Archive for the ‘mokopuna’ Category

And a safe arrival….

June 30, 2007

In brief, for those who read here, she has arrived. Last night (Friday NZ time) at 11.33pm, a most beautiful baby girl.

Yeah. I know…they all say that about their own babies or grandbabies, but it’s true. She doesn’t have that squashed up, wrinkled new-baby look, but is smooth of cheek and….just perfect. The new Daddy rang us about half an hour before she arrived and invited us down to see her. Who could refuse that offer? We went, we saw, we were totally conquered and if I appear to rave a little here, I make no apologies whatsoever.

We shot down to the hospital, arriving about ten minutes after she was born. And there she was, snuggled in her Mum’s arms, so like Little Pea, but so unlike as well. The contrast….I can’t really express what I feel here. Our girl looked simply radiant – I haven’t seen an expression of such joy on her face for so long. She said she would never be able to sleep again, as she wouldn’t be able to stop looking at her child; she asked if she was really theirs; she just gazed with delight. And her Dad, too – holding her close in his arms, on his face a look of such tenderness, I thought my heart would burst.
We got to have a cuddle as well and who knew that one look, one touch, could lead to such instant love? She fitted my arms as if she were made for them, gazing up with blurry eyes at this strange, new world.

I’m totally over the moon.


Baby Day

June 29, 2007

Today is baby day – the long awaited moment when our new grand-daughter will be born. This day, although two and a half weeks preterm, has been chosen because of the previous loss.

Mothers who have had an early still-birth are known to stress increasingly once the comparitive time of the previous pregnancy is reached and these stresses can affect the foetus, so when this is likely to happen an early elective is often chosen, so long as the new baby is of reasonable size and development. Just to add to the mix, the new little one is still doing her internal flip-flops and changes position from breech to normal almost daily. Because of this, it won’t be known whether the elective will be natural or sugical until the very last minute.

Because of the circumstances surrounding the birth of the first child, everyone is in a high state of anxiety. Schmootle is a bundle of nerves and although her rational medical mind tells her that all will be well, her heart responds differently and as a result she has frequent and escalating emotional meltdowns. With her, everything is seen at the surface; what you see is what you get. Her man responds differently and although he has a double burden of grief for his lost children he hides this under a veneer of slightly irritable “Oh, for heaven’s sake, what now?!” The Manpet and I respond in our ways, too. Although I’m certain that the past will not be repeated, I’m most concerned for Schmootle’s mental state should anything go wrong. And birthing is always an anxious time anyway.

Coupled with this is the on-going stress of the property sale. We have recently listed with a new agent after two unsuccessful years of marketing, and while some would think that our previous agent was lax, this was not the case. He worked hard for us and spent a great deal of money on advertising and a huge investment of time in showing the property to a whole string of potential purchasers, but to no avail. The whole nature of the property means that it will appeal to a very small sector of the market and this naturally has its consequences. So we are re-tendering with new agents who will re-brand it and hopefully swing a deal our way.

The new tender process begins on Monday and the preparation time coincides directly with the baby’s arrival. You could argue that we should have waited, but in all honesty, we are getting near the end of our tether here. Some study has shown that the three most stressful events in our lives are the death of a close family member, separation and divorce, and selling a family home. Generally, selling a family home takes a maximum of three or four months, so our two years on the market puts us right up there among the experts in the field.

One of the main stresses of having the property on the market is having to constantly have the house and gardens in perfect condition. I never was a devoted housewife and dust balls have always been close acquaintances, so the constant dusting and vaccing and tidying away to invisibility of all extraneous personal possessions goes totally against my natural sloppiness. Same with the gardens; I would much rather give in to my inner eye that says “Hey… a wee garden here would look just wonderful!” than maintain those already here, so over the years, a great sprawling conglomeration of beds has sprung up all over the big house paddock.

When we first put the place up for sale, we worked like demons to get it all clean and tidy, spick and span, both inside and out and even managed to keep it that way for quite a time. But you can only do so much and still lead a nearly-normal life so over the two year time span, things have gone back a little, especially outside. In preparation for the latest tender-thing I’ve spent the past weeks in a frantic spring clean of the house and a very cold and wet re-vamp of the gardens, which are at their winter worst. I tore out yesterday and bought a whole lot of colour spot plants to whack into the bare patches. Petunias were the choice of the day and their wonderful colours glow brilliantly in the dull winter light. I’ll put them in the raised beds outside the kitchen and study windows where the plant-eating critters seldom intrude and hopefully they will still be there when the punters come to view.

