Monthly Archives: June 2015

Heaven is ….. an afternoon alone

Sounds incredibly selfish doesn’t it? But goodness the Saturday before last was amazing. You can tell how time gallops away from me, as I actually wrote this on said Saturday but didn’t manage to actually post it. Lulu’s father collected her in the morning and took her off to ballet class and then kept her overnight which meant that I had eight whole hours to myself. What should I do with the abundance of time? Go shopping? Meet friends? Go out for Brunch? No,no,no. Stay in my pyjamas, read magazines and give myself a manicure yes, yes, yes.

I imagine that I suffer from the same mixed emotions regarding free time that I think everyone does. Should one run around and do all the things you never have time to do during the week? Go to the Post office, pop into the bank, get some keys cut, pick up some shopping at the supermarket or simply stay at home and relax. Whichever one you do there is a down side. If you run around you feel you have robbed yourself of time to yourself and if you relax you feel guilty, that you have somehow wasted your precious time by not doing the jobs that continue to need doing. This line of thinking normally results in a sense of guilt, what ever you choose to do. I genuinely believe that guilt is one of the main components of the human condition and I am trying very hard to release myself from the vicious circle of guilt. Doing what I feel I ought to do, instead of what I would like to do, and then feeling very resentful is not a good head space to be in.

Recently my levels of exhaustion have reached almost epic proportions, in the last few weeks I have cancelled three evening meetings because I knew that I just wouldn’t be able to concentrate or stay awake. I try my best to be reliable as I don’t like to let people down but I have learnt to listen to my body. Finally, after lots of not listening or purely ignoring the signs. If I don’t listen I end up rather poorly and am then no good to any one, and most importantly am no good to baby Lulu who is my priority in everything that I do. I hit this wall of tiredness recently for no apparent reason and my plans went out the window. In the midst of this I thought I’d broken my wrist, the hospital agreed, then they decided I had fractured it and then they decided I had  strained the tendons. Then they decided that, as I had been experiencing a lot of pain in my knees and joints, I needed some tests for arthritis.  I’ll let you know how it goes. Anyway, on that Saturday afternoon I reveled in doing nothing, alone in the house, recharging and re centring myself. I was brought up as an only child and as such I find spending too much time with people feels like my senses are being over stimulated and i need quiet alone time to re calibrate. To some people this may sound selfish but for me it is necessary. And I accept that, I don’t punish myself for it and I am learning not to feel guilty about it.

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Introducing Lulu to Suffolk

When I was little we didn’t actually go on holiday in the modern sense. In the summer we went up to Scotland to stay with my Aunt and my cousins for a couple of weeks and twice we went to Brighton to stay with my Uncle. The other school holidays were spent at home, going to the park or playing out with my friends from the same building as me. Yes, believe it or not small children played hopscotch unsupervised on the streets of Ladbroke Grove! We used to play with the children in the next street too and came home when we could hear our mums shouting our names out the windows. My mum was a cleaner and worked odd hours so then my grandma would look after me. In those days the holiday abroad was rare among the people I knew, we didn’t have much money and a holiday was seen as luxury not a necessity. I still have that mentality today, I love going on holiday but I don’t expect it, if I can save enough then great, if not then the park and swimming it is. My mum took me abroad once when I was seven, to Malaga, it was amazing! the sea, the beach, the food, it felt incredibly exotic.

From the age of eight my mum used to make me go and stay with my father abroad, where he lived, for two weeks in the summer and it was absolutely awful. I didn’t know my father or his family, we didn’t speak the same language – literally – and I hated every minute, they were mean to me, they made fun of me and they ignored me. I missed my mum so much that it hurt and yet every year, for my years, as the summer holidays approached I knew what was going to happen and that sense of foreboding and misery really tainted a lot of my child hood holiday time, I dreaded being sent away.

Apart from Spain the only other ‘proper’ holiday I had was when my mum and my aunt took me and my two cousins to a house that they had rented in Walberswick,Suffolk, from the friend of the woman my mum cleaned for.

