Friday, 22 May 2009

Thank you

Thanks for your loving words of support.

Thanks for not walking away at my self pity and anger in the post before last.

Thanks for holding me through this time.

And also thanks to real life friends who sent cards, messages and left wine.

While you do this alone, it does not mean that there aren't people beside you, cheering you on.

Grateful to you.

Sunday, 17 May 2009


Your birthday little girl.

I so wish you were here. 

love your mum

Friday, 15 May 2009

A visit.

I went to her grave this morning. I was looking for something and it wasn't there.

Instead, another act to add to the comedy of errors that is the grave side visits. Long thin candles bent banana shaped because they were sitting on the dash as I drove to the cemetery. Candles that won't light, forgotten matches, attempts to light candles with the cigarette lighter in the car... the list goes on. This morning it was the tap, which I was fetching water from to wash the headstone, it came on hard and at a weird angle, resulting in a shoe full of water. I also dropped a lit match on the tissue paper that the flowers were wrapped in. god.


Yeah. The usual answer. A big fucking blue sky. So ironic. Still so comforting. So............. patient.

I was surprised by how much I fell apart today. I thought I was going OK. I thought I had found a little happiness, enough to keep the raft afloat. I think bodies sometimes remember things even when our heads pretend we've got the situation under control. There is something about this season. It is so distinct and truly so God damn glorious in Sydney. Cold nights, Warm clear days. Everyone comments on its beauty.

Beauty. It's reassuringly indifferent to my anger. Where the fuck did that wave of anger come from? I thought I'd done that. The day continues to bestow warmth on me while I rant, wage war, share death around with a few others inside my head. It isn't fair honey. But is that screaming about it gonna make it any better?

So I go searching, looking for something else to be in my head. I try to break in to a memory. And as always, when you try and force your way in, it disappears from you. Instead, I'm wiping a cold granite slab free of flung lawn clippings and bird shit. I hate it. It's a job usually done in tenderness, the only thing I can do as a mother, but today I hate it. I don't want to be here. I don't want it. I don't.

The sweet peas, so delicate and soft look stupid against the dark granite. The words on the stone, chosen with so much care, seem so hollow. Hollow. Look! It is hollow. The ground has resettled, collapsed under the concrete slab the headstone sits on making a cave with a small opening. I put my hand down there, up to the elbow. I'm reaching into her grave. Why the fuck did I just do that? And it leads to detached biological curiosity about the state of decomposition, 3 years on. Why did I agree to an autopsy? Why did they make me line your beautiful coffin with plastic before I covered it with that soft green embroidered fabric? We should have had her cremated. I would of if I could have made a big fucking fire and put the coffin on top. But the electric curtain with its conveyor belt spooks me. It had to be a burial. A hole is true. Dirt is real.

I look at the sky. The shimmer of gum leaves in bright light. If she is anywhere, it's here. The ground only has her body, but not her. That is why I can't find what I seek when I am there. I am looking in the wrong spot.

But the truth is, I never will find what I am looking for. It is gone. She is gone.

I make my way home in tears and frustration.

Friday, 8 May 2009


The facts. A warning to pregnant ladies - detailed info of things not going right in a pg. If you are anxious (and aren't we all) you may not want to read it.

I had no trouble falling pregnant with Maya,way back in Sept 05. My body did what it was supposed to do. I stopped using contraceptives and a month later I saw two pink lines, cried, hugged and got terrified. Looking back, I realise I was terrified of all the wrong things.

At the 19 week scan, the Doctors detected a heart problem. They were unable to diagnose it, they had never seen it before, didn't know if it was a problem, or how much of a problem it would be, or if an operation would be needed at birth. I left the ultrasound feeling a little shaken and was booked in to see a pedriatic cardioligist the next week. I went armed. My friend came along with a notebook and pencil (which freaked the Dr a bit - he must have thought we were the suing type), I was going to get information and lots of it. That is, I was going to be in control of this. We had the same response from the Doctor who said he had never seen this before, and said he'd take a look in 6 weeks. In the meantime I continued my visits to the local Doctor for the other regular pregnancy checkups. About 4 weeks later she sent me back to the hospital. My fundal length was too small, I was bumped up and up until I was seen by the head of obs at one of the big three hospitals in Sydney. He looked at baby (as she was known then) for a long time. Flows looked good, placenta seemed to look good, but she was way too small, down in the bottom 2 % and I don't suppose they tell you if you are less than that.

