Monday, February 22, 2016

ring of life

Just when you thought one person couldn't deal with anymore loss, the Brit lost his Dad last week.

In case you've never been here before: Almost 2 years ago, our twin daughter died in utero. Six months ago, his mother died very unexpectedly. Last week, more expected as he was old and obviously living with the shock of losing his wife, the Brit's father passed away. Both his parents gone in the space of six months.

I think it goes without saying that the last two years have been monstrously hard. While we have the light of our lives, our two year old, to thank for getting us up in the morning, we've also grappled with raising a new baby and a lot of sleep deprivation. That alone is hard for most couples, nevermind the constant throng of death that has peppered the last two years.

Couples grieve differently, and need different forms of support. This is why it's so hard. One spouse, like my husband, may need more support than the other spouse. The other spouse may find herself constantly picking up pieces. In short - it's all a bit gnarly and shit. It's exhausting, and it takes a toll on everything you do - work, life, raising your child, helping to balloon other annoyances, and of course, trying to also be a happily married couple. We have suffered for it.

Who knows what the future will bring in terms of our happiness and togetherness. It's hard to say. It feels like life is generally miserable, if I'm honest. And has been for a while. I find joy in my son's smile and giggles, in his new words, and in the fact that it won't be winter for too much longer.

Life is a grind: and that's not really taking into account our work schedules, buying a new home, and doing all the other things that make up "life."

I'll leave that there. Because there's something else too. Something positive for a change. Which is probably why I can write about the negative; knowing that there's something to look forward to, and something that keeps us holding onto hope and happiness for the future.

I am 19 weeks pregnant.

Just one this time. We secretly hoped for two;[again] to have another crack at having two healthy twins, but it's better this way.

It's different this time. It was planned. I'm experiencing a singleton pregnancy. I'm also scared. And I'm not even the full-scale scared I know I'll be as I get closer to the finish line.

Pregnancy is definitely different the second time round. You really do cut through all the bullshit. And the great thing is, most don't bother to give you unsolicited advice.

Most women who lose a child want to get pregnant yesterday with another. I was no different. After losing Molly, all I wanted to do was get pregnant again. I knew we had to wait, and we did until the time was right, but I thought about it every single day. It's like you want to right the wrong; fix the mistake. For us, and for Sebastian. If there was one thing we could do for Sebby, was give him the sibling he was meant to have. Molly cannot be replaced - twins are unique after all. But he deserved to have someone else.

As an only child, I can say this: there were times when I was lonely and that I felt alone. I still do. I want Sebastian to always have someone other than his parents. Because life is fallible, and God forbid something happens to us or one of us, I want to know that they would be there for each other.

We also wanted another child to help us move on from our loss. To help patch up a giant, gaping hole where Molly was meant to be. It will, at best, help to conceal the hole somewhat. And help us to move on. It has been nice to focus on this new baby, and less about the past. That's not to say I don't think about her everyday, still. I do. And more so as my pregnancy goes on, as it's bought up some old feelings and sadness.

It's not all straightforward though.

"Is this your first?"
 "'s my second pregnancy."

That one is easy to answer. And that's what I say. But, "is this your second?" is slightly more complex. And I've had a few awkward conversations as a result. I cannot and will not disregard the fact that this is my third child.
Thus far, I have baked three babies.

So I answer again, "This is my second pregnancy." To avoid all questions. But I have gone down that path where I sometimes get asked, "Do you find this pregnancy different from the first one?"

Yes I do. For one, it's only one baby this time. I had twins the first time.
"Wow, so this is your third! Really growing a big family there, aren't you?"
(This is a conversation I accidentally fell into at the coffee machine the other day. I just had to smile and leave. And he will forever think my twins are both alive.)

Molly won't be my baby anymore
But she will, because she always will be a baby. But after this child, she will be my middle child. The older sister of this child. My brain finds this hard to compute.

But equally, I never would've met this baby had Molly been born alive. Two children is what we wanted.

