A bit of a wobble.

I suspect I read many of the same articles as you, all about making healthy choices and doing what you can to take care of yourself.

Get lots of sleep, take regular exercise, don’t sweat the small stuff. A month or so back, I decided now was the time to start taking a bit more care. After all, I won’t be 24 forever (cough).

I hired a couple of great people to take on some of the work for the business. I made it a policy to be in bed before midnight, every night. I took time away from the computer to spend with friends. I renewed my membership at the local pool, and started swimming. Hell, I even bought probiotic yoghurts even though, deep down, I suspect it’s just some marketing trick to make me think drinking teeny portions of yoghurt will make me healthier.

And this weekend, I took a few days off to go and visit friends in Brighton. We hung out, we went swimming, we took picnics on the beach and climbed trees in the park. Perfect.

Right up until the moment at 3am on Tuesday morning when the out of hours GP finally rang me back and said the words every woman dreams of hearing, “Put down the phone, now. Ring 999.”


There are lots of great things about single parenting. I get to make the rules, which pleases my inner dictator enormously. I don’t have to deal with someone moving things in the mug cupboard, or not understanding the importance of folding towels in thirds.

But this week being a single parent suddenly seemed like the worst thing I could imagine.

There’s no flip way to describe how it feels to have to wake up your child at 4am and explain to them that they need to come in the ambulance with Mummy and the paramedics. To watch as she watches you be attached to machines and monitors, and have a cannula put in. To know that she’s scared of lots of things, but mostly by the fact she can see you’re scared, too.

Those hours watching Flea watch me in a hospital bed were some of the longest I’ve spent. And I’ve never wished so hard that there was someone with us, who could have spirited her home, safe, and spared her the experience (although she did charm a doctor into giving her Marmite on Toast, so it wasn’t all bad).

Having been thoroughly monitored and tested, and reassured that there’s nothing seriously wrong with me, I was sent off home with some medication and a referral. Apart from feeling tired and a bit shaky, all seems to be well. But that didn’t stop Flea from holding her hands eight inches apart at bedtime last night to tell me she was “only this much worried” that I might die while she was asleep.

I’m not saying it’s enough to make me get married again, of course, but it was…  a bit of a wobble.  And a reminder that I should probably give a bit more thought to what happens to Flea when there’s a crisis. Agree in advance who would step in and take her home if I need them to.  What do other single parents do about this stuff?

Oh, and while I think about it, I want a refund on the bloody yoghurts.




Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. Sarah
    11th April 2012 / 6:37 pm

    Oh Sally – my heart goes out to you, and to Flea. It’s such a tough road being a single parent and keeping the small person safe from the day to day struggles. They worry about every little thing (believe me – my daughter, hearing me on the phone saying I was ‘this close’ to losing a client made her go into meltdown about us having to live on the street) but at least Flea was there and got to see firsthand that mummy is going to be okay. No skirting round the issue, or talking in hushed tones above her head. You and her are so close and I know it’s not perfect that she had to see you in an ambulance but it’s just part of your and her journey. Hugs x

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:11 am

      Oh dear, they do take on a lot of worry, don’t they?

  2. Joanne Mallon
    11th April 2012 / 6:53 pm

    oh dear Sally, that is really tough to have to go through. I hope you are on the mend now. It sounds like you did the best you could in the circumstances and it won’t have done Flea any harm, she seems like she treats all of life as a big adventure and this is just the latest one.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about having a contingency plan for the future – you could expend endless amounts of energy thinking about what might happen, when we can never really predict what life has in store. Just when you think you’ve planned for every conceivable outcome, life comes along and bites you in the bum just to remind you who’s in charge.

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:13 am

      Yes, hopefully Flea will bounce back – she certainly made the most of the opportunity to chat to anyone and everyone we met!

  3. Merry
    11th April 2012 / 6:40 pm

    Oh Sally.

    Some contingency plans probably a good idea, although you’ll always need something you didn’t plan for I guess. Like me finally not making plans for an early baby…. Poor flea though, if only it were possible to bubble wrap them 🙁

    Mostly though, just gentle hugs. (((()))) here, have some brackets. In your weakened state you can’t punch me for them 😉

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:11 am

      I can glare.

