It's not often that I pull out the ol' blog and dust it off and share my thoughts, and it's certainly not often that I post a promotional post (so seldom in fact that this is the first ever one I've done, as far as I know!) but maybe it's time I got back on the blogging horse (oh the plethora of bad mixed metaphors... there really is no limit!). SOOOOO ladieeeeeees and gentlemen, good day and welcome to my first ever blog giveaway!! For a while now I've been hearing about Backsberg sunset concerts and I've been dying to give them a go. We all love a Kirstenbosch concert, but let's be honest: it's a big fat mission - parking miles away, having to arrive early to get any sort of decent spot, and, if you're me, driving all the way back to Stellies afterwards. So I was delighted when a lovely friend suggested we all hang out at Backsberg's concert this Sunday (especially seeing as I can now drink wine!). Food and drinks are available for purchase at the farm and if you need any other info check out www.facebook.com/backsbergconcerts. But hell, why not make it a tweet up, I thought! And so, dear readers, if any of you are in the Western Cape area and would like to meet #thekernel and #thepopcorn, here's your chance: I'll be randomly giving away 2 tickets on Friday afternoon. How do you enter? Comment below (about whatever!) and then tweet a link to this post and copy me in (@thecaz). That's it. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! ... wine farm + music + picnic - what's not to love?
Thursday, August 16, 2012
We are now 3 months down the line from Lilly's death. And as that time wears on you realise that for my SIL now and for myself back then, the hospital is perhaps the sweetest part of this whole ordeal. Now that sounds ludicrous I'm sure. And many husbands would want to usher their wives out and home as quickly as possible after the child is born, but if you are fortunate enough to have a caring hospital - where you are shown much care and placed far from babies and happy moms - then the hospital may well be the best of the worst. For one thing, the hospital is the first and last place you will have seen your baby and so, agonising as that is, it is precious. There is a closeness. A newness. The pain is raw and searing, but it is pure - untainted just yet by the inevitable anger, bitterness and hopelessness that follows. It is simply what it is: grief in its purest form. And something of that pure grief is beautiful because it connects you to your child. Back in the real world, as the weeks pass by and you're left with only the empty womb which failed you and surrounded by people who are determined to continue with life as it once was, moms will feel a loneliness like nothing on earth. There really is no describing it. People are wonderful and they try, but really it is you, as the mom, who has known your child and so it is you, as the mom, who grieves that child and will do so as long as you live. Dads* and famly and friends mostly grieve the prospect of what might have been - they grieve it, they accept it and they move on. Moms alone grieve what was. What is. What never will be. And how do you keep the bitterness at bay? How can you be happy for the pregnant around you? And how is it possible that every waking female in a 50km radius will joyfully announce their pregnancy within a month or two of your loss? And how do you paste that smile on your face when people say the ridiculous things that they do? And how do you ever ever make peace with the determined way women in our age and culture insist on bitching about the burden of motherhood, almost affectionately, as if they are hard done by heroes? And how long do you ignore the nursery and leave it set up, museum-like for the arrival of the baby that will never happen, and how long til you muster up the courage to unpack the baby bag? How long til you can have caffeine and alcohol and sushi and all the things you so stoically refused during your pregnancy without feeling some misplaced and non-sensical guilt? And how do you muster up enthusiasm for the job you once loved given that you should be home, flawless infant cuddled to your chest? It's hard. And all you can possibly do is try to get up each day and brace yourself to face the world. * This is my experience - I know of some exceptions of dads who have and do grieve their stillborn children deeply and ongoingly
thoughts of Caz at Thursday, August 16, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
It's been at least 2 years since I've felt so utterly depressed. And really, the word depressed is not one I throw around. Down is not depressed. Sad is not depressed. Depression is dark. It is a sense of utter hopelessness and that is what I am now fighting. Thank God for Tandi. A million zillion times over. Thank you God for Tandi. It's very hard to cry with a little girl splashing water in your face from her bath, trying to hide Gubby (the Guv) in the cupboard or pinching your nose and wrenching open your jaw to try shove food in while laughing manically. She is incredible. Thank you God for Tandi. Back to the stillbirth journey. I really hope that these posts can be of help to someone.. I mentioned how important it is to hold your baby - you wouldn't want to miss that - but there are of course times it won't be a good idea. If the baby is in a bad way then perhaps it's best not to and that is a very very tough call to make. It's important to take photos - even just to keep in case the mom ever wants them. I took many photos of my neice (her name is Lily) and sat with a friend who helped me edit them to soften the colour etc. I printed them and my folks bought a special album on which we engraved Lily's name. Well I only chose the very best of the photos for the album (want to play with the others a bit more) and every time I see my SIL the album is either in her hands or nearby. It is utterly precious to her and I'm so glad I did it. In some of the photos I placed one of Lily's toys, a bunny, and my SIL now has that bunny to keep