Friday, 26 February 2010

Kitchen table

Thank you so much for all your lovely comments on my two previous grinch-esque posts. They are very, very much appreciated.
I am sorry to have turned all green, hairy and small-hearted on you.
But I have to say that I do feel better for airing my grudges. I've been nursing that first one for a long time.
So you probably haven't seen the last of grinchy old Catherine W. 
In fact, you've positively encouraged me to get rid of my small heartedness via my blog.

I think that Anna hit the nail on the head in her comment.

I've somehow lost the distinction between someone who is making me angry and someone who is only, in truth, annoying me. I think both of these incidents only actually annoyed me.
If I'd been feeling less vulnerable or had a lower 'base line' of anger at the time they occurred I wouldn't be so cross about them now. Still. Sigh.

Anyhow, thought I would join in with the Glow In The Woods gathering around the kitchen table.

1 | How would you describe your presence on the internet? Does your online voice differ from your real life voice? If so, how? And why?
I tend to hover around the edges. I do read, and comment on, quite a number of blogs but always with greater or lesser degrees of uncertainty as to whether I should be there or not.

In real life I am less earnest, better at dissembling and probably more reserved, certainly less likely to approach a stranger and start a conversation. In real life I am rather shy. But my lack of editing skill has resulted in an online voice that is not a million miles away from how I speak in real life.

My online voice tends to talk mainly about Georgina, who died, and less about Jessica, who did not. In real life the bias is the other way around, towards Jessica, because that is socially acceptable. People like to hear about a baby born prematurely who lived. Far less so about a baby born prematurely who died. But, in my thoughts, my daughters are represented fairly evenly. Or so I like to think.

Perhaps this blog is a way of mothering Georgina in the only way that I can, of forcing myself to even up the balance between my twins. One alive, one dead. 

2 | Why did you begin blogging, or reading blogs? Was this before or after your experience of babyloss?
I started reading blogs about six months or so after Georgina died. Prior to that, I’m not entirely sure that I even knew what a blog was.

I do remember that Carly’s ‘Love Reign Over Me’ and Michele’s ‘My Life After Loss’ were two of the first blogs that I ever read. From those I linked to Glow in the Woods and from there, outwards.

I’m still not entirely sure how I started blogging myself, about ten months after Georgina died.
I had been lurking around in babyloss blog land for quite some time before I did finally start writing myself.

I hesitated because . . (a)  I was aware of the fact that I still had a baby and a ‘miracle’ baby to boot, (b)  Georgina was born so very prematurely and had such a short life, I felt that others might find my grief over her death somehow peculiar, (c)  I’m not a writer. I hadn’t written anything other than science essays and mathematical equations for at least ten years prior to this little endeavour. Initially, I felt that I had nothing to add to what I had already read. And I don’t. But, I realise now, that isn’t the point.

I started blogging when . .  (a)  I wanted some control over what I was ‘putting out there.’ I sometimes felt embarrassed that I had expressed myself poorly or that I had said too much. Or worse, that I had misrepresented Georgina. Detracted from her somehow. (b)  My comments were getting too long so I obviously wanted or needed to write about what had happened. What’s that I hear you say? Still too long. Yup. I love writing comments. Tell me to move along if you feel I’m taking over your blog. (c)  I realised that I was still totally preoccupied with the birth of my daughters, the death of Georgina and the time that Jessica spent in intensive care. I’m somewhat surprised by how much I mull it all over to this day. Having bored those who were forced to listen to me because (1) they were being paid to or (2) they were blood relatives; I felt that this was a good way to release some of pressure of thinking and thinking and thinking about the events of those few months.

3 | Do you write anonymously? Does anonymity - or would anonymity - change your expression of grief?
Not particularly anonymously. Catherine is my real name and W is my real initial. Georgina Jane and Jessica Clair are the real names of my children. A lot of people who read here know my full name. With hindsight, perhaps I would rather have written anonymously but I don’t think it would change the way I write, or what I choose and do not choose to write about, a great deal.

4 | Do you have a responsibility in how you express yourself on the internet? To whom, and why?
I don’t want to hurt people. Especially people who have already been hurt enough. I suppose that is a responsibility. I try my best but I'm sure I slip up from time to time.