      (but thanks)

  4. TheBoyandMe
    11th April 2012 / 6:42 pm

    Oh Sally, flipping heck tears! You both must have been so scared, but what do you do when you’re left with little choice but to take her with you? I hope that you’re ok for the meantime and going to be ok in the long term. You don’t want it, least of all from me, but big hug!

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:12 am

      Well, quite, sometimes hard choices have to be made – or sometimes there is no choice! Thanks for the hugs, they’re allowed on this occasion 🙂

  5. 11th April 2012 / 6:46 pm

    I know you don’t “do” them, but ((hugs)).
    I have no answers. This issue crosses my mind a lot but I never seem to get any closer to a solution that I can live with.
    I hope you’re back to feeling yourself soon and that you continue with the time off and being good to yourself x

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:12 am

      Thanks, am feeling a lot better today, thankfully.

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:12 am

      Scary is the word!

  6. 11th April 2012 / 6:52 pm

    Oh no Sally that’s such bad news. I have no words of wisdom but I can offer you love and hugs and all the help I can give x <- and that's a real KISS

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:13 am

      Thanks Mammasaurus. I’m not sure there’s a lot of wisdom to be had – I suspect most of us just panic and get through this stuff as best we can. Even overlords. Sigh…

  7. the magatha
    11th April 2012 / 7:12 pm

    This kind of scenario has been on my mind almost constantly for the last few months since my son was born and I feel terrible that you went through this. Hope you’re both ok.

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:13 am

      Thanks for commenting. It’s an odd one being single and wondering about this stuff, isn’t it?

  8. 11th April 2012 / 7:13 pm

    I happen not to agree with Joanne. I don’t think it can hurt to give it a bit of thought as to what would need to happen in crises, but I do agree that there is no point putting detailed plans in place as you don’t know what might happen. It won’t hurt to perhaps ask a few people if they would be able to help if you had to ask. Let’s face it, most people are pretty good and would help in a crisis if they think a friend is in need.

    PS Probiotic yogurts are blooming expensive, you can get tablets which are much more effective and much much cheaper! 😀

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:14 am

      Yes, I’ve asked a few local friends if they’d mind me calling, and hopefully next time won’t get in such a panic about not knowing who to call. And yes, yoghurts are expensive. Also, they don’t taste very nice.

  9. 11th April 2012 / 7:26 pm

    Sally, I am so pleased you are ok, now take it bloody easy and try fruit over yoghurts!

    Sending a ridiculous amount of love to you and flea x

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:15 am

      I eat fruit, but it doesn’t have a scientific label so on some level I am suckered into thinking I also need yoghurts.

  10. allotmentmum
    11th April 2012 / 7:53 pm

    can’t imagine how frightening that must have been, hopsitals can be scary places at the best of times. Very glad you’re ok and hope the referral reassures you. On the plus side, you turned a horrible experience into a thought provoking blog post – there’s only so much we can do to shelter our kids from our adult worlds. Carry on looking after yourself x

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:15 am

      Thanks – glad the post made you think.

  11. 11th April 2012 / 7:58 pm

    Blimey. Scarey stuff. I think Joanne’s right that it won’t have done you any harm, but it wouldn’t hurt to get to know your neighbours – and get Flea to get to know them – so you could just ask one to come sit with her. I know my mum had a few single-parent friends who she’d go and sit for in emergencies, or just for a break. (Assuming you don’t have actual family or friends close enough, in which case, CALL THEM!) I’m not going to give you any hugs – just a kick up the backside for buying probiotic yoghurts – Rescue Remedy and Pukka Relax tea is all you could possibly need. Probably.

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:16 am

      Yes, I think the challenge I had was knowing who to call at 3am when lots of our close friends were away – and having paramedics telling you that they don’t want to take your child with them into an ‘unsuitable’ environment wasn’t great! Argh.

  12. 11th April 2012 / 8:02 pm

    I’m sorry to hear of the wobble, but hope you’re feeling better now. I had a very similar wobble a couple of years ago – very similar – heart monitors, ambulance with sirens, etc – while my children were looked after by some very nice hospital staff until a relative could come and pick them up.

