Thursday, 29 December 2011

The reality is, life involves pain.

In this Blog I have been open and honest about my feelings - 'good' or 'bad'.  And while it serves us better to focus on the positive things in our lives and to be grateful for what we do have.  Lows are inevitably a part of our lives, and it's not always possible to maintain a positive focus during difficult times.  The lows are as much a part of our lives as the highs.
The reality is, life involves pain.  There's no getting away from it.  As human beings we are all faced with the fact that sooner or later we will grow infirm, get sick, and die.  Sooner or later we all will lose valued relationships through rejection, separation, or death.  Sooner or later we all will come face to face with crisis, disappointment, and failure.  This means that in one form or another, we are all going to experience painful thoughts and feelings.       - The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris
Once I became a mother myself, suddenly there were a few whispers in my ear about how hard motherhood actually is.  When I asked them why they hadn't spoken of the hard times before, they replied that they didn't want to admit it was hard.  It's as though admitting motherhood is hard somehow makes us a failed mother.  If I find it hard as a mother that must mean I am a bad mother.  Yet it is the stories of the hard times as mothers that let me know that I am not alone in my feelings.  Finding motherhood difficult at times, does in no way make me less of a mother or mean that I love my daughter any less or mean that I am not prepared to do anything and everything for her.

I have also shared my journey this year of the loss of my mother.  I dare say most people would find this a difficult period in their life.  And I wanted to be open and honest about the roller-coaster ride of grief.  Losing my father twelve years ago and now my mother this year, have been the hardest things I have ever been through in my life.  My feelings are rife this year.  And there is no right or wrong in my feelings.  They are my feelings. 

Telling someone to 'get over it' or to 'focus on what they do have' is extremely unhelpful and only serves to diminish their feelings, which are neither right nor wrong, just feelings.  It makes it not OK to talk about 'bad' feelings for fear of being judged "stupid and shallow and selfish" by people who obviously cannot possibly understand.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Questions.

Maya asks questions.  All the time.  And I'm sure I've posted before that there are some questions that are easy to answer and some questions I don't know the answer to.

The other day I was looking at a picture book with Maya.  This particular picture was of a hot air balloon and the word was balloon.

Maya pointed at the picture and asked "What is it?"

"A balloon," I answered.

Pointing to the basket below the balloon "What is it?"

"That's a basket," I answered.

Pointing to the picture again, Maya asked "What is it?"

"It's a hot air balloon.  That's the balloon part and hot air is put into the balloon and it floats up and it pulls the basket up and people can ride in the basket."

Maya pauses for a while looking at the picture.  I feel like I'm doing well with my explanations.  I know that it's a picture of a hot air balloon and I know how it works.

Then Maya asks "What's his name?", pointing to a man in the basket.

"Err.. I dunno?"

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Swim Lessons.

Maya's swim lessons are all about having fun in the water whilst gaining swim skills.


Maya is wearing a little yellow hat in the video.


Sunday, 4 September 2011

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Unconditional Love.

It hit me recently that with both parents now deceased there is no longer anyone left in this world who loves me the way a parent loves their child.

A parent's love is endless, unconditional, boundless and unlike any other kind of love.

And it is gone for me.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Loss

We who have lost have no physical sign, no outward scar that says, "Look, oh look, can you not see?  I have lost so much."  The scars are inside. - Rise by Ingrid Polson
Imagine being in a horrific accident where you lost your leg.  You would be taken to an emergency hospital, where a team of doctors, surgeons and nurses would work to stop the bleeding, and repair what could be repaired.  You would then be taken to a recovery ward, given medication for the pain, have round the clock care from a team of doctors and nurses and when ready, work with physiotherapists to regain mobility, perhaps be fitted with a prosthetic leg and be offered the support of a psychiatrist to help you come to terms with the loss of your limb.

And the extent of your loss would be evident to all.

But when one loses a family member, there is no support.  There are no teams of doctors and nurses with round the clock care.  There are so physiotherapists to help you get moving again.  There are no psychiatrists who come to see you and help you adjust to life without your significant other (of course you can seek the help of psychiatrists or psychologists, but my point is that YOU have to seek the help; it is not forthcoming).

And the extent of your loss is not evident to anybody.

I realise I don't know what it is like to lose a leg.  But if I had the choice of losing my leg or my mother I would choose my leg. 

I also know there are people who have experienced much greater loss than I have (and Ingrid Polson is one of those people).  But in my immediate group of friends and amongst family I do feel that I am truly worse off.  That my losses have been more and greater than any in my immediate circle.  And while I wouldn't wish the loss of a parent at this age on anyone, I can't help feeling that it's not fair that I have now lost both parents while most have lost none.  Surely it was one of their turns to lose someone.

I know life doesn't work that way, but why me again?
How dare it be that our family had to go through this again!  Were we not granted some kind of death and disaster immunity?  And how could I possibly demonstrate how much I loved and missed my family?  My body was not big enough to show the size of the scars, my failures could never be spectacular enough, there was not enough darkness in the world to wrap myself in.  - Rise by Ingrid Polson
There are those around me who have lost both parents, but later in life, at an age when you would expect to lose your parents. And their parents endured long term illnesses so it would not have been a shock to the same extent as the losses of both my parents were. And their parents died when their children were grown and able to support them through their loss.

Maya doesn't understand what has happened to her Nana, nor does she understand that I am grieving or what grief is.  She doesn't even understand that her Nana was MY mother and my mother has gone forever.  Maya isn't a support or comfort for me in the way I most need.  In fact everything I now do for her requires greater effort on my behalf due to the large, painful wound I now carry with me every day.

A wound no one can see.

Monday, 15 August 2011

A year ago..

A year ago today was the last time my mother made it to a family gathering.  She was already experiencing a lot of pain but she wanted to come see Maya and I and she wanted to tell the rest of her family the news.  
This is the last picture I have of my mother and Maya together.  Now I wish I had continued to take pictures of them together when visiting my mother at home, at the hospital or at the rehabilitation centre.  But I believed my mother would get better and why would you take pictures of someone who is sick and not looking as they used to?  But now I lack pictures from those few months and that is something I regret.
Miss you so much mum and so does Maya. Forever in our hearts.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Your turn.

I decided to give Maya a ride on my back.  I got down on my hands and knees and told her that if she climbed up on my back I'd give her a ride.

