I love you and I’ll miss you

Two years ago I met a wonderful person. She came into my life under unusual circumstances – we were in twin antenatal class together. We had a bit of a run in on the very first day and I remember laughing on the way home and saying that although I thought she was an idiot at the time, I bet we’d end up close friends. And we did.

We’ve spent the first year and a half of our twins’ lives sharing the experience and seeing life through the eyes of our kids’ together. We’ve laughed and bitched and done everything else that new mothers do.

After about 6 months she moaned to me about the fact that she hadn’t stopped bleeding since her caesarian. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that that isn’t normal. She went through a myriad of tests before they diagnosed her with cancer. After 3 months of horrible treatment the diagnosis changed to terminal.

I have spent every day since marveling at how amazing she is. How can it be possible to continue being strong for your daughters when you know you won’t be around to see their first day of school? Or their wedding day? Or the day they have their first child? I can’t get my head around it so I have no idea how she has.

I wake up just about every morning and remember that it isn’t a nightmare – it’s real. She wakes up every morning and lives the nightmare.

Every fraught teenager romanticizes about how they’ll be remembered when they die. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that lately and I’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t possible to die with more grace than Rachael. This woman has a strength and a beauty that comes from a place of such peace. Watching someone die is one of the most horrible things to go through – but Rachael has made it easy on those of us that love her. Her weekly email updates are frank and honest. We’re not left wondering about whether we can call or what we should say or how she is feeling. She tells us.

Today the emails stopped. Rach can’t sit up any more. She is too sleepy to write. She has lost her memory. There are only days left.

I have learned a lot from this experience. I can’t change what is happening and I can’t give her any more time. I recognise that the thing that makes me the saddest about this is the selfish loss that I feel. I’ll miss having her in my life. The thing that makes me the happiest about it is that she knows exactly how I feel about her. I have no regrets.

So go when you’re ready Rach. I promise that your girls will grow every day with your legacy.

I love you and I’ll miss you.

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Tsunami!

So today has been interesting so far…

I turned on the Breakfast show as I do every morning and went about my routine of filling bottles and making coffee. The news came on and mingled in with the usual morning noises I heard the newsreader mention a tsunami warning. I say mention, because he read it out in his usual newsreader voice, as if it was just another story about a dog getting trapped in a rabbit hole. What the? I’d be leaping on my news desk, screaming “RUN FOR THE HILLS.” Mostly because you don’t get a more appropriate time to scream “run for the hills”.  But I guess that’s why I’m not a newsreader.

As journalists do, they then decided to dig deeper into the story – was there really a warning? Was it here, or in one of the neighbouring pacific islands? Was it actually a tsunami, or just a bigger than usual wave? Yes to all those… apparently there was a tidal wave in Samoa not long ago – the result of an earthquake just off the coast. Civil Defence have issued a formal warning and have told us that if it hits Auckland, it’ll happen at 11:44am.  Jay-sus. That’s fairly specific. What if they’ve got it wrong? What if it hits at 11:42 while I’m only half way up the hills?  Should I head for the hills at 11am just in case? Which hills? There are a lot of them around here.

Oh – hang on. Apparently the tsunami that hit Samoa was less than a metre high. I could probably just sit on the back fence then.

Oh no – breaking news. Now they are saying it was 3m and there were deaths and injuries. I guess it’s not so funny after all.

They are telling us to keep our radios on and to be ‘on alert’. The warning is going to remain in effect until it is cancelled. That is one of the stupidest statements I’ve heard today.

So I’d better go and have a shower just in case I have to flee.

If you don’t hear back from me, it’s unlikely that I’m dead – I’m just useless about blogging these days.

It’s getting hot in here… so take off all your clothes.

Ha! I figure you thought you’d seen the back of me. No such luck. Life is back on a somewhat even keel now that the twins are 6 months old, so I might be able to grab 10 mins every now and then to crap on about nothing.

I’m not planning on always talking about kids. Just today.

