Friday, 18 December 2015

one whole year

You know, I thought I'd be feeling very reflective one year on since the diagnosis and initial biopsy.  That I'd write something profound (ha) about life, death, what's changed for me.  But the well is dry on those subjects.  It's with disbelief that I look at the calendar and realise that it was a year ago my life was fundamentally altered by a phone call, taken in my office after hours. A whole year.

I'm sitting with my son on his sheepskin right now, while he grabs his toes and works on a tooth (I think). (Do not even start with the put down your device and enjoy him crap.  I enjoy him a lot.  I also am an adult and there's only so long I can admire him unswervingly while slobbering on a rubber butterfly). He's just finished a tasty lunch of avocado, preceded by some boob.  We went for a long walk in the sunshine this morning.  In less than a week his father is on holiday for two and a bit weeks.  So, aside from the obvious, life isn't too shabby for me right now. That leads to a lot of guilt.

Christ it's hard writing about the minutiae at the moment.  I don't want to delve into Big Feelings but I can't find a happy place in prattling about what I did today, or what I ate, or what I saw, etc etc.

Call it a day.

Sunday, 13 December 2015


I have a partially drafted post about my car and financial woes (v v minor) but I sounded like an asshole so that's going to languish in drafts until I can figure out a way to lower the entitled whinging factor.

Um, what else that isn't about the death of my dad (still a big deal but I just can't write about it right now)?

Fink had a big week last week.  We moved him into a cot in his own room and, probably not coincidentally, he's slept from 6 to 6 every second night since.  Two days ago he ate his first solid food (kumara puréed with boobjuice) and he devoured it.  I've just fed him some rice cereal and he's worked out how to take food off a spoon.  His poor wee puku is so distended! He has some immunisations today and will be 5 months old tomorrow.  Holy shit, time flies, where mah baybee gone etc etc.

I went to my team's Christmas lunch on Friday. W came with me as his father was out drinking with clients.  God, it was so nice to talk to other adults about grown up stuff that I almost wanted to go back to work right then and there.  Don't worry, I came to my senses pretty quickly and realised that I miss the people, not the work and stress particularly.  I mean, if I could fanny about writing opinions all day I totally would but that is a small part of the job and deadlines, discovery and email drafting are still a big deal (sigh). So, not going back in the immediate future, it would seem.

Summer really arrived on the weekend. It was light until nearly 9pm, there was cricket on, Saturday was about 26 degrees, lovely.  Saturday in particular was great.  P and I have not been together at home on a weekend day with W for at least a month and spending some quality time was wonderful. We ate yum cha, we fed W his first solids and filmed the shit out of it, we hung out in the sunshine, W had an almost 2 hour nap which is unheard of over here, we had a lovely meal cooked in large part on the bbq (polenta, chorizo sausage and grilled veg salad), we played with W who was in an excellent mood post nap, we matched a movie after W went to bed.  It felt like our old pre-baby life, but better for the addition of this really excellent person we both love and who is a lot of fun.  I tried and largely succeeded at not thinking about Dad.  

Monday, 7 December 2015

2015 in review

1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?

Gave birth, mothered. Yep, chalked up quite a few new + big life experiences this year.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No resolutions is the answer to both, I think. I've always been kind of ambivalent about resolving at New Year (read: unrealistic goal setter and lazy at follow up)

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? 
Yes. CM, P, S -- & a whole coffee group of babies. Was nice, the baby thing this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die? 
My Dad. 
5. What countries did you visit? 
I didn't leave the country this year. It's been a couple of years now since we travelled internationally.  We talk about our next France trip all the damn time, though probably more likely would be a trip to the islands or perhaps Vietnam or Cambodia in the next few years.  

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
A well and healthy father, but don't see that happening any time soon. God, this is turning bitter & twisted.
7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 
15 July 2015. I gave birth, became a mother and met my son.

23 November 2015. Dad died.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
W. Yep, he's quite a big achievement!
Having as few regrets as possible.

9. What was your biggest failure? 
You know, I don't really like to think about this -- I'm giving myself the right to pass on this question this year.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? 

Actually, I take that back. I had a bastard episiotomy which is definitely an injury.  And then borderline mastitis twice which was a total shitbag both times.  

11. What was the best thing you bought? 
Professional help finishing the front two bedrooms, and the bouncinette. I have no idea where I'd be without that damn boucinette. I love it to death.

12. Where did most of your money go? 

The house, flights to Hawke's Bay and baby paraphernalia.  I never thought of myself as particularly spendy, but I can drop some serious cash on baby crap.  Like, I have a serious sleeping bag problem.  
13. What did you get really, really, really excited about? 
That easy -- my Finky.  He's the sauce.  

14. What song will always remind you of 2015? 
Hello, Adele.  While it was only released recently, it was being thrashed about the time of dad's death. It will also be bound up with the smell of star jasmine, which was beginning to bloom outside the entrance of the hospice during Dad's last days.  There's a star jasmine bush on our fence, and I see it everywhere now.

