We are off on a holiday to a warmer place today where there will be sunshine and beaches. We are so excited about family time, no alarm clocks, warm weather, swimming and no cooking/dishes for a week!
Not long after Eva’s poor weigh in I had occasion to buy 1kg of Butter. I often buy 1kg of flour or rice but I just pick up the packet and don’t really give the weight much thought. This time as I stood there holding 1kg of butter in my hands I looked to Eva and realised that at birth she weighed less than what I hold in my hands. It made me remember that she has come so far since her arrival into the world at 790g with her lowest weight being 625g.
Recently we joined a premature baby support group here in Melbourne, Life’s Little Treasures. They run a local morning tea monthly and I have enjoyed seeing and hearing from other premature baby mums. The following poem was on the back of the welcome booklet and I wanted to share it. It is written in relation to a child with a life long disability but I still feel that I can relate to it in terms of the first few months of Eva’s life.
Welcome to Holland
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this…
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans: the Coliseum, the Michelangelo David, the gondolas in Venice. You may even learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After several months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and but new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower placed than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there awhile you begin to notice that Holland has windmills… and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things… about Holland.
(Copyright 1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved.)
Recently I started going to my local Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group. It is run from the church we are now worshipping so it is a great way for me to connect with people who I see on Sunday as well. Although the program is church based about half of the participants aren’t church goers. It is not an evangelical program but it doesn’t pretend not to be God focused. MOPS is a fortnightly program for mothers with children from 0-5years.
“MOPS IS A PLACE THAT GETS MUMS… their unique needs, challenges and joys—in this vital season of early mothering. Every mum is welcomed, accepted and challenged to reach her potential and recognise her influence with her family and her world. A MOPS group is a dynamic, inviting environment where women can come just as they are to build friendships, be encouraged and gain practical parenting strategies, while children are lovingly cared for in a MOPPETS program.
The purpose of MOPS is to encourage, equip and develop every mother of preschoolers to realise her potential as a woman, mother and leader in the name of Jesus Christ.” www.mops.org.au
I arrive at MOPS and take Eva to the MOPPETS program. At the moment she is in the 0-18month room because when we started she was cruising. I guess soon she will move to the toddler room. There are carers from the church who look after the MOPPETS for the next two hours. Once I leave Eva there is a cup of tea and yummy morning tea and conversations with other Mums where we can finish a sentence and not be worrying about whether our child is smearing morning tea all over the floor!
There is a guest speaker on a topic of common interest to Mums then we have an open discussion in small groups. I sit with the same discussion group every week which is good. I find the discussions interesting and a good place to share. There is also a craft activity to participate in which is fun. I really enjoy the craft especially because someone else plans and prepares it. It’s a great opportunity for general chatting.
After 2 hours I collect Eva from the MOPPETS and we head home with me feeling refreshed and hoping that she also enjoyed some playtime with other children. I find with just Mums around, no children, I am not spending any time thinking about how small Eva is or any other comparisons that I naturally make when I with other mothers and children normally. That in itself is refreshing. I really enjoy the MOPS program and hope that others might consider looking for their local group to join.
As I drove past several polling booths for the Federal Election today I realised instead of grumbling about the election I should be thankful. Thankful that there are no violent demonstrations threatening lives during the election. There is freedom of information about the stated claims of the candidates. We can trust that the votes are counted correctly with no corruption. Thus I should be thankful for these conditions that we are blessed with in Australia
Now that I have been thankful I will grumble about the incessant marketing of the political brands and the need to be listen to the negativity of the candidates. I am so glad that it is all over now. My letterbox can return to it’s empty self this week and the television will remain dormant again.
We are lucky to have my friend Amelia visiting us from Adelaide this week. Over the weekend her husband Daniel was also here and we dragged them to Eva’s swimming lesson and a market before relaxing in front of the fire and playing some Spicks and Specks and Scrabble in the evening.
Amelia is a garden designer which is a very handy asset to have in a friend. She has lovingly designed a simple garden for us to enjoy. The most discussion we have had has been over the vegetable garden and composting which is gong to be fabulous when we get going with it. Listing the vegetables and herbs to grow has been fun.
Yesterday we took a giant step forward and went shopping for some plants. Yesterday we planted 3 trees! We now have trees on our property. A Jonathon Apple, Golden Delicious Apple and an Apricot. We’ve also put in some Native shrubs and bought lots of other plants for me to get to over the next few days. Amelia, Eva and I visited Bulleen Art & Garden, a fantastic Nursery with lots of information about organic and sustainable gardening. They even have classes that I am thinking of attending.
The vegetable patch is later in the plan (in about a month) and even later is roses and a magnolia which I am delighted about.
I wouldn’t say that this is going to make us massive gardeners or even give us amazing green thumbs but it should provide us with some pride in our home and enjoyment from the fruits of our labour. We look forward to exploring the garden with Eva and discovering Toddler delights. We are really looking forward to eating our home-grown produce and teaching Eva about real food. It’s the start of a new adventure.
Eva seems to have worked out this upright thing! Six weeks after taking her first steps Eva is now walking more than crawling. It is the most gorgeous toddle with arms straight out ahead Zombie style. It’s so exciting!
Now begins the time of parents taking our time walking to do stuff at Eva pace and let her enjoy her freedom. I do hope that I can slow down and let her enjoy this walking thing. She looks so cute toddling around. I still feel great pride watching her stand up from squatting in the middle of the room which she only learnt last Friday. I marvel every day at the amazing progress that she has made and at the wonder of God’s creation, the human body and mind is just so clever.
Other great news is that Andrew bathed Eva without me in the room and without any tears! Yeah for me. It has taken 2 months and has coincided with the transition from cruising to walking. I feel so liberated and it’s only 20 minutes of my day that I’m talking about. Now if only the election would be over and Andrew would be willing to sacrifice the news for special bath time….. only 4 more days.
Every time we are out with Eva someone comments on her hair and eyes. Usually along the lines of “What lovely red hair”. Swiftly followed by glances to Andrew and I and the question “Where does she get it from?”. I’ve yet to answer from her real parents or simply her follicles but it’s sometimes tempting. Instead I explain that it comes from my Dad and Andrew’s paternal grandmother.
People also regularly comment that they think that red hair is a dying breed but I guess that I’ve never noticed that with red hair in our family. We are really proud of Eva’s hair and in fact dreamed of having a little redhead. I hope that Eva will grow up being proud of it too.
Most observers also comment on Eva’s striking blue eyes which glow particularly if she is wearing blueish tones. They really are a gorgeous bright combination of our more subtle blue colouring.
Of course we realise that we are very biased but we do enjoy these gorgeous features’ of Eva’s and are pleased that other people notice too.