Just saying the above it hard, because this baby hasn't been born yet. And anything can happen between now and July, when it is due. I don't want to jinx it. Or assume I'll even meet this child of mine, or plan ahead, or even think about nurseries and supplies and things. Because anything could happen. Please dear God may it not.

It feels different
While we fell pregnant with the twins by accident and extremely quickly, this time it took some practice.

I had the worst morning sickness for 14 weeks. I don't remember it being this bad with the twins, although Mother Nature has an amazing way of wiping the slate [your memory] clean. The peak of my nausea was over Christmas, where everyone was over-indulging on rich food and beverages; I was lying horizontal over a sick bag and eating dry crackers. It was relentless. It just consumes you and you don't want to do anything; quite hard with an energetic toddler around.

I have had a number of scans already. And am counting down the days until my 20 week one, where I have decided that we just have to find out what we are having.

I don't know how I managed to not find out what my twins were until they were born. But I suppose we had had so many surprises (pregnant, two, etc) in a short space of time, that we just didn't want anymore until the end.

Now, I am counting the days. And if I'm honest, it's because I want to get my head around it. Around the fact that I may just end up raising boys. The mother of boys. But with a daughter that no one saw. Boys because we only want two, and wouldn't try for another.

Of course we want a little girl. I can't help project the dreams I had for Molly onto another little soul. Will we be disappointed if it's a boy? We've both agreed that initially, we probably might be.

But then I think this: as long as that little boy comes out alive and healthy and I can hold him in my arms, then I don't care what it is. Being the mother of boys is cool, right? I'll be grossly outnumbered, and the house will constantly be a heaving, energetic ball of messy, muddy chaos, but I'll be their mother. The Queen of the house. At least for a while.

So. Whether it's better to know now or when they're born, I just don't think I can wait to know. I cannot contain my curiosity. I also want to brief Sebastian, although at this point he seems to think everyone is having a baby and points to his stomach and says, "'Battian baby!' then mine, 'Mummy baby!' so who knows how much he will understand at 2 and a quarter.

My boobs have game
May be the last time they do. But the only good thing about getting fat and not fitting into your clothes anymore is the size of my melons. Which ordinarily looked like two old deflated balloons you'd find behind a sofa from a party, after Sebastian had had his way with them for 6 months. Now they're back and booming out of my chest. I might as well flaunt it while I can.

I'm both more relaxed and more anxious
When I found out I was pregnant the first time, I immediately and feverishly devoured two books on pregnancy, what to expect and constantly envisaged labour; petrified at the thought.
After finding out it was twins, I cried for a few weeks, and then set about planning how we would survive. I read Gina Ford's book on twins. I went to NCT classes - two sets of - for antenatal and twins. I joined groups. I bought stuff. I panicked. I cried a lot. I knew my life was going to change fundamentally and totally from what I was then: a carefree, working career girl.

Now? I keep one eye on my baby development app to see how it has grown each week, and I ensure that I avoid all book sections in Waterstones and otherwise. I don't want to know. Books made me anxious, no in fact, Gina Ford nearly but fucking killed me last time.

This time, I'm going to wing it. I'm going to do everything based on my instinct, and my experience.
I have all the stuff I need, thanks to having 80 muslins, outfits for Eddie, a pram, an entire nursery set-up.

I know that my baby won't sleep straightaway. And there's a chance it may have colic like Sebastian did. But nothing is going to change that, and certainly not Gina fucking Ford.
I will do my best, and try and follow a routine of some sorts once the 3-6 month cloud of 24 hour feeding starts to lessen, and when sleep deprivation almost but offs us completely.

Birthing plans? What a load of shit, you cannot plan what happens when nature intervenes. Hard as you might. Basically I'm not thinking about this too hard.

What I am not chilled about is my antenatal care. I am high fucking maintenance. If anything feels off, funny or I am not happy with what a midwife is telling me, I will kick up a fuss. I want a scan every time I go to the hospital. I need to know that there is a heartbeat at any opportunity I get.

