It’s been a big ol’ week here. The start of October may have just as well have come on a Mardi Gras float surrounded by a brass marching band, with Chinese acrobats leaping about beside it, and fireworks erupting all around. And that’s when I’m feeling all upbeat. Sometimes it’s more flotilla than float, with guns and cannons armed and ready, primed to go off. Whatever, it’s been making quite the rumble on the horizon for some time. Because, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know my boy was born at the beginning of October. So that means a birthday celebration is due. What you won’t know is that in the time he has
walked rocked back and forward on his back with the occasional useful roll, is that it also signals the beginning of a period of general unwellness and malaise, not to be lifted until the birds tweet again. I’ve said it before, but Rufus only has done winters of discontent so far. I know it’s only been two years, but I’ve been eyeing the calendar with general suspicion and fear.
This time round though we also have some fresh contenders in the ring. Bun D, who if we get to past this week reaches the ripe old age of 36 weeks. If you’ve ever had a premature baby, and encountered the world of ‘pre weeks’, you’ll know that past this point the baby (unless something is alarmingly, obviously Not As It Should Be) doesn’t have to check in at Hotel SCBU. And baby is still thriving. It’s making parts of me ache that I never knew could ache. And having some rather unpleasant effects on my digestive system. And generally making every day life a little more breathless. AND distancing me from my computer screen that as I type this elbows keep getting pushed aside and I’m having to squint at the screen. But I, we, couldn’t be happier.
So that means I get to start maternity leave proper. I’ve been able to handover. To leave in a happy place. But it’s mixed, because returning to work has been so beneficial to all of us. Financially, naturally, but also I got a taste of Me back. Not of my back, yuck, but I wasn’t just Mrs D (with all its mispronunciations). I wasn’t just Rufus’s Mummy. I was, well, someone. The person that I was before the bottom fell out (promise I’m still not talking about the dodgy side effects of being heavily pregnant). And Rufus has loved the interaction with others. And with Wolf. And to know now that Wolf is able to care for him just as well as me, or most of the time better than me, has allowed me to stop worrying about having Bun D so much. Equal cogs in the machine we are, us Ds. And it allowed me to write this blog, the distance from the everyday. The renewed energy of Who I Am.
My boy turning Two though, that’s been a milestone sitting in the pit of my stomach for sometime. A millstone to wear around my neck. You see, there’s a golden period of time where things seem to be on track, and then we seemed to have off roaded. On a dirt track mired with potholes, where as you go down it, it becomes more and more evident that he Rufus won’t ‘just catch up’. He’s made some amazing progress, but he’s left the starting blocks where it’s just too young to tell. At two, brows furrow, questions become more in depth, more people are brought on board. Our car is getting somewhat full, looks like we may need to hire a roof box at the very least. Only today I had to swerve to avoid a “can he not talk?” followed by a “what’s wrong with him?”. But she gave him a bumper sticker for being beautiful, so we trucked on.
I’ve been ruminating the supposed five stages of grief (and living them consistently since that fateful October two years previous), and how they mark our journey. Gulp, I’ve said it. That having our first child has been somewhat of a grieving process. Our Hopes and Aspirations had to depart, and in their wake Reality has been a bitter pill. The Kubler-Ross model includes the following fistful of emotions; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Sometimes that last one is so good, you think you’re not still in this turmoil. That the future is bright, and orange or something.
Whilst looking for answers as to how to ride this journey, I thought to read up on famous figures that may have had something similar occur, and therefore may have some pearls of wisdom that they’ve scattered amongst the masses. Some helpful brain farts. So, naturally, David Cameron came to mind, chief bestower of brain farts. Please, please, don’t misunderstand me. I know not of the man personally, or his family and appreciate that his job is tough. Or really, really easy if you think about it. I wouldn’t have the political nounce to do it. Or write The Thick Of It (props and thankyou Armando). But this little tidbit struck me from BBC News’s reporting of the unbelievably saddening death of their disabled son Ivan;
“The news hits you like a freight train.
“You are depressed for a while because you are grieving for the difference between your hopes and the reality. But then you get over that, because he’s wonderful.” BBC News, Wednesday 25th February 2009
Right, get over that. Will do David, thanks. Blog knows how I’ve waxed lyrical in the flesh and in text as to how wonderful I think our boy is. Sounds to me though like David there has driven a straight road starting at Anger (A of course) and ending in Acceptance, or I suppose Belief (B, natch). Good for him. Or for the reportage soundbite. Because my grief signposts exist somewhere near Milton Keynes. Or for the Scots, Cumbernauld. If you’ve ever been to either of these places, you’ll know that they consist of a myriad of utterly confusing roundabouts. I’ll be chugging along, either happily in Denial (so desperate to make really bad Egyptian DeNile pun here. Must. Resist) or you know, making inroads to Acceptance, and bang! A wrong turn, and I’m on a steep downhill slope to Anger. I fly past Jealousy- nobody warned me about that. Kubler Ross missed that out her guidebook didn’t she? Then a professional in a high visibility jacket motions me into Little Bargaining, after which I have to stop off at the pub in Depression. Drown my sorrows. Not safe to get back behind the wheel for a while.
Sometimes I feel like I’m doing this at top speed. Racing round before the shops shut. News on the car radio putting me in a batspin panic. Other times I can well see what’s coming. That’s why Rufus’s birthday float was quite clearly marked, and I thought I knew which route I’d take to get there. Truth is, now it’s in the rear view mirror I’m not sure where I’m going. Oddly it brought Relief. Respite. I suppose it sort of put me square in Acceptance for a bit. I might take a step outside and admire the beauty spot, like David says. It even allowed me to ignore the regular gesticulating into Depression that was the short development review this morning. I blinked at it, knew it could take me there if I listened too hard. But what’s the point? I could taste the flicker of smoke from yesterday’s birthday candles. I could remember my boy’s face when people had so carefully considered his likes when buying him presents, not just what was age appropriate. And we have this new passenger, Bun D. I’ve checked their seatbelt lots of times. I’ll keep doing it, I’m not so sure they’re tied in tight enough. But it’s nice to have someone else on board, even if we’ll more than likely need a trailer rather than just a roof box now.
And as for a winter of discontent? Well, there’s been some starting snuffles and some teething angst. But so far, well, whilst I won’t be surprised to be swapping my Mum hat for one of those old paper confections that my Mum in her days as a junior nurse used to have to try and balance on her head with varying degrees of kirby grip scaffolding, I’ve got something else Kubler-Ross forgot. I’ve bumped her five to seven, because I’ve got Hope. Well, probably more than a fair share of Denial. Anyone want to join us at our Lover’s Leap? Here’s the boy enjoying being a Big Two year old. There was a time when this wasn’t on the horizon, or on the map. Or on the centile charts.