Friday, July 30, 2010

Body views

After Sophia died I was left with this broken body... after giving birth you have that miff dodgy stomach for a week or two, then they'd given me stuff to stop milk production but there was still colostrum and whatnot. Plus there was the bleeding. All in all I felt this massive sense of defeat. My body depressed me. After all, my body had failed me in the worst possible way.

After Tandia's arrival things are much the same (except the milk story - my cup doth overflow!) but now I look at my body in awe. I am amazed at this little perfect person who is here safe and sound. I am amazed that I can provide for her on demand. There's a sense of triumph and gratitude now where before there was only loathing and failure.

It's a weird thing to walk with Tandia. Before, some people avoided eye contact. Others did the sympathetic, awkward head tilt. Now people, even strangers, just have massive gushy smiles when they see me. In a way I want to hide from it, but really they are admiring my little girl and that's as it should be.

And how would I look at me if I was not me? (get your heads around THAT one! :) )
I think it would have to be a mixture - sadness and gushy joy. The two aren't mutually exclusive.

Right now, as I type this, Tandia is fast asleep on the couch next to me. Teensy little dummy bobbing in and out every now and then. Squeaky little noises here and there. Head rising and falling ever so slightly with each breath. And I feel a quiet peace.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Double helix

So in about grade 10 we all learnt about the double helix structure of DNA: two parallel strands spiralling upwards with the odd ladder rung between them. Our biology teached had a model of DNA on his desk and every year on the anniversary of the discovery of DNA by Watson and Crick he'd bounce the model from left to write and sing a few lines of Happy Birthday. It was pretty special.

A double helix is where my emotions are.

I am filled with joy, gratitude and a heart set to explode from love, especially in moments like this:

When my gran died she left me a book in which she'd recorded her proud gran moments - times in my and my brothers lives that were precious memories for her. On one of the pages she writes "Every time a new grand child is born your heart swells even bigger to make space for more love. You can actually feel it happen". When I bathed Tandia last night I felt that happening.

But at the same time, running parallel to this time of unbelievable precious beauty, I'm perhaps sadder than I've been all year. Not only is this time a reminder of all I have missed with Sophia, but I think while pregnant I was so consumed with fear that there was less space for raw grief.

At church yesterday the pastor said something along the lines of "thank God for his kindness toward you" and at once the familiar lump was back in my throat. God has been indescribably kind to me (just see the pic above!) but still - in the same moment that the placenta ripped from the uterus lining, my child, my daughter, was forever ripped from this world and from me, her mom. And yes, I use the word 'ripped' because it feels that violent.

The weekends are good. I am happy when I'm around people and when TheBand is around. But many week days are not. Especially the mornings. Especially today.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beyond the birth

How do you name a person - another living being. It's such a responsibility and going in to theatre we still hadn't decided. When they told me they were going to have to put me under, they sent The Band outside (I guess so he wouldn't have to see them shoving a pipe down my throat) - they had asked what our name options were and I had told them, with The Band outside I said to them "ok it sucks that I have to go under, but while i'm out you guys can convince The Band on the name I want!"

Apparently they did...

Her name is Tandia Ella (Tandia is pronounced "Tun-dee-uh" with the emphasis on the "dee"). He'd been concerned that Tandia was too ethnic or something, but I've loved the name for years. The two meanings I found were "much loved one" and "prayer"... fitting!!! And now of course, it's hard to imagine her as anything else.

Tandia weighed 2.43 at birth and is a teensy little thing and so so beautiful.

For the first 4 days I didn't sleep... I couldn't. I wasn't even tired. I just wanted to take it all in. I guess I was just on such a high of relief and gratitude.

It's been great to be home... we've had family til tonight so it has been busy, and I'm looking forward to redefining normal now that it's just us.

We're pretty much doing all the "wrong" things in terms of breastfeeding (kind of going with whatever's comfortable rather than the specific positioning the nurses encourage) and sleep - my best is to sleep with her on my chest, else she's on a wedge in our bed. But we have a very content little baby and we're pretty content too so I guess it's working for us!

It's amazing how you get a sense of a baby's character in the womb... it's really accurate. I felt that Tandia would be a bit of a more serious child. Very content. Very sweet and very gentle. A wise little thing. This is really how she comes accross.

That makes me think of Sophia - how I felt I knew her, I did.

Since being home there have been more and more sore moments. I referred to The Kernel as Sophia by mistake. That hurt. Then for some reason my bath really set me off. I had so looked forward to my first post-caesar bath which I was finally allowed to have on Friday night.

