Categories
Depression Uncategorized

Depression, celebration and hairloss

I emerge from my psychologists’ office feeling really low.  I wonder if these sessions are helping at all.  I wonder if there is any point in talking to an absolute stranger about my life and the issues within it that constantly dog it.

Rewrite your script.

The words from Stephen Covey’s book “Seven habits of highly successful people” filter into my brain.  I need to rewrite my script.  I know this to be true.  I have no idea where to start.  I cry.  My sense of hopelessness has reached an all time low.  Dying crosses my mind, but in truth I’m too much of a coward, and I could never do that to my family.

My phone pings.  I look down at my phone.  A Facebook notification from a woman who runs Goddess workshops and also provides a community of like minded spiritual individuals to get together.  She is an awesome person.  I used to frequent the workshops often and in truth I have never felt such a connectedness.  But then I lost my belief – belief in the after life, belief in anything supernatural.  I became an atheist.  Not a happy atheist mind you.  there is no joy in believing that you only have three score years and ten on this earth and then that it is it.  Adios amigos, lights out, to be never more.

I look at the notification.

Come and join the Celebration Revolution.  Take the 30 day challenge.  Post a video of yourself for 30 days talking about what you are celebrating this day.  This is more than gratitude, this is CELEBRATING.  By the way, it’s a closed group.

I humph.  I have NOTHING to celebrate.  I have put those people, that life, behind me.  I am an atheist now.  Not a happy atheist, I grant you, but what can you do, you can’t force belief!

Throughout the day the notification dogs me.  It can’t hurt to join the group and at least see what others are saying, can it?  I join the group.  The videos are amazing.  Such a celebration of life.  I miss celebrating life.

It isn’t long before I decide I want to post a video.  I am afraid.  I am overweight, hairless, miserable.  People will think I am ridiculous.  I am not in a happy place and everyone sounds so damn happy.  Will it be okay to post a celebration of where I am at?  I decide to sleep on it.

I wake up knowing I am going to take the plunge.  I get showered, dressed and put on some makeup to at least look half decent.  I carefully place the cap and scarf that I am now using to conceal my baldness onto my head.  I could not feel more unfeminine if I tried, but I push the self-depracating thoughts aside.  I want to do that video.

I get everything ready for the morning and finally sit at my desk.  Much to my annoyance, I discover that my new computer’s video quality is totally crap.  I have to use my phone.  I’ve been thinking about what I am going to say.

Hi Everyone.  I suffer from clinical depression and so it was kind of hard for me to find something to celebrate.  What I am celebrating is the fact that despite my depression, no matter how dark or horrible it gets, I can never give up on myself.  I think I am genetically hardwired to just always have hope.  So that is what I am celebrating today – the fact that I can never give up on myself.

I press send and pray that it hasn’t posted to my facebook page.  I don’t want my friends seeing this.

It hasn’t, but somehow I have posted it twice to the celebration revolution.  Almost immediately I get three comments of support, how all the women have been in the same place, how brave I was and how there is light within me that will shine through.  I cry again.

I watch more videos in the car before I go for my morning coffee.  I am in awe of these amazing human beings.  I go in for my coffee.  Coffee and raisin toast, my morning constitutional.

My phone rings.  I look at my phone. It’s from California.

Bloody sales people. 

I go to cancel the call, but then decide to answer it.

Sarah speaking.

Hi Sarah, it’s Michael speaking from Farrell Hair?

I pause.  A second passes as the penny drops.

OH MY GOD!!  I can’t believe it.

He laughs a full belly laugh.

I never tire of the shock people get when I phone them – all over the world.

We chat – about the time difference, the upcoming fourth of July celebrations, about the weather.

So, you obviously know that I am phoning you because you emailed us about your hair.

I nod, even though he can’t see me.  I’m holding my breath.

Well, Richard is going to be in Melbourne on the 5th and 6th July and he would like to invite you for a no-obligation consultation to see how he can help you.  It is free.

The cynic in me knows it’s free because he charges around $2,000 for his hair systems.  He can afford it.  But I don’t care.  I’ve seen his hair systems and they give women (and men) their lives back.

Thank you so much.  I would LOVE an appointment. 

Great. (I suddenly love that deep american accent).  How is Friday the 5th at noon for you.

It’s great Michael, bloody well great!!

Yes, that should be fine.

We end our conversation, him clearly buoyed my excitement and me, well, just plain excited.

I do a mini dance of joy by swinging my arms around at my table.  The guy next to me looks at me like I’m a little weird.  At that precise moment I don’t care.

I rush home to do another celebration video.

Sorry for posting a second video so close to the first, but I truly have something to celebrate!  You see, I suffer from what is probably most women’s worst nightmare.  I have female pattern baldness that has become quite bad of late, consistent with being middle aged.  I have taken to wearing caps and scarves as you can see, but I received a phone call from this guy who does amazing hair replacement systems and he phoned me ALL THE WAY FROM CALIFORNIA to invite me for a consultation when he is in Melbourne next week to see if he can help me!  (At this point I get emotional).  It is amazing how a women’s hair is so closely linked to her femininity and I have felt so unfeminine for the longest time.  But now, that is about to change and yes, I’m doing the dance of joy.

Yes, it turns out I have quite a lot to celebrate!

Categories
Autism Depression

Shopping and the Status Quo

“Can you hear the dogs?”

I open my eyes from a deep sleep.  “I didn’t hear them.”

Dee gets out of bed.  I hear him yell at the dogs to go back to sleep.  I wonder why I haven’t heard them.  Am I going deaf?  I really need to phone that specialist.

Dee climbs back into bed and spoons in behind me.  “Bloody hell, Dee, you’re cold.”

I fall back into a deep sleep.  Scratch, scratch.  This time I hear them.  Dee is clearly not getting up.  I haul up out of bed and stomp through to the laundry.  I open the doors.  Wagging tails and licking tongues greet me.  I open the door to let them outside.  It is still dark.  I pad through to the pool room sliding door.  As I go through I notice JC on the settee still sleeping.  He has taken to sleeping there instead of his bed on the weekends.  Another anomalie of our son to accept.  He says it gives him peace.  Who are we to deny him peace?

I open the sliding door and rush back to bed.  It is bloody freezing.  I check the clock.  6:30am.  Shit, really?  On a Saturday?

I pull on a jumper and turn on my electric blanket.  I crawl into bed, exhausted.  Dee snuggles up behind me.  He is toasty warm.

Another deep sleep takes over me.  My dreams are fitful.  I am angry, confused, trying to escape, trying to scream but can’t.  You know the type.

Dee wakes up first, as always.  “I’m getting up – think I might go shopping early.”  Dee does the food shopping now.  Since mom died, the hum drum duties have largely fallen to him.  I no longer feel guilty about it.  He likes doing it.  It saves us money.  I like him doing it.  It saves me having to think and struggle with crowds.

