Friday, June 29, 2007

Don' put your trust in anything other than...

There was another major terrorist attack today - or rather, another thwarted attack. Two cars filled with explosives and nails.

Today a 19 yr old man (boy) was sentenced to life imprisonment for stabbing a random woman 72 times. He said he just felt like killing someone. He said he's not sorry and would do it again. This poor woman had only gone out of her office on a smoke break.

There have been 7 fatal attacks (most were stabbings) in London this week alone, one of which was of a parking warden in our area. Over the past few months there has been a lot of gang related fatal and near-fatal stabbing, and one shooting in our area too.

London is not safe.

A little girl was abducted in Swellendam (small town in the Western Cape) last week. She was found dead under her abductor's bed.

So many people are stabbed and shot and abducted in South Africa that very few of them make the news.

Cape Town is not safe.

So where is it safe to live? My experience with Zoe is bringing home to me the fact that nowhere is safe. Nowhere is safe because in no place are any of us able to control events around us to such an extent that we can prevent horrible things from happening to us. Living here, where we are supposedly safer/ healthier/ better off than in SA, our little girl was taken from us and our world was turned upside down. We had no control over it. None of us actually has any control over our lives, although we pretend we do. Any one of us could be run over tomorrow by a bus, or stabbed by a random bloke, or held up at the bank.

As the Bible teaches us, it's pointless to believe we have any control over what happens around us. Rather than putting our trust in our money, our home security systems, our police, our medical facilities, our governments, or any other thing, we should put our trust in God. I thought I had. I thought I trusted God. But God took my little girl.

So now I ask... if I can't put my trust in any man-made construct or thing, if I can't put my trust in my own body, or my family... and I can't always trust God, where does that leave me? See, I do trust God - He's been so faithful to us in so many ways I can't help but be amazed at Him - but now there's this rather large seed of doubt. What if God doesn't protect me, or my children, or my family? What if He lets us die, or get hurt, or get raped, or get tortured? If I can't trust Him, then in whom, or in what, can I put my faith?

I read stories about Christians in China and other countries that are violently anti-Christianity... stories about modern day martyrs. I know that there have been more martyrs in this century than in all previous centuries put together. I marvel at their trust and faith. I don't think I have what it takes. I don't think I can believe to the point of death. I'm not even sure I can believe to the point of life. How did they, how do they, do it? How do they hold firm to their faith when God allows them to be hurt, maimed, killed, or worse - allows that to happen to members of their family?

All I can do is to stand in awe at their faith, marvel at their ability to trust in God beyond all obvious evidence to the contrary. I hope and pray that my faith would not be found wanting when I find myself in that situation again. I hope and pray that my faith will stand this current test as I grieve my beautiful little girl.

Nearly there now...

The last two days have been very emotional for me. On Thursday all our worldly possessions were packed up and taken to the removals company's base, ready for shipping. Today our (my) car was collected. Today was also the last time we saw Ashley (Nellie's childminder) and her family...

... my heart is so sore about having to say goodbye to her and Luke. They are Nellie's second parents and I know they love her as much as we do. I am going to miss them terribly. I can't believe that we won't see them again... it's just another of life's little unfairnesses.

People here keep asking when we're coming back for a visit. It feels to hard to tell them the truth... that we're never coming back here. It's just too expensive to travel to Europe when you're earning Rands, especially when you have a family. With what we'll be living off, I just don't see any way that we will ever be able to afford to come back and visit. People here just don't get that because travelling from the UK is so easy-peasy. If we can eventually afford it, one day, it will probably be so long from now that the people we want to see will no longer be in London, or even in the UK.

The thought of never seeing some of these people again is very hard. As much as I want to be home, I don't want to leave these precious people behind.

But, thank God there is email, blogging, and now... Facebook. Between these 3 things we should be able to keep in contact at least. Thank God for that!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I think her name was Rebecca

I don't ever want Janel or any future children we have to be in this position... I think her name was Rebecca ... so I will always talk about Zoe. She is, after all, my precious daughter.
Edited on 8 March 2008 to add: The magazine website to which this article links is undergoing an upgrade, and their archives site is currently off-line, so you will not be able to read this article for the moment. I have asked them to alert me once they are up and running again, at which point I will remove this edit. Basically, the article is the story of a person whose parents lost a child, but never told them about it, and once the parents died, this person tried to find out about the sister they never knew about. Tragic!

