Memories of another you

The other day I awoke to a Facebook memory; a picture of you from the same day a year ago.  You were 4 days old, we were home, and you were in your bouncy chair staring at me.  At first I smiled at the memory; that little face full of wonder at a new world that you could barely see through eyes so new.  But then, like a lengthening shadow, sadness crept in.

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Those days we had with you were so few before Kawasaki Disease pushed its way into our lives and stole you from us.  The you we knew. The you I gave birth to.  The you that wasn’t broken.  I don’t think I will ever learn how to come to terms with what this disease did to you. You were born healthy, and perfect and pure.  For 7 weeks we got to know each other at home, barely going out, because I wanted to be sure I gave myself the chance to drink you in.  We cuddled on the sofa for hours, and I fed you from my breast because I wanted you to have the best start in this world.  I know now how important those moments were, and I am thankful that I cherished you and didn’t feel any pressure to share you with the outside.  It’s like I knew.

But I didn’t know.  I had no idea that things would change for you, for us, overnight.  You were so perfect, so well.  We had no concerns at all about your development or your health.  You were nothing short of perfection, and I was smitten from the moment I looked down at you from my position on that labour bed.

I guess these memories are going to act as triggers for a while.  Seven weeks of memories of the you we had will be replaced by memories of the worst days of my life.  At least I came away from Facebook for a while just before you became sick; that I can be thankful for.  But then, I don’t need Facebook memories to remind me of those days; those days are forever etched on my mind.  I can’t accept the cruelty of it all.  To have struggled so much with the concept of finding myself pregnant again but come through it having battled some old demons and actually looking forward to this new adventure, only to see it come crashing down around my feet was cruel indeed.  We didn’t deserve this.  You didn’t.

I try to tell myself that I should be thankful you are here with us.  Things could have been very different.  In that first week in the hospital I was convinced I would be going home without you, you were so sick.  And when they told us that your little heart was damaged I prepared myself for the worst.  The psychologist told me that what I was experiencing was anticipatory grief; I had been presented with the possibility that you might be taken from us, and my mind had already begun to process that notion.  I could see a certain photograph of you on an easel at the top of a church aisle; that photograph haunts me still, and was the catalyst for my thoughts and feelings on those eyes of yours.  I told myself that if I accepted that this disease would kill you, that I might not take you for granted for the time that you are here.  I guess, even though it’s a little morbid, it’s not a bad way of thinking about it.  I mean, if the worst is that you have a life full of wonder until you are 90 then we won’t have lost anything will we? It’s a good rule to live by, and there are hundreds of cliches I could quote about living life to the full that would fit right in here. We were lucky that your heart began to show signs of improvement, and that we haven’t had to live with that feeling forever – others do.

Using the word ‘lucky’ to describe you makes me flinch, and the bully in my head says “Watch it! You’re not out of the woods yet! Don’t be counting those chickens already…!”

I hate Kawasaki Disease.  I hate it for stealing my memories and turning them into reasons to be sad and full of regret.  I hate that I can’t look at a picture of my tiny baby without feeling sorrow for the short time we had before our lives became filled with fear and drama.  I hate  that I can’t hold another baby without feeling like I’ve missed out on so much.  I held you for seven weeks, and it would be weeks before I could properly hold you again.  I could have held you, but your temperature soared relentlessly for a fortnight and I was scared that I would make you even hotter than you already were.  And I hated the tubes and the wires and the needles; the slightest movement would set the monitors off screaming and the nurses running.  I hated the look in your eyes; you were too young to be afraid.  I wish I knew how you felt when you were lying there in that cot with a vacant stare.

I hate it for making me look at the world through different eyes.  I am wary of the world now.  I know first hand that it has the power to take away everything that you love and I  approach every day with caution, even when I try to find joy.  Sometimes I think I have seen something out of the corner of my eye.  It’s like I see Death waiting in the shadows.  Kawasaki Disease sucks.