“Do you want to come shopping with me?  You did say you wanted to start your diet today in earnest.”

I think about this in my slumbered position, eyes closed.   I should go.  “Alright, I’ll come with you.”  I don’t really want to go, but I know that taking some control over what I put into my body is the only way I am going to seriously lose weight.  I need to take responsibility for myself.

“I’ll make you tea.  You don’t have to get up now.”  Dee is clearly pleased at my decision.  I doze some more.  My tea arrives, but I don’t drink it straight away.  I doze, regretting my decision to agreeing to face the crowds.

Ironically, I have no trouble facing the crowds with Jay and Baby C.  I push and cuddle Baby C whilst Jay shops.  It isn’t the same as pushing a trolley around trying to jostle for food and then waiting in a massive queue for your food to be tallied up, bringing it home, putting it away.  It’s just too much.  I sound lazy, but I’m not.  I just haven’t been able to face shopping for two years.  Before that, I did it all the time.  Now I don’t.

Eventually, I drink my luke warm tea and pad into the shower.  I try on my new swimming costume and another old one.  I don’t like what I see, but it will have to do.  Hopefully, I will gain a bit of a tan on the tropical island.  Two weeks and we are off.  Honestly, I’m not really that excited, but that is okay.  I’m sure I’ll love it when I am there.

JC is in his room, in the dark, reading Naruto fan fiction.  “Have you had breakfast?”

“I’m not hungry.”

“JC, you have to eat.”

“How about JC makes his own breakfast whilst we are out?” Dee offers.

Yeah, I’ll make my own breakfast.”

“No,  you won’t.  He won’t.  He will read and then not eat.”

“You will eat, won’t you JC.”

“Yes, I’ll make my own breakfast.”

I shake my head.  We are in the kitchen, JC’s door is shut.  Dee whispers, “Sarah, we have to let him take some responsibility.  He is nearly 15.  He can do this.  We have to trust him.”

I no longer believe in the word trust – of anything or anyone.  I shake my head again and walk off.  I feel out of control, meaningless.

“JC, I want you to take a photo of your breakfast please.  We are giving you trust here and I want proof that trust was well placed.”

“Okay, Dad, I will.”

We head off to the shopping mall.  The parking lot is full already and it is only 10am.  My anxiety level rises.  So many people.  Far more than there are during the week.  I feel tired, drained, already.  We head off for coffee first.  It is nice to spend some time with Dee.  My favourite part of the day is when he comes home.  I love him and I miss him during the day.

We chat for a bit.  I am thinking of going to university to do a psychology degree.  I don’t want to be a counsellor.  I want to do research.  In particular I am thinking of becoming a psychological anthropologist.  My spiritual quest and lack of any answers that sit right with me means that I am incredibly interested in studying our need for religion, faith and belief.  We discuss this.  As usual, Dee is as supportive as ever, although I get irritated when he suggests I find someone who does this to find out what it entails.  He is an accountant and is as prudent as ever.  I’m not.  I don’t like prudence.  We talk some more and I even laugh.  I miss laughing.

We head to the shops.  Urgh.  I start looking at food I know I should not be having.  “Is that allowed on your diet?”  Dee asks helpfully.

I’m doing Weight Watchers and no, Lindt chocolate is not allowed.  Well, not unless I’m prepared to forgo an entire meal for a little block of chocolate.  I put the bar back.  I feel like I am parting with a dear friend.  Instead of alcohol, I am now addicted to chocolate.  I feel a headache coming on and wonder if it is psychosomatic.

I start looking at all the rows of convenience food.  If the shop only sold whole food and food that was good for you, it would only take up a quarter of the space.  I get overwhelmed at all the packaging of the food and think about the sea creatures that are getting caught up in plastic.  God, humans are sometimes full of shit.  I think about living in a country that doesn’t waste, but the only ones I can think of are very poor and, being the hypocrite I am, I am now very used to my creature comforts.

“Have you thought about the volunteering we talked about?”  Dee asks.

I snap out of my anxiety filled musings.  “Hmm?  Oh, yes, I did do a search, but it seems there is nothing in our area.  I will look more though after our holiday.”

“God, yes, I cannot wait to go.  Two weeks today and we will be on Hamilton Island!”

Yep, we will.  I get to expose my white whale like body for all to see.  Oh, goodie!

We head home.  On the whole it wasn’t a bad experience.  Dee spent more money than he would have liked because I kept putting stuff in the trolley.  This is why the status quo works for us and I am pleased for that.

JC is out when we get home.  He has gone for one of his three daily mandatory walks.  Whilst we are packing the shopping away, he arrives home. “Here it is,” he announces.  He takes his iPod and shoves it into Dee’s face.  Peanut butter toast.  I was wrong.  He did do it.  We could trust him after all.

Categories
Depression Teenage Pregnancy

Groundhog Day and the imperfections of motherhood – 33 weeks and 3 days

By the time I wake up at 7am, my body knows it does not want to get out of bed.  Despite a good 10 hours of sleep, it is not ready.  I force it to get up.  I need to get JC off to school and get on up to the hospital to see Jay.

Jay is dressed, made up, sitting on the made bed and looking much better when I breeze into the hospital.  She is in bed 26, which is the exact same bed she was in when she was first admitted some 7 weeks ago.  The irony is not lost on her.  She smiles and points to her bed.  “The exact same bed!”  I nod and laugh.

“How are you feeling love?”

“Yeah, okay.”  Her voice still shows her disappointment, more at not being able to go home, than not having a baby, I suspect.

“Did the girls come to see you last night?”

“Yes, but they got told off for coming to visit after visiting hours.  I was so annoyed.  I only got ten minutes with them.”

“Did you not explain about them being from the UK for this week only?”

“I didn’t get chance.  She just told us off and then walked away.”  I could see Jess was upset.  Angry that someone could actually tell her friends not to be there, especially after the day she had just been through.

We talk some more.  I can hear babies crying in the next room, but thank heavens there are no babies in the room that Jay is in.  Two of the beds are empty.  However, not for long.  A young girl (woman) is brought through in a wheel chair.  Judging by the pink balloon and flowers she is holding, it is obvious she has just had a baby girl.  She is put in the bed opposite Jay.

“Congratulations,” I say.

She beams.  “Thank you.”

“When was she born?”

“At 8am this morning.  She arrived very early – at 35 weeks.  So she is in the special care nursery.”  Jay and I look at each other.

“Jay had that yesterday.  She is 33 weeks and went into labour but then it stalled.”  We all laugh.  I’m not sure why, but we do.  “Have you given her a name yet?”

“Yes, Abby Georgia.”

“What a beautiful name.”  Jay and I nod.

She looks so young.  I have to know.  “How old are you?” I ask.

“I’m 24.” she says.

I’m surprised, but I hope I don’t show it.  “Jay is 19.” Jay looks at me.  I feel like I shouldn’t have said anything.  “She is under the Young Women’s Clinic.  They have been fantastic.” I say quickly.

