Saturday, April 28, 2012

According to African legend.............

............the bearer of a fertility doll will give birth to a beautiful baby 24 inches tall.

Baby news is dappling our shoulders like falling rain. 

Over the past twelve months this special news has been bouncing from the mouths of excited friends and bursting through our computer screen in a mass of delighted words.  Some are first time mothers who are enveloped in optimism, shiny faces and big plans.  Others are a little tired at the edges, expecting their second or third baby and at this stage they acknowledge the twinges and flips of life inside like it were only yesterday.  A handful share their news quietly, ever so gently they have lost this dream before and now hold tightly to the slippery handrail of hope.  I recognise their footfalls in my sleep.

For many, number 12 is the magic week to reach before the official announcement is made.  Silently I wait.  Like an experienced swimmer diving in deep and reaching for the opposite end of the pool I kick off every extra week until eighteen more have passed.  Stay safe precious baby.  Keep warm and secure inside your pool of fluid.  Week thirty rolls over and I rise cleanly for air, for I know that to get beyond 30 gives your baby the greatest chance of life should he arrive early.  I drop again and hold my breath for the final push.  Reach 38 baby, because by then it's a cert, your every tiny organ is ready and pumping.  Even mine. 

When you have loved so hard and lost so completely you understand both sides of the pregnancy coin.  I can relate to the sheer joy and happiness of a clean and trouble free pregnancy, for I too was that women before I lost Ella.  But throw me that coin again so I can turn it over, because just as easily and tenderly I am able to relate to the difficult and painful journey walked by thousands of women and men carrying heartache and fragments of hope in the face of miscarriage, stillbirth, infertility and broken dreams.  Over time I have searched other women's blogs and read their precious stories.  In person I have shared cups of tea, or spoken tenderly on the phone and then listened, as grief, despair, sadness and anger has given fractured voices complete release.  

We are bound by the most natural desire to love, nurture and cherish and for most women motherhood is the next rung on the rickety ladder of life.  For some it's simple, you have a plan and a few months later you're 5 weeks pregnant and sail on through to 40.  Crushingly for more women than you dare imagine it's not that easy.  She may already have one or more children but due to previous complications has been unable to carry since.  She may be pumped full of fertility drugs and on her 3rd hopeful round of treatment.  She may have miscarried before and now has two healthy children.  She may have loved and lost and is unsure of whether to put herself and her partner though everything again.  She may have left it too late and berates herself when her period arrives every month without fail.  She may be falling apart as the first anniversary of her stillborn baby approaches.  She may have lost decades ago but you wouldn't know. 

A silent army of strong, courageous and inspirational women - mother's that have lost, or women simply unable to conceive - stand shoulder to shoulder across the globe.  They share sadness, hope, love and anguish - emotions that are branded deep onto your heart and into your soul after the loss of a child, or from the continual pain of an empty womb.  Until I fought my own private war I never knew such resilient women existed, because until you live on the flip side and start looking with your eyes open why would you?  After three and a half years of shared experiences and finally becoming a mother to my son, I am vastly more compassionate, respectful and sensitive than I ever was before.  I still have days when the wheels wobble hard, but I watch and learn from others how to play those difficult cards, because the older we get the more unpredictable life becomes.

Through these choppy waters I continue to hold my breath for girlfriends near and far as they jump through the first, second and third trimester hoops of their delicate pregnancies.  And just as carefully I sit, holding out for the courageous women who need extra time, space and soft, gentle words....for they are the brave, caught in a war they never signed up for.  As the quote says, 'to be forewarned is to be forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory.'  I'm not certain you can ever be truly prepared for every journey, but with love, hope and a surprising amount of inner courage - as I envisage being the other half of victory - you can give any fight and any battle a damn good go. 

With Chris so often away, and especially with living half way around the world from home, it's always good to feel that someone, somewhere has got my back. And no matter what happens down that road, I've got yours.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

And then he was 1

Leo's colourful, thoughtful and carefully written birthday cards remain on the bookcase and slotted into the frame of the mirror hanging from the wall above.  I asked Chris if we should take all thirty two of them down because Mr #1 has been strutting around all big and noisy for nearly a month now, but he smiled and said no.  I was secretly pleased.  Pleased that he too thought it the most natural thing in the world to keep our baby boy's cards up for as long as possible.  (I don't think the same time frame applies to cards as it does to taking a Christmas tree down within the first week of January does it?!)

We relished sharing Leo's 1st birthday with our great friend Lesley who travelled over from the UK to spend the week with us.  During that time they created a beautiful new language together consisting of the word, 'duggah, duggah.'  He would spin off across the garden dragging her with him chuntering, 'duggah, duggah' at high speed.  Even though he currently reaches just above her knees, like any good woman she would obey without question.  On his birthday we gathered in bed and wonderful presents sent from near and far were opened....typically tacky wrapping paper and empty boxes were the highlight.  Later we ate porridge, nibbled chocolate, drank tea and sat in the porch as the burning sun heated the day.  A birthday lunch was enjoyed at a restaurant in town where the birthday boy surprised us all by tucking into Chris's chicken phad thai before washing it down with beer.  He also had a poo.  We spent a memorable afternoon with special friends decorating birthday cakes and sitting on the edge of a family pool overlooking the Nile.  Magically as darkness fell we saw a shooting star and wished hard.

The next day a large group of friends and children gathered at our piece of land on the river to continue celebrating Leo being 1 (very much like the Queen, Leo's birthday covered two full days).  We grazed on snacks and the 'Hungry Caterpillar' cake that had been decorated the day before made his debut, however a shark Lesley carved from a watermelon (for a laugh we'd googled 'watermelon sculptures') very nearly stole Caterpillar's thunder so we shoved him off to a separate table.  Friends chatted, we lazed on blankets, crisps were munched, beer flowed and special presents were given ie: a fanatical-disco-playing-plastic-beach-buggy is stepped on regularly and cursed!  A friend's daughter quietly asked when were we going to eat cake, so to the cake we raced.  With Leo on my lap and Chris by my side I thanked everyone for coming to celebrate with us, for their valued friendship and for their support during the last few years.  I spoke of how our roaring lion had altered our lives considerably and how it meant so much to be able to host his party at a place where Ella's memory is most alive.  Symbolically her tree stood tall and strong nearby and a pink balloon hanging from a ribbon dangled in the breeze.

Leo turning 1 has been the largest milestone of my life and the relief I felt in the run up to his birthday was overwhelming.  I have loved, sheltered and protected him for 12 complete months and like any new and wide-eyed mother a tsunami of emotion - love, pride, happiness, stress, heartache, tiredness, despair, anguish, joy, honour, adoration - has devoured me 24-7.  He is our gift, our pot of gold and by return he threw us a lifeline and navigated us back to shore.

My cup of love for my son overfloweth.


Monday, April 23, 2012

A whinge

I've already prepared the dog food of meat, bones and rice - it's lingering in the dented African cooking pan on the stove.  And now the dullness of contemplating what to cook for my own dinner is anything but thrilling.  Will I eat before 9:30pm?  Eugh. The aroma in the kitchen is awful, the washing up stands in piles and I just can't be bothered.  Chris is in Murchison and the mobile network's crap, or to put it another way neither of his phones are working and it's one of the most frustrating things to deal with.  Like any thoughtful man he's too-pig-stubborn-busy to use someone else's to ring to see how we are.  Just sometimes I want that life of 9-5.  Of having central heating, of having a washing machine, of having a fitted shower room, of having a delicious cafe that I can push Leo in his buggy to, of having girlfriends who will chat on contract phones long into the night, of having a monthly pay cheque, of having a husband who walks through the door and takes you in his arms and holds you tight.  Of having that same husband whisper into your hair, 'everything's ok.' 


I'll have a beer and a packet of soft Indian snacks instead then.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

New Look Me, New Look You?

Hello Blogger Site.........WTF you playing at?!

I logged in earlier and was hoodwinked into changing the layout of my blog. You too hey?  So I faffed around for far too long and this is the new look I'm sporting.  Like a scratchy jumper I'm not sure I'm fully comfortable with it, but as my mother would say when I was younger, 'you'll grow to like it.'  She also happened to be dead wrong about me and coffee. 

Nervously I tip-toed around and tried a couple of the Dynamic View templates but they seemed too tumblr-esq and began to give me a headache.  I've chosen Awesome Inc rather than a Watermark, Simple, Ethereal or Travel design.  Who knew there was so much choice on Blogger to distract you with on a cool Saturday night in the tropics.

It's not a simple transition.  With these new changes being cast I've lost the main sunset photo I took whilst in Zambia a few years ago.  The title text is too long for the image and I haven't been able to tweak it right.  My clever friend Bobby who created the template (amongst other great things) for Murchison in 20 minutes because he had some spare time on his hands would have fixed it in seconds.  How I wish my brain and hands worked that way.  I blame it all on Leo.

So as the ball sits in my court I'm going to ponder the lack of photo and contemplate the colours I've chosen.  Like a wonky haircut it may just work or I might have to grab a pair of sharp scissors and tidy it up a bit.  Anyone else out there changing their blog format successfully?  And if you've managed to sort out the photo bit (or know how to change it without shoving your head in the screen) please do let me know.