When the ride was over, she hopped off my back, got down on her hands and knees, pointed to her back and said "Mum, your turn".

Friday, 29 July 2011

First born.

Maya is lucky to have a great grandmother still alive, who is my grandmother on my mother's side.  What makes this even more special to me, is that my grandmother, my mother, Maya and I are all first born women.

So when Maya was born I decided that I wanted a picture taken of all four of us together.  My grandmother was 87 years old at the time and had lost her husband a few months prior.  So I wanted to get the photo done sooner rather than later.  But it was hard to organise all four of us together at the same time.  Until Maya's first birthday when all four of us came together.  But none of the photos turned out.

I had always meant to try again and then forgot all about it once my mother got sick.  But after my mother passed I lamented the fact that I never got the picture I wanted.

Then recently my aunt turned up with a picture of the four of us.  I had forgotten that we had all made it to my cousin's house warming together in December 2009.  And my aunt had captured the four of us together on her camera.

A copy of the photo now sits framed on my mantel.  Four generations of first born women.  And I can't even describe how grateful I am to have this picture.  This picture I sought because my grandmother was of advanced age and could pass any time. 

But it turned out I wasn't racing the clock for her passing but for my mothers instead.  And if I hadn't been trying to get a photo with my grandmother in it, I wouldn't have this photo with my mother in it.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Wallace and Gromit.

One of Maya's favourite shows is Wallace and Gromit.  It's about a guy (Wallace) and his dog (Gromit) and they get up to all kinds of adventures together.

So when the decision was made for Maya to have grommets, we realised that this was a word she was already familiar with, as the name of the dog Gromit.  What made the whole explanation even more complicated (amusing) was that her doctor's name is Wallis.

Can you imagine the images those words would conjure up in Maya's mind?

Saying "Maya Doctor Wallis is going to put grommets in your ears".

Might be heard as "Maya Wallace is going to put Gromit in your ears".

She'd probably be excited about seeing Wallace and Gromit but unsure about a dog in her ears.

We decided to call the surgeon by his first name and tell her that she was having tubes put in her ears.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

To minimise our ecological footprint we can reduce what we buy, reuse items where possible and recycle what can't be reused again.

One quick and easy change that can be made is to switch to recycled toilet paper.  It's a change Greg and I made many years ago but it seems this change isn't being adopted by the majority of Australians.  According to Wipe It Out,  95% of Australian's still buy non-recycled toilet paper.

Using non-recycled toilet paper means that trees are cut down to make those rolls.  Less trees means less homes for wildlife and affects climate change.

Recycled toilet paper is comfortable to use and comparable on cost.  And it is made from post-consumer waste, which protects more trees from being cut down.

From Zoos Victoria's Wipe for Wildlife campaign:
Things to look out for in a good recycled toilet paper product are:
  • Manufactured from 100% post-consumer waste
  • Made is Australia
  • Uses no harsh chemicals
Choice has also come up with a list of which toilet papers to buy in Australia, which you can find here.

And here's a little video to end off this post:

Wipe for Wildlife CSA from Zoos Victoria on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Ecological Footprint.

I have been thinking about doing a series on ways to reduce our environmental impact.  This is a topic I am extremely passionate about. 

I believe we are damaging our planet at an alarming rate but there are things we can do as individuals to reduce our impact.  And the more people who reduce their impact the more preservation will result.

This is my opinion and it is a strong opinion.  But it is backed up by current research and findings and I will present this research too.

Being so passionate about reducing my impact on our world means I find it so frustrating when others don't seem to have this same approach.  I wonder at times what's the point of me trying to make a difference if others aren't.  I'm not sure if others don't care or don't realise the impact or don't realise that there are many small changes that can be made that all add up.

I'm not saying I'm perfect.  There are still many changes I could (and want to) make to reduce my impact.  But there are some very easy changes that can be made quickly and I have made many of these changes.

Today I calculated my ecological footprint and my result was that it takes 4.1 global hectares of the Earth's productive area to support my lifestyle.  What this equates to is that if everyone lived like I do then we'd need 2.3 Earths to provide enough resource.  Yes I still have a way to go.  But according to EPA Victoria, the average Victorian needs 6.8 global hectares of land to sustain his or her lifestyle.  So I am doing better than the average Victorian.

If you'd like to calculate your ecological footprint you can use the same one I used: here  (requires Flash).  Or there are others on the web if you search for 'ecological footprint calculator'.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Cattery.

We're going on a family holiday in a couple of months and usually we leave our cat Cleo with my mother to look after, but obviously that's not an option this time.  So I started looking into catteries.  And I don't know much about them, because I've never used one before, but I came across one that just seems a little over the top to me.

A stay at this cattery includes a free massage for your cat, happy hour every day with treats and your cat can even watch some TV.

Check out the promo video

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Identifying colours.

One of Maya's favourite topics at the moment is colours.  She wants to know the names of colours as well as what colour things are.

I was feeling pretty confident about this particular topic.  I am good at naming colours.

"What colour is this?" Maya would ask, pointing to a red car.
"Red", I'd say.

"What colour is this?" Maya would ask, pointing to a green leaf.
"Green", I'd say.

Until Maya asked "What colour is this?", pointing to her nose.
"Oh ummm.. errrrr..  skin coloured??"

Is skin colour a colour?

And then there are all those shades of colours out there that are a combination of tones, like well "greeny, reddy, browny coloured" or "bluey, purpley, black coloured".

Hmm.. identifying colours is harder than I thought.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Whatcha doing?

There are still a lot of things Maya doesn't know or understand about the world.  She regularly asks questions to seek new information.  And currently she is very interested in what I or others around us are 'doing'.  But she will not just ask about new events.  She also asks about things she has seen many times before.  She even asks me what I am doing when it is completely obvious what I am doing.

Now a dinner conversation might go something like this:

Maya: "Whatcha doing?"
Me: "Eating dinner."
A few minutes later.
Maya: "Whatcha doing mummy?"
Me "I'm still eating dinner."
A few minutes later.
Maya "Whatcha doing?"
Me: *sigh*

Monday, 20 June 2011

Oh what a night.

Greg went away for work for two weeks.  And one night, after going to bed at midnight, I woke at 2am and something wasn't right.  My stomach hurt and I felt nauseous.  My first thought was that I had gastro or food poisoning.  But then the pain was getting worse and I'd never experienced pain with an upset stomach before, so I thought maybe the pain was causing my nausea.

