On the 26th of January 2014, I received a call from my younger sister, Kristy. She was typically direct: "My water has broken. I think I am going to have this baby." She was 23 weeks pregnant.
Kristy is a force of nature. The kind of person who achieves anything she puts her mind to, and someone who lives as fiercely as she loves. Long before she was an adult, and at a time she dreamt about becoming a mother, she was told she would never be able to conceive or carry a child... and so the idea of motherhood was something she never took for granted.
I was present at the moment Kristy became a mother, 10 days after her phone call to me, and I remain forever changed by the gravity of witnessing something at once so terrifying and magnificent.
But this is not a story about me. It is a story about a beautiful family of two - My sister and her exceptional little son, Lachlan. It is a story which my sister has earned the right to tell.
Sharing the story of Lachlan is more difficult than it might seem. Putting into words, what he has been through, means recalling the memories that I fight to avoid on a daily basis. I thought I could handle almost anything life threw at me, until Lachlan came along. No one should have to handle the terror felt as you helplessly watch your child suffering on the edge of life.
After spending the first 100 days of his life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Lachlan was discharged. He came home on so many medications that an excel spreadsheet was needed to keep track of what was due, when it was due and if I delivered it. He still required supplementary oxygen to keep him alive and he was a long way from being out of the woods. But what a fighter he was… and still is.
To look at him, you would never know what he has been through in his short life. All most people see is an incredibly bright, charming and cheeky little man who has astounding knowledge of geography, world monuments and absolutely everything pertaining to Emma Wiggle. (Editors note: Lachlan is also the most well mannered child I have ever met, and this big sister is incredibly proud of the job his mother is doing)
In reality, the first 4 years of Lachlan’s life have been extremely difficult and has included a gastrostomy peg (feeding tube directly into the stomach), 140 x-rays, 6 blood transfusions, surgery on his eyes, face, stomach, intestine, oesophagus, diaphragm and belly button. 16 surgeries in total and 25 admissions into hospital. Most kids have a blue book to track their childhood health, Lachlan has a Filing Cabinet.
Aside from the first two weeks of his life, when I was told to prepare for the worst, July 2017 was the hardest. Even though I knew something wasn’t right, Lachlan was sent home from emergency 3 times in two days. He was in agony and hadn’t slept for 2 nights because of the horrific pain in his stomach. Finally, after 3 days, a Medical Emergency Team call was placed by the hospital (15 doctors and nurses in the room in under 3 minutes) and a subsequent all night surgery ensued which I’m certain saved his life.
They say kids are resilient, I’m not so sure that they are. Maybe it depends on what they have had to overcome. Maybe over time, the night terrors will stop, but for now he knows what he has been through and it terrifies him as much as it does me.
You can follow Lachlan living his best life on instagram: @little.lachlan
Lachlan wears Huxbaby from A Little Spirit.
If you are a parent, or a parent to be - never rest in the fight for answers for your child. Never accept expert opinion if you are not satisfied - the expert on your child is you.
Below are details on how to access a clinical review of your child if you are not satisfied with the answers from a doctor. My bite was big enough not to need it, but maybe one day you or someone you know might.
QLD - Ryan’s Rule
NSW - REACH
WA - Health Consumers Council
Regardless of state, every Australian has the right to a second opinion when concerned about the health of their loved one as outlined in the Australian Charter of Healthcare rights.