5 | Do authenticity and honesty matter to you, both as a reader and a writer? Or does unconditional support matter more? How do you think readers perceive your truth?
I strive to be honest. But there are some things that I don’t want to write about in relation to this experience. Or talk about. I suppose that is a kind of lying by omission.

I hope that people who read my blog know that I am aiming towards the truth. I hope that the writers of blogs I read know that I am, to the very best of my ability, sincere in my support. I guess that rules out unconditional?  

6 | Have you ever been in the crosshairs of a troll? How did you deal with it, and what did you learn from it?
I’ve never had a troll here. In some ways, I think a troll turning up here, at my blog, and writing horrible things directed at me would bother me less than it does when they attack someone whose writing I hold dear. I feel that responding to them directly would be adding fuel to the fire so I usually try to ignore them and just hope they’ll go away.

I’ve been ‘told off’ a couple of times by more experienced bloggers. Usually when writing about things outside my own realm of knowledge or experience. So deservedly reprimanded.

7 | How do you feel before going online - either to write on your own blog, or to absorb the writing of others? How do you feel when you shut down the computer and walk away?
When I go to write my own blog, I usually feel as though I am not coping. That the usual background hum of premature birth and NICU and death is beginning to overwhelm my thoughts in my everyday life.  I don’t really have anywhere else to discuss the issues that I write about on my blog.
I leave feeling that I can take a breath, that I don’t need to force the air in and out of my lungs quite so much.

When I read others I feel as though I have been walking alongside somebody else. We may not necessarily have been speaking directly to one another but . . I know that you are there. In the vicinity.
I cry. A lot. My husband looks at my red eyes in bewilderment and asks why I would deliberately seek out something that makes me so sad.
But I leave feeling peaceful. I don’t quite know how that works. All I know is that it does.

8 | Do family/friends know you write/commune online? If so, have they told you how they feel about it? How do you respond to their opinions?
My husband, mother and younger sister know. They haven’t really told me how they feel and, as far as I know, they don’t read here. I expect I must be hoping that they might, as I’ve told them that this blog exists?

9 | Have you ever met any other loss bloggers in real-life? How did it feel to share food and air and space, and how did it make you feel about your own storytelling and healing? If you haven't experienced this, would you want to, or not? Why?
Yes I have. I felt very privileged to have simply popped out of a computer screen and invaded this particularly lovely woman’s house. I just knocked on the door and said “Here I am. It’s Catherine W from the internetz.”

I would love to meet so many of the people I’ve ‘met’ here. It seems very strange, and almost sad, to me that I probably will never, ever meet many of you in person.

10 | How did you/will you know it's time to read fewer grief blogs, and write less of grief? How did you/will you redirect your energy, creativity, and persona online -- did you/will you go offline? Disappear and start again? Or transition in your current space, hoping to find a new voice? If you've done this, how did it feel?
I’m sure that, when I no longer feel the need to write here, I will say thank you and disappear. I hope I know when the time has come to do that. That I realise that saying goodbye to this blog doesn’t mean that I am letting go of Georgina. I think I might keep a paper copy of this blog to give to Jessica when she is much, much older.

I think I will always remain as a reader. 

Wednesday, 24 February 2010


'A kaleidoscope is a tube of mirrors containing loose coloured beadspebbles, or other small coloured objects. The viewer looks in one end and light enters the other end, reflecting off the mirrors. Typically there are two rectangular lengthwise mirrors. Setting of the mirrors at 45° creates 8 duplicate images of the objects, 6 at 60°, and 4 at 90°. As the tube is rotated, the tumbling of the coloured objects presents the viewer with varying colours and patterns. Any arbitrary pattern of objects shows up as a beautiful symmetric pattern because of the reflections in the mirrors.'

I commented on another blog this week that I sometimes feel as though I am looking into a kaleidoscope. One twist and the arbitrary pattern of the early birth of my daughters, Georgina's death, Jessica's long stay in hospital, my grief, forms into something beautiful and symmetric. Another twist and chaos again. Another turn and yet another pattern is assembled. The same elements but subtly different rearrangements.