I took the strongest painkillers I had.  And the pain seemed to ease from across my stomach but intensified on my right side.

It was now 3am and the pain was getting worse.  And I was home alone with a two year old.  I was trying to think who I could call at 3am in the morning.  I finally called a nursing hotline and the nurse established that while I wasn't experiencing something life threatening, I should get to a doctor or hospital as soon as possible.

At 3am?  With a toddler in tow?

Now the pain was verging on unbearable.  It was coming in waves and during peaks of pain I could do nothing but cry out and hope it would pass soon.  Each peak seemed to last forever.  And I couldn't stand it much longer.  But what could I do?  Take Maya to hospital with me?  Call a doctor to come to my house?  Call someone - a friend, a relative - to look after Maya?  But who do you call in the middle of the night?

I tried calling one of my aunts but no one answered.  I tried again.  Still nothing.

By now it was 4am and the pain was just too much to bear.  And that's when I finally realised what the problem was.  I'd seen Greg go through the same thing two years prior.  Kidney stone.  I'd seen how much pain he'd been in and I had read at the time that kidney stones are one of the most painful experiences.  And I was proved right when I had a CT scan the following day, which showed a kidney stone in my ureter.

So 4am and I rang up a locum doctor service thinking my only option was to have a doctor come visit me.  But when I was put on hold in the middle of a tremendous wave of agony, I hung up and called for an ambulance.  I needed to go to hospital.  And I needed to drag poor Maya with me.

The ambulance took a long time to arrive.  All the while the pain was at its absolute worst.  My whole body was shaking in agony.

And then suddenly there was a slight pause in the pain.

That's when the ambulance arrived.

The paramedics wanted to take me to hospital.  But my 2 year old was asleep in her room. Could I really drag her to hospital in the middle of the night?  The paramedics didn't recommend taking a 2 year old to hospital during the night while staff are stretched.  They wanted me to find someone to come take care of her so they could take me to hospital.  But I had no one to call.  No one to come.  Greg was miles away overseas.  My parents are dead.  My aunt wasn't answering.  My other family is no help.  I couldn't bring myself to ring friends in the middle of the night.  My in-laws are all far away.

I couldn't bear the thought of dragging Maya to hospital and the pain was easing somewhat.  So I decided to stay home and see what happened.  I finally managed to flop into bed at 6am and Maya was up at 7.

I was completely and utterly shattered.  I've never experienced exhaustion like it.  I tried getting in touch with family but people either had other commitments or didn't answer their phones.  I managed to find a friend who could help out for a couple of hours.  She took me to a doctors appointment, for which I am grateful.  But it was not enough.

The doctor explained that passing a kidney stone causes trauma to the body.  So I was surviving on a couple of hours sleep, with internal trauma to my body, some pain still and trying to care for a 2 year old - all on my own.

I needed to be in bed.  I needed to be sleeping.  I needed to rest.  But I couldn't.

I felt so alone and missed my mum more than ever.  She would have been there for me had she been alive and well.  Greg of course would have been there for me too, had he not been overseas.  I remember I had to drive him to doctors appointments, to his CT scan and I had to take over all household duties and the sole care of Maya while he recovered.  While I had no help and no time to rest.

I tried using the TV as a babysitter, so I could nap on the couch but Maya wanted me.  She wanted my attention.  I napped when she napped, but it made no difference to how I felt.  And that evening when Maya would not go to bed for some reason I just burst into tears.  It was just all too much.  I had no energy.  No energy to fight her into bed.  I just wanted to go to bed and go to sleep.  And Maya wasn't going to let me.  She was probably feeling anxious about me.  I hadn't been myself all day.  And while I explained to her what had happened, she didn't really understand.  So we cried together.  For an hour.  Until we both collapsed into wonderful, blissful, much needed sleep.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Grommets.

Last week Maya had grommets (ear tubes) inserted into her ears, which was performed under general anaesthetic in hospital.  As I said in my previous post, I was worried about the procedure because there are always risks and I knew Maya wouldn't completely understand what was going on.  However, I did try and explain as much as I could because I do believe it helps children prepare.  (I always remember the story of my mother aged six years old being taken to have her 'picture taken'.  She was put in front of a camera then a nurse from behind quickly shoved a gag with ether over her face, which put her to sleep, only to wake later coughing up blood, after her tonsils had been removed.  What a horrible experience that must have been!)

In the end I was surprised how smoothly the whole thing went.  We arrived at hospital at 7am, unable to give Maya breakfast, but she didn't seem to mind.  She knew that her doctor was going to 'fix her ears'.  We waited in a waiting room and read books together.  Then changed into gowns for the procedure.  She was so happy and relaxed.

I was able to go into the operating theatre with her.  At which point they placed a mask over her face, with general anaesthetic so that she would go to sleep.

At that point I looked down at my vulnerable, little girl, with sudden wide, scared eyes, and I realised how trusting she was of me and I felt awful that I was putting her through it.  But I am so glad I was there with her for this part of the procedure.  I was able to rub her belly and whisper how much I loved her and that she was safe.

As soon as she was asleep I was ushered out of the theatre.  It was hard to leave my little girl.  I now had to put my trust in the operating team.

I headed back to the waiting room and the surgeon appeared ten minutes later to tell us how well the procedure had gone and that he had removed a lot of gunk (snot) from her ears.  He went to check on Maya's recovery and ran back to grab Greg and I, where Maya was quite upset.  The nurse was happy for Maya to hop into my arms and after a few moments Maya vomited and then settled.

We were then ushered to recovery two, where Maya was offered breakfast to eat and afterwards we were able to head home.

Maya hasn't shown any signs of distress except for the moments after surgery when she felt nauseous.  It's as though nothing actually happened.  For which I am grateful.  But I do hope we never have to do this or any other procedure again.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Glue ear again.

Throughout last year Maya had numerous colds and repeated ear infections (which I wrote about here, here and here).  Our visit with her ear specialist last year showed that her ears were clear and she had normal hearing, but he wanted her to have regular hearing tests throughout this year.  Then Maya began the year with several colds and another ear infection.  After which I noticed that I was having to repeat a lot of things I said for Maya, but was that just normal toddler behaviour or a sign of a hearing problem?

I had her hearing tested last month and it revealed that she once again had glue ear and a 30% reduction in hearing in both ears.  And grommets were recommended.