It’s been an entertaining week. Entertaining in a stuck-in-the-middle-of-a-mosh-pit-during-a-Slayer-concert kinda way. Pretty much exactly this time last week, I was in the kitchen pureeing up fish. This is a fairly new experience for me, and one that I am glad will have a limited life span. Anyway, I had just turned on the blender when Shaun announced to me that Israel “wasn’t right”. I’m not sure whether it was the monotonous humming or the fact that he was floppy that triggered this announcement, but he was right (Shaun, not Israel). He had a temperature of 40 degrees (Israel, not Shaun).

Holy mother of god.

I jumped in the car and drove him to A&E. You’d think that in the middle of the day on a Sunday there wouldn’t be that many emergencies. But there were. I was told that the wait would be an hour long. After sitting there for 10 minutes I decided that my emergency was more important than everyone elses’ and asked for an ambulance. A doctor came out straight away. They stripped Israel off and pumped him full of paracetomol. We then had to stand naked (Israel, not me) in the carpark. It is the middle of winter here and it was 8 degrees at the time.

I could see people walking past thinking no wonder we were at A&E. It occurred to me that I should probably mention Hunter’s rash. I didn’t realise that the word rash + fever + baby = ambulance. We were taken to Starship (Childrens’ Hospital) where Israel decided that he was fine. After half an hour of watching him eat his lunch, they discharged us with a diagnosis of ‘a virus’. How particularly helpful.

The next day, when said virus made him power chuck in my eye, become unresponsive and pant like a dog, I called the ambulance again. It seemed like the right thing to do… until it arrived. That was shen he decided to start laughing as if nothing had ever happened. We went to the hospital anyway, where he proceeded to scream in pain for three hours while we waited for the doctor. As soon as the doctor arrived, he started chirping and giggling again. He was then diagnosed with… tonsilitis.

I’m not a neurotic mother, but you’d be forgiven for thinking I was.

I think that’s just the nature of the job.

Rest in peace, little man.

The last couple of days have been noisy and difficult ones in our house. At the age of just 12 weeks, Hunter is teething. While teething is a horrible experience for some children regardless of age, it’s worse when your mouth is too small for a teething ring and you don’t yet have enough control over your hands to hold something against your gums. So she’s just having to cry it out. No amount of rocking or cuddling from me seems to have any effect.

The cruelest thing about teething is that it affects her eating and sleeping cycles, meaning that she is exhausted and starving, as well as completely miserable. I can see the little tooth just below the surface, so with any luck it will come through any day. Tomorrow would be good.

All the crying it pretty hard to cope with. When you hear your child screaming and you can’t help them, you just feel useless. After several hours of it you just have to walk away for a while, before it breaks you. Then it’s hard not to feel like a bad mother. It’s also hard when I feel I’m neglecting Israel because Hunter is demanding so much attention.

But something happened today that helped me put it into perspective.

A good friend of my sisters fell pregnant with twins a couple of weeks before I did. We became friends as a result. Our pregnancies were very similar and she ended up having boy/girl twins as well. Sadly, the little boy was born with a damaged heart. His name was Ryan. He was flown straight up to Starship (they live down country) and underwent surgery. His mother didn’t even get to feed him.

The surgery was successful and after a couple of hard months they went home again. Although progress was slow and Ryan was a lot smaller than his twin, things were going ok. I went down to stay with my sister a few weeks back and we went around to meet Ryan and to spend some time with him. He was a gorgeous wee boy with huge eyes and a peaceful nature.

This morning Ryan had a heart attack and died. I can’t really express how deeply sad I feel about that on so many levels. As the mother of twins, I know that to go somewhere with just one of the babies feels as if you are missing a part of yourself. I once took Israel to the doctor and left Hunter with mum. I kept turning around to pick her up and thinking I heard her cry.

I’m so very glad I met Ryan. If you’re too young to leave a legacy, all you have to leave is memories.

Rest in peace, little man. It was an honour to know you.

