Posted by Mishi Methven on Oct 18, 2011
Well… here we are, on the even of Aimee's induction (hopefully). I say hopefully because there is a chance that Aimee won't be ready to go tomorrow in which case we need to wait a few days and try again. The very thought makes my planning brain have high levels of anxiety, so I'm crossing my fingers that the baby drops, everything that's supposed to happen does, and we will welcome our son sometime Thursday…but if it doesn't happen as per my plan I know there's a whole long list of people waiting to say, "I told you so, Mish". I know, I know, I'm still trying to control the uncontrollable but old habits die hard, right!?
"Are you ready?" has been the question of the day. I don't know, are you ever really ready? On paper we're ready. The hospital bag is packed, the baby's room is set up, the diapers are unpacked, the clothing is neatly folded in the drawer and the crib sits at the ready. The only thing missing is a baby. Emotionally and mentally are we ready? No idea. I am wholeheartedly ready to welcome this baby to the world, but I am also terrified and trying to come to terms with the idea that at some point in this journey we will have to watch our first born die while trying to care for our second-born. I had a moment of profound sadness tonight watching Stella play on the couch with her Aunties and thought about how, in different circumstances, we would be so ecstatic tonight. We are still excited, but the excitement is tinged with that squeezing hurt that has surrounded my heart since June 24th. If only… I keep thinking, then I get mad at myself for thinking it. I thought I was past the wishing and hoping phase of Stella's illness, but tonight, of all nights, I find myself reliving those terrifying first few hours in the hospital and trying to convince myself that maybe that was another family that those doctors were talking to…maybe they mixed up the MRI results…maybe my daughter is meant to live a long, healthy life. But my heart knows that truth isn't real, so I try to just appreciate that today Stella laughed with me and I read her books and she hugged me and said "Tella will be a big sister on Wednesday". The words are slow and drawn-out, but I can see the sparkle of excitement in her eye when she says it.
So I decided that despite the mixed feelings and doubts, today is the day to focus on the love and hope that the new baby will bring to our family. Today is the day to be thankful for everything and everyone that we have. Today is a day to remember that life is temporary, even for those of us who live to be 100 and the only real certainty we have is to celebrate this day and this moment. My heart is filled to the brim with love as I see Stella napping peacefully on the couch, Aimee leaning up next to her with her baby belly brushing against Stella's leg. This is a magical time, one of excited expectation that I hope to look back on with reverence and happiness for the rest of my life.
Surprisingly, in the last week Stella has had a turn for the better. If what she had was a temporary illness, or something curable, I would be inclined to think she was on the mend. Instead, I'm left to ponder why all my wishes, wants and needs keep changing so drastically, why my views of what is quality of life are being shaken to the core and why, quite suddenly, Stella is eating again, laughing again, sitting at her desk and colouring again, asking to go for walks outside again. Honestly…she had such a great day today I half expected her to hop off the couch and run across the room, turn around with a huge grin and say, "I'm all better Mama!". I actually picked her up and held her feet on the floor just to see if she could bear any weight. She couldn't, but she did ask to sit on the floor and scooted herself across it with me supporting her back. It was completely unexpected, and welcomed. 5 weeks ago if you'd told me I would be ecstatic to see my child struggling to push herself across the floor with one leg while I pushed on her back, I probably would have burst into tears of frustration and sadness. But today it felt like we had just witnessed the impossible, and I hugged and kissed Stella and we twirled around the living room to "Dora" just delighting in each other's company. In the face of death, I feel so alive. In the face of life, I feel the shadow of death. It's sweet and bitter, happy and sad, light and dark, but it all somehow mixes together to form a strength that is propelling us forward towards and uncertain but hopeful future.
Aimee is sure that Stella's rally is because she wants to meet her brother and she wants us to be a family of four…for a little while at least. I like thinking that. It makes my mouth tickle with a little smile to think that.
So…ready or not, the next phase is about to begin. Ready or not. Ready. Not. But willing, able and open to the beauty and pain of what the next days will bring us.
Photo by Silke Fischer