“Oh, I am also under a team.  I’ve had an eating disorder for a number of years and they have supported me really well.”  I love her honesty!

“Was your mum with you when Abby was born?”  She nods.

“You know, I didn’t even know I was pregnant until I was 27 weeks.  Because of my disorder I don’t have periods.  I was feeling really sick and tired and they sent me for an ultrasound and told me I was 27 weeks.”  I am dumbfounded.

“So, you only had 8 weeks to get used to the idea?” then, before she could answer, “Didn’t you feel the movements of the baby?”

“I did, I just didn’t put two and two together.  Yes, only 8 weeks.  I have nothing at home.  I have yet to do the nursery.  I thought I had time, and then yesterday I went into labour, five weeks before the due date.”  She is a lovely girl.  She leaves the ward momentarily.

“I’ve just made you a friend,” I say to Jay.  Her look says she is not impressed.  The girl returns and asks one of the nurses to take her to the nursery to see her baby.

“Here,” I say, “do you want to borrow my camera?  I can email you the photos.  It’d be nice to have something of her on the day she was born.”

“Oh, that’s so sweet.  I was going to use my iPhone, but a camera is so much better.  Thank you.”  she heads off with my camera.

“That is a bit trusting of you, Mum.”  I am beginning to feel like I’m in an episode of Modern Family.  My child is clearly exasperated with me.

“Well, where is she going to go with it?” I ask.

“I don’t know.  It’s just very trusting.”  The penny hasn’t dropped and doesn’t until I get home.  Jay is upset that this girl has got her baby, gets to cuddle her, with me giving her my camera to witness the happy event; and Jay doesn’t.  All I say is, “Well, what have I lost in the end?  A $300 camera?  If she stole it, the karma would be on her, not me.”  I’m hoping that Jay sees that sometimes we need to see past the mistrust of society and just be kind.  Kindness over stuff.  Instead, I should have seen that this is painful for my daughter.  A seemingly never-ending loop of events that never seems to end in the product of a baby to cuddle.

The girl returns.  “Did you get some photos?” I ask.

“I did,” she says.  We all look at the photos.

“Oh look, Jay.  Isn’t she cute?”  Could I have tortured my daughter any more?  How could I have been so cruel?

The girl decides to go for a sleep and Jay and I chat.  “I want to go home tomorrow,” she says.

“I know love, I know.”

“Will you still take my friends to Mornington tomorrow, mum?”

“Where should I take them?”  I don’t really want to go without Jay.  Whilst I know the one girl as she went to school with Jay, I have never met the other.  Plus I have no idea what two 19 year olds from the UK would like to do.

“Maybe take them to the hot springs, like you said.”

“Yes, that was when you were going to be there too.  They won’t want to do that with just me.  I don’t want to do it without you.  How about I take them to the market, then up to Arthur’s seat?”

“Oo, that’s a good idea.  Yeah, do that.  Then, you can pick me up before you go.”

“If you are discharged.”

“I will be discharged.  I can’t stay here another day.  Please don’t let me be in here for another few weeks.”  Even I don’t want her in there for another few weeks, but we do these things for the safety of our children.

“Let’s just see what the doctors say.  If they release you, I will come and pick you up.”

I head home after lunch.  I am tired and my brain feels foggy.  I ran out of my antidepressants two days ago and I can feel a dark cloud beginning to settle.  By the time Dee arrives home I am really beginning to feel down, especially as the full realisation of my cruelty to Jay hits me.  The house is a mess and I am in no mood to deal with it.  Yep, the black dog has arrived.

I write.  Writing helps me to clear my mind.  I ignore Dee for most of the evening.  I don’t intend to ignore him, but if I am writing, downloading, then I can’t think about all of my inadequacies and all of the guilt that that brings with it.  I write furiously and we barely speak.  Tiredness is my enemy.  It is the root of all the demons inside of me.  It has gripped me these past two days and it has unleashed the black dog.  Why did I have to force those photos on Jay, engage that girl to talk about her baby?  What was I thinking.  Just write, keep writing.  Let it all go.

When Dee has turned off all the lights, the TV and I find myself writing alone in the dark, it occurs to me that I need to be with my husband.  I need to moderate this new-found passion.  I need to learn to write and keep one foot in the land of the living and loving.

Just as I am about to retire to bed, my phone buzzes. I look at the clock.  10pm.  Is this it?  I look at my phone. Can you pick up my friends at 10am tomorrow at my house, pick up some jeans and if they release me, pick me up?  I smile.  The threat of a premature labour is not going to stop my little girl from spending some time with her friends.

I text back.  Yes. then decide to join my very neglected husband in bed.

Categories
Depression Teenage Pregnancy

Learning to face the world again.

I’m in pain when I wake up.  I have not slept well.  I have joined a weight loss program which requires an inordinate amount of exercise and yesterday I did a boxing class.  My body has gone into revolt.  So much so I cannot even contemplate getting out of bed.  It’s 8:00am on Sunday.  I decide to stay in bed.

Soon, sun starts to stream into the room.  I stretch out, like a dog does when it is content, happy.  I love this house.  I look around my bedroom and I realise that in the last few weeks I’ve allowed it to get really dusty.  I’ve neglected this house that has come to represent so much to our family.  The light does a good job of highlighting all the dust.  I make a mental note to really concentrate on the housework this week.  Jay has her friends from the UK and she won’t be seeing me this week.  I have time to concentrate on the house.  It deserves better than I have been giving it.

I emerge out of bed and take a very tentative shower.  My body does ache so much.  I am determined to lose this weight though.  With Jay’s baby only a few weeks away, I really want to be well on my way to leading a more healthy lifestyle.  I realise that I am really excited about the arrival of Baby C. I can’t wait to hold him, cuddle him. Jay’s tummy is so very big now.  She is tired and she gets out of breath so quickly.  At 33 weeks, she is so much further than anyone ever thought she would be.  We are taking bets in the family as to how far she will actually go.  I am reckoning on full term, Dee is reckoning on 36 weeks.  I think Jay is secretly hoping it will be any day now.  We all want to meet him so much.

As I wander around our house, I realise just how big it is and how empty it feels without people in it.  When we bought the house three years ago, it was intended that the four of us would be moving in.  In my mind’s eye, I had visions of Jay being at Uni or Tafe, having friends over for swimming and playing pool.  I imagined a house full of people and laughter.  It was utopian, and perhaps unrealistic.

Jay moved out before we moved into the house and the minute we moved in JC retracted into his own world and refused to engage with anybody outside of school hours.  Apart from the odd BBQ, and our family christmas this year, this house has not seen people, heard the laughter that a big social gathering brings.  I miss that so much.

