The Palace Park

The Palace Park

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Suddenly November

Suddenly, it is November. The air is chilly and there are roasted chesnut carts dotting the Thames, mulled wine and hot chocolate available in go cups dot markets from Alexandra Palace to parts yet explored.

Your sister, The Benevolent Dictator, is gracious and kind. She laughs easily and readily and sleeps like a champ. I am with her often though not constantly and there are moments when I look at her and can only gape in wonder. She snuggles and I hadn't realized until she snuggled into my chest that first time, her slate-y eyes slightly crossed, her cupid's bow of a mouth lightly open what a small wretched gift it was that I had only gotten to hold you for those few precious minutes. Because, truly, I think to have brought you home, to have cared for you, held you near only to have you die...I don't know that I could have come back from the place that would have led me.

She smells like you, like babies smell. Salty, warm, sweet...full of hope and promise and a bit of heartbreak but of the best kind of heartbreak: the kind where one is left with a deeper capacity to love.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Formerly known as Le Squid

Oh, my darling...how the time goes. Already, it is summer.

Your sister a gorgeously ginger biscuit of a creature with slate eyes so like yours arrived on 8 July at 0425. Her appearance was elegant, efficient and quick (not unlike yours). She is very laid back but make no mistake: no one puts this baby at the back of the bus. We call her the Benevolent Dictator.

I had no expectations of what was to come with the labor, not really. I made a list of what I wanted/needed to happen but, well...I sometimes forget I'm young at heart and fairy tales are mine for the dreaming.

People are constantly after me to regale them with how exhausted and tired I am...and the truth of the matter is that sure, I'm tired and occasionally there are floods of tears. But these are further and farther apart than I would have dared hope and for the most part, I just move languidly and at ease through the days and nights, finding my way with the Dictator, learning who she is and who I am growing into and what these things mean for us both.

There are moments with the feelings of awe and fear are so great within me, I can't help but think of you and gasp as I look at her, terrified that something other and reaching will take her away. But she is strong and vibrant and undeniably here.

My approach to being the mama bear is to be as fluid and relaxed as my nature will allow. For the first time in ages and ages, I am giving myself leave to operate on 'Mississippi Time.' My adage of 'Nothing happens before it happens' couldn't be more true now. We go where the day takes us with the occasional doctor/midwife/health visitors' appointment. I love being with the Dictator but my desire for stimulation has lead us all across the depth and breadth of the City. The Dictator, she travels well. I firmly believe this because from before I even knew of you, I believed in baby-wearing. I was baby-worn, learned to sleep wherever the wind blew and -- despite the notable bumps in the the roads of my past -- a great deal of that early childhood was idyllic BECAUSE of that flexibility and freedom.

In September, we take the Dictator back to the US. We will show her the willow tree that bears your name, we well take her round to be feted and adored. She takes adulation in stride, my Infant of Prague, my baby kraken.

Yes, sweet Fanglet. You have a sister.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

What I have done differently this pregnancy

• I stopped being embarrassed about my increasing expanse and by being pregnant very early on. I ask for seats, ask people (politely) to move so I can tiptoe like a ballet-dancing elephant past them.
• I cut 7 inches off my hair into a shorter version of the photo of my hair in France just over 2 weeks ago. In a few weeks, I will go back for a trim and to put in a peacock green and navy blue chunk of discreet highlights. I always said I would do a green streak and them new cutie-pie, fresh from Northamptonshire Stylist Craig showed me their range of blues and I just knew. Craig is my new bff. I plan on making sure he stays in London for a very long time (or at least as long as I am here).
• I found a series of projects and a new job I liked and I applied for them.
• I said yes when people asked if they could help.
• I said yes when people asked if we would like any of their pre-loved baby stuff.
• I said ‘no,’ to things I don’t/didn’t want to do (usually)
• I have tried to limit the access of CRAZY and/or destructive people into my life. Crazy in good, healthy, fun, eccentric ways – you’re always welcome. Crazy in a ‘destructive, nasty, malicious, vicious, tenacious way,’ yeah. . . you know where the door is.
• I made and use a sign that says ‘Be Nice or Leave,’ and I sometimes use this sign on myself.
• I started a serious engagement with Congitive Behavioural Therapy (and not that Acceptance and Commitment-based stuff I did in 2008, but serious hardware reprogramming). This has been the most important thing I have done and it probably would have had to happen at some stage, regardless of whether Fang had passed away. There’s still a lot of work to go, but I really feel like I am becoming the best possible version of myself (albeit a bit later than I had originally thought I would) that I can be.
• I bought a great Mango evening gown designed by Penelope and Monica Cruz that has become the fill-in for most black-tie/fancy dress events that I have had to attend. I will save this dress and am currently working on tracking down the perfect array of cheongsam fabric to make into to lounging pajamas to wear underneath the dress for when it works but is a bit too revealing. ( I bought this dress for 8 Euros in France. I know, right?)
• I got rid of the maternity clothes that I really felt unattractive in or that just plainly didn’t fit because – although I am clearly SHOWING at this time – I am not about to erupt into a geyser of amniotic fluid at a moment’s notice.
• I have researched my birthing options thoroughly and have had to agree to a few compromises and that compromise is not a bad thing
• I have come to terms with why I have to make such compromises
• I have tried to keep up with my Pilates for Pregnancy regime but am not married to it.
• I don’t dwell excessively on what went wrong last time around, though I do make an effort to remind myself that part of all the poking and prodding this time is because I came very close to dying last time round.
• I have been more private and considered about this pregnancy, not because I don’t want to share but because it feels like the right thing to do.
• I eat and drink what I want to when I want. I have had a glass or two of wine. I have eaten the stinky cheese. And both were fan-freaking-tastic.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Cher Fang

