But when the surgeon told us that there was a 90% chance that Ruby's meconium ileus (bowel blockage) was the result of Cystic Fibrosis, I just knew that we were part of the 90%. I wasn't thinking worse case scenario, for some reason this was the only scenario. We were told it would take about a week for a first stage diagnosis (heel prick test results).
The next day (or so) Craig went back up to the coast for a bit. I took Eliza to the playground in the hospital grounds. I remember the day really well. The sun was shining and I was actually feeling relaxed. Eliza was behaving and we were getting in some much needed quality time together. Eliza was playing on the spinny thing with an older girl, about 5 or 6 years. Her mum asked me if I had the time, and, as women do, we started chatting. She asked me if we has someone in the hospital and I told her my 4 day old baby was recovering from surgery. The rest of the conversation was sorta like this:
Her: "oh, up in Grace Ward"
Her: "Sally was a NICU baby too and had an operation at 4 days old. What sort of operation?"
Now, in my time in hospital, I was beginning to realise that if you pronounce NICU like nic-you and not by the letters, it means you have normally spent a bit of time there yourself. She said nic-you
Me: "her bowel. She had a blockage"
Her: "did she have meconium ileus?"
Me: (looking at her strangely)"yes..."
Her: "oh, Sally had exactly the same thing. It was diagnosed at my local hospital and we were rushed here and she was operated on after that. We stayed here for 3 weeks and once they were happy with her bowel working again we went home"
She then called her daughter over and told her to show me her scar. The girl dutifully yanked up her top before running off to play again. You could barely see it, it was in the exact same position as Ruby's.
Then there was a bit of an uncomfortable silence. I didn't want to ask if her child had CF and she obviously didn't want to ask if I had been told about the risk yet. I can't remember who said what, but yes, Sally did have CF. I told her we were waiting for the test results. We had a big chat after that.
It was after this event that I was absolutely certain that Ruby had CF. Any amount of doubt was eradicated. Why, out of all days, would I meet this lady and her daughter? Seeing that happy, healthy looking, energetic little girl do something so normal as play on a playground with other kids prepared me for the diagnosis. That is when I started coming to terms with what was in store for us, not a week later when we received the official diagnosis.
*The girls name wasn't Sally, I can't remember her name!