The Band filled it with bubbles and dimmed the lights and put on some music for me. I don't know what it was. Perhaps it was the first time I was bathing "alone" for a very long time. No one in my belly. It just made me ache for Sophia. Tandia was never particularly excited about the bath when I was pregnant. But Sophia used to love baths - she'd kick about plenty from the moment I was in the water. Baths were always our time.

Since Friday night I've had a growing ache. An increasing hollow sadness. It's a strange place to be - a mixture of pure joy and relief and awe and reverence and gratitude on the one side and a deep, aching, gaping loneliness and longing on the other.

How I wish Sophia was here to share all this with us. To welcome her little sister into the world. Having our beautiful daughter here with us does not solve it. It doesn't stop us missing our firstborn. In some ways it makes me miss Sophia even more.

And then came The Kernel

It's true what they say about time disappearing once baby arrives. It's unbelievable. Anyway, bla bla, that's my way of apologising for taking so ridiculously long to write this post.

We arrived at the hospital last Thursday night and they began the induction. I had contractions through the night and much of Friday, but by Friday evening they were slowing down. The doc tried to induce again but by Saturday morning the contractions had stopped. Time for Plan B - a caesar.

Very last bump pic - 36 weeks 1 day

So in we went.

McBand in his scrubs.

I guess I kind of thought that I had earned this idyllic birth experience after everything, but alas, twas not to be... We went into theatre and there was a nice vibe in the team. They started the spinal block and were about to get going when the anaesthetist (THANKFULLY!) saw me grimace when they did something... something I shouldn't have felt. The spinal hadn't worked. bugger. He tried again... nada.
That is not what you want to hear when you're bracing yourself for surgery. Only option was to put me under general anaesthetic. CRAP!

I guess the good thing is that I didn't have much time to think about it. Apparently I had the foresight to tell them that I wanted someone to tell me exactly what had happened the second I woke up... (as we were walking in to theatre the one sister was saying that The Kernel would DEFINITELY have to spend time in NICU etc etc - real little optimist that lady!)

Anyway, next thing I awoke to someone congratulating me and telling me that The Kernel is perfect and healthy and breathing like a champ! I of course started crying - they tried to console me til I explained that those were not sad tears!! Those were the tears of relief of 8 months of fear!

The clock in front of me read 11:30 - we'd gone in to theatre at 10.

I felt so drugged and my stomach and throat were so so sore. They wheeled me through to my room and on the way I caught a glimpse of a topless Band snuggling a little bundle. He brought the bundle to my room and this is what he brought me...

In many ways that moment I'd waited so long for is a blur. I remember being amazed at how light she was and how beautiful. I remember realising that she knew me and I knew her. I remember feeling so drugged and thinking "I should be upset about the way it happened - about the anaethetist's bugger up, about the fact that I only met her an hour and a half after she'd been born" but feeling an overwhelming sense of "I couldn't care less how it happened, she is safe!!!" Relief. Pure relief. Like breathing for the first time in 8 months. Like quenching a thirst that has reached desperate frantic proportions. All else fades. Little else matters. She is here and safe and healthy and perfect.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

We're just about there

I can't believe the day is just about to dawn. Everyone says to me "already?? Wow it's gone fast!" HA! People forget that they only heard at 12 weeks. Also it's fast if you're not living in fear and worry. No... I can't say it's gone fast. This pregnancy has fone from one milestone to the next. We've tried to celebrate each one, to consciously unguard our hearts. This pregnancy has been the hardest thing I've ever done, but it has also probably saved my life. Sounds melodramatic, but the promise of new hope, the joy of pregnancy that you simply can not dampen, has no doubt saved my sanity, maintained some joie de vivre in me. I am entirely, indescribably grateful to have this baby on board.

But I ramble.

Yesterday and today I had my steroid shots. Ow. I've been wide awake since 3.30am - not worrying, not stressing, just awake. Asked the nurse about it today and she says it's a side effect from the shot. Lovely! Hoping for a better night's sleep tonight!

So tomorrow, in I go. 5pm I go to hospital and they will start the induction soon after. By Friday morning the doc will pretty much know if natural is going to happen, if not it'll be a caesar.

It occurred to me yesterday that my only prayer has been for a healthy, living child. It seems greedy to ask for any more. But that's a bit silly, isn't it. God is not a Father who wants to give his kids the bare minimum. With that in mind, here's what I'm praying for... those of you who do, please could you join me in this?