    I now have a couple of people who, god forbid it or something similar happens again – will help out, but it’s still not ideal. I don’t know what the answer is either. Sometimes being a single parent is shite (pardon my french).

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:16 am

      Shite is absolutely the right word for it, sometimes.

  13. Emily O
    11th April 2012 / 8:07 pm

    Take as much rest as you can. I know it sounds annoying but please do. Falling ill, and falling seriously ill, makes you realise how much you owe it to your children to look after yourself. When it’s just you it doesn’t seem to matter so much, but when you’re a parent it does. My three year old is still affected by what happened to me, it was nearly five months ago. I hope you feel better soon, please take it as easy as you can x

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:17 am

      Thanks Emily, hopefully there’s nothing seriously wrong but it was certainly a bit of a shock and a reminder of how important it is to try and stay healthy for our children, you’re totally right.

  14. FeeHorne
    11th April 2012 / 8:20 pm

    Oh Lordy lordy! Wow, so glad you’re OK but how scary must that have been for both of you. Hang in there!!!!!

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:17 am

      Bit scary, to say the least, but yes, definitely hanging in there.

  15. 11th April 2012 / 8:26 pm

    Glad you’re ok now but sounds like it was a scary experience for both of you. I definitely think you should have the number of a friend or neighbour on standby just in case.

    Take care x

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:17 am

      Yep, have some friends on standby now!

  16. Diane
    11th April 2012 / 9:06 pm

    Oh gosh, this sounds so scary, Sally. I’m really sorry that happened and that Flea had to witness it and feel scared. I’m glad you’re both OK, though. Also, yoghurt is disgusting.

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:17 am

      Thanks Diane. Yes, the yoghurt is foul. What was I thinking??

  17. 11th April 2012 / 9:47 pm

    Oh Gawd. How terrifying for you both and how good that Flea is the kind of child who can engage well with new people, even if they are wearing white coats. When mine were five and three I had meningitis and was in hospital for an ages which I can now not put a time on. My kids went to stay with my parents 200 miles away and went to a little village school where they were put in the same class and looked after with much care. They were lucky that they had my parents to go to but it didn’t help when the ambulance came and my next door neighbour who they hardly knew had to care for them for the four hours it took my mum and dad to tear up the motorway to the north west. They seem ok as adults but I have never dared ask them whether they were permanently traumatised! Hope not.

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:18 am

      Goodness, what a tough thing to go through, you must have missed them like crazy. But hopefully no long-term trauma!

  18. 11th April 2012 / 9:58 pm

    Sounds like a frightening experience for you both. I agree though it is good for children to not be protected from realities and it will make your bond even stronger. Definitely be handy to have a couple of emergency friends/relatives on hand just in case. Even if they aren’t needed again it will put your mind at ease. Take it easy and all the best with the referral xxx

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:18 am

      Thanks, yes I think peace of mind is what I’m after – well, just a bit of it, really.

  19. 11th April 2012 / 10:59 pm

    Poor Flea. Poor you! Keeping my fingers crossed you’ll be fine. I you need to take care of yourself. You’re single handedly keeping me up to date on all good films and I kind of need that.

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:19 am

      Fortunately, I think I’ll live to see another Muppets movie.

  20. 12th April 2012 / 7:08 am

    I completely misunderstood what was happening! Poor Flea, but i’m glad you had someone to hold your hand! Take it easy and if there is anything we can do let us know xxx

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:19 am

      Thanks lovely, we’re resting and taking it easy for the next few days!

  21. 12th April 2012 / 9:00 am

    Oh my goodness lady, what a moment for both of you! Definitely make contingency plans (which doesn’t need to include marriage – that’s a bit extreme), I think we all need to do that, numbers by the phone, trusted people etc. It will help you both sleep easier at night. Take care of you my lovely. x

    • 12th April 2012 / 9:19 am

      Bit extreme, I agree.

  22. 12th April 2012 / 10:06 am

    Parenting is challenging and I admire single parents who cope with it alone. Lovely to hear how much you and your little one love each other, shines out in this post and the blog. Look after yourself. You are a miracle-worker but ensure you make some of those miracles be about you too.