And this post, rabbiting on as it does, is something of a distraction. If I put my mental energies in here, I won’t have to think about what is going on down the road.

Sunshine Again.

June 7, 2007

“She’s turned!” Her eyes are alive and alight.

“She did it on Sunday afternoon. Then she turned back and yesterday she turned again and hasn’t moved since.”

And indeed, Schmoo’s mummy-tummy is looking a lot more comfortable. Instead of a hard, high mound beneath her breasts, there is a gentle sloping bulge that falls gracefully away. We are both relieved at the change and although it is still early days, if thirty-four weeks gestation can be described as early, this is the first sign that the baby is getting ready to be born head first.
Today is scan day. I’ve been invited, partly as support person and partly because I’m the grandmother-to-be. We are usshered swiftly into the small, darkened room by a technican as stick-slender as Scmoo is rounded.
On with the goop and there she is, the wee moko, curled and tucked close under her Mum’s heart. The image is grey and a little grainy. It’s kind of hard to see what you are supposed to be seeing. I stare hard at the monitor.

“There’s the skull,” says the technican as she measures. “Size at the top of the range. That’s good..” She slides the scanner. “And there’s the heart. Good and steady.” And indeed, there it is, its little auicles and ventricles pumping away, opening and closing silently and rhythmically like odd little mouths.
“And here’s a thigh,” she says again, “a little shorter than standard.”
“Short? Did you say she’s got short legs?” snaps the daughter, truly her mother’s child.
“No, no, not short as in short. She’s still well within the normal range.”

Eventually she removes the scanner. She hands over a rumpled bundle of paper towels.
“The results will be through in a few moments,” she says “Just sit in the waiting room.”

In all honesty, scans make me feel a little uneasy. I am not wussy in this way in general. I don’t swoon at the sight of blood. Seeing (minor) bits of human separated from the main body doesn’t make me scream or throw up. I can kill, skin and gut an animal if there is a need to do so. Flyblown sheep are my friends. But this stuff disturbs me somewhat. Maybe it’s the sight of all that stuff that should never be seen, all that mysterious inner world. I don’t know. But a good bowl of organs would do me anyday, whereas this…

Soon, the pictures are ready. We go outside and stand in the weak winter sunlight, holding them up and peering closely.
“Short thighs, eh?” I mutter. “Well, she’s her grandmothers grandchild then, isn’t she.” We giggle together. And it’s true. My Father’s side has bestowed a genetic marvel on the females of the family in that we are almost universally direct inverses of Barbie. Piano legs are the rule. Even though I’m only a little over average height, if my legs were directly proportional to my body, I’d be around five feet ten. But I’m tall when I’m sitting down and that will have to do.

We embrace closely, warmed by more than the sunshine.
“Have you got a name yet?”
“Yes. But we’re not telling.”

Ah – secrets.

Days in the sun.

June 6, 2007

We have just returned home from four sunny days away in the bus. The bus, you ask? Ah yes, the bus. I will write about that one day soon when I have more time to spare.

The main reason for the break was to spend a weekend with Schmoo and the Man – in all probability the last weekend we will have with them as an unencumbered couple. Because in four short weeks, their baby is due to be born. Talking and even thinking about this child is still a little like walking on cracking ice, because although we are all so much looking forwards to this new little one, there is a lurking feeling of what I can only describe as guilt hovering somewhere in the background. Quite why guilt should be present at this time is a bit of a mystery, but there you are. There is no explaining the human heart. I try not to explore too deeply in that painful area but I can only imagine that, deep within my psyche somewhere, there is a feeling that things might be different if only I had….what?

And there my mind sticks. Because my logic tells me – as it rightly should – that there is not a single thing on god’s green earth that I or anyone could have done to prevent the awfull consequences of March 2006.