About to move

Tomorrow the packers arrive. Saturday our lease expires. Fortunately, we're staying with friends through the mess, so that at least we have some space and down time while everything else is manic. Thursday we fly - only 9 sleeps to go.

While I'm very excited about being home, I'm also rather apprehensive about it. It means leaving the only place where I have memories of my precious Zoe. Sunday past was 3 months. Can it only be 3 months? It feels like a lifetime. And it feels like just last week. Packing her ashes into my suitcase, and getting her clothes out for the packers to pack... it was a painful reminder that she is never coming home. I miss her more each day.

Zoe, my darling, I know you're watching from heaven. I just want you to know how much I love you, sweetheart, and how much I miss you. I can't wait to be Home for good, so we can spend eternity together, but there's a lot I need to do before I can come Home - and your Daddy and Nellie need me here for a while longer. But you are in my heart every day. I love you more than words can say. I long to see your smile and hear your laughter. I know that that day will come, so I'm trying to wait patiently till then, but I miss you.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hectic week

For those who haven't yet subscribed to the blog and so have to check back frequently to see whether I've updated.... I'm really sorry that blogging seems to be taking a back seat. Packing and setting up the business while trying to entertain Nellie is proving time consuming.

Father's day... we had a fabulous day. We went down to Graeme's cousin/ aunt, where his folks are staying. Despite Nellie not sleeping all day (bar 30 minutes and then another 45 mins crying about sleep), we had a lovely day. She played in the fountain and we sat in the sun, had a braai, talked, laughed and generally enjoyed ourselves. It was a really lovely day.

So - Monday I had Nellie at home with me because Ashley, her childminder, got the vomiting bug. She had my sympathies - it was a nasty bug!! So on Tuesday I decided to take Nellie out. We went to lunch at Graeme's brother-in-law's sister's husband's new restaurant (did you follow that family link??) - called org-e (here's a review), in Covent Garden. It was great - although there were one or two hiccups in our service. The food was really good.

Anyway, after that I took Nellie to see the horses on guard at Horse Guards, and then to St. James' park to the playground there. While we were there, the marching band at the Guard Museum were practicing, so we went across to watch them. When they went on a break, we went back to the playground. As soon as they started playing again, Nellie made the sign for music. It was so cute!

Today has been spent doing moving stuff. I cleared out my closets and sorted through our paperwork (although I still have 2 boxes to go through - school stuff and business stuff). I can't believe how long it took me... but at least it's done. I gave 2 large bags of clothes to the Salvation Army at the end of our road, and I have 1 large bag of paper to be recycled, plus a shopping bag's worth to be shredded, and a whole bunch of files to get rid of.

In between all of this, in the evenings I've been working on the business website and dealing with queries from women who read my article in Urban Mamas (an e-zine for South African women focusing on pregnancy and babies), in which I mention that I'm starting up in July. It's been great exposure, and a real incentive to get the business up and running and SELLING. It's also shown me that there is a real market for home grown products, so I also need to focus on getting my own design manufactured..... aahhhh! So much to do. So little time.

I'm not sure how it will all work now that I've got this temp. job teaching. But I'm sure it will. The other good work news is that Graeme most probably has some temporary part-time work for his current job, working online to help support the new HoD! How cool is that?!?! Details still have to be finalised, but in theory it's all happening. God is so good!!

Oh yes, and of course, I've also been spending time on my latest hobby.... Facebook. Very addictive... very, very addictive.

The down side of all this activity is that I haven't really had time to grieve Zoe. And I feel guilty about that. I feel like I shouldn't be able to be getting on with my life this well without her. And yet I am. 3 months hardly seems like enough time to 'get over' something like this... yet a lot of the time I feel very blessed and happy. So I'm a bit mixed up about it all.