One morning last week, I was putting Jessica in the car to go to the supermarket. It was an ordinary morning in February in England, slightly grey and cold. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught my own reflection in the car window. I saw an ordinary looking person, so average, a woman who could be thinner, whose hair could have been brushed, who doesn't look particularly beautiful or interesting. Completing a mundane task. Going to the supermarket to buy milk and a cake for later, when my friend came round for a cup of tea that afternoon. Just so very ordinary. My daughter isn't 1lb 7oz any longer, she doesn't trail oxygen cylinders and tubes around with her. We're both ordinary now, could pass for normal.

And yet. And yet I have this feeling that I know something that most people don't.
I've been somewhere, seen something, extraordinary. That hovering place between existence and a void. 
And at that moment, my internal kaleidoscope twitched and pieces went tumbling into place. 
Somehow, everything was sorted into its correct position, neatly arranged. 
Each piece to its own location within the pattern, not obscuring any of the others. All visible. All distinct. 
Here, premature labour. 
Here, guilt. 
Here, twins. 
Here, daughters. 
Here, the neonatal intensive care unit. 
Here, memory loss. 
Here, grief. 
Here, love. 
Here, fear.
Here, wondering if there will ever be another.
Here, the eldest. Here, the youngest. 
Here, Georgina. Here, Jessica. 

For a moment or two, it all made some sort of sense to me. This doesn't happen very often.
But I thought to myself. There she is. There is Georgina's mother. 
I smiled at my own reflection in the glass. Messy hair and all. 
I smiled at Jessica through the glass. 
Just for a moment, I felt fine. 

Then the kaleidoscope twists again. That particular pattern dissolves and another forms.

My cousin made a list of all my grandmother's great grandchildren and she missed out Georgina. 
She even included children who are no blood relation, step-great grandchildren and children of partners and so on. 
But not Georgina. 
Georgina was named for my grandmother, who was called Jane too.
I agonised and agonised and wondered if I was being rude, or just plain mean, or whether I would be misunderstood, she's not still harping on about the dead child, still, STILL, even after all this time. 
I finally screwed up the courage to say something, pointed out that she had missed Georgina's name off. 
My cousin replied and said that she had simply forgotten about her.
That stung. In a strange way, I would have preferred it if she had said that Georgina wasn't included because she was dead. 
But to be forgotten about? 
It gave me such a jolt. I suppose that I have spent so long thinking about Georgina that I tend to forget that she is just a passing footnote to other people. Almost like someone for whom you carried a torch in secondary school, you can still remember their name, the type of coat they wore, the way they smiled. But the object of your affection will have no clue who you are. Because you didn't even impinge of the edges of their field of vision, that skinny, scrappy girl a few years below them. 
Georgina might loom like a giant in my mind but, to others, she is something so trivial as to have vanished from their memories.
If my own cousin doesn't remember I had twins, it seems highly unlikely that many other people will.  
But I will always remember. 
Because I'm Georgina's mother.
I don't see myself forgetting that. 
Not for a very long time. 

Monday, 15 February 2010

Her heart was two sizes too small

'You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
You really are a heel.
You're as cuddly as a cactus,
You're as charming as an eel.
Mr. Grinch.
You're a bad banana
With a greasy black peel'.
Before Georgina died,  I like to think that I wasn't one to bear a grudge. I don't believe that I was a particularly angry person. Maybe if someone overtook me too pointedly whilst driving. I've had my moments during fights with family members, I've been known to throw a shoe at my husband (but only the once and it was a very soft shoe!)
But my heart seems to have shrunk by a couple of sizes. A heart that was once of normal proportions, perhaps not the most voluminous but not the teeny tiniest either, has withered a little, short on compassion, short on forgiveness. These days.
I'm now a considerably angrier, more Grinch-like proposition than I was.
I get angry with . . .

(a) televisions programmes, which now all seem to revolve around pregnancy. I can't seem to escape pregnancy related story lines. There is a documentary on TV in the UK called 'One Born Every Minute' which is a fly on the wall in a maternity unit. I don't imagine they'll feature a child who does not survive. Or maybe they will? I can't bring myself to watch it.

(b) celebrity magazines, where the talented and beautiful discuss how many children they would like, what genders they would like. Hell, maybe they would even like twins. Good luck with that one.

(c) Ordinary people on the street. Pregnant women who look untroubled and blissful, harassed women pushing buggies and trailing two or three kids behind them, people who yell and swear at their children in supermarkets, girls who look young enough to be my daughter proudly pushing prams along, pregnant women browsing baby clothes and toys, women smoking into double buggies. There's nothing wrong with any of these people, there is something wrong with me.

