Monday, 27 April 2015

#Microblog Mondays: One!

Girl Wonder turned one this past weekend. Happy happy! Joy joy! (And still so surreal. In a good way.)

The party hat is actually a leftover from her costume for Fasching (or what they call Carnival in Latin America and the Caribbean, but also a big deal in this super-Catholic European country). It had a Day of the Dead theme and she wore it with a little skeleton onesie back in February.

H and I had a protracted negotiation over the type of birthday cake Girl Wonder would get. He wanted one of these sophisticated sponge cakes with a fancy fruit arrangement and layer of gelee. That's apparently traditional in Austria. To my mind though, a little kid's birthday cake isn't worth the paper plate it's served on if  it's not 1) slathered in sickly sweet icing that can be liberally smeared and 2) covered in enough fluorescent food colouring-infused sprinkles that you'll probably have to peel your kid off the ceiling later. Funny how the cross-cultural fault-lines in a marriage will emerge in the unlikeliest of places, huh? In the end, since strictly speaking Girl Wonder hasn't been introduced to gluten-based foods yet, the fancy-schmancy Viennese cake won out because that meant she could just eat the gelee with fresh fruit (which I grudgingly admit is the healthier option <cue sullen shrug>). But I'll get my smeary, food colouring fest next year; just you wait.

We wrapped a few of the hand-made (and some hand-me-down) toys that her cousins sent all the way from Canada, but otherwise didn't overdo it with presents, since I kind of hate that consumerism often trumps celebration at these things. Girl Wonder's delight is really generated from tearing the paper at this age, rather than playing with the actually contents. She happily did that for over an hour!

The grown-ups drank prosecco and toasted this amazing little being in our midst. A good day.

Written as part of Mel's Microblog Mondays. Check it out here to participate.

Monday, 13 April 2015

#Microblog Mondays: Seasons

So, April.

I've been kind of hanging suspended in this kind of slow-mo, hazy bliss the last few weeks. You know, those moments where the rays of sun slant in at an opaque angle and you can almost hear the perfection of the world in all its idiosyncrasies, thrumming around you?

That's where I am. Noticing the details. Awe-inspired by seemingly everything; the lazy buzz of a fat bumblebee; the taste of that strawberry basil gelato the cafe 'round the corner is peddling; the smell of rain as it hits the warm pavement; the fact that I am mother to a vibrant daughter. A daughter who is nearly one.


We seem to have skipped spring altogether this year. It snowed on the first day of Pesach and on Easter Sunday.

Last year during the Easter long weekend I was hospitalized in the Labour and Delivery ward with worrying symptoms of a suspected pulmonary embolism, told I could lose both my own life and that of my then-unborn daughter. I was discharged with a confirmed diagnosis of pre-eclampsia, after spending a scary, sleepless night alone. (I told you it was a crazy time, I just never found the wherewithal to explain exactly how.) I had sent H home to bank his sleep before the new parent onslaught began; that night before he left he leaned in to my belly and whispered, asking our little seedling to watch over her mama that night, our roles reversed after long months of me caring for her. She duly obliged, kicking and rolling all night inside me, keeping me company through those long, dark hours. I was struggling hard to breath, panicked, feeling like a huge weight was pressed to my chest; it was this together with elevated proteins and white blood cell count that made them suspect pulmonary embolism. Looking back, I wonder how much of the trouble breathing could have been trauma-induced: a final, terrifying chapter in a pregnancy after loss beset with worries.

With Girl Wonder somersaulting her way through the night, reminding me I wasn't alone, I finally felt settled on her name. I had been sitting on the fence about our shortlist, but H was lobbying hard already for the name we eventually chose, a very traditional one that means hope in Hebrew. 'She owns that name', he said; a kid with her back story was hope personified, he said. Through that night as she brought hope and strength to calm my fears, I couldn't help but agree. I told her so and felt a tiny thump. It was final then.


And after snowfall and temperatures that have kept us hibernating for long into this spring, it's suddenly strappy sundress weather. Summer bypassed us last year; it was a grey, English washout of a summer, not that we would have been able to enjoy it had the sun shone. We spent most of the season in sterile hospital rooms breathing stale air. I remember looking out at the leaden sky from Girl Wonder's isolation room on the 10th floor PICU. I remember poring over journal articles trying to come to grips with the CMV diagnosis that had wracked her tiny body, feeling as though we were about to become the punchline of some cruel cosmic joke, getting through that whole pregnancy only to have our longed-for child taken from us by a random infection. I remember subsisting on little sleep and bad coffee, donuts and hash browns from the hospital canteen.

This year, we are looking forward to summer holidays in Italy; to trips in Hungary and the Alps; picnics in the city's parks. With our one year old daughter.


During all those long years of loss, infertility and loneliness, I often comforted myself with the thought that life can change profoundly and unexpectedly in a single season, in the blink of an eye. 'Everything could look completely different this time next year', I told myself, hoping it might be for the better.

But even now, living in the laughter-soaked truth of that adage, I can hardly believe my luck most days. 

Written as part of Mel's Microblog Mondays. Check it out here to participate.