All The Boys In The House
We baby sat my two nephews the other weekend -- two six-month-old babies (see left) and one five-year-old. And it was chaos. My RRHB had The Nephew outside to do some yard work while I took care of the two wee babes. For a while, it was Keystone Cops: put one baby down, the other would cry; pick him up, then the first baby would cry. Wash. Rinse. Repeat for about 25 minutes. Then I got wise to their mojo and just walked around the house with a baby in each arm. Every now and again the cousins would reach over and hold one another's hands. Babble a little bit. There was a point they were both in the crib and I heard SBC (Sweet Baby Cousin) screaming -- RRBB had turned himself right around and was hoofing him in the head. Hilarious. Then it came time to put them all down: RRBB down first, nurse him while reading The Nephew some stories. RRHB rocking SBC as I put The Nephew to bed. I take SBC and continue to rock him to sleep. The whole production took hours. Seriously, how do people do it? It's an art form, that's for sure. But it was also completely fun.
The lessons I learned? Even though it was hard to have more than one baby at one time, and that my body can not remotely sustain another pregnancy, but if I was 10 years younger and 100 times healthier, I'd think I'd have bucketloads more kids. It's just so fun. And that's not to say that my RRHB and didn't have a rich and fulfilling life before RRBB. We did. We travelled and made music and wrote unpublished novels and have wonderful friends and lovely families and loads of nieces and nephews and were considering moving to the UK (just because neither of us have lived anywhere else). But I'd always wanted to have children, and I am so glad that we did -- I'm exhausted, still dealing with a disease that doesn't seem to be quieting down, bored most days with being at home, but feeling enriched emotionally in ways that I find hard to describe. There's an element of patience and kindness in my life that was absent before. I had a terrible temper growing up, and well into adulthood. Apartments with holes in the walls where I kicked them once I realized I'd lost my Metropass or was late because I couldn't find my keys -- all kinds of trivial things that didn't remotely deserve the emotional response I gave them.
It's so interesting. Humans have emotions to burn. Piles of pent up anger, rage, discomfort, and some of it's absolutely debilitating. When you add tragedy to the mix, things intensify. There's no where for the energy to go -- and if you don't find active, positive ways to disperse it, I think that's when your brain just goes into overdrive. At least, that's the way it is for me. When I was younger, I held it all in, the pain of losing my mother, the frustration of constantly dealing with a life-threatening disease, a string of ridiculously bad, terrifically awful relationships -- constantly putting pressure on my brittle heart to take more and more. Gaining perspective isn't easy. For me it took one major prednisone-induced breakdown in my 20s. I'm not sure how much I've talked about it -- I couldn't leave the house, was cleaning with bleach at 3 AM, never ate, and was listening to voices in my head telling me to jump off of buildings. Oh, and did I mention I was trying to finish my MA? It was the most difficult emotional time of my life -- I didn't have any coping mechanisms. And once the psychosis hit its peak (the voices), that's when my kidney doctor at the time sent me to a shrink. I credit him with saving my mind and the "prednisone crazies" as I like to call them have never been so bad since. I have tools now of dealing with them -- of knowing what it is and the right way to approach the overwhelming emotions.
I needed coping skills this week. My creatinine spiked to 180 (keep in mind normal is 70, and my "normal" is in the 120s) -- the higher that number the less your kidney is functioning. And I was having all kinds of other advanced disease symptoms, terrible joint pain, awful ringing in my ears and ridiculously painful sinuses. I KNEW that because we had dropped the prednisone that it wasn't simply strong enough to contain the Wegener's. I cried, a lot. With the exception of when they diagnosed the disease, I've never had test results that high, and I'm living with the palpable fear that they're not going to be able to control the disease. That my kidneys will go and that'll be that -- positive thinking aside, patience aside, I needed an outlet for all the excess emotions raging through my system. The calmer I am, the better it is -- and thankfully, we got tickets to see The Pixies at Massey Hall (awesome seats, row L!). That one show, they played B sides and Doolittle only, reminded me not only of who I am but where I came from -- we've listened to that record relentlessly. It's one where I know all the words and all the songs and can place myself in different parts of my life through the music.
These days, because it's such a fun stage -- the six-month marker, I've been craving the baby. Not like I crave Cadbury's Easter Eggs but more like something pulling at my heart. I don't want to trivialize the relationship or state the obvious, write in cliches (every mother loves their child to abandon blah de freaking blah), but when he's sleeping I wish he was awake. When he's awake, I know he should be sleeping more. On days like today, he's perfectly angelic. Not fussy, eats just about everything in front of him (with the exception of some fruits that he's not crazy about just yet), smiles, sleeps, and cuddles with an intensity that I find hard to replicate. Days like yesterday, well, he's teething, so grumpy and couldn't stand not being held, which makes the hours slow and the time creep. I wouldn't trade it for the world -- either RRBB. I know I'm struggling. I know I'm not getting enough rest. I know I need to stop nursing. I know that the disease is winning these days but I find the joy in the everyday so much more than I ever used to.
We went for a beautiful long walk today along the railpath. There were tonnes of birds: mockingbirds, juncos, red-winged blackbirds, and a giant Canada goose. My friend Kath came with us, and she was walking her gorgeous dog, Mannix. The air's cool but fresh. The city is quiet because it's a holiday. And even though I want so much, for it to be warm, for me to lose the baby weight, to not feel the pressure of the disease, I also want to be patient with myself. We aren't having any more kids. I need to not race through this like everything else I do in life, just to get to the end, and then move on to the next thing. Yet, I'm loving every part of his growing up -- I mean, right now the RRHB's playing the piano and the baby seems to be singing along. It's so cute it makes you want to eat his toes. He's kind of screaming like Frank Black at the moment: whaaaaa! Aaaaaa! eeeigh!!!
So my life is made up of moments lately. Some good. Some bad. But all connected by this gift of time that I have before me. Six more months and then it's back to work. Then the baby is no longer a baby but a toddler and if one more person tells me how fast it's going to go, I might just start weeping in front of them. I don't want it to go fast. I want it to be the slow food movement of maternity leave. I want it to be all savoury and with rich spices and lots of new and exciting dishes. And when we need it, a frozen pizza or two.