I'm angry with the woman I was stuck behind in the queue last week. Just because she had twin girls who were wearing an outfit identical to one that I've bought for Jessica and because her babies had similar colouring. Blue eyes, fair hair. Ridiculous. What on earth should make me angry about that?

I'm angry with a lady I met at a mother and baby group who announced that all babies were either walking or talking by sixteen months. Then pointedly asked how old Jessica was. I just wanted to spill the whole story out but I just smiled and said 'oh, she'll get there. She's so close.'

Do you know, that I am STILL angry with a nurse who works at the NICU where Georgina and Jessica stayed after they were born? So angry, that it wakes me up at night. That probably (no, definitely) sounds completely hideous.

If you spend a long time in NICU you get to know most of the nurses quite well, as they will look after your child for at least one 12 hour shift during their stay. I admired, liked and trusted every single nurse who looked after both Jessica and Georgina. They were all so dedicated and most were so compassionate and understanding, you felt as though you could confide in them. My husband and I got to know the nurses so well after 3 months in ICU that, when we phoned through at night, we would always ask who was looking after her and tell one another "Oh, it's nurse Y tonight" and the other would nod contentedly and fall asleep knowing that our daughter was in hands that we trusted. .

But, as ever, it is the exception that proves the rule. There was one nurse who I just couldn't seem to get along with, no matter how hard I tried. And I suppose that is the way of things. There will always be one person whom you don't see eye to eye with. And they are probably a person who is exactly the right type to support someone else. Who isn't you.

There was one nurse in particular that made me feel I was doing something wrong everytime I so much as looked in the incubator. Eventually, if she was looking after Jessica that day, I just went home. No fun to drive over a hundred mile round trip for nothing but she used to dent my confidence to such an extent it simply wasn't worth staying. I would be tears for hours every single time this particular person was involved. Strange when all the other nurses would go to great lengths to make you feel involved and most understood my need to sit there for hours looking in the incubator! Not touching or interferring or even talking to her, I just needed to be there. I guess it's annoying to have someone else watching you work all the time but Jessica was my baby and I felt awful just trying to get on with my life whilst she was in hospital. Well, I just couldn't. 

She told me to go home and have a glass of wine the day after Georgina died. And the day after. And the day after. I was actually frightened of wine at the time. Because I didn't think it would stop at one glass.

She confidently diagnosed me with post natal depression less than a week after Georgina had died and in the same breath told me and my husband that we would have to vacate the parents room we were staying in as someone else needed it. Which wasn't true, the senior nurse on the ward informed me.

She told my husband off the day after Georgina died because he forgot to take his watch off when he went on to the ward. Yes, he should have removed his watch but she could have been a little kinder under the circumstances.

When MRSA hit the NICU, no other visitors apart from parents were allowed in. My mum was frantic. She spent ages carefully sewing an incubator cover (these protect premature babies from the light which is over stimulating for them.) This cover was rejected by this particular nurse as it was not 'fire proof' despite (a) being made of exactly the same material as several others on the unit and (b) she never even opened the bag to look at it. So it was thrown in the bin.
One day I was incubator gazing and Jessica stopped breathing. Not unusual at the time, an apnoea. The nurse looking after her that day was busy and asked me to just rub her back to start her breathing again. I did. Another nurse (this nurse that I STILL seem to be bearing a grudge against nearly 18 months down the line) saw me rubbing her back and told me off for touching her. Something broke inside of me at that moment. I felt so powerless, so hopeless.

I'm still bearing a grudge against this particular nurse. Geesh, what sort of a person bears a grudge against someone who helped to save their child's life? A woman who seen all of this so many times. Who probably can't imagine what it would be like to arrive on her ward, a place so familiar to her, to watch your own children struggle to live. It probably seems mundane and every day to her but it is the single most terrible and amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I'm sure she thought I was a drama queen who didn't understand how lucky she was. She was probably right.

I'm hoping that this post will act as some sort of exorcism and banish her from my thoughts. Life is too short to hold a grudge. Rubs grinchy hands together. Wanders off humming 'you're a mean one, Mr. Grinch. You really are a heel. You're as cuddly as a cactus. You're as charming as an eel, Mr. Grinch . . . .'