We used to entertain a lot.  Then things happened.  Life happened.  I could not face entertaining.  We stopped entertaining.  And the laughter stopped.  JC misses our parties.  He said so this week.  Perhaps I need to start entertaining again.  Perhaps it is more a case of that I need to learn to face the world again.  In the last two years since my mom died, and possibly since I gave up drinking, I am acutely aware of how I have become a recluse.  I have lost trust in life and living.  I think I may have passed that onto JC.  I think he may be following my lead.  Except with him it is much much more isolated.

I was meant to take this year to find my path back into life.  Then Jay got pregnant.  Life happened again.  My path got changed. I retreated even further.  But paths change.  Life happens.  I need to find another way of coping.  I do not want to be isolated any longer.  I want to find my path.  Live my life.  Laugh again.

I think my determination to lose weight is part of my path.  I have joined a Facebook forum of people who are doing the same program, and who exercise close to where I live.  I am thinking of joining them.  I have become such a recluse in the last two years, become quite shy, lacking in confidence.  This is a step out of my comfort zone.

Changing paths, stepping onto a new journey.  This is part of life.  This is what I have tried to teach my children.  This is what I need to do now.  I need to learn to face the world again.  One step, one day, at a time.

 

 

Categories
Depression

The demon.

I’m in a town I don’t recognise.  In a church.  I’m not sure why.  My mom is there.  Dressed in white.  She lights a candle at the alter.  I have been in the church before and realise I should have lit a candle too.  Why didn’t I light a candle?  Guilt washes over me.  The church is full of people that are afraid.  My mom makes her way through the crowd and she is gone.

I meet my dad outside the church.  We walk up and down the street for a while.  I don’t want to talk to him.  I say I need to go back into the church.  I am in the church.  Still so many people.  I walk through to the back of the church, outside into the ally.

Now I’m in a chinese shopping precinct behind the church.  I feel claustrophobic.  Why are there so many people.  Where are the homeware shops.  This isn’t the place I am meant to be.  I need to make my way back to the church.  I go back to the church.  So many people in the church.  We are being held prisoner.  I am looking for my swimming costume.  Where is my swimming costume and the earrings.  Where are the earrings?  I’m looking under beds, in different rooms on different levels.  I can’t find them.  Why are there so many people.

Now I am on a boat.  A big boat.  My sister is on the boat too.  We are trapped.  Prisoners.  There is a lot of commotion and she jumps off to get something.  I think she is escaping so I jump over too.  I am fighting the waves.  There are pink, coral coloured things in the sea.  My sister grabs something and swims back towards the boat.  Why is she going back?  I have to go back with her.  But I don’t want to.  I don’t want to be a prisoner.  I keep thinking about a bell.  I should hear a bell.  Why can’t I hear a bell?  Where is the bell?

My eyes open.  My alarm, it hasn’t gone off again.  I dart a look at my clock.  8am.  Fuck!  I am late, late, late.  I feel drugged.  I can’t move my body.  I slowly ease out of bed, stumbling as my body moves from the twilight of the dreamworld to the reality of the physical world.  I turn on the bathroom light.  No time to shower.  I grab what I wore yesterday and drag my clothes over my body.  I look in the mirror.  My thinning hair is everywhere.  Madam Madusa eat your heart out.  I look for a bandanna to cover my head.  Red, that’ll do.  I try to put it over my head.  The ties get caught and losing my temper, knowing how little time I have, I throw it on the ground.  I don’t need it anyway.  I scrape a brush through my hair.  I look like I have a comb over.  The joys of having female pattern baldness.

I walk through to the kitchen, letting the dogs outside as I go.  I’m tired.  And very very grumpy.  I do not greet JC.  He doesn’t notice, he is on his iPod reading his stories.  There are advantages to having a child with autism.  I don’t care if they are selfish.  I peel his two bananas and hand them to him.  He looks up and says, “thanks.”  I don’t even smile.  I don’t have the energy for smiling.  I make his lunch – yay for strawberry jam sandwiches.  I sniff.  There is something that smells funny.  I open the fridge and it hits me – putrid.  I slam the fridge door shut.  Gag.  Fuck!

I sit down next to JC.  “You need to brush your teeth and put on your socks.”  He gets up without argument.  Thank god for his routine.  I am so irritated.  Why the fuck did I oversleep?  What the fuck is wrong with me?  Why does everything have to bear down on me like a fucking ton of bricks.  I close my eyes.  Breathe in…breathe out…breathe in…breathe out.  Nope, not happening.  How the fuck does the Dalai Lama get it right?

JC emerges.  I know he hasn’t brushed his teeth.  “Get back and brush your teeth.”

“I have”

“No you haven’t JC.  It’s been less than a minute.”  He doesn’t argue.  He heads off to the bathroom.  “And make sure it’s a full two minutes.  I want that yellow furry stuff on your teeth gone!”

We are in the car.  JC has his earphone in and I am listening to the radio.  I can hear the hum of his music.  I am immediately filled with irritation.  “JC, turn down your music please.”

“No.”

I breathe in deeply.  “JC.”  My voice is a little louder, but not too loud.  I am not shouting.  “JC, I can hear your music and it sounds like a mosquito buzzing.  You know how some noises just irritate you and I turn them off?  Well, you iPod mosquito sound is really irritating me.  Please turn it down.”

The noise is less.  I can still hear it, but I choose to ignore the muffled mosquito.  My thoughts are all over the place.  What if the world ends this year?  What if, like the conspiracy theorists say, there is going to be a staged invasion at the olympic games to bring about a New World Order.  That article I read the other day (read it here) has me thinking.  The conspiracy theorists believe that an image or sound will be beamed into our minds to tell us of the coming of the new messiah – the false messiah, but we won’t know that because the image will be beamed into our minds.  That or either a staged alien invasion using satellites (see youtube video here).  This machine sounds like it could do something like that.  Is there a new dictatorial world order on its way?  I am sure there were conspiracy theorists about Hitler that were laughed at, but look what happened there.  The Hunger Games play on my mind.  A life where the masses produce goods for the decadent elite, whilst starving.  Is that on the horizon?  There is no denying the inequality gap is widening.  I shake my head.  I am drowning in my own thoughts.

JC heads off to school.  I drive home.  My thoughts are angry, bitter, all consuming.  I think of people that have pissed me off in the past.  Like my old regional manager Charlie , when I worked  atKelly Girl in Pietermaritzburg.  She interrogated me about my life – how my husband died, how much he left me, how much my mortgage was.  I was so vulnerable having just lost Gee, I answered the questions, desperate for the job.  I got the job, then got framed for sending a girl out on assignment without a reference.  I didn’t lose my job.  I should have told her it was my manager, but desperate to keep my job, I kept quiet.  I was pressured to leave.  I left.  My conscience could no longer stomach her or Kelly Girl.  Then, when I needed it, she wouldn’t fucking well give me a reference to prove I worked there.  On the phone all the way from the UK I am told “It’s company policy not to give references.”  Her voice, her fucking self righteousness, resonates in my mind.  I could not get a job as a financial advisor in the UK because of her.  I had to have ten years proof of employment and she prevented me from getting it.  “You’re a fucking employment agency.  You demand references.  How can you not give them!!”  I shout in the car.

