Archive for September, 2009

The sad side of it all

Helen was the first person we told about the Bean. The day after I did the pregnancy test, we went to the cemetery. It was warm, and we touched her stone, and we told her that she would have a niece or nephew, weeks before we told anyone else. Sometimes we have a daydream that Helen picked out the Bean for us, that Helen has met her already (for she is a she! More on that later). Silly, maybe, but I don’t care.

These days I find myself overcome with tears for Helen more often than usual.I was expecting to miss her more, of course, when I was pregnant and when we became parents. I knew that it would be a bittersweet time. And it is, but not in the way I was expecting. I thought I would mourn the fact that the baby wouldn’t have her dazzling Auntie in her life, and that Helen wouldn’t get to be that Auntie.

But what hurts more is that I can’t imagine Helen in The Bean’s life, because it feels so, so long since Helen was here. She and the baby feel so far apart. I don’t know who Helen would be now, what she would be doing, or even what she’d be wearing or how she’d do her hair. So I don’t know this 21 year old Auntie Helen.  I only know that dear 16 year old little sister Helen.  The Bean will be born and grow up not  knowing what she’s missing; she won’t have a gap in her life like we do, at least not one that she’s aware of, and for that I am grateful, but also terribly sad. And Helen. She is missing out on meeting her niece, but it’s just one on a list of  a million things she has missed out on, and will miss out on, and I cry for each of those things.

And more often I cry simply for Helen, because I still long for her and I still rail against the unfairness of her life ending before she had a chance to spread her wings.  I just wish she was still here, baby or no baby. I just miss her.

It’s true that I’m skipping over the moon daily thinking about the Bean, and it’s true that this baby will bring sunshine into all of our lives, where Helen’s loss left such darkness. But the darkness of Helen’s absence will still be present.  And the truth is, I want them both. It’s not much to ask for- my child and my sister- and yet it’s more than I can ever have.


A large glass of whine

I have a work friend who shares my unashamed love of a couple of drinks a couple of times a week. Like me, he rarely gets drunks and dislikes the feeling, but like me he loves one or two cold ones and the warm buzz it gives you. But his wife doesn’t approve of drinking. During long work road trips we’d often wax lyrical on the tempting glug-glug-gug of wine sloshing into a glass, the “ksssch” of a beer bottle opening and first fizz of the bubbly brew on the lips. Then I’d thumb my nose at him, because when I finally got home, I’d be doing it for real, whereas he’d have to ask the missus first.

Now it’s the stuff of fantasy for both of us, as I have a benign dictator of my own stopping me from drinking. I haven’t had a bevvie for months. And that’s the first time I’ve been able to say that in more than a decade (yikes).

In truth, it’s no sacrifice. At first, I even enjoyed the novelty of not drinking. It was one of the few material/physical differences which meant I was pregnant. Then, I felt so sick that I couldn’t even be near G if he’d had one pint of beer (and brushed his teeth afterwards), and walking down the booze aisle- any aisle, in fact, with all the vile food and horrible drinks everywhere- of the supermarket, was like an assault course.

Now, though, as I sail my portly vessel through the calmer waters of the second trimester (half way there now!), I’m no longer nauseous and have lots of daily reminders of the fact I’m with child, and man I’d love a glass of wine. I’ve been dreaming of sneaky after-work pints and sharing a bottle with friends. In reality, drink tastes grim- I’ve tried a sip of G’s a couple of times and it’s  like paintstripper to me, thanks to my crazy knocked-up hormone chemistry, I guess. And although many women drink a little while pregnant, I just can’t bring myself do it.  So really, it’s still fine to go without. But I certainly don’t stand by my declarations earlier in the pregnancy that I might just continue my sober existence after the baby is born. Unless I had a health reason to give up alcohol, or I felt it was an issue, the teetotal life is not for me. And I suppose I love the idea of enjoying a drink: the ritual, the social aspect, even the joy of lolling on the sofa with a goblet of red and Four Weddings.

I’d like to think I’ll toast the baby with a cold glass of bubbly from the warmth of the birthing pool, but actually I think I’ll be yearning for a cup of tea instead (oh and bonding with the baby, of course) . But I’m sure, when I am finally reunited with my old pal pinot g whenever that is, it will be a fine day indeed. And that day isn’t so very far away.

After all, breastfeeding mothers can have a glass of wine, can’t they? CAN’T THEY?

Shush. I’m sleeping.

Wow, it’s been a while. Sorry about that. My excuse is that I am spending most of my time being pregnant, and for that, read: sleeping. I keep waiting for the full-of-energy part that I have been promised, but it’ s eluding me so far. I’m like a sleep junkie. I squeeze it in before dinner, I fill weekend afternoons with it, and it calls to me long before the clock strikes 10pm each night.

I have managed to keep up some semblance of normal life. We went to a very elegant wedding this weekend (but left at 10.30) ;  I have been meeting up with friends (but generally during afternoons/early evenings); and of course, much as I’d like to start my maternity leave now, I can’t, so I still have to go to work. Sometimes I consider locking myself in the disabled loo at work and curling up in the corner for a snooze. But that would be gross, and also, not fair to anyone who actually needs to use the loo.

I have also managed to drag my ass to pregnancy yoga, and against all my prejudices, have greatly enjoyed it. I’ve been rather dismissive of yoga in the past, despite the fact that my Dad is a total yogi and is training to be a yoga teacher. It has always smacked of lentil weavery to me. And as a rule, I prefer the type of exercise where you feel you’re going to die (ie Brit Mil Fit). But, having ditched my normal routine once the Bean came on the scene,  I eventually realised that it wasn’t good for me to go from 2 high impact exercise classes a week to leading the lifestyle of a (pregnant, but still) slug.

I confess that I cringed as I walked through my rather bohemian ‘hood with a yoga mat sticking out of a hessian bag, sportswear clinging to my emerging bump. I could have sworn the people drinking outside the wine bars were giving me evils and I wanted to assure them that I was well aware of my status as Walking Cliche, and I wanted to throw custard pies at me too.

But the class itself, once I had got over the feeling that I shouldn’t really be there- it was full of actual pregnant women, not frauds like me! (yep, still feel like that)- and realised that pregnancy is the ideal social crutch for slightly awkward types (dozens of instant conversation-openers at your fingertips!), was ace. Apart from the bit where we had to sit back to back with a partner and exhale like “aaaaaaaaah”.  I just couldn’t be earnest about that.

The next class was this Monday, and I had the most lovely experience. When we were doing the deep breathing exercises, the baby started to dance about vigorously. In the last couple of weeks I’ve felt flutters and pops, especially in the evenings. But this was a full-on hoedown in my belly, complete with a couple of proper, actual kicks (the likes of which I haven’t really felt since, despite my desperate nose-breathing and “aah-ing” and rib-cage-expanding at home, in an attempt to encourage a repeat performance). The excitement, not to mention the party in my paunch, did rather hinder my efforts to achieve deep zen-like calm. But then, the Bean is a little young to understand the concept of “relaxation”, so he/she is forgiven.

Baby likes yoga. Yoga it is then! Then, pudding. Then another nap.