Tuesday, 24 November 2015

the end

On a Monday, just before 5pm, I kissed Dad, told him I loved him and I'd see him soon. We left the hospice to bathe and put W to bed.

The phone rang. His breathing's changed, they said. We think you should come in.

I couldn't. 

W was asleep in bed. I knew what was likely to happen, but I couldn't bring myself to leave the baby with someone else, or to wake him and bring him with me and risk a meltdown at the hospice.  My sister K and my mother departed in a hurry. 

I sat in the window of Dad's house, watching the sun set over his favourite view, while he breathed his last. I wasn't with him when he died. But then, I don't think he was there either.  For all intents and purposes, he'd already gone.

I've missed him for months.  I'll miss him forever.

RHB, 2 October 1956 - 23 November 2015.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

no more

Mum forgot to take her cellphone to the hospice this morning. She called me at 11.30 when she came home for lunch, a little more composed.

Dad didn't recognise her.

He's not eating, barely drinking.  Sleeping, mostly.  Slipping closer to unconsciousness.

and I are on a plane tomorrow, 8 days after our last return.  There was still discussion of Dad coming home during that visit, at least for a while. I had doubts about the feasibility of that plan and knew that I would return sooner than the next trip arranged for 2 December.  I booked our flights yesterday, mostly out of worry for Mum. Even though I knew (I knew) things were ending, I didn't expect that call today.

It might be as long as a couple of weeks, they say.  

Mum thinks he's comfortable -- at least, he doesn't seem tense or anxious. I choose to believe that inside his head, where the tumour is growing and destroying his functioning, he is replaying happy memories. He and I spent a lot of time over these past 11 months reminiscing and laughing.  He has lived a good life.

I told him I loved him the last time I saw him and he knew it was true. He said I love you very much, too. 

Even if I could talk with him one last time, many more times, forever, it would never, ever be enough.

Monday, 16 November 2015


Editing my own writing is difficult. As you may be able to tell, I don't do a lot of it. I think it's what scares me most about a big word splurge-y post.  I feel like there's one of those welling up; I barely know where to begin. 

Presently Fink is on the floor, attempting to roll onto his front, sucking his fingers and making wee talking noises. Consummate multitasker, my son. I'm sitting on the couch next to him, benignly neglectful (at least I hope it's benign neglect, would be terrible were it malignant) and trying to work out what to write next. 

Now that I've started, it's easy.  Fink.

Finky is four months and two days old. He enjoys putting things in his mouth, wriggling, pooping at 5am to get out of bed, nappy changes, raspberries (both blowing and receiving), nakedness, baths and his parents' eyes on him at all times. He dislikes sleeping in, stopping at the lights in the car, the sun in his eyes and when I try to bite his fingernails (you think I'm going to use those scary ass baby nail clippers and take the top of a finger off?! Thank you very much but I'd prefer to leave my child intact!)

Personality: chill. I cannot believe I have such a relaxed baby.  I mean, neither his father nor I are particularly chill people.  In fact, I'd probably describe myself as fairly highly strung.  But Fink appears (touch wood) to have avoided that trait. He doesn't grizzle or cry that much, he goes to bed at a reasonable hour and goes back to sleep after night wake ups quite happily, wakes up chirpy and goes with the flow. Last week he spent a considerable amount of time hanging out at the hospice and having to travel/nap in his car seat -- he just chirped along chewing his toys and cuddling his mama/gran/grandad and making solemn faces at all the other hospice residents and staff. 

He's smiley with his family and people he knows, discernment only having arrived in he past couple of weeks). You have to work for a laugh but with a good arsenal of fart and animal noises, you'll get there.

W rolls from front to back but hasn't quite managed the opposite direction yet, though I'm sure it's not far away. He works harder on it if you take his nappy off.

Finky poops half way through all his morning feeds (the fink) which is getting pretty tedious. He thinks it's funny. He's now very distractible while feeding, having most definitely inherited his father's fear of missing out, leaving me flashing tit and lovely silicone nipple shield all over the place.  Yes, we're still using a shield -- he can latch, but is lazy as am I, and my boobs are often still so engorged it's far easier to get a nursing session underway with the shield.

He's tall. Somewhere around 70cm now.  At his last Plunket appointment he was at the top of the charts. He's becoming slightly leaner than the pudding he was originally but still has a nice fat head. We go back to Plunket in early December when I suspect he'll be in excess of 8kg, the wee dumpling.

His face is changing. I never thought he looked particularly like his father (though he has the M family face shape and hairline - wearing a cheesecutter he is his paternal grandfather to the life), but now he's better at tummy time I see a resemblance to a baby me - we have a picture of me on my tummy at four months, and my cheeks fall down my face in the same way W's do.  The eyes are similar too. There is no doubt he has his father's feet - he even self soothes using them in the way P has done into adulthood.

He is a delight.

november online

I am here, here I am. 

My technological issues are now sorted and I am back, bursting with so many words I hardly know where to begin.  

In brief:

- my son W is four months old. 
- my dad is still alive.  Just.

I think those are the most important things. My life revolves around W (or Fink, if you prefer. As in Rat Fink, the finky wee boy he is), trying to support Mum as best I can and spending time with Dad. 

Other, less important matters of note since we spoke last:

- postpartum is no joke. 
- P has taken to fatherhood like a pig in muck, no surprises there. He's a gem.
- I'm trying to write a select committee submission on the medically assisted suicide provisions of a new bill in Parliament. I want my lawyer self to do it, applying her reasoned and dispassionate mind, but my emotional self is a giant hindrance.
- Fink is adorable and I want to say so many trite things about motherhood and our relationship that have been said a million times before but oh! I didn't understand them before there was a Finky in my life! 
- Work, motherhood, parental leave: I've been thinking (yes, it hurt).

