Posted by: irishdad | December 11, 2009

one year

So that’s a year completed without our daughter.

Her anniversary and the weekend went ok all in all.

The day certainly had its moments, but we had our son with us so he served as a distraction and motivation not to dwell on how horrible things were a year ago and get too upset. When we told him that we were bringing flowers up to Littlegirl’s grave because it was her birthday he asked if we were all going to dance up there. Gotta love the innocence.

After that we planned to go to a visit a farm and see the animals, but the farmers made the fatal mistake of putting the mother pig with her ten two-day-old piglets on view out front…and by the time we were done with that cuteness it started to rain so we never made it in to see the rest of the animals.

That was it for the day really, we didn’t do anything too symbolic or significant, perhaps were just not ready for that yet.

Our parents and some family went to a service of remembrance for babies who die around the time of death organised by ISANDS, which by all accounts was a most beautiful affair, but sounded just too sad and raw for us this time around. We’ll plan to go next year.

We came to the conclusion that the Littlegirl’s anniversary was a) worse in anticipation and b) potentially more difficult for other people than it was for us.

Because we think about her and her loss every single day. We’ve thought about her – and for a long time nothing and no-one else – everyday for a year. That’s what you do when your baby dies, it’s natural and unavoidable.

For friends and family who have not mulled over her death quite so much, when the anniversary swings around they take time to reflect on her absence and remember the time of her death and all those difficult thoughts that are really painful and uncomfortable when you dwell on them.

We’ve been living with the loss every day for a year, so this state of affairs is not shocking to us anymore. Well, most of the time it’s not shocking…sometimes it still hits like a punch in the guts.

We got some nice texts and a couple of cards from people who recalled that this was the time of the anniversary, which was nice. It’s funny though, because when I think about it, it’s like anniversary week around here. There’s the anniversary of the last day of our former lives – before everything came crashing down; the anniversary of finding out the baby had died, of her birth, of the date she was scheduled to be born (yesterday)…of the funeral (tomorrow). I suspect people don’t realise that all these ‘days’ are passing, but that’s ok.

Right, the twitching in my eye suggests it’s time to go to bed.

Still to come: thoughts on the year, and on the week to come.

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Posted by: irishdad | December 3, 2009

The trouble with bathrooms

We were quite impressed with the people putting in our bathroom, until they had a fight outside the house with one threatening to kill the other.

Hosting a fight in your garden, where you think the Bathroom Guy is being shanked by the Tiler Guy while pregnant mother and child cower inside the house does not figure high on the things we need in our life right now.

Here’s what went down in da hood.

Everything was finished bar hanging a mirror and putting down the saddle under the door. This latter job should have been done by the tiler during the week but for some reason wasn’t. So, when Bathroom Guy came this evening to hang the mirror and get paid he made a phone call to voice his disappointment to the tiler, who in return went seven shades of bananas. Bathroom guy hung up. Tiler guy kept phoning and shouting down the line.

I arrived home into the midst of this, but didn’t realise there was that much going on between the guys. So I sat in the living room with Irishmam and Littleboy waiting for Bathroom guy to finish up so we could give the wee lad his bath and pack him off to bed.

Well, next thing, Tiler guy turns up at the front door and invites Mr Bathroom outside for a chat. As soon as the door closed all hell broke loose, with a lot of noisy shouting and scuffling. There was the sound of clanging metal as well which made me think that Bathroom guy might now be wearing the door saddle.

I told wife and child (one scared, one oblivious) to go upstairs and close the bedroom door behind them while I wondered should I go outside or just lock the door and leave Bathroom Guy to his fate. (Through all this we could only hear but not see what was going on.)

After a minute or so the guys moved off about 50 feet where Tiler Guy continued telling Bathroom guy he was going to kill him. I followed them out and, keeping my distance, told them they had about five seconds before I called the police…and that I had a scared pregnant wife inside the house. At this Tiler Guy screamed “Sorry, it’s him, he needs to pay me my money” and sped off.

Bathroom guy was unharmed but shaking with adrenalin, as was I. He told me they’d been working together for years and he’d never seen the likes of it, but that Tiler Guy’s child was sick in hospital and he was under a lot of pressure.

He apologised profusely and said he couldn’t believe what had happened…and then started talking about coming back inside to finish off the work. Yeah, right. I told him that my wife was terrified and we had our own things to deal with over the weekend and he’d have to come back on Monday.