I'm still so angry. But maybe not really with her. Not really. I think I'm angry because my daughters were born before they were ready. And I'm angry because Georgina died. 

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Persistence of vision

I hadn't realised that, nearly eighteen months after the fact, I would still be so very preoccupied with the events of 2008. Thinking about the final months of that year takes up so much of my (admittedly rather limited) brain that there currently seems to be little room for anything else. Not good when you have a job that entails being able to concentrate for extended periods of time. Wonder when they'll notice that my attention span is now hovering at around the minute mark?

I have good intentions. I sit at my desk, telling myself that today will be different. Today I will be a productive employee, I will take pride in my appearance, I will remember to brush my hair before I go to work, I will smile, I will click up and down to the printer, I will type and email and call, I will staple documents together, I will annotate graphs neatly, I will check my spreadsheet formulae actually do what they are supposed to be doing instead of some weirdo calculation entirely of my own invention.

I will not go and hide in the ladies room, sit on the floor and cry.
I will not press myself against the door of the cleaning supplies cupboard in the furthest cubicle from the door and sob to myself 'but she was here, she was just here a minute ago.'
I will not run away from pregnancy news.
I will not go and look up Georgina's death record in the database.
I like to look at it sometimes, it's one of the few things I have.
A document. A trace. Of my eldest daughter's existence.
I will not sit and stare at her name, at my husband's name, at my own name.
I will not sit and debate with myself whether the information listed as contributory factors to her death could have been altered, could all be some kind of mistake.
There it is, neatly tidied away.
A place I never thought it would be, purely on the basis that I was responsible for maintaining the database containing that information. Here lies the final document of Baby Georgina W, carefully uploaded to this electronic mausoleum by her mother.
I thought that, simply by the act of importing data into that store, I could protect myself from having to upload the details of my own child's death.
Because that would be too cruel wouldn't it? Apparently not.

Causes of death
(i) pulmonary insufficiency
(ii) extreme prematurity at 23 weeks gestation and 750 grams
(iii) renal failure
(iv) twin pregnancy

I fantasise about simply deleting her record out. Firstly, so that nobody else in the office could look at something so sacred to me. Secondly, perhaps she'd come back. Just perhaps. Perhaps I'd hit delete and there she'd be. In my arms. Looking at me with those blue eyes. Just as though it had never happened.

I try. I try and I try and I try to be normal again.
But my eyes slip off the surface of the here and now. As though it is too shiny, too insubstantial, to slick with new to hold my gaze. It can't keep my attention.
My eyes slip off to the right. They are always snagging on something just outside my field of vision, just out of my sight, that flickers and jumps. They are always searching for that place, where I lost her.

I sat at my desk this week, lost in that parallel place. A place just slightly to the right, out of alignment, accessible only to those whose eyes and minds are permanently fixed elsewhere.

I realised I couldn't remember what happened when Georgina's heart stopped beating. I sometimes wonder if that is why I think of that time so often. Because it is a strange mixture of things I remember with heart stopping vividness, the exact shape of her chin, the blue of her eyes, the split in the skin on her leg, the angle at which the blood dripped out of her mouth when they removed the ventilator, the purple of her bruises, in strange juxtaposition with an absolute and utter blank. There are hours and hours which are unaccounted for, which just evaporated alongside a substantial portion of my heart, on the 29th of August 2008.

I tried to remember. I wanted to call my husband and ask him questions. How long did her heart take to stop beating? Who was holding her when it finally stopped? Which nurse came to check? Was her consultant in the room?
But that would not have been the sort of phone call I would want to make in the middle of a working day.
It is not the sort of call I would like my husband to receive in the middle of a working day.

So I sat and pretended to work. But really I was trying to remember.
My poor mind whizzed around and around and tried to find the answers. How could I forget?

I still can't remember. But I have had a few details filled in.

It took, he estimates, about half an hour for her to die.
She was stronger than they suspected.
I held her.
He said that I held her for a very long time.

I remember the next part.
I washed her. The water wasn't warm enough.
I dressed her. The clothes were slightly too big.
The hat had a stupid, incongruous pom pom. Like a clown's hat.