    • 13th April 2012 / 9:37 pm

      I don’t think I’ve ever been called a miracle worker before! But yes, I’m definitely having to take it a little easier for a while, which will probably be good for both of us.

  23. 12th April 2012 / 10:35 am

    I’m terrible at saying comforting words, but I’m glad that you are better today.

    I know it is heartbreaking and harsh for our kids to see all the horrible things in this world that we rather them not facing, if I can I want to treat them like babies forever. But I suppose we just have to toughen ourselves and train them up, to prepare them for a world full of good and bad. Especially when they are older and we can’t provide shelter anymore. I’m actually saying the above to myself as well.


    • 13th April 2012 / 9:36 pm

      Yes, you’re right, it’s all a learning experience, even the not nice stuff.

  24. 12th April 2012 / 11:02 am

    Poor you and poor flea, what a fright you both must have gotten. Hugs and hope you are doing better. xx

    • 13th April 2012 / 9:36 pm

      Doing a lot better today, thanks!

  25. 12th April 2012 / 3:40 pm

    Gosh how scary for you both.

    I’m glad you are feeling better today. Hugs xx

    • 13th April 2012 / 9:35 pm

      Thanks Emma x

  26. Emily from My Shitty Twenties
    12th April 2012 / 8:22 pm

    Dear Sally,

    I left you a long comment and then it vanished. It said something like this:

    I am glad that you are better now. I am shocked that the paramedic piled on the guilt when you were already distressed and it must have been obvious that taking Flea with you was your only option. It sounds like her maturity, confidence and sense of humour really came through. What a lovely, close relationship you have.
    Thanks for giving me the nudge I need to make a contingency plan in case anything like this ever happens to us (instead of going “la la la la it will be OK.”) Thanks also for giving me a nudge to start trying to go to bed before midnight. I hope you realise that you’ve probably lost all hope of getting a sponsorship deal with probiotic yoghurt people now. Now bifididididum digestividee for you. Well done both of you for being so brave,

    Emily xx

    • 13th April 2012 / 9:35 pm

      The paramedic was a bit of a muppet with hindsight. I asked him what I was supposed to do, as I was on my own (and weeping, by this point) and he said, “Well, can’t you ring someone?” I mean, yes, I could ring someone – and I did – but like most sensible people they were fast asleep and not lying next to their mobile! But on the other hand, it’s a city A&E, and we were very fortunate it was empty, as it could have been a much worse experience than it turned out to be.

  27. 12th April 2012 / 9:26 pm

    It’s not just the single parents. My hubs is away from home a lot and the thing that scares me most about that, is what if exactly this happened in the night. We have no family nearby, and no neighbours I’d feel comfortable asking to sleep at my house with the kids. I have a weird heartbeat that apparently is nothing serious, but I often get irregular beats, occasionally for prolonged periods – and it is scary. Especially if I have had more wine than I should, or more pork rind than is good for me 😉 Then if it happens I worry it is retribution. I do hope you get to the bottom of your issue and feel reassured.

    • 13th April 2012 / 9:34 pm

      I know exactly what you mean – hopefully the tests will identify what’s going on and confirm the consultant’s view that it’s just “one of those things”.

      Also, I don’t think I want to know what pork rind is. It doesn’t sound good…

  28. 12th April 2012 / 9:39 pm

    Really hope you are feeling much better, must have been such a scary experience. Why do these things always happen at 3am….As for Flea yes I do agree is wise to think of a couple of friends/fam who you can truly rely on at times like this to call, though life is life and these ( albeit scary ) things do happen when we are alone with our children. I remeember
    when I was pregnant and home alone with DD who was ( a mature) 4 at the time, and my waters had completely gone at just 24 weeks in the house whilst with her. I thought I was about to give birth to a dead baby right there in front of her. I rang the ambulance ( after being told to ) and she got carted off to a neighbour. Although very scary for her to see me in this panic state I am one of those who like to keep it real and think is getting a balance of what would really emotionally scar her and what just happens and I can’t do anything about. As it was baby was born a couple of weeks later but sadly didnt make it. Afterwards she came and saw him, held him, decision I thought right for her and am proud of the way she has handled life’s unplanned situations. I think Flea coped remarkably well and good on her getting herself a little snack. Take it easy! x

    • 13th April 2012 / 9:33 pm

      Crikey Mary, that is a tough experience for anyone to go through but I agree you seem to have handled it the best way possible. Thanks for sharing your experience. Certainly makes me grateful for what I have.

