Sunday, December 27, 2009

Zoe

Zoe, my baby girl. I miss you. I envy those who have the courage to sit and pen a poem to their lost angels. I can't do it. It hurts too much to think about you for the length of time it would require of me to do you justice.

Life with your baby brother is now so busy I feel I hardly have a moment to think of you. He brings me such joy, you know? He's the complete opposite of your big sister. She's so pensive; he's so full of joy. I wonder what you are like?

I was struck afresh this evening that my hunger for you will never vanish. What I wouldn't give to have you hug me, or smile at me, or laugh with me, or to have one conversation with you.... Of course, only one of any of those would never be enough - in fact, it might make my longing even worse, but I'd still gladly pay whatever price was demanded for it.

I miss you so much, baby girl. I can't explain it to anyone who hasn't lost a child. They just don't understand. I'm not even sure I do. I'm not sure how one continues to grieve for a person you never knew, but I do and I know that I always will.

Those 9 months were all too brief, and I know I didn't pay attention to you the way I should have, the way I did when I was pregnant with your sister, or with your brother. With her, she had my attention because the whole experience was so new. With your brother, he had my attention because I was so terrified I would lose him like I lost you. But you, sweet child... I lost out on you, and you lost out on my love as a result. I was so busy looking after your sister, working, and hurling my guts in the loo it never even occurred to me that anything might be wrong. I'm so sorry. I really am. I wish I could do it over and love you the way you deserved to be loved.

And now, even though I have your brother to hold and cuddle, tonight I still feel the empiness you left behind. And there are no words for that. I miss you. I ache for you. I love you - please never forget that.

I hope and pray that we will meet again, and that we will celebrate Christmas as one big happy family one day. Until then though, however happy and joyful our Christmases are, I know that part of my heart will always be sad, because you aren't with us and I wish you were. I wish you were.

I wish I could see your smile, hear you laugh, watch all your 'firsts' - rolling over, starting solids, pushing up on your arms, crawling, learning to hold your own bottle, taking your first step, saying your first word... I wish I could watch you sleeping, with your arms spread wide and your breathing even. I wish I could get scared because your infant breathing was so shallow it would seem you weren't breathing at all. I wish I could blow zerbits on your tummy, and feet, and in your neck. I wish I could how much pleasure you derived from the life around you. I wish I could watch you develop your skills - would you have been a painter, or a writer, or a musician, or a sportswoman, or a baker? I wish I could have held your hand as you stepped out into the road. I wish I could have taught you how to ride a bike and swim. Much, much further down the road, I wish I could have watched you graduate and get married.

I miss you, darling child. And I grieve for all the things that parents are usually privileged to experience with their kids. I grieve for not seeing your beautiful face, or smelling your sweet baby smell....

... and nothing can put that right or bring you back.

and yet the longing continues. It is easier now than it was in the beginning. I can usually talk about you now without even feeling a twinge of a tear. I can think about you without crying.

But still, it's the unexepcted grief that side-swipes me; the little things. Like tonight and watching that movie. Absorbed in another's story, I often don't realise how open my heart is, and how vulnerable, and then a line is delivered like that one, and because my heart isn't guarded, the pain rises again to the surface.

Crying helps, oddly. Even though it's hopeless crying, because I know that the pain remains after I have no more tears to cry, it still helps, somehow. It feels good to acknowledge once again just how precious you are, and how much I miss you, and how much I love you.

One day, my precious, we will be together again. I know that. But the waiting seems to go on for so long.

Yet I dare not speed it up, or hurry it along. Your brother and sister still need me. My heart would break afresh if they had to grow up without my love. I pray that God spares me until they are old with children of their own, so that I may love them fully and completely, the way children are supposed to be loved. But making that choice also means that I choose to prolong my private agony. I guess that's the sacrifice of being a parent to you. Every parent makes sacrifices for their children - sometimes the sacrifices are for all the kids, and sometimes they are for an individual child. This is my sacrifice for you - that right now I have to put the living before the dead.

And as if he knows - your brother is stirring. I love you, sweetheart. Always. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

SHARK!!

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While out looking at the lights in Adderley St, we stopped to feed Nathan and discovered a lovely little square at the front (back?) of the Capetonian Hotel that links across to Jetty St. The square is filled with interesting, life-size statues of people, including a child with his little black motorbike. Closer to Jetty St side, there are several rotating sculptures of sharks.

While my rational mind KNEW that these were just sculptures and that we were far away from the ocean where their real counterparts were, the fact that they were shark-shaped and that they were moving kept me in a state of anxiety the entire time I was there photographing them. It struck me that there really is something instinctual about the fear of large predators. They're well worth a visit though! Pretty amazing sculptures.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Do you trust the government?