I wrote the above earlier, then when driving this morning I saw a jacaranda tree in bloom.  The jacaranda was blooming at Mum and Dad's last year just after Dad's biopsy and it all came flooding back as I drove past the tree in full purple fig.  Beautiful and kind of melancholic.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you: 
a) Happier or sadder? Surprisingly, this is quite hard to answer.  We knew Dad's prognosis by this time last year and the initial grief was powerful.  I'm sad now, of course, but in a different, wrung out way.  It's hard to compare the two.
b) Thinner or fatter? SQUISHY BABY WEIGHT ALL OVER
c) Richer or poorer? Poorer, for sure.  We're a one income family at the moment with a sizeable amount of debt. 
16. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Holding Dad's hand and telling him how wonderful he was to me.  It's not that I didn't do those things much, but it will never be enough.
17. What do you wish you'd done less of? 
You know, there's a few habits I could wish away (being on my phone too much for example) but I can't work myself into a lather about it.  

Usually the end of a year is ripe opportunity for a bit of self-flagellation but I can't work myself up to it this year.  I mean, I thrive on that shit normally, but I'm uncharacteristically mellow right now, cutting myself some slack.

18. How will you be spending Christmas? 
P, Finky and I are going to Hawke's Bay to spend Christmas with my mother and sister.  There will be tears, but there will also be an alfresco meal, champagne cocktails and some happy reminiscing too, I hope.

19. Did you fall in love in 2015? 
Utterly and unconditionally with W.

20. What was your favourite TV programme? 
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. So good.  Died laughing about Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, RIP me.  

21. What was the best book you read? 
I didn't read much this year, so the answer is a bit lame. A biography of the Duchess of Devonshire, whose author I can't recall. 

22. What was your greatest musical discovery? 
No discoveries of note this year, I'm afraid.

23. What did you want and get? 
Aside from a lot of stuff I couldn't have, a healthy baby.  God, I am so lucky.
24. What did you want and not get?

Ha, there is far too much I couldn't have. A healthy, well father?

25. What was your favourite film of this year? 
Do you know, I really enjoyed Mad Max: Fury Road

It most emphatically was not Jurassic World.  P took me to see that while I was heavily pregnant, and while we both enjoyed the childhood nostalgia element, Jesus it was awful.

26. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 

I spent my 33rd birthday being a hugely pregnant person, SO FUN.

27. What kept you sane? 
Tea, P, a massage in the third trimester, the Internet reminding me that hormones be crazy.  My pets, my baby.

28. What political issue stirred you the most? 
Medically assisted suicide.  Thank you Lecretia Seales, for using your illness and plight to take steps to ensure this is back on the political agenda.  Thank you.

I could not raise a healthy dose of give a shit for the flag debate.  If I don't hear anything more about it in the next 2 years, it'll be too soon.  There's been some quality assholery all over the board on that one.

29. Who did you miss? 

30. Who was the best new person you met? 
My Fink!

31. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
It's not perhaps a life lesson applicable to all + I recognised how lucky it is that it applies to me.  Family is everything, it's the reason.

left ring finger

I am back at home for a couple of weeks before Christmas. It is a flurry of admin and chores, lavishing attention on two neglected cats, attempting to get W sleeping in a cot before he actually bursts through the sides of the portable bassinet we've been using at Mum's house. I have made phone calls today, opened mail, shopped for food, planned meals, unpacked bags.  I felt useful to my husband, my son, my life.  

Mum now gets to pick up the pieces of her life and attempt to move on, in the era after Dad.  For her, I'm very little help.  I can't replace him.

I looked at her wedding ring a lot, over the past two weeks. Traitorous, I watched it shine while consumed by the fact that she's suddenly a widow, single.  The ring sits in the present tense, a false declaration of what box she should tick on a government form.  But yet nothing feels more true than that ring, a survivor of the wreckage that brain cancer made of their marriage.  

She wore her engagement and eternity rings to Dad's party and to a Christmas party hosted by the neighbours.  I didn't ask about how she felt as she undressed those nights, tucking those rings back into her jewellery box.

They were married 36 years, together 39. She now faces another 20 or 30 years without him (assuming, that is, that she lives a fairly standard life span.  We know that's not a given, we know it now deep in our bones). She's fairly stoic and grieves on her own.  I know that she goes down the farm to check the stock and cries out there, in the early dawn light on the land that they worked so hard to attain and keep.  I cry and rage that it's unfair.  What she says from time to time, before quietly weeping, is that there's someone missing. It breaks my heart afresh to hear it, each time.

She will have less than a week by herself before my sister arrives on the farm.  K and I cross over at Christmas.  P, W and I stay until the New Year.  We have another trip to see her at the end of January, for her birthday.  Mid February we'll join her for a week at the bach on the lake.  We've booked her flights to spend a long weekend with us at the end of Feb.  We're trying hard to fill the giant hole rent in her life, but I'm achingly aware that it's a paltry second best.  

