Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Home thoughts - and not

Whether it's because of the EastEnders (UK soap) storyline at the moment, which centres around a cot death and a baby swap (two together could only happen on TV, right?) or then Daughter’s really, really growing up fast (she’s only twenty, you see - a mere baby), but we’ve been talking a lot about how it is to be a new mother. I’ve tried to explain to her how I was utterly happy and at the same time completely petrified when I carried my precious bundle out of the hospital. I remember wondering how the midwife could possibly allow me to take the baby home with me - surely she could see I was totally incapable? 
The drive home with our Son in the back seat was the scariest I’ve ever experienced (and I’ve been in a few hairy taxi rides as well as wintry rally ones since). The Englishman must have driven all of 15 miles per hour the whole way home, not daring to overtake anyone, waiting ages for his turn at roundabouts.
Then at home when I started to nurse my baby; the first time I allowed myself to sleep without fearing the worst would happen to the baby - both massive milestones in my and my first child’s life. Or even in the subsequent one's. When Daughter was born three and a half years later, I kept thinking, I’ve been lucky once, surely I can’t have the same fortune fall upon me twice?
I know I may have been a little more frantic than most new mothers; I was after all on my own with a new baby in a strange country without family or husband (who after two days’ leave had to go back to sea). Even my in-laws lived too far for frequent visits, though my lovely mother-in-law did visit during that lonely year, as did my own mother. But they weren’t there day in, day out, when my new baby would just cry, never sleep and want feeding 24 hours a day. Luckily I had a few very good friends who could go shopping and relieve me from a daily diet of take-away pizzas. (You know who you are and I thank you.)
Today Daughter and I were shopping in Bloomsbury, close to the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. As we passed the famous place, talk inevitably turned to sick children. Daughter said how sorry she felt for any parents who go through a child’s serious illness. 

I thanked my lucky stars.
Later when we were having lunch in a restaurant a mother and her young son came and sat next to us. The mother ordered carefully for the son, no pasta, just meat and vegetables. Looking at the boy, we both had the sense that this was not about a fussy eater. Later on we overheard a conversation about hospital visits, about nurses and treatments. It was obvious where the pair had just come from.
I looked at my grown-up Daughter and thanked (again) whatever God there is that she's twenty, healthy and beautiful. 
It was another of those days when I asked myself why, when I'm so lucky, do I sometimes feel so full of unexplained sadness. Why at times I think I've done nothing with my life? Looking at Daughter today I realised that I've actually already achieved quite a lot. Even if I just sit on my laurels for the rest of my life and watch my two children get on with theirs, I’ve already done what I was put on this planet to do. 
Thankfully all of these maudlin thoughts were  ended later on the way home when Daughter spotted the famous Band of Brothers actor, Damian Lewis on the tube. We giggled - OK, I giggled - like a little girl until the poor guy got off the train. I couldn’t contain myself because the man was even more handsome in real life than he is on the screen. It took all of my willpower not to dash out of the tube after him. If Daughter had not been there I actually might have done it...(don’t tell her that). 

Isn't he lovely?


Mrs P said...

What a lovely post, I echo your thoughts about how petrifying it is to come home with your first baby (my family only lived across the Pennines from me, but I still felt quite alone). It is strange that this morning I was thinking about my son (28 now) who had leukaemia when he was 2, having been born with a heart murmur and remembering how the doctors told us we were lucky - apparently he had the best type of both illnesses! A long time ago but I do really feel lucky now to have two healthy and happy grown up children and you are right, being a mother is the most important job you can do.

Rose said...

Damian Lewis: be still my beating heart- he's so naughty and his red hair is so beautiful.

The Eastenders storyline is really hard to watch, Shane Richie turns out to be an incredible actor, or is just really struggling with the storyline himself.

Great Ormond St do very wonderful work but I know what you mean, when you go that lovely area the idea to grab life does resonate.

Happy New Year

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

Dear Helena, I have been watching Eastenders and just wishing Ronnie would own up and give the baby back. It's excruciating to watch.

The Actor's sister had her second daughter in November and very sadly she only lived for two days. It was awful. It turned out she had a heart defect which wasn't spotted by the hospital. I feel for anyone that has to go through something so devastating.

It's admirable you have brought up two children and they are happy and healthy. I don't think I have the nerve to do it now as I've left it too long. I've had too much time to think about it.

On a brighter note Damian is lovely. He went out with a friend of mine for years and is a great guy xx

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post Helena (wipes away tears). It really resonates with me at the moment. I've just been to my first pregnancy scan today and am still completely overwhelmed after seeing and hearing that perfect little baby.

It's the best feeling ever and I can't wait to become a sleep-deprived frantic new mum in a strange country :-)

Look forward to the book club. xx

Mwa said...

This resonates with me. So much.

The Return of the Native ... sort of. said...

I groan, curse, cry and shout about my two who are now grown up, but how lucky I am. Touch wood, they are healthy and normal and infuriating and I love them to bits!
I own up and admit that I am addicted to EastEnders and have been for three years now - my husband's fault even though he doesn't watch it (and thanks to iPlayer I can now watch it when he is not around/busy). Although I found the cot death and the baby swap in one episode rather over the top I was surprised to read that thousands of people had complained to the BBC - why?
Oops, sorry - your post was not about EastEnders!

Anna Maria said...

Great post. My husband and I watched all 10 Band of Brothers episodes over Christmas, it is such a great series, and obviously now I have a big crush on Damian;-)

Helena Halme said...

Mrs P - what a lovely positive comment. I had a friend who's daughter had leukaemia and totally recovered.

Rose, I agree the acting is very good on 'enders. I only get hooked when Daughter is at home and then don't watch for months. Always easy to catch up though, especially when Daughter can fill in the blanks (she hates that....!)

Christina, I didn't realise how much I fancied him until I saw him up close. Isn't that funny? I'm not usually so star struck. Daughter whispered to me 'Just pretend you're in Soho House or something, for goodness sake!'.

Mette, I'm so thrilled for you! How absolutely lovely! There's a tear...xxxxxx

Helena Halme said...

Mwa and Anna Maria, I'm glad you enjoyed and share my thoughts.

The Return of the native - yeah, I shout at mine too but at the bottom of it all am really, really grateful they're there.


Imogen said...

This reminds me of the time I saw a party of people going into one of the great glasshouses here (I work at Kew Gardens) carrying glasses and several unopened bottles of champagne - I followed them to say "Please may I ask you not to pop any corks INSIDE the glasshouse?" and found I had walked in on Damian Lewis's birthday party. V embarrassing. Luckily his friends with the champagne did see my point that flying corks and glass walls are not a good combination...