Sitting with my back to the sun

Funny how certain things trigger memories.

Between 9am and 11am the sun streams through the windows in the living room, and hits my recliner – and me, when I’m in it – just so.  It’s easy to get quite hot just from the direct sunlight at this time, in this place, especially with the windows closed so no breeze takes the edge off.

A year ago, I had developed a pattern.  William would go to sleep for one of his many newborn naps, often in the swing directly in front of my recliner, sometime during this time.  And I would stretch out in my recliner and soak in the sun, trying to take from it the same life-giving energy that plants soak up, merely by being in it’s presence.

Sometimes I managed to doze off in the warm glow.

Sometimes I merely wished to sleep whilst all the while anxiously waiting for the boy to wake up and start the cycle over, and simultaneously wishing he would just stay asleep, just a little bit longer.

Always, the time was too short.

Always, I felt like I was taking a single gasping breath whilst drowning in the ocean, before being barreled back under the waves.

Now, though, it’s just sunlight streaming in through the window… and highlighting the echoes of memories.

What a difference a year makes.



6 weeks ago, I found out about a show touring Australia. It’s Jesus Christ Superstar. This version, starring Tim Minchin. (Also the former Scary Spice, but meh.) After only a day or so of dithering, I decided to splash out and get the tickets. I love Tim Minchin. I love musical theatre. I haven’t seen the show (in any of it’s variations) before at all. Ideally, I’d go to a local one – but it wasn’t coming to NZ at all. But Australia isn’t so far away, and I haven’t been, and it’s not that unusual for tickets to Oz to be the same or sometimes even cheaper than tickets to regional NZ.

So I threw caution to the wind and booked the show tickets. Everything was coming together. I’d take a friend with me, and I had another friend who moved to Oz a couple years back that lives super close to the particular venue, and even offered of her own free will to babysit my babe-in-arms cling-on during the show. The three girls would stay home – as would their father – as they had school / kindy (and are generally just trouble!) and he has work with no leave available.

It would be a nice break.

At the time of booking, I was struggling quite a bit with post-natal depression. (Who am I kidding – I still am – but that was more towards the beginning of it…) I was also having serious trouble bonding with the newest kidlet, but that really has nothing to do with the trip itself. There was some serious dithering at one point about whether or not to actually bring him, or to leave him with the combination of my husband and his mother. It would, after all, mean a night or maybe even two of full night’s sleep. It would also mean having to bring the breastpump along and pump and dump, for both supply and comfort reasons. It would rely on the baby taking bottles – which he will, but only very grudgingly. I’d need to build up a frozen breast milk supply, which at the time I had none of. But it would provide me from a break from the constant demands of a high needs baby who I was frequently not enjoying. Eventually I made the decision to bring the child along, figuring my anxiety over what’s happening with him – whether he’s eating or not, how he’s being looked after (I trust my MIL but it’s still not me) and how it would affect our already shaky bond would be too much – and the added stress and lack of sleep of bringing him along would be less than that of leaving him. I booked him an actual seat (considerable more expense but means I can bring a carseat for him in the plane and with any luck he’ll sleep at least a bit in it) and didn’t worry about building a supply up – after all, I bring the food with me wherever I go.

Then, slightly less than one week out from departure day, the boy gets sick. M2 got it first, at least judging by the symptoms – on/off low fever, grumpiness, blocked sinuses, and a chesty cough. In four children, this is my first to get so much as a cold before around 1 year old, and I found it understandably stressful. Then he started having difficulty feeding – for most of a day, refusing the breast altogether, and only taking a small amount, slowly, from a bottle. Then – after inhaling VapoRub scent, steaming him in a hot and steamy bathroom, using saline drops, buying and using a nasal aspirator (aka snot sucky bulb) keeping him upright, doing lots of skin to skin, and finding THE most uncomfortable position for me – he starts breastfeeding again. Not as frequently as he ‘should’ be – as in, every 6 hours instead of every 3-4, but at this point feeding at all was a great improvement. Then he moved to every 5 hours. Then he started perking up when awake – smiling again, being awake and happy longer (albeit still not the normal 2ish hours between naps). When he started accepting feeds more frequently than refusing, and being able to feed lying down again, and most of all, fighting sleep again.  I figured it was sorted.

And, he’s definitely on the mend. I, on the other hand, have blocked sinuses, and stress of looking after a baby, and not one night with more than four hours sleep all week – although thankfully most days at least a power nap was possible.

And that fighting sleep thing. On the whole, it is really a good sign. While sick, he was going to sleep easily and sleeping for 90 minutes to 3 hours at a time – a huge difference from his usual 45 minute naps through the daytime. But at the moment, he’s not fully better, but not fully sick. He’s mended enough that he’s got the strength and stubborness to protest about sleep, but the sickness still that makes it harder to breathe through the nose, harder to sleep lying down, and that wakes him with coughing right on the point of drifting off. It’s enough to make anyone grumpy, and a poor four month old that has no idea why he’s suddenly miserable even more so.

Which is all a long winded way of saying I have no idea what to do. Overnight I got just short of three hours sleep – in one solid block at least, but not nearly enough of it. He woke enough to cry but not enough to feed. Between hubby and I we woke him up – good, as it meant he fed quite a lot easier / happier – but then he decided it was morning and continually protested for most of an hour while we tried to feed, jiggle, swing, rock, and bounce, him back to sleep. Eventually we gave up, moved him to the lounge, I got up and dressed, he hung out in the swing. Which he fell asleep in after another 20-30 minutes. And I sit here zombie like.

My flight leaves in under 11 hours. I need to be at the airport in around 9 hours, leave for the airport in around 8 hours. I haven’t packed (though I have at least washed and dried my clothes). And I’m back to not knowing what the hell to do with the breastfed baby. Do I bring him along and resign to the same very little sleep and higher stress levels, plus the risk of infecting my altruistic friend who’s offered to mind him during the performance? Do I take MIL up on her (now expressly given) offer of watching him, hoping he’ll take a bottle, knowing there’s not enough expressed milk to get him through (though we do have a can of soy formula) but also knowing that it would let me get a full night’s sleep… assuming I can get over the anxiety of not knowing what’s up with him, and not being able to do anything about it either way, plus risking my breastfeeding relationship altogether and having the painful and seemingly futile experience of the pump-and-dump. Or do I bail altogether, chuck it in as wishful thinking, and stay home – not risking the breastfeeding relationship, not risking infecting anyone not already exposed, but also likely unable to recoup the costs spent, and more so the experience.

I have only a handful of hours to decide. All options have fairly high potential negative outcomes – although all three could end up being the best thing, too.

All this when my decision making ability is fairly compromised to begin with.