Teenage pregnancy – is it so bad?

Jay is still pregnant. 36 weeks and four days. Of course, this is a good thing, but there is no denying that we are now getting impatient. We just want to meet the little man that has continuously kept us on our toes for over 10 weeks now.  Jay is feeling very heavy, tired and exasperated and who can blame her.  Anyone who has carried a baby knows that those last four weeks are the most difficult.  you just feel like the size of a house and just breathing is an effort.

“Seriously, you would have thought that they would have come up with a more efficient way of having a baby,” Jay says.

I look at her quizzically.  “Who do you mean ‘they’?”

“I dont know,” she says impatiently, “but surely in the 21st century we should have a better way of doing this!”

I smile at how her young mind thinks that everything should have some technological solution. “Pregnancy is biological, there is no other way.”

“Well, there should be.”

Poor Jay. In the last final push, it is getting all too much. She looks beautiful though. Truly, the most radiant pregnant woman around. Everyone who sees her keeps telling her so.

I have changed my mind about having babies at a young age. I think we were meant to have them young. Young enough to carry them, and still enjoy a good body afterwards; young enough to play with them, enjoy them and still have energy for other parts of our life as well.  Watching Jay grow, both physically and mentally over these past nine months has totally changed my point of view.  Nature intended that we do this young, it is society that dictated otherwise. Now, less than 4% of babies born in Australia are to young mothers. I’m not suggesting for one second that teenage girls should rush out and get pregnant, I’m just observing that our bodies are better equipped for it at that age.

Pregnancy matures us in a way no other facet of life can.  We have no choice but to become selfless when we have another human being to care for. We no longer worry about our own needs, all we care about is that dependent little being. That process begins when  we first know we are growing a child inside of us. I have seen it with Jay – the fear on her face when at just six weeks they thought it might be ectopic, how she has given up food that she loves for fear of harming the baby, how she observes other moms (both young and old) and makes judgements on what she will and won’t do as a mom herself. At a young age, we are not too set in our ways.  We are more adaptable, able to cope with the changeable needs of our children. Yet, we tend to view children as the end of our indeoendence, the end of our lives.

My mom, herself, told me when I fell pregnant with Jay that I wasn’t ready, despite being a whole five years older than  her when she had me.  I was offended at the time, hurt even. I fell pregnant on purpose. I wanted my baby, yet here I was being told by the one person I respected and trusted the most that I wasnt ready. It would set me on a path of insecurity for a very long time. I second guessed myself as a parent all time. I don’t want that for Jay. I want her to feel supported, yes, but not incapable. She has already shown such capability. I could not be more proud of her.

Why is it that there has been this move to have babies later and later in life?  Has anyone thought there might be  a correlation between the increase in autism and the increase in age of women getting pregnant, like there is a correlation between women over forty and downs syndrome? As someone who has a child with autism, was 30 when he was born, I have.  There are many theories, but what if it is just the simple fact that we are meant to be younger when we bare children.  I know I’m not going to be popular for even thinking it.  Women have fought for decades, still fight, long and hard for the right to choose, but what if we have it all wrong?

I dont have the answers, and it would be a politicaly incorrect thing to research, but watching Jay grow and flourish, despite her complications, has me thinking.

Kittens and the preparation of motherhood

Little Milo

We are on the home stretch and it feels amazing.  Jay is staying with us and it is so good to have her home.  She is miserable, of course.  Being nearly 35 weeks pregnant, unable to sleep and not in your own bed will do that to a person.  But I am loving having her here.  Mothers need their daughters as much as daughters need their mothers.  I miss having another woman in the house.  It is fun having girly things to talk about and we do find lots to talk about.

Jay has bought herself a new kitten.  Of course, we parents advised against it.  She is about to have a baby after all.  But Jay was adamant.  Em’s sister got a new kitten a few weeks ago and since then Jay has been obsessed with getting one.  Personally, I think it is the mothering instinct that is coming to the fore.  She is getting to the stage where she just needs something to nurture.  Being 19, she couldn’t wait for the few weeks until Baby C makes his appearance, so she wangled a kitten.

