Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The eyes say it all

How can one week change my life so completely? The second photo is the picture I wanted to show the world, to go with the blog I wrote in my hospital room 5 days ago when life was as perfect as it could be. Below is that blog. Then below that, is what happened when my world ended at 3am on Saturday morning, and so the first picture is the one I NEED the world to see.

For so long you have lain on my lungs and my spine, my stomach shoved under my left armpit, my bladder squashed somewhere behind my right buttock. But three days ago, they lifted you out and laid you in my arms, your head laid on my heart. For something so small, babies have an incredible capacity to fill every atom of the world around them - you are not yet three days old, yet I hardly remember life before you. You have filled every breath. My lungs are back in place, but the air in them is bursting with the smell of you. We are cocooned in our little world, the occassional visitor entering our womb of wonder but leaving us again. Your gorgeous ginger dad is delighted - his first excited words: "she's a red-head!" I'm not at all convinced but I'm not going to burst his ginger bubble yet. Daisy and Poppy, your sisters are smitten, and you are already accepting of being pulled and prodded.

I am hostage to your lips, smacking and slapping as they clasp my burgeoning breasts, sucking and searching constantly, one deep blue eye occassionally peeking at me, winking, watchful, wonderful. I'm a bit dazed, my c-section wound curtailing my energy bubble, which is supressed by your feeding needs. So dazed and bewitched am I, the Dr thinks I've been at the drugs cabinet. As he came in to see me we gazed at your perfection. My delireous smile faltered, I gasped, aghast. There was a cut on your head! How had it happened? How could I have been so careless? I was mortified, embarrassed, guilt-ridden. We quickly examined you, concern turning to confusion on his face, confusion turning to comprehension on my face.

"Ah," I said, taking a lick. "That'll be a dollop of my mum's homemade blackberry jelly." My guilty mid-night feast had been discovered.
I am getting to know you, so strange, yet so right. You are mine, and always have been. We were always meant to be and it feels like the final piece of the jigsaw has fitted into place, and now the picture is complete. I made you, but you completed me. Welcome my love, our Ruby Rose - a little gem in our garden of flowergirls.

4 days later- I am in the darkest days of my life. My worst nightmare woke me from my sleep at 3am on Saturday night, 4 days after my daughter was born, when my husband came into my hospital room and told me my lovely mum had had a massive stroke. My beautiful, vibrant mum, the woman who has shared time with me every day of my life, in person or on the phone, held me, comforted me, is lying in a bed looking 150, unable to speak, locked in a silent hell. Her eyes occassionally open and they see me. Sometimes they scream for me to help her. Sometimes they love me so intensly I feel the earth shudder with the force. In one week, I have had a new daughter whose eyes are dark pools of wonder that I have yet to discover, and my mum lies stricken, her eyes deep pools of fear and love - and a lifetime together of knowledge. My devastation is beyond my ability to comprehend, I don't know if the ground will ever be steady again.

In a week my world has transformed forever and two of the people I love most in the world are only open to me with their eyes. Somehow, I have to find the strength to be there for them both - and my girls and family. I have to look into their eyes and bring my baby forward, and bring my mum back.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The extraordinary ordinary

Tomorrow, I'm having a baby. How strange to write that, to know that, but there it is. About lunchtime actually. Such an ordinary, everyday event. Yet such an extraordinary, primeval, earth-shattering, life-changing event too. Tomorrow I meet my daughter, a person I will love with ferocious intensity for the rest of my life.

As a child I always wanted to be different. I didn't want to fit in, instead I strived to stand out. I don't know why. I lived in my imagination, creating stories and imagined experiences, desperate for my perfectly fine, but ordinary, life to become extraordinary. That ambtion took me to Pakistan as a teenager to teach English, threw me into the scrum of women's rugby, led me to lead an orangutan through the jungles of Borneo and release it into the wild. With every book I devoured, with every word I ingested, my appetite for adventure increased.

I never wanted "the norm" and so I surprised myself along with everyone else when I married the man of my dreams, a wild-hearted adventurer and lover of life. And then it all became a bit serious - we had babies, we had losses, we had job-enforced separation, we had money issues, we had stresses. We had some laughs, we had lots of joy and even the odd little adventure. But I started to feel that old feeling of ordinaryness - a statistic even. Even my heartaches were numbers - one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage. Older mums have a harder time keeping pregnancies. It frightened me.

But as I feel the last kicks of my baby before I hold her in my arms tomorrow, I know that my life is utterly extraordinary. The sheer amazingness of the girls, the joy of being loved by a great man, the thrill of being a mum. In doing the ordinary, I found the extraordinary.

Life is not made extraordinary by the things we do. Life is made extraordinary by the people we love. And tomorrow, I meet a new love of my life. Extraordinary, don't you think?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Great Expectations

Now I know it's not looking good, beginning a blog about great expectations with an apology, an excuse for laziness, a blagging of blogging failure. But I am. So there.

My name is Alana Kirk and I am a blogging basket-case, a creative couch-potato, a literary lout. My beautiful baby (the blog) has been neglected and abandoned in favour of my beautiful baby (in belly). There have been no words of wisdom, no funny fables and certainly no insightful...well, insights. As my stomach has swelled, so my brain has diminished until all I am capable of (until about 4pm anyway) is basic speech and a vague responsibility for my two children. All other tasks have turned into Mt Everest - impossible, dangerous and too bloody daunting.

Which leads nicely onto my theme for this rather tardy post.... great expectations. Do they help us strive forward and attain new heights, or do they crush us until we are quibbling wrecks of self-preceived failure and un-ticked lists? I've always thought the former, always lived on lists and always moved my little world continually forward. But now, to be honest, I am feeling a little deflated (despite my inflated body). I am finding the expectations on me from my family, my hubby and my children (expectations no doubt I have created through years of frenetic functioning and copious coping through everything) too much. Way, way, way too much. I am utterly exhausted. Six pregnancies in 5 years, three babies - well, two and one imminent), writing, living, and yes, I admit, far too much baking and decorating. I'm always the one who copes, so when I realise that at this precise moment in time - as my body defies gravity, my sleep-deprived exhaustion defies death and lengthy lists of to-do are lengthier lists of not-done - I am not coping, those that see me (I'm hard to miss) are not really seeing me. They are not seeing that I need not to have any expectations on me. That I am scared and incompetent and emotional and needy - all the things I am ususally not. But it works both ways too. I have great expectations of them, and how anyone live up to those? And so I conclude before my head explodes from thinking too much instead of mulching more brain cells.

Maybe we should all take the great away from expectations. Maybe we need to have real expectations. To completely ruin a beautiful saying ... give me the serenity to accept the things I can do, the courage to let go of the things I just can't right now, and the wisdom to know the difference. So with that I sign off with a flourish, and will NOT go and cook another 42 cottage pies for the freezer and instead sit down with a cup of tea. And a lovely (bought!) chocolate muffin. And it may be some time before I work up the energy to write again. Sorry.