Babywearing with Jess


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To Andy, on what would have been your 40th birthday

 

Happy birthday dude.

Happy 40th. Fucking 40, that’s all. That’s how old you were meant to be today.

But you’re not, you’re not here and you haven’t been for a while. There are times when it still hasn’t sunk in you know.

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There are times that James and I look at each other when something poignant happens and go “just wait till we can tell Andy” before the smiles drop from our faces and one of us reminds the other that we can’t.

I have so many memories and stories I could bust out here. At the moment I am sitting not far from the last place I saw you. The last time you came over before we never saw you again was in this cottage.

It was a night-time visit and the kids were asleep and I didn’t want you to wake them. You were always so loud, larger than life-those aspects of your gregarious personality where my favourites bit I was in “mum-mode” and “don’t you dare wake those kids I just battled to sleep” mode.

I remember watching you and James talk here in the cottage and thinking, “fuck, sending you guys down there only cost me the opportunity of talking to you too”. I remember in that moment and many, many times since thinking, I wish I didn’t do that. We never had the chance to see you again after that.

And it wasn’t much longer than that I got that fateful phone call from Katie. We knew something must have happened as both James and I had a few missed calls from people. But we had no idea. Nothing prepares you for those calls.

But as soon as Katie answered and spoke, it hit me. She had the same nature to her voice as Mum had when she called about Dad. That tone, that quality to it that was of someone having to tell someone else something completely heart-breaking when they hadn’t yet got themselves around the words yet.

Unlike the call from mum which I can remember almost word for word what was said, I can’t with Katie. Of course my heart sank and on her behalf too when she told me you had died but it was my heart skipping a few beats-just stopping momentarily when I thought of Eden. Your beautiful little girl Eden.

I was in my mid-twenties when my dad died, she’s just a little girl. And I’m sure some of my thoughts and grief I felt for her where projected from my own, not that distant experience, but that confusion and shock and complete inability for her poor broken wee heart to take in the situation was just written all over her face the minute I saw her a few days later.

And even if some of it might have been projected, fuck I was glad to have thought about some of the things that pulled me through when it was my face that looked like that. When it was me who was the one who just couldn’t get over the shock that I don’t have my dad around anymore-even as unfair as it seems that other people do.

So while you had the second least ordinary and normal service and send off (and I only say second because it came after my Dad’s equally strange by normal standards, loud music blaring and photo slide shows like yours), this time was different, unlike at dads where I got into character, it was a performance, there was even a “jeans and tee” blues brothers inspired dress code that helped in that aspect haha and I had to speak!

This time ALL my attention was on Eden. As soon as the procession was made in, some music played and people started talking, she got restless. It’s a really hard thing little people at funerals and I know lots of people have various takes on this.

I remember with conversations about this on “mummy groups” that at some funerals there may be outside expectations that it wouldn’t be appropriate for children to be present, particularly little ones – but I guess ones view on that probably depends on how they view funerals and what the purpose is. And yours, well it featured the breakbeat music you used to DJ and mix and a lot like dads, it was a true celebration of your life and your friends and family did you proud.

Beyond that though, I have always believed children should be included in these rituals and events- to not let them be part of it may rob them of the opportunity for closure and peace that they have had the chance to say some goodbyes in some sense, even if it is later on in their journeys and lives that they gain appreciation for it.

Anyway I did the one thing that sure helped me when I couldn’t cope and I was 26, but it didn’t matter because the thing that helped most was bubbles. I wish I could say this was the only time in 2016 I found myself focused on a group of children (my sons peers) with one of their parents now dead and tried to shield the youth of the room somewhat from the shock and sorrow of the adults around them with bubbles, but it wasn’t.

See to me it’s important for them to be there, but I have also many times been that child at a funeral with the overwhelming sense that something horrible I didn’t understand was happening and also, “why is no one telling me anything?!”

So, bubbles.

Just blowing bubbles. Because I have had to stipulate this in times before I will again here now. I mean good old fashioned soapy water bubbles, not champagne.

You can learn a lot about life and death and magic and faith and the beauty of the world from bubbles.