Last year I decided to wait and see what happened before trying grommets and during that time I used nasal sprays to help clear her nasal passages.  But with the repeat of glue ear and a worry about her disadvantage in hearing I decided to go ahead with them.

It was an extremely tough decision for me to make, which I've found people generally haven't been sympathetic to.  Immediately they tell me that it is a simple, easy, quick, common procedure.

Yes and it's because it's a simple, easy, quick, common procedure that I am deciding to go ahead with it.  If it was an arduous procedure with high risk of complications for minimal gain, well I wouldn't even be contemplating it and I think people would understand that.

But this is my little girl, whom I love so dearly.  She will have the grommets inserted under general anaesthetic, amongst a host of strangers, in a strange environment, with little or no understanding of what is going on.  While the risks are minimal there are still risks.  And I don't want to put Maya through all that.

Yes I have weighed the pros and cons and decided to go ahead with it, but I am still anxious about it and worry if I have made the right decision for my little girl.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Bikes.

Back in January we bought bikes plus a bike seat for Maya.  But with all the drama in the following months, we didn't get around to using them much until now.
I wasn't sure how I'd go being back on a bike. It's been many, many years since I've ridden. But I found my riding legs quickly and I am enjoying it. Just as long as there aren't too many big hills just yet. :)

Maya loves being on the bike.  Of course at her age she's not riding herself, but she is participating, being outdoors and seeing her mum and dad riding together.

I really want to encourage Maya to be outdoors and to exercise.  And I know the best way to encourage her is for Greg and I to do it too (not to mention the health benefits we also get out of it).  I want to encourage family time that is centred around exercise and I want to make exercise a normal part of our life.

I remember growing up I rode a lot, went to parks, played ball sports, went swimming. And my mother was never there. My father always took us. And I always wished my mother would come with us because I wanted to spend time with her. I realise my mother probably wanted some time out and sometimes I stay home, while Greg takes Maya out, so that I can enjoy some alone time. But I also very much enjoy the time we spend together as a family unit.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

I can't hear her.

When I tell people that I am missing my mother and miss our conversations, I often hear "You can still talk to her" or "She's still listening" or "She will guide you".  But that misses the point.  I want to be able to converse with my mother.  I want to hear her advice and opinion.  I want her words of comfort and encouragement.  And yes I can talk to her and I can imagine what she might say and doing those things can be very comforting at times.  But it is not even slightly the same as having my mother here with me and actually conversing with her.

I know these things are said by well meaning people who are trying to help.  But they are in fact dismissing my feelings.  I am missing my mother.  I am missing our conversations.  And nothing can make that better. 

No one can ease my grief.  Only time can do that.

Friday, 20 May 2011

The world is my oyster.

I've always felt that before I could leave any job I needed to find another ongoing position to replace it.  But once I left my job I was finally able to consider casual, temporary work.  In fact suddenly temporary work sounded like an ideal way to try other workplaces.  

So I applied for casual work and within a week I was offered two jobs!

Long term I still don't know what I want to do career wise.  But for the short term I am happy to try out different places and different jobs and hopefully get more of an idea of what I do and don't like.

I am also enjoying not being tied down to one workplace.  If I don't like something I can just leave and find something else. 

The world is my oyster.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Mother's Day.

Dear Mum,

You were not just my mother but my best friend too.
There was nothing that I couldn't share with you.

But now you are gone; taken too fast.
And all I have are our memories of past.

I miss you more than you'll ever know.
And now you will not see your grand-daughter grow.

I will never forget you and all that you've done.
There was no one like you, no one, none.

My heart aches for you and always will.
There's a hole in my heart that no one can fill.

But you were the best mother I could have asked for.
Loved and remembered always, forever more.

Happy mother's day Mum. xx

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Work

After mum died I needed time off from work.  I couldn't manage my job on top of the grief I was experiencing.  So I took two months off.  But as the two months of leave slowly grew to a close I found myself dreading going back to work more and more. 

Before my mother passed away I was already disliking a number of things about my job.  Like the 1 1/2 hours it takes me to get there and the 1 1/2 hours it takes me to get back.  Like the fact that all my good friends have now left and gone elsewhere.  Like the fact that my workload is enormous because most of the staff who are left do not support each other and don't share work. 

I could go on.  But the point is I was already disliking my job and I was already looking for work closer to home that I would hopefully enjoy more.

I've been in my current job for six years now and despite what I just said, it has actually been the best job I've had to date.  But it is a tough job and others haven't lasted as long.  A lot of people I know have left the industry altogether or sought jobs elsewhere.

And now my strength is gone. 

I have always felt that I needed another job lined up in order to leave my current job.  And it is scary to leave something without a backup in place. 

But I needed to leave.  So I decided to quit.

When I rang my manager to quit, she said "Please consider taking leave instead, that way you can keep your job.  You can take leave for twelve months.  Then another twelve months is available after that.  So all up you can have a leave of absence for up to two years."

"But I want to be able to look for other work", I said.

"You can still look for other work and do other jobs but keep your job secure and keep all your entitlements for two years", she said.

"So I can keep my job secure for two years, keep all my entitlements secure during that time, work where ever I want during that time and decide to return or quit within two years?"

"Yes"

"Well OK then"

So that's what I did.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Maya "reading".

Also known as... telling a story from memory ("Dear Zoo" by Rod Campbell).

She is mumbling a lot so it's hard to understand what she is saying, but most of the time she is repeating the same thing over and over.

"I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet. They sent me a pet. [Insert animal here].   It was too big I sent him back."

It's not quite the right words.  But she does obviously remember some lines from the story.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Funeral Blues.

There's a part of me that still can't believe my mother is gone.  I have moments were I think I might pop over to see her.  Or maybe I'll give her a call. 

And then it hits me. 

I can't.

My mother was not just my mother.  She was also my best friend.  And it really is as though I have lost two people in one.

I know I am lucky to have been so close to my mother.  I could talk to her about anything and everything.  And I did.

I could be myself with her.  I always felt completely at home and comfortable in her home and I felt the same way when she visited me. She knew me well.  She knew what to say.

There's a huge hole in my life now and it can ever be filled.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Circle of life.

Someone mentioned the circle of life to me recently, in regards to my mother's passing.  And yes in the circle of life parents are supposed to pass before their children.

But my grandmother, my mother's mother, is still alive.  She just buried her eldest daughter.

