Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Thoughts

We are gearing up for Christmas here, and I'm enjoying it. I actually love Christmas. Right at the point where most people are feeling kind of over it, exhausted from the shopping and sick of the family thing, I start to tune into the whole thing, humming carols, preparing the food, and thinking about the year.

My old friend Pat, the single mother I mentioned below, is coming with her baby to stay with us for a few weeks. She is really struggling and desperately needs some company and support. She says it all feels like a living hell and like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, so she is coming to us. It's going to be tough, as she is very depressed and we will be quite overcrowded. I was half dreading it, but now that the time approaches, I find I'm starting to look forward to it.

I like the idea of having a baby in the house at Christmas. After all, if it's not about a baby, then what is Christmas really for?

One of my commenters below noted that Pat's experience just shows that some women should not have children, especially with fertility treatment. I kind of know what he/she means, but I don't feel that way. I find that I am thinking a lot about Jesus' mother Mary this Christmas. We Protestants don't make much of Mary. But I am thinking about the courage she showed in having a child in those circumstances, such a huge commitment of love and faith, in the face of suspicion and disapproval.

Some of us just don't get to have our children in the circumstances we would have chosen. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't have done it, or that God won't bring good out of the situation.

Long time readers will know that I was quite depressed myself last year. This time last year, I was in a very dark place. And yet, I have recovered. At some deep level, much of it only half consciously, I seem to have healed. I am truly grateful for all that God has done for me.

Our church has a theme for Christmas this year: "Giving birth to hope". Mary did give birth to hope, with God's help. And Pat and I gave birth to hope, with a little help from God and from science.

And I am still hopeful. I hope that Pat, with some company and help with the baby and a bit of fun, as well as professional help, will start to find a way forward. That somehow my own healing can be a part of God's healing for her.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Taking a Sickie

Emily, the Little Dude and the Big Dude all have colds and chest infections. How this could happen in the middle of summer, we don't know.

So we are taking a sickie until we are better.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Motherhood Sucks

Long time readers may remember that I have an old friend named Pat who I knew at university. At the age of 42 years old, it was clear that she was never going to find the right man, and she went to a sperm donor clinic and got pregnant by herself. At the time, we were thinking that she might come to stay with us for the birth, but she decided to stay at home and have help from her mother instead.

My one fear with all of this was that Pat is inclined to depression. She has struggled for years with the sexual abuse she experienced as a child and other issues. I was worried that having a baby alone would put her at risk of another bout of depression.

Unfortunately, this has turned out to be true. She had a very bad birth, followed by the baby having to be in intensive care after it was born. But when she seemed okay for the first few weeks, I thought it was a false alarm. But, a couple of months to brood about it all, of isolation and a baby on her own, and she is sinking fast. It is so bad that she is not sure a therapist can help and is thinking of checking herself into a psychiatric ward. Post-natal depression and/or psychosis, here we come.

There is so litle I can really do from here. It's so frustrating, because we ought to be enjoying our babies together, happy as clams to have triumphed over circumstances, and instead she is having a shitty time.

But also, it really makes me wonder why motherhood is so hard. I love my Little Dude, but I still remember how bad it was in the beginning. I am mostly a boringly sensible person, but to be honest, I think I went a bit mad. I had the most ridiculous, psychotic thoughts - that the baby would die (I was surprised every morning when he was still alive), that everyone in the supermarket was staring at me because I was so ugly (I was barely coping with the effect on my body), and even that the devil (who I don't really believe in) would try to possess him. I actually knew the whole time at some level that none of things were true, but I was so out of my head with sleeplessness and worry and hormones that I had these crazy, intrusive thoughts. I don't think I really felt normal until I stopped breastfeeding.

Somehow, the whole process seems kind of flawed. The babies with such huge heads that mothers are at risk during the birth, such a long period of dependence that they are incredibly vulnerable to abandonment and neglect, the high rate of failure with breastfeeding. No wonder so many babies used to die.

Quite honestly, I think everything about motherhood sucks except the actual child.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Hard Hearted

I was chatting to an old friend on the phone a few nights ago, and realized something.

Somehow, somewhere, I have lost a talent I used to have for friendship.

Ever since I got to Canberra, I have been lamenting a lack of close friends. I made some good friends almost immediately, and Judy in particular. But over time, they have moved away. Canberra is like that. It's very transient. Most people stay for a few years and then move on. It's hard to hold on to people.

Now, having made more effort, I basically have a few people who are friends, but it's pretty casual. We do stuff together. We have lunch. We go to each other's houses. We see each other at work. But that feeling of "clicking", of understanding each other's heart that I have had with other friends, of feeling strong loyalty and love for them, seems to be missing - for them and for me.

Now, some of this is the stage of life. We are all working and raising small children. It's tiring. It's hard to fit each other into our schedules. Even with old friends, it's hard to have a proper conversation without our kids interrupting.

But some of it, I have to admit, is me. I used to treasure my friendships. I used to feel much more for my friends. Now, a lot of the time, it's as much of a nuisance as a pleasure to see them, and when they leave, it really doesn't bother me as much as it used to.

What is this? Why do I seem so... half-hearted? Actually, kind of hard-hearted?