Your sibling the Squid will be arriving soon. When exactly, is anyone's guess but the OB is leaning towards early and I have to say, I kind of agree although if the Squid could shift slightly to the left and down, I'd be cool for it to hang out as long as it wanted. In, I know the Squid is alive. Out, anything can happen, including dying.

Morbid, I know. It's a gift.

Only today. I think it is the new stomach medication battling with the prozac. I am a walking advert for a new addition of _Geek Love_. If the Squid is in fact a squid, I blame GlaxoSmithKline and Merk, both of whom have sponsored this pregnancy.

So much has happened and yet at the same time so little. Your uncle M next door has completely derailed and -- after 2 rather spectacularly dramatic if unsuccessful suicide attempts -- is currently convalescing at the local psych ward.

Poor lamb. He did try to tell them he was sick.

As an aside, would someone please explain to me why hospital staff would give a man who has just tried to off himself a knife and then acts surprised when he tries to slit his throat?

As a result, your Auntie W is understandably frazzled and trying to keep their immediate world from unraveling. It is a trying time for her.

In other news, I have started a new job at the University of the Arts working on the Phillip Knightley papers; he's a retired journalist who wrote a comprehensive history of the War Correspondent called _First Casualty_. His papers are interesting and it has fulfilled a void that I knew was there but hadn't realised the full extent of until I was back in an archive. What it has NOT done is whet my appetite for digging into the PhD. Instead, it has sidetracked me into thinking abotu War Correspondents and coverage of wars.

So easily distracted am I.

There is also my recent obsession with ice which I have only just now deduced is linked to the return of fierce burning and vomiting of blood that accompanied me through most of last summer. Ice is cold. The crunching of ice is distracting, however momentarily, both from the pain in my body and what was (and occasionally still is) the pain in my heart. Fang, talk about connecting dots; its a good thing this isn't a competition of quick wit because I am not quick at anything these days.

Except maybe peeing.

I think on you everyday and stand in the garden most nights for at least a moment to hear the whisper of wind chimes. And the peony bush we planted for mother's day has blossomed. And the season's first robin perched in your tree. You see, you're just everywhere, even though I can't quite see you.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Your birthday was last Thursday. Your papa was in Zurich, looking after the Swiss gnomes. I went to Norwich to stay up late and chat with my friend Ruth before spending the weekend at Turks Hall, mainly, if truth be told, to be near you.

We came home on the Sunday after a very tense weekend. Ruth behaved horribly (beautifully but horribly), the finance is tiring (not in the least because she insists on referring to you as a miscarriage and she knows how heartbreaking they are. . .I finally had to point out that yes, miscarriages are painful. I've had two, thanks. But they are slightly different from taking a 2 day old baby off life-support. Not a nice thing to have to say to one's host but well, the hostess wasn't very nice; more like l'enfant terrible.)

Home now, trying to reacclimate to being unemployed and -- seemingly -- unemployable. I had a fantastic interview at a retailer for an archival project they are doing, feedback positive, etc., expect for one glaring thing: I'm pregnant. Obviously they can't say no work for you, pregnant one. But that's what they meant. So another interview next Monday and we'll just wait to see.

The world moves on, I suppose. But you are always my little darling.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Emily Dickenson 'Hope is a thing with feathers'

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chilliest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity
It asked a crumb of me.


Well, now, little love. What to say when there is so much to say?

I miss you every day.
Your Auntie TW is getting married next September
Your Uncle Brian is getting married in August
You will have a sibling we call The Squid in July
You died because of a quirk, a new or spontaneous mutation of Noonan's Syndrome.
It may happen again but apparently not now.
I still smell your sweet baby smell when I close my eyes.