No Tragedies Here

I don’t know how to write about my children here anymore.

I don’t know how to write about being their mum.

And it shouldn’t be this way, because of course I could wax lyrical about their sweet natures, the funny dances in the living room, the look on Tristan’s face when we took him to CBeebies Land, the way Leo presses his face against ours and closes his eyes to say “I love you” in a language that’s only his. I could write, talk and sing about my children.

What I mean is that I don’t know how to write about autism.

And that’s not my fault. It’s because I love my children that I don’t write about autism. It’s because I love three autistic people more than anyone else I’ve ever known that I don’t write about autism.

The internet is brimming with blogs written by parents of autistic children sharing details of the tragedy of their lives, the hardships, the ‘victories’, the regrets, the vaccines (or not), the meltdowns, the poo smearing, the anger, the pain, the BEWARENESS. That isn’t me. Those people make me angry and sad, and angry some more.

Because autism isn’t a tragedy.

My husband is autistic. He is the most beautiful, kind soul. He is fiercely intelligent and lacking in all common sense. He can be selfish and stubborn and silly, and looks amazing without a shirt on.

My eldest son is autistic. He is a star, as close to an actual embodiment of a twinkling celestial ball as is possible. I don’t know what universe he’s from but it must be a magical, enchanting place. He’s funny and creative and so innocently charming that it makes my heart flutter. He can be feisty and bossy too, but so, so sweet. He sees the world through his own kaleidoscope and it is simply beautiful.

My youngest son is probably autistic too. He hasn’t been diagnosed yet as he’s still so young and the process is more complicated, but we believe he is, as does his speech therapist, and we’re waiting to hear on his referral. He is my baby, my two-year-old-but-more-like-a-one-year-old. His favourite place to be is in my lap, whether he’s happy or hurt. He doesn’t speak at all, but his eyes sparkle with mischief and his smiles take over his whole body. He hiccups when he laughs too much. He feels with every inch of his body.

There are no tragedies here.

What I wish is that I could be an antidote to the vast wealth of negativity out there. A parent writing as an ally to my autistic family and the community as a whole, not as a victim.

Because I’m not a fucking victim. My children aren’t victims. My husband is not a victim.

(…Well they might be victims of an ignorant society, but certainly not of their neurotype.)

I hope to be that blogger, that ally. I want to throw my hat into the ring and use my privilege as an allistic adult to advocate for my children and fight for autistic rights and the recognition of neurodiversity. I care more about this than almost anything else in my life.

But right now there are other things waging war in my head. Some tangible, real life monsters – most not. I am tired, worn, drained. And everything I feel I want and need to say for the benefit of my family and to show my pride in them for being exactly everything they are gets lost on the journey between my brain and my fingers, and I no longer outwardly have the fluency to say everything the way it deserves to be said.

You might suppose I could write about my family without mentioning autism, but you’d be wrong because to understand autism as a concept you must first understand that it isn’t something that’s separate from my children. They don’t have autism. They don’t suffer from autism. They don’t live with autism. They are autistic. It is who they are. To write about our latest trip away or the loss of our dear pet or why Thom created a YouTube playlist for Tristan of themed hotel rooms would mean writing about them, and they are autistic. I can no more remove autism from my family than I can change the colour of their eyes. And I would never want to.

I want to write about my family more freely and confidently, knowing I won’t hurt them or their community with my tired words. I want to stand up and say, “I’m not a victim.”

I’m not a “warrior parent.”

I’m not an “autism mom.”

I’m Lindy, and I’m the luckiest wife and mummy in all the universe (and wherever Tristan’s from).

I just need a little time to do this right.

It Never Stops

The spilled drinks.
Cheese puffs scattered on the floor like toddler confetti.
The bumped heads, stubbed toes and unidentifiable rashes.
The calls to NHS Direct and the inevitable, “You’d best go to A&E just to be sure…”
Then  – “Did they think I was wasting their time?”
The nappy changes, clothes changes, channel changes.
The sticky fingers, sweaty hair, and toenails that desperately need trimming before he learns to catch small rodents with his feet.
(What will people think?)

It’s constant.

The crying, the whining, the wailing as though some great injustice is being dealt even though I’m doing exactly what I thought he wanted.
The repetition, the tedium, the repetition.
The wooden cars driven up my legs, the tiny giraffe in my hair, the hands everywhere.
On me ALL THE TIME.
Bathe, rinse, repeat.
(Except don’t rinse because he hates water in his face.
And never repeat.
Unless you’re a toddler, in which case repeat everything forever.)

