carer in his room for 2 nights this week which makes all the difference, but even when I've been getting up in the night it's only been once or twice, which is a huge improvement from the average 4 - 6 times per night prior to fixing the GJ. Well, 'fixing' may be too strong a word as it is still leaking substantially when we change the dressing, so I'm taking him in for a check-up tomorrow afternoon to make sure it really is fixed and that it's not the same problem flaring up again.
A new experience for me this week was taking Samuel to 'Little Fantail's children's group at the nearby hospital, for children like Samuel who have long-term care needs. Fortunately I had one of Samuel's carers with me to show me the ropes of playgroups, e.g. how to sing a welcome song to every child while waving and smiling - 'hello (insert name here) hello' x 4 times x 10 children , how to karaoke to a cd of children's action songs, how to do crafts with a 21 month old who just wants to shove the glitter up his nose....I can't say I'm a natural playgroup parent, but maybe I just need a bit more practice?
Meanwhile, Shirley is having a fantastic holiday in Hong Kong, our friends have blessed her beyond words with massages, pedicures, shopping and restaurants, and not to forget the best part - unbroken blissful sleep. Knowing Samuel is doing so well and the girls have been fine too, has enabled Shirley to really switch off and enjoy her time away from the constant demands and forward planning that is the daily reality of caring for a child with complex needs. It's also given me a greater appreciation of what she has to cope with on the home front and awareness of how exhausting it can be trying to keep on top of everything. Shirley's back on Sunday so we're all looking forward to having her home with us but glad she's had the chance to have quality time for herself for the first time in 2 years.