Next I am thinking about Julie Burton who beat me up in primary school and then incredulously appeared at the same private school I attended and beat me up there too.  I pee’d myself that time and pretended to faint, dropping like a stone in the locker room.  The memory of the humiliation makes me want to vomit.  I always stored a change of clothing in my locker after that.  Why did people hate me so?  Tears start rolling down my cheek.

Memories of people hurting me flood my brain – my best friend at school, my best friend in nursing college, my sister in law – people I loved so much, would have laid down my life for and each one, in turn, saw fit to discard me like a disposable old rag.  I know I was clingy, demanding, had my part to play, but I don’t want to acknowledge that.  I want to wallow in the victimness of my own circumstance.  I am angry, and bitter, and full of rage.

I get home.  Only 8:50am.  I slump down on the sofa.  I feel defeated.  Isolated, alone.  Never measuring up, always trying to please, to prove my own self worth.  I DO DESERVE TO BREATHE AIR.  Do I though?   What have a I really brought to this existence.  Life, yes, in the form of my two children.  But I am persona non grata to them at the moment.  I am not even a wife, really.  My house is a mess, I cannot work, do not have the mental capacity to work, although outwardly it would seem I could, if only I would try.  I am a failure.  A wreck.

Is this what meant when Buddha said that the first noble truth is that life is hard.  Is this the level of mental anguish he meant?  When he sat under that bodhi tree, did he weep at his own inadequacies?  I doubt it.

There are days when I feel so strong.  I could fight the world and those in it that would oppress the meek.  Today is not one of those days.

Categories
Autism Depression

When you miss a beat -Tuesday 15 May – 32 weeks and 3 days

I wake up with a start.  I immediately know that I have overslept.  I curse.  Bloody alarm.  I set it and it didn’t go off.  I know what is to come and I dread it.  I jump out of bed, as much as I can jump out of bed, and run to the laundry.  I grab the uniform, iron it and burst into JC’s room.  “Wakey, wakey, rise and shine,” I say as cheerfully as possible.  Maybe he won’t notice.

“What time is it?”

“It’s time to get up,” I reply, hopefully.

JC lifts his head and sees the light streaming through his blinds.  “Mum, it’s light!” he shouts.

“Well, I may have overslept a bit,” I say, trying to remain calm, “so up you get up and into the shower.”  JC himself jumps up out of bed and checks the clock in the dining room.

“Mum!  It’s ten past seven!  That’s it, dad can wake me at 5am when he goes to work.  Where is dad!”

The yelling, it’s the yelling that wears me down.  I avoid it at all costs especially as JC is now bigger and stronger than I am.  I don’t live in fear, per se, but I do live with some anxiety that things may possibly fly across the room.

“Dad’s at work, you know it is budget week and he has to be at work early.  Now, get in the shower, JC.”

“Oh no, I’m not showering, not now, it is too late.  I am meant to be woken at ten past six.  You are an hour late.  I know you were just too lazy to get out of bed.”

I ignore the hurtful remark.  “If you want your iPod any time soon, you will get into that shower.”

“That’s not fair.”  It’s the only leverage I have that I know will get him to do what I need him to do.

I have now lost my patience.  “Well, life isn’t fair!  Now get in that shower.  And make sure you use soap!”

JC storms into the bathroom and I hear the shower door open and shut with a bang.  I know he probably will not use soap and it is absolutely no time to remind him to wash his hair, since he hasn’t washed it in over a week.  I retreat to the laundry and put on some washing.

My mood is plummeting.  I have been feeling it for a few days now.  It’s that wretched mother’s day.  Mom was diagnosed with cancer around mother’s day and died 8 weeks later.  Now, I no longer have a mother to spoil on mother’s day and even now, two years later, I feel a great sense of loss.  Being a natural giver, rather than a receiver, means I no longer enjoy mother’s day.  The bombardment of “Happy mother’s day!” and “Mum, I love you.” all over the place is literally more than I can bare.

Dee came home last night to find me in tears.  He put his arm around me and asked what was the matter.  I felt silly saying that I missed my mom, that I missed her voice, the stability and evenness that she brought to my life.  Now, here I am missing her even more than when she first died.  I need her to listen to me download, to listen to how hard I find it sometimes, being a mother to a child with autism, my fears of his long term independence, my anger and sadness at my own sense of disappointment and loss of not having a normal child.

I hear JC emerge from the shower.  He shouts something at me, but I choose to ignore it, since I didn’t hear what it was.  I move into the kitchen and start making his lunch.  I go to pick up the vegemite and drop the jar on the tiled floor.  It shatters.  “Shit! Shit!” I say.

“That’s called karma!” JC shouts from his lounge.

My blood boils.  I storm into his room.  “You just show some respect!” I yell at him.  “The appropriate response is ‘Are you okay, Mum’!”  This is a futile exercise.  Children with autism, and especially teenagers with autism are extremely self-centred.  Not in the selfish the-world-is-all-about-me kind of way, but in the I-live-in-and-can-only-operate-in-my-own-world kind of way.  They have to learn empathy in the way we have to learn to drive, they aren’t born with it.  It is impossible for JC to see that I may have been hurt by shattered glass.

“You have to earn respect,” he says without looking up.

I’m human, and I have reached boiling point.  “Respect!” I yell, “Respect!” (just in case he didn’t hear the thunderous voice the first time around).  “I have earned that respect by being your mother, for carrying you for nine months, pushing you out with great pain, nurturing you and giving you as much love, shelter and care as any mother could give.  I have earned it by understanding your autism and fighting for you every single step of the way!  Oh, my boy, I have earned that respect!”

I know he isn’t listening.  Children with autism have a wonderful way of retreating into their own world.  He just says “karma” and retreats.  I walk away, knowing that it is pointless.  I broke his routine.  His routine that is so precious to him, as it is to all children with autism, and I disregarded it.  As far as he is concerned, I trashed his routine and that does not deserve respect, even when I explained to him that I did set the alarm and it didn’t go off.

I head off to the shower myself.  I am tired and I haven’t even begun my day.  As the warm water warms my skin I wonder about karma.  I head off down a self pitying train of thought of being a really bad person in my previous life to warrant a teenage pregnant daughter and a teenage son with autism.  I shake myself.  This is a dangerous road for me and I cannot go down it.

“Mum, are you ready, we need to go.”

“I’m just about done JC.  Five more minutes.”

We get into the car.  JC blares his music in his ears.  I listen to the radio.  Both of us are absorbed in our own thoughts.  God, I miss my mom.  “Have a good day at school.  I love you,” I say as JC alights from the car, as I always do, part of his morning routine.

He grunts.  “You know, I know you overslept on purpose.”

