Monday, October 28, 2013

I guess it can stike twice - The story of my daughter's battle

This is the second part of my childrens' story. 

My daughter was born with a shock of red hair just like her brother. But unlike my son, she was small, strong and full of attitude. Seems strange to pin that on a newborn baby but man she could caterwaul. She was a good feeder, a relatively good sleeper and pretty much did all the things a baby should do, all with a pack-a-punch kind of view on life. 

When she hit four weeks my husband and I started watching her for signs that she'd inherited my sons disorder (See here for details) And she was a bit chucky but nothing like the magnificent pyro technics our first had managed to perform. We sighed in relief and shoved our worries aside. She wasn't going to get sick like our son. We weren't going to have to go through that again. No one's that unlucky, right? What I've now realised is luck has nothing to do with it. Our lives were just one of many, turning in circles, jumping over obstacles and hoping for the best. 

She was the perfect little eight month old. Chubby, a red, rock star hairstyle, the cheekiest grin on the planet. But somewhere around that time, we started to notice things weren't quite right. We had just returned from a trip to Sydney to visit friends and had decided to have dinner with my parents in their newly finished beachhouse. My son was staying with the other grandparents and fish and chips sounded too good to pass up. 

Sitting on the fresh leather couch my mum put her hand to my daughter's forehead and said, "She's awfully warm. Has she been out in the sun today? She looks burnt." 
I looked down at the sleeping baby in my arms, her face a rough shade of beetroot, and shook my head, "No." Eyeing her suspicously, her tiny legs wrapped in rainbow striped tights, "Maybe she has a fever..." I remember thinking, it's probably teething, ear ache, something normal, something I understand and can handle. 

We took her home and she went straight to sleep. But she woke in the night, screaming her head off. Our tin shed of a home was vibrating from the noise. The problems was, the things we usually did to settle her, like holding her and patting her to sleep seemed to make her scream more. And this wasn't just crying. This was screaming bloody murder in pain. 

"It's weird," my husband said, "she seems to scream more when I hold her in my left arm than in my right..." 
I nodded, my eyes drooping from severe sleep deprivation. "Yes, that is weird." I said mechanically as I squeezed the syringe of panadol through her rosebud lips. It made no difference. 

That was the first night of screaming. There were only two. Because that was all I could take. It was all I had in me. What do you do when your child screams all night and smiles all day? I started to worry that it was because I'd painted her room bright orange and somehow it had made her angry. She'd had the fever a few nights ago but now there was no fever just the screaming. I was confused and beside myself from tiredness. 

On the third day, after another night of screaming, we played on the lawn, me sitting in a patch of sunlight hoping the vitamin D would wake me up a little. Her big brother blew bubbles and ran around popping them in delight. She watched him with that cheeky grin, sitting in my crossed legs on a blanket. We started to play the game we always played, where I supported her as she pushed her legs up from the ground to standing. I held her up, expecting the joyful spring of two feet pushing up. One leg pushed to standing, the other one dangled like she was afriad to put it down. Before my son, I would have thought, 'oh that's odd' and not thought much of it, but even though my tired brain was having trouble focusing on anything, that leg just dangling there was flashing in my mind like a massive warning light. 

Something was wrong. 

I scooped up my son, strapped them both into their carseats and drove like a hyped up zombie to the doctors surgery. I showed the doctor what my daughter was doing, she scratched her chin and said that we best get it checked out at the hospital because it could be a viral hip problem. She said it wasn't too serious. Relieved, I followed her advice, calling my husband to tell him to meet me there. 

Having studied pathology was a blessing and a burden. Because when I heard the words "CRP through the roof" I knew exactly what they meant. My husband knew it wasn't good but he didn't understand that it meant my daughter was fighting off a serious infection. When they called in their orthopedic surgeon, we both knew that as soon as he opened his mouth our world was going to change. He uttered the words, "septic." And my focus became fuzzy. Noises pressed in and around me and I gripped my husbands arm. He heard it but he didbn't know how bad that was. And I didn't tell him. How do you tell your husband that for the second time, one of his babies might die, or that she could lose her leg? The worst thing was looking down at her reddened face and knowing just how much pain she must have been in. The thought, 'not again', floated in and out, because there was no point in dwelling, in saying 'why me?' this was happening right now and we needed to help her. 

Surgery was the only option. They would syringe the septic fluid from her leg and treat her with antibiotics. They would hope and pray they got it all. The clapped up the side of her metal cot and wheeled her away and I thought, 'I can't believe I'm doing this again. I don't want to say goodbye to my baby." 

