Building a family one brick at a time


November 2015

On the eve of a sad day

I’m approaching an anniversary. One I never wanted to experience – no one should at my age. Having said that there are many things we shouldn’t experience and mine is only one on that list.

My brother died a year ago at the end of November. I still can’t believe when I write those words they are actually real and true. Despite the fact that he had been ill for many years with Multiple Sclerosis – I never truly believed we’d lose him. He was a wonderful soul, never complained, and endured many years of no real existence whilst my other brother and I forged on with our lives. I felt guilty – many times – not least when I made the huge decision to move to the other side of the world. Saying goodbye to him when I moved was (at the time) the single hardest thing I have ever done. I didn’t want him to see me cry, and my heart almost exploded as I tried to keep my emotions under lock and key. I was only to see him once more after I moved.

The toughest time was still to come – I received the dreaded middle of the night phone call from my eldest brother to tell me he was in hospital and it wasn’t looking good. There was the conversation with my parents when I was told the life support machine would be switched off. This was something I’d only seen in movies, read in books. This was soap opera stuff. Not real life – not my life, not the end of my brother’s life. This was the boy I’d grown up with, fought with, laughed with, been dragged down the road behind his tricycle on my roller-skates with…

My friends couldn’t believe it either. One of my best friends I feel really believed he would be ok – he always had been before, so why not this time? I had to send her a text to say he’d died – a text message. I live on the other side of the world, speaking wasn’t possible at that time. What a thing to write. How do you write something like that?

The news drove me to extremes of emotion. I had a compulsion to be home – immediately. I couldn’t cope with waiting another second to start the journey. So much so that it meant I would have to travel alone from one side of the world to the other, accompanied by an 8 month old baby. INSANITY! That’s the only word to describe what I did. A 36 hour journey, with no stop over. I don’t know how I did it, and to this day I have no idea where my energy or resolve came from. I met some wonderfully kind strangers along the way who restored my faith in humanity. The man who helped me pull my luggage off the carousel and tried to help me through customs because I physically couldn’t push a pram and my luggage trolley at the same time, and the woman who noticed I was about to pass out in the queue at passport control and insisted I go to the front, to name but two.

When I made it home I was still running on empty but had to hold everyone else up. My parents were understandably falling apart, and my eldest brother had been juggling his family, job and life to hold everything and everyone together. He needed help – a break – time with his own kids and I was there. My turn.

I did what I know best. I started organising everyone and everything. I knew we had to find a way to celebrate his life in a fitting manner, and despite organising an event being the last thing I wanted to do, I knew I was capable, and in all honesty everyone else was falling apart. And we did it. It was memorable, and so very important for my parents. It was a most cathartic experience and a memory I will treasure. I only wish I had been able to voice my thoughts and memories of him on the day – I read a beautiful poem but they weren’t my words. I have since written down my memories and I’m so glad I did.

The shining lights through the whole experience were my little man, who brought joy to all who crossed his path, and the extremely poignant news I was already planning to announce when we came home for Christmas – that I was expecting number 2. They say things happen for a reason, and I’m certain some of my brother’s beautiful soul has come through in my second son. My brother was a second child, and we have honoured his memory by having his name as my second son’s middle name. So instead of being sad, I will try and be happy. Happy that I knew him, happy that he knew I’d had one baby (‘Is she a good mother’ he asked my mum, which made me laugh), tinged with sadness he didn’t know about number 2. Or maybe he does know. Who knows. Fly high beautiful soul, you will forever be my guiding light. X


I know why you had three kids

Ok. I’m a newbie to this mummy game, and I’m the first to admit it.  What I do know, is what it’s like to have two kids very close to each other – and to not intend to do this. Mine are 13.5 months apart – I know it’s no record, and people have had them closer than that, but fuck me, it’s intense. I doubt that comes as much of a surprise though, and I have mused on this previously so I won’t go on about that again…

I have two words to say right now (or maybe technically three, but who’s counting?)

It’s weird.

When I had my second child, it all came around very very quickly. Despite the third trimester lasting approximately 300 years, nevertheless, I blinked and I had two. Baby boy 1 was barely walking so we still had (and have) many unique milestones to hit. Baby boy 2 eased into the world and has remained chilled out ever since.

When I had my first child, I – like many others I imagine – stepped on to the steepest learning curve of my entire life. I’ve had challenging jobs, I’ve trained for a marathon, but nothing – NOTHING – compared to the explosion of emotions – happiness, sadness, fear, worry, terror, joy, love, hate, misery, love, love, love, shock, amazement, angst…. coupled with body trauma, removal of personal privacy  (where did that go?!); dissolving of pride, and the sheer fatigue of it all. Oh the tiredness.

We learned to care for a helpless human being – with all the 10,000 multifaceted responsibilities that encompasses. We made choices – asking each other what we should be doing, ‘what’s wrong with him?’ – a mildly irritated ‘how should I know!’ rings in my ears. We googled and googled – what’s normal? What’s not? Am I being irresponsible ignoring this, or is green poo something every parent sees?
The crazy induction into parenthood is like no other. No one guides you – but there are far too many opinions. And judgements galore. We (as in the parenting collective) seem to not be united in this parenting world – everyone has their own idea of what is the right way to raise a child-and that’s fine and normal – but we seem to struggle to live and let live. I find it quite sad really.

Parenthood for me, has been a catalogue of firsts – nappies, wobbly heads, prams, nappy bags, no sleeping, bassinets, smiling, rolling over, moving to cots, weaning… the list is endless, and it needs to be completed and ticked off very quickly. Imagine going into a practical exam when you’ve never even had chance to practice anything, even once and this is the real thing. They wouldn’t send a fire-fighter into a real life emergency fire without at least some training first? Ah, parenthood – the real baptism of fire on acid.

And then baby boy 2 appears. And we’ve done it all before (rather recently too). There is no major panic (just occasional minor ones), there is less worry. Of course bringing another helpless little being into our world is scary – especially when we weren’t exactly planning it so soon. I confess, I was shitting myself. But there were so many things we had DONE BEFORE. Experience is priceless – why don’t they pin more of that on jobs than qualifications? There is no better demonstration of ability than having done something before. I have enjoyed this little joy bundle so much more so far – I think that’s my standout feeling from having had two children. He’s benefiting from my experience with kidlet number 1. I am more relaxed with him – and as a result he’s more relaxed with me. I remember panicking about naps. WHY wouldn’t kidlet 1 sleep more than 45 mins? Probably because I spent too much time looking at him and marvelling at the fact he was asleep – nothing quite like someone staring at you while you’re sleeping… CREEPY.

There’s a reason they say dogs are like their owners.

So now I get to my reason for writing this. When I had baby boy 2, I categorically said ‘NO MORE’. We were about to embark on the most intense period of our lives so far and it was a terrifying prospect. My body had been traumatised twice, and I felt like I’d been pregnant for two years. Why would I go back there? Why would I look to try to have a third or more? Well we’re 4 months into baby boy 2’s life now and I think I know why. I clawed my way up the terrifyingly steep learning curve of baby boy 1. I’m now a ‘fitter’ parent and enjoying a slightly easier climb with number 2. The most poignant feeling I have now though, is that with each centimetre he grows, each nappy size we go up, outfit he grows out of, and each milestone he hits, I feel like I’m grieving the loss of never having that moment again.

It took me until number 2 to really be able to appreciate these precious little beings and the incredibly short time they are tiny and equally short time they are just small. So now I know. That’s not to say I will try for another though, there’s ruling with one’s heart and equally ruling with one’s head – time will tell.


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