I smile, promise him that it was a mistake and drive off.  I get home and check the alarm clock making sure it works for tomorrow morning.  Missing that beat cost me, and JC, and I don’t intend to let that happen again.

 

Categories
Depression

Change has to happen – Wednesday 9 May – 31 weeks and 4 days

Life is returning to some form of normality.  Well, as normal a life as I am able to muster.  Jay has been told that she will now more than likely reach 34 weeks or beyond, and has decided to return home.  Whilst I miss the company, I am happy about this.  I need space.  Time to organise my own life which seems to have been put on hold for the last 6 months.  This is evidenced by the bomb that is currently my home.

Ignoring the housework, I indulge myself a little bit.  I read and read.  The Hunger Games trilogy has me gripped.  In less than two weeks, I have almost finished all three books.  The social message that I interpret to be in the book really speaks to me.  I wonder if we, as a human race, are destined for a similar scenario – a world controlled by the elite, with the rest of us on the brink of starvation, kept weak, too weak to fight back.  I admit this worries me a bit, especially with the imminent arrival of my grandson.  An egalitarian society is important to me.

In an attempt to stop worrying about a war that may never happen, I also go out for coffee.  I am having a coffee and a muffin when my mobile rings.  It is a number I don’t recognise.  “Hello,” I say.

“Hello, Sarah?”

“Yes?”

“This is the doctor’s rooms.  Your blood results have come back.  The doctor would like to see you.”

I have continued to feel very exhausted and last week, I decided to return to the doctor to have my anti-depressants looked at.  She was not convinced that they were the problem and ordered an entire battery of blood tests.  I didn’t expect to find anything wrong, but now there clearly is something wrong.  I panic.  I don’t want to panic, but it kind of wells up inside of me.  Slowly at first, then like a raging torrent.  Am I going to die?  Yes, people, I get that panicked!

I meet the doctor.  All is well.  I have slightly elevated cholesterol, mildly elevated liver enzymes and slightly inflammatory markers indicating I have an inflammation somewhere in my body despite not feeling ill or having any pain.  The doctor is not concerned though and orders me to seriously look at my diet.  I am thirty kilograms overweight.  I don’t want to hear I need to alter my diet.  I like my food.  It comforts me.  I am the proverbial, cliched emotional eater.

I call Dee.  “Sarah, you need to change your diet.  You have to work on it.  You have now been through every single test known to man.  The only thing you have not done is address your diet.”  I am angry.  I do not want to hear these words.  I do not want to change my food.  I think to my muffin this morning and imagine giving it up.  I just can’t do it.

“I know,” I say reluctantly.  Far easier to agree, then do my own thing.

“When I get home tonight, I am going to go through a diet with you – maybe Weight Watchers – and you are going to do this.”

I am not good at being told what to do.  I know that being overweight is not a good thing for me.  Carrying around an extra 30 kilograms is clearly having an affect on my quality of life.  I am well in the obese range according to my Body Mass Index and I am exhausted all the time.  My cholesterol is elevated and that is not good news for my heart.  I know what Dee says is right.  But I don’t like being told what to do.  As ridiculous as it sounds, I feel that if I go on diet and lose weight then that will vindicate what everyone has been saying to me for the last ten years.  They will be right and I should have listened all along, making me wrong.  This thinking, of course, is slowly killing me, and not just physically.

If I had lost the weight when I started putting it on after JC was born (yes, I put on weight AFTER he was born), I would have had a much better run of the last 14 years.  I would have coped with JC’s autism better, moving countries twice, the family feud, my mother’s death, Jay’s rebellion and subsequent pregnancy and even my own sobriety.  I know I cannot deny that these would have all been smoother had I not been carrying the equivalent of a small child around with me.  Yet, my brain (and stomach) do not care.

I want to dig my heals in.  I do not eat a lot.  Yes, but you eat total crap!  Shut up inner voice!  Alas, it is true, I do eat crap.  Take today for instance, I have the coffee and muffin and then do not eat again until I meet a new friend for coffee and cake.  As I write this at 6pm I have had two cups of coffee and two cakes!  It is pretty pitiful.  Some days I manage a piece of fruit, and I do eat dinner, but I know my portion control is all over the place.

I am one of those who watch the Biggest Loser avidly, wishing like hell I could be like them whilst noshing on a huge bowl of ice cream.  Dee has threatened to enter me into the Biggest Loser next year, but I just laugh.  I have no desire to publicly humiliate myself.  There is no way I am stripping down to my underwear in the front of Australia.

I do dream of a life of feeling strong, physically and mentally, but am one of those that just cannot do it.  I simply do not have the motivation.  I despise exercise.  I always have.  Even at a very young age, and I mean like 6 years of age, when my friends were outside playing on the green, I was inside with my nose in a book.  Can I change now, at the age of 44?  Do I want to change?  What if I have to change? My body has been playing up lately – exhaustion, severe heartburn that has required hospitalisation, lack of sleep, even dizzy spells.  Are these DNA messages telling me that if I don’t do something now, my worst fear of dying early will come true.

Change has to happen.  I know this.  Deep, very deep down, in the core of my being, I know this.  I just have to convince myself to make it happen.

Categories
Depression Teenage Pregnancy Uncategorized

The “normality” of life – Thursday 3 May – 30 weeks and 5 days

It is bucketing down outside.  Winter has arrived in full throttle.  Jay is at our house for the week and we are both lounging in the family room under blankets with a dog each curled up close to us.

JC has refused to go to school, not because of the weather, but because of a homework detention he has after school.  I have already warned the school that this punitive approach will probably not work with him, and, admittedly, because of the weather ,I give in to his whining to stay at home.  By way of “good” parenting, I remove his iPod, playstation and computer mouse so that the only form of entertainment he has is the television.  He has used a tummy ache as an excuse to stay home.  I tell him that being ill he won’t need the technology and that TV is about all his stomach will stand.  Within an hour, he is doing his homework.  I feel better with my decision to let him stay at home.

The school has messaged me.  JC has been marked absent from school, please phone this number.  I don’t like dealing with people on the phone.  I don’t much like dealing with people full stop at the moment, so I opt not to phone the school.  I will email Branna, his special needs co-ordinator.  She can pass on the message.

I am reading “The Hunger Games” trilogy.  I did not want to read the books, but got caught up with the hype when the film was released and bought the book.  Surprisingly, I am enjoying the book.  I have it on the kindle app on my phone and so read it wherever I can.  I started it two days ago and should finish it by the end of tomorrow, time allowing.  It isn’t as blood ridden as the movie, I feel, although the insinuation is there so I understand the need for the producers to put the graphic scenes into the movie.  I like Suzanne Collin’s style of writing.  She writes, in these books, much like I do.  I find it easy to read and succumbing to the escapism is easy for me.  It is good to be so relaxed.