I got booked in for 2 week appts. Each time the amniotic fluid heart rate and flows were checked. They all seemed to be working and the Dr said we would just keep monitoring. I asked if it was connected to the heart issue (as I was still seeing the cardioligist as well) and he didn't seem to think so. As my friend said, "It's like having a headache and then stubbing your toe".

I continued seeing both Doctors, Maya wasn't getting much bigger. The head of obs seemed to think it was probably a placental thing. The cardioligist continued to scratch his head and shrug his shoulders, maybe we'll know next time...... next time ....... when she's born. It seemed that all the lights would be turned on, all the answers given, when she was born. At the US I had when I was 34 weeks, even I could tell she wasn't OK. Where I was used to seeing dark pools, there were just thin lines. The amniotic fluid was real low. Everyone agreed. It was time for her to come out. I was given steroid shots on the spot (to boost her lung strength) and booked in for a c-section 2 days later as they did not think she would be well enough for a natural birth.

The surreal feeling of waiting to give birth. It's scary for any first time mum, and scarier when you know something is wrong. No - one though, had any idea, any idea at all, at just how wrong things were. I found the c-section really truamatic. I was not ready to have my baby taken out of me. I wept the whole way through, my husband holding my hand and the anesthesiologist giving me sympathetic smiles. When she was delivered, I heard a tiny cry. Is she alright? My voice cracked, too soft for the busy technicians to hear. The ob said over the sheet "Did you have an amnio?" No. No. I didn't want one. Maya was wrapped. I got to kiss her briefly. I don't know if my lips actually touched her little head. She was breathing, whisked off to high dependency with Jacob trailing and me off to recovery.

I was out of it, overjoyed, and hated it. It was surreal. Eventually Jacob returned and I made him get an orderly so they could push me to High Dependency Unit. I had absolutely no idea where I was in the hospital. I just watched the lights flah above me spinning and then righting as I turned corner after corner. When I got down there, the pediatrician told me to wait. They were trying to get a drip in and didn't want me to watch, I waited so long. I waited. She came back and told me they had had no luck . I would have to wait some more. I waited again. Waited. Finally, finally I was allowed through. I was wheeled through a room of screaming babies in cribs. Which one is mine? Which one is mine. They brought me to her side and finally, finally I got to say hello. I put my hand through the crib, I touched her beautiful head, It fit so snugly into the palm of my hand, just right in the centre. I saw her move her feet, and grasp her tiny fingers around me. She was having oxygen support. Bubbles were coming out of her mouth - a result of the fluid not being squeezed out through birth. She was tiny and so sweet, dark hair, a cute little nose, and honey coloured - our little mixed race baby. We had made so many jokes about how cool we would be. Her little hand went half way around my finger. She was small, and so thin. Her little limbs were so thin. I'm sorry baby. I'm so sorry. I have memories of my mother being there. Why was she there the first time I met my baby?

They gave me a room to myself, thank God, if I had to be put in a ward full of mothers with new babies they at least had the decency to give me a room to myself. In the middle of that night they woke us up to ask us to come down. Our little girl wasn't doing well. She'd been moved into the NICU and they were having trouble getting her to breath, they were pumping oxygen in. They asked if wanted to baptise her, we called my friend, myparents(who were near by) and Jakes mum (who wasn't), she arrived an hour later (4am) in a state of panic and complete disorientation. The image of her, 5 ft nothing, alone, charging through the NICU, forgetting to wash her hands, going to the wrong crib. It makes me cry. She was so ...... confused. Confused and alone. She needed her husband and he was dead.

We said a prayer, a blessing over Maya together. Trusting her to God. I still had no idea how serious this was, despite the drama. No mother believes their child will die. And they had managed to get a tube to her lungs to pump oxygen in. We went back upstairs to the maternity ward. To the crying babies and their mums and our strangely silent single room. A rough sleep, and I woke with that terrible heavy feeling from the operation lifted slightly. I was anxious to get back down. A nurse came an unhooked me from the drip with pain relief at the press of a button. She got me into the shower. It was so good to be in the warm shower. I wanted to stay in there forever. In my head I was saying "I'm sorry baby I'm coming" and then I would sit just a bit longer. Jake's friend arrived an wheeled me down. I bumped into the ob who'd been seeing me as I went in. He looked at Glenn pushing the chair and then at me, slightly confused (Glenn's white too). Glenn said "not the husband" and he smirked and rambled a bunch of shit at me, of which I head not a single word. Get out of my way. Get the fuck out of my way.

