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16/52 – Forever

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year. 

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Anakin: She used to be your little lifeguard when you were a baby. In more or less every photo we have of you taking a bath Hedda is right there, watching over you and making sure you were ok. If you cried she would come running with a meow and sniff your head. And then you got old enough to start flinging your limbs everywhere and hit her by accident once and that was it. She wouldn’t let you near her again and she kept her distance. Until now. The last couple of weeks she’s finally let you touch her. I can see how weary she is but perhaps she senses your sadness and confusion. Perhaps she needs it as much as you do. And the other night I found her sleeping next to you in bed on my pillow. It was the first time she’s chosen to sleep with you and the first time she’s given up a chance to sleep on my lap after you’ve gone to bed.

It will get better, my love. It won’t feel this way forever. 

*** 

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Isis: My little ray of sunshine, you practically beam of joy. Every day now I wait to hear that sweet laugh I know is in there.  It’s like we’ve known each other a lifetime yet I can’t look at you enough. The soft curves of your face, your little head which still fits in the palm of my hand. And those little legs full of  happy rolls kicking with excitement. I could spend days skin to skin with you doing nothing but hold and nourish you with my body. I was your first home. I will always be your home and your anchor. And you will always be the beat of my heart. 

15/52 – Pause

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year. 

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Anakin: I wonder where you go and what you think of when I see you drift away. Do you go on adventures? Are you riding dragons or digging for treasure? Are you captain of your own ship sailing the high seas? Or are you overcome with feelings that weigh heavy on your heart? 

I often think you look so sad when you sit there staring into space, in a place where I can’t quite reach you. It makes me want to wrap you in my arms and do everything I can to put a smile back on your face. But maybe you’re not sad at all, maybe you’re soaring high on the back of an eagle or diving deep with turtles. Or maybe you just need to stop and feel.  So I let you be and I quietly watch and wait, hoping that if you need my arms you’ll let me know somehow. 

***

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Isis: You’re just as alert as your brother was. Taking it all in. Your gaze finds mine and your body becomes busy as you babble away, telling me stories about your day and your new discoveries. I ask you questions and pause for your answers, you squeal in delight and your sounds are music to my ears. As long as you are rested you are all smiles. But just like your brother you struggle with your daytime sleeps and your exhausted wails are heartbreaking. I do the only thing I know will work, I wrap you tight and walk you down, holding you as close as I can. And as you find sleep next to my heart I find peace in your closeness. I will carry you for as long as I can. 

14/52- Sharing

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year. 

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Anakin: Sharing one of your favourite stories under the blanket with aunty Leah. You are always excited to see people and even more so these days. You’ve grown louder and more animated as if you feel you need to be to take the attention off your baby sister. It is nice to see you have some quiet time, to see you calm and assured that you are indeed just as important as you’ve always been. How could you not be? If only you knew how amazing we think you are, even on our bad days. 

***

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Isis: Your first meeting with aunty Leah. You gave her some sweet smiles before falling asleep on her chest. There is something so comforting about seeing you at such ease with the people we love.  

13/52 – Light and shadow

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year. 

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Anakin: We took you to Kids Arty Farty fest in the park on a Sunday. You were wide-eyed and excited. Underneath some trees was box city, a place where everyone could build their own houses and forts out of cardboard boxes. I took your hand and we went in there, just you and me. We walked around, picked up a box and some tape but in the end we were both too preoccupied with looking around to really build anything. We stopped under the biggest tree in a spot of sunshine, your eyes fell on someone behind me and you disappeared into thoughts. I looked at you and saw so much of myself standing there. The curiosity, apprehension and vulnerability all surfaced on your face. You made the perfect picture, bathing in sunlight with big shadows framing your body. That moment, like most these days, felt far too fleeting. I can’t help but feel lucky that at I least have some way of documenting these fractions that make up our lives. A small way of holding on to all the little things that make our love so big. A way to remember you as you grow and change. 

***

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Isis: I’m holding on to your infancy for dear life. I find myself burying my nose in your hair and my face in your neck all the time. I stare and stare afraid that I’ll forget. I wasn’t prepared for this. I didn’t know that my unconditional love for you would be shadowed by this sadness, this grief that you are the last. Every day I have to learn to let it go, to let my delight of your discoveries be what I carry forward. I keep you as close as I can. I need your heartbeat next to mine as much as you do. Your eyes are finding new things all the time, your face lights up at the sound of familiar voices. I see you watching your brother, beaming as he lends his attention to you.  Soon you’ll find your laughter and our house will be filled with the sound of twice the joy. As I think back on my life I am grateful for every bump and every bruise because it all led to this, it led me to you. 