I tried to start reading The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People the other day, but my mind could not concentrate on the rhetoric, although that which I did read made a lot of sense.  I guess after twenty or so years of trying to “find” myself, I am a little “self-helped” out.  I think I am beginning to accept my status quo and to sit contently within it.  I say that with trepidation as I am prone to feeling this way today and on a spiritual quest to find myself tomorrow.  It is difficult to keep up with myself sometimes and I know that those around me find it even more difficult.  My sister-in-law describes me as lost, which I take to mean a lost soul, always searching.  She is not wrong in her summation of me, though I resent her for speaking it out loud and for saying it to me.  No-one likes to be told how they don’t measure up. I have retired The 7 Habits for a while, anyhow.

Jay decides to go for a shower.  Her tummy is big and round and I imagine baby C being quite big now.  Certainly a lot bigger than the 1.065 kilograms he was only 4 weeks ago.  Jay is worried about her stretch marks.  I ask her to imagine them as the marks of someone who has brought a new life into the world, like a rite of passage, something to be proud of rather than as a blemish upon her skin.  The look in her 19 year old eyes tell me I’m mad for even trying this tack.  I go out and buy her some Bio Oil to rub on the marks.  I tell her they will fade.  She is worried she won’t be able to wear a bikini ever again.  I can’t believe on a day like today we are even talking about swimming.

I am tired today.  The force of the rain kept me awake all night and I am struggling to keep my eyes open.  I feel like I have been a hermit all week, although this is not true.  Today, though, I am happy to be holed up inside the house.  Looking at the grey, wet clouds outside, I know I do not want to venture outside at all.  I wonder if I should allow myself a nanna nap.  I seem to be nanna napping a lot lately, but today seems such a perfect day for one.

Jay wakes me when it is time to cook dinner.  She wants to help, but I am not doing anything flash – sausages and chips – so her help is not needed.  She is so much like my mom, a natural cook, unlike me who likes the idea of being a Nigella Lawson, but in reality abhors being in the kitchen.

Dee arrives home.  It is still horrible and cold outside, but the house is warm inside.  Dinner, as unremarkable as it is, is eaten in its entirety.  We follow this with a good helping of dessert.  It has been an uneventful day.  Cold, miserable.  Days like this, where unproductivity is the order of the day, makes me question the reason for my existence.  It is a quick, slippery slope for me when I start feeling this way.  I try to make sense of my world and the role in it that I play.  I tell myself that I make a difference, however small, and that I am needed.

As I rest in bed, feverishly reading my Hunger Games book, I wonder about my purpose.  I wish I could write with such fervour, with such eagerness.  I wish I could be an accomplished author.  I wish, I wish, I wish…

Categories
Depression Teenage Pregnancy Uncategorized

The black dog of depression – Sunday 29 April – 30 weeks and 1 day

The dogs’ scratching on the laundry door wakes me.  I do not want to wake up.  I don’t have to go up to the hospital.  Jay was discharged two days ago because her cervix had not dilated any further and her tightenings and contractions had calmed down.  She is, as far as the doctors are concerned, stable.  Jay is really happy to be home.  I am happy for her to be home.  That journey was starting to get to me.  Now I don’t want to get up.  I want to stay in bed.  Asleep.  I am seriously not a morning person.

The dogs aren’t giving up.  Finally, I haul my obese frame out of bed and stomp through to the laundry.  I burst open the door.  The dogs are really excited to see me.  They wag their tales furiously and jump up my legs.  How can I stay angry at such happy little beings.

“Come on then angels, out you go.”  I let them outside to do their morning constitutional.  I climb back into bed.  Five more minutes, just five more minutes.  Two minutes later, H is barking.  His sign he wants to be let in.  They are total indoors dogs.  For a moment, I wonder why we decided to get dogs.  More barking.  I know my neighbours are not going to love me at letting them bark at 9am on a Sunday.  I pad through to the pool room and let them in through the sliding door.  They dash through to my room and jump on my bed.  This is a luxury they are not normally allowed but Dee is on his usual Sunday cycle.  I snuggle into bed and the dogs jump all over me.

Eventually, I know I have to get up.  It is days like these I wish I could be allowed the luxury of just curling up in bed and not doing anything.  I know this is a symptom of my depression, but I try to fool myself that it is only because I am tired and just need a bit of rest.  The truth is I “rest” a lot.  I rarely venture out of the house (except to visit Jay) and when I do, it is to go to the shops.

Shopping malls are the depressed person’s friend.  They afford us the company we crave without any of the anxiety that comes with the fear of rejection or the energy required to maintain a friendship.  The internet provides exactly the same thing.  Lately, I have been favouring the internet greatly over venturing outside into a shopping mall.  My body and mind are tired and staying indoors with my laptop on my lap (funny that) enables me to indulge that exhaustion.  Let’s face it, plunking away on a keyboard that is situated on your blanket covered lap requires little effort.

I am in this position when Dee returns from his cycle.  “Wow, what a tough ride,” he says.

“Really?”  I try to sound upbeat.  This requires a lot of effort.

“Yeah, we did rolling relays all the way up the one hill and then intervals down the next.  It was pretty intense.  There isn’t much juice left in my legs I can tell you.”

I envy Dee his energy to cycle 80 or 90 kilometers, never mind doing rolling relays.  I know what these are as well as well as other cycling terminology.  It is Dee’s passion and he passes it onto me.  It is not my passion, but I like to hear him talk animatedly about his antics on his various cycles.  I live vicariously through his passion.

He goes to shower and I return to my laptop.  I search the internet for while, googling nursery bedding, writing courses – wherever my mind takes me.  I decide to write my blog.  It has been five days since my last entry.  I am slacking off.

“What to do you want to do today, Sarah?”  Dee has emerged, clean but unshaven.  He doesn’t like to shave on the weekends.

I ponder the question.  I want to spend time with him, but I know he wants to do the gardening.  “Shall we go into the village and get a few bits and pieces that I need for the house?”

“We can do that.”  He smiles at me.

I smile weakly.  What I want to really do is curl up inside my blanket and not move, but Dee’s gardening will make me feel guilty at not keeping my end of the housework bargain up.  Us shopping is a way to negate that guilt.

We arrive at the shopping centre.  Dee heads for the supermarket, I head for K-mart.  I am in need of pyjamas and they have some for $9.  I also have this idea of sorting out the spare rooms, so I buy some hanging shelves and drawers for the cupboards.  I tell myself that I am going to sort out the study and spare rooms tomorrow.  I don’t know if that is true, but I like to keep my intentions up.  I try not to be a defeatest.

Dee and I meet at the coffee shop.  He has a large soy cappuccino and I have a pot of tea.  We talk about his folks and my dad.  We worry about them both a lot.  “Are you okay?” Dee says, “You seem funny.”  I have been waiting for this.  All too often I am unable to keep up the supposed cheeriness for too long.

“I’m okay,” I say, “Just a quiet day today.”  This satisfies Dee and we make our way to the car.