All I can conclude is that this is what people under stress look like. Times are tough in this country right now and the mood is increasingly sour for a number of reasons.  I suspect bathroom guy has cashflow problems and is late paying his team, so the tiler is probably under money pressure and now he has a sick child. Keep this going for a while and somethings going to give eventually.

So, that was Thursday the 3rd of December 2009. A completely abnormal day exactly one year after the last ‘normal’ day of our lives. 365 days ago at this exact time  we were still two regular people, watching telly on the couch expecting our second baby to be born in five days time.  This evening we’re sitting on the same couch talking about our day and the days to come, wondering how we came to have people fighting in our garden!

I hope the guys sort things out, and that the tiler’s child is ok, but really, I don’t need this shit.

In fairness though, the bathroom is lovely.

Posted by: irishdad | December 2, 2009

The Party

Littlegirl’s anniversary is looming over this week.

In some ways it’s just a dominant part of the mental chatter that’s going on these days. (For example: the coming baby, the bloody bathroom and trying to shave in an airplane bathroom sized sink, how Irish bishops have been fully knowledgable about the wholesale abuse of boys and girls in the Dublin area over the last 30 years, how the country has been covered with unprecedented floods and the fact that Ireland beat South Africa in Rugby at the weekend!)

This evening my wife and I were talking about the anniversary, which is on Saturday, and she said that she didn’t want to focus on what we ‘should be doing.’ I thought she was referring to how we should spend the day as we wish doing something that suits us, rather than what people might expect us to do. But no, she was talking about how we should be celebrating our daughter’s first birthday with a party.

It had never even occurred to me that this anniversary, in another life,  would be a birthday party. That it would mark the successful navigation of the first year of a young childs journey. Wow. How did I miss that?

In spite of a year spent thinking over Littlegirl, I guess I still have some ground to cover.

The river is near our house. It broke its bank during the week. Flooding in the east of the country (where we are) was minor compared to the disaster zones of the west and south.

Posted by: irishdad | November 23, 2009

It’s Monday…

… so we should really rip out the entire bathroom and get a new one put in.

Yes, it seems we have embarked on an Extreme Nesting project par excellence after last week’s painting of the chimney brest failed to scratch that itchy homing itch.

The pregnancy continues well thankfully, with a sprinkling of sleepless nights and an assortment of cramps and pains for the lady.

The Swine flu vaccine has been upgraded to two doses so Irishmam will be getting the second one again on Friday.  The virus seems to be waning in Ireland – last I heard. I still watch in horror though, as people on the bus put their hands on the bars and then pick their teeth. In this house we’ve been washing our hands as soon as we come in the door and carrying hand gel all the time. I guess when there’s no perceived risk from getting the virus then it’s just not foremost in people’s minds.

I’ve been banged back up to full five-day working weeks for the next while until I leave for the hopeful arrival of the baby.

In other news, Ireland got knocked out of qualification for the soccer world cup next year in South Africa. In spite of a clear and blatant piece of foul play no-one who could make a difference is interested in addressing the issue so it’s just tough shit.

I know it’s only a game, but there’s a huge sense of injustice among the people in Ireland at the moment, which is layered on top of the powerlessness folks feel at the battered state of our ‘economy’. But hey, if I’ve learned anything in the past year it’s that shitty things happen that are beyond your control and are completely unfair…and that’s just that.

I went to see Ireland play Fiji in rugby at the weekend (now there’s an honest game, entirely free of eye-gouging and the odd forward pass :)), and happened to meet a couple of acquaintances who I haven’t seen all year. One of the guys told me how sorry he was to hear about Littlegirl and another emailed me yesterday to express similar sentiments. I was touched that they both acknowledged our loss as I’m sure it would probably seem easier not to mention after almost a year has passed.

Last weekend I did a one day organic gardening course, so there’s an outside chance of plant survival next spring. Broad beans will first up, I’m sure there’s a packet of innocent seeds out there somewhere shaking in their boots.

Finally, I’m delighted that little Angus has arrived for Sally and Simon over on tuesdayshope!

 

Posted by: irishdad | November 18, 2009

Men talking, about grief.

There was a piece on Irish radio this morning about how (Irish) men deal with miscarriage.