It is a cute kitten.  They call it tortoise shell, I think, but to me it looks like it has the genes of every coloured cat going – black, ginger, white, grey – it’s all in there.  Jay has named her Milo.  Of course, because Jay is living with us, so is Milo.  Dee hates cats.  This does pose a problem.  My two dogs also do not like cats.  Another problem.  So Milo is currently living in our bathroom, with frequent periods of reprieve when Jay feels the need for a cuddle.

Dee has taken a couple of days off work as we need some “us” time.  When Dee booked the leave, we had not realised that Jay (and Milo) would be staying with us.  There is no “us” time happening.  “Remind me why I took leave right now.” he says.

“Well, when you booked it, Jay was stable and we were going to have a few days together before the baby came.  That was then, this is now.  Now it is the three of us.”

Dee is not really impressed.  We need some intimacy and having Jay at home isn’t helping that cause.  We love having her, of course, but us parents desperately need some “us” time.

Jay walks into the lounge.  “Hi love, how did you sleep?”

“Not well.  Milo had me awake at 7am!”

I laugh.  Could this be a good precursor to what to expect when the baby comes.  Jay does not see the humour.  Oh, the 19 year old mind!  I am being condescending, but I don’t care.  I remember what it was like to be 19 and how I thought the everything was about me.  Jay is no different, even if she is having a baby.  She will adapt, of course, but for now, she doesn’t really have to.

“Tee has invited us to her house for a couple of days.  Will you look after Milo?”

“No, I’m afraid I won’t.” I say.  This is the tough part of motherhood.  In reality I have no issue with looking after Milo, but Dee has taken time off to be with me.  It wouldn’t be fair to be tied to a kitten for the remainder of his time off, and Jay needs to learn that if she chooses to take on a living  being, she has to make tough decisions sometimes to look after it.  I feel horrible for saying no.

Jay wanders back to her room and returns a few minutes later with Milo in tow.  “I spoke to Em.  I’m not going to go to Tee’s.  She is looking after someone else’s dog and doesn’t really want to have another kitten there as well.”  She seems to accept that she has had to make this decision to look after Milo.  I still feel horrible.  Oh, the joys of motherhood.  Even when your own baby is having a baby, it isn’t easy.

The day is cold and horrible.  We were due to try and sort out the nursery today.  I don’t really feel up to it because my back is playing up and I am in quite a bit of pain.  However, “Do you want to go through to your house today to do the nursery?”  I ask.

“Actually, Mum, is it okay if we skip it today.  I’m feeling really heavy and tired.  It is so cold, I just would like to sit at home and relax, if that is okay.”  I say a silent thank you to the universe.

“If that’s what you want, my love, that is what you will have.”

We snuggle up on the sofa together.  Milo is desperately trying to escape, meowing with each new attempt.  My dogs look on with curiosity.  I wander at whether I should just let Milo go and hope they won’t attack her.  They don’t seem to want to do anything bad to her.  I suggest it to Jay.  “Mum!  No!  How could you even think such a thing?  I’m not putting her at risk like that!”  I suddenly feel stupid for even suggesting it.  Me, the child, Jay, the adult.

I smile.  Yes, indeed, she is learning.  Learning the joys of motherhood!

Judgement and its cure – 34 weeks and 5 days

I am lying in bed.  It is 8:35am.  JC has refused to go to school.  He didn’t do a speech for English and now refuses to go to school.  I can’t fight him.  He is too big and my back has been injured, so I am in immense pain.  I am lying in bed, feeling guilty for agreeing to keep him at home, feeling guilty for not getting up, just simply feeling guilty.

The bed is warm though and seductive.  The guilt is not enough to make me get up.  This could be construed as depression, I suppose, but I don’t really care.  I just want to stay in bed all day.  Of course, I can’t.  Jay needs to be picked up.  She has been with Tee for two days and by all accounts has had a ball.  I cannot believe that she has reached this far in her pregnancy.  Nearly 35 weeks.  Two more weeks and she will be considered term which will mean that Baby C will be able to come home when he is born.

I cannot wait to hold my grandchild.  I wonder at what kind of mom Jay will make.  She has matured so much in the past 8 months.  She is unrecognisable as the teenager she was last year.  Impending motherhood will do that to a person.  It has been a learning curve for me as well.  I have had to learn to remove the hands of control.  To let her grow into the person she needs to be.  It hasn’t been easy, but it has been a wonderful transformation to watch.  There are moments, of course, when the young 19 year old shines through, the one that is afraid, the one that still needs her mom, but on the whole she is a new mom-to-be, and it shows.