12/52- Stillness

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year. 

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Anakin: You stopped me in my tracks when I saw you standing there on your stool at the kitchen bench reading a comic book. The light from the window hit your face in the most beautiful way. There was this stillness about you. So peaceful, so quiet. I stood there admiring your beauty while feeling this strange sadness come over me. I wished you knew how much I still see you, how much we’re still what we used to be, just different. I felt guilty for thinking you were being difficult when it was never you, it was me. I’m the one who changed things on you, I’m the one who went from being all yours to always being busy caring for your sister. I’m the one who needs to learn how to give you both what you need, to divide my time better. I’m the one who needs to say sorry, sorry for getting frustrated with you, sorry for letting you down. Everything you’ve done is only natural considering your world just got turned upside down. Mine has too but I should know better. I’m so sorry, my love. I wish you knew how much my heart aches for you, for time to be with just you, like we used to.

I love you so much it hurts. 

***

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Isis: Your world is expanding so fast. You just have time to get comfortable before it changes again. I had almost forgotten how turbulent the first year is for someone new. It’s thrilling to see you develop, but so exhausting. It’ll keep changing, baby, but we’ll be here.  We’ll be your constant and your anchor. These days are numbered, days where you’ll only find peace belly to belly. As difficult as they may sometimes be they are also so incredibly precious. 

11/52 – From little things

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year. 

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Anakin: Pappa comes home from work and you run towards the car as he pulls in. The pride and joy on your face as he lets you help him park the car (several times) and toot the horn. It’s one of those things isn’t it, a childhood ritual of sorts. 

***

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Isis Indigo: Your tiny little feet. Imagine one day (far too soon) these feet will grow big enough to hold your weight as you take your first wobbly step. I cherish all your newborn traits as long as I can. Like how you curl your toes over my lips as I kiss them. How soft your hair is, like tiny feathers and the little fluff on your ears, just like your brother had. The dimples between your knuckles, oh they kill me with their cuteness. Your toothless new smile, baby wrinkles and that smell, that sweet indescribable smell I fear forgetting. Because like the song says from little things big things grow and you, my girl, will grow big and strong and I never want to forget any of it. 

***

I’m really hoping to catch up to the current week soon. Every time I decide to get on it someone cries, needs boob or whatever else little ones need you for, which is just about everything these days. I suppose we’ll get there eventually.

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I’ve got you, babe

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10/52- Bonds

A portrait series of my children, once a week, every week, for the next year. 

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Anakin: Quietly reading by yourself. I find you like this several times throughout the day, completely absorbed in books for ages. Once you learn how to read I have no doubt your love of books will only grow. 

***

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Isis: Your eyes light up and you turn your head and smile upon hearing your brother’s voice. He comes over to comfort you, to hug you and kiss your forehead.  Seeing you like this is pure magic, intertwined and forming that lifelong bond that will hopefully outlast me. 

Weeks are passing in a flash. You seem to grow so quickly. I can hardly bear it. I’m so conflicted by pure joy and by sadness as I watch your fleeting newborn time disappear before me. You change so fast and every time you do I am delighted by your growth as much as I miss what’s left behind. 

Cherry pie

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She’s my cherry pie.

An extreme wedding

It’s taken ages to write the story of our wedding, but here it is. Better late than never.

***

Saturday December 13th, 2014, I married the love of my life. The story of the wedding however begins the Wednesday before. (Ok, sort of on Tuesday when i got my wedding dress and it wasn’t exactly the dress I had custom ordered, but that’s a minor detail in the whole matter.)

As some of you know 2014 wasn’t exactly the year for us. It was the year the kept kicking. But we kept getting back up. I tend to joke that we do things to the extreme, I guess the wedding was yet another example of that. Sort of. It’s a long story.