forever. I also helped the nurses take hand and footprints - not always possible to do - but it is another precious keepsake for my SIL. The hospital room is a safe place. People who visit are there briefly to pay their respects and the nurses, hopefully, would be caring. But once you leave that hospital the world will confront you. In my case, we stopped at a chemist on the way home to collect my prescriptions. I stayed in the car while The Band went in. Sitting there, I saw a woman walk past. She had her baby to her chest in a kango pouch, covered in a blanked. All I could see was a little pair of pink-clad legs. It was all I needed to see. I will never forget the searing pain of that sight. Once you are out of your hospital room, in 'normal' contexts, people feel the need to act normal. I remember going to dinner with my folks (we were all staying in a hotel in Plett when it happened and so dinner out was a given). I remember my folks making conversation and seeming very cheerful and having a drink or whatever and by the time we walked into the hotel I lost it. I could not take the normalcy, how quickly they returned to normal, how quickly they could laugh again, how quickly they could forget, how quickly they could move on. I broke down and said it was all just a bit much. Last night - my SIL's first night out the hospital - was the same and I feel sick for not preempting it. There were too many of us there and we were chatting. OF COURSE none of us had forgotten and of course I now know that my folks were doing their level best that night in Plett to try cheer me up and had not at all forgotten - but that is how it felt and that is how my SIL felt last night. It is an agonising thing. People - even your very closest family - WILL forget. They WILL move on. but it won't be in the first week. The other thing that happens by about day 3 is that you start to be able to have conversations yourself about other things and even to laugh and have pleasant moments. Unfortunately, the aftermath is fierce. You feel sick and guilty and like a bad mom for forgetting for a moment that you have lost your child. It is a sickening awful feeling which makes you want to guard your grief almost jealously to avoid feeling that way again. TBC
thoughts of Caz at Thursday, May 17, 2012
I am reliving so many of the things I'd forgotten. I am recognising so many of my sis-in-law's emotions and feeling them myself for her. One of the first things you feel when you lose a baby at the end of a pregnancy is "how can I possibly start all over again". You feel exhausted and utterly defeated at the thought of starting from scratch. You have worked so hard to get this far and it's all come to nothing. "What was the point of all of this?" But soon - like within the same day - you feel desperate to start again. Basically life has been concentrated down to one miniscule, utterly focused point - having a child - and it seems to have very little point beyond that and so in those moments the only thing that seems to have any glimmer of hope or value in it and the only reason there seems to be for bothering to go on is the prospect of still being able to have a child. With both her and I, we lost our first. I guess it might be different if we had already had children. I remember not really speaking about it too much as people think you are loopy and should just focus on getting through the days ahead. They may be right, but so are we, because really, the only possible thing that gets you through those days, when a massive, gigantic all encompassing baby shaped hole takes up your heart, is the possibility of another child. Basicaly you need that hope. I remember saying something like "I will have a baby by next christmas or else". Else what? Else I would throw a tantrum? Hate the world? Top myself? No idea. Basically I don't think I'd have been able to breathe without a baby. That's more or less how it felt. Of course, at the same time, there is nothing more terrifying than the prospect of another pregnancy - naivete gone now that it is - but still, despite that horrific, choking fear, the prospect of NOT being pregnant is even worse. Rock and a hard place of note. With your first baby, your first pregnancy, the prospect of a child remains a bit abstract until you hold him or her. Of course you love that child and dream of her and all that, but only once you hold her does an entire shift in you occur. That's true either way. Many moms would be nervous or reluctant to hold their stillborn - of course they would - but part of why it is so important is because that mother's love envelops you when you do and so you can then mourn her wholeheartedly. And what an utterly bittersweet moment it is, to hold your child for the first and last time. To feel all the love in the world for a child who has already left the world. For the mom of a stillborn you feel much bitterness ahead of the time. You feel angry and victimised by life. But seeing and holding your child softens you. It's as if, for a while after that at least, that pain is distilled into something very pure and sweet. The simple sadness of a mom who has lost her little girl. That sadness must be the most agonising pain on earth (ok one of them at least), but it is such a beautiful thing. So much of the grief that follows is tainted by offence and bitterness and fear and all muddied emotions, but that sadness is just you and your girl. When I felt it again a while ago I treasured it. A friend offered to pray for the pain to go and I said something like "don't you dare. It is too precious and rare to feel that untainted grief". ***side note: I just overheard my dad saying to someone "now we know why caz had to go through this herself - so she can help others". Meh. Yes and no. MEH! That doesn't answer why others have to go through it. ugh. I mean I agree and I disagree and it all just sucks. Ok I have to go. there is more, much more, and perhaps this will be helpful to anyone else who has to support and try to understand someone going through this.