I can't even begin to imagine what she must be feeling.  I know she feels it should have been her dying instead.  And if she could have traded places with her daughter, she would have.

As I sat with my mother in her final moments, I'll admit I looked across her bed at my grandmother and thought, "It should be you lying here instead of my mother".

Sometimes the circle of life does not work as it is supposed to.

I've been listening to The Editors a lot lately, whose lyrics seem to resonate with me right now. And in the song "Push Your Head Towards the Air":
Now don't drown in your tears, babe
Push your head towards the air.
Now don't drown in your tears, babe
I will always be there.
I thought my mother would always be there.  I thought she would always be there to save me from drowning.  I remember all the times I cried in her arms and her arms were the safest place in the world.  Nothing could hurt me there.

Now I am a mother and I keep Maya safe.  And I want to tell Maya that I will always be there for her.

But if the circle of life works as it is supposed to, one day I will leave Maya.  One day Maya will feel as I do now.  Her heart will ache for me.  And I wish I could save Maya from that experience.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Suffering.

In regards to my mother's passing I often hear: "At least she's not suffering any more". And while I don't want my mother to be suffering, I also don't want her to be dead.  And if the choice is suffering or death, well right now I would choose her suffering just to have her here with me.  Yes, it may be selfish but that's how I feel. 

In life there are things we suffer through.  Accidents.  Operations.  Loss.  Pushing ourselves to our limits.  And not all this suffering ends in death.  Some suffering comes before achieving a dream or before recovering from loss, an accident or an operation. 

So I guess what I really want is my mother's suffering to be towards recovery rather than towards death.  And I want my mother alive not dead.  And the fact that she is not suffering any more is no comfort to me.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Every little piece in your life...

From The Editors - "The Weight of the World":
Every little piece in your life
Will add up to one
Every little piece in your life 
Well it means something to someone

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Closure.

Last week I organised to speak to a doctor about my mother's medical history because I found myself questioning over and over again what happened.  I never went to any medical appointments with my mother because I was told that her cancer was highly treatable.  How did it go so fast from treatable to terminal?

And last week I discovered the truth. 

It was never treatable. 

It was always terminal. 

And I was not told.

Doctors suspected, via scans, that my mother's cancer had spread beyond her bladder and this became clear when my mother had her cystectomy in October last year.  The surgeon could see that the cancer went beyond her bladder and knew in that moment that she was terminal.  A few days after her operation the surgeon revealed the news to my mother.  She was terminal.

From there we don't know and will never know what happened.  Did my mother not understand the prognosis?  She was on a lot of strong medications, perhaps she didn't even really hear what the surgeon said.  Maybe she was in denial?  She was a fighter and wanted desperately to beat the cancer.  And there are always wonderful stories of success where people beat illnesses that are 'unbeatable'.  Or maybe she hid it from us, her family,  to protect us.

There's just no way to tell how much my mother understood.  But other doctors who treated my mother say she seemed to have no understanding of the fact that she was terminal.  And we had no way to know because no one told us.

And here we come to the part that really gets to me.  My mother's surgeon told us, her family, after surgery that the cancer had been removed and had been contained within the bladder.  Which is an outright lie.  If my mother had asked her surgeon not to pass on the fact that she was terminal to anyone, which she had every right to do, then surely he should have said nothing to us.  He should have said that due to my mother's wishes he could not talk to us about the surgery or outcomes.  Surely he should not have been able to lie about a patient's prognosis under any circumstances?

So doctors knew and thought mum knew that her cancer was terminal back in October.  But I did not find out until February 10th this year.  And 6 days later she was gone.  Rather than months to come to terms with things, to say my goodbyes, to say all there was to say, I had six days.  And those six days my mother was mostly asleep or delirious.  It was not enough.

I know we should always make the most of every moment.  And I was visiting her often.  But I would have visited a lot more often had I known she was terminal.  I would have organised for her to come see our home that we had just purchased.  Perhaps have some parties with Maya.  Mum could have written letters to Maya for her to read in the future.  And all of that was taken away from me, from mum, from all of us while we gave my mother space and time to heal from her surgeries.

But I also discovered last week that there was nothing that could have been done to save my mother, which has stopped all the 'what ifs' running around my head.  By the time she had symptoms it was already too late.  And there was no way of knowing she had bladder cancer before the symptoms.  She was always headed to this point and there was nothing I or anyone could have done.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Life is short.

Ever since my mother passed I find myself questioning my life.

There's a realisation that life is short.. too short.. and it can end unexpectedly at any moment.

Life is so often lived as though there is an infinite amount of time.  Life ending is unimaginable.

But then we are faced with mortality.

And with the significant loss I have just experienced, I also have the realisation that now I have opportunity via the inheritance I will come into.  And with it some freedom to make changes.

Of course given the choice I would give it all up in a flash to have my mother back.  I would give it up and more - my house, my money, everything I own.

But I can't.  And my mother worked hard for what she had.  And I don't want to waste it.

So I could use it to change careers.  To renovate.  Towards paying our loan.  To buy a new house.  To holiday.  To invest.  To have another child.  A combination of the above.

Right now I don't know what to do.  But I am entertaining the possibilities life suddenly has to offer.

Life is too short.  And I want to spend my days as fulfilled and happy as I can be.

I'm just not sure how to work out what will be fulfilling and happy for me.  But I haven't been enjoying my job for a while now.  Even before my mother passed.  And that is one area I want to work on.  But do I stay in my current career and try somewhere else?  Or change careers altogether?  Or become a stay at home mother again? 

I used to spend too much time worrying about how my decisions affect others.  But I need to start thinking about what I want and stop worrying about others.  I can't make everyone happy.  The only people I need to think about are myself, Greg and Maya.  And how we can make the most of our time together, so that it is as fulfilling and happy as it can be with the life we have.

Monday, 21 March 2011

If only.

Maya keeps asking to go visit Nana.  And it breaks my heart every time.  Because I really wish we could go visit her Nana.

I would do almost anything to have my mother back.  To have it so that she didn't die.  So that I could talk to her again.  Say all the things I wished I'd said.  So I could hug her.  And watch her play with Maya again.

I still can't believe a year ago my mother was coming round to visit.  She was picking Maya up from child care.  We had coffees.  Went shopping.  Went to the park.  Talked.  Laughed.  Hugged.  She was well, happy and alive.

At least we thought she was well.