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

i cannot stop reliving it

The sun has come out again here today, after a soupy morning and two days of mizzle. Summer is arriving in Hawke's Bay.  Dad lived almost a full year of the seasons following his diagnosis and, pregnant/postpartum/worried, I lived them with him.

Summer was hot, scorching.  I spent the summer months searing memories of Dad onto my (functioning, non-cancerous) brain, wondering if it would be the last Christmas, the last summer.  Dad nearly died late in summer.  As the heat withered grass, trees, any slice of green, I realised that time was short.  Not just metaphorically, but literally.

Autumn was consumed by his treatment, the failure of his treatment, and periods of hospitalisation; a serious downhill slide as the warm weather continued too long.  I watched the final of the Cricket World Cup at his bedside in hospital, one of the last real times he was the Dad he'd always been, but sick (contrast: the sick Dad of later months).  I spent Autumn bitterly consumed by what to do about my job. It was coming a distant third behind my family and my pregnancy and I couldn't focus.  I took parental leave early on 1 May, worried that time with Dad was very limited and worried about Mum. Though the warm weather lingered unseasonably, it suddenly and unexpectedly snowed in Hawke's Bay in May, the first time in over 20 years.

Winter came in two parts: travelling to be with Mum and Dad, and waiting for W to arrive following my 36th week of pregnancy. It was a period of stabilisation for Dad and we adjusted to his new normal, making the most of the glimpses of Dad we could unearth.  He made the heavens move in order to come to Auckland one final time and meet his grandson, born in the middle of a storm and newly emerged into wintry sunshine.

Spring came with the final deterioration.  It was the best Spring on record in Hawke's Bay on record, they say. The most sunshine hours and the most rain.  The trees on the farm grew prolifically, the neglected garden burgeoned with flowers in a final display for Dad, whose eyes could no longer see it.  

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

one week, two days on

 I see Dad's legs in shorts and jandals all the time, as they were before the diagnosis.  

For the party, I gathered some photographs for a slideshow.  It killed me, of course, but thanks to the pictures I now I see him in my mind's eye as he was prior to the diagnosis.  Those pictures shelved the images of muscle wasting, facial bloating, hair loss, gathered over nearly a year. It's his legs and the backs of his heels I see the most, though. Like he's standing over there, just by the garage. Walking away, perhaps. The back of his head.

Mum sleeps on his side of the bed. She constructs a pillow wall to hug.  She feels like he'll back from a business trip soon. God, she's going to to be so lonely. She already is, I think, though W and I are still here.

I'm going through a weird period of OK. This is life now without Dad, without his disease. This is what it looks like. We just get on with it. I don't know if this phase will last.

Monday, 30 November 2015

party and a full stop

Dad didn't want a funeral.  I'll be dead and I'll be gone and put me in a cardboard box and send me straight to the crematorium. We had a party instead (he's dead and he's gone and we can do whatever we damn well please).

It was the oddest day. We kept looking round for him amongst the guests, enjoying himself. It was exactly the kind of party he enjoyed - a casual bbq hosted at his house in the sunshine with relatives and friends and wine from that lovely local winery down the road that does the good platters. When I looked for him, I was startled each time to lay eyes on two of his nephews, in their late 30s/early 40s.  They look just like him.  

I didn't cry much during the party, except with one of Dad's sisters and his brother.  I wept after, with the realisation that I'd been to my father's fucking wake, that was it, he's never coming back again. Even now I expect him to walk in from the garage, or pull up on the tractor, or even be in the shitting hospital bed in the living room.  But he's past tense now and it is brutal, bald.

The dust from the party has settled.  W and I are the only guests remaining at my parents' house (my mother's house, singular possessive). We took back the party hire equipment yesterday and now what? It is raining. Life must start to go on without him, in the new era After Dad. 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

the end

On a Monday, just before 5pm, I kissed Dad, told him I loved him and I'd see him soon. We left the hospice to bathe and put W to bed.

The phone rang. His breathing's changed, they said. We think you should come in.

I couldn't. 

W was asleep in bed. I knew what was likely to happen, but I couldn't bring myself to leave the baby with someone else, or to wake him and bring him with me and risk a meltdown at the hospice.  My sister K and my mother departed in a hurry. 

I sat in the window of Dad's house, watching the sun set over his favourite view, while he breathed his last. I wasn't with him when he died. But then, I don't think he was there either.  For all intents and purposes, he'd already gone.

I've missed him for months.  I'll miss him forever.

RHB, 2 October 1956 - 23 November 2015.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

no more

Mum forgot to take her cellphone to the hospice this morning. She called me at 11.30 when she came home for lunch, a little more composed.

Dad didn't recognise her.