I do miss her, and I think about her a lot - mostly I think about what might have been... what she'd be doing now... how big she'd be... how Nellie would be relating to her... what sort of routine we'd have settled into as a family.... I guess that, if I'm honest, I'm allowing these other activities to creep in to keep the pain at bay. Last night G and I went to the pub for a drink with our growth group (after doing some other stuff) and when we were the last ones left, we started talking about Zoe. It didn't take long for the tears to start. So I know the pain is still there. Maybe it always will be. Maybe this is just how life will be from now on.

Several friends who started reading the blog around the time of Zoe's death have recently commented to me that I should write a book because they think I write so well. I've been thinking about writing one for a long time now - about the loss of a child in a particular. Maybe this is the push I need to start thinking about it seriously. (Though it will have to wait a year or so, I think, with the number of other 'new' things on the go at the moment.) Maybe this is something else I can do in Zoe's memory.

I got in touch with an ex-boyfriend from WAY back when, through Facebook, whom I'd lost contact with. Turns out he and his wife are 34 weeks pregnant with their 2nd. I told him about losing Zoe at 37 weeks before I knew that. Gave him a bit of a scare I think. Part of me regrets opening my mouth, part of me is glad because I wish someone had made me realise how precious every moment of a pregnancy is and how much each moment should be treasured because you never know when it will be taken from you. I'm really not sure what to expect though, in terms of telling people back home. Many people, whom I would classify as acquaintances, don't know about Zoe. I really don't know how I'm going to broach the subject, because I want them to know about her... Sorry, I know I've said all this before. My brain is going round in circles, trying to find a solution. I'll stop rambling now.

Only 16 more sleeps till we fly!

PS. If you like my blog, why not sign up for Blogger Awards and nominate me. It's free and it's a cool way to see what's hot in the blogosphere.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Passport fun

Well, I finally spoke to someone at Pretoria Home Affairs. Because of the strikes, and because it turns out that London sat on our application for WEEKS before sending it to Pretoria, there is NO WAY we will get the passport in time. In fact, she will probably not even have had her birth registered by then. They are still trying to determine our citizenship, which will take a few more weeks.

So - the question now becomes... do we just take her in on her British passport (illegally, because she will be returning permanently) or apply for a temporary emergency passport (which will cost us MORE money)????

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

As most of you know, I had a series of bloods taken before I was induced with Zoe. One set came back as questionable, so I had to repeat it recently, to confirm the results. After eventually pestering my consultant, I got my them back tonight.

I'm clear of diabetes, so I probably just had pregnancy diabetes (that will need monitoring during any future pregnancy). However, as suspected, I do have Antiphospholipid syndrome (also known as 'sticky blood' or Hughes' syndrome)

While my APS did not cause Zoe's death, or Janel's prem birth, women with APS suffer a high incidence of unexplained miscarriage, prem birth and stillbirth. Even with treatment (which would be a daily injection of heparin plus possibly daily doses of aspirin) in any future pregnancy, there is still a 25% chance of either a miscarriage, prem birth or stillbirth. Without treatment, the risk is much higher.

Fortunately, it does not seem bad enough at present to require me to take aspirin on a daily basis for the rest of my life, although I should take it in times of high risk (like when travelling long distances). I should ensure that I don't sit for long periods of time at my desk without walking around, drink plenty of fluids (which I'm bad at anyway) and have my blood monitored regularly.

[APS is not inheritable, so Janel (and future children) should be safe. However, as Graeme ALSO has this condition (what are the odds of that?!), in addition to his other blood disorders, we've been advised to have her checked when she reaches adulthood (around 18 yrs) anyway because she may well be genetically disposed to blood disorders.]

While knowing this doesn't bring Zoe back, it helps to know. And it makes Janel's survival and birth all the more miraculous. While I want another baby, at least now I know the risks involved of losing any number of future children and can go into the pregnancy prepared for the worst. At least now, if I know something is wrong (which I did with Zoe - if only I had known this then... she might still be alive now if I had known and asked for an induction...), I can make the decision about inducing labour or having an emergency c-section without needing to come across as a paranoid mother! At least now, because I know the risks, I will treasure every moment with my next child, rather than taking it for granted the way I did with Zoe.

So there we are.

