Is it just me or is it really hard to watch your own kid struggle? And does the growing and delivering of human being knock other Grandmothers for six?
I remember when she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I had to practice doing injections on an orange, knowing full well it wouldn’t help me stick a needle into the leg of my eight year old. I dithered so much she soon decided to do it herself. Brave girl!
This time it’s watching her carry round a huge bump – all out front as old wives tell us boys are – with the accompanying backache, fat knees, endless visits to the loo… need I go on! This is the girl who loves any shoe – from Louboutin to Irregular Choice – anything that shows off a neat foot. Now she has no idea where her ankles are – they upped and left at month five and we just have to trust they’ll emerge again in their own good time.
It’s been a long pregnancy. We’ve been shown regular pictures of ‘Barry’ or ‘Barisard Theobold’, better known as ‘Barisard the Bold’, because Diabetic mums need much closer monitoring. She’s borne it with good grace and I’ve done my best not to worry as they’ve waited for results, checked out strange symptoms and struggled with decisions about birthing and induction. I know I can agree too readily with the experts – much better to think it through and do the research – but what if they’re right? This is my baby we’re talking about – and I don’t mean Barry.
But now all those options and discussions are irrelevant. Pre-eclampsia has struck and she is stuck in hospital. The staff are wonderful – our NHS really is something to treasure – but even so she’s hating it. Not to mention the fact that nothing is ready. They have a super buggy bought months ago on eBay, but his bedroom is still an office, no clothes are sorted and he has nowhere to sleep.
I’m glad really they’re not ready – it gives me something to do. My way of coping in a crisis is to make a list and take action. If I don’t do that, I just sit and worry and that’s no use to anyone. First stop was to make her comfortable in her little cubicle. Fortunately she was beside a window – anything else would have been unthinkable in this fresh air family. Then it was the pillow – I never go anywhere without my pillow! And a nice duvet; topper for the hard bed; noise cancelling earphones; mugs to reduce plastic waste; endless tasty picnics. My Dad always said we were like the Bedouins – taking everything but the kitchen sink when we went away – now we’re at it again and thanks to the hospital for letting us get on with it.
At first we all fooled ourselves into thinking it would just be for a few days. I knew in my heart it was unlikely she’d leave without Barry in her arms. I hinted at the possibility, but it was too tough for her to see, so we just pretended it wasn’t an option. We made plans – how we would sort out the preparation, who would do what, what order did it all need to be done in.
When the strains of Eastenders, vomiting and labouring groans became too much we snuck out. Ostensibly to the Costa in reception, but actually to TKMaxx in town. (Stick with me, baby, I’ll show you a good time!) We became silly and furtive – we had broken out. When we spied a nurse doing her shopping we went and hid in the handbags – how daft can you get? We bought baby gro’s and a much bigger washing basket – two things off the list – then drove slowly back. It wasn’t much but better than nothing. The fresh air smelt so good – and I was only visiting.
That was a week ago and I’ve not stopped. I’ve washed endless baby clothes and bedding, and grown up clothes and bedding. Amazon boxes are piled high in the conservatory as more and more orders are delivered to my door. My son in law is painting, sorting, hammering and chucking stuff away. Miriam does anything that can be addressed at chest level – her relationship with the floor is long past. And the dogs wander around looking confused and a bit lost – or maybe that’s a projection on my part?
Thank heaven for the washing is what I say. If I stop and think for too long, I feel so sad that she couldn’t have the ‘simple’ delivery that otherwise runs in the family. The doctors assure us all is well. Barry is strong and active; Miriam is doing all the right things by holding on for 37 weeks at which point they will ‘evict the tenant’ so her poor beaten up body can return to normal.
But I hate it. This is my baby after all. I want her to be comfortable and deliver with a sneeze, as one second time mum was reported as doing. And there’s a way to go before she will feel like herself again.
But at least I’m here and close by. My own Mum was at a distance first time round and gone completely for the second, so I’ve no role model. I’m learning to be Mum ‘at the right distance’, head cook and bottle washer, birth partner if needed, floor pacer when not and listening ear when the nighttime miseries set in.
And I need to remember, a new life is beginning for me too. By the end of next week, I’ll be Granny to Barisard the Bold and it will all have been worth it – and mostly forgotten