I’m struggling to write this post today, but I need to sprinkle a little something outward. There are many positive and productive things going on professionally and personally. And I want to lean into all that spring light. But other strings are being tugged; tugged into the dark. And as much as I’d like to ignore the pull, sometimes it’s impossible. Balance? This pendulum is in perpetual motion until the inevitable, the only inevitable. I stood among the trees this morning; their music in the thundering gale pulled me into the centre of their organic choreography. The chorus spun through my mind, a rustling melody among the lace of interlocking branches. The hypotonic sway nullified the nightmares; my existence among them was silent, serene. Then I pulled back, time to begin this day, now that dawn winds have cleared.
I started writing this post at the beginning of December. Then it got parked because, you know, December hit!
The last two years have been an uncomfortable and strange kind of chaos for so many the world over. Few things have felt light. My three daughters’ birthdays all fall within nine days during the last month. December also marks my grandmother’s birthday and death. The latter happened when I was juggling having my youngest in NICU and protecting my still vulnerable toddler from the stark risks of RSV season. I couldn’t see her before she died. December always feels heavy with gratitude, pain, trauma, distress, anger, conflict; it’s all a dizzying soul ache and more love than I can handle. I don’t want to get stuck when I glance at the clock at certain times through those days, marking deaths and births; the past is reflected in the clockface. But I inevitably, subconsciously glance — it’s always one of those times. Words ring through my mind, with alarms, rushing and deathly silent moments, sensations my body still feels. Muscle memories of energies change everything.
My daughters had such great birthdays this year, even with this shitshow of humanity and how we deal with pandemics. That’s given rise to so much I thought was in the past. There are too many egos putting lives at risk — for arrogance, superiority complexes of conspiracy theorists who think they are somehow in the know, and governments’ superiority complexes; projections of elitism. I have little tolerance for many such things these days. It’s all egocentric. Ego, I wonder what the picture would be like without its existence.
Anyway, I had writing to tie up this month, before the year’s close — a few short stories at the very least. My focus is off-kilter still, and the hours are so very full. The final hours are closing in, and I’ve barely caught a breath.
Solstice has now marked the rebirth of light on this hemisphere, and I’ve been marking out intentions in blood and ink for the moons ahead. This week I will release the ashes of the year behind, putting light into the seeds that can only grow.
I now try to let such days pass by. There’s a day for everything, isn’t there? It’s impossible to acknowledge them all, thoughtfully, every year.
This year though, I’m dipping my toes in to share a little on the messy, sticky web.
For the lifetime of my first premature baby, I have struggled to acknowledge Prematurity Awareness without also acknowledging baby (and infant) loss.
I lost two before my two survivors.
Every birth affected me profoundly. Even the first, which I readily admit was a pregnancy I didn’t want. Yes. I admit that. I wasn’t ready to be a mother. I wasn’t in a supportive relationship. I was in an awful state of depression. Even with that, I still grieve for the life that formed inside my womb, those rapidly multiplying cells that suddenly stopped. I remember the pains ripping through my abdomen. I recall the loss as intimately as the babies I actively (desperately) tried to conceive years later.
The second pregnancy (baby) was very much wanted; every moment her heart beat, and every moment after — when it fell silent — is preciously held in my soul. My womb remembers her place there. Those horrendous words at the ultrasound, “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat,” still haunt me. Days of her silence within my body, knowing she was dead and willing her heart to (miraculously) start beating again, wishing for a mistake, they missed her fluttering. There was no mistake — her labour and birth in that silent hospital room and everything after is etched in my bones. The love is agony.
I didn’t trust my body. I felt betrayed by the perceived failure to protect and nurture the life within it.
My third pregnancy was riddled with anxiety. Words are frivolous when even professionals can’t give the answers. There’s no reassurance anyone can offer, just a wish for their life. Their existence. Hope through the torment and desperation.
My third child was born alive just 25 weeks into the pregnancy. The Neonatal Intensive Care journey that followed was another world entirely as was finally bringing her home. Writing about those initial four months was cathartic and not something I really planned on doing — it just happened and became something that I hoped may help other families thrown into that world feel a little less alone. It can be a deeply isolating experience — having a very premature / sick child — and the ongoing battles, fighting their corner and protecting them, making arduous decisions. All this carries on after they’ve been discharged from the unit — at least those fortunate enough to survive.
My last pregnancy ended when my baby was born at 28 weeks gestation. That Neonatal Intensive Care Journey was another experience altogether. Medically it was smoother, and the surroundings, staff, routines and procedures were familiar, comforting (in ways). It was no less difficult — additionally so with another young child to care for — a toddler who was still at risk of things such as RSV, and this birth like the one before was also bang-smack in the middle of winter. My soul was ripped down the middle — and I mean utterly eviscerated. I was a walking, talking, gaping wound that appeared on autopilot. And I don’t think there’s a way for those cracks ever to be restored.
I’ve accepted it all, each of those journeys, the losses, the trauma and the toll it took on our family.
I have let go of the crippling guilt of events I had no control over — advice for life. Learn and let them go.