Zephaniah 3:17

A friend asked me recently whether being a parent changed my view of God, or my relationship with him. It definitely has done for me.

The Chinese State Circus is in town, and I was thinking of taking Nellie along, except that I think she might be a bit too young to enjoy it properly. (She'd probably love it for about 20 minutes and then be bored.) But I was thinking about it again today, about whether I'm using her as an excuse to go to the circus, because otherwise I would be too old/ cool/ insert some other adjective here to enjoy it, or whether I really only want to go because I want her to enjoy it.

I finally decided that the major reason I want to go is because I'm excited about the possibility of her being excited by it. In other words, I delight in her enjoyment of things/ experiences/ people. And because I'd been thinking about my friend's question, it struck me afresh that God loves it when we have a good time and enjoy life too. He delights in our enjoyment of life. He delights in us. And knowing that changes things. I don't have to feel guilty about taking time to enjoy reading a good book, or about enjoying baking some extremely calorific biscuits (followed by the obligatory scoffing of said biscuits). What freedom!

"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

Life improves, or does it?

After the disaster that was Nellie's dinner on Monday, last night was better. Wow - that post generated a lot of emails! And interestingly, it was the first time I've had equal amounts of conflicting advice.

Anyway, we did the same routine as the previous two nights, except that I started half an hour earlier. It wasn't easy and we did have a few tears, but nothing major. I made a concerted effort not to make it a trial for her, but to stick to my guns. It seemed to work. It took an hour, but she ate beautifully in the end. Given that she'd had a bottle of milk an hour before supper, I was really thrilled at how much she ate - a bottle of food, a small yoghurt, a fruit pot, a small box of raisins, a small bread stick, and one of Mommy's biscuits.

(And she was very cute yesterday! See her post on her site about the day. We did some more videoing, so will try to get that up on her site in due course.)

I rang Home Affairs again this morning, to find out about the progress on her birth registration and passport.... only to discover that... wait for it... they are all on strike AGAIN! (or is that STILL?). I seem to have the knack for choosing the day to call!

Turns out that civil servants in SA are on the rampage about pay increases. I sympathise. When you realise that a nurse who has been working for 22 years, and is the major breadwinner in her family of 6, still gets less than £500 a month, it kind of puts the inconvenience of Nellie not having a passport into perspective. Yet, on the other hand, SA is a third world country where unemployment is at 30%. Where are all the civil servants expecting this extra cash to come from? The government has increased its offer from 5% pay increase to 7.25%. Strikers have reduced their demands from 12% to 10%. But that's still a way off from reaching a compromise.

While this battle rages, government schools have been closed for a week; state hospitals are moving patients to private ones, only to discover that the private hospitals are also closing; neo-natal units are unable to help all but the most critically ill babies; Home Affairs departments are closed in both Cape Town and in Pretoria; train, taxi and bus services are either not running, or running in a drastically reduced fashion, especially in Kwa-Zulu Natal; refuse collections have been stopped... the list goes on.

Here I am going on about Nellie not eating when my home country has come to a grinding halt because of injustices in the civil servant pay structures. I think their pay is an offense to God, and yet at the same time, I don't see how to improve their situation without making drastic cuts to essential services. Yes, there is a lot of corruption in government, and that needs to be dealt with if we're ever going to solve this problem. But to what extent, and how much of a difference it would make to available money for salaries, I really couldn't say.

I'm praying that this doesn't deteriorate into something like the strikes in the UK in Thatcher's day. I'm praying that a solution can be found that is good for everyone.

And yes, I'm praying that Nellie gets her passport in time and eats something too, between now and then.

Monday, June 11, 2007


I know that she has her own blog now, for her own stuff, but that doesn't mean I can't talk about her here...

.. tonight she made me cry again. We've been having increasing battles over food (I know, I know. But when she refuses to eat ANYTHING, including her favourite foods, then what do I do?) Yesterday I won. I persevered, without losing my temper. I strapped her into her chair and left the room every time I got mad or she refused to stop crying. Eventually, she ate the whole damn lot without a tear. After an hour.