And now she's dead.  Gone.  Never coming back.

Maya doesn't understand that her Nana has gone and that she will never be able to see her or speak to her again.  She's too young to understand the concept.  She loved (loves) her Nana dearly and wants to see her.  She probably doesn't understand why we don't take her to see her Nana.

But while it upsets me that we can't go visit her Nana.  I am glad that she wants to visit her.  That she remembers her.  I want Maya to remember her Nana and I am afraid she will forget her in time.

I need to get some pictures printed of Maya with her Nana.  So that she will continue to see her grandmother on a daily basis and hopefully continue to remember her from her own memory.

First time Mum saw Maya - October 2008

Maya sleeping in her Nana's arms - November 2008

Cuddles and kisses - April 2009

Playing with and feeding Maya - August 2009

Maya's first birthday party - October 2009. Mum never made it to Maya's second birthday party in October 2010 because she was in hospital at the time.

These are my favourite pictures because Mum and Maya were sharing a special time together that I was able to witness and capture - December 2009

I returned to work in January 2010 and didn't take any photos of the two of them till August 2010 due to less time, which of course I now regret. These two pictures are the last pictures I have of mum and Maya taken in August 2010. Mum was in a lot of pain and had her cancer diagnosis and we were waiting for her operation, which we thought would rid her of it. I never thought to take photos of the two of them after this time. Until the last few days I had no idea my mother would not recover. Until then we had a future in which to take photos.  R.I.P. Mum.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Coping.

It seems somehow that observers base their ability to judge your well-being on how they feel about what you are doing.  For example, if you are very distressed and crying, you will be described as not coping very well, but if you don't show your feelings, or at least if you don't show too many of them and the observers don't feel uncomfortable about what you are doing, they will describe you as coping well.  [From Coping With Grief by Mal & Dianne McKissock]
A lot of people tell me that I am "doing so well" or that I am "so strong" or that I am "coping really well".  And it annoys me.  Because it dismisses what I am feeling.  It makes me feel like I am expected to "cope well".  It leaves me wondering if I can express my grief and feelings.  And my outside behaviour does not always represent my inside feelings.

In fact I would love to crawl into bed for a couple of weeks.  But having my daughter means that I do not have the luxury to do that.  I have to get up, get myself sorted and be there for my daughter (as much as I can be there for her given the overwhelming grief I am experiencing).  And while some think the way to deal with grief is to get on with life as soon as possible, this method does not suit everyone. 

I need time to process, to grieve, to be me without judgement, to cry, to get angry, to yell, to scream, to be without responsibility (as much as possible given I have my daughter).  There is nothing wrong with my way of dealing with grief.  It's just my way.  So in order to get the time I need I have had to take leave from work for a few weeks.  Maya still goes to child care and it gives me three days a week to do all the things I need to do to grieve.
You are the only one who can feel what you feel; you are the only one who can determine how to express what you feel.  Others affected by the bereavement have their own feelings and their way of expressing them, but if you feel like going to bed for a couple of days - do it!  If you want to yell, scream, cry, curse - do it!  If you want to withdraw and have time to yourself - do so! [From Coping With Grief by Mal & Dianne McKissock]
So I'm not particularly strong and I'm not coping "really well".  I'm just doing what I need to do to get through this extremely difficult time.  Some may see me as coping, others may see me as not coping.  But it is what it is and I can't change my way of dealing with things.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Grief.

I am finding it difficult to see or talk to friends at the moment.  None of my friends have ever lost a parent and therefore cannot understand what I am going through.  It is also difficult to hear about their lives when I feel like the whole world should have stopped the day my mum died.  Why isn't the whole world mourning as I am?  And it's difficult to hear about my friend's problems, which compared to mine now seem so trivial.  Though I know one day I too will be concerned about day to day things again, as the grief wears off and normalcy sets in.

In our culture we are given three days bereavement leave, which is no where near enough for such an enormous loss.  It creates an expectation that grief should be over and done with within a relatively short time.  But after an enormous loss grief stays with you forever and creeps up at different times in your life.  When I graduated, got married and was pregnant with Maya I grieved the loss of my father.

According to 'Coping With Grief' by Mal McKissock and Dianne McKissock (which I highly recommend reading):
In the beginning, pain seems to be a constant, overwhelming companion until gradually, you become familiar with its intensity, and therefore less fearful.  The time spent in between 'peaks' becomes shorter, giving you necessary periods of relief.  Initially, relief may be short-lived, perhaps just minutes of respite gradually stretching into hours, days, weeks.  You may never 'get over' the death but you will learn to live with the absence of the person you love.
Friends are asking me what they can do to help and really there is nothing they can do, except be there when I am ready to see them again.  The problem is I don't know how many people can 'handle' my grief.  It seems in our culture it's not really acceptable to show strong feelings.  People don't like to see other people crying because they feel like that person is hurting and they want to fix the hurt.  It even starts with parents trying anything and everything to stop their baby from crying, when in reality crying is a natural, normal way for babies to express themselves.  From a young age we teach children that it is not OK to cry by trying to stop them from crying.  But crying is a natural, normal way to heal hurt.  I'm not saying that you can't comfort someone who is crying and be there for them.  In fact it's important to be there with them and to comfort them and to let them know that it is OK to cry.  If you think back to when you cried last, didn't you feel better afterwards?  That is the point of crying.  But when someone is trying to stop you from this process it makes it harder to proceed and therefore harder to heal.

According to 'Coping With Grief' by Mal McKissock and Dianne McKissock:
In our society people get upset if you demonstrate strong reactions to pain.  For example, if you cry openly in reaction to an event, even bereavement, after a short period of tolerance, those around you will begin to placate your feelings - they will say things like, 'Buck up, think of the kids, every cloud has a silver lining.'  All of these platitudes and clich├ęs, though not malicious are designed to prevent you from expressing your feelings.  There is a very genuine belief that getting upset is bad for you.
In this day and age, in our society, it is rare to have lost both parents at my age.  And while I don't wish this upon anyone, I can't help feel jealous now of people who still have both parents or even one.

Quite a few of my friends had children far from their parents and families.  But I chose to remain near mine.  Whereas they always have the choice to move back to their families, now I will never know that support again.

Friday, 18 February 2011

R.I.P. Mum.

