Rachel House – a special place

Last weekend we packed up all of Zac’s equipment, medicines and daily routines and took shelter at “Rachel House”. Rachel House is part of chas and is a children’s hospice. I know when you hear the word “hospice” you think sad, heartbreaking, upsetting and yes sometimes these feelings are there but when you walk through the front doors of Rachel House the overwhelming feelings that surround you are happiness, peacefulness, it feels like family, it feels like a refuge, it’s a place where you can breathe, it’s a place where life is truly lived!

We walk through the doors on Friday night with our mountains of luggage and we are welcomed by the nurse who will be looking after Zac. These nurses are a special kind of people – you actually forget your child is getting cared for by a nurse because they feel more like family and they look after your child exactly to your wishes. They all have such a special ability to just fit in with you as a family – they know when you need a moment, they know when to be hands on, they know when to talk and what to say and they know when you need quiet . They know how to make every little thing fun like having a bath becomes a big bubble splashy bath, chilling with a movie becomes a big cinema event and bedtime becomes a library of stories! These nurses are there to look after your child but in doing so they look after the whole family!

Zac gets his own room laid out with everything he needs, we get our own room too – a little place to chill! For two nights we can sleep, someone else is listening out to reposition my baby, for two days we can eat & enjoy our meals, someone else is worrying about the feeds my baby needs, for two days I can just enjoy the days, someone else is watching the clock for medicines & treatments, for two days all I have to do is enjoy my family!

During the weekend we visit the cafe & park with Caleb, we take a walk through the town and I spend some precious time with my biggest boy. Back at Rachel House Zac has been enjoying crafts, movies, bubble jacuzzi baths and is having a blast! In the afternoon they have a baking activity & Caleb takes part with another boy – nothing is too much trouble & every activity is made suitable for everyone to join in – the electric mixers have been adapted with a switch so that all the children get a shot at mixing. I sit down to read my book and the chef has just filled a plate with home baking – he tells me to help myself & chill!

Saturday night – usually means takeaway & tv but thanks to a lovely volunteer who comes to babysit Caleb we have the option to go out!! A night to be us again. Sunday morning is spent with more relaxing family time – the boys play snooker, decorate a cake, roll around in soft play and just enjoy hanging out! Then it’s time to leave….

It’s time to leave this little haven where actually we’re not any different to anyone else. We walk back out through the front doors and we feel so humbled that people would give up their own weekends so we could enjoy ours, we feel refreshed, we feel relaxed and we feel ready to go out & back to our home, our “different kind of normal”.

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