Tonight, neither of us won. I did exactly what I did yesterday, and we got nowhere. After an hour, I figured that she wasn't going to eat. Bribery did not work. So she's going to bed without having eaten. No doubt, she will wake us up in a few hours starving hungry. Great. In the mean time I feel like a shit for having made her go to bed hungry. (She was very happy to just eat her biscuits, but I wasn't going to let her. If she wanted a biscuit she had to earn it.)

And it's just ruined my day. I had such a lovely day with Graeme and seeing friends I won't see again before we leave, and then a lovely time playing with Nellie before supper. And now that's all ruined.

This is the part I absolutely hate about being a parent. Rightly or wrongly, once you make a boundary you have to stick to it. Consistency is key. Sooner or later she will learn that she has to eat whatever is put before her, although she doesn't have to finish everything on her plate. If she wants treats though, she has to eat her food. Plain and simple. In theory, at least. The practice of it is much, much harder. I feel sick to my stomach right now. I really do. I have a headache, I feel nauseous, and I have to go and fix my face (after crying) right now as we have a guest coming in 8 minutes. I just hate this.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Work and business life

Just when you think things are taking a turn for the up, they really take a turn for the up! Turns out that I mis-read the job offer email I received... it's not for 1 month, it's for 3 months, with a possible extension for another 3 months.

And then... I got my first business enquiry... and the business isn't even set up yet...

... and there's even a possibility now that Graeme might be able to work a few days or a few half days a week for his current employer, on-line, from Cape Town....

... so things are definitely looking up. God is taking care of us.

OH! and the final piece of car documentation is on its way to us as I write. Hooray! Which reminds me - I need to get back onto the Home Affairs department about Nellie's passport.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Check this out!

This is the most incredible video ever! It was taken in Kruger National Park, a very well-known state run game reserve in the north of SA. On the video you can even hear the game ranger saying he's never seen anything like it. It is rather long (8.5 mins), but it's well worth watching if you're into nature videos. Unfortunately, 'Bore me' is not like YouTube so I can't upload the video here - you will have to go to the site and watch it there.


So much to say...

Two weeks ago, Ali preached about how Jesus sent his disciples ahead of him into the surrounding countryside and why that was necessary. She made the comment that the disciples were preparing the way, finding out whether people were ready to receive Jesus or not. Something in that really struck a chord with me in terms of my own spiritual development. There was something about the active partnering with God to prepare people's hearts. Then, at our counselling session on Monday Ali made a comment to Graeme about the fact that, by its very nature, the 'stuck' place will not be resolved passively.

Since I had Nellie I've found that I've lacked the spiritual discipline and the time alone to have traditional 'quiet times' with God. In chatting to other mothers, I discovered that this is a common side-effect of having children. At the time I made the decision not to beat myself up about it, but it's been hard. I reckoned that God would understand and that when the time was right, he would draw me back. Yet, there is such a strong culture of regular personal QT's in the evangelical church (which I grew up in) that it's hard not to think of myself as failing in this area.

Over the past few weeks I've begun to sense God saying that now it's time to get back to something more focused, private and intentional than just relying on Sunday services for my spiritual input (hence relating to you the two incidents above, which are typical of recent weeks). Like exercising, it takes discipline to maintain that regular slot in the diary. Unfortunately, I'm not very disciplined. I'm one of the laziest bums I know! This is going to be a challenge, but it is something I really value, and I think it's something that will reap tremendous benefits in months and years to come. So I'm going to try again.

Speaking of exercise, I bet regular readers are wondering about my goal of 5,000 steps a day. Well, my stupid step-counter broke. I fixed it, and a day later it broke again. However, I have managed to maintain an attitude of exercise to some extent. While the step-counter was working, I managed to get a feel for how far 4,000 steps is (since that's a distance I walk once a week). I've been trying to motivate myself to get out there and walk, but I'll be honest and say I've yet to have a week where I've managed my 5,000 steps every single day. It's actually a lot further than you think! But, I am persevering with it. This week I've managed 2 days in a row. If I can do it again today, then it will be 4 days in a row because I'm going to do my 4,000 step walk on Friday. Which will make it a good week.

