Foggy Adventures Part 2

For all you parents out there, I think you’ll identify with this. For those potential parents out there, these pearls of wisdom are keepers. Enjoy.

(Guys)  You’ve noticed a shift in your lady recently. She’s been moody, irrational and touchy, fallen asleep in the most inappropriate settings (you had heated discussions as to why the office sofa was off-limits for sleeping) and you just can’t figure out what exactly it is you’ve done wrong. On the plus side, her boobs look fantastic right now.

(Ladies)  You’re late on, you have the headache from hell that rivals last New Year’s hangover, and you’ve taken to keeping a carrier bag in your handbag for the awkward unannounced and particularly violent vomiting episodes. Classy. Your hubby’s touching concern merely grates on you. Come to think of it, so do most things. But there is one bonus; right now you have a cleavage to die for.

You complete Operation Superdrug with the stealth of a panther as one person keeps watch for any familiars while the other pays for your purchase with the guilt of a naughty teenager. You remind yourselves you are full-blown grown ups and have in fact decided to take this next step in your relationship with much thought and consideration, but you just can’t shake the paranoia that everyone’s eyes are on you.
Hurrying home in awkward silence, you take THE test together and wait with nervous anticipation for the full three minutes to tick by. It feels like hours, but the moment arrives and you both sneak a peek. Two blue lines! After scrabbling for the packet to double check this means positive, you’re not sure whether to laugh or cry as reality bites. Together, the two of you have made a baby. A whole new human (albeit a teeny tiny one right now) and you’re over the moon as euphoria sets in. You did it.

(Ladies) You do what every good prospective mum does. You Google. Alongside booking a midwife, peeing into three thousand pots, attending copious doctor’s appointments, trying your best to eat healthily, and letting them bleed you dry for yet another ‘routine check.’ As your stomach swells, so does your excitement (along with your face, your arse, your ankles, and even your fingers-yes people, even your fingers) But the heartburn, boxing match in your belly, cankles and bus-butt are not enough to dampen your enthusiasm for this new freshly made little person. You give in to cravings in the name of bump love and sign up for NCT classes with your man, (highly recommended by your new circle of fellow mums-to-be) Watching a middle aged woman grunting on their hands and knees in the middle of a church hall is an interesting experience to say the least, but you embrace your new found universe with arms open wide. The first scan is magical, and it feels like life just couldn’t be any more Technicolor than it is right now.

(Guys) You make it your mission to know exactly what size the baby is at every stage of pregnancy, assure your lady multiple times a day that she isn’t fat; she’s blooming, and attend the weird middle age grunting woman’s birth class without hint of complaint. Sometimes you get that butterfly feeling in the middle of the night, wondering whether you’ll live up to being someone’s actual Dad, and you’ve made so many midnight visits to Tesco for randomly craved items that the cashiers know your name. Seeing your baby on the scan for the first time makes you almost burst with pride, and you’ve never been in love with your lady more than you are now. You’re maxed out on happiness and life just couldn’t get better than this.

9 months rolls by, quickly at first and then far too slowly for the last few weeks. The comical waddle and endless backache make you both impatient, and as the due date comes and goes you desperately try all the suggested short cuts for encouraging your baby along. Pineapple-check. Curry-check. Sex-er, the mind boggles but in your desperation you manage this too. All in vain- this baby is definitely on their own agenda.

Eventually, 10 days late and after a labour of love your bundle of joy makes their entrance into the world. A thousand emotions hit all at once as you are handed a screwed-up, red-faced, squeaky little person, and as you hold your baby for the first time, it happens. The fog descends. The weight of responsibility threatens to crush you as every single thing you’ve ever been taught in antenatal classes evaporates like a puddle in the Sahara. Voices are muffled, instructions unclear and easily forgotten in your hazy state.

You make it home with all three of you intact-a milestone in itself-and flail around hopelessly in the fog, trying urgently to find something concrete to grab- some sort of reference point that at the very least lets you know which direction you’re meant to be heading in. Amidst the sleep deprivation, constant stream of vomit (you now finally understand the importance of muslins); incessant screaming and a washing machine almost on strike, you very slowly start to find your feet.

Every little victory is cause for celebration. The first nappy change. The first successful feed. The first trip out, complete with profuse amounts of paraphernalia covering every eventuality and emergency that could possibly occur. The first meeting with the in-laws. The first few precious milestones which serve as blazing beacons in the fog- you can’t be such incompetent parents after all. With every one of these victories, a little more of the fog lifts, until one day you realise the view’s been clear for months; not only clear, but panoramic and HD. As quickly as it came, the fog went. As you survey your new landscape you’re sure the colours are brighter, the sounds clearer, the contrasts more crisp and you struggle to remember what it all looked like before the fog.

Here’s the thing. I’m still in the fog. I have a child with special needs. We live life 24 hours at a time because our view is so limited. With B there is no such thing as an ‘average’ day. Some days his needs scream less loudly than others and he seems content and engaged. Some days he bounces off the walls, crying for hours on end, and he is powerless to communicate why. We have no idea what the future holds for him, but we live with the harsh reality there are risks of seizures and sudden death at any time. In the fog, you can’t see beyond the next catseye. We’re still doing this thing blind. Some days we might get a glimpse into what lies beyond next week, but with each new victory comes a new challenge. And so we fumble on, feeling for our reference point, trying hard to find the footsteps of those who have walked before us. In all honesty I am sometimes madly jealous of those families whose fog has cleared, who have their panoramic-HD views with the endless excitement and possibility that brings. Our fog distorts, it isolates, it disrupts. I’ve heard the phrase ‘The wilderness is never meant to be permanent’ in more sermons than I care to remember. But for us, please understand the fog IS permanent. For the majority that fog is temporary, but for those of us with special kids, it isn’t. Twenty-four hours at a time.

My biggest fear used to be losing our other kids along the way, but then I realised an incredible truth. To survive and navigate the fog, we need to hang on to each other as tightly as possible.

Hanging on is one of the things our family does best.


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