So, November 17th is World Prematurity Awareness Day. It means something a little different to those who are aware through their own experiences.
I published my first book on my first prematurity survivor’s NICU journey. Having my children gave me more than I can ever put into words. They are my reason to not wilt quietly in a corner, my reason to speak up. They are my inspiration, my pain. They taught me a love that I never knew and so much more. They are my reason to keep going and try to set a positive example of self-worth even when I feel entirely worthless. My children are worth so much more. (All our children are.) They continue to do this every single minute of each day because they exist — against the odds (which were very beak at points).
I’m not going to spiral into talking about the impacts of the pandemic on all of this. It’s hard to refrain because it has had an impact. And knowing how tough those journeys in NICU were for families prior to all of this, let alone now. For those (medical staff and preemie families) having to manage those additional risks and contend with vaccine refusers and conspiracy theorists….
Anyway, it matters. Our actions have consequences that we cannot imagine.
I’m babbling now and trying to stem the flow so, here I sign off my (public) acknowledgement of World Prematurity Day 17/11/2021.💜
I’m not particularly vocal about some things I care deeply about, especially not online. My personality has reactions built on trauma. Speaking up has opened me up to attack (from childhood) so, I clam up tight, retreat inward — standard trauma response. The everyday injustices towards our fellow earthlings is one such horror that I often wish I had the nerve to speak up about more. I stopped consuming the flesh of murdered animals when I was 7 years old. I still feel guilty for the dead on my fork to that point, even if I was just a child raised to be ignorant to their suffering. As a child, the hypocrisy was (is) taught through family, friends, society, schooling, and religion plagued me — how can one preach and teach of love and respect while dining over the mass slaughtered, butchered bodies of other living beings? It made me soul-sick. I despise how much we, as a society, deceive our children. I was deceived. Dairy was the last to be eliminated when I was 30 years old. Much of that was, again, ignorance. I am ashamed; the guilt of the suffering I paid for runs deep. I paid for so many deaths, countless brutalities; I am responsible — the coward who didn’t hold the knife. No single life is worth so many of theirs, especially when one does not depend on their deaths to live. The brutal, bloody, unjust, inhumane, unnecessary deaths of children — of innocent fellow earthlings cannot be justified. Industries built on the systemic enslavement, rape and murder have much to answer for, and it seems never will because the atrocities are too widely accepted. With a blind eye and habits ingrained in children. I can’t take back my part in it; none of us can. All I (we) can do is do better. I’m raising vegan children. I’ve seen parents, such as myself, challenged by general ignorance on the matter. And I’ve had the quizzical looks when this fact has come to light. Why would I raise them any other way? Knowledge is power, right? So then, why wouldn’t I instil in them the truth from the onset? I know it makes society uncomfortable; we’re expected to fall in line, not disrupt the hypocritical peace, not be an inconvenience. That’s it right there; the truth of animal agriculture and the moral imperatives that the word ‘vegan’ rouses in consumers of animal products is that those truths are inconvenient. I don’t care for that. I care for justice and a moral compass that aligns with actions — isn’t that what we should be teaching children and ourselves? Forget the (many) positives of a healthy, vegan lifestyle (because it’s not just a dietary choice) and consider the absurdity of the animal agriculture industry. If I was farming puppies in my garden to kill, skin, gut, and chop up and feed my children, I’d be deemed as evil, cruel, heartless, an unfit parent.… The accepted state of animal agriculture is far worse than that. Consider the proven decline in human health due to the consumption of products from that sector, not to mention the desperate climate crisis — to which this type of production and consumerism holds much of the responsibility. Every action, even when small, everyday ones — every action against this industry matters. And the choice to remain ignorant to it is unforgivable, surely. Yes, my kids are vegan — it is not a choice.
I haven’t written much lately and only have a few short story sub decisions outstanding.
Writing (with a specific purpose) has taken a backseat to everything else. Considering I’ve only been actively submitting work since the tail-end of 2019, this probably shouldn’t be as bothersome as it is (to me). This lull, this deeply uncomfortable, gut-churning, head-aching, creaky death-rattle vibe of a damned lull has created a fracturing within; what’s the harm in another one?
A couple of weeks ago, I could’ve screamed if I wasn’t so agonisingly audio sensitive — which hasn’t resolved yet. I’m sure the screaming would’ve shattered my pain riddled spine. I pictured the exploded shards; the bone shrapnel ripping through muscle and skin. My head hurts. I thought that maybe I needed a hit; a rejection, an acceptable, anything that might kick the cogs into motion — at least that’s where I was last week. Maybe something outward was needed to push a tangible, create type locomotion into motion. Even with that, time is a merciless taunter, and with too much else going on, there’s never enough of it. Though, writing is air. I am dependant on its ability to quench and quell things that nothing else can. I’m co-dependent on the pen even when words are just scrawled onto old paper and shut in a drawer. This digital tapping is a placebo. They say there’s a form of eternity in the code of numbers; to me, the figures are a mirage that melts away like ghosts.
I’ve not been writing (much) — it doesn’t mean I’ve been out of contact with the words. We’ve been serenading in other ways. Ways that should benefit the stories when they get their time again.