I was pondering this as I drove home yesterday. I came to the conclusion that I don't. I don't trust any of the government departments I've had dealings with; I expect them to go about things, as my father would say, ass-about-face. I expect them to give me a hard time. I expect them to get it wrong. I expect the officials behind the counter to be unhelpful, obtuse, inefficient, and corrupt.

It's a sad indictment, I know, but it's the way I feel - based on my experiences and my fears.

The only department I feel is anywhere near efficient is SARS. They've got their act together. They respond to emails. They actually get the job done - and quickly - and not just when you owe them. Nope, they get it done within 48hrs. Other than them, every department I've dealt with I've faced incompetencies, people who aren't prepared to look beyond the end of their noses, and just general laziness.

The latest scandal is, granted, not one I've personally experienced, but one that was blogged about by a cyber-friend. He was stopped, while out driving, at a road-block by the Metro police. Because he'd left his driver's licence at home, they decided to arrest him... get this... unless he paid them R4000 in cash. He told them he didn't have it, so they offered to drive him to an ATM so he could get it. Faced with either a weekend in jail, or paying R4000, he chose the latter. Thus, the cops drove him to an ATM where he withdrew the money and they let him go.

This sort of corruption is rife in SA. It's good that the president has set up a hotline to deal with any issues citizens want to report, but I'm not sure that any practical good will come of it because the number is not widely known. I'm sure I could find it if I searched for it, but if it's going to work, then the number ought to be posted all over the place, or why doesn't SARS email it to everyone on their database??

So, I don't trust the ANC, and I don't trust the government. But, I do trust in God - the same God who rescued this nation from the brink of civil war in the first democratic elections. I do trust that He has a plan, a good one, for this nation. I do trust that His will shall be done and His purposes accomplished. How? Quite simply, I think there are a lot of devout, faithful Christians in this country who are listening to Him and praying for us. I can't quite count myself in that lot, because I'm not really listening and I'm not really praying all that much - for anyone, let alone for the whole nation, but I know there are others who are.

Thanks to those brave souls, who help to keep this nation moving in the right direction, often in spite of the obstacles. Thanks that you have faith enough for all of us to be the change we long to see in this nation.

Nathan laughs

Just recently Nathan has really started to laugh when we play games with him. He has learnt to anticipate tickles and starts laughing even before you start tickling. His favourite game is 'peekaboo'. We put the cloth on his face, then he pulls it off - and you should see his face! He's so proud of himself for pulling the cloth off his face so Mommy/ Daddy/ Nellie can exclaim 'Peekaboo!' (I really ought to get that on video too...) Anyway, here's a quick clip of him laughing. It's not as cute as that video of the quads lying on the bed with their mother laughing, but it's still infectious.
video

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Can she get any cuter?

My daughter has become more cute than I thought possible. She's turned into this sweet little child who is loving and kind and helpful, and loves cuddling with me.

Could it be that the extra time with me now that I'm not working and making a real effort to spend quality time with her every day has made a difference? Do you think?

(Of course, she can still whine and cry, of course, but we'll just ignore that for a bit, shall we?)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cute boy!

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More endings and beginnings

So Manto is dead. She of relative infamy has passed. I can't say I'm sorry. Between the stories of her cleptomania and using her power to get moved up the list for a liver transplant (twice) while still being an alcoholic, and the fact that on her watch she condemned so many Saffas to develop AIDS because of her ridiculous Beetroot treatment for HIV, I can't say I feel much sorrow at her demise.

And yet.... She was a mother, with children. She was loved by friends and family, and death due to liver failure is not a nice way to go. As a woman, I feel sorry for her that she died in that manner. I feel sorry for her family who lost a woman they loved.

I wonder where she is now.... When she met her Maker, I wonder what their conversation was like? I wonder what truths lie behind all the news headlines that only she and He know. Was she just covering for Mbeki? Did she really believe all that junk? Did she, in fact, abuse her powers? And when their conversation was complete, where did she go? Is she now in eternal suffering, or is she in heaven?

Despite everything she did, and said, I don't hope she's paying for it now in hell. Sin is sin, and that sin separates us from God, yes. I believe that her actions require punishment. However, I have to hope God was merciful to her - because if God were to demand payment for every sin, then I would be in a lot of trouble. I guess that's the message of Jesus - that his death is the payment, in full, for every sin. But how does it work in practice? Once your sins are forgiven, what happens then? When we stand before God in the moment of our death, and pronouncement is made over our lives, and we're forgiven, what then? What distinction is made between those who lived more godly lives than others? Is there a hierarchy in heaven?