The ephemeral nature. The various sizes and shapes and colours. The fact they both appear and disappear again like magic. The unpredictability. Even just the deep breath you have to take to blow them in the first place.

Bubbles. That’s always been my first solution to overwhelming grief.

So we blew bubbles, who doesn’t fucking love bubbles? I mean if I ever meet someone who doesn’t like bubbles, I would be very interested in their life story – I can’t think of a reason someone could hate bubbles!

Anyway, I digress, we blew bubbles for you. Lots of us looked out for both Katie and Eden for you and lots of us continue to do so. I hope they realise how many of us will forever do that for them and for you because you did so much for all of us.

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And I know you would have then and today too feel soo fucking proud of them. We are too. And it wasn’t even a year ago we lost you.

But today’s your birthday, and it’s a big one.

One of the milestone ones we were meant to get inappropriately wasted for, one we were meant to be loud and talk shit and be obnoxious, as long as it was kind, no one was getting hurt and its fun, let’s do it – lets push the fucking boundaries.

Cause we saw the world the same way-like a big fucking party that shouldn’t be taken too seriously all the time.

Man I am currently reliving some amazing memories and stories from someone else’s head line grabbing 40th birthday party not that many years back which we all shared together!

We have been thinking and talking about you a lot lately too. Some of the stuff I cope flack for in life, for being high energy, fast paced, in ya face, “larger than life”- they were all character traits we shared.

They were the lessons passed to me by my grandfather and father, from my elders, but when I lost them, there you were. Helping me “fight battles” when we didn’t think the people who needed to hear certain messages were listening.

There you were helping me reassure James as I helped you reassure Katie that it was all good. That the way they saw the problem, the way they viewed the world was true and valid and needed to be a complimentary one and for balance, but the way we saw it was all good too.

And while I remember they were continuing conversations about the really heavy stressful shit we were all going through together-you and I proceeded to pretend to race the giant stuffed dinosaurs of Josh’s while Eden and Josh laughed their heads off and started pushing us off to have their own turns.

Just to change the mood. To remember the fun.

And I miss that person to have those times with me now. I miss the people who balanced my crazy way of viewing the world cause they are all “up there” or wherever the fuck your spirits go or whatever.

So tell my Dad, I can clearly remember the mayhem his 40th birthday was – god that’s another story completely- but can you tell him, I expect him to do even better for you today because we can’t and that, well that’s really hard. For all of us.

And me, well with my fractured fucking ribs even blowing bubbles hurts, but that’s what I’ll be doing, even if I can’t be with Eden and am still hiding away from my own family and the world in my little recovery hut. I’ll be blowing bubbles and thinking of you and all the stories and experiences we shared that I could never put into writing!

And we will, like normal, have a tequila shot in your honour my friend-just don’t tell my doctor 😉

Happy birthday buddy – miss ya loads

Jess x

 

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The Skylight Trust page has sooo many better resources than a simple bubbles answer by the way and they provide an amazing service I have called on and used for both myself and others, particularly when it comes to explaining death to children. I can’t recommend them more highly. – http://skylight.org.nz/

 

 


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Births, deaths and marriages… 

My eldest turns four today. But this time of year was preoccupied with a different anniversary before he arrived..

Happy birthday Joshy!! 

The second of November is the anniversary of my Dad’s death. It is six years this year. Six years ago since my Dad had a mild stroke, scaring us all, he was at the hospital at was meant to be discharged on the morning of the second of November. I spoke to him and Mum while they were in the hospital that afternoon.

I remember it so clearly. James was out at the time, I spent maybe close to two hours talking to them both. Telling them all about James asking me to marry him the day prior, how strange it had been that none of us had realised it was mum and dads wedding anniversary the same day he asked me. When James got home I quickly rushed to him, “Omg I just had the best conversation I have had in years with my parents! Dad’s fine he will be released tomorrow…”

It was less than twelve hours later I had the call from Mum…  I knew what she was going to say before she even said it, even though none of us at all expected it. “Jess, sit down, I have to tell you something…”

I just immediately replied, “No way, fuck off! No, no, no, no. Mum he was going home today.”