I suddenly feel a pang of sadness.  So young to be a mom.  So young to be responsible for someone else at such a young age.  She doesn’t feel that way at all.  She has embraced the prospect of motherhood with gusto and determination.  Of course the idea of having a baby, and the reality are poles apart, but I somehow suspect she is ready for it.  Both she and Em are definitely ready.  I am just dying to meet baby C.  All the trials and tribulations will have been worth it.

I have come along way on this journey too.  I have become a lot less judgemental of teenage parents.  Two years ago, when my own mom was so ill, I was shocked to find a number of teenage moms in the church that my mom attended.  Of course, with the rule of no sex before marriage, a lot of kids got married early and it stood to reason that babies would follow soon after.  I was judgemental – of the teenage parents and especially of the church that seemed to encourage this.  I now wonder why we as a society are so judgemental of these teenagers, rather than supporting them through what is a difficult, but wonderful journey.  After all, it is only in the last 40 years that it has become the norm to have children at such a late age (average 34 years).  Why is it that we consider life to be over if a young girl (and boy) has a child?  The judgement that Jay has faced has been disheartening to watch and even I, when I announce my daughter is having a baby, am always asked how old she is, because I don’t look old enough to be a grandmother.  When I say she is 19, the tone in their “Oh” says a thousand things, and none of them are good.

This journey has taught me that we don’t get the right to judge unless we have been walking in those self same shoes, which can never happen since there are over 7 billion individuals on this earth, each living their own life, walking their own path.  We have no idea how they got to be where they are today and no-one knows how Jay and I got to be where we are either.  Still, judge they do, and we have to face that with dignity and grace.  Jay has found it difficult to cope with the judgement.  She wanted a baby, always has, and even though this wasn’t planned, she is proud to be having it.  “Hold your head up high, my love,” I say, “and know that you are on the path the universe wants you to take.  Hold yourself with dignity and grace.  You have nothing to be ashamed of.”

All I can do is offer her support and as much love as I can muster.  It is as much a journey of self discovery for me as it is for her.  Baby C is a gift.  I have become a much more tolerant person because of him.  What a wonderful gift to bestow on someone – and he hasn’t even been born yet.

 

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.

Failure to launch – 33 weeks and 2 days

“Sarah….Sarah…”  In some recess of my dream, I can hear my name, whispered.  “It’s Jay.  Is your phone on silent?  SARAH.”  My eyes snap open.  “It’s Jess.”  Dee has his phone in front of my face.  A quick look at the bedside clock and I see it is 1 am.  I grab the phone.

“Jay?  Are you okay?”

“Hi, Mum.  I just wanted to let you know I’m on my way to the Pregnancy Assessment Unit.”  I sit bolt upright in bed.

“Why, what’s wrong?”

“Well, we picked up my friends from the airport and took them to dinner.  During dinner I started to feel sick.  We went home and I went to bed at around 9:30pm but at 11pm I started to feel really unwell.  Then I started to feel some really funny pain.  Painful pain.  I phoned the PAU and they said to come straight in.”

“Are you having contractions?”

“I don’t know, the pain is different though.”

“Right, I’ll just get dressed and meet you at the hospital.”

“Don’t Mum.  Let me get there and have them assess me.  I am sure it is just braxton Hicks.”

“Okay.  But phone me the minute you get there or know anything, okay?”

I lie back down, turn over and close my eyes.  My eyes open.  1:15am.  I close them again.  Open.  1:20am.  Close.  Open.  1:20am.  It’s no good.   I decide to get up.  At least get ready if something is happening.  I pad through to the laundry.  Grab some jeans, a top, underwear.

I text Jay.  Hi Love.  Are you there yet?  Any news?  My phone buzzes.

Hi mum.  Am at the hospital.  I think they are going to admit me.

I ring Jay’s number.  “Hello?”

“Hi, darling.  What’s going on?”

“Well they have me strapped to this monitor thingy and they said that my contractions are very regular.  They have called the doctor, but they think I’m going to be admitted to the birthing suite.”

“Have you got your bag with you?”

“No, I left it at your house.”  I roll my eyes.  Jay hasn’t been with us for two weeks.  Constant little reminders that she is still a teenager.

