Experiments In Breathing