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It was the best holiday ever! The house was on the green which had swings, you could walk to the beach and there is a bridge where you go crabbing, having picked up the lines and bait of bacon scraps at the local Spar. There was very little traffic and you could rent bikes from the garage to go whizzing around the country lanes. There was even a chap with a rowing boat who would row you across the estuary to Southward for 10p each, bikes extra. It was like the Famous Five made flesh. Picnic lunches of white bread cheese sandwiches on the beach, making sand castles with one of my cousins who was a year older than me while the other, who was 14, would wander up and down the beach looking wistfully out to sea in the first bloom of teen angst. Her brother and I laughed at her a lot, after all what more do you need to make you happy than an ice cream and a set of swings right in front of your house?

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I have lots of not so good memories from my child hood but that holiday and that place stir memories in me of pure happiness. We never went back after that trip but then I had Lulu and wanted her to experience the same sort of fun as me so I started taking her to Suffolk too. When she was about six months old my ex and I rented a gorgeous house in the midst of the forest in Orford and took our mums with us, a good friend also came to stay for a few days.  Then a short time later we rented a cottage in the middle of an apple orchard near Saxmundham with our god child and her parents. A few months later it was a cottage in Orford and some of Lulu’s godparents came to stay. Then last summer I took Lulu on our first single parent holiday to a cottage in Walberswick, my mum came too and the three of us had a whale of a time.You could see the sea from my bedroom and it was perfect.

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In April this year I rented  larger house in Walberswck and M came along with his two children, as did my mum. We have rented the same house for two weeks at the end of August for us and the children again, and of course my mum! It is magical amazing place, we all go crabbing on the bridge of my childhood memory, we cycle to the Co Op (the Spar is long gone) for papers and milk, we get in the little row boat across to Southwold, we play on the beach, get sand everywhere and then go to the Anchor for dinner and Adnams ale. It is exactly a I remember it as a child and I adore going there. I hope that when Lulu grows up that she has as many fond members of Suffolk as I do and if i’m really lucky I may be able to take my grandchildren there too.

Lulu came early.

Lulu came every early indeed, at 28 weeks and 5 days to be precise. She weighted a whopping 2 1/2 lbs (that really is big for a baby her gestation!) and remained in intensive care for nine weeks until finally we could take her home. It was a ‘groundhog day’ like existence; get up, get dressed, get expressed milk out of fridge, get cab to station, get train and bus to hospital, stay by her incubator for nine hours, give her medicine, feed her through a tube in her nose, rotate her sleeping position so she doesn’t get a flattened head, change her bedding, all done through two holes in the side of the incubator, it was a challenge.

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My hands eventually cracked and split from the sanitizing fluid that was necessary to put on almost constantly, and I expressed milk for her every three hours, day and night. Everything was covered in breast milk! The challenges of every minute of everyday were all worth it. But goodness it was hard. I felt like I was waiting for her to die, but wishing, oh so hard, that she wouldn’t. The machines that enabled  her to breathe and grow had alarms that went off every time she stopped breathing or her heart rate dropped. I still hear those bells in my dreams. I was always waiting for the midnight phone call to say she had passed away. She did superbly well for the first five days and came off the C Pap, (breathing apparatus for prem babies as their lungs haven’t developed fully) and then a few days later she went back a step and back onto C pap she went for 48 hours (see the main photo – sob sob). Everyone in the Intensive care unit tells you this is common with prem babies, two steps forward, one step back. That was the point when she was at her most unwell and to be entirely honest neither my husband nor I expected to her to make it through those days. We got home from the hospital and he wept and wept, I was trying to focus on getting on, expressing, trying to sleep, ‘groundhog day’, so I sent him to the spare room for the night –  I felt that I couldn’t afford to unravel, I couldn’t be tired the next day when I saw Lulu, she needed me and I needed my sleep.

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Lulu is now four years old and I still can’t watch any programmes about prem babies, they make me cry and my heart leaps into my throat. I probably haven’t dealt sufficiently with Lucia’s early arrival but I don’t want to cry any more, she is here and miraculously she is completely well. There are no issues with her sight or her hearing, which is very common in prem babies due to their exposure to so much oxygen when in the incubators. However, her early arrival has played a big part in my decision not to have anymore children and I am still coming to terms with that but I simply don’t think I have the reserves of emotional energy required to deal with such a poorly baby again and for me in this situation, no matter how sad it makes me, knowledge is power.