“Right, I’m coming.”  I immediately jump into the shower.  I know it seems strange to shower at such an emergency and I know Jay will know that I am doing this, but I really don’t want to go to the hospital looking  like Madusa.  It takes me 15 minutes and I am done.  I rush around the house, trying to think about what she might need.

“Dee,” I whisper.  “I’m off to see Jay.”   His sleepy eyes open for a moment.  “You’ll have to take JC to school, or get your dad to take him.”

“I’ll take him,” he says.

On the way to the hospital I receive a text.  I’ve been admitted to the birthing suite, room 3.  My god.  Is she in labour?

I arrive at the hospital.  I rush into room 3.  Jay is on the bed strapped up to the monitor.  I can hear the whooshing of Baby C’s heart beat.  Em is with her.  A midwife is fussing over her.  I kiss Em hello and move round to kiss and hug Jay.  “Are you okay?”

“I’m 4cm dilated and they think I am in labour.”  4cm.  That’s active labour.

“What do you mean, think?”

“Well, they said that because it is a premature labour it might just be a false start.”

“But if you are already 4cm, doesn’t that mean you are in labour?”

The midwife interjects.  “It is not uncommon for premature labours to have false starts.  My instincts says that Jay is well into labour, especially by the look of her contractions, but we need to monitor her and check her cervix again in four hours.”  I look at the clock.  It is 2:30am.

“Have you let your mum know, Em?”  He nods that he has.

“She’s going to wait and see what happens before coming through.”  Fair enough.  We have had enough false starts for one pregnancy.

I turn to Jay, “Are you in pain?”

She shakes her head.  “I don’t feel like I’m in labour.”  I look at the monitor and the graph being fed out of the machine.  The peaks are as regular as clockwork.

“Well, it certainly looks like you are.” I say.  “Can you feel them at all?”

Jay nods.  “They are just super-big tightenings.”

Can this be it?  Can I becoming a grandmother, a Gogo, today? I suddenly miss my mom so much.  I want to share this with her so badly.

The midwife inserts a canula into Jay’s arm.  They are giving her antibiotics as a precautionary measure because she is so early.

Em looks tired.  “Why don’t you get some sleep, Em.  You are going to need all the strength you can muster when Jay finally needs to push Baby C out.”  He nods and settles down on the mattress offered to birthing partners.  They have been busy and have no spare blankets for him though.  Public hospitals, you have to love them.  I give him one of the baby blankets I have thrown into the bag.  It’s tiny on his small frame, but it’s something at least.

Jay and I talk and eventually settle down to sleep ourselves.  She on the bed and me on two chairs I have pushed together.  It is 4:30am.  At 5:30am, we are woken by the staff doing the routine obs.  Tee also arrives.  At 6:30am, the doctor checks Jay’s cervix.  Still 4cm.  We cannot believe it.  Jay sighs.  “Only 4cm?  I can’t believe it,” she says.

The day continues along with very little event.  A couple of nurses come in and out.  We are told what to expect when the baby comes.  He won’t be going into NICU, but will go into the special care nursery.  He should be able to breathe on his own, but won’t have the sucking reflex yet, so will probably need a nasogastric tube.  He will look like a normal baby, just a bit on the small side.  When he is born he will be put onto Jay’s chest.  It is important for her and for the baby to have the skin to skin contact.  We nod and get excited at the prospect of our little angel.

At 2:30pm the doctors arrive again.  They check her cervix and she is still only 4cm.  The contractions seemed to have died off a bit as well.  We try not to think that the baby might not actually be coming after all.  Surely, this is it.  I say what everyone is thinking.  “Well, I want the baby to come.  I know it is only 33 weeks, but everyone keeps telling us that he will be fine, that he will just fatten up in the special care nursery.  I am tired of this.  I want to hold my grandson.” Jay nods.  This is taxing on her too.  Tee and Em also nod in agreement.  Em has taken another day off work.  That will be 5 in total on false alarms if this baby isn’t born today.

“Well,” the midwife says, “the longer you can cook your own baby, the better it is.”  I know she must be shocked by my announcement that I want Baby C to be born a full 7 weeks early.  I don’t care.  I am tired.  Jay is tired.  All this too-ing and fro-ing is taking its toll.  Jay and I have only had an hour’s sleep.  Surely it isn’t unreasonable to expect a baby cuddle at the end of it?