“Well he’s not. Your Dad has died hunny. We all need to get to Adelaide.”

And like that, the next chapter of my life unfolded….

Less than two years later, I was pregnant with our eldest. When they told me he was due mid November I just knew that wouldn’t be the case… I had been saying the whole time I was pregnant I am so worried he will be born on the anniversary…

One of the last things my Dad ever said to me was, “don’t let me steal your thunder”.. I didn’t want that to hang over Josh his whole life…

It was the 29th October 2012 I went into labour. My birth experience with Josh was nothing at all like that with Jai.. it was a very long drawn out process. My waters broke at maybe 8pm that night, after being excited and nervous about the process I spent the whole night in anxious anticipation instead of trying to get sleep like I could have.

When we called the obstetrician in the morning they where horrified I hadn’t called them earlier, wanted me to hurry to the hospital. I was quite relaxed about the whole thing, in retrospect my labour hadn’t even properly established..
I got to the hospital and checked by a nurse when I arrived, she told me I was 6cm dilated and had to wait to see the obstetrician. They put me in a ward, next to a lady who had a baby that was clearly distressed during labour. They had the heart monitors on and the erratic heart rate was being broadcast through the suite.

Any consistent contractions I was feeling stopped immediately. by the time the obstetrician got there an hour later and checked me she declared, “you are not dilated at all. Your cervix is closed. Are you sure your waters broke?”

Cue the self doubt. Cue the disconnection from my involvement in the process. “I think my waters broke, actually I’m sure they did. I stood up from the toilet and the bath mat was soaked. I even checked, am I pissing myself?! Nope I wasn’t!”

Josh heard the heart monitor too. I am sure if we had not gone to the hospital at that point things would have been totally different. But we did and so things happened the way we did.

After a few hours at the hospital that morning they told me to go home, hang out at home, go for a walk.. I thought we could do just that and so we did. we went home, went for a walk down the road to the video shop. An older couple we came across on the way made some remark about how I looked like I was about to burst… Cue a contraction right in front of them haha

I hadn’t really thought through the fact they would want us back at the hospital. 24 hours after your waters break it is pretty standard medical intervention to put you on antibiotics. I had no idea that didn’t have to mean a drip and was very much of the opinion this was like any other medical procedure and I should do what I was told.
The interventions started then. Gel induction first and an overnight stay. James was asleep on the floor of the hospital room and I just remember him snoring all night and we being so annoyed at him haha Josh was sitting right on my bladder, it was like he tried to desperately crawl back inside me and hide as soon as we got to the hospital. I remember one of the overwhelming things was that I just had to pee everytime I had a contraction, meaning I felt the need to get up and go to the bathroom every 20 mins but stuck in the confines of that set up, there was little I could do to get comfortable.
The next day, still without regular consistent contractions again, the obstetrician decided it was time to start other induction techniques. A few hours later I was on the drip in the birthing ward and the start of trying to bring on false labour.

I had done lots of reading prior to birth. I had told myself, “my birth plan is to get the baby out safely”. I was very much committed to having a ‘natural birth’ but at this point I hadn’t slept or eaten in two days and I was exhausted. I had no idea how much longer this was going to take and I was already mentally fading, getting into a bad place.

I didn’t know much more than this is not good… I need to reframe my thinking. I need a fucking break. I looked at the doctor the next time he walked in the room, “I want to see the anaesthetist, now!”

And I don’t for a second regret that. I had an amazing epidural, what they call a “walking epidural” which was self adminisited, I had a little button to push when I wanted more relief. I could still move around and when the time came for pushing I was still able to get up on my knees which I now know is pretty safe to say the position that works for me in birth.

I managed to get a few hours sleep which made a huge amount of difference. The break from the process meant I was able to eat something, “I haven’t eaten ham and cheese sandwich in 8 months, James you need to find me ham, now!” (I took all the food warnings and rules very strictly the first time around haha).

And a few hours later I remember the doctor coming in again. They had ramped that drip up something crazy, I could see the crazy spikes on the monitor but safely kept my finger very close to that pain relief button. At this point he said, “ok, we only allow for 48hrs after you have started induction before we got to an emergency c-section. That means your time limit is up in a few hours.”