Anyway, on a different tack, another ending: my garden. We finally moved the fence back, so part of the lovely garden I planted a few months back had to be dug up. Then, in the horrible storm we had last week, my incredible lavender bush was blown over. I could sob! So this afternoon I finally made a start at replanting and arranging the garden. I'm hoping to finish phase 1 tomorrow. Phase 2 will have to wait until after Christmas when we (ha ha ha ha) have more money. Either that or I will have to beg some plants off friends. I'm really miserable about my garden having to be dug up, but I'm also hopeful about how lovely it will look again at some point in the not too distant future.

There was another beautiful beginning this week - my colleague gave birth to her beautiful daughter! A few weeks early, but safely here, thank God.

And another beginning... I'm on holiday, FINALLY! After weeks of marking (first at school, then for the matrics) I am finally free... or as free as one can be when one has little kids. If I'm going to get into the garden early tomorrow morning, then I need to get into bed now. Night, night all.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

My gorgeous kids



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4 years old!

When did it happen that my sweet baby girl grew up? How did I miss that? And now she's FOUR! We had the most amazing series of celebrations for her, the highlight of which was the party for her friends & cousins.

I'll do a separate post of photos from the day on Nellie's blog.

We took a bunch of kids to Scratch Patch, then for a picnic, and then for a boat trip around the harbour, during which we saw seals and dolphins. I have it on good authority (from one of Nellie's older cousins) that it was the "BEST PARTY EVER". I was rather pleased with that accolade, until I realised that now she will be expecting something even better next year! Help!

But fun was had by all, including the parents and us, and Nellie was spoilt rotten with presents - lots of stuff we can use during the holidays. As it turns out, that's a good thing as we're not going away these hols, so we will need LOTS to do to keep Madam occupied and out of mischief.

Cycles or spirals or rings within rings?

When I was pregnant with Janel I remember how I suddenly noticed the pregnant women around me. After Zoe died, I remember that I noticed the pregnant women even more than when I was pregnant with Janel. It's a phenomenon that I'd never noticed before: you always tend to notice those who are in the same life stage as yourself, or those who are struggling with the same issues as yourself.

Thinking about this made me realise that somehow, in this modern world, we really have become separated from the cycles of life. I know that this is an old theme, one covered to death by others. Yet, it was brought home to me again just recently.

One of my school friends lost her baby around 10 weeks gestation. This would have been her 2nd child. For her to fall pregnant again required tremendous faith, because her firstborn is ... and here I pause because I can't find the right word. Mentally and physically challenged? Yes, but then, so are we all to some degree. Retarded? I hate that word and refuse to consider it. Handicapped? Yes, but that word conveys more, and less, than his condition has resulted in. Abnormal? Hehehe... what, pray tell me, is normal?? I don't know what to call him. He just is what he is.

Anyway, he requires a lot of physical attention to help him, and will continue to do so for the rest of his life. In this context, I think it is incredibly brave of his parents to consider having another child. I can imagine their fears that something might go wrong with any subsequent pregnancy.... I've been down that road too, although in a completely different context.

SO - the fact that they fell pregnant is an incredible step of faith and trust and joy and hope.... For it to end as it did? Some people might say it's a sign that they're not supposed to have another just yet, or that God showed them mercy by not letting them have another who might share the troubles of their first. Me? I still say it's a tragedy.

There is no pain quite like the pain of a parent losing their child. It doesn't matter that the child's death might be the best thing possible. It still breaks your soul. When your child dies, a part of your very being dies forever too. You never 'get over' it, but you do learn to live around it. After a while it stops consuming you, but the pain is always there - just under the surface.

Is the fact that this death occurred so early in the pregnancy mean it was any less tragic? No. To know that you are growing a life inside you, and then to have that life taken away... it really doesn't matter at what stage; it still breaks you.

In the same week, I learnt of the death of a guy I got to know when I was in school. We didn't spend time together afte we left school, but when I think back to those days, it is with fondness that I remember him. He fought a good battle against colon cancer, but in the end he lost. He leaves behind a wife and 2 young girls. It is really because of his kids that I grieve. No child should ever lose their dad when they're young. It's not fair. No spouse should lose their partner when there are still children to raise. It's just not fair. But it feels even worse when it happens to such an amazing family. Bryan - you will be missed. Robs - our prayers are with you and the girls.

Life goes on. It feels like it shouldn't. It feels, in the face of these tragedies, that the world should stop. But it doesn't. Instead, there are others who are getting engaged, getting married, falling pregnant, and about to have a baby. How exciting and wonderful and joyful!

Except for the people I come into contact with through Born Sleeping (the support group G and I run) I've stopped reading and listening to the stories of others who have lost loved ones. It's just too painful for me. I want to try and enjoy the current cycle of life - enjoy the LIFE that emanates from Nathan - without it being dimmed or reduced by the sorrow that comes from deaths.