A doctor comes into the room.  “Jay, we are concerned that your heart rate has been consistently high since you arrived here at 1am this morning.  I am going to take some blood to check you do not have an infection, or if there is something else wrong.”  We look at the heart rate monitor.  Her heart rate is over 100 and she has been in bed all day.  “Are you anxious?” the doctor asks.  I look at him incredulously.  No, mate.  She is 19 and about to deliver a baby.  A baby that will be a full 7 weeks early.  A baby that, if it comes today she will not be able to take home.  This, after being up and down to the hospital god knows how many times with numerous false starts.  But, hey, she is not anxious at all.  Jay shakes her head.  “I’ll be back later to take the blood.”

By 4pm, the contractions have almost completely died off.  My heart sinks.  I know deep down inside that Baby C is not going to make his arrival.  I really wish that I had not put as my facebook status that I may or may not becoming a grandmother today.  Another bloody false start.  I look at Jay.  She is exhausted.  A full 16 hours of contractions, some of which were really painful, and now nothing.  The doctor arrives to take blood.  “We have had a talk, and have decided to send you to the post natal ward.  We won’t bother checking you again.  I think it’s safe to say you are no longer in labour.  We do want to continue to monitor you though.”  He takes Jays arm and inserts a needle into it.  It misses the vein and he has to do it again.  The second time, she lets out a cry and all the anticipation and disappointment comes to the fore.  She bursts into tears.  Em hugs her.  I hug her.  But it does nothing to stem the flow.  My 19 year old baby has been through enough.  How much more does she have to take?

The doctor finally gets the blood he needs and leaves the room.  “I’m not staying here.  I will discharge myself.”  I hug her.

“You have to stay love.  You are 4cm dilated.  They are worried your waters might break.  You have to stay here.”

“I’m not going to have the baby, Mum!  I’m going to go to full term and all this will be for nothing!”

“It won’t be for nothing, Jay, we will have a beautiful, healthy baby!” Em says.  He sounds hurt, like she doesn’t get it.  I want to intervene.  Tell him that she does get it, that she is just tired.  But I don’t.  They need to work it out.  She just sits there, her big tummy jutting out, and lets the tears flow down her cheeks.  Em hugs her warmly and she nestles her head into his shoulders.  Tee and I go for a walk, sit in the visitor waiting room and have a cup of coffee.  The kids need to be alone.

Twenty minutes later we return.  Em is getting ready to leave to go home for a much needed shower and change of clothes.  He is going to bring Jay’s friends from the UK to visit her.  Jay’s friends!  They have travelled all the way from the UK to see her and now she is stuck here in this wretched place.  Tee and Em leave.  I sit with Jay.  Tears are still streaming down her face.  I want to tell her to be patient, to understand that this is a good thing.  Good for the baby.  But I know that saying it won’t make her feel any better.  The mother side of me gets the better of me.  “It is what it is love.  We just need to be patient.  It is good for Baby C.”  It doesn’t do any good.  Tears continue to stream down her face.  “I just want to go home!”  She lowers her head and sobs.  My heart breaks into a thousand pieces.  How much is one 19 year old meant to take?

A different doctor comes into the room.  “Okay, we have arranged for you to go to the post natal ward.  We will see you in the morning and reassess you then.”

“Does that mean that she will be able to go home tomorrow?” I ask.

“Provided she has settled down, I don’t see why not.”  She looks down at Jay’s chart.  “Although at 4cm dilated, that may not be the case.”  Jay lets out a little moan of anguish.  “It’s just that at 4cm dilated,” her fingers part to show how much 4cm is, “if your waters break, the cord could slip through and it could end up badly if you are not at the hospital.  If you were at full term, we would be inducing you now.”  I had not thought of the implications of that.  I look at Jay, but I can see she can’t think that far.  She just wants to go home.

The doctor leaves and I just cuddle her.  “It will be okay, my love.  We will look back on this in a year and wonder why we got ourselves so stressed.”  There is no consoling her.

It is 7pm.  I have only had an hours sleep and I need to get home.  With no baby on the way and with Em on his way back with Jay’s friends, it is time for me to leave anyway.  I kiss her goodbye and drive home.  By the time I get home twenty minutes later, I am dead on my feet.  Dee heats me up some leftover dinner which I eat.  I know it is not part of my diet, but I am past caring.  I watch a bit of TV, but my eyes are struggling to focus.  I am cold and tired.

