Going into this week, it was not without a little trepidation, but I wasn’t fully aware of my own feelings. I just knew there was an uneasiness hovering, lurking, in the back of my mind. When I finally put my finger on it, I realised that I wasn’t wrong to be a little uneasy.
Blogging has not come easily to me lately. I’ve chalked it up to everything that’s been going on, but I know that’s just an excuse. After all, we’ve been through a lot of fraught and stressful times in the past few years, and I’ve been able to blog right through them — no sooner would I sit down at the computer than the words would spill forth, so fast that I could hardly type them all out. But, just lately, the words have… stopped. Just stopped. I sit down at the computer and nothing comes. My mind goes blank, even as only moments before I had been writing blog post after blog post in my mind. When I come to type those thoughts out, I find they are no longer there –just gone — and trying to force the words out is as futile as trying to push a pile of sand up a hill. And that has caused me to panic a little inside, because I don’t want to stop writing. I don’t want there to be nothing there.
I have never been overly keen on those blog posts that recap and look back at other blog posts from the past. I know they’re useful and relevant sometimes, but they remind me too much of when you turn on your favourite television show and find all the characters are sitting on the couch, drinking coffee and laughing, and saying, “Do you remember when…?” while the screen fades out to various clips from old episodes. Arghhhh… I’ve seen all this before, and I switch over to something more interesting.
But, wading through the deep sand of this dry spell, I’ve considered doing one of those “looking back” blog posts, to sail through this drought on the coat-tails of what I’ve written before. I know I’m not writing anything of worth these days, but look!… look!… I’ve written good things in the past! So I sat down for a moment and looked back at my past posts, from this time a year ago, two years ago. Of all the weeks in the year, and with that strange feeling of foreboding looming in the back of my mind, I choose this week to look back.
It was a year ago almost to the day that we rushed E2 to the Emergency Room for the first time, as her breathing grew slower and slower and more laboured and we finally realised that this was serious. It was the night that they gave her breathing treatment after breathing treatment that had little effect, and the doctor finally explained to me — exhausted and hardly believing what I was hearing — that if she didn’t respond to this last treatment, they would have to cut a hole between her ribs and insert a tube into her lungs, because her muscles were going becoming fatigued and she was not going to be able to keep breathing on her own. It was the first sighting of her (now diagnosed) asthma. It was the night I realised that my daughter had nearly slipped away… that had we been living only a couple of generations ago, she probably would have slipped away quietly as we slept. And that was the night I realised that her own mother hadn’t spotted the seriousness of the situation and that, if I’d been left to make the call on my own, she might well have died.
It was two years ago exactly that I finally couldn’t take another moment of this mysterious, excruciating pain in my breasts and, with all the doctors’ offices closed on a Sunday, spent seven hours waiting to be seen in the Emergency Room, where the doctor examined me and thought she found an “irregular lump” and — eight days into our new life in the United States — I contemplated all the dark and frightening scenarios that come rushing in after those words. It was the day that we tumbled head-first into the ridiculously complicated pit of confusion that is the American healthcare system, with only a high-deductible temporary policy to break that fall, and learned first-hand that it is not only the uninsured who face misery when disaster strikes, but America’s under-insured as well. It was the start of the difficult journey to eliminate soy from my diet that led me to realise not only what a detrimental effect this seemingly innocuous food can have, but also to nearly turn my life upside-down in order to avoid the all-pervasive soy in the typical American diet.
So, two years and two trips to ER. Two years and two stressful days that I’ll be glad never to repeat again. And then I cast my mind back one more year, to three years ago… You can’t read about that day — I wasn’t blogging back then — but we spent that one in hospital too. We made another rushed and stress-filled journey along icy roads in the dark of night. And there were hours of pain and an awful lot of blood, and that strange sensation of time slowing down and everything coming into sharper, excruciating focus. And it went on for hours and then… it stopped.
And I looked down and asked the midwife in surprise, “Is it a girl?!?”, because I’d been sure we were having a boy. And the midwife nodded, and my baby took in a great lungful of air and let it out with a loud cry, and we all smiled with relief. And then without any delay — without even cleaning her off or even cutting the cord — the midwife lifted her onto my belly, so the baby and I were skin-to-skin, and she latched on and began to feed hungrily, drawing comfort from the warmth of my milk and the warmth of my skin, and slowly letting go of all the fear and stress that the last few hours had been — for her as much as for us.
E2 is three this week — and she is beautiful… wonderful… everything I could have hoped her to be as I gazed down on her in my arms that night she was born. Over the next few days, we will sing “Happy Birthday” to her and open gifts and celebrate these amazing three years and the miracle she is to us. And I will thank God that she is with us — because there are so many ways that she might not have been. And I am aware of them every day.
And if we don’t end up in hospital this year (touch wood), that will be fine too. Because things come in threes, and we’ve done our three, thank you very much. This year then, perhaps just a nice quiet birthday, eh? And maybe another slice of that (surprisingly good) egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free birthday cake.