A few weeks ago I was reeling. Angry at the world for making life so hard right now, and angry at myself for not just getting on with it.
Like I usually do.
I pride myself on my ability to just keep swimming.
Yeah, life sucks and then you die. You just keep swimming, laughing and living and no doubt it will get better.
I have always felt that I just need to survive.
I don’t have to thrive. I don’t have to rise to challenges.
When things get tough, I just have to survive.
The past few months I’ve been spinning.
Oscar had another a surgery.
A surgery that I knew he would need from his second day on this earth.
A procedure that had been imminent and I knew would be in late March or early April since the December before.
I was prepared.
I was mildly anxious, but mostly nonchalant.
This is life with Oscar. One step at a time, one foot after another, we just keep going.
And when we went, and he coped so well with the actual operation, but not at all with the hospital environment, I fell.
I fell hard and fast and painfully.
I fell onto the feelings I’d been squashing for over two years.
Scared, tired, defeated feelings.
Oscar has a congenital heart disease.
He has had a surgical repair at 12 days and a balloon angioplasty at 10 months. He is monitored on a regular basis by a team of medical professionals for a bicuspid aortic valve that at present is not causing any issues.
He also has asthma – most probably related to his prematurity – that he will hopefully grow out of.
However, Oscar is 9 times out of 10 healthy, thriving, strong and brave.
That is all easily processed and accepted as reality.
And you would be forgiven for thinking that during the past two years I must have been a mess on a regular basis.
A slobbering, sobbing, shamble of a person.
Instead, I stood up straight 9 times out of 10.
Oh, I had my moments.
My “why us! Why him! Why me!” moments.
Two quite memorable ones.
The first the night 11 day old Oscar was diagnosed with his coarctation of the aorta and was being prepared for transportation to Westmead Children’s Hospital.
There was snot, racking sobs and much feeling sorry for myself and my poor poor sick baby, and my poor poor not-so-sick baby I would be leaving behind for the time being.
The second was the day before we found out we were heading home to Young Hospital.
I was fed up with the NICU, I was fed up with having to ask to hold my own children, I was fed up with not seeing and caring for Rory as much as I wanted to, and I was fed up with being told how healthy these twin boys were.
If they were so healthy why weren’t we going HOME!?! HUH?!?
Turns out they were pretty healthy and they were sending us as close to home as was medically acceptable.
But they don’t tell you any of this in the NICU. Getting your hopes up there is like the promise of an ice cream on a hot day.
And then watching the ice cream truck drive by and miss you completely. Or worse, it stops. But you are short 5 cents.
And so no one tells you there is even such a thing as an ice cream truck.
Until you walk into the Special Care Unit for the midnight feed and find the healthier of your babies softly sleeping in a baby capsule.
Having an oxygen saturation test. To see if he can make a trip in the back of an ambulance back to Young, 2 hours drive away.
And he can.
At that point in time I was so scared they were going to send me back to Young with Fraser, and leave Oscar behind in Canberra. I’d already had to separate and be separated from both my babies and I wasn’t about to let it happen again. I didn’t believe for a second that our little local hospital would accept a 1.65kg baby who’d only been downgraded to Special Care two days earlier, and only out of a humidicrib for one day.
But our little local hospital did take that 1.65kg baby, and the 2.65kg baby, and their mother.
But the day before that happened, I lost it. At my Mum. Who had spent over three weeks of her life caring for my 18 month old in all the comfort that a hospital Residence, communal living arrangement can provide.
Which is not a whole lot.
I screamed and cried and fell into pieces in a shared living room while a man whose wife was dying of cancer sat on the couch trying to watch the shared TV. I still haven’t figured out if he sat still out of rage for my ungrateful, spoiled tantrum, or from fear that if he were to move he too would come under fire from my so very misdirected anger.
Because sometimes there is nothing to be angry about except a situation. And a situation doesn’t care.
So I fell apart, stood up, and kept going. Kept my back straight.
And that’s what I do. Standing up straight, taking what I can on my shoulders, having random outbursts about not wanting to change one more nappy or wash one more dish.
But holding myself together with the smiles of my children, the kisses from their lips, the sparkle of mischief in their eyes.
I’m a 3D puzzle, my pieces made up of all of their little pieces. Built up bit by bit.
And sometimes – not nearly often enough – all those pieces cascade to the ground. Ready to be rebuilt into something new.