As I slip into my electrically warmed bed, I feel my body release the tension it has held all day.  It does not take me long to feel the sweet taste of sleep overtake me.  Another false start, another failure to launch, but we will persist, we will endure.

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.

 

 

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…

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.

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.

One mother of a day – Tuesday 17 April – 28 weeks and 3 days

Today is the first day of second term.  JC is up and ready by 6:15am.  He wants his iPod with its promise of fan fiction and knows how to get it.

“What about a shower?”  I ask.

“I already showered last night after my hair cut and dad said I can shower tomorrow morning again.”  I groan, without opening my eyes.  Why does Dee promise these things without discussing it with me?

“Okay,” I say.

Urgh, back to the routine of the school term – up at 6:45am (which in reality is closer to 7:45am), get breakfasts, make lunch, take JC to school (silent trip), do housework (yeah, right!), pick JC up from school, silent trip home, make dinner, eat, tv and bed, and then start it all again the following day.  God, my life is boring!

This time, of course, I have to visit Jay in hospital.  I take JC to school and he listens to his horrible white-noise music whilst I listen to the radio.  I want to say something to him, but can’t think of anything that might inspire him to hold a conversation.  I wander how he is feeling about returning to school, but choose not to enquire.  I drop him off a full 25 minutes before the school bell.

“Good bye my boy.  I love you!” I yell as he walks away from the car.  He doesn’t even acknowledge me.

I have read many books on autism.  In most of them they concentrate on getting a diagnosis when the child is young and the importance of an early intervention.  Most of the case studies used are children that are young or pre-teen in age.  They don’t mention what it is like to bring up an adolescent who is on the spectrum.  Well, frankly, sometimes it sucks.  You want to connect with your child, especially at this time when they are starting to begin to understand adult concepts, but not only do you have the autism to deal with, you also have the prepubescent teenage hormones to contend with as well.  It’s not a great mix, I can tell you.

I drive away heavy hearted.  I decide to improve my mood by spending money (how else?).  Jay needs some new underwear so before heading off to see her I pop into K-mart.  I wander around and eventually decide on some panties, a bra and some socks.  I also decide on some fruit for her and some games for us to play in the hospital – card games, chinese checkers, dominoes.

I arrive at 10:30am.  Jay is still very depressed after last night’s ordeal.  She ended up in the Pregnancy Assessment Unit because she had quite regular tightenings and some painful contractions.  After a 45 minute wait she ended up having an internal examination that showed she was still only 2cm dilated and that her cervix was still long (despite being open).  She was embarrassed and felt that she had caused a fuss for nothing.  She phoned me at 10pm in tears.  I managed to talk her through it, but arriving at the hospital now, it is clear she is still feeling really down.

“Are you still feeling down, love?’

“I feel stupid.  This whole thing is stupid.  I’m never going to give birth early.  Why can’t they just let me go home?”

“Well, if you make it to 32 weeks, they will let you go home.”  I begin to think that after two weeks of being 2cm dilated and nothing happening, that there is a real chance of her going to full term.  I secretly start to get excited even though I know it will be a long 12 weeks.  “And if you make it to 32 weeks, Jay, that will be absolutely amazing!”  The look on her face tells me that she doesn’t share my enthusiasm.

It must be difficult to see past being stuck in bed – to when she will get to hold her son, healthy and well, and know that it is because she remained on bedrest, that she carried him to where he was safe enough to be born.  I know she cannot see that far ahead.

“I bought some stuff for you.”  I plop the bags of goodies on her bed.  She looks at them unceremoniously and I feel a little hurt at what I perceive to be ingratitude.  “Have you had a good look?”

“Yes.”

“I bought you some nickers, bra and socks, plus some games and some fruit to keep your energy up.”  Just in case she missed something.

“Thanks, Mum.”  I can see she isn’t impressed, and why should she be really.  She is fed up, bored and most of all stressed out from not knowing when her baby son is going to arrive and what the outcome of that might be.  God, I’m selfish sometimes!!

“How about we play one of the games?”

“Okay.”

I haul out the tin with the four card games – Old Maid, Crazy Eights, Go Fish and War.

“I don’t know how to play any of those, Mum.”