It’s rare enough that these topics crop up on the airwaves, and rarer yet for the male perspective to be discussed so I thought I’d post a link to the show.

The guys are discussing miscarriage and their grief after this tragedy entered their lives. I think any of the men out there who have experienced miscarriage or the loss of a baby will identify with what they had to say. Mothers may gain an insight into how fathers were feeling during the weeks and months after their loss.

To listen, visit this http://2fm.rte.ie/previously_played and click on  “I want to listen to a recording of this show” link for The Gerry Ryan Show. If the link becomes redundant you’ll need to look for the Gerry Ryan show from the 18th of November 2009.

Once the show starts in its pop-up window, move the finicky green slider to around the 83rd minute.

I’m listening to the replay now and the first man’s recounting of the birth of his child sounds so familiar to my own experiences.

Posted by: irishdad | November 12, 2009

Notes from the underground

I was up ’till all hours last night fretting in general and thinking about how I might announce on f.acebook that our child had a) been born or b) died. What fun it was to lie awake trying to think of suitable status updates! Sometimes when thoughts like these get started it’s hard to get them back under control.

The angry/spiteful/feeling hard-done-by side of me feels that when people find out about the baby they’ll think to themselves “thank god that’s over, the Irishdad clan are normal again. We can forget about that other unmentionable thing that happened and contact them again.” Whereas, I feel like saying “well buddy, if you weren’t around for the sadness then you are cordially invited to keep your congratulations.”

I think Mr. Dostoyevsky put it well:  “I am a sick man… I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased*.”

I guess with Littlegirl’s anniversary coming up I’m just feeling like people will think that because a year will have elapsed then it’s really time to move on. And in many ways I look forward to looking forward. I hope that next year sees this family busy with a new baby and capable of making plans for the future. But, this doesn’t mean we’ll be turning our back on Littlegirl. Regardless of what happens in coming weeks, we’ll always have a second child and she’ll always be missing. And missed.

Fin de rant

* my liver is fine.

Posted by: irishdad | November 9, 2009

Expecting different results

As mentioned in my previous post, the baby is scheduled to be delivered on the 15th of December (at 36 weeks, 6 days). At just ten days after Littlegirl’s anniversary I guess this will be an interesting time.

As the date gets closer and the baby keeps growing and moving (just like the last time) we’re having occasional moments of hope that things will maybe work out. Not to the point that we’ve actually envisaged any particular day or event that features a new baby in our lives, but in the abstract we’ve talked about things like taking a holiday next spring, with two children in tow.

Today we went back to the maternity ward in the hospital for the first time since we left empty-handed last year. We were there because Irishmam needs to get steroid injections to boost the baby’s lung development, as breathing problems can be an issue with early delivery.

It was odd to be back in the hospital, but on the whole not too stressful. We were fortunate to be met by the midwife who had first detected the problem with Littleboy, raising the alert that got him delivered urgently and preventing a very serious situation from developing. She was also present last year around the time that Littlegirl was born. She’s a lovely person and we got great comfort from knowing that she is now aware that we’ll be visiting again next month.

It was amusing to see so many familiar faces at work in the maternity ward…though we’d prefer that they had no reason to remember us. Still, it’s nice to have continuity and to think that we’ll get to meet some of the people who were so great the last time around.

I’m a little freaked out at the thought of the birth and how I’ll feel or react – assuming things go well.

You see, I wasn’t present at Littleboy’s birth because the early stages of that labour degenerated into what we were later told was a ‘critical emergency.’  Irishmam was whipped away at a trot down to the operating theatre, while I was distracted by a hospital porter who got me some tea and biscuits. It all turned out well in the end but the event scared the pants of Irishmam and I and left us with some residual trauma.

Littlegirl’s birth and the days around it were, obviously, a complete nightmare.

So, I’m not sure what to expect this third time. Working on the belief that things surely can’t go to shit again I’m wondering what I’ll do and feel if I’m handed a live baby. Will it bring the true weight of Littlegirl’s death  straight back to me? Will the full-scale of her loss be revealed by the warmth and life of her sibling?

Don’t get me wrong, I know that this is a lovely issue to have and that we are so lucky to be anticipating the birth of another child, however I’m still apprehensive.

Posted by: irishdad | November 9, 2009

celebration

Last night we went out for a meal to celebrate my parents 40th wedding anniversary, along with my folks and my brother and his wife.