He's not eating, barely drinking.  Sleeping, mostly.  Slipping closer to unconsciousness.

and I are on a plane tomorrow, 8 days after our last return.  There was still discussion of Dad coming home during that visit, at least for a while. I had doubts about the feasibility of that plan and knew that I would return sooner than the next trip arranged for 2 December.  I booked our flights yesterday, mostly out of worry for Mum. Even though I knew (I knew) things were ending, I didn't expect that call today.

It might be as long as a couple of weeks, they say.  

Mum thinks he's comfortable -- at least, he doesn't seem tense or anxious. I choose to believe that inside his head, where the tumour is growing and destroying his functioning, he is replaying happy memories. He and I spent a lot of time over these past 11 months reminiscing and laughing.  He has lived a good life.

I told him I loved him the last time I saw him and he knew it was true. He said I love you very much, too. 

Even if I could talk with him one last time, many more times, forever, it would never, ever be enough.

Monday, 16 November 2015


Editing my own writing is difficult. As you may be able to tell, I don't do a lot of it. I think it's what scares me most about a big word splurge-y post.  I feel like there's one of those welling up; I barely know where to begin. 

Presently Fink is on the floor, attempting to roll onto his front, sucking his fingers and making wee talking noises. Consummate multitasker, my son. I'm sitting on the couch next to him, benignly neglectful (at least I hope it's benign neglect, would be terrible were it malignant) and trying to work out what to write next. 

Now that I've started, it's easy.  Fink.

Finky is four months and two days old. He enjoys putting things in his mouth, wriggling, pooping at 5am to get out of bed, nappy changes, raspberries (both blowing and receiving), nakedness, baths and his parents' eyes on him at all times. He dislikes sleeping in, stopping at the lights in the car, the sun in his eyes and when I try to bite his fingernails (you think I'm going to use those scary ass baby nail clippers and take the top of a finger off?! Thank you very much but I'd prefer to leave my child intact!)

Personality: chill. I cannot believe I have such a relaxed baby.  I mean, neither his father nor I are particularly chill people.  In fact, I'd probably describe myself as fairly highly strung.  But Fink appears (touch wood) to have avoided that trait. He doesn't grizzle or cry that much, he goes to bed at a reasonable hour and goes back to sleep after night wake ups quite happily, wakes up chirpy and goes with the flow. Last week he spent a considerable amount of time hanging out at the hospice and having to travel/nap in his car seat -- he just chirped along chewing his toys and cuddling his mama/gran/grandad and making solemn faces at all the other hospice residents and staff. 

He's smiley with his family and people he knows, discernment only having arrived in he past couple of weeks). You have to work for a laugh but with a good arsenal of fart and animal noises, you'll get there.

W rolls from front to back but hasn't quite managed the opposite direction yet, though I'm sure it's not far away. He works harder on it if you take his nappy off.

Finky poops half way through all his morning feeds (the fink) which is getting pretty tedious. He thinks it's funny. He's now very distractible while feeding, having most definitely inherited his father's fear of missing out, leaving me flashing tit and lovely silicone nipple shield all over the place.  Yes, we're still using a shield -- he can latch, but is lazy as am I, and my boobs are often still so engorged it's far easier to get a nursing session underway with the shield.

He's tall. Somewhere around 70cm now.  At his last Plunket appointment he was at the top of the charts. He's becoming slightly leaner than the pudding he was originally but still has a nice fat head. We go back to Plunket in early December when I suspect he'll be in excess of 8kg, the wee dumpling.

His face is changing. I never thought he looked particularly like his father (though he has the M family face shape and hairline - wearing a cheesecutter he is his paternal grandfather to the life), but now he's better at tummy time I see a resemblance to a baby me - we have a picture of me on my tummy at four months, and my cheeks fall down my face in the same way W's do.  The eyes are similar too. There is no doubt he has his father's feet - he even self soothes using them in the way P has done into adulthood.

He is a delight.

november online

I am here, here I am. 

My technological issues are now sorted and I am back, bursting with so many words I hardly know where to begin.  

In brief:

- my son W is four months old. 
- my dad is still alive.  Just.

I think those are the most important things. My life revolves around W (or Fink, if you prefer. As in Rat Fink, the finky wee boy he is), trying to support Mum as best I can and spending time with Dad. 

Other, less important matters of note since we spoke last:

- postpartum is no joke. 
- P has taken to fatherhood like a pig in muck, no surprises there. He's a gem.
- I'm trying to write a select committee submission on the medically assisted suicide provisions of a new bill in Parliament. I want my lawyer self to do it, applying her reasoned and dispassionate mind, but my emotional self is a giant hindrance.
- Fink is adorable and I want to say so many trite things about motherhood and our relationship that have been said a million times before but oh! I didn't understand them before there was a Finky in my life! 
- Work, motherhood, parental leave: I've been thinking (yes, it hurt).