There she was. I leraned the routine of hand washing and sanitising rub. I can still smell it, it belongs with the eerie beeps of hospital machines. She was so sweet. She was moving her arms and legs a bit and looked - to me - a lot better. When I touched her head she responded and I was surprised. Surprised that she knew me. Of course she did. She'd listened to me talk jack and cry, sing, shout and laugh for 9 months. The doctors told me that she did a poo as she came out. Articulate! we agreed. Yeah there are some shit times baby. But there are some really really good ones and this one is the best of all.

The next five days are a time outside of time. A blur of breat pumps, midnight calls, friends and family looking at me with confusion and sadness, laughs. I have to give it to our friends. Between them, they made sure we never ate a hospital meal, not even breakfast. I know that I managed to walk down the stairs (from level 5 to level 3 - couldn't find the lift) less than 24 hours after my c-section. For those of you who've had one, you would know that only a mother seperated from her child would be able to do that. I also know that I took only 2 panadol from when they took the drip out, to the day after Maya's funeral, and I only took those cause the nurse made me. The pain, all of it - physical, emotional, spiritual - would come later. Those days are a blur, so distinct and yet somehow so unclear. Some piercing memories, especially the days - these clear blue autumn days. One of the best times in Sydney. I longed to take Maya out into the sun and on the grass. It got stormier during the week, in every way.

There was never any good news. Processions of confused specialists (now also looking at every organ in her body, not just the heart) x-rays, ultrasounds, drugs, oxygen. She was on a machine that made her breath 600 time a minute. Blood tests every 3 hours. Poor Maya, beautiful Maya. I wonder sometimes. If I knew she was going to die I would have held her the whole time and not let them touch her with all that. I would have just held her in my arms, and in Jacobs arms. In both our arms at the same time. And lived that precious precious time the best way. So close. No-one inteferring. But of course we didn't know. We were so sure she would live.

I guess we should of known - at least the day they told us her kidneys were no longer functioning. Those of our friends with any sort of medical knowledge knew the chances were pretty slim at that point. She was packing her bags for the next world.

Five beautiful precious days was the time she was given. And what a life. Another call to come down, this one for real. I raced down, my mother standing between me and the crib saying "I need to kiss you" (still so angry at that). They put up a screen, pulled out a couch for us to sit on together, switched off all the monitors. No beeps, no charts, no lines going up and down, She still had all the lines and tubes in of course. Quite a collection by that point and the machine beating her lungs 600 times a minute. I don't know how long it was, a few minutes at the most. We held her, kissed her, told her how deeply we loved her, we loved her so much. We loved her so so much. We love her so much.

I could tell the moment she died, despite 600 breaths going in, the breaths out were slow, I could tell from a small spit bubble coming out of her dry mouth. Poor girl. Poor tiny girl. What a hard life, but so much love in it. It hurts so much to remember. So loved. So hard. I wonder if she was aware of me, if she knew it was me at that time. We held her, we loved her. And she died right there. In our arms. In both our arms.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Can laugh in retrospect.

There I was, naught but a surgery gown, feet in the stirrups.
The Doctor had just shown me a little bubble in my uterus on the ultrasound and told me it was my little embryo. He was removing his gloves and we were smiling anxious smiles and muttering "thank yous" "goodbyes" and comments about not wanting to see each other again. He flicked the switch to lower the lie-back chair, but the chair malunctioned and started tipping instead of lowering.

I was sliding spread eagled an uncovered into the lap of my (gay- for some reason it makes it funnier) Doc. He jumped up and back going "Whooooaa" (yeah - real chilvarous) and I desperatly tried to unhoik my legs from the holders so I could land on my feet (which I managed - yeah Barb). The Doctor/Patient relationship restored its balance and I said "See, even the chair doesn't want to see me anymore."

Tell me you funnies from the Stirrups.