I haven’t spoken to Jay since she was discharged on Friday, so I send her a text.  Hi darling.  How are you today?  It doesn’t take her long to respond.  I’m okay.  Just watching TV on the couch.  What are you doing today?

Not much, just some shopping, then relaxing at home.  How is the new couch?

Comfy, really good.  Soo good.  The cat is playing all over me.  When in hospital, she really missed her cat.

I’m glad.  I can’t wait to come round and see it.

“Shall we take JC to see The Avengers?” Dee asks me.

I smile.  “Yes, that sounds great.”  I don’t really want to go to the movies, but I have been lamenting the fact that JC never leaves his room so don’t feel I can tell them to leave me behind.  JC would want to stay behind too.  Dee books the movie.  It is at 4:30pm.

Dee announces he is going to do some gardening before the weather turns.  I look at the looming clouds and feel it is the perfect excuse to crawl under my blanket.  The washing up from last night’s dinner can wait.  I lay under my blanket and let my eyes close. I opt to ignore the voice in my head telling me that I should be getting up and doing all the work that is begging for my attention.  It reminds me of the massive dust ball that I spotted walking into the house.  I put the voice in the box I have specifically built for it and breathe in and out.  An old meditation trick that enables me to quiet the voice and allow sleep to take me.  It works and once again, I am in a land with no depression and no anxiety.  Bliss.

Categories
Depression Teenage Pregnancy

A surprise baby shower – Sunday 22 April – 29 weeks and 1 day

I haven’t felt much like writing in the last few days.  This is because I have been exhausted.  The reason is two-fold.  Firstly, I ran out of my anti-depressants and my thyroxin and didn’t renew the prescription for a few days.  Whilst I am sure that it takes longer than a few days for the medication to work out of my system, I start to feel REALLY tired after a couple of days without them.  By day three, I am shattered and a few days after that, I even start having suicidal thoughts.  This is an unfortunate symptom of clinical depression.  BUT, I get my prescription filled and I am slowly starting to feel like I am not wading through thick mud every day.

I know I am naughty for neglecting myself in this fashion.  It isn’t fair on my family, and especially not fair on Dee who gets to the see the really ugly side of me when I start the slippery slide down the emotional roller coaster.  I don’t like the ugly side of me.  It isn’t pretty.  It used to be that I would ignore my medication and try to pretend I didn’t need it.  The truth is I saw it as a weakness.  Now I don’t.  It is just what it is and I manage it pretty well.  Except this week, when I forgot.

The second reason is because I haven’t had much to say.  Which is weird because I ALWAYS have a lot to say.  I look at the screen of my lap top and can find no words.  I imagine this is what writer’s block is like. If I was a writer.  Which I would like to be.  One day.

The week has been long.  JC returns to school and Jay remains in hospital.  She is lonely and feeling very depressed.  Em has been off colour and has decided not to visit her for fear of her getting an infection that will bring on an early labour.  I visit every day, but I am, sadly, not enough.  I know this, accept this.  I can’t bear, though, to see my daughter so down, so lost.  I decide to do something to lift her spirits.  But what?  She cannot leave the hospital.  I decide to organise a surprise baby shower at the hospital.  It is risky.  Baby C may arrive early, be sick and yes, heaven forbid, actually not make it.  Do I let this risk prevent me from throwing a shower that should be every first time pregnant woman’s right?  I don’t think so. I speak to the nurse running the Medihotel and ask if I am able to do this.  She thinks it is a brilliant idea.  We can have the patient lounge.

I contact Tee and she agrees to help.  She contacts the women in her family and I contact the women in mine, plus a couple of friends that are still in contact with Jay.  We decide to hold in on Sunday (three days away) just in case Jay doesn’t make it to 30 weeks.  I send out email invitations and only one person cannot make it.  We have 14 people coming.  I wonder how many people the lounge can accommodate and hope it will be big enough.

Dee and I go shopping for balloons, decorations and a baby shower gift.  For a while I am feeling free, not constrained by the stress of the threat of a premature baby that has filled every waking moment (and some sleeping ones) since this ordeal began.  Dee doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.  Men!

The day of the shower arrives.  I make a carrot cake (Jay’s favourite) and some triangle sandwiches.  I collect the helium balloons I have ordered and make up the thank you gifts for everyone.  Dee and I make our way to the hospital (I have roped him into helping me set up).  Tee is waiting for us.  “The lounge is busy.  There is a doctor in there with a patient.”  I immediately think the worst for the patient.

“That’s okay, we can wait a while.” I say.

We wait outside the ward.  We don’t want Jay catching us out.  After ten minutes it occurs to me that the doctor and patient could be an hour.  Everyone is due in 15 minutes.  My phone rings.  It is Jay.  “Turn it off, turn it off!  She will hear it!”  Dee says.  I frantically try to silence my phone.  Where is the silent button, dammit.

I make a snap decision.  “Let’s just surprise Jay in her room.”  Everyone picks up their stuff and we make our way to her room.  I am carrying the 16 balloons I have ordered.  I knock on the door and walk in.  “Surprise!” I say.  “We have organised a baby shower for you.”  Jay looks surprised, but not as thrilled as I had hoped.  “Mum, I am in a lot of pain.”  Bloody murphy’s law.  On the day of the shower she would be in pain.

I place the balloons down.  “How bad is the pain, love.”

“Really bad, Mum, worse than when I ended up in the birthing suite.”

“Typical,” I say, “just our luck.  You will probably give birth in the middle of the shower.”  We all laugh, but I wonder if that is going to happen.

Jay is more buoyed.  The patient and doctor have emerged from the lounge.  “You just relax whilst we decorate the room.”

Em arrives and Jay and he hug.  It has been five days since they have seen each other.  It is so cute, I can’t avoid doing the mother thing and taking a photo.  “Mu-um!!” Jays exclaims.

We decorate the room and let Em and Jay in to sit down and relax.  Everyone arrives and before long the “party” is under way.  The food is lovely and the presents are amazing.  Jay and Em are clearly chuffed to bits and I feel good to have this opportunity to make Jay feel a bit better.  I am grateful to Tee for helping me make it possible.  Photos are taken to mark the occasion.  Funny baby stories are told – Em’s aunt’s story of her delivering a neighbour’s baby on the front lawn is my personal favourite.  We all laugh and chatter and I can see Jay is really enjoying herself.

By the time the shower is over, Jay’s pain has subsided and she is back to being in good spirits.  She retires to her room, pretty exhausted.  Tee and I clean up the room and leave it as we found it – a clinical looking tv lounge for patients of the medihotel.  We decide to leave Jay and Em to enjoy their time together and to ponder their stash.

I arrive home.  Dee has cooked dinner but I am not hungry – too much cake!  I sit down and curl up to watch TV.  Dee curls up next to me.  He leans over, “You did a good thing for our daughter today.”  I smile.  It was a good day, yes indeed, a very good day.