The long, grey winter that is finally, slowly receding from these shores was the wettest since 1766, so they say. No beautiful snow for us this year (though we’re now too far south to have enjoyed it anyway). Temperatures were relatively warm, but for weeks on end, there was nothing more than sheets of downpour seemingly intent on scarring the landscape. Gale force winds. Flooding of biblical proportions. Destructive deluge. Many people lost power and homes and livelihoods. Entire regions of the country were isolated by caved in roads and rail lines.
We were always just on the edge of it. That lovely park just two doors from our flat? It was submerged, cut off, its beautiful lawns becoming a sodden, grey mess of clay, its gates locked against visitors for weeks on end. The pools of water crept ever closer to our door, but we were spared.
We couldn’t take our usual strolls or shortcuts to work through the park (or anywhere). It became an epic task to get to the nearest supermarkets (we don’t own a car, and even those accessible by motor vehicle experienced flooding and periodically had to shut their doors), so we used creative means to clear out the cupboards, and then ate a lot of crap take-away when we had exhausted that supply. We hibernated and instead occupied ourselves with all the simple pleasures one is supposed to enjoy as the rains pummel the windows from the leaden sky, while you watch the drops trickle down the glass, tucked up cosy inside and grateful for your shelter.
We drank cups of tea and hot cocoa and re-visited long abandoned projects of writing and artwork and compiling music playlists. H stuck in and worked like a demon on his thesis, now only weeks from completion. We became avid Olympics watchers and mock rivals as we cheered our respective teams, the apex of which was a face-off between the Austrian and Canadian men’s hockey teams on Valentine’s Day. I made multi-themed red and white, heart-shaped cookies incorporating a kind of amalgam of the Austrian and Canadian flags – the perfect emblem of trans-cultural love rather than rivalry. (H, being a realist, gamely cheered Canada to their 6-0 victory. Naturally.)
And we continued to indulge in our relish of this miraculous pregnancy, trying to enjoy what one beautiful friend (a fellow babyloss mom) called ‘all the earthy loveliness of being pregnant in the winter’. We watched my belly expand. I began to strain under the last of my winter coats that still fit around my increasing girth, and was happy to notice when the chill wind was able to make its way up to my gradually more exposed baby bump. H felt kicks for the first time. We discussed and contemplated the weighty decision of names for this little girl. We continued with our nightly ritual of reading up on little seedling’s development, and added a few more little traditions to the routine. As the storms raged, we cuddled and loved like crazy on our feisty miracle girl.
And we waited for each new monitoring appointment, (after that dreadful MRI) with a strange and tenuous mixture of anxiety and hope. The doctors continued to locate anomalies in her development, so that the list grew longer and the appointments an exercise in parental torture. And she continued to surprise and delight; not only us but her medical team. She grew and thrived. She kicked and wriggled. She faced each and every challenge with a gutsy defiance.
All those things, she did and she does.
And slowly, the clouds began to clear and the spring is upon us, once again.
Last week, I walked out the door to head to work, and the gate to the park was, astonishingly, cast open. The waters that once threatened to submerge us had receded. And as I strolled past that beautiful but for now scarred scenery, suddenly they caught my eye: daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses. Bright splashes of purple and yellow amid the still mucky soil.
They survived. How did they survive? I thought they would cower from the gale force, wither in the face of winter’s ferocity. I thought that they would rot and die beneath the weight of water that submerged them for so long under merciless torrents.
I was wrong. Spring is invincible.
When I first left this space to retreat into my own little world it was in a burst of anger and injustice driven by fear and sadness. But while I was there, in my own little world, something happened: life found me. When I stopped thinking about what others had, and instead looked around at the space I occupied, I realized it’s pretty damned awesome. Are the challenges ahead still scary and overwhelming? Totally. We are not out of the woods, and little seedling still has a lot to battle against. But she is so strong, this little fighter of ours, and already she is teaching us so much. About the beauty and power of singularity. About miracles. About being in the present. About the joy of the unexpected. This is our journey and although it may not look as we imagined it to, we are blessed beyond measure to be here, taking it. After all that we lost, after how hardened I became, I never imagined getting here. Getting her, or the intensity of the feelings that would accompany the experience.
After meeting H, during those first tentative talks about The Future and family and all that we wanted, I remember having the distinct feeling that what I wanted more than anything was to grow the intensity of love and discovery and goodness that we shared. To physically expand it, to extend it to another human being. I was never one of those ‘all I’ve ever wanted is to be a mother’ people. H made me want that. S made me a mother. And after a period of such darkness it feels...unfathomable, actually; to be reminded of all that goodness, all that wonder, all that belief in the promise of possibility that we once held and can hold again. Perhaps you can understand when I say that in the midst of the fear and the challenges, there is laughter and joy.
Right now, it’s a joy I find difficult to share with a computer screen. Life feels full. And so I may continue to post only sporadically for the time being. Selfishly, I still want and need the incredible waves of support that you all have and continue to offer during these scary, uncertain times. It is wonderful to have a sense of that huge, global cheering section little seedling has backing her. Selflessly, I think I want to keep recording all the twists and turns because I truly believe we will get our positive outcome and I want to be able to share that hope with others who may be facing these realities somewhere down the road, or right now, silently and alone.
So posting will continue, however irregularly, as and when I find time for it. And I hope you’ll continue following, as I want to continue following and cheering all of you. You are an amazing bunch whose compassion, love and respect continue to dispel my sometimes pessimistic beliefs in human kindness.
In this very moment though, I think I’ll go take this little girl who is so vigorously kicking me in the ribs out for a stroll. Maybe we’ll walk past the crocuses and breathe the spring air.