The mess. Everywhere. Walls, floors, faces.
The incomparable pain of standing on a lego brick.

(No, wait – standing on a metal biplane is worse.)

Coffee, cake, chocolate.
Must eat better. Could join the gym.

Maybe next month.
I need the comfort and calories after another aborted day out.
I’m sure he liked farm animals last week?

The noise! Shouting, screaming, banging, burping, scraping, throwing.
All when the other is trying to sleep.
Do they do it deliberately?
Why are they doing this to me?

The snapping, the yelling.

The apologising.

This isn’t the mother I want to be.
I’m not equal to this.

The fear.
The guilt.
The worry.

It never ends.

I can’t do this.

Each day the same.
Alarm. Breakfast.
Coffee, cake, chocolate.
The same TV shows (we sing the theme tunes together).
The jigsaws, the play-doh, the painting.
The reading, pretending, bouncing.
Splashing!

Did I mention the singing?

The kisses, the stickers, the Gruffalos and Zogs.
The towers, the tickles, the dancing!
The beaming grins that make hearts skip and wrinkles deepen.
All of us together, the only people in the world.
Feelings so big there isn’t enough space in the universe to hold them.

The glances to the only other person who understands what these moments mean.
And the quiet smiles that say, “I know, I feel the same.”

The mess, the noise, the laughter!
The sticky hands everywhere, on me – don’t care!
We’re tigers today, growling and chasing.
My cubs are loud and I am too.

They’re growing so fast.
I’m running to keep up.

Stamping through leaves, feeding ducks, counting raindrops.
Holding hands. Hugging.
Loving, learning.
Exploring.

Changing.

It never stops.

Family of Four

So I’m back after my unplanned and largely baby-led hiatus. My firstborn consumed my sleep which I’d thought was bad enough, but now his brother has dramatically swooped in and eaten time itself. Not that it isn’t wonderful and fulfilling – it really is – but I do spend my evenings staring into space, scraping bodily fluids out of my hair and gazing upon the day with the awe, pride and incredulity of someone who’s woken up next to an empty wine bottle, an alpaca and a return ticket to Peru.

Our smallest family member is now the grand age of 5 months, from my experience a time in a baby’s life when wakefulness and screaming for increasingly elusive reasons become firm priorities. Also hair pulling. Between Leo and my postpartum loss there’s enough hair embedded in the carpet to weave actual-size replicas of the cats, which will be handy when they inevitably pack their bags and move out because they’re done reaping the consequences of our decision to procreate. (“We stuck it out after the first but then they did it again and I’m too old to be run over with a Cozy Coupe.”)

So to compensate for my absence here I thought I’d take the chance to share a snapshot of our new(ish) life as a family of four via the things I’ve learned over the last 171 days –

1. It turns out my children being within a metre of each other is the BEST THING. Not for them, you understand; Tristan has virtually no interest in his brother, and I get it – objectively Leo is not exciting. He doesn’t have wheels, he can’t play and he wasn’t created by Pixar. Bor-ing. But for me seeing them together makes me positively giddy with joy. The two creatures I love more than anything in the world INTERACTING. My heart explodes every time. It reminds me of the feeling I had when my best friend and boyfriend (now husband) became friends and I’d watch them chatting in the pub and beam across at them like an over-earnest kids’ TV presenter, except with my sons that feeling is even bigger and the smile even more creepy because I love them more than life itself. My attempts to create these moments have led to photos like this –