1. A healthy little baby girl (oh and my health too)
2. No need for her to spend time in NICU
3. The induction to take fast so I can avoid a caesar (unfortunately if I have a caesar I'll never be able to go natural again - they can't induce if you've had a caesar. Also with The Kernel being so small she is going to need a lot of love and care from me and I want to be in top form to be able to provide that for her)
4. A fairly quick labour

Those are absolutely in order of priority and number one is the only one that really matters, the rest would be great of course, but to have my baby born safe and healthy will be everything to me.

In the last couple of days I've had so many blog comments, twitter comments, FB messages, smses and phone calls of people all over sending their support, their love, their prayers. It has meant so much. People are incredible. Thanks to all of you for caring so much. I am taking my computer to hospital and as soon as possible I will update you all and post pics. Otherwise, follow me on twitter - that's the easiest for me as it's straight from the phone.

Adios for now :)

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Nursery

Well the nursery is all done at last so here is the long overdue photoshoot:

Thursday, July 01, 2010

We're nearly there

Time is somehow passing by against all odds. I guess the world cup helps (I wonder if there is any girl in the country who's watched as much soccer as me! I'm really quite into it and will probably have to blow vuvuzelas to put the Kernel to sleep when she's born!). I've somehow been busy with a million little things - final touches on the nursery (hoping to be done by Saturday in which case there will be a MASSIVE photo shoot at long last!) and, in the midst of all the baby preparation, we have made an offer on a house. Ya - apparently we don't like to keep things simple and timing is not our gift! Anyway bla bla bla it is exciting and all that, but it's not really top of mind for me at the moment. We will hear back from the bank in the next week or so and then we'll know if we've got it in which case I'll tell you all about it.

The Band and I had the official Names Talk the other day. We chatted through a bunch of names and eventually pretty much decided though we'll only decide for sure sure when she's born. The Band said to me he'd thought very little about names and perhaps it was because he is protecting himself in case something happens. That was quite hectic. He is always the strong, rational one. The optimist. The voice of reason. It was hectic to hear a little about his fears. I've seen it in other people too (though none of them would admit it I'm sure). My mom would sing to Sophia and wanted to feel her kick and all that. She bought heaps of clothes and stuff for her, but with The Kernel she's done none of that. I think she is guarding her heart as well. A few of my friends are the same. Even my CEO said to me "we will celebrate when she is here". Some people refer vaguely to "the situation" I am in and can't even say "pregnancy" or "baby". They skirt around the topic when it comes to me.

How does that make me feel? Firstly bear in mind it's all subtle of course. I guess it makes me feel sad. Sad for The Kernel. Poor little thing. She's done nothing wrong and yet people are guarding their hearts from her. Of course I understand it completely - you'll remember in the early months I did the same thing until I came to a point where I was strong enough to consciously decide to celebrate her because she deserves it and because even if the worst happened I'd never regret loving her, just as I have never wished that I loved Sophia less so that it could have hurt less. I guess it's just another sad reality of pregnancy after loss: people guard their hearts.

On the positive side I have had a handful of friends who've taken it upon themselves to celebrate with me and sometimes in spite of me. My one friend drops off a wrapped present in my postbox every Friday morning to celebrate another week of pregnancy. How awesome is that? The gifts have ranged from bath toys to babygrows to matching mom and daughter bangles to edible treats and so on. Another friend of mine who I work with talks to The Kernel every time she sees me. She's gunning to be favourite "aunt". People like this have helped stir my excitement and I've needed that.

Yesterday was our final scan. The Kernel now weighs a little over 2kg meaning she'll probably weigh about 2.2 at birth. I'm really hoping and praying she weighs at least that much coz babies still lose weight and I don't think a baby can go home if they weigh less than 2. Anyway we have the cutest premmie outfits and nappies all ready for her - even the newborn stuff looks hefalumpish in comparison!

On Tuesday and Wednesday I will have steroid shots and on Thursday evening I will go into the hospital (can't wait - will feel much safer when I'm there!) and we'll get the induction going so that by Friday morning we should know whether natural will be possible or if we have to go for a caesar.

I can't believe this time next week I'll be just about to drive to the hospital. I don't even know unpregnant Caz anymore. And what of the mourning? What of the moment when I no longer have to keep it together coz I have a baby on board? Is there a massive dark hole ahead of me? Am I the most prime candidate for postnatal depression ever? Or will The Kernel bring such healing and joy that the mourning will continue gently as it has been? My friends who've been through this - a child after losing one - have had such varied experiences. All I know is that I can't wait to hold this little girl. Good luck to The Band, my folks and any other visitors... they will be very lucky if they get a chance to hold her... maybe if I need to pee but that may just be it! :)