Taking my children to visit a psychiatric ward was always going to be something I would worry about, the signs on the walls about children visiting, say how it can be a distressing environment in which to bring children was enough to make me question how best to deal with it but I also knew my girls need to maintain their relationship with their dad, not only for their sake, but his. So I decided one evening this past week to book the family room and take Cora up to spend some time with Daddy.
As I walked pushing the pram closer to the dull looking building with metal grills over one side of the windows where fresh air can flow in, I remembered what my health visitor had told me about children being very resilient, it is just another room to them with toys and games in it and they get to see their Dad. I struggled through a couple of heavy doors before coming to the lift, I hopped in with two other people who were not having much luck getting to the floor above, the lift was rickety, you have to push the door to get it to close properly before you can get off up to the next and only other floor. When we reached it the doors wouldn’t release, we waited thinking that maybe the other doors in the ‘air lock’ were open but it still didn’t release. We made our way back down to the ground floor and attempted the stairs. A very lovely lady offered to take the pram frame and I carried the car seat and we finally made it to the first floor. I thanked the kind lady that had helped me and made my way through the ‘air lock’ for anyone who doesn’t know, on most psychiatric wards where I live there are two doors with a space in between, you enter one door and once that has closed and locked the other can then be opened.
I made the short distance to the family room where Chris was already waiting. Cora at this time wasn’t aware of anything for she had fallen asleep on the journey, members of staff cooed over her and then we were left alone. The room was nicely painted; they had games, books, toys, lots of comfy chairs and soft lighting. I told him he could get her out and not to worry about waking her up, he unstrapped her from the car seat and lifted her gently into his arms, at first she didn’t make a sound, she opened her eyes ever so slightly before realising she was in a strange place, with Daddy who she hadn’t seen for awhile, she let out a cry, so he handed her back to me. I sat down with her on my knee and he sat on the floor in front of her talking away to her saying he had missed her and she is beautiful. She launched forward and grabbed the little ties on his jumper and promptly started chewing on them, it didn’t take her long before she went and sat on his knee chatting away ‘dadada’
Once our hour was up and it was time to leave Chris cuddled her and placed her back in her car seat so I could take her home, he thanked me for bringing her in and hoped he would see her again soon. I left once again through the air lock in which I had entered, back down the stairs, but this time instead of excitement, sadness filled me, I pushed her out of the building and towards the footpath away from the ward. I looked at Cora and I looked up towards his room, I couldn’t hold it in anymore, tears rolled down my face, I was heading back home, to my family but in reality my family is apart, one key person missing, yes for the right reasons but it doesn’t change the sadness. My eldest ‘prays for daddy at school’ and ‘gets upset sometimes mummy’ my gorgeous four year old ‘misses daddy, are we going to see him today, will he come home’ and my two year old, if she hurts herself asks for ‘daddy to make it better mummy’ and of course Cora says ‘dadada’ all the time. It is the part of his life that professionals often seem to forget about but probably one of the most important.
My mum made some suggestions last night of ways to keep daddy involved so he feels a part of their life and they know he will be back when he is better… but that is a blog in its own right.