13669684_10153963058458842_110115938137221612_n

And this –

14389737_10154116776368842_1649774130_n

2. All babies are different, I knew that. But I naively thought fate would be generously selective about those differences when it came to my own children. NOT SO. First time round we had a sleep thief, who at 32 months still hasn’t learned the mythical skill of ‘self-settling’, is rocked to sleep, has milk during the night and doesn’t sleep alone. Fine, I thought, the next one will be easier. We’ve earned it, I thought, and the first time I placed Leo gently on the bathroom floor so I could pee and he instantly drifted off I believed I was right, and that perhaps there was a god who’d seen how tired I was and figured I deserved a break. WRONG. At five months old Leo has never napped lying down (apart from that one time on the bathmat). Never. He only sleeps on Big T’s shoulder or with a boob in his mouth. Suddenly my pram loving, sling loving, dummy loving toddlebeast seems like something off a Mothercare poster. Leo will not go in a pram for more than ten minutes at a time. He quite likes being in a sling, but not for too long and he WILL NOT SLEEP IN ONE, which seems like a matter of principle to him, especially when his eyes are half closed and he’s chain-yawning. And as for a dummy, not a chance. Why settle for silicone when the real thing is available? Suddenly my well stocked parenting arsenal is looking a little sparse. I have boobs and that’s basically it, and those boobs aren’t even his primary food source. I feel like a total novice. I thought I had this! I should be a pro by now!

3. Gender disappointment is real, but in my experience doesn’t last very long.
A year ago, early on in my pregnancy, if someone had told me I could choose what sex my secondborn would be I would have said, “GIRL,” without any hesitation, due in the main to a natural preference for variety. I’m usually a ‘little bit of everything’ kind of gal so it stands to reason that at the buffet where all the chromosomes hang out I’d go for the XX since I already had some XY on my plate (babies-as-hors d’oeuvres metaphor ftw!). Another, much smaller reason is that clothes designed for children with vaginas tend to have more rainbows on them, but that really is a minor issue since Tristan definitely doesn’t have a vagina and still wears clothes not ‘made’ for him because, y’know, his genitalia doesn’t predispose him to liking tractors, football or the colour blue. But I digress…
So we had a preference, albeit not a particularly strong one. And yes, when I saw Leo being born and he was presented to me balls first (seriously) there was a shock of disappointment that lasted all of one second, a sort of lightning strike to illuminate a path I’d never follow. I was the mother of boys. We had boys. And with no other children planned I’d never be a mother to a girl. And what surprised me was how completely okay that felt. Better than okay, it felt good, like it was exactly how things were meant to be. I held my newborn son in my arms in my hospital bed and a new piece of my heart bloomed that I hadn’t known existed before. Where his brother had brought me alive, Leo had made me complete.
And it’s nothing to do with which box is checked on his birth certificate.

4. There is nothing worse than seeing your child sick in hospital. Nothing. Nothing can prepare you for the powerlessness, the frustration, the guilt. But you get through it. You manage, somehow. You don’t sleep, you barely have a chance to eat – but you cope. And you come out the other side more fiercely protective of your tiny human than you thought possible, and with a quiet but steely belief in yourself as a parent.

hospital2

5. I found out who my true friends are, and they aren’t all the people I’d have guessed when I started my parenting journey more than three years ago. Some have been in my life for many years, others are new, but they are all very dear to me. They are the people who came round with supplies when we had a new baby and didn’t care that we weren’t dressed and our house was upside down. They held Leo so I could take 10 minutes to finish a cup of coffee. They brought gifts for me rather than him, at a time when I felt all I was was a baby feeding machine, and a failed one at that. They offered to donate breastmilk for my son when I was desperate and spent and had nothing more to give. They sent messages in the middle of the night telling me that I had this. They talked to me the same way they always had, as though I was still just Lindy, not Mummy, not a parent, not a breastfeeder or bottle feeder, babywearer or cloth nappy user. Just me. I don’t see these people every day, or even every week or month – some never – but they are my tribe, my village and they have my gratitude and friendship for life. They are part of why I didn’t suffer with post-natal illness after having Leo. They are why I’m still holding it together. They are fucking awesome. ❤

14407640_10154117380528842_216519889_n

6. I understand now why my own mother never had new clothes or shoes, why she mended her old things and why it was a Big Deal when she bought anything new for herself. I had a taste of that when we had just one child, but now we have two I understand more the need to nurture my babies at the expense of myself. Kids are expensive and while we aren’t poor by any means, with only one of us in employment we do have to make sacrifices to give our children the lifestyle we want them to have. If that means I have to sew up a hole in an old dress or Big T has to buy his jeans second hand, that’s more than fine. We’re proud to do it. Seeing Tristan pick out his own shoes for the first time is a gift far greater than having new shoes myself.

