Saturday, 28 May 2011

Right where I am: somewhere between 2 years, 8 months, 29 days and 2 years, 9 months, 2 days

Posted as part of Angie's Right Where I Am project at Still Life with Circles

Where am I?

When I started writing this post, I didn't actually know. I had to work it out. I'm still not convinced that I have my sums right.

Where to start from?

From the births. Or from the death. Hard on the heels of one another and then there is that nastily direct line of causation. The death might not have occurred if it hadn't been for the birth. So horribly early.
I'm sure that I would have known instinctively which one was correct, births or death, months or weeks out in 2008.
Now I flounder between the two. Uncertainly. As the date does. The 28th.
Nearly the anniversary of Georgina's death, the 29th. But not quite.
There seems to be a bunch of 'not quite'-ness in my life lately.

When I started my calculation to locate my point on the map, the 28th didn't even produce a jolt of recognition. Perhaps that tells me everything I need to know.

Still, here I am. Apparently. Wry smile.


At my sister's wedding, earlier this month.
I'm at a distinct disadvantage, with doughy arms and sleepy eyes peering out.
I am wearing unfamiliar tall heels that make me feel as though I am teetering on stilts.
Where I am now, I again care about how I look. I didn't. Not for about the first two years.
I feel matronly and frumpy. All bingo wings and swollen ankles.
Caught between envious glances at, and joyful pride in, the beautiful young women that surround me.
Halfway between a competitor and a mother. Not quite a mother yet evidently. Not quite ready to lay down my weapons.

I am talking to someone much shorter than me.
I squint and lean towards them, feeling ungainly, wobbly.

"So, do you feel better now?"

I hesitate. Better from what?
Have I been stricken down with some mysterious illness and not even noticed?
Perhaps I looked ill earlier in the day? Pale?
I have recently given birth but people generally don't ask if you are 'feeling better' following the birth of a baby.
Or do they?
How the heck would I know. Nobody asked me very much at all after the birth of my first two children.

I lean downwards, precariously balanced. Feigning deafness.

She pipes again.

"So, do you feel better now? Now you've done it properly?"

Do I feel better now I have completed a pregnancy that didn't end prematurely?
And in the death of 50% of the occupants?
Is that what she is asking?
Do I feel better?
Do I?
At least the very fact that she's asked this question, phrased in this way, doesn't make me want to scream as it would have done a while ago.
Perhaps I do feel better?


Right where I am.

Everything flickers.
I can happily occupy two diametrically opposed points of view and not bat an eyelid.

(a) I do feel better, everything is better, I am healed, grateful, happy. Because how could I not be?

(b) I actually feel precisely the same as the day she died, you don't come back from an experience like that. There is no 'feeling better.' Ever. Screw you, random wedding questioner and your proposed happy ending. I don't buy it and I don't want it.

(a) I have three children. And I'm not about to hide one of them away.

(b) Strike that. To save me and the questioner a whole bunch of awkwardness (mainly theirs) and heart ache (mainly mine) make that two.

(a) Perhaps I am over-egging the pudding a little when it comes to grief. It was, technically, a miscarriage. Here, in this community, I hang around the edges wondering if I should approach with my tiny daughter in my arms. So far from a baby. Such a long shot at life.
Perhaps Georgina's death has just become a convenient hook to hang my discontent upon?
Why am I still here, jibber jabbering away to myself?

(b) But it hurts. It hurts.
She might have lived. Just might.
I loved her. I love her.
The potential that was Georgina, my daughter, my first baby. And will never be.
And it seems like such a robbery, such a tragedy. So immense that my minds spins when I think about it for too long.
She was a person, a baby. A small baby. With blue eyes that looked about. Or appeared to.
With a small sprinkling of hair.
With limbs that stirred and jabbed the air.
I'm still here because . . . well, there simply isn't anywhere else. Not for her.

(a) I know absolutely nothing. I have brought another child into this world of chaos, where awful things are just waiting to strike at you and nothing makes any sense. Where we are all just temporarily suspended above a mighty abyss, waiting to fall endlessly.

(b) I know things that most people don't. Because this brief glimmer called life is all I have to offer. To anyone.
I held out my hands and tried to pull three people across. But one slipped.
We all slip in the end. But, in the meantime, we live.
I look at the sunlight moving across Reuben's face.
I hear Jessica proudly pronounce, "Ma-mee, Da-dee, Ooooo-ben" over her stick figures.
I feel my own blood pounding in my ears and look out at the world.
I feel stupid and I feel wise.

(a) I am miserable. How could I be happy whilst she is dead?

(b) I am happy. How could I be miserable whilst they are alive? Whilst I am alive?

My happiness isn't the same as it was before. It has teeth and claws. It is a strange, fierce happiness. Possessive. Jealous. Sharp. Toothy. It's spiky, carrying knuckle dusters. It is spoiling for a fight. Possibly with you, question popper at the wedding.

But here.
Where I am.
I am happy.
Happy in a way that I could not have imagined before.
Happy in a way that I would not have been had my daughters both lived.
I can only imagine that my happiness then would have been more placid. Flaccid.
More  . . . appropriate. More socially acceptable.

Not this wild, mad thing that feels indecent and improper. A betrayal.
It does not look like it could possibly belong to that slightly rotund young mother with dishevelled hair, carrying too many bags and frantically shouting at that toddler not to run into the road.
But it does.
It's mine.

And so is she.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


Reuben George W arrived safely into this world on Wednesday 4th of May - Star Wars Day as my oldest nephew gleefully informed me, may the fourth be with you - after an induction at 38 weeks, 3 days. He weighed 8lbs 11oz.

His birth was fairly uneventful apart from the brief threat of an assisted delivery. This threatened assistance spurred us both on to one final effort as Reuben was born very shortly after the doctor entered the room waving scary looking medical bits and pieces about.

I've tried to write a little about his arrival but it does not feel as though I should post it here. Perhaps just not yet. This place is too firmly his sisters'.

I search his face for a trace of Georgina's. But she has not left one there for me to find. My wise girl.

We sit together. Four of us. Four and a half of us.
I'm tired and uncomfortable but so happy.
Jessica suddenly seems to have grown up. Her birth, her sister's birth. Aeons and worlds away.
I try to imagine another big sister standing next to her but find that, suddenly, I can't.

As I gather Reuben's warm body to mine, I ache.
Ache for how tiny a 1lb 10 oz body is.
Ache for how very short a span of time three days is.
Ache for a daughter who isn't coming home to me.
Perhaps it is only now that I begin to understand that.

Fat, treacherous tears roll down my face and into his hair.
For however much I would like his birth, his life, to be separate from everything that came before it, to be simple and joyful, it isn't.
It's more of a tangle.
But perhaps all the more beautiful for that.