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.

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