No doubt all of the above will be explored in days to come, now I've been enabled with access to this here blog and the means to write. Why yes, I've no doubt this blog will smack of tedious mumsiness, but it has always been more personal journal than anything else, so no surprises there. I mum, therefore I wax mumsical. It will also be mournful, I expect. 

I've missed this.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


I am working on a magnum opus about W's birth (HOLY SHIT I GAVE BIRTH TO A REAL LIVE HUMAN BABY, I am so impressed with myself) but in the meantime, some short updates:

- W is already over a month old and is the giantest baby of all time. Not really, but he has amazing cheese rolls under his chin which I could eat with a spoon.  He's over 5 kilos now and has burned through all the newborn clothing.

- So I had a baby out of my vagina [soz, spoiler alert for the birth story] and ended up with a few tears.  Recovery has been not too bad, actually, but when will I ever feel brave enough to, you know, do it again? I told the midwife that abstinence was a particularly effective form of birth control when she went there last week.

- The sleep thing is shithouse, no?  I hate daysleep so I'm going to bed by 8pm which seems to be keeping me functional.  He's pretty reasonable at night and has developed a good three hourly pattern (eat, poop, sleep) but not so much keen on the sleeping during the day.  I've just spent an hour letting him doze off on me and failing to transfer him to the bassinet.  Can't say I blame him, cuddling is far nicer.

- Also shithouse: engorgement.  Fuck me that was horrific.  My left breast is markedly bigger than old righty and I not-so-fondly refer to it as the shit tit - there's always some lump and its always full to
bursting.  I cannot wait for them to regulate.

- We had another weekend with my parents, with us travelling to them this time.  W was three weeks and managed nicely, but Dad caught bronchitis on his trip to Auckland and was in hospice while we were
there.  The last two or three weeks have seen quite a deterioration
for him, which is likely the effects of the tumour growing.  It's
awful.  We're there again next weekend.  I feel time clutching at my

- Mum is doing it tough.  God, I wish I could help.

- My MiL is here and my house has never been so spotless.  I feel
terribly guilty as I fanny about cuddling the baby and she does all
the housework and cooks the meals and wishes I'd relax enough to let
her get paws on the baby.  I should just relax and enjoy but the sight
of someone else handling my smalls is stressing me out.

- P continues to be the father I knew he'd be.  He was fabulous onparental leave.  Each day when he gets home from work he's genuinely
devastated when W is already in bed.  He sits up for at least one
night feeding, marvelling at W.  I have a feeling that watching P
watch W will be one of my favourite memories.  I'm trying so hard to
imprint some of these things on my brain - the dim light, P's wonder,
W's lovely noises.

- I was doing the deliberate memory stocktake for Dad, for a long time
post-diagnosis.  I've stopped, somewhere along the line.  Somewhere
where the essence of Dad changed and he retreated to help himself
survive, as contradictory as that sounds.  The only thing I cling to
now is the feel of his hands and the 'love you very muches' that end
each visit.  That, and watching Dad with W.  It breaks my heart as it
mends it too - the contradiction is profound.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

when he was 5 days old

I was cradling my newborn son in my arms when I stepped out onto the front verandah and found my father in the front yard. I burst into tears. I hadn't known he was coming and there he was, wheelchair bound, steroid bloated, but with his arms open to meet his first grandson.

I had known Mum was keeping secrets from me, but I thought she was shielding me from info about his declining health, not planning the best surprise I've ever had. As I write this, two weeks later, Dad is having a bad day and I've been crying on and off. W is still in my arms, his warm, solid weight reassurance of life. We take W to see Mum and Dad on Thursday. I'm so glad he didn't wait for our visit - I will cherish that memory and the pictures of him drinking in his grandson for the rest of my life.

I was feverish with engorgment for the duration of his visit and my hormones had unbalanced me beyond belief, so the whole two days feels like a crazy, tear-stained dream. I was so lucky to have that, to have W, to still have Dad.

Monday, 6 July 2015

39 & 4

39 weeks, 4 days and going out of my damn mind.  I got all excited
post-yoga on Friday night because of a series of Braxton-Hicks
contractions and "feeling weird", but it was nothing.  I was hopeful
all weekend because it was my midwife's weekend on duty and I'd really
like her to be there, but nothing happened (except that I got bigger). Today was my grandmother's birthday and how nice to have what would have been her first great-grandchild on her birthday (You see how I'm clutching at straws here holding out hope for an imminent birth?) I'm trying not to hold my breath.  This baby is perfectly happy in utero it seems.

We know that the kiddo is happy in utero because when I saw the midwife on Friday, she sent me for a scan.  I'd expressed some concern about the drop in fetal movement and I don't know if she was placating a crazy person or being generally cautious or both but she referred me in any event.  We couldn't see much because of the size of the baby (though Mum was pleased to hear we spotted the nose in profile, the 32 week scan appearing as if baby had a giant nasal void), but it seems baby is on track to be a tall child possibly with short legs (my genetic material has doomed this baby).  I am pleased to report that apart from one run-in with a transvaginal ultrasound in the early days (damn dildo-cam) I have thus far managed to avoid having anyone up in my business.  Oh sure, I guess I could be asking for a stretch and sweep etc but eh, I kinda feel like that's pointless unless birth is
reasonbly close anyway.  So I have no idea what my cervix is up to. Closed up like a clam, I expect.

