They say these things are the most stressful times in your life and that’s when you’re faced with them individually. And here we were dealing with them all at once. Looking back I wonder how we managed to get through it all but at the time it was just a case of getting through each day and with so much happening you didn’t have time to stop and think about it.
We knew it would be hard for us all early on as I was recovering from a section and it’s not like you can just rest up in bed. You go in for any surgery and you’re told to rest and give your body time to heal but with a c section you have a baby to care for and, in our case, a toddler too. I feel like a proper warrior thinking I managed that and all on just some paracetamol and ibuprofen-none of the good stuff as I was breastfeeding! It’s simply amazing what women can do whether they have what’s deemed a ‘normal’ birth or a section you still need to recover whilst caring for an eating, pooping, crying, and if you’re one of the lucky ones (trying not to hate you), sleeping machine.
We did try to move house just before ducklips arrived but that didn’t work out so we knew it would happen quite soon after the birth but what we weren’t expecting or prepared for was the sudden loss of L’s mam, my mother in law.
We were on week 3 with baby. Just at the stage where I was getting more mobile and no longer shuffling my way around the house or clock watching for the next dose of pain relief. Baby was doing well (thriving in baby world!!) and I was getting to spend more time with G force in the hope it would make the transition better. We were just about over the ridiculous hormonal stage where you cry several times a day for several different reasons (or quite often no reason at all!) and everything did seem easier second time round. In fact the majority of the time you didn’t even realise little ducklips was there as she slept a lot through the day and we put her upstairs away from the toddlers destructive path. We also weren’t as reactionary as we were with our first and didn’t feel the need to pick her up with every little grunting noise she made. Things were going really well and looking back maybe too well. Maybe we should’ve known something was going to happen to burst our bubble?
We had had a lovely facetime conversation with L’s mam the night before she died. She told me I looked good. I knew she was lying, I could see my face on the screen and I looked rough, but she was just being kind (that was her all over). The kids were also on facetime and she spoke to them and was trying to get G force to perform some tricks as it was only a few months earlier that her Nana and Granda saw her take her first steps before L saw them! The power of technology at its finest. She absolutely doted on the kids and loved being their Nana. We didn’t realise at the time just how poignant that conversation would be and although there would always be things that if you knew what was going to happen you may say or do but there are no words that needed to be said or had been missed which is a real comfort.
Next morning the most awful call came that she had died in the night. It was surreal. How is it possible? We were talking to her a few hours ago? She was fine. Huh? It hit us like a bus.
The next two weeks passed in a blur. We spent the time between the North East and home, staying in a hotel for the majority of it. There was this sadness all around us yet we had a new baby who had just arrived and was giving us so much joy that we needed. The whole thing just felt like a living nightmare and it would’ve been so easy to wallow away the days but that wasn’t an option for us. It was our girls that got us through it for sure.
We also had so much support from our friends and family. I think they all appreciated that not only were we dealing with the crazy days with a newborn and a toddler but also this huge loss leaving a gaping hole in our lives. We felt loved. There were food parcels left on our doorstep, flowers and cards from near and far, visits from concerned friends offering their support and people just being there when we needed them. It’s these moments when you know who has your back and wow we were overwhelmed.
The funeral took place when ducklips was 5 weeks old. I had expressed just enough milk to cover a couple of hours and a good friend looked after both of the girls while we had her mam’s funeral. L humbled me with her courage as she stood up in front of everyone (it was rammed with standing room only as she touched so many lives) and said her mam’s eulogy. What I saw that day was one of the many reasons why I’m marrying that woman as she is the most admirable and courageous person I know. I’ve never seen strength like it and I know her mam was with us beaming with pride for her baby that day. L has such a way with people and managed to make people smile, laugh and enjoy her words as she shared stories of her mam and rather than it being a really sad moment it felt uplifting, although heart wrenching at the same time. I doubt there was a dry eye in the chapel.
Afterwards there was a gathering of friends and family which was really nice. I know funerals are sad times but I always think that it gives you the opportunity to see people you don’t normally see and that is a good thing. Again we didn’t have any time to dwell on things as my boobs were telling me ducklips was due a feed so I was back into our reality. I picked the girls up after they had spent a few hours trashing someone else’s house and they joined in with the wake. L picked up ducklips and she puked all down her….Nothing like a childs bodily fluids to lift the mood on a day like that! There was that brief second of uh oh how will L react…She shrugged her shoulders and smiled which was the ok for us all to erupt in laughter. L’s mam would’ve said ‘it’s only a bit of sick pet!’.
Afterwards there wasn’t any time for us to stay up North as we had to get home. We had two babies who needed their home and we had less than a week now to move house.
Moving day came round really quick. When your friend arrives at your home with bacon sandwiches on the morning of your move you know they’re a keeper. And more so when they arrive at your new home that evening bringing your toddler, dinner and a bottle of champagne!
It was just what we needed after an epic moving day which involved not a lot happening at first. The removal company were late and there was a problem with their van so they had to bring a small van which couldn’t fit all of our stuff in it so they would need to do two trips. We were hoping to get the van loaded with the second lot of stuff before the new owners of our house arrived to move in but as we pulled into the street they were already there in the house probably looking at our furniture with WTF faces!! I would’ve been.
L had sent me round to our old house, whilst she tried to sort the new house, armed with the 6 week old in the papoose hoping it would smooth things over. She was basically pimping us out to pull big sad eyes to the people so they went easy on us. I was very apologetic and they were so understanding (more than I think I would’ve been) but mainly I think they just felt sorry for us. In the end I was hoovering our old house with the baby in the sling whilst the new owners were standing outside. I felt pure shame and embarrassment so when the van was finally packed I was so pleased to leg it and return to our new home.
Space. There was just so much space in the new place. Not so much now it looks like toys-r-us threw up in it, but back then it did feel big. The house itself was in a really good condition and mainly it just needed decorating for now. L got stuck into it straight away. I think she was using it to help her grieve. It would give her space to think and she said she spoke to her mam through it so I would be with the kids most of the time but after a few weeks L was really wearing herself out doing that after a whole day at work and we were hardly seeing her. She was exhausted both emotionally and physically and I had to tell her enough was enough. Although she had used the house to help with the grieving process she had distanced herself from us and I missed her and the girls missed her, and when I confronted her, she missed us too but didn’t know how to get the cycle to end. I was fed up of being like a single parent and I needed her with me. So we knocked it all on the head.
We talked and talked and cried and cried and L opened up about her feelings. We decided to just have family time for a while and enjoy being with each other as that was what is important. We knew now more than ever how fragile and precious life is and what is important is time and memories. So we started enjoying ourselves, laughing with our girls, and relaxing in our new home. We had survived some of the toughest life changing events but only because we had each other. Our own family unit.
My mother in law always said somebody dies to make room for a new life and as much as it hurts us that she is gone (in fact I’m still quite annoyed with her for going and I tell her regularly) we appreciate that our new baby girl is here and maybe she made space just for her or for another baby somewhere else. She was a very wise woman, very intuitive (irritatingly so!) but always with the best of intentions.
She also said that whatever Katy wants Katy will get and if I want three children I will get it. Well watch this space Lynn you may end up being right on that too 😉