‘A Talent for Oblivion is a Talent for Survival’

I’ve always liked this line I found in an Iris Murdoch novel nearly twenty years ago. She wrote that ‘a talent for oblivion is a talent for survival’. At 18 I think I interpreted this as the ability to sleep on uncomfortable buses and get off my head but I read it differently now. I think it’s more about being able to switch yourself off and let your head go quiet. To be still and accept your fate when there’s nothing else to be done. It has to be said, it’s not my greatest natural attribute.

So that’s my plan for getting through the day. To let a studied ‘talent for oblivion’ carry me, and allow the hours to slip by with only the help of an iPad, eBay, a not particularly good book and intermittent soggy Wimbledon (and an equally wet Andy Murray whinge his way to a win). And of course my daily visit from husband and child which keeps me going. The midwives are incredibly kind here too which helps. Not a single one has been brusque or offhand. They always listen. It would be terribly isolating otherwise. Funny, with so many women here in the same situation, no one looks at or speaks to each other. We’re all wrapped up intensely in our particular stage of trying to get through it. Photographers, cleaners and catering staff who don’t know my situation keep coming round saying ‘where’s your baby?’ or ‘still no baby?’. I even had to point to my stomach this morning to get rid of the vulture-like ward photographers. I am trying not to be irritated. No reason they should know but it seems inadvisable of them to ask on a mixed ward. Mind you, I nearly committed a terrible faux pas at the breakfast buffet this morning as I was about to ask a woman if she was imminent and was fortunately stopped in my tracks as she called her husband to ask if the baby was crying. I remember a nice lady in the hospital shop some days after Lucas was born asking me when I was due and I was gutted to realise I still looked so pregnant after I’d popped a ten pounder.

This morning I woke up after a good night’s sleep feeling pretty militant and decided to launch my campaign to Get Angela Out of Hospital. My fear is that I’ll be moved back to my local hospital tomorrow only to be kept in indefinitely till the birth which I don’t think I could handle if it’s another six weeks. I sense indecisiveness and a lack of communication between hospitals and it annoys me. If there is sound logic I’ll accept it but I have found there’s a slightly conservative ‘wait and see’ approach which replaces action.

I even had a plan of action. To speak to my consultant at West Middlesex and get some clarity. Argue vociferously with the doctors here to be let out on the basis there was no rational reason to keep me in given that my little contracting episode seems to be over. I even formulated a series of logical questions in my iphone notes so I could reason my way out. I practiced my arguments on the midwife. She agreed (or perhaps conceded to pacify my ranting)that I should feel free to fight for a decision.

In fact, I was so determined to Win My Argument I went and had a shower so I could square up to the consultant fully dressed. It’s much harder to be assertive in a little blue nightie. Served me right. He came on his rounds while I was having my shower and went away again. Just as well really as it gave me time to listen to the little voice in my head that knows they are not keeping me here for their own sick enjoyment. A friend just sent me a series of emails telling me the story of her hospital stay early in the year. She’d handled a far longer period ‘inside’ and a far more serious condition with such fortitude and grace that it humbled me. So when the doctor comes round again I will try and focus on getting enough clarity for myself and do what’s right for the Peas rather than simply trying to win the battle.

I know they will either send me home or to another hospital tomorrow. I should be happy as we hit 28 weeks tomorrow, the day after which the medical profession will tell you that babies born are likely to survive without permanent disability. I know a lot of very successful disabled people through my work but I don’t think any of them have got where they are without a tremendous fight. You certainly wouldn’t wish it on a child. Life’s tough enough. When we were first presented with the agonising decision whether to terminate our triplet we initially thought it would be a straight choice between having a disabled child or not. I was frozen. Fortunately it was decided for us by his worsening condition. He would have died anyway and taken his brother with him so it became a choice only in the sense that we had to consent to act quickly to save his identical twin who the tests had shown to be fine. God knows how people make this decision when the genetic screening goes against them. I can only admire their courage.

Sorry if this has been a bit of a long rant. Thank you to all my kind friends and family who keep bothering to read and comment and send me endless texts and emails of support. It makes such a difference. I feel really lucky. And also lucky to have lasted this long since my waters broke with, apparently, no harm to our little boy although they won’t know for sure till he is born. It’s rare not to deliver within a week of rupturing so 6 weeks 3 days is a good innings. I have to count my blessings. This is such a short, temporary state of affairs and although the stakes are high a positive outcome is getting more likely and brings such rewards. Lucas has brought us so much happiness and it seems amazing that we will be granted that all over again, in a double dose this time, especially since we thought we might never have children about three years ago.

Right I’m off to make a cup of tea and bother the midwives. Then maybe I’ll waste some money online since my wallet turned up. Ho hum. A good antidote is to walk past the wards listening to the newborns crying. It’s strangely therapeutic as it provokes two feelings in me at once.

1) It won’t be long and
2) Thank goodness it’s going to be a bit longer. Read, sleep and watch movies while you can.

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