Yet I recognise that that is completely selfish, as well as practically impossible. It is not possible to slice life up into convenient little packages like that. Life and death don't come in discrete packages or at discrete moments in your life. They are both taking place around us all the time.

I am still working on how to integrate the them with each other. I'm still trying to figure out how to weep with those who weep, while at the same time being able to mourn with those who mourn - including my own joys and sorrows. Part of me feels guilty for enjoying Nate as much as I do, instead of still mourning Zoe. Yet I recognise that to remain in deep mourning for her would be extremely unhealthy and that failing to enjoy Nathan would be equally unhealthy.

I guess life is about learning to live in multiple emotional states at the same time, without losing your sanity. If you've figured out how to do this, I'd welcome your advice, because at times like this, I find it hard to know how to be joyful and sorrowful at the same time.

6 months!!

Can you believe that our miracle boy is turning 6 months tomorrow? When you say it - "6 months" - sounds like forever, yet it feels like just a few days ago that he was born. In many ways it still feels like we're getting used to having him around, but in other ways it feels like he's been part of our lives for ages now.

Being slighly prem (not technically, since 36 weeks is no longer termed as a 'prem' delivery), I've been trying hard not to compare him to his peers. He is actually a month younger than his peers, which means he's going to take longer to reach his milestones. e.g. he only smiled at 10 weeks, instead of 6, but then, if you add on 4 weeks for his early delivery, he's bang on time.

My amazing son is doing so well; I'm just so proud of him. His achievements to date include:
  • outgrowing his colic
  • mostly outgrowing his reflux (he still has a small problem with this, but nothing dramatic)
  • smiling so readily at everyone and everything, till his eyes scrunch up
  • rolling from side-to-side for ages now (can't remember how early he was, but he was early in this one)
  • grasping toys and pulling them to his mouth
  • finding his toes (he loves playing with his toes)
  • finding his balls (he LOVES playing with his balls... even if I've just removed a poo nappy... oh yes, LOTS of fun that one!)
  • eating 3 meals a day now (starting on stage 2 food already)
  • pushing up on his arms until they are straight
  • pulling his knees up under his bum when he's on his tummy (crawling is not far off, methinks)
  • teething (consequently chewing on everything he can get his hands on or into his mouth, and drooling..... one bib per day is no longer nearly enough!)
  • sitting basically unaided (he still falls over, but he is getting so good at sitting by himself now - which he's so thrilled by)
  • rolling over!
The rolling over is new. He's been on the verge of it for weeks now, but couldn't figure out what to do with his arm that was in the way. On Monday morning I went in to find him on his back when I'd put him down on his tummy. I checked with G before rejoicing, but G confirmed: Nate turned himself over during the night!! Woo hoo!! My boy can turn himself over. Priscilla (our amazing nanny) witnessed it on Tuesday while they were at the park, so I know he's definitely able. All that remains is for me to witness it myself.

Thinking back over the past 6 months I think the thing that I have loved most about him is his nature. He is by nature such a happy, laid back child. He finds joy in everything - it seems to always be brimming just below the surface because it doesn't take much to make him grin or chuckle. He is SO different in nature to Nellie. She's a lot more like me - very serious by nature, tempremental, prone to temper tantrums, a real princess complex, but terribly affectionate. He is the exact opposite (although we have yet to see about the affectionate bit).

How I wound up with this child is a mystery to me. My body was constantly full of adrenalin because of my fears for his life (and mine) that I'm amazed his brain is wired for peace (rather than anxiety) and that he is so joyful. I'm grateful for it, don't get me wrong, because I don't think this household could manage another personality like mine! I am just mystified at how I could produce such a calm, happy baby....

Nathan, my gorgeous boy, well done on making it to 6 months! There is not a day that goes by that I don't thank God for your life and for you. You really are a 'Gift from God'. Watching how you have grown in love for Janel, and the dogs; watching how you grin at all and sundry who stop to talk to you; watching how hard you've been working to reach your milestones - though I know you don't view it like that; watching your desire to be on the move and your frusration that your body doesn't yet obey your will - all these things make me so intensely proud of you. I know that none of them are of my making, they are all you just being you. You are an incredible testimony of the grace of God at work in this world. May your joy be always overflowing and may it always bring healing to those around you, just as it does now to me and to this family. Happy 6 months, my darling!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Where does the time go?

I've had so much to say, just recently, about work, my kids, Twitter, etc, but I simply don't have the time. (Work has been frenetic!) Anyway, the result is that now I almost can't remember what I wanted to say... so, I'm off to help hubbie set up our new bed, put up the Christmas tree, have supper with Ouma and Oupa, and then maybe if there's a spare hour at the end of the day, I'll try really hard to remember what I was going to say and get it down on 'paper' for all eternity.