What hasn't helped in terms of exercise is that I've been very busy developing my business website. It's been going well, and I've done a mock-up of it. Now I'm actually building the real thing, based on a few friends' helpful comments on how to improve it. Then it will be a matter of testing the real thing, and finding somewhere to host it. I'd really like it to be up and running by the end of the month, but with the move and the limited time that I have to work on it, I may be pushing the boat out a bit far on that deadline.

Some good news on the job front has arrived. I've been offered a month's teaching work at a very good school in Cape Town, starting a week after we arrive. While this is another obstacle in the way of getting my business up and running, I'm grateful for the work because it means some of the financial pressure is relieved. It also gives Graeme another month to job hunt. At this point I would just like to acknowledge that once again, God has rescued us and reminded me that he will provide for us - even if it is only at the 11th hour! Thank you Lord - you are more faithful than I give you credit for.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

If God loves us, then why doesn't he...

A friend posted a question on her blog based on a number of comments friends had made to her. Basically it was whether we, as Christians, have a right to question God over his apparent inactivity in the face of our individual suffering (which in the grand scheme of things isn't actually suffering) when God has already made it blatantly clear that he loves us and has provided everything we need for daily life. Here's the response I posted; feel free to add your own comments - here or on her blog.

I understand both sides of the argument...

On the one hand:
... if God cared why did He take Zoe from us?
... if God cared, and taking her was the best thing, why did He let us fall pregnant with her in the first place? or why let the pregnancy go so far?
... if God cared, and taking her was the best thing, then why did He let her suffer a slow, lingering death?

On the other:
... I tangibly felt God's love and comfort and presence and grace through the initial weeks of our tragedy
... at least we got to have her with us, and get to know her a bit, for a while
... at least she's in a place now where she will only know the best and never the worst of humanity
... at least we have had the opportunity to experience what real friendship and love is from friends
... at least we have learnt the true meaning of community

There are always two (or more) sides to every story. When you are powerless but know Someone omnipotent it's hard not to question their apparent inactivity. Yet, as you point out, why should we feel we have a right to ask for more, when He has already given us everything. Maybe because great outpouring of grace in an age that is increasingly self-absorbed only inspires greater selfishness? I don't know.

All I can say is that in my personal walk I swing wildly from one extreme to the other. One day questioning his love, the next adoring him for his unfailing outpouring of love. To pretend that his sacrifice on the cross was enough for me would be a lie. It isn't. But then, I don't know that it was supposed to be ever be enough for us.

Maybe the part of us that cries out against God's apparent inactivity in the face of suffering and evil is the part of us that only truly comes alive when we accept Christ's death on the cross for ourselves. Maybe God brings that part of ourselves truly alive because that's the part of us that cries out for the 'not yet' to become the 'now', when the Kingdom comes in all its fullness and glory.

Maybe that's the reason that God doesn't seem to lose his patience with me, or give up with my endless emotional pendulum. Maybe God agrees with me that it's not fair... maybe God agrees with me that this fallen world sucks. Maybe, if we were still in Eden, Zoe would still be alive and with us, not just alive and waiting for us in heaven. I really don't know, but I hope so. Because if God is just idly sitting by while s*** happens to innocent little children then he's not the sort of God I want to worship - sacrifice or no sacrifice.

Lovely Laitjies website

I've been working on building the website for my business. I've basically got it sorted out in the format that I want, thanks to Google's free webpages thingy, bar the shop part of the site.

I have no plans to host the site with Google, but I couldn't conceive the idea on paper, so thought this would be a good mock-up of what I wanted. I've found the experience of writing the site interesting, as no sooner would I finish a page than I would realise why it couldn't work that way. Of course, that would mean changing several other pages too, to get it in a workable format. Needless to say, it's taken hours and I'm still not completely happy, but at least now I have a working model of what I want - which will help in the next phase.

What I need to do now is find and pay for a domain name, a proper layout in the right colours etc, and an ISP to host. Oh yes, and pay for some optimisation for the site so that search engines can find it more easily.

And in the news this week...