That's enough cervix talk.  Ugh.

The other reason I'm going out of my damn mind of course is the desire to go see Dad and introduce the baby to him.  It's already been a month since I saw him last.  It's likely going to be another month.
It is freaking me out.

Here's hoping the next time we talk will be on the flip side.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

38 & 3

It's the crack of dawn on Sunday and I am pleased because I managed to stay asleep until after 5am.  The cats are thrilled I got up; the bikkie bowl is now full.

I sleep best before midnight, assuming no reflux, then the parade of toilet trips and resettling starts. Too many naps might have something to do with it, too. I resent the implication the terrible sleep is getting me ready for baby -- shouldn't I be packing away a good 8 hours a night now, while I still can? I guess it's like everything else that people say you should enjoy in your last days of pregnancy -- you know, doing all those couple things, going out by yourselves etc -- most of them are already off the cards because I can't sit in one place for too long, I can't have a drink anyway, my conversational skills are not what you'd call sparkling right now.

That sounds like a giant moan but really, I love being at home with my husband most of all just now in any case. Last night, he watched rugby while lying back on me and the baby (a little), feeling the kid belt his ear when he got too excited about the Hurricanes' peformance. It was truly very nice.

We waved our hippie flag at the yoga birth prep course yesterday. Actually, we waved our mainstream flag in front of many hippies because we were the only people booked in to give birth at the hospital, rather than Birthcare (Central Auckland's birthing unit, where epidurals are most certainly not available.) I have been enjoying practicing the birthing positions with P -- because of my heat and general discomfort/size, I haven't been as physically affectionate with him as I would normally be. Hanging off his neck to rock my hips and doing some gentle squats using each other as support was surprisingly intimate and relaxing.  Here's hoping some of it sticks.

I got cross after speaking to Dad yesterday. I guess it's a sign of greediness and Dad's general stability over past weeks that when I hung up, I blurted to P that I wanted my old Dad back. Not all that long ago, even this version of Dad seemed impossible.  I have been grateful, don't get me wrong, but I still reserve the right to miss him as he was.  And don't worry, I can also see the day when I read this back and get furious because this is so, so much better than no Dad at all.  I think I see this happening with Mum too - we all want continued improvement and when he has a bad day with blood pressure issues, or when he can't recall what was said or gets confused, we get frustrated now, rather than despairing. I suspect it's natural. At the very least, it's better than crying. I try not to let him see it.

I want to write him a letter, but what on earth do I say? Maybe just that it made my life to get a birthday card signed by him, wobbly and with two extra 'd's at the end of Dad and all.  I need to do it now. I never want it to be too late.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

37 + 6

I don't know what I've done to our piece of shit laptop but I can't type or paste into the new post box on Blogger.  I've been typing these last posts in Gmail and using my phone to paste them into Blogger but the formatting is completely screwed.  However, it doesn't appear I care enough to fix the problem just at the moment.  I am saving some of my weekly discretionary income at present and perhaps a
new laptop or tablet is called for.  However, in six-ish months I've only squirrelled about half of fuck all aside so I won't hold my breath that it'll happen any time soon.

So, since I last posted two weeks ago?  Seems like we now have a status quo, which is good.  Dad's stable period continues - he chats on the phone a bit and is now a little more physically active, despite still having serious numerical inversion and some forward planning mental issues.  I think they're keeping secrets from me though - Dad forgets they weren't going to tell me things following visits from the hospice nurse so I suspect I'm only getting part of the picture.  This is probably to save me from feeling bad/sad/frustrated in my current 'delicate' condition,* which is sweet but nonetheless frustrating in its own right.

So, I have not yet had a baby.  38 weeks tomorrow and it can't come soon enough.  I know, I know, I should be savouring this time, but it's hard to savour when all I want is to meet this wee person and
have this wee person know my Dad & vice versa for at least a little while.

Physically, I'm not too bad aside from the general hugeness and reflux issues.  Oh, actually I take it back - this time last week I developed a fucking haemorrhoid of all things following a tummy upset and that made me cross beyond belief.  I have worked hard to avoid that sort of issue with a fibrous diet etc - it was uncomfortable and gross.  I was going to organise a bikini wax but I didn't want to go with ... all of that ... hanging out and now it's kind of too late (waxer doesn't want me past 38 weeks).  So hairy fairy for giving birth it is (not that I'll probably care).  For the record, it is now slightly less
uncomfortable and gross but here's hoping I don't destroy my butt during birthing and this bad boy vanishes pronto post-natal.