Schmoo blames herself. She denies it, but little hints creep out sometimes, little words that indicate to me, the ever vigilant mother, that she feels responsible for the death of little Pea. She even admitted to feeling guilt over being pregnant again, which must be a horrible thought to blight a new pregnancy with. I do my best to reassure her, but I know how the mind works, niggling and sniping at un-guarded moments.

This baby, like the last, is stubbornly presenting as breech. And the one thing that Schmoo will not countenance is turning her, because it is thought by her ob-guy that that is what may well have set off the whole disaster last time. And you know, I know, he knows and she knows, that thousands upon thousands of breech babies are turned, completely without any negative consequence every single year. If the wee one doesn’t turn, a Caesar will be flavour of the day.
You could say that she is being un-necessarily cautious, but in this, I support her to the hilt. To encourage her to do otherwise would simply make her re-live those horrible days all over again, even if this time all goes like clockwork.

And it is still a possibility that she will turn. After all, her mother was also stubbornly breech. Her other prefered position was transverse – she would lie like a giant lozenge, right across the width of my belly, roundy head at one side, roundy bum at the other, little feet kicking strongly at my stomach. She was turned but had reverted to her head-up bum-down position by the time I got back home from the hospital. But on the day of delivery, there she was, head down, ready to go. And this baby may well do the same.
I tell Schmoo this and she looks at me, hope shining tentatively in her eyes.

“Really?” she asks.

“Really.” I say.

All you can really do is to hope. And, if you have a mind for it, to pray.

A Lesson from my Father

March 23, 2007

My father has always been somewhat emotionally detached. He has never, for whatever reason, been willing or able to verbalise warmth or love, let alone to demonstrate it. He has successfully driven away both family and his few friends with his irascability. He lives in a resthome, which gives me the odd twinge of guilt, because if I were a truly good daughter, I would take him in and care for him myself. But he is such a moaner – nothing, but nothing, is ever right. He never has a good day, he never sleeps a wink, the food is never to his liking, he is always bored, the staff are always too busy to spend time listening to him and I don’t ring often enough. And I know that with my tendancy towards depression, that were I to take him in, I would in all probability fall off my precarious perch of positivity. Besides which, he and the Manpet simply don’t get along. They rub each other up terribly. And I’m not willing to inflict that on the man I love.

My father has two grandchildren – Shmoo, who is 28 years old and Chris, who is nine. Dad’s relationship to his grandchildren has been pretty much on a par with his relationship to my brother and me. Stern, cold, distant and judgemental. Shmoo can remember staying out of his way when she was a child, because of his gruffness. My brother’s child, Chris, has always called him Grumpy Grandpa, because the first thing he hears when he does visit is: “Don’t touch anything. Just sit down and be quiet.” Shmoo visits him when she can, but that isn’t very frequently. She feels guilty about this, but my thinking is that if he had put more effort into accepting her as a small child, she would want to see him now.

The sad part of this is that I don’t think he particularly likes being like this. Whether he recognises his own tendencies or not, I don’t know, as we can never have that type of conversation, but he certainly must feel the results. Interestingly, he has a twin brother who is quite the reverse in temperament. Uncle is warm, welcoming, chatty and great fun to be around. Quite how two genetically identical individuals came to have such different personalities is one of those mysteries of life. A friend reckons that long, long ago, my Dad chose to be the grumpy one and that it stuck so well that he couldn’t get out of it even if he wanted to.

The scary part is that I have a lot of my Dad’s personality.
I can be unthinkingly critical. Often, I’ve said things that would have been far better left unsaid.
I look for the downsides. If there is a reason for not doing something, I’ll surely be the one to find it.
I’m not very social. I’d far rather spend an evening alone with a good book than out at a party. When I am with people, I natural tendency is to listen and watch, rather than talk and interact. I find reasons for not doing social things rather than for doing them. I’m happy with my own company.

And now this grandchild, this mokopuna is coming, no doubt to be followed by others. And I do not want to be towards my grandchildren as my father was towards his. I don’t want to alienate them with harsh comments. I don’t want to make them feel small and unwanted. I don’t want them to feel unloved.

I want to make them feel that they are special, unique human beings. I want to make them feel that they are truly in the centre of my universe, that they are always wecome, always wanted, always loved.

I can only hope that I am up to the task.