thoughts of Caz at Thursday, May 17, 2012
Monday, May 14, 2012
It's a funny thing. Just yesterday, mother's day (which I still hate), I was missing Sophia and wondering at how I have taken to avoiding grief and even this blog. I've meant to write often but always found a reason not to. The reason has largely been that I've wanted to avoid being sucked back into the awful world of grief and loss. I've wanted to deny my membership of this club of angel mommies. Not that I've wanted to deny Sophia - never. But I've wanted to avoid the raw pain of this world.
Today life dealt us another vicious blow. My brother and sis-in-law who we are very close to and who live in the same town as us tried for a long time to fall pregnant. The pregnancy has gone well and I've told all who would listen how much I love my niece. Ive marveled at my love for this little girl - how could I so love a child who wasn't even my own? I've been privileged enough to go to two of the scans and have seen my niece wink at me onscreen. I've helped talk through the endless decisions of planning for a baby - prams and monitors and nursery colour schemes and baby showers. Painting curtain rails and washing clothes and preparing hospital bags. And I've moaned about how long the next 5 weeks are going to take and how I can't wait to meet this little girl.
This morning we got a call. Bad news. No heartbeat. Time warp back to September 2009 - the worst thing a mom can hear. No heartbeat.
My SIL had had pains for the last week. Random, undistinguished pains. Upper back. Here and there. She'd been to the doc 3 times. All looked one each time. She'd had extra scans to check blood flow and she'd been on the ECG. All fine.
This morning no movement was worrying her and so she went in. 4th time in less than a week. No heartbeat.
Tonight we are at the hospital. My SIL has had a Caesar and I've just taken photos of my precious little niece. She is beautiful. I'm not just saying that. She is. The marks of death are not yet on her and I am so grateful for that.
Tonight I rejoin that club in support of my SIL and for the first time I feel some gratitude for having been there myself. I can support her and understand her in the dark months to come.
I'm so very sad for them and our family and her family and for me. For the niece I love so much and for tandi who would have been her BFF. But I'm glad that she'll have a guided tour of Heaven with Sophia and a BFF up there.
Rest in peace precious treasure. Your aunty loves you so very much.
thoughts of Caz at Monday, May 14, 2012
Saturday, February 25, 2012
A friend of mine's cat was run over yesterday and I'd be lying if I said I didn't fight the tears when I heard. I've been sad ever since and keep thinking of her beautiful cat and my beautiful friend.
To the non-cat lovers out there (how do you survive on the Internet, seriously?) perhaps that sounds absurd. In the wake of all the tragedy around, how can I be so sad over just one little cat?
It's coz there is no such thing as just a cat.
Just as my Guv quite possibly saved my sanity in my darkest hours and is still my baby who i adore (sure he may be demon possessed but still!), this cat played a similar role in my friend's life.
This friend is a warm and lovely person. She turned 40 on Thursday and has been married many years but has been unable to conceive. Her husband wasn't too keen on pets and so it's always just been the two of them at home until last year when her mom was going through the last stages of cancer. My friend was taking strain and seeing her mom weakening and suffering new each day.
In the final months of her mom's life a kitten started showing up at my friend's house. A kitten who refused to leave.
Her husband may have tried a weak protest but was soon won over by this lovable little cat.
My friend advertised that she'd found a cat but after receiving no queries she finally allowed herself to believe that this, Chaka, was to be her baby.
Through all the visits to her mom and through her mom's death, the funeral arrangements and the lonely months that followed, this little cat was there. She brought joy and silliness and laughs and love in a dark and lonely time. She lit up the home and she lit up my friend. Each time I saw her she'd animatedly regale the Chaka's latest antics.