I was so naive first time around
I want to know that my baby is growing. I will be assertive and I will be hard work. I just took everything I was told by doctors, medical staff and consultants as was. I didn't question anything. I truly believed that I was getting the best care I could get for a high-risk, twin pregnancy.

And to this day I regret not asking more questions. Not going in for an extra scan. Just accepting that medical people must have my best interests at heart, and that they're not just trying to cover their arsses.

No. This time you're dealing with a new person. And I think they already know it. I've been given my 'own' midwife and they've offered me the hospital high-risk man [again.] I had him last time too, but only near the end.

Please, please please may everything go alright and be OK. We could do with a break here, the Brit and I.


Val said...

Congratulations (and condolences). Hope your journey during pregnancy will be stress free and that all your wishes come true. You both deserve it!

ktp said...

What wonderful news congratulations! You have been through so much in the last two years, but a new baby can heal like nothing else in life. Remember to be kind to yourself.

Zoliswa Nhleko said...

Congrats Peas! This is great news. Condolences to you and Brits over the unfortunate passing of his dad. Hope the new baby adds to your happiness as much as Sebby has :)

Maryanne Papanicolaou nee Beverley said...

Congratulations! Such wonderful news. A second pregnancy is so much easier - but oh, don't for one minute think you will know it all. Every baby is different and will offer unique opportunities for your personal growth. But how lovely to have the pleasure of more than one child.

Nicole M said...

This is a reply 3 days in the making - firstly, condolences to you and the Brit on the passing of grandpa Brit - that really is so heartbreaking. I cant imagine losing my parents and, especially, in such a short span of time.

Secondly, massive congrats to your little family on the pregnancy - what wonderful, exciting news. I began reading your blog 10 years ago and, as I finished reading this post on Tuesday, I thought back to how much it has changed and was amazed that I have been fortunate to "see" the changes as they happen. As silly (and perhaps superficial) as it seems, I feel like I know you to some extent because, in many ways, I can relate to your life (certainly not in some ways - I have never lost a child, but I live where you live and I have experienced many of the same things as you have written about over the years), and so, I felt so happy and so sad when I read this post. I know you have both been through a rough two years and I can only hope and wish that fortune favours you in every way possible for, not only your pregnancy, but for the years thereafter.

Much love xx

Satin Slipovers said...

What a lovely post from Nicole

Peas on Toast said...

Val, ktp, Zoliswa, Maryanne and especially Nicole!

Thanks so much for your thoughtful messages.

I can't believe you've been reading this for 10 years Nicole - I am truly flattered, thank you.

Rachel Goldstuck said...

Just caught up on your blog.
First my condolences on your loss.
But also I'm so happy for you all. I hope that the remainder of your pregnancy goes well.

polkadotcupcake said...

I'm so thrilled for you! I don't know (and you definitely don't know me) but I've been reading your blog since you lived in JHB (I'm from CPT) all through your first pregnancy, loss and Sebastian's early years.
Last year, I had a little boy, and while it was a simple, singleton pregnancy, your experience of pregnancy and life with a baby somehow made me feel less alone.
I'm not being clear, but I guess what I'm trying to say is, I hope this baby helps to heal your heart and is the sibling little Sebby was supposed to have. I hope it's simple and drama free, and that (girl or boy) this baby is the glue that starts to stick your hearts back together again.
Much love from the bottom of Africa, and good luck with this one! One is trouble, but two (I hear) makes the madness quadruple, not double!

Peas on Toast said...

Thank you Rachel and Polkadot!

That's really kind, and I appreciate your lovely messages and comments. I am pretty terrified of how much the madness is going to escalate - have to agree! :)

Peas on Toast said...

Thank you Rachel and Polkadot!

That's really kind, and I appreciate your lovely messages and comments. I am pretty terrified of how much the madness is going to escalate - have to agree! :)