  29. angelsandurchinsblog
    13th April 2012 / 5:47 pm

    Heck, that was a weekend to remember. Silver lining is getting affairs (not of the heart, of the child) in order. We had a horrible conversation a few years ago when we asked a member of the family to take on the children should something happen to us. It made me tearful but so glad to have made our feelings known. Good luck, hope you’re much better, and I agree about the yoghurt.

  30. 13th April 2012 / 7:53 pm

    Hi Sally

    Sorry to hear you haven’t been well. It must have been a very distressing experience for you having to take Flea to hospital. My mum was a single parents & severe asthmatic and I remember being hauled to hospital in the middle of the night on quite a few occassion. I think when we were young I always saw it as a bit of an adventure. It never crossed my mind that my mum was really severely ill – even though sometimes she was. I think sometimes it affects us more than it affects kids – they don’t contemplate the big scary scenarios like we do – they just take each day as it comes. Look after yourself xxx

    • 13th April 2012 / 9:32 pm

      Thanks for commenting – I hope you’re right, and Flea wasn’t too aware of what was going on – but I know she keeps asking if I’m okay, how I’m feeling etc. I dropped the toothpaste down the loo today (don’t ask) and because I said, “Oh noooo” quite loudly Flea came flying up the stairs to see if I was ok. That makes me feel wretched, if I’m honest.

  31. Hannah clementson
    13th April 2012 / 7:54 pm

    My friend is a single mum, last year she had a really tough time and ended up needing emergency care at hospital. And I was there to go with her.. Watch my god daughter. Although not being a single mum myself I know if anything was to happen she would be there for me. So I would say have a really best friend who no matter what the time or issue you can rely on them. I’m sorry you went through this and I am glad you’re feeling better. Loves to you and your daughter, she was very brave x

    • 13th April 2012 / 9:31 pm

      Thanks Hannah, she is really brave, I was very proud 🙂

  32. 14th April 2012 / 11:40 pm

    Sally, so sorry, I have only just seen this. My heart goes out to you and Flea, I know much you adore her and it must have been so hard for the both of you.

    I pray you are on the mend and all is well. Mich x

    • 15th April 2012 / 8:49 pm

      Thanks Michelle, it was a tough couple of days but hopefully things are on the mend.

  33. 15th April 2012 / 6:46 pm

    I’m sorry for both of you. Sometimes there just is no other choice though is there? My 7yo still talks about the time she watched me be taken away in the ambulance – and we’re going back nearly 4 years. She was then the only one of my children to visit me in hospital as we thought it might help – it didn’t. Maybe you and Flea could sit down and plan a strategy together so she’s involved and feels part of that decision making process?

    • 15th April 2012 / 8:51 pm

      Absolutely – I didn’t have a lot of options! I’ve talked to Flea a little about what happened and I think it helped that she heard the doctors say there was nothing seriously wrong, and that I could go home. We’ve chatted about it, and hopefully that’s enough. Hey, everyone ends up traumatising their kids at some point, don’t they?

  34. 16th April 2012 / 10:26 am

    So sorry to hear this Sally – am glad you are ok and I know Flea will be, has to have been incredibly hard for both of you

    Would give you a hug if you were a soft Southerner but will go for something less contacty and more appropriate x

  35. Vegemitevix
    17th April 2012 / 9:04 am

    Well lady, you do seem to attract drama into your life! You poor thing! Hope you are feeling much better now and that it’s all medically under control. I completely understand how scary it is to have to put your kids through this kind of medical adventure, as when I was living on my own with my kids my 8 yr old daughter had to ring the emergency services for me as I was having such a severe migraine I couldn’t speak. Yes she was frightened by the experience, but in the long run it became just another one of those things that binds us even closer together.