... a family of three has been struck down with a horrible vomiting bug. The first signs were seen in the little 18-month old toddler. Once all thought of a possible family outbreak had passed, both parents were simultaneously struck by this vicious infiltrator, striking them both incapable of caring for themselves, each other or their little girl. Miraculously, all 3 have survived to tell the tale, much aided by the quick onset of grandparents-to-the-rescue.

Friday, June 01, 2007

What happened way back when you were born?

Check out this site! Put in your date of birth and find out some of the stuff that happened on the day (or in the week/ year) you were born. (No major news stories though.) How cool is that?!

In the week I was born David Bowie's 'Space Oddity' was No 1 in the UK charts. Hmm.... Hopefully that's not supposed to be prophetic! I also share my birthday with such esteemed people as Voltaire and Pope Benedict XV (and Bjork! If you haven't heard of her, then don't worry.)

Nellie's blog

I've started a new blog for Nellie... which will be the place where all the news about her will be posted. Blame Graeme... I'm going to use it later on as part of my business website, since she and Zoe are the inspiration for it. I've managed to upload all the posts about her since we first started blogging, so everything is in one place. Anyway, we'll see how it goes. If I find it too much work then I'll just shift the new posts back here...

Thinking back

Having been off-line for a week, I've been doing a lot of catch-up reading of my favourite blogs and the SANDS site. I guess that, plus the fact that it's half term so everyone is away, has made the last day or two tough. While people have been lovely and said to ring whenever I need to, when I do it seems they're always too busy or have already made other plans, or whatever. (Sarah & Sue - this doesn't apply to you!! You have both been amazing at making time for me.)

So I've been quite lonely this week, with lots of time to think. And I've been thinking back over Zoe's last few days and her birth. I was just remembering how, that first night, I couldn't sleep. I was more exhausted than I've ever been in my life. I was so tired I was literally falling asleep while talking to people! Yet, once I'd handed Zoe over for the night I just couldn't sleep. (The warm temperatures in the delivery rooms meant that her body would degrade quickly if she'd spent the night in the room with us, and if we wanted an autopsy we needed to preserve her body as best we could.) I would fall asleep and then wake up with a massive start 30 minutes later, thinking that surely it was time for a feed, or that she'd fallen off the bed, or that I'd rolled onto her, or that she'd stopped breathing in her cot. Then I'd remember that she was dead. But I was too tired to cry anymore and I'd fall asleep again before I could grieve, only to be haunted by horrible nightmares. And then wake up to repeat the process again.

It was the worst night of my life. Without a doubt.

I'm sleeping much better these days. No more nightmares (for which I'm eternally grateful). Although I've always had weird dreams, since Zoe's death my dreams have taken on some other sort of quality. Now they always seem to involve a major crisis in which I'm helpless to effect any change. This morning's one was about one of my favourite trees from my childhood - a Jacaranda that we had growing in the back garden. It was one of those perfect climbing trees because it had a branch low enough to climb up, plus it's branches were wide enough and flat enough to sit on comfortably. I loved that tree.

Anyway, in my dream it was 600 years old (not true) and its branches had grown so long they stretched over the neighbours' walls and were threatening to break the walls. Plus my mother said it was now so big it destroyed the view she had from the upstairs bedroom window. It had to go. I was desperately trying to think of ways to save it, from just removing certain branches to not touching it at all, but no-one was listening. Even Graeme's parents got involved and said it had to go. (In my dream Peter had even written a book about it needing to go, with the chapters written alternately in English and Afrikaans!! When I told G about it, he laughed and said it definitely had to be a dream, given how poor his father's Afrikaans is.)

The conclusion of the dream is that I didn't save the tree. Just like I didn't save Zoe. That's always how my dreams seem to end at the moment. Whatever the crisis is, I fail to resolve it. The comfort I take is that at least these are just dreams. I'm not the failure my dreams make me out to be.

One woman posted on SANDS this morning to tell how her midwife failed to pick up on a very treatable condition she developed during pregnancy. Her liver stopped working properly, and so toxins built up in her system and poisoned her baby. How awful. How awful to know that her baby would be alive and healthy if her midwife had done her job properly. Even if I do have APS/ Hughes' syndrome and that caused Zoe's death, at least I can't blame the medics around me of negligence.