Are we ready for a baby?  I guess so.  We finally finished the renovation on the baby's room and hallway on the weekend.  I've been moving bits and pieces back into the room over the last couple of
days, chipping plaster and stray paint spots off the floor, organising entirely too preshus little onesies etc.  While the house is not yet
back to tidy (and clean is probably a long way off), I feel
comfortable that if the baby came by tomorrow it wouldn't be the grade
A clusterfuck crisis I was scared of while my house was still full of
paint fumes, ladders and nails.

There's been a last minute spate of babies prior to ours, with
attendant use of just about every name we could agree on for a baby
boy (and I remain convinced I'm having a boy).  This entirely
predictable given how popular the names I like are (my give-a-shit
factor about uniqueness is bugger all.  I have a very popular early
80s name and it's never really bothered me.  Besides which, our last
name is a complete sod to spell and pronounce so I think we've already
got unique covered).  P absolutely hates my number 1 choice which is
the only option that hasn't been pinched (it's the name of your old
boyfriend who is a complete cock, he moans.  Doesn't matter that he
was my boyfriend at age 12 and I never had the gumption to even give
him a pash.  Yes, he may have given a friend of P's chlamydia somewhat
later in life but surely that shouldn't completely taint a name?!)

I'm taking P to a special session run by the pregnancy yoga teacher
this weekend, so we can bone up on birthing positions, useful things
for him to say and breathing techniques etc.  This is about 5,000%
more hippy than I usually am but yoga has been such a breath of fresh
air this pregnancy.  It's been so helpful for my body and state of
mind during the pregnancy that even if it only helps me keep my cool
for a bit during labour, it's still worthwhile.  Am considering
launching in to the raspberry leaf tea and some acupuncture to bring
on this baby, but on reflection I'm actually quite keen for my body
just to do it's thing unmolested to the extent possible.

*There is nothing fucking delicate about me right now.  I am ahippopotamus with reflux issues.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

35 & 6

I have returned from my last pre-baby trip to Hawke's Bay to a run of sunny days in Auckland.  Thank god for that, because I was utterly miserable when we departed on Monday.  The idea of not being able to
spend any time with Mum and Dad between now and when the baby is a few weeks old is distressing.  As things go with babies, it could be up to six weeks before the baby arrives and I'm not sure when we'll feel confident enough to take the baby to Mum and Dad.  My guess is that it will be at least two months before I see Dad again in person.

It could be worse, I suppose.  A month ago, when I finished work, it looked an awful lot like his death was imminent (weeks or days away -- anything further is no longer 'imminent' or even close, to me). Dad is
now much more stable than he has been for a while so I shouldn't suppose that my departure on Monday was the last time I'll see him. The thought has crept into my mind however, brooding in the corner
like a malevolent spirit waiting a turn to take my controls.

I am engaging with uncertainty in a sustained manner for the first time in my life.  Dad's illness and the baby's arrival are pretty big, as uncertainty goes.  Sure, I spent 5 months unemployed in 2010,
freaking that I'd never get hired in London to do anything I'd trained for, but that uncertainty had options -- look for other work, move back to NZ.  I was supported by P's paycheck, which made it certain we could still pay rent and buy food.  This kind of uncertainty can't be pragmatically supported in the same way.

So, at 35 weeks + 6 days, here I sit, unable to travel any longer.
Air New Zealand puts the cut off at 36 weeks.  Dad, Mum and P banded
together to ban me from buying impulse tickets next weekend to visit
(just for a night, I said, to no avail).

I fill my days now with light activity.  I purchased new sheets and
bed linen yesterday, acting on impulse.  I wash things.  I caulked a
little this morning.  I mop up after the gib stopper.  I call the
glazier.  I make dinner.  I have baths to soothe the baby and my back.
I speak to Mum and Dad twice a day.  I avoid social engagement where
possible.  I don't think about things, usually, because that way
trouble lies.
I have devoted some mental real estate to Lecretia Seales, however.
During the course of my last trip to Hawke's Bay, Lecretia died and
the judgment regarding assisted euthanasia and the New Zealand Bill of
Rights Act 1990 was released.  Trust me, I devoured Lecretia's blog
and the judgment, poring over it in the hope that we would be able to
have a sensible public debate about thie end of life.  I am still
stewing it all internally -- not only the big principle issues, but
also the evidence I found in the judgment about what the end will
involve for Dad.  I ought to have expected to have found that kind of
expert evidence.  I didn't, and now I don't know whether I'm glad or
horrified to have read it.