“That’s okay love, they will have instructions and I used to play these with Gogo and I am sure it will come back to me.  These will be great for you to play with Baby C as well.”

We decide on Old Maid first.  We deal up and start playing.  Before long, the events and depression of last night are gone and we are having a good laugh at who is winning and losing.  All four of the games keep us entertained and in good spirits for a good hour and a half until Jay’s lunch arrives.

“We have a spare lunch, Sarah, would you like it?”  The nurse says.

“Yes, I would.”  It is some veal concoction, but I am hungry and it does not taste too badly.  I like the vegetables – pumpkin and potato.

After lunch, I wheel Jay downstairs for some fresh air in her wheel chair.

“Why can’t I walk?”

“Because you can’t.”  Sometimes, the mother response is the only one that is needed.

We order hot chocolates and talk about what we need for the baby.  We have had this conversation before but I want to start getting things on a more regular basis.  I would like Jay and Em to have everything they need for when Baby C comes home.  I write the list down in my note book.

After the excursion I take Jay back to the ward and notice that she is sleepy.  It is time to go and let her have a nanna nap.  I kiss her goodbye and leave.

I drive home.  I have an hour to kill before I have to pick up JC.  A friend of mine has emailed me about a program for children on the spectrum who are at risk of disengaging from education.  I wonder if JC is disengaging from education or if he is just disengaging from society, or even just me.

I drive to pick him up.  He keeps me waiting a good 15 minutes.  “Where have you been? ” I say, trying not to sound too irritated.

“Just walking around the oval, listening to my music.” If you can call that music.

“Okay, in you get.  I thought I would treat you to a Red Rooster meal today.”

“Is this because you want an ice cream?”  Damn!  He knows me too well.  Next door to Red Rooster is Hungry Jacks and I love their 50c ice creams.  I feel ashamed that he thinks that I want to treat him just to satisfy my own needs.

“No, it isn’t, it is because I’ve spent all holidays up at the hospital with Jay and I thought it would be nice if I treated you since I haven’t had chance to do that.”  This is, in part, true.

“Fair enough.”

We drive in silence for a bit.  “I am very mature, you know,” JC says to me.

“Are you?  In what way?”

“I just use big words in context.”

“Can you give me an example?”

“No, not really, but I can use words that other people don’t know what they mean.”  I don’t doubt this, but I haven’t experienced very many “big” words from him recently, although he says things that blow me away all the time.

“So, about the holidays…”

“Fiji, I want to go to Fiji.”

“Well, yes, I know that, but I am thinking of July.  Where would you like to go in July?”

“Fiji.”

“We can’t go to Fiji in July.  That’s January’s trip – maybe.  How about the Worlds, would you like to go to the Worlds?”  I am referring to the adventure parks on the Gold Coast.

“Nah, maybe another year.”

“What about Disney World in Florida?”  I have no idea what makes me say that. “Not for July, but maybe in January.”

“Yes, I guess.  There are hot chicks there.”  I laugh.  The typical 14 year old boy shines through every now and again.  We discuss the likelihood of there being more good looking girls in Florida than in Melbourne, but he remains convinced that the girls will be better there.  We discuss what Disney World is like and I try to give him a picture of when I was there some 20-odd years ago.  He mentions that there is now a Harry Potter land, either in Disney World or on its own, he isn’t sure which, and he doesn’t know if it is in Florida.  I did not know this.  We move on to discuss J.K Rowling and her nett worth (around $1 billion) and how foolish the 12 publishers that rejected the first Harry Potter manuscript must feel.

I am actually having a “normal” conversation with JC.  I am in heaven.  I love the fact that we are laughing together and actually discussing a future trip together and even, maybe, writing a story that might make us rich one day.  Yes, people, we are dreaming together!  Oh, how I wish I could bottle this moment and bring it out every time I feel so disconnected!

All too quickly, we arrive at home.  JC grabs his red rooster bag and heads indoors.  I grab his school bag and head inside behind him.  He walks into his bedroom, closes the door.  He emerges in his boxer shorts to put his lunch on a plate.  I sigh.  Back to our normality.  But I am not sad.  Because I had a moment with him.  And that moment, as any parent of a child on the autistic spectrum will testify, tends to carry us quite far.

No Baby C and a conversation with JC.  Oh yes, today has been one mother of a day!!