In August my mother was diagnosed with bladder cancer and we were told that the success rate for that particular cancer was very high.  In October we were told that the cancer was bigger than expected and my mother had her bladder removed.  In December my mother was recovering very well and then had a bowel obstruction, which had to be removed and turned out to be cancer.  Last Thursday we were told that my mother's cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, liver, lungs and throughout other parts of her body and she had only months to live.  On Monday we were told that the cancer was also around her kidneys, that she was going into kidney failure and only had a couple of weeks at most to live.  And on Wednesday (16th February) she passed away.

It all seems so surreal right now.  It all happened so quickly.  And while I did get to talk to my mother in her final days she was mostly sleeping or delirious and so I am left feeling like there is still so much to say. 

I am glad that I could be there with her in her final days and hours.  But to see someone you love so dearly suffering so much is hard on the soul.  I've also seen so many things I wish I could erase my from memory.  No one should have to go through so much suffering.

I miss my mum so much and I don't know how my life can go on without her.  She was too young to die and she didn't want to go.  Life can be so cruel.

Mum I love you so much.  You were the best mother I could have ever hoped for.  I will miss you every single day for the rest of my life.  But you are no longer in pain and for that I am grateful.  I hope you are finally at peace and there is an endless library where you are now.  You are forever in my heart.

Last photo of mum (with Maya) before mum got too sick (taken in August 2010):

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Smokers outside the hospital door.

Every time I visit my mother I walk past an array of people smoking on my way to the hospital entrance.  Some of them are patients - wearing hospital gowns and drips attached.  Some of them are visitors.  Some of them are staff.  And it just always seems so ridiculous to see all these people smoking outside the hospital doors - killing themselves slowly with every breath right outside a place that saves lives.

Every time I walk past these people smoking I feel like screaming at them and telling them that they are all idiots.  They are throwing their health away and for what?  When faced with death will they look back and be glad they smoked?  Or will they, as my mother now is, be rapt in guilt and blame themselves for their impending death.

If these people could see my mother I wonder if they would give up.  If they could see just what she has become and what she has gone through and what is still yet to be.  To give up your life, your dignity, your sense of being, your future.  All for cigarettes.  Is it really worth it?

Thursday, 10 February 2011

A few months is not enough.

Today I received news I have anticipated but have been dreading.  My mother is now terminally ill.  Whilst most bladder cancers grow slowly and are easy to remove, hers is aggressive and has spread throughout her body.  They can no longer treat her.  She has a few months left to live.

Right now I feel like nothing is real any more.  And I wish someone would wake me up from this nightmare.

I remember how devastating it was to lose my father.  And now I have to go through it again with my mother.  And both of them will have died so young.

I can't believe that soon I will be parent less.  That the only support on my side of the family will soon be gone.  That my mother will never get to see Maya grow and develop.  That I will lose my mother and my friend.  That I won't be able to talk to her.  See her.  Hug her.

I wish I could get away from this pain.  From this grief.  I remember thinking I would never recover from the pain of losing my father.  Of course I did.  But for a while there the pain was unbearable.  And I am headed there again.

Suddenly so many things seem so unimportant. 

The little things don't matter.

Only health matters.

And I would do anything, give anything, say anything to cure my mother right now.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Party gifts.

When Maya was three months old we took her to a children's birthday party.  Back then she wasn't even on solids but upon leaving she was presented with a lolly bag.

Last year I took Maya to a first birthday party where the birthday girl was not allowed to eat any cake, lollies or chocolate.  But upon leaving Maya was given a lolly bag.

We then went to a third birthday party where the birthday boy was on a strict, organic only diet - no dairy, no wheat and definitely no lollies or chocolate.  But when leaving Maya was given a lolly bag.

I have no problem with Maya eating lollies but they are a special occasion food not something we keep at home or want to bring home.  By giving us lolly bags (that I can't refuse because once Maya has seen it she wants it) means we then end up bringing lollies home to eat.  And honestly Maya would be happy with anything you gave her anyway.  Why not apples?  Or mandarins?  Why lollies?

And why do people feel obliged to give children a 'present' of lollies anyway?  I remember growing up I did receive lolly bags from some parties but it's not like that's the only reason I was there.  I enjoyed the party, the food and the atmosphere and the lolly bags weren't important to me.

And when you as the parent are providing a venue, food and other party items, why are you then obliged to give every child a 'present'?  Aren't you already providing enough with the party alone?

It reminds me of weddings too where the bride and groom provide their guests with gifts.  Does anyone go to a wedding expecting and wanting gifts?  I certainly don't.  I go to weddings to celebrate the bride and groom getting married.  Why do people feel obliged to give gifts when they are already paying for each guest to attend their wedding?

And honestly the gifts are generally something the bride and groom have tried to spend minimal money on.  Usually cheap chocolate or some cheap ornament with the bride and grooms names engraved on it.  Does anyone actually want or enjoy these gifts?

Providing me with a venue, time, space, other people, food and drinks (and not having to do anything other than turn up) is enough of a 'gift' for me.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Maya and Cleo.

Towards the end of my pregnancy with Maya I began to worry about how Cleo (our cat) would react to the new addition to our family.  Cleo can be highly affectionate towards Greg and I, but at times she turns into a clawing, biting, scary animal.  It worried me to think what she might do to a small baby.

When we brought Maya home for the first time I held her near Cleo for Cleo to suss her out.  And Cleo ran and hid.  She was petrified of the little being.  I thought Cleo's fear of Maya would leave as she got used to the new addition to our family, but it has remained to this day.

As Maya became more aware of Cleo she would delight in seeing her.  Cleo has been a godsend at times.  When Maya is upset or throwing a tantrum I can take her to see Cleo and she cheers up.

Maya would dearly love to be able to play with Cleo but Cleo avoids Maya.  And for good reason really.  Once Maya found her feet she also found Cleo's tail.  I honestly have no idea why Cleo has not attacked Maya (yet?).  Maya will pull her tail, pull her fur, hit her, poke her, chase her....  And Cleo does not (yet?) lay a paw on Maya.

Greg and I still get bitten and scratched sometimes by Cleo.  Yet Maya's treatment of Cleo has not been met with any retaliation.  It's as though Cleo knows not to attack this small human creature.

I am so grateful that Cleo has not hurt Maya and I hope Cleo continues not to hurt her.  Of course I am trying to teach Maya not to hurt Cleo either and I hope she will get the idea soon and stop tormenting the poor cat.