Never take anything for granted

A couple of things over the last few days have made me realise just how valuable life is and how important it is not to take it for granted when the going is good.

The first thing isn’t personal but the scale of it’s devastation is almost beyond comprehension. The Australian state of Victoria is currently being razed by bush fires. So far around 100 people have been killed, mostly trying to escape the fire in their cars. Thousands of people have lost homes and there is no end in site. The most sickening thing is that some of these fires are the work of arsonists. I have spent the morning watching the news show person after person break down as they try to describe how they are feeling and what they have lost. While this kind of situation is terrible anywhere, it seems somehow worse because it is so close to home. Australia is our neighbour and to watch it burning is heartbreaking. My heart goes out to the people that have lost their homes, and more importantly, their loved ones.

The second thing is much more personal. We spent the weekend at Starship Childrens’ Hospital because Israel has just undergone emergency surgery for an inguinal hernia. It is a common and straight forward operation, but to watch your 7 week old infant go through any kind of pain, not to mention a general anaesthetic, is heartbreaking. The scariest part was post-op when he had some breathing issues. For 3 hours I sat with him in my lap, hooked up to monitors, and 20 odd times the alarm went off because he had stopped breathing. I had to nudge him to remind him to start again.

Israel, Hunter and I spent the night on a ward full of very sick children. All night I could hear them wailing in pain. Nothing can prepare you for that. I looked down at my perfect children more times than I can count and reminded myself just how incredibly fortunate I am to live the life that I do.

Sometimes it takes something bad to put things into perspective and that’s a shame.

2 weeks and counting

Well I have rapidly gone from the “this is a dream pregnancy, I’m so lucky” to “holy hell, just get these things out of me!”. Yesterday was a down day. I actually cried for the first time since I thought I was losing the babies back at 7 weeks. I wasn’t crying for any reason other than self pity. I have become couch bound. The swelling has now crippled me.

We had a growth scan yesterday and everything is good to go. The babies are big enough to be born healthy and survive, they may not even need to go into the infant nursery, but even if they did, that’s not a bad thing. They’d be a couple of doors down from me in the hospital and have a 24 hour babysitter that would bring them to me for feeding! But you just have to go with the flow in this game.

I reached the stage yesterday where I even googled natural induction remedies. Castor oil and raspberry leaf tea were looking promising until I considered that fact that I’d have to leave the house to get them. But then I came to my senses. I’ve worked so hard to get here that it’d be not only irresponsible, but the work of a stark raving lunatic to do anything to jeapordise the health of my babies now.

So I’ll remain on my couch and count down the days.

2 weeks and I get to meet these people that I’ve been making. I can’t wait.

Cankles

Holy mother of god. They did warn me but I didn’t really take it on board. I’ve been SO grateful for how well my pregnancy has been going so far. It’s been a dream. Everyone has twin pregnancy horror stories but from where I’m standing it’s been all good. Until this weekend. That’s when all hell broke loose in the ankle department. Oh, and the wrist department. And the finger department. Pretty much across the board actually.

A few weeks back I’d have fairly swollen ankles by the end of my working day. That is to be expected. What I wasn’t quite so ready for was ankles that are the same width as my calves when I get up in the morning! And carpal tunnels that are so swollen that I sprain my wrists when I roll over in the night. Not that you can really call it rolling. It actually involves getting up onto all fours and flopping onto my other side.

One of the babies has moved right around to under my arm. That is obviously affecting the swelling as my left cankle is always significantly bigger than my right. It was annoying at first because it’s summer here and it’s hot now. I can’t wear any dresses unless they skim the floor. But worse than that, I can’t even wear jandals! Shoes went out the window about a month ago. It’s not that easy to get things done in bare feet. People tend to stare at you in the mall.

So my new strategy is to get up and do whatever needs to be done before 9am. Then I spend the rest of the day with my feet balanced up on a stack of 5 pillows.

Still, I feel like I bitch doing all this moaning. My health is good and the babies are continuing to grow just as they should.

So really, what’s a couple of fat ankles?