7. There are different kinds of love, we all know that. We don’t love our grandparents the same way we love our 6ft hunk of husband, for instance. But I wasn’t prepared for how different my love for my two sons would feel. It’s as individual as their personalities. My relationship with Tristan was more fraught, more tempestuous when he was a baby. Harder. And that shows now in the affinity I feel with him, the sense that we battled something together and came through it even stronger.  With Leo the beauty in my love for him is its simplicity. He is my precious baby, and I am his mother, and there’s a purity about us, a bubble we live in that remains untouched by the outside world, as though he’s still in my belly. Nothing prepared me for the difference. Everyone told me I’d love them equally, and I do, but it absolutely isn’t the same.

8. You can absolutely watch The Land Before Time too often. Trust me. You can try to appreciate the racial subtext, the beautiful artwork and James Horner’s deeply moving score, but ultimately you will want to take Littlefoot and his pals and feed them one by one to Sharptooth just to get the film over and done with sooner. Luckily Tristan isn’t aware of the numerous sequels yet, though at this point I’d be grateful for the variety even if that means singing dinosaurs.

lbt

9. I’ve said before that motherhood for me is a wicked combination of joy and guilt. Since becoming a mother-of-two I’ve had a healthy dose of the former and a less healthy onslaught of the latter. My eldest watches too much television (see #8). He uses his Kindle too much. He goes to bed too late. He doesn’t eat well enough. He never gets enough time with me. He doesn’t socialise enough. My youngest never gets to nap undisturbed. I’m not expressing my breastmilk enough. I put him in the jumperoo too often. I clock-watch. I sleep in on weekends. I scream into a cushion when things feel too much just so I don’t have to scream at my kids. I see photos on Facebook of my childless friends on far away holidays or nights out and I envy their freedom. I sometimes wish I could go back in time and tell myself to calm down with the procreation and live a little. I have ALL THE GUILTS.
But my children don’t need me to feel bad. My guilt doesn’t help them grow or feel loved. All they care about is that Mummy and Daddy love them beyond words and that we keep them safe, which we do. The rest is filler. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make things better where we can, but instead of letting my guilt cripple me I have to thank it for reminding me I have more to give and then let it go. I don’t want to raise my two beautiful boys in a world of not enough. That shit is toxic and it doesn’t belong here.

14469390_10154128118313842_736106964_n

10. Further to #9, and somewhat paradoxically, I’ve learned to try to let go of perfection. I don’t have to be the perfect vision of parenting. When Tristan was a baby I was very hung up on doing everything exactly as the attachment parenting guides told me. I felt guilty if I used the pram, tore my hair out over BLW, wished the earth would swallow me whole when I bottle fed in public. PND and a desire to feel like I’d done something right led to that originally, but Leo’s birth and all the healing it brought gave me the perspective to see how ridiculous it was. Parenting isn’t a sport; I can never be the ‘best’ at it. All I can be is true to myself and try to parent instinctively. When I stop checking boxes I find my values don’t change but my flexibility grows, and I enjoy my children more without the pressure of being the poster girl for all things AP. Looking after two kids doesn’t leave time to worry about how I come across on Facebook, or whether it’s been too long since I carried my kids in a wrap, or whether I can be arsed washing nappies this week. Those things are superficial and I don’t need them to prove to the world what kind of parent I am.

In lots of ways life has carried on as it always has. My boys change and grow all the time, and we grow with them, sometimes not quickly enough to adapt to their needs in the way we want to, but we keep trying. We juggle, we struggle, we love and learn and fill our home with laughter, and the occasional frustrated, cross word.
Our days are as changeable as our current sleeping arrangements, but we’re happy, and while we may not be the perfect parents to our imperfect children, we are all perfect for one another.

(Except for the cats, poor things… But four out of six ain’t bad.)

Meeting Under Fluorescent Light

The day we met started too early. I couldn’t eat or drink, so I just got dressed and tried to calm my nerves by obsessively reading the Guardian news app. I spent a long time hugging Tristan before we left and I shed a few tears on the way to the hospital because no hug, kiss or giggle could last long enough that day. I’d never been away from him for so long before, it was entirely unthinkable. How would I cope without my sparkly little boy to get me through the scary bits?

We arrived at the hospital, early enough that we found a parking space right outside the main entrance. Part of me wanted to run. I had to remind myself with every step towards the ward that this was a different story and a different child and I’d changed so much myself; I had to believe that I wasn’t throwing myself to the lions.

We got inside and there were bright lights and kind voices, deep breaths and butterflies. My space on the ward was exactly the same as two years previously, near the same window with the same view of the dental school. I changed into a hospital gown and waited to be escorted down for surgery.

