Happy birthday, Elsie

Another thing I like about sheep is how a ewe protects her lamb from a potential threat (like a sheepdog or approaching two-year-old); she stares at it and stamps one of her front legs.

This weekend Elsie climbed into bed and lay quietly between us while we dozed. Then she whispered,

‘Do you think anyone is having a birthday today?’

You bet, sister; five years old today. Later that day she held my hand as we jumped flowing gutters and ran across the street in the rain.

And that was cool. Because it’s really only recently that we’ve been allowed to touch her hands, let alone hold them. Any touch to her hands for the first five months of her life meant someone was about to dig through her skin with a needle to find a tiny vein that wasn’t yet ruined to insert another drip.

When she was in the Intensive Care Unit in Brisbane, a few months after she was born, a registrar came by Elsie’s bed. She was probably my age and was wearing a white coat. But she had stripey tights and what Elsie might now call ‘heaps of pigtails’.

That day I was concerned about Elsie’s swollen hands and asked, ‘Does her hand look fat to you?’

‘Yes, she’s putting on a lovely amount of weight.’

Wrong answer. Ewe feels potential threat.

I pushed for answers and we found out that Elsie needed an albumen infusion and back came the registrar with a bundle of sterile needles and her coloured bangles. Elsie’s nurse told the registrar she could have three goes at getting a drip in Elsie’s hand. Ewe starts to stare.

It was just before the third attempt that, just like a powerless ewe facing a hungry fox, I stamped my foot. I left the room and found the closest toilet down the passage where I lost it completely at the same time that my phone rang. It was Mum.

‘Darling, what’s wrong? Is Elsie okay?’

‘No!’ I cried. ‘Punky f#@&ing Brewster is trying to put a drip in Elsie’s hand and it won’t go in.’

Anyway, that’s why Elsie never let anyone touch her hands, and why our doctors are so competent and wonderful. Because they were once young timid registrars who were damn lucky to get three practice goes on critically ill babies.

And registrar-Punky, if you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re one of those competent and wonderful doctors now and Elsie would really like your hairdo.


9 thoughts on “Happy birthday, Elsie

  1. Its why your all such great people. (a huggie for you)

    A rainy, puddly day is a great day for a birthday, especially if your wearing gumboots!

    My mum called me a wild dog once refering to the protective feeling towards my youngin’s, I don’t like people messing with my kids!


    I sent my mum a message once when she was in London asking her what was wrong LOL She was having a wobbly at the airport I believe, there must be something that bonds us all no matter how far apart we are.

    Happy Days Larissa!


    1. Wild dog! I think I’d rather be a wild dog than a foot-stomping ewe. How strange to be in touch with your mum right when she could have done with it – yes, the bond must be something amazing. Thanks for commenting (and spreading the word!). Always enjoy your feedback.:)


  2. I don’t remember ‘Punky Brewster’, but I do remember the toilets down the passage that you ran to – as I did the same thing as some other registrars attempted to find veins for 2 hours!! I wonder how many other parents have done the same thing??

    Happy 5th Birthday Elsie. I hope you are having a wonderful day.


    1. Oh Rhonda 🙂 The social worker should probably set up her desk in there. Actually they could sit any good listener in there for us to unload on! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment, lots of love to all x


  3. When we’re going around the sheep at lambing time, Tom always calls those ones “the good mothers” When they stomp their feet and and stare you down, you know the lamb has a pretty good shot at life. It sure is a blessing for Elsie that she had you.
    I’m glad she had a fun birthday too! xx


  4. Happy birthday, Elsie! Wonderful post, Larissa. Enjoy holding that little hand – it won’t be long before the boys are queueing up to take your place 🙂 xxx


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