My poor little clown with her bloody mouth.
My poor, beautiful little girl.
I don't know how I could ever have let you go. My girl. My girl. My sweet girl.
I remember looking and looking and looking at her and thinking that I would put her down and never pick her up again.
That I would put her down and walk out of the door.
And I wouldn't go back.
Because I didn't think that I could do it twice.

And so it goes.

I live in a strange half world when I'm not with my surviving daughter. She brings me back. I owe it to her. I owe it to her sister. To try and be my best for her. Not to say that I always am but I try.

But otherwise I inhabit a peculiar half life that is just a step or two to one side of the one where the majority of people appear to pass their time. That flimsy, garish place that I just can't seem to get a hold on any longer.

In that strange place. Where time stops and starts and writhes forward and backward as though it is alive.
That tiny place that I obsess over and think and think and think about. Until I have worn a groove in the floor, in my brain, even in this strange blog place. I feel as though surely even the electronic stuff this place is made from must be wearing very thin with this. I bore myself, this inability to think about little else. I pace back and forth, repetition, repetition, repetition.
Trying to find that magic elusive point at which I can still save the day, the month, the year, the rest of my life, my husband, Jessica, myself. I'm sure I can save us all you know. If only I can find that moment when I should have done something different.

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of another of this place's shadowy occupants, hurrying along.
I know they are there.
In that gaze that seems to gaze out at another scene entirely.
In that laugh that sounds just slightly wrong.
I try to catch their eyes but they hurry away, turn back inside themselves.
Back to their own version of a neonatal intensive care unit and a slowly, dying child.
Back to their own preoccupations.
Back to whatever vision of their own persists when they shut their eyelids.

My mother told me that children are the crown of life.
They are.
I was waiting for the happiest day of my life.
And it was.

'You know I dreamed about you
for twenty-nine years before I saw you
You know I dreamed about you
I missed you for
for twenty-nine years.' 

I'll miss you for another twenty-nine years Georgina.
And another twenty-nine times twenty-nine.
I miss you so.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Comfort herself

I remember my mother describing marriage to me as a Little Ease.

Little Ease - the name of a prison cell too small to allow the prisoner to stand upright, or to lie down, or to assume any other position of ease.

No matter how hard you try, muscles will cramp, bones will start to ache. 
Turn and turn about, you will never find ease. 
No wonder. It was designed that way.

I don't think this is a reflection upon love, only upon the state of marriage. An acknowledgement of the constraints and compromises that marriage brings with it. Particularly to women of my mother's generation.

I don't view my own marriage in the same light.
But, when Georgina died, I wound up in my very own Little Ease.

I am not an ascetic type.
When I was younger, this troubled me.
There seemed something so terribly unromantic about being overly concerned with where your next meal was coming from and what it would consist of.
With fussing about being too cold or too hot.
With giving any recognition at all to your own comfort.

So I attempted to feign disinterest.
To pretend I had no appetite for anything other than cigarettes and diet drinks.
To pretend that the icy wind didn't chill me, that I didn't want to rush back inside from an extra jumper.
To pretend that I didn't want to cry when boyfriends cheated on me.

But anyone who knows the real me and my love of cake, knows that for precisely what it is. A pretence.

When Georgina died, I longed for comfort. Something, anything.

I tried many things. Some worked. Temporarily.

Outside the NICU was a vending machine. 
I posted in my coins and took icy silver can after icy silver can out. So cold it hurt my teeth. 
And I used to think, if I can just keep standing until the next can. 
Until the next ice cold stream of caffeine and sweetener pours down my throat. 
Then I'll be fine.

Bar after bar of chocolate. Biscuit after biscuit with hot, sweet tea. Sugar and fat to coat the edge of a pain that was so very, very sharp.

Big, fat books. Page after page of imagined worlds. I always had a book with me. So that during hand over times in the NICU, when you usually were asked to leave, I had something to distract my mind with. Because I couldn't bear to think.

When I went into labour that night, it was painful and I was so frightened that I was losing my girls. I really had no idea that they would be born the next morning. I think I imagined that I would start to bleed and that their bodies would somehow vanish.