If you don't know, Lecretia was a 42 year old New Zealand lawyer who
was diagnosed with a brain tumour and wished to have the option to
pursue physician assisted suicide if she felt that her life had become
intolerable due to the impact of her illness.  While Lecretia's
diagnosis/prognosis was slightly different to Dad's, the parallels
were undeniable and the similarities between Lecretia's life and
personality and my own (and Dad's, too) made her plight and decisions
compelling for us.  I genuinely grieve her death.  I am so grateful
she took the steps she did to get New Zealand to engage in a
conversation about the end of life.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

36 years

The trip to the hospice helped, a lot.  The seizures are now largely under control and the episodes of confusion have lessened.  Following release from the hospice, we had about a week during which Dad's
mental acuity incrementally improved, showing us flashes of the pre-cancer Dad.  Not to say things are totally rosy (he's still largely confined to the wheelchair and walking is not on the cards, he
tires easily, his memory is shot, his eyesight is limited), but he and Mum are enjoying some quality of life now.  They can reminisce together, which is huge.  Revisiting your shared memories and good
times is such an important part of any relationship, I've come to appreciate.

I am holed up in my bedroom at home while builders busily fix gib plasterboard in the hallway and baby's room.  They're also fixing a few shoddy piles under the front section of the house.  I've been home now for the best part of a week and got to spend a long weekend with
P, which was so needed.  My 'weekends' away from Hawke's Bay had largely been on Thursday/Friday and he's been nuts at work -- it'd been about a month since we'd spent any quality time with one another, and stress was fraying our edges.  P has shouldered the financial and practical responsibilities (work, the renovation) together with looking after my emotional needs, and I'm doing what I can to support
my mother and father, as well as cope with reality of my father dying while I'm heavily pregnant. We very much needed to spend some time just enjoying each other's company and acknowledging what the other is going through. Three days was perfect.

We are going to Mum and Dad's this weekend (I leave on Thursday, P is
joining us on Saturday).  It's the last trip I have booked before the
baby's due date.  I'm 36 weeks on 11 June and while I think the
midwife will give me a dispensation to travel, I'm starting to find
travel much harder.  I'm trying not to think about the impotence of
sitting in the house in Auckland, unable to assist or spend time with
Mum and Dad, growing larger and unsure when I'll be able to be back
with them.  Mum has better assistance now provided by a retired RN for
a couple of hours a day, which allows her to manage the farm, but the
companionship and someone else to share the chores has been helpful
for her, I think.  No one else can give the time I have been able to
this past month, and as things deteriorate as they inevitably will,
she's going to need more emotional support.  I call twice a day at
least when I'm not there, but it's not the same.

At this stage, the plan is for Dad to spend a night or two in hospice
after the baby is born so Mum can come and meet him or her.  As soon
as we're able after that, I'd like to take the baby to Hawke's Bay to
meet Dad.  Who knows whether that will be feasible (whether Dad will
be up to it, whether we'll be up to it, whether baby will be up to it)
but I don't think we have much time.  We have an official trip booked
for September, but I can't wait that long.  I don't think we have that
long.  I don't know.

And yet, life keeps on keeping on, even though I'm preoccupied with
death.  The baby feels huge to me now.  I've had enough comments from
strangers about my size to last a lifetime (woman at the Citta outlet
store who outright said I must be more than 34 weeks last weekend,
because I look huge, you are very lucky I swallowed my righteous
indignation and left your shop without committing a crime).  To be
fair, the student midwife told me this morning that I'm measuring
about a week ahead, so I am large; I just don't want to hear about it
from strangers.  My back has been getting very sore if I don't walk or
practice yoga or if I sit with poor posture.  The indigestion has
eased.  There's a little insomnia, though I never know if that's
pregnancy related or Dad related.  I can discern little fists and feet
on my lower right hand side and I can most definitely feel the effects
of a head on my bladder.  I've been washing baby clothing for days,
marvelling that I'm going to produce an entire human being to fill
those wee onesies.  We are agreed on two possible first names for
either sex, though not on middle names.

We've finished antenatal classes.  At the last session, I quietly
asked the instructor what steps I could be taking now to help avoid
post natal depression.  She has had a friend go through this exact
thing with her mother (i.e. brain tumour during pregnancy, rapid
deterioration and death shortly following birth), but as far as it
went helpwise was having a list of people to call on to help care for
the baby when I need to cry.   I think I should probably be seeing a
counsellor now, but I don't want to.  Writing helps, immeasurably.
The cartharsis in corralling the feelings and committing them to the
page is evident; I have a controlled weep at the end of writing a

Today is Mum and Dad's wedding anniversary.  36 years - a lifetime
together, but not long enough.  Mum and Dad have not really been
adults without one another.  They had plans, together.  Over the
weekend, Mum was gifted a black labrador puppy.  She already has a
devoted golden lab, but there was a spare kennel and her friend who
bred the puppy wanted to give her something else to lavish love on and
receive love in return.  She's thrilled - it's a responsibility, yes,
but one that sits happily alongside caring for Dad.  Six months ago,
Dad would have been terribly cross.  Puppies are long-term
responsibilities that make travel and spontaneity much harder.  It's
an acknowledgement of how the plans have changed that he's happily
acquiesced, knowing what it will mean for Mum.  It's awful and it'slovely, both.

Happy anniversary, my parents. Let's always celebrate it.