No doubt all of the above will be explored in days to come, now I've been enabled with access to this here blog and the means to write. Why yes, I've no doubt this blog will smack of tedious mumsiness, but it has always been more personal journal than anything else, so no surprises there. I mum, therefore I wax mumsical. It will also be mournful, I expect. 

I've missed this.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


I am working on a magnum opus about W's birth (HOLY SHIT I GAVE BIRTH TO A REAL LIVE HUMAN BABY, I am so impressed with myself) but in the meantime, some short updates:

- W is already over a month old and is the giantest baby of all time. Not really, but he has amazing cheese rolls under his chin which I could eat with a spoon.  He's over 5 kilos now and has burned through all the newborn clothing.

- So I had a baby out of my vagina [soz, spoiler alert for the birth story] and ended up with a few tears.  Recovery has been not too bad, actually, but when will I ever feel brave enough to, you know, do it again? I told the midwife that abstinence was a particularly effective form of birth control when she went there last week.

- The sleep thing is shithouse, no?  I hate daysleep so I'm going to bed by 8pm which seems to be keeping me functional.  He's pretty reasonable at night and has developed a good three hourly pattern (eat, poop, sleep) but not so much keen on the sleeping during the day.  I've just spent an hour letting him doze off on me and failing to transfer him to the bassinet.  Can't say I blame him, cuddling is far nicer.

- Also shithouse: engorgement.  Fuck me that was horrific.  My left breast is markedly bigger than old righty and I not-so-fondly refer to it as the shit tit - there's always some lump and its always full to
bursting.  I cannot wait for them to regulate.

- We had another weekend with my parents, with us travelling to them this time.  W was three weeks and managed nicely, but Dad caught bronchitis on his trip to Auckland and was in hospice while we were
there.  The last two or three weeks have seen quite a deterioration
for him, which is likely the effects of the tumour growing.  It's
awful.  We're there again next weekend.  I feel time clutching at my

- Mum is doing it tough.  God, I wish I could help.

- My MiL is here and my house has never been so spotless.  I feel
terribly guilty as I fanny about cuddling the baby and she does all
the housework and cooks the meals and wishes I'd relax enough to let
her get paws on the baby.  I should just relax and enjoy but the sight
of someone else handling my smalls is stressing me out.

- P continues to be the father I knew he'd be.  He was fabulous onparental leave.  Each day when he gets home from work he's genuinely
devastated when W is already in bed.  He sits up for at least one
night feeding, marvelling at W.  I have a feeling that watching P
watch W will be one of my favourite memories.  I'm trying so hard to
imprint some of these things on my brain - the dim light, P's wonder,
W's lovely noises.

- I was doing the deliberate memory stocktake for Dad, for a long time
post-diagnosis.  I've stopped, somewhere along the line.  Somewhere
where the essence of Dad changed and he retreated to help himself
survive, as contradictory as that sounds.  The only thing I cling to
now is the feel of his hands and the 'love you very muches' that end
each visit.  That, and watching Dad with W.  It breaks my heart as it
mends it too - the contradiction is profound.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

when he was 5 days old

I was cradling my newborn son in my arms when I stepped out onto the front verandah and found my father in the front yard. I burst into tears. I hadn't known he was coming and there he was, wheelchair bound, steroid bloated, but with his arms open to meet his first grandson.

I had known Mum was keeping secrets from me, but I thought she was shielding me from info about his declining health, not planning the best surprise I've ever had. As I write this, two weeks later, Dad is having a bad day and I've been crying on and off. W is still in my arms, his warm, solid weight reassurance of life. We take W to see Mum and Dad on Thursday. I'm so glad he didn't wait for our visit - I will cherish that memory and the pictures of him drinking in his grandson for the rest of my life.

I was feverish with engorgment for the duration of his visit and my hormones had unbalanced me beyond belief, so the whole two days feels like a crazy, tear-stained dream. I was so lucky to have that, to have W, to still have Dad.

Monday, 6 July 2015

39 & 4

39 weeks, 4 days and going out of my damn mind.  I got all excited
post-yoga on Friday night because of a series of Braxton-Hicks
contractions and "feeling weird", but it was nothing.  I was hopeful
all weekend because it was my midwife's weekend on duty and I'd really
like her to be there, but nothing happened (except that I got bigger). Today was my grandmother's birthday and how nice to have what would have been her first great-grandchild on her birthday (You see how I'm clutching at straws here holding out hope for an imminent birth?) I'm trying not to hold my breath.  This baby is perfectly happy in utero it seems.

We know that the kiddo is happy in utero because when I saw the midwife on Friday, she sent me for a scan.  I'd expressed some concern about the drop in fetal movement and I don't know if she was placating a crazy person or being generally cautious or both but she referred me in any event.  We couldn't see much because of the size of the baby (though Mum was pleased to hear we spotted the nose in profile, the 32 week scan appearing as if baby had a giant nasal void), but it seems baby is on track to be a tall child possibly with short legs (my genetic material has doomed this baby).  I am pleased to report that apart from one run-in with a transvaginal ultrasound in the early days (damn dildo-cam) I have thus far managed to avoid having anyone up in my business.  Oh sure, I guess I could be asking for a stretch and sweep etc but eh, I kinda feel like that's pointless unless birth is
reasonbly close anyway.  So I have no idea what my cervix is up to. Closed up like a clam, I expect.

That's enough cervix talk.  Ugh.

The other reason I'm going out of my damn mind of course is the desire to go see Dad and introduce the baby to him.  It's already been a month since I saw him last.  It's likely going to be another month.
It is freaking me out.

Here's hoping the next time we talk will be on the flip side.