I think Maya sees Cleo as a toy who should do exactly what Maya wants and commands.  Sometimes Maya gets extremely upset when she wants to cuddle or pat or play with Cleo and Cleo runs away.  But of course Cleo has her own will.  I am not sure when Maya will realise that other people and animals have their own wills, wants and needs.



Sunday, 6 February 2011

Mummy!

This is a conversation I regularly have with Maya at the moment (if you can call it a conversation):

Maya: "Mummy!"
Me: "Yes?"
"Mummy!"
"Yes?"
"Mummy!"
"Yes?"
"Mummy!"
"What?"
"Mummy!"
"What?!?!?!"
"Mummy!"
*sigh*

Friday, 4 February 2011

Getting to school.

There was an article in the Sydney Morning Herald today about getting kids walking and riding to school.  I am amazed at how many kids are now driven to school each day, which not only prevents the children from developing their own independence of getting around but also creates more congestion on the roads.

My thirteen year old cousin who goes to her local high school is too scared to walk, ride or catch public transport to school.  And my aunt won't let her ride anyway 'because there are too many cars the road'.  Firstly, I have no idea why my cousin would have such a strong fear of getting herself to school and I don't know why my aunt isn't helping her to develop her independence.  They could catch the bus together for a few weeks until my cousin felt more comfortable taking it on her own.  Or walk together.  Or ride together.  Secondly the reason there are more cars on the road is because more parents are on the road driving their kids to school.  So if my aunt stopped driving my cousin to school there would be one less car on the road.  And if several people stopped driving their children to school, there would be several cars off the road.

I went to the local primary school, which was at the end of my street.  I started off walking with my mother but later walked on my own.  My mother taught me about stranger danger and I felt confident walking every day and never had any problems.  When at high school I rode every day.  And my school wasn't so close.  And I rode rain, hail or shine. 

I developed my independence in getting around and I didn't need lifts to visit friends or to go to the local shops.  I could just jump on my bike, use my legs or catch the bus and didn't need to rely on someone else to get me to where I needed to go.

Back in hospital.

My mother ended up back in hospital about a week ago, with a partial vascular blockage in her leg.  Probably due to inactivity.

While in hospital she complained about pains in her stomach so doctors ordered scans, which revealed that the cancer is bigger and worse than expected.  Doctors are now in discussions about what to do next.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Learning about colours.

For a long time now Maya has been able to list colours but not always identify them correctly.

Then the other day she exclaimed "There's a red car and ours is a red car!"

I looked and it was indeed a red car.

I then asked her "What is that car?" pointing at a blue car.

"That's a blue car" she said.

"And what's that car" I asked again pointing at a green car.

"That's a green car" she said.

"Wow she can identify colours" I thought.

"There's a red car" she said again pointing at a red car.

And this time I asked "What colour is it?"

"Green!" she said.

Errrrrr

"No what colour is it?"

"Green!"

"What car is it?"

"It's a red car"

"So what colour is it?"

"Green"

"No if it's a red car then it's a red colour"

"Green"

There are red cars and blue cars and silver cars and white cars but they are all the colour green apparently.

Hmmmm.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Shattered.

On Saturday I visited my mother and she dropped a bombshell on me.

She still has cancer.

It was such a shock for me because I believed that the cancer had been fully removed during her surgery.  But the mass was much bigger than expected.  And despite the fact that bladder cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer because it generally grows slowly and stays contained within the bladder, it seems her cancer has grown rapidly and spread outside of the bladder.

Right now we don't know the next steps.  She will have a scan sometime in February to determine how much of the cancer is left.  And then the next course of action will be determined - another operation?  chemotherapy?  or radiation?

Until Saturday I thought my mother's battle ahead was to recover from her series of operations.  But it seems it's a bigger battle than I thought.  And I am shattered.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Gendering of toys.

For Maya's birthday last year, my aunt asked me for present ideas.  I suggested she buy Maya a dump truck for the sandpit we were giving Maya.  On Maya's birthday my aunt turned up with clothes for Maya and whispered to me "I didn't get Maya a dump truck because it's for boys".

I was surprised by her reaction.  I grew up playing with cars, trucks, trains, etc.  I loved them and didn't consider them "boys" toys.  Just as Maya enjoys playing with dolls she also enjoys her vehicles.

There was an interesting post recently on Ms. blog about the gendering of toys and how children who enjoy playing with toys outside of their gender norm can be bullied. The writer talks about her son who took his My Little Pony to show and tell and was teased and a girl who was made fun of because she had a Star Wars drink bottle (by the way I love Star Wars and I'm a girl!).

Maya received a dump truck for Christmas and well.... here's some footage of her playing with it and enjoying it.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

A reflection on 2010.

2010 was the year of illnesses.  It seemed like Maya and I were forever sick with colds and flus, plus some infections and gastro type illnesses thrown in for good measure.  Maya had many ear infections and developed glue ear, for which we thought she might need grommets but thankfully her ears did clear towards the end of the year.  My vertigo flared up again and for the second half of the year I have been experiencing vertigo every two to three weeks.  Though thankfully it has been milder than the previous year, it is still unpleasant and I have had some attacks while out and about which is harder to manage.  Even Greg who rarely gets sick caught more colds than usual.

Then of course there's my mother who developed bladder cancer and had three operations.

Then there's a friend of mine who developed ovarian cancer and during an operation to remove the cancer a mistake was made.  She will have to undergo further surgery in February to reverse the problem caused during surgery and I hope that will lead her back on the road to recovery.

I returned to work at the end of January after 16 months on maternity leave.  At first it was an extremely hard adjustment to make.  I missed Maya terribly and felt tremendously guilty for leaving her.  It took Maya a long time to adjust to child care but now she is happy there and overall I do think her experiences with other adult carers and other children has been good for her.  And work has given me adult company and some time out from the constant demands of a toddler, which I needed.

Unfortunately I began to dislike my job and the long travel to and from work, but I have sorted out a different role for 2011, which I hope I will enjoy more.

We bought our first home in 2010, which was so exciting.  I'm scared to look at our finances now but happy to own our own place.

I have loved watching Maya's further growth and development and was fortunate to only work two full days a week and have the other five to spend with her.  2010 was the year Maya started walking and now she runs everywhere.  Her communication has also improved and now it is much easier to work out what Maya needs or wants.

Here's hoping that 2011 is a better year of health for everyone.