Wednesday before the wedding our son spent the day with two of his grandparents at the aquarium celebrating his birthday as they wouldn’t be here by the time his birthday rolled around. I can’t remember exactly what the rest of us were doing, but it probably had something to do with wedding preparations. We had takeaway Thai food for dinner.  That evening I remember commenting on how I thought Anakin seemed a bit hot. Not feverish hot, just a tad off. The evening rolled on, Anakin was asleep and I went to bed. I must have had about half an hour to an hour sleep before waking back up. My mummy radar sensed something was off. Anakin was restless and kept swallowing. He felt a bit hot still, but it was the constant swallowing that worried me. Unable to go back to sleep I stayed awake to monitor him. Then at 12.30 am all gastro hell broke loose. (We had no idea that was what we were dealing with at the time.)

Anakin woke up with a scream and started vomiting all over the bed. I woke my partner (yes, partner, not husband yet) up and told him to go get a towel.  He jumped up still half asleep and ran out of the room. We keep the towels in a closet in the hallway right outside our bedroom but for some reason it was taking him a while to come back with anything. In the meantime I was trying to calm Anakin down and keep the vomit from going absolutely everywhere. Poor Anakin was frantic and panicking. My partner finally came back wearing plastic gloves and handed me two wet wipes. Yep, two wet wipes. He scampered back out of the room and finally got a towel. Sleepy brains don’t make sense. :)

We changed the sheets, changed Anakin and reassured him that everything was ok and went back to bed. I still couldn’t go back to sleep so I kept monitoring Anakin. About half an hour must have passed before he woke with another scream and started vomiting again. We changed the sheets, changed Anakin and went back to bed again. Another half hour or hour passed before the same thing happened again. Anakin freaked out and I held him while my partner ran around frantically trying to find more towels and sheets. When he came back to the room both Anakin and I were covered in vomit as I had Anakin on my lap and he has just vomited in my hair and down my back as well as pretty much everywhere else. I had vomit in places I have never had vomit before. The same thing happened two more times and by that stage we had run out of sheets and our bed was covered in towels. Around 4.30 in the morning everyone fell back asleep.

Thursday Anakin was still sick and upon having an icy pole, which was the only thing we could get him to eat, vomited on me again. By this stage it had started coming out his other end as well.

Friday was the day we were supposed to get the venue ready. I was directing everything from home. Being 8 months pregnant and having a bad case of pubic symphysis dysfunction and pelvic girdle pain, I decided it was better for me to organise things from there. I got up, had breakfast and a shower and as soon as I got out I vomited. Uh-oh. I thought it was probably just pregnancy and stress related and got ready. The house was buzzing with people coming and going. Our friend and wedding cake maker was putting the final touches on the cake. I was drawing out a floor plan showing where the various decorations would go and feeling increasingly crap. I tried to eat some dry crackers and found it hard to focus on everything going on. Anakin was at home with me, he’d stopped vomiting but still had it coming out the other end and the day was getting closer to nap time. While going through what was going to happen the next day with our toastmaster I started getting worse. It was becoming clear that whatever Anakin had I had too. At this stage I was feeling fairly horrid. Everyone eventually left and I got ready to put Anakin to bed with me. I could no longer drink or eat anything without vomiting. For every sip I had three times that would come back up. Anakin fell asleep and I laid in bed trying to have small sips of water only to have to run to the bathroom a few minutes later. I messaged my partner and told him what was up. Around 3pm I was feeling so bad I decided it might be a good idea to call my midwife. She told me that it was important that I kept fluids down as dehydration could be dangerous to both me and the baby and could induce labour. Unless I could hold fluids down by 5pm I would need to go to hospital. My partner came home with hydralyte for me to drink which made me vomit even more. I could barely stand up. Our cake baker came down with gastro too as soon as he delivered the cake to the venue and was flat out in bed between trips to the bathroom. 5pm rolled around and it was clear that I needed to go to the hospital.

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At the hospital they checked my blood pressure and pulse. My pulse was racing, I was dizzy and I felt like drinking the entire content of a pool. I was quickly put in isolation and given fluids through an IV. I was also hooked up to monitors and told to keep trying to drink and to buzz every time I had to go to the bathroom. (Let me just say it’s not ideal to have to wait for someone to unhook you when you’ve got gastro and time is of the essence, but I somehow managed.) One bag of fluids later and I thought I was getting better. I was thirsty as hell and couldn’t have enough to drink. “You’ll be home in no time after these fluids.” Everyone knew we were getting married in the morning and that getting well was of utmost importance. Then I started vomiting again. A lot. Two more bags of fluids later and I was still there. We got a message that my father in law had also fallen to gastro. Then my mother in law.