More bright lights, more kind voices. “Pop yourself up here. Lean forward so your back is nice and curved. This won’t hurt too much but if it’s too uncomfortable tell me and I’ll stop. You’re doing brilliantly!” The midwife’s hands firmly grasping my own, my head resting against her shoulder as the needle squirmed in my spine, my thoughts all about the baby I was about to meet to distract me from the pain.

I’ve got this, I’ve got this, I’ve got this.

The consultant and anaesthetist read my birth plan and respected all of it. They would explain everything they were doing, they would be completely silent as our baby was born, and the curtain would be lowered so I could see him or her being lifted out of me.

“I’m just cutting through the final layer of tissue.”
“I can see your baby’s head. There’s a lot of hair!”
“I’m about to pull your baby out now so I’ll lower the screen.”

The room fell quiet, the curtain fell, and there he was, still attached to me. Small and curled up, face swollen and scrunched like his brother’s, an angry squawk coming from his tiny body. He was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I wept glorious, perfect, happy tears. Thom kissed me, and I remember his eyes were shiny.

The cord was cut and the midwife attached the rainbow cord tie we’d brought with us, and he was placed on my chest against my bare skin. He stopped crying immediately and I kissed his soft, wet hair and told him I loved him. I told him how proud he’d already made me. I told him I’d keep him as safe as I could for as long as I lived.

IMG_0242a

IMG_0235a

I also said, “I told you we’d have a boy!” to my husband, who rolled his eyes and smiled at me.

“We have sons!”
“We do. They’re perfect.”

IMG_0238a

He left my arms for the first time to be weighed, a good half an hour after he was born. He weighed 7lb 8oz. He fed for the first time in recovery, sunlight pouring all over us from the open window. It was a truly gorgeous spring day and a wonderful moment. My heart was completely full.

IMG_0262a

IMG_0271a

We spent the rest of the day falling in love harder and faster than ever before.  It wasn’t stronger or deeper than with Tristan, just easier. All those parts of myself had been opened up before so letting a tiny new human in was as simple as looking at him and knowing he belonged in our little family.

IMG_0275a

IMG_0274a

He was born at 10.27am and remained nameless until 9pm that night.
The name we agreed on was Leo.
So in a way I did throw myself to the lions – or at least one very small and very beautiful lion.

His birth was joyous and memorable, in all the ways his brother’s wasn’t. I confronted my last experience and made peace with it, plastered over the old wounds with the happiness I found with Leo. My stay in hospital wasn’t necessarily easy but it was overwhelmingly positive. I felt strong and optimistic and left after two days with determination and a belief that the story really would be different. And so far it has been different, but also desperately familiar, in good ways and bad.

But this isn’t the place for the bad. This is the place for me to be thankful and inspired and healed. A mother to two incredible little boys who I love and treasure completely. I have hair to smell, tiny hands to hold, noses to kiss.

The rest can wait. 🙂

I’ve Got This

It’s rare that I have nothing to say, particularly when there’s so much happening, but the fact is I’ve entered a strange late pregnancy isolation. My brain feels tightly locked up, as though it’s shutting down all but essential functions. There’s lots to do to feel fully prepared for this baby’s arrival but I’m moving at a snail’s pace, physically and mentally. Somehow though we’ve managed to get the house looking acceptable, hospital bags are packed and I’m choosing to have faith that my husband still remembers how to fasten in a Maxi-Cosi Cabriofix car seat. We’ve got this.

I went to the hospital for my pre-op appointment today and it was a really strange experience. The last time I walked those corridors I was in a daze. I was desperate to be out of there. It was like an out-of-body experience, I don’t remember my feet ever touching the floor, though I have plenty of memories of the sounds of babies crying, alarms ringing, new mums whispering to their little ones, and the pervasive smell of chlorine. I was hit by it all again today and at first it sent me spinning. I was sat in a waiting room surrounded by photographs of smiling parents and I wanted to hide. Every instinct told me to run away.

But I didn’t. I stayed, and gradually the fog lifted and I saw it for what it was; a normal hospital ward, bright and warm, filled with smiles, laughter and the sound of brand new voices making themselves heard for the very first time. I saw a woman being wheeled in her hospital bed to her place on the ward, baby in her arms, and I immediately recognised her expression; exhausted, confused but oddly tranquil. I recognised it because I experienced it once too, more than two years ago, and it was a beautiful reminder that despite everything, despite the traumatic labour and pain that followed I was still a new mum riding the wave of love and hormones. In that moment I was no different from anyone else.

