Bright

Because I am heading back to the snow on Tuesday (and because Michael has already arrived there), I thought I needed to record a bit more of the sunshine. We stayed in this beautiful cottage for eight days, paragliding in the mornings, watching tennis and reading novels during the hottest part of the afternoons, heading out for beer or ice-cream in the evenings. (Michael got the beer, I was more than satisfied with the twenty different sorts of homemade ice-cream.)

Here’s our bedroom.

The fly net came in handy one night when a bat decided to pay us a visit… (We worked out if we left the light on it would leave us alone…)

It really was very very gorgeous – possibly the best holiday ever. There were millions of colourful birds, and we even saw an echidna. One day we drove up to the mountains.

Some of the trees were bleached from fires seven years ago.

But there was still water and life.

And what happened next in no way changes how happy we were, or how happy we will be one day, not too far away.

What happened

Just over two weeks ago, I was twelve weeks pregnant. I was so looking forward to telling you all. We were so ridiculously happy. And we’d just had the most beautiful month’s holiday in summery Australia, including Christmas at Port MacDonnell, and a week at the beach in Portland with my parents, and paragliding in Bright (my GP told me in her opinion paragliding in early pregnancy was perfectly fine, and I nearly hugged her. When I told my Grandma I had doctor’s approval to jump off mountains she wasn’t quite so impressed!) After our paragliding adventure, Michael left for two weeks work in Texas, and I headed back to Adelaide for some teaching preparation and a conference in Wollongong. And my twelve week scan.

My mum came with me. We thought we’d go out for lunch afterwards and do some shopping. We saw the little thing dancing and leaping around and it was amazing. But after prodding me for hours in two different ultrasound clinics, they told me that it had a diaphramatic hernia, its stomach was displacing its heart, and its lungs probably wouldn’t be able to develop properly. They said it’s a completely random defect that affects about one in 2500. There is a chance of survival with surgical intervention, but the stats aren’t good.

I had two weeks of further tests, and meetings with specialists, and tears and deliberations, and pouring over medical reports and statistics, and hours on skype to Michael. (In the midst of all this I managed to pull myself together enough to attend my conference, which was wonderful, and deserves a post of its own.) They told us if we wanted clearer information on the prognosis we’d have to wait till nineteen weeks.

We decided not to. We decided it really didn’t look good. We decided we didn’t want to take those risks for us, or our child. So on Wednesday, at fourteen weeks, I went to the hospital and ended my pregnancy.

I knew as soon as they told me what was wrong, that we’d have to make a decision. That I’d have to make a decision. (As much as I hoped we’d do it together, I knew legally and ultimately it would be down to me.) There was no way out of making a decision, and living with the consequences. One of my friends suggested that I wait and see what would happen, and get out of making a decision that way. But that would be a decision in itself. My friend suggested that we weren’t supposed to be in positions like this. But we are in these positions. I wonder if it’s one thing that sets us apart as humans that we put ourselves in situations like this, and then act within them.

I knew it was a decision we’d have to make with our eyes and hearts open. And we did. It was terribly painful. But we made the best decision we could, and we are happy with that. We will be ok. The poems I wrote are here. They say everything I deeply need to say.

Gifts

My grandmothers gave you presents.

Yellow hand-knitted booties,
The very same pattern my father wore once
And so did I.

A white cloth to wrap you in
Embroidered with a bumble bee.

For days they seemed to herald
Your presence –
Feet that would curl into them
A body damp and warm
And small enough to hold.

Now they cup emptiness.
I fold them away to save for another.

I will not even give you a name.

But I give you all the names.
The silly names we giggled over late at night.
The beautiful names, the old names,
Far too pretentious to actually use.
Now you can have them all:
The strong names, the bright names,
The storybook names, the wicked names,
The simple, lovely names we weighed on our tongues
Like smooth pebbles.
Have them all.

I’ll weave them into a coat of many colours
Fit for a favoured child.
Being spun of words, it may have holes
(How poorly the letters knit together)
But it will be pretty.
The coat will glitter in the dark like a fiery rainbow,
Like a cloud of bees.

And if, where you’re going, you do not need it, well,
Leave it behind.

A small stone

We took this photo in the mountains in Norway, last summer. It pretty much sums up what I am feeling right now. I can’t tell you why, just yet. I will probably tell you soon. But see the small stone, alone and yet not alone, amid the undulating hills of stone. See how the red flowers bloom on the rock. Take a deep breath. And see how if you looked up, or turned around, or walked on, the mountains would spread their arms around you, the clouds would part, the earth would press its face up to the sky.

Perspective

While the weather here in Adelaide is lovely and warm but not too warm (as I cleverly missed last week’s heat wave by being in Victoria), I have been keeping an eye on the Halden weatherpixie. It’s been stuck at minus 15 for about a month. Which has filled me with dread. And yes we should have left heaters on in our apartment because our landlady informs us grumpily that our toilet is frozen and our bathroom floor is covered in two centimeters of ice. At least we know for next time. Anyway, I noticed yesterday that the weather in Halden was -3. And today it’s -2. And while that’s not quite warm enough to melt the ice, it still sounds positively toasty.