Monday, 19 September 2011

More pluckings from the brain of the sleep deprived

"Not happy Mum-mee," she tugs at my hand insistently. "NOT happy."

This is Jessica's current favourite game. I must hold one object. This can be a plastic Happyland figure, a teddy, a stick, a stone, even a conker. This character must cry. Great, gasping sobs of boo hoo hoo. Any attempt to deviate from this formula, to claim that this particular stick or toy is already happy results in a steely stare and a quick slap down from Jessica's hand, forcing this unfortunate into the posture of one prostrate with grief. "NO! NOT happy Mum-mee."

The character must then state what would correct this state of affairs, what will make them happy. In the initial iterations of this seemingly endless game, the object of desire was an invitation to a tea party. So the character would sob their boo hoo hoos and then sigh, wrist pressed limply to brow (yes, yes, even a stone can do this) "I wish that somebody would invite me to a tea party."

Up pops the character held by Jessica. "TEA PART-TEE" she beams benevolently, scooping up the sobbing character and transporting them to the world of delight that is the tea part-tee where they partake of cake, tea and occasionally (as I understand it) pine cones.

For a while a 'tea part-tee' was some kind of panacea, a cure-all for the woes of all sticks, stones, dolls and teddies within a five mile radius. A 'tea part-tee' was even offered as a consolation to an unfortunate 'stick man' that was accidentally snapped in two.

As the popularity of this game had steadfastly refused to wane, the demands of the weeping character (as played by me for the majority of the time) have grown more and more outlandish. A trip to the pink castle. A ride in the helicopter. A dance party where they only play Cure songs. A friendly rugby ball. A little girl called Jessica to bounce on the bed with.

No matter the demand, Jessica will unfailingly pop up, grin on face and announce the arrival of whatever it is that will stop the weeping.

Then, two minutes later, the character is again, declared not happy and must lie down and weep once more.

Sometimes I wonder if I might have messed up her up a little. Either by being a sadder, generally worse version of the me that she might have had, somebody whom she has to jolly along with promises of parties and trips, a responsibility. Or by leading her to believe that a little bit of tea, cake and Robert Smith are the answer to misery.

So yes, Jessica. Her speech is no longer confined to that mysterious word, GUNK, which some of you may remember was her one and only word for quite some time. Her speech was declared *age appropriate* at her last review. Occasionally I still don't quite understand what she is saying and, when I repeat what I think she has said, she lets out a little, world weary 'No' which makes me feel at once like laughing and crying.

As always with Jessica, just when I think that she is never going to breath, regulate her blood pressure, maintain her temperature, move, walk, talk, she does. Amazingly, she does. I still can't quite believe in it. I am left in this state of nervous tension, expecting the next disaster. But she's fine. A little slow but just fine.

She will be starting school next year. As she was born right at the end of the academic year here in the UK, she will have just turned four when she is due to start school next year. And this situation has me tying myself up in knots of guilt and inaction.

I remember leaning over her incubator and promising her that I would fight for her, that I would protect her, that I would help her with everything she needed. And I've tried. I've changed oxygen tubes and made up bottles of high calorie formula and done the exercises the physiotherapists recommended and researched things to do to help her speech and spent and spent on (mainly unnecessary) clothes and toys. We've painted and crayoned and dressed up and soft played and been swimming. But it's considerably easier when I know what the right thing to do is but, when it comes to Jessica's school entrance, I'm not sure if I should be fighting to hold her back or letting her go.

Poor Jessica. With her dead twin sister and a mother who always hugs her a little too tightly. My father in law has a phrase that sums it up, 'I love the bones of you' he says. I do. I love the reassurance of her body, her bones. I hope she doesn't mind too much. I guess she'll never have known any different.

Tea part-tee anyone?


I catch our dual reflection in the bathroom mirror. A slightly tired eye woman with a baby. And an array of translucencies intercede between us and our reflections. A multitude of might have beens. And, just for an instant, I let myself imagine that he is her. Just for an instant. Something that I never, ever allowed myself to do with her twin. Because it was too close, she was too close.

But I held that particular image up to the mirror, up to the light. Just to find that moment of relief, of ease. To briefly inhabit a world where none of this had ever happened. A world where she didn't die. Because her death still presses down on my skull, not painfully any longer but . . consistently, uncomfortably.

But even as I see his sturdy little back, head balanced precariously on top, slightly bending over like an overly heavy flower, I know it is a nonsense. She was never there. She was never even close to this. My poor tiny baby.

I still dream of half made babies. I dream of pregnancies that give out only partially complete. I cradle tiny babies in my dream arms and yearn for that chance, that outside bet that I can't give up on. Sometimes the baby in my dreams is Reuben but long before I ever laid eyes on him. And my dream heart feels that love, fierce protective love for the tiny babies that were once mine. I wake up unsettled and sweaty and I can't find any rest or comfort.


I never really felt self conscious about admitting that I was sad that Georgina died. I never thought that people would think it was weird that I list her on my facebook profile as a child of mine. I never thought that people might think I was strange, that I was not a good mother to my living children because I mention her from time to time. I assumed that people who found this place would find it understandable, even if they could not understand it. Now . . . I'm not so sure.
It makes me wish that I could maintain a 'dignified' silence. But I find I can't.


'I love you oh so well. Like a kid loves candy and fresh snow. I love you oh so well.'

I do. Georgina. I love you oh so well.
Remembering that first sight of your little face still makes me smile.
Love you.

Monday, 5 September 2011


Today I have a post at Glow In The Woods, pondering over the question, 'who was that?'

I'm very honoured to be writing there.