I looked at the clock, you are fucking kidding me, a few hours would be the second of November. “Can you just cut it out now?!” I pleaded with the doctor.

“You’re doing great. It’s not far now. I will come back in a little bit.”

And I remember getting really in my own head at that moment. I was pleading to Dad to help me, “please don’t make him share that date with you Dad. Steal my thunder but not his, please”…

The next time the doctor came back in I was certain, “I’m not doing this anymore. Get me to the operating room, I can’t do this.”

I was lucky enough to have a great obstetrician who assured me I was actually going through transition. It wouldn’t be long till I could push. I had this.
And I did. Once I felt the desire to push, well less of a desire and more of a direct order, hello great epidural, it happened quite quickly. Josh was born about an hour later with lots and lots of coaching help for me from James and the midwife and the doctor.

I had post-partum hemoraged after Josh was born. I lost so much blood, it was like a murder scene. The placental adbruption I had early in my pregnancy had healed itself byby growing massive to reattach. The placenta I had with Josh was as big as he was as an 8 pound baby.

And that was the start of me becoming a mum. The issues breastfeeding, sleeping and coping with this foreign concept of a newborn all happened in the following time and I always seem to forget the anniversary until it’s right there.

This time of year is full of huge emotion for me and it’s a roller coaster. As much as I love that it is the same week that marks the anniversary of James asking me to marry him and our beautiful big kids birthday, I think it will forever be a time patched with huge stormy clouds on the horizon and sunshine through the clouds, prefect rainbow weather…

I love my husband and my big kid and I miss my Dad…

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Our engagement party, 6 years ago ❤

 

It wasn’t until today that I realised, maybe the reason I have always planned Josh’s party celebrations so close to his birthday has actually been for me all these years, not for him. Not being surrounded by people and activity, it’s made this process more hard this year I think…

Paper boats tomorrow and maybe while its harder for me, maybe this way Dad is actually stealing less of Josh’s thunder…


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My first born is 4 tomorrow & I’m just trying to hold back puke! 

I think birthdays are pretty special and I like to make a big deal about them for the people I love. The little people I birthed even more so. 
It’s not just a celebration of the day they were born, but for my eldest, that was the day I became a mum for the first time and that in itself has a huge and special significance. 
Becoming a mum gave my life a true sense of purpose and a reason to constantly be a better person. My biggest little dude, the affection, sweet thing that he is knows this and how much it means to me. 
But right now, on the eve of his birthday, when in recent years I have been madly preparing many things I know would make him feel extra special, I am actively trying not to vomit again. 

I took Josh to the hospital ten days ago to get his hip checked and there were people all around us vomiting. I thanked my lucky stars we had decided to leave Jai at home. He is so susceptible to stomach viruses… I washed my hands everytime I touched something, paranoid, I washed both Josh and myself as soon as we got home. 

Turns out I had reason to be paranoid and my efforts though well intentioned were not enough. Jai was projectile vomiting a few days later, just as Josh’s hip started to feel less sore and he was finally moving around. 
We knew he had obviously picked up something. we could tell he was uncomfortable and in pain, he hadn’t slept well and was waking up screaming at night several times. he was having epic tantrums and throwing himself around about nothing as far as we could tell and obviously we were looking after him and caring for him but in general, James and I really didn’t have a great deal of sympathy for the poor kid. 

Which we freakn sure do now. For days both James and I have been doing tag team trips to the bathroom, trying to do shifts of laying close by to try and supervise the kids while the other one of us gets a chance to succumb to the shakes and dizziness, crippling stomach cramps, muscle aches and ongoing nausea & vomiting. 
Jai took five days too stop vomiting. he’s still not 100% a week later. James and I have been sick for two and three days respectively… it looks like it might be a long week yet! 
And to my beautiful big almost four year old, sorry dude.. hope we don’t pass on this as a birthday present but your cake and celebrations are going to have to be postponed until I can stand up long enough to bake one without falling over or vomiting! 😑