We were in a ward three days after the surgery. She seemed to be doing well. 'She was lucky' they said, the sepsis was very well-contained in her ankle joint and they thought they had got it all. We nicknamed her Club Arm. She was attached to an IV all the time, which is not what an eight month old wants and she tried to pull it out several times. So they attached a splint and several metres of bandage to keep it in. 

I lived in the hospital while she was being treated, but one morning I chanced sneaking out to the cafeteria to get some breakfast. The phone rang shrilly or maybe that's just how it felt. It was a number I didn't recognise. The calm, monotone person on the other end told me that my daughter had Meningococcal disease. I left my half-eaten food on the grey plastic table and raced back to the ward. Where was she? The space where my daughters bed should be was empty. 

Not even panic covered how I felt. Everyone had heard of the disease. It killed babies. It showed up as an angry, purple rash and if you didn't die you usually lost your limbs. It was a nightmare. 

They'd taken her to quarrantine, we would all be in isolation until her treatment was over. I was shown to her room down a series of identical corridors until we reached a place where all the door were thick glass and cheery yellow signs were plastered on the fronts reading, 'face masks required' and 'please wash hands upon leaving.' She was sitting up in her metal cot, holding onto a bar with one hand and bashing the others with her club arm. She smiled when she saw me, two pearly teeth in a gappy grin. I picked her up, sat in the nursing chair with her and cried and cried until I was gasping and hicuping from it. The nurse watched me over her facemask. It was all too much, the face masks, the gloves and gowns. I glared back at her through red-rimmed eyes, "Get the doctor in here to explain to me what's going on." She turned and left the room. 

When the door opened again, it was the orthopedic surgeon. He had the flimsy white mask on as well. He laughed and said that he looked like a duck. I felt the air release a little, the pressure and worry starting to ease. He said she was going to live. We were lucky that we brought her in so early and lucky that the disease was so unusually contained within her ankle. Her immune system had some work to do but with antibiotics for the next three months she should make a full recovery. 

'Full recovery', 'live', 'lucky' these were good words. I clutched at them and held on to them tightly to show my husband and my family. 

We did have to take antibiotics that made us cry red tears and pee bright orange. And we had to do in-depth interviews with the CDC to track where she may have caught it from. Somewhere in Sydney, it seemed. We were even on the news. But eventually we got to take her home. 

My daughter is now six years old and she still has that fiery attitude, maybe because of how much she's been through or maybe she's always been that way and it's why she survived in the first place. I suspect the latter. She has had some setbacks, mostly because her immune system was so shot after her illness that she continually got sick. She has asthma. She also has a hearing impairment, and a funky purple hearing aid which she loves. But she's good, she's awesome, she's the toughest kid I know. 

I can't be sorry for what happened, I can't say 'why me?' and lament my bad luck because she's alive, she's amazing. And the rest, well, it makes a good story and I'll never forget it. I can only be thankful for how it turned out and my heart breaks for all those parents out there who weren't as fortunate as I was.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

How writing without an outline is gonna get me in trouble...

When I wrote The Woodlands I really had no idea I was writing a book until I was 40 pages in and was batting my kids away with a rolled up newpaper so I could continue my obsessive typing.

It started with a simple idea and grew forwards, backwards, upwards and downwards from there.

You see, I write in the most confusing and manic fashion imaginable. Because I have absolutely no idea where it's leading. Usually I might have some vague endpoint in mind but that usually changes as the story evolves. After eight weeks, The Woodlands emerged a mess of 39 chapters that had no order. I literally printed each one out and lined them up, rearranged them and eventually it started to make sense.

When I wrote The Wall I thought I should write an outline. That lasted about five pages before it was thrown out the window and the story started meandering down it's own path. Sometimes I swear, I have a hard time keeping up with where it goes! For me, an outline is pointless because when I write it's almost akin to reading an exciting book, I'm pretty curious to know where it's all going to end up and that keeps me going. I have written outlines but have always abandoned them because it's boring for me when I already know what's going to happen. You wouldn't flip to the last page of a book and read the ending would you? But that's just me, and it probably says more about my lack of attention than anything else.

But now I'm in trouble. As with the others, book three of The Woodlands Series is taking on it's own life. It's pulsing and building it's way to something. Only I don't know what. Not yet anyway. But now that the first two books are out there, people have questions they want answered, characters they want to see develop. I'm hoping Rosa evolves and maybe my hope for my characters somehow translates into action. I'm sure at least, that Orry will grow and not turn into a monkey or sprout horns, but whether they all live, still like each other at the end of this and where on earth they'll end up...I just don't know.