I was then told I couldn’t leave until I could hold my fluids and that baby had tachycardia and they needed her heart rate to stabilise. My partner and I were both thinking the same thing, but none of us said anything. We both knew that unless I got better and unless baby settled we wouldnt’ just have to get married in the hospital but we’d most likely have a premature baby by the morning. Somehow through all this we managed to keep our cool. We talked about what to do if I wasn’t released and made back up plans. I was still vomiting and things were still coming out the other end.

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Later I was transferred to the birth ward. You can’t stay more than 4 hours in emergency apparently. I was put in isolation in a room that was rarely used and that had the most uncomfortable bed you can imagine. I decided to send my partner home so that he could get some sleep and so that our son would wake up with him there. We had to leave abruptly and I didn’t tell him what was going on. This way at least one of us would have a semi clear head the next day. Our plan at this stage was for me to be released at 7am, go home to sleep, get ready and get married. (We somehow thought a 7am release was possible. Of course it’s not because you have to see a doctor first.) But I was still sick and baby was still not doing well. I was no longer allowed to drink anything but could have ice cubes and I kept having crazy, intense Braxton hicks contractions at regular intervals.

Some time after my partner left I was taken off the IV. I was given a brief of what needed to happen before they would release me. I realised that it wasn’t looking very good. Around 1.30am I managed to stop vomiting. The rest of the night was a battle between mind and body, and I was swallowing like you’ve never seen anyone swallow before. Baby’s heart rate started to settle and I somehow managed to get an hour sleep in the worst bed of all time.

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Morning rolled around and I was waiting to see a doctor. When you don’t eat or drink your body starts eating your reserves and the doctor explained that this needed to stop before I could go and I also needed to be able to keep food and drink down. I was more nauseous than you can imagine butI tried to eat something. I was also dead tired from not having slept and looked like hell on wobbly legs. After that it was a waiting game. My partner and son came to see me. They told me my mom had started vomiting too.

And so we waited. I called on the midwives explaining that I needed to leave, I was getting married in 4 hours… then 3 hours… Stress was adding to it all. I needed to shower and get ready! Eventually we were seen by the same midwife who received us and who then arranged for my release after more medication to help with the nausea.

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The only reason they were letting me go was because I was about the get married. It was 11.30 and the ceremony started at 2pm. I left with an army of prescriptions to stop anything from coming out either end and with promises that if I got worse I would have to come back. We got home, I showered and got ready. I felt like death. Our friend, and baker, was still in bed. We couldn’t serve the cake, but had thankfully ordered cupcakes to supplement the cake anyway. My in-laws were still battling gastro on their end, but my mom was somehow holding it together.

We somehow managed to get to the venue by 2pm and by 3 we were husband and wife.

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We got married under a big tree showered in spots of sunshine surrounded by people we love from near and far. The ceremony was everything we wanted it to be, light-hearted, full of  laughter and most of all, a reflection of our love. It was important for us to include Anakin in it all so Anakin got his own ring and got “married” too.

Besides the fact that we had the worst lead up we had an amazing day. How I managed to stay on my feet is beyond me. We sectioned off bathrooms for those of us who were sick and tried not to shake too many hands and in the end had a magnificent day. Looking at the photos there is no way you can tell the mayhem that went on before, the lack of sleep or the hospital stay. My husband gave the most romantic speech which culminated in him telling me how beautiful I am even when I am naked and covered vomit. You can’t beat love like that. I never got to give a speech because I was too busy trying not to vomit (which would have sent me back to hospital), but I will one day. One day I will give him the speech he deserves.

By 8.30pm I was dead on my feet and went home.

In the end I got to marry my best friend and the love of my life. I wish I wasn’t so tired or so sick, but none of that mattered. The smiles you see say it all.

And I somehow managed to still get up with Anakin the next day after yet another night of broken sleep. (This time due to kicking baby and a celebratory husband and houseguest, but in the scheme of things, I’d rather be woken up by baby kicks and song than by vomit any day.)

I’ll leave you with the gallery :) (click on an image to enter the gallery.)

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