Tuesday, May 24, 2011

when bad things happen to good people

The baby was eight weeks old when we heard the diagnosis. We'd got through the worst of the sleepless nights and breastfeeding troubles, and were slowly surfacing after having been chucked overboard, nappies and teddy bears swirling in the churning waters around us.

I remember her voice as she told me. A calm overtone almost covering the tremble. When she suggested I sit down, I didn't, not immediately. I held on to that moment just for a second. I knew I did not want to hear what she was going to say and I consciously allowed myself to feel that anticipation, enjoy the few moments I had left not knowing that someone so important to me was so fragile.

If any of us could have taken away any of the pain that was to follow, if we could have swallowed the poison that coursed through her veins in the next weeks, borne the rashes and sickness, shivered with her fevers, we would have. I was sheltered from the worst of it - told to focus on this new life who depended on me, not to worry needlessly about what could happen. When we met, she was cheerful and over the worst of each particular episode. Each time she saw the baby grown and changed, we laughed about how well she looked, how this whole mess was a ruse to get out of babysitting. We talked through the options logically, but couldn't help the tears that spilled. Our new refrain: It's SO unfair.

Friends queued up to visit and offer whatever they could. She was almost embarrassed by the countless acts of kindness that showered down on her, on the family. Such strong love, heartfelt warm wishes and soft kind words carried her along, through the dark days, into the sunny spring that was mostly spent resting at home. We felt gratitude, but knew it was simply a reflection of the way she treats the people in her life.

The baby is now eight months old and we are embarking on the riskiest step of the attack on this illness. It will solve all our problems, or take everything away from us. And the worst thing is, all we can do is watch.

Friday, May 6, 2011


I don't know when you learned to do it; stick your tongue between your lips and blow out, a twinkle in your eye and excitement in the squeal that followed.

It got a good reaction in Poland, when you were sitting proudly in your highchair, charming your grandparents with your concentrated chewing; stuffing handfuls of whatever you were given into your mouth. A pause, a swift look to check all eyes were on you, and then a big pthhhhhhheew! Food sprayed all over the table, shrieks from the assembled company, with your Daddy and me trying our best to look stern and not give into the sniggers that threatened to break out. Pleased, your face split into a wide grin, happy that you could provide such entertainment.

When you finish a feed, and your head is on my shoulder, I sometimes feel a tickling high up on my arm. Your lips vibrate on my skin and slobber drips slowly. A low hum crescendos into an abrupt 'bah' as you lift your head and experience the sudden breaking of contact.

Out in your sling, the wind sometimes catches you and ruffles your hair, which sticks straight up at the best of times. Unfazed, you blow back, shouting into the breeze and blowing raspberries for all you're worth.

Like all new discoveries, its attraction has gradually faded. We hardly ever have to hide our amusement while being sprayed with food now. My arm only sometimes gets the tingle of baby lips blowing out. But the wind knows better than to mess with you, little girl.