Next thing Chaka was pregnant and my friend was playing midwife and nanny and granny to more kittens (2 of which she kept and the rest of which went to her own sister). Now my friend's flawless home was really the territory of 3 gorgeous, young and mischievous cats. But Chaka remained my friend's baby.
And so yesterday, the day after my friend turned 40, when her Chaka was run over, I cried.
That silly saying about God sending people for a reason or a season (or something) is evident in this story. Seems to me God saw fit to use a little cat to get my friend through her hardest time.
thoughts of Caz at Saturday, February 25, 2012
Sunday, January 15, 2012
In case you didn't know, The Band is a pastor. That's right: I'm a pastor's wife.
Tonight he preached about His life and about how God has always been there. In the good times, the bad times and in all the mundane times inbetween when we are most likely to forget Him.
He spoke about the two times he's cried. The first was when he prayed for salvation. The palpable Presence of God touched him, melted him and he found himself with tears pouring down his cheeks.
The second time was when Sophia was born and he held his little girl for the first and last time.
Something about this moment, sharing that pain, that beauty with a room full of people has brought it sharply to the surface for me. I've felt pain more rawly than I have in many many many months.
And it's a precious thing and a sore, raw thing. and in the same instant I want to beg God to take this very brutal and fresh pain from me, I want to cling to it as tightly as I can because it is real and it is what I have of my little girl.
thoughts of Caz at Sunday, January 15, 2012
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
I haven't been overly enthusiastic about moving and leaving our lovely home which holds so many memories - much of my pregnancy with Sophia and the baby shower and all the preparation for her arrival, her funeral, even the night that she died - I'm pretty sure I was in the bath (her favourite place) at the time with that awful pain. It's the place where I mourned her, where everything I am changed, where I began to grow into a new me.
Tandi was conceived - sorry - in that house and before I knew I was pregnant, I knew and spoke to her in my tummy. I remember it so well. I don't even think I was late yet, but I wanted her so badly and I was so sure and I was showering that night and said to her " I don't know if you're in there. I think you are. I am so utterly in love with you already". I think I took a test the next day.
The first blurry weeks of tandi's life happened there. Ice ice cold with snowy mountains framing our view. Two heaters on in my room to try warm this teensy little bundle. Tandi's first meal and first step and first words. Her first smile and the first time she ran into my arms.
This move came more as an inevitability than a choice from my side. When TheBand and I first saw this place I was heavily pregnant with t. It was a dark gloomy day. The house seemed dark, cold, creepy. The tenants were messy and the place held no appeal to me - nor did the prospect of moving with a newborn. The garden was overgrown and there was not even a front wall.
TheBand went to work early on - he pulled out approximately TWENTY trees and put up a wall that I'm told is the envy of the neighborhood. We secured great tenants and already it seemed brighter.
D-day eventually arrived on Monday and because I'd been packing and cleaning it just happened that I hadn't been inside this house again since last year.
Wow, it is not at all how I remembered it. There is so much beautiful light. The lounge has big windows on two sides and I can sit looking at the mountains and the school.
We have a fireplace (!!!)
The kitchen is so seventies but it's big and light and lovely in its own seventies way.
The rooms are smaller than we had before but they have good cupboard space and - I realized with a shock - I can do whatever I want with them. I can get as crazy and creative as I want to in tandi's room.
There seem to be a million bathrooms and they are all quite ugly, but they are ours and we'll get there.
The light fittings are some of the most hideous I've seen but they make us laugh.
The kitchen overlooks the backyard. It's sounds like a small thing, but to have an enclosed backyard is awesome - tandi can play outside safe and sound while I'm doing my thing in the kitchen. Fantastic. Also, eventually I can just walk tandi across the road to school.
Poor Guvvy - it's a bit of a thing for cats to move house so to be safe we are locking him in for a week or so. He's unimpressed!
At this stage it's all still chaos but we'll get there.
When (if?) we have money we'll put electric motors on the gates. we have big plans for the back yard (lapa and eventually a pool, big veggie and herb garden and so on). We'd also like to make the kitchen open plan to the lounge and dining room and give all the bathrooms serious attention.
I am excited to have an oven that works and to plant veggies with tandi "helping" - ha! I can well imagine that. I'm excited to build bird feeders with her and to see what birds we can attract. She'll ride her first bike here one day! And perhaps this will be the hang out for her and her friends. I hope so.
thoughts of Caz at Wednesday, November 02, 2011