I started reading Vanity Fair as I sat in the cooling bath water and wished it would all go away. I carried on reading over the next few days, as Georgina died by degrees. 
I don't think I will ever read Vanity Fair again. A shame as it's one of my favourite books. 
I had even considered naming Jessica, Amelia, until I remembered that nobody wants to be Amelia. Everyone wants to be Becky.

Volumes of words. Trollope's 'The Way We Live Now' and Barsetshire chronicles. Jilly Cooper novels. The Twilight series. Anything. Anything where the good get their reward and the bad get their comeuppances. Anything where the world seems to work out satisfactorily in the end.

Cold, white wine. Tepid, red wine.

Hot, hot bathwater. So hot that my skin turned red as I sat and studied my new stomach as it flattened. 
Just an empty void where all those hopes had once resided, those small shards of people, those tiny glimmers of life.

Tiny, white pills. Slightly larger, white pills. Pills that might as well have been sugar. Pills that worked in synergy, in concert. Pills that gave me strange twitches.

I sought comfort in old standbys. Religion. Music. 
But, suddenly and strangely, I felt nothing. Those options had been cut adrift overnight without a word of notice, without so much as a 'by your leave.'

Talking, talking, talking. Talking until I was sick of the sound of my own voice. Talking until I couldn't talk any more. Only cry.

Trying to tune everything out with crosswords, sudoku puzzles, word games, anagrams, computer games. Anything that could be completed and completed correctly. Where I could look down in satisfaction on something finished, all the boxes tidily filled out.

My husband. Who needed comfort himself. We collapsed into one another, not quite managing to hold the other up but folding into one another in such a way that we didn't quite hit the floor.

A pink and white crochet blanket that I fell asleep holding every night. 
Because I thought it might have the last tiny scent of Georgina.

A paper towel stained with Jessica's blood after a bad heel prick. A younger doctor took it and seemed to be having trouble. Finally, she walked off leaving Jessica uncovered and kicking a bloody foot in the air. I'm sure she'd have been crying if her mouth hadn't been full of ventilator. 
My pathetic gratitude to that inexperienced doctor, for giving me a brief opportunity to mother my daughter. To staunch the blood. To remake the bed and tidy the incubator.

Purchasing piles and piles of patterned muslins. Choosing fabric for tiny sheets. To decorate the incubator of my tiny daughter.

Selecting, buying, washing and ironing tiny clothes. Clothes with a size of up to 2lbs with velcro and little hooks to allow wires to snake in and around and out again. Clothes that couldn't be worn because they would hide the skin that could start to turn grey at any minute.

Selecting, buying, washing and ironing larger clothes. Clothes that looked enormous. If I could buy enough, surely I could anchor her to the earth, stop her following her twin into the dark. I felt she couldn't leave if I had all of this ready, that I could buy death off with the sheer weight of my purchases.

Sitting, still and silent, with a frail child tucked inside my clothes. 
The tiny, candle like warmth of her. 
The fragile curve of her skull.
The pump and click of the ventilator.
The hiss of the CPAP machine.
The regular peaks and troughs on the monitors.
The numbers flicking up and down.
Making their own strange music, where I would lose myself. 
Push everything away except my own skin and that tiny warm body, with its miraculous assisted breath, and the points where we connected.
Hoping that if I stayed silent and still enough, we could remain like that forever. 

But this is the thing about a Little Ease. 
Parts of you can find comfort. 
You might be able to stretch out an arm or a leg. 
But it will be to the detriment of another limb.

Just like the pain I feel over Georgina's death.
Sometimes it eases a little. I can find consolation. 
I can hold the facts in my mind and they remain legible, static.
That Georgina was my daughter, beloved, cherished.
That her life meant something, that her life was still beautiful even though it was short.
That there was a meaningful exchange between us, that I knew something, anything, about her.
That she was more than just a tiny, failing body. 
That she was something more than a small frame with organs that gave out on her, one by one. 

That she was something suffused with light.
That it wasn't just a piece of randomly cruel biology that meant her entire life was done with in only three days.

But then my limbs start to seize up. 
The peace I had slips out of my grasp. 
The meaning that I imbued her life with slides away. 
I have to change my position in my cramped cell. 

There is no ease.
There is no consolation.
Just yearning.
Just aching.
A wanting, a needing, a wishing. One that is destined never to be requited, can never reach fulfilment.
An endless shifting, an endless casting about for comfort.