Teddy’s first birthday snuck up on us last week. I’d always thought celebrating very small birthdays is a bit pointless but this bloody illness makes all occasions poignant. So I duly bought a birthday card and spent ages trying to think of something profound to write in it.
Super Ted. I waited a long time for him to come along but when I became pregnant I freaked out. At 38 I’d just about reconciled to not having children. I have plenty of friends without kids who have happy and fulfilled lives and I assumed this would be me too. I reasoned that although I always thought I wanted to be a mum actually in reality I would find it very hard to give up my freedom. I worked and played with equal zeal and could happily continue, enjoying luxuries parents mostly give up; spontaneous sessions in the pub, “me time”, a meagre disposable income. Then I was pregnant. Physically, it was a breeze. No sickness or any other common complaints. Tiredness, but now I was treating my body better than I ever had before, eating healthily, not smoking or drinking, going to bed at sensible o clock, joining a yoga class. My body was in great nick (for a geriatric primigravida !) but it hadn’t told my brain and psychologically I found pregnancy challenging. I felt isolated (most of my previous social connections involved alcohol) and scared. I was terrified of giving birth and after that minor inconvenience how the hell would I know what to do with a baby? I like children (some of them) particularly my nephews, but thought it would probably be pretty boring on a daily basis. Then all of the unknowns … what if something was wrong with him and I couldn’t love him or look after him?
When he finally arrived I found it pretty hard. It was relentless, exhausting and at first not particularly rewarding. To be honest I had been hoping for a life changing epiphany at birth where I was filled with overwhelming love for the new little human , but it didn’t work exactly like that.
Don’t get me wrong, he was lovely (especially when he was asleep) but until 12 weeks old all he did when he was awake was feed or cry. It wasn’t until just before my diagnosis that things started getting interesting, and then of course my world went wonky. All I could think about was myself. I did worry about Michael and Ted being left alone but my overriding and consuming thought for weeks was OMFG I’M GOING TO DIE. I hadn’t even had a chance to get to know this little chap yet.
Six months on and things have changed somewhat. He is an actual person, a funny little person! He claps and laughs at my dancing ( I strongly believe WITH me not AT me). Sometimes he hits Michael in the face with a plastic hammer to wake him up! His developing personality is not always a source of pride tbh- like when he looks at my painstaking culinary efforts with contempt before cackling hysterically as he feeds it to the dog. His cool disregard for the word “no”. You can almost see him thinking “it’s OK, nanny will be here soon and then I’ll do whatever the hell I like. Losers”.
In the night though, he will reach out his (usually sticky) little paw to find my hand. I really think he does like me, despite the poor show I’ve made of motherhood over the last six months. And me… I really like him. This shit is just getting good! And I really, really want to be around to see more of it.
Big day today. Last chemo session. The new drugs have been tough in their own way but not as bad as I expected. My hair has started growing back with abandon, but the sides and fringe are now so thin it will have to go. I’d be perfect to front a ska band at the moment, and I’m a great dancer, ask Ted.
Me. Not really (not nearly ridiculous enough).
I should be over the worst in time for Christmas. Normally I get told off for my humbugness but this year I have gone into mental overdrive. Yes, I have calculated that each of my 20 (TWENTY) guests will have 48.6 cm of table space. Yes, there will be special Christmas house rules with associated financial penalties. Yes, I have been experimenting with different supermarket side dishes vs home made to find the best value/ease/taste combo. Yes, I am a little bit compulsive but it’s that or cancer and Christmas is marginally more fun. I’m dressing up as Father Christmas for hospital today, I’ve got some little gifts for the staff. God help us if the Oncologist has to deliver any crap news, it will be the height of awkwardness with me in a Santa dress and beard.
This time of year is tricky for lots of people, enjoy it if you can and if you can’t just hold on, it’s only a day. Love to all x