All I can say is: I wish I knew what was going to happen to everyone but at the same time I don't. For me, it's part of the fun of writing.

Monday, October 14, 2013


A poem about bullying by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

People say these things.
Do they know?
Sometimes it’s like a slap in the face
But mostly it feels like
A barb

Something sharp and burrowing
A word that keeps hurting
It knows you
You wrap around it and can’t
Let go

Shaking it free takes painful practice
Even then it still leaves shreds
Foreign material
Inside you, sleeping like
Slow poison

The cure
Open yourself up, expose the wound
Pull out the barb and
Show its blood and sharpness
Hold it in your palm.

They’ll tell you
It’s tiny. It can’t hurt you
And you’ll know they’re right
You’ll know it’s smaller now
Because you shared it.

Don't forget to enter our giveaway! 

Don't forget that we have a huge month long contest going on at our blog. Make sure you enter and please share with your friends, blogs, pages and followers. You can enter the giveaway by clicking the picture below.

More From Lauren Nicolle Taylor:

THE WALL by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
(Young Adult Mature- Dystopian Romance)
Release Date: October 11, 2013
Book 2 in The Woodlands Series

Joseph, wake up, wake up, wake up.

She says it over and over. It’s her plea, her prayer, her mantra. But life doesn’t stop while he’s sleeping. Rosa’s been thrown into a new world, with new rules, and a philosophy that sounds too good to be true. She’s also sure they didn’t rescue her out of the goodness of their hearts.

The Survivors must want something from them… but what?

The Wall finds Rosa eagerly entering a new life, yet struggling to keep the demons and ghosts of the past from dragging her backwards.

She’s left so many people behind and isn’t sure how to start over.

There’s freedom in the Survivors’ world, more than she’d ever dreamed of, but there’s also secrets. The darkest of which pulls Rosa headfirst into a trauma, forcing her to reevaluate her past and pushing her to make a choice that may destroy the tenuous, sewn-together family she’s built on the outside.

Will Rosa make the right choice… or will she lose everything she has fought so hard for?

Are you excited about The Wall? Check out the first book in The Woodlands Series Today! 

(Young Adult Mature- Dystopian Romance)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing

Rosa never thought she’d make it to sixteen...

When being unique puts you in danger and speaking your mind can be punishable by death, you might find yourself fighting to survive. Rosa lives in The Woodlands, one of eight enclosed cities where the lone survivors of a devastating war have been gathered. In these circular cities everyone must abide by the law or face harsh punishment. Rosa's inability to conform and obey the rules brands her a leper and no one wants to be within two feet of her, until she meets Joseph. He's blonde, fair skinned, blue eyed and the laid back, ever-grinning, complete opposite of Rosa.  She's never met anyone quite like him, and she knows that spells danger.

But differences weren't always a bad thing. People used to think being unique was one of the most treasured of traits to have. That was before the bitter race war decimated most of the planet, leaving the Russian wilderness as the only scrap of land habitable for survivors. Now, the Superiors, who ruthlessly control the concrete cities with an iron fist, are obsessed with creating a 'raceless' race. They are convinced this is the only way to avoid another war. Any anomalies must be destroyed.

The Superiors are unstoppable and can do anything they want, after all, they are considered super heroes by the general public. But not everyone see's them this way. When they continue to abuse their power by collecting young girls for use in their secret, high-tech breeding program, they have no idea that one of those girls has somehow managed to make friends even she didn't know she had. And one man will stop at nothing to save her.

About Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Lauren Nicolle Taylor is a 33-year-old mother living in the tiny, lush town of Bridgewater on the other side of the world in Australia. She married her high school sweetheart and has three very boisterous and individual children. She earned a Bachelors degree in Health Sciences with Honours in Obstetrics and Gynecology and majored in Psychology while minoring in Contemporary Australian Writing.

After a disastrous attempt to build her dream house that left her family homeless, She found herself inexplicably drawn to the computer. She started writing, not really knowing where it may lead but ended up, eight weeks later, with the rough draft of The Woodlands.

In 2013, Lauren Nicolle Taylor accepted a publishing contract with Clean Teen Publishing. Her first published novel, The Woodlands, was released on August 30, 2013. Currently, Lauren has finished her manuscript for the second book in the series titled: The Wall, as well as partially completed the third book in the series which at this time is unnamed.

Where to find Lauren: Blog / Facebook / Twitter

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I just had to post this because it's oh-so-pretty!

The Wall will be released on the 11th of October 2013. 
I can't wait :D