75% of children who have this disease will walk away without any heart complications.  They are the lucky ones, but that doesn’t take away the terror of the experience for the child or the parent.  But why did you have to be one of the 25%? Why couldn’t it have just left your tiny heart alone? Could it have been prevented? The doctors ruled out their suspicion that it could be KD on day 9, and yet it was lurking and continued to do it’s damage whilst their backs were turned.  4 days later it became clear that it had been Kawasaki Disease all along. I wonder how the doctors felt when the echo showed them that awful truth…

None of that matters now, I guess.  It’s done isn’t it, and there is nothing we can do to change it.  I have to learn to accept that we live in a world where uncertainty is the only thing that is certain.  Death and taxes.  This world is full of beauty, but it is also home to a lot of hurt.  And as if there wasn’t already enough sadness to deal with in this life, there are people who see fit to cause others pain.  Why do people do that? It is beyond me.

Anyway, enough of this morose talk.  What ever will you think of your mother when you read this stuff?!  It’s hard though Peanut, it really is.  The emotions I have to deal with every time I look at you are a bit too big for me sometimes; sadness, regret, guilt, anger, fear…love.  I just need to get myself back on track with our plans to turn this whole sorry mess into something positive.  You’ve raised a lot of money – £7,000 in just one month of fundraising for one event!  And you’ve even appeared on ITV News (http://www.itv.com/news/calendar/2016-04-13/mothers-plea-for-early-diagnosis-of-rare-kawasaki-disease/).  We will do what we can together to raise awareness of the disease, so that the next time a child presents the symptoms, their parent might just ask the question, “You don’t think it could be Kawasaki Disease do you?”

 

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Cleansing the Soul

Sometimes when I’m holding her in my arms, she stares up at me so intensely it is like she is looking deep into my soul. A connection so fierce it incites tears that wash away any sorrow, cleansing my soul and lightening my heart 💕

No time for blogging!

My beautiful baby girl is 10 days old today. I am afraid to say that the last 10 days have been an absolute dream! She is such a good baby (so far – I am not resting on my laurels; any parent knows that babies can be unpredictable!), waking only to feed every 3-4 hours. In fact she’s positively boring, lol!! I find myself sitting just staring at her perfect little face. I may as well cancel Sky TV as I just don’t seem to watch it anymore. I guess those quiet moments are when I could be posting on here, but the hours just seem to whizz by. 

I’ve spent the last 10 days with this baby very differently to the first two. With my first babies I felt like I should be up on my feet as soon as possible, proving to the world that I could be superwoman. I didn’t ask for help, or gratefully accept it when offered. I went out too soon, accepted visitors when I wasn’t physically or emotionally ready. I operated according to what everyone else seemed to want or think I should be doing.

This time is different. Perhaps because I am wiser. Perhaps because I am mentally stronger. Or perhaps because I am a lot older now and just can’t function like I used to! At any rate, this time it is on my terms and I feel great as a result.  Not putting yourself under pressure as a new mum is fundamental to your physical and mental wellbeing. Apart from one visit to a local baby store (which I later regretted due to the onslaught of after pains and return of post-natal bleeding), I have remained at home with my baby. I’ve got up every morning and showered, put a bit of make up on and blow dried my hair so I look and feel like me. I’ve turned visitors down if I’ve felt I needed to rest. I’ve watched movies whilst my baby is sleeping, to thoroughly relax and enjoy the break from work. I’ve even managed to nod off on the sofa a few times (I could never manage that with the first two).  The housework is getting done (what needs to be done) but I am not concerned about dusting and hoovering every day! The washing and ironing gets done (sometimes with help from the ironing fairy, aka my mother in law!). 

I am breastfeeding on demand, which can feel like a chore sometimes, particularly as you can’t hand the feeding over to somebody else. There have been days when it has felt like my dear daughter has been permanently attached to my breast, and I have to work hard to change the thought from “for f**k sake, not again!” to “Oh, we are a hungry baby today aren’t we!” It’s not that effective, but I’ll keep trying to convince myself. But anyway, when I look at her little face all the frustration goes away. She is beautiful and I am smitten. 

I will continue to blog, and share my experiences of being a new mum again. I have always said I will be candid and share real life on here and my intention was to help others see that they are not alone when darkness falls. However right now, I’m afraid I can only share a positive story that may well irritate those new mums who aren’t having as great a time as me. I am incredibly lucky to have been blessed with a (thus far) easy baby. There will be bumps in the road, but just now I cannot complain. For now I will count my blessings and enjoy this time with my beautiful girl. I believe she was sent here to teach me a few things about life. One of the first lessons I have learned is to embrace the gifts we are given and to dare to dream that sometimes good things do actually happen.