I finally realised today that I can change the story. I’m not the same person and my life doesn’t follow a script. I can make things different and if I’m strong enough to get through all that happened with Tristan I can be equal to this too, no matter how it goes. I’ve got this.

What I’m most aware of is how much things will change for T, and that he seemingly has no idea that it’s coming. I’ve explained but he has an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality that’s common to lots of toddlers. I don’t know whether he really knows what it means that Mummy has a baby growing inside her. I’ve explained that I’ll be going in to hospital and that when I come home he’ll have a baby brother or sister, but there’s no way of knowing how much he’s absorbing as he still isn’t very verbal.
I hate feeling that I’m taking something away from him. I try to remind myself that in doing this I’m augmenting his life, giving him something in the way of friendship and socialising that he could potentially lack with two introverted parents. And when I doubt that I have the strength to do it, to raise two tiny humans, I ask myself what do I have in infinite amounts, what resource will never run out that I can give to my son indefinitely?

I have love. I have so fucking much of it I feel as though it’ll burst its banks and come flooding out of me in a great tidal wave that’ll drench everything in sloppy kisses and glitter. That won’t change for him, he will always have that. And I know my heart well enough to know that there’s a bottomless reservoir tucked away for this baby too, building up and up, ready to carry me off on a new journey of motherhood.

Perhaps PND will be part of that journey. Perhaps not. It’s funny how of all my fears, that one isn’t the loudest or strongest. I’ve beaten it before, I can do it again. I’ve learned how to talk and heal, how to be vulnerable and how to put my adult face on and get on with the day. I helped nurture my son this far and PND was part of his story too, and he is this incredible little person, and all the testament I need that I can do this. I’ve got this. 

This will be the last time I post here before my life changes forever. I’m scared, excited, jittery and oddly calm, and the funny thing is that it doesn’t feel as though I’m going in for a C-section; it feels as though they’ll be operating on my heart, opening it up and pumping it full of new emotions and experiences. I’m terrified. But I’m also happy beyond words.

I’ve got this.

12376793_10153607395488842_6603373532462498367_n

I Still See You (A Letter to the Father of my Children)

Looking back at photographs from just a few years ago it’s clear how much we’ve both changed. We’re so old now. My hair is flecked with grey throughout and your face is etched with the faintest wrinkles, both testaments to the gauntlet of parenting we’ve been running for the last two years.

I remember in the early days of our relationship how I’d wake up before you and silently reapply my make up, subtly of course, so I’d look as pretty as possible for you when you woke. I’d slip back under the covers and pretend to be asleep, knowing you’d soon stir, turn to me, kiss me gently and whisper, “you’re so beautiful.” Our world was full of little fantasies we had time and space to cultivate – every sight, taste and smell could be planned in advance, every glance through perfectly styled hair expertly performed. Every moment our hands touched could freeze time because there was so damned much of it.

These days I rarely wear make up and at the moment we don’t even share a bed. You’ve seen me bleach my upper lip and go without shaving. You even walked in on my midwife giving me an enema when I was in labour with our son. We talk over Facebook Messenger when one of us is on the toilet, and our conversations are more likely to be along the lines of, “What are we doing for dinner tonight?” and, “We need more bin liners in the next shop,” than, “Let’s go out to an expensive bar on a work night and fondle each other until it makes the clientèle uncomfortable!” 

I want for all the world to throw myself into our relationship with the kind of abandon that led us this far, but while I am still the girl who became the woman who became your wife, I am also a mother, and the two are not always compatible. I can’t switch motherhood off. I am changed down to my bones by the boy we both love so much. But inside there is still a little fire burning quietly, a fire that’s alive with my youth and passions, a fire that yearns for freedom, romance, sex, and metaphorical wind on my face without the knot of responsibility that made itself at home in my gut as soon as our son was born. It yearns for you. It yearns for us singing together in the dark at 3am, eating out just because, sleeping in til midday, hopping in the car and driving nowhere and everywhere with the windows down. You and me so full of passion we believed we could set the world alight with it.