It was a fun night and the meal was excellent. It was a little jarring though to be raising our glasses in celebration just weeks before Littlegirl’s anniversary and our third baby’s scheduled birth. I think it was just the fourth time that Irishmam and I went out in company since our baby died last December, so for us it was a big deal to be out. In fairness though, my parents do have a great marriage and they deserve to celebrate it.

At one point my mum said she thinks that my brother and I and our wives will be similarly happy in our married lives. At the time I was thinking that we hadn’t exactly got off to the best start – what with the dead baby and all – but I suppose that an event like the death of a child is going to test your relationship in ways you would never imagine.

Irishmam and I have been presented with such a scenario and I guess we have done ok so far. We both agree that our relationship has become stronger over the last year. With some hard work maybe we’ll be able to pull off a successful marriage like my parents. I would be pleased by that.

Here’s some eighties fromage that my dad used to belt out at the time. Check out the pantaloons on Ashford??

Posted by: irishdad | October 26, 2009

Thinking about December

Today dawned bright and mild so we decided to take a trip down to Wicklow to Mount Usher Gardens. I don’t know much (read: nothing) about gardens, trees or plants, but these gardens were pretty and peaceful, and the air smelled fantastic! The trees in the garden were established during the 19th centry and are laid out along the wandering Vartry river  in a natural style that was responsible for coining the term ‘Robinsonian’.

Between trying to prevent Littleboy from falling in the river, and keeping his interviews with the dogs and babies of stranger to only one every ten minutes or so, we got to talking about what we’ll do on December fifth. This will be Littlegirl’s first anniversary.

Our thinking at the moment is that we’ll go off by ourselves with Littleboy for the day and try to do something nice together. We don’t want to have a mass or gathering of our families as that would just be too sad – it’ll be sad anyway but to mark it formally and have to meet everyone sounds like a big undertaking. So we’ll probably go somewhere not too far away like Mount Usher and try to have a decent day and reflect on our daughter and the year that has passed.

The Varty River in Mount Usher Gardens, Wicklow

The Varty River in Mount Usher Gardens, Wicklow

One part of the gardens I’d love to see again when the spring comes around is the wildflower area. The flowers are on their last legs at the moment, though I’d say they are spectacular during the spring and summer.

Em, a blue flower (Azzurus Usherius)

Em, a blue flower (Azzurus Usherius)

Pink, with a blurred Irishmam

Pink, with a blurred Irishmam in the background

Posted by: irishdad | October 23, 2009

Northern Lights

Last weekend I was a lucky fella, taking a trip to the north of Norway to visit a friend and his family who live up there.

While it feels like mid-autumn here in Ireland, winter is certainly getting itself established in Norway, with the country growing increasingly snowy as we flew north.

The views from the plane were very beautiful with endless fjords and dramatic mountains topped by recent snow, with the last of the colourful leaves of autumn visible in the valleys below.

I was listening to this on the flight up. It suited the view, but made me sad.

We took a boat trip through the fjords around town, and walked in the hills above.  Having seen a fraction of the surrounding area I’d now love to go back during the summer when the midnight sun kicks in.

Most of my close friends live abroad. While they usually get home a couple of times a year we’re rarely all in the same place at the same time, so we try to co-ordinate a meet-up at least once a year. During May four of us went to drink wine in the Rheingau in Germany, so this was very much a bonus trip. It was also our first time up to see Mr Norway – who has been living in the north of the country for a couple of years – as his location is pretty remote. Another pal travelled from Belgium so the three of us were delighted to catch up, have a few drinks and listen to the music of our younger days.

Mr Norway and his wife are expecting their second child next April, after two miscarriages, so they are on tenterhooks like Irishmam and I. Fingers crossed we all get what we wish for this time.

On a separate note, pregnant women of Ireland are in a dilemma this week with regard to the swine flu vaccine. We’re being told by our health authority that it’s safe, but when you read references in the newspaper to unproven links to autism and other problems it’s very difficult to decide what to do. Our own doctor this week told Irishmam not to get it…and now the media and the overall authorities are saying yes.

So, do we avoid the jab and gamble that the flu won’t stop by our house, or take it and hope that the vaccine isn’t being rushed through the system?

I don’t know…I suppose we could head back up to Norway where perhaps it’ll soon be too cold for the virus to survive!

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