"Edited to Add"....

This started as a pregnancy blog when I fell pregnant in May 2009 after four years of finding a donor, doing all the counselling / paperwork / tests and trying.

And now, thanks to a 4WD which skidded onto our side of the road, killing our baby daughter at 34w and injuring me, my partner and two of my stepdaughters on 27 December 2009, it has turned into something else. We didn't want this something else, but apparently it is all we've got to go on with.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Six years

Sunday the twenty-seventh of December, we meet again.  I'm not scared of you anymore, and I know that it wasn't your fault, or mine.  Six solid years I've had, to practice staring you in the eye, to re-think the small moments that placed us in the right-hand lane of Warrigal Road, traveling north.  For our baby girl, I've closed the door on all the possibilities that might have been had that car trip gone differently.  I've forgiven myself for not being able to go back in time and make the collision un-happen.  Yet she's here in a different form (in my head, I know, I know) - a long-limbed, dark-haired girl, always just out of sight.  A knowledgeable and protective big sister to Ali, a teller of complicated stories, a giver of fierce but quick hugs.  Gah, I wish I knew what those hugs felt like.  She's almost 100% imaginary now.

More real is my sense of her as distributed, as traced through into the elements - via her ashes and our grief and the kindnesses others have shown to us.  Pomegranates, silver princess gum trees, babushka dolls, Frida's face on the wall, a postcard spelling out L-O-V-E.  These are the negative spaces around her little life.

This year, our commemoration was low-key.  Just my dad and me, taking the long way around, over one bridge, along the beach, back over another bridge and through the bush to her spot.  We took her a rose from the garden, flowers picked from the bush on the way there, some pomegranate seeds.  I read her a poem.  A bull-ant fell onto my hand from the branches above. Unperturbed by me or its fall, it hurried along. 

It has been a hard year - my sister's baby girl lived three months exactly, mostly in one NICU unit or the other, mitochondrial disease sapping the energy she needed to keep her small heart beating. (Actually, her heart was enlarged. This is the painful irony - as the heart muscle struggles, it grows)  And while my own grief has become woven into my life, nothing can short-cut the process for my sister and her partner.  It's a particular kind of helplessness, to have built my own road through my grief, but to know that it is completely irrelevant to them.  My words are cardboard cutlery, my metaphors are just a big jumbled mess.  I just come back to the same phrases I say to Ali:  I hear you.  I'm here for you.  I love you.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The 'why' phase

We’re riding the bike and I point out the Silver Princess gumtree to Ali.

Me: Look bub, can you see the blossom? That’s a Silver Princess like the one S and C gave us for Zainab.

Ali: (thinks for a moment)

Ali: Her died.

Me: Yeah, she did, my love.

Ali: Why?

Me: There was a big car crash and she was in my tummy and she got very hurt, so her body stopped working.

Ali: Why?

Me: Well, it was a big bump, and made the placenta break away – that’s the bit that was sending healthy blood and food and oxygen to her. When she couldn’t get those things, her heart stopped working and that made her body stop working.

Ali: Me in there too – I got bit hurt too?

Me: No my love, you weren’t in my tummy then. You were just a twinkle in my eye then, so you didn’t get hurt. But it’s ok if you feel sad about it.

Ali: I miss her.

Me: Me too, my love, I miss her too.

Ali: Her in my eye.

Me: Oh? (not getting it) Oh! Is she a twinkle in your eye now?

Ali: Yeah.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Telling the news

I'd said my goodbyes, and walked out the front gate towards the overflow carpark, hoping to beat the rain.  But then I was running.  My legs had decided before I'd even formed the thought. Back across the rain-slick road, through the back gate and down the dirt road to the bush chapel and Z's spot.  I slowed only as the path wound me back to a sacred pace, stopping momentarily to touch a palm to the old man banksia tree, and to the granite memorial rock.  

You have a cousin.  I knelt in the sandy dirt.  You have a cousin, my love - your Auntie E had her baby on Thursday. She came early, and she's tiny, but she's doing well.  I did the maths - she's two thirds of the weight you were when you were born.  Except she's breathing.  

In the weeks after the accident, my brain had worked and worried over the numbers of Z's gestational age, her weight.  When I heard of babies smaller or earlier than Z who lived, it shot a pang of irrational mathematical injustice through me.  How is it that they are here, while she is not?  But then my nephew (my best friend's son) was born at exactly Z's birth weight and lived, and I felt only gratitude and love - for his aliveness, and for the small numerical connection between our babies.   

When my sister was admitted on Thursday to have the baby, I sat in the surgical admissions waiting room. Everyone else there was in a hospital gown, save two women accompanying an elderly Italian gentleman who'd fallen asleep.  We knew the baby would be small - it was her size and concerns about cord blood flow that had led to the early c-section.  I'd brought my laptop, in case surgery was delayed and I needed to get on with some work.  But I also brought it with me as the modern-day equivalent of the electronic maths game which I'd had with me in 1983, where as a seven-year-old I sat in the B Community Hospital waiting room, while my mum was giving birth to my sister. It took four hours, and when Dad called me in the first thing I said when I saw my new little sister was, 'what's that white stuff on her face?'
(Something super-geeky like this.  Image from here: http://www.computerworlduk.com/slideshow/infrastructure/3291946/kids-computers-through-the-ages/7/)
The timing for a c-section is much more predictable though, so when I hadn't heard anything from my brother-in-law after forty-five minutes, I became convinced that something terrible had happened.  Just as I started shaking with sobs, my phone vibrated - a message from my brother in law, with a photo - baby was on E's chest and clearly well enough not to need immediate assistance with breathing.  Suddenly I was grinning through the tears, and madly passing the good news on to family members.  I looked up and caught they eye of the two hospital gown ladies sitting near me. "My sister had her baby - both well".  Smiles broke out, and one woman said, "yes, I thought that was a happy cry".

A bull-ant makes its way across the sand near Z's spot. It considers the pussy-willow stems and moves on.  The small pussy willow heads shake a little.  The rain is setting in.  I can't believe that it has been more than five years since we dug a little hole here, knelt and tipped her ashes in.  I think of the picture from my brother's baby album - me at nearly five, holding newborn J on my lap.  Oh little Z.  The stories you would have told this baby.  You and Ali, in cahoots to make her giggle.  But these are just pictures in my head.  Meanwhile, the bull-ant marches purposefully.  Kiss her for me, dear bull-ant.