I haven’t forgotten us. I’m still your lover and your friend. I still get butterflies when I hear your key in the front door and my heart is always calmer when you’re near. I love how your body and face has changed since you became a father, as though you wear your strength and knowledge like armour. I sneak a quick look at you when you get dressed in the morning and I feel the same girlish lust I felt in my early 20s (I sometimes catch you doing the same) and your kisses, though more rare, still send electricity to my toes.

I wrestle with my individuality and my role as a mother, but I know that you do too. Fatherhood defines so much of who you are and what you do now, and you’re tremendous at it. I’ve never known a man more dedicated to his family than you are. I know how it feels to worry that you’re losing yourself in the day-to-day and the 9-5, in the bathtimes and snacktimes and nappy changes. I know that you miss your time spent exercising, gaming or recording music. I know you miss having me to yourself.  I know you miss your solitude.

We created something beautiful in our son, and in less than six weeks we’ll meet the latest member of our little family. Life will explode in chaos again and it might be harder to connect for a while. The time we once had so much of will disappear before our eyes as our children grow far too quickly and our grey hairs and wrinkles shower us like confetti.

But before we jump back in to the swirling vastness of new parenthood I want you to know I still see you. I see your fire blazing just like mine, two beacons on a stormy horizon. I see you every day, the boy who became the man who became my husband, and I love you beyond words.

And if we keep shining we’ll always find each other, no matter how rough the waves become.

Yours forever,
your wife and friend, Lindy xx

P1050341

This Time Is Ours

As usual I’m most able to write when Tristan is asleep, and right now I have the joy of having him curled up next to me with his brow furrowed slightly and his little hands clasping his toy cat to his cheek. I stay with him after he drifts off, even now he’s two years old and perfectly capable of sleeping alone, and I do it because I won’t always be able to.  Soon there’ll be another little person in need of my attention, and more laundry to wash and more mess to tidy up. These quiet moments could all but disappear in 9 weeks and I know that I’ll miss them, and if the ache in my chest right now is anything to go by it may hurt a little bit too.

I worry about what this new arrival will take away from T, my darling boy whose existence was all I ever wanted from the moment I knew what babies were. Whose name was chosen two years before his birth. Whose short life has been the greatest gift and steepest challenge of mine. We have created a shared bubble, a space only he and I occupy together. I know a version of him no one else ever sees, not even his Daddy. From those early days of PND, to my slow healing, to our time spent now talking and cuddling and playing – he has been my constant companion, the person I share my heart with. And soon we’ll both have to open our bubble to someone else, or at least share the time we spend in it.

IMG_0135

He will have less one-on-one time with me, that’s an undeniable fact. But I try to remind myself that while he will lose one thing he will be gaining another – the companionship and social interaction a sibling will bring. He will learn about love, he’ll probably learn about jealousy and frustration, about sharing, about anger, about friendship. Those are gifts having a sibling gave to me when I was very young and I know without them I would have grown into a very different person.

At 25 months Tristan still isn’t very verbal. He doesn’t speak in sentences yet and most of what he says are one or two syllable nouns so it’s hard to gauge what he understands. I’ve explained to him that there’s a baby inside Mummy’s tummy and he gently pats my bump (or my boobs, which is fair given their recent expansion). He is sweet and sensitive, stroking my arm if he sees me sigh or rub my eyes, instinctively knowing if I need some peace and quiet, but I don’t think he comprehends the tidal wave of change that’s coming. How can he when I can barely grasp it myself?

There’s a chance that with the birth of this baby old wounds will be healed, and I’ve held on to that possibility through the doubt that’s regularly swept over me. The only thing that truly scares me now is how my relationship with my son will change, so I am treasuring each moment. We aren’t going out much because SPD makes it hard for me to walk for long, but instead that gives us lots of quiet moments – warm hugs on the sofa, puzzles and stories with him sat contentedly on my lap, watching Frozen together while he sings along to all the songs and flamboyantly pretends to be Queen Elsa building her ice palace. I’m drinking in every second with him and in doing so I’m finding our relationship is closer than ever and I want April to arrive slowly so I can have as much of this precious time as possible. I desperately want to meet this new little one, of course I do, but I know there won’t be enough of this time just me and my tiny sidekick, no matter how much we do together or how long this pregnancy lasts. It’ll never be enough.

And on that note I’m going to put my laptop away and lie next to my boy and fall asleep to the sound of his breath and the smell of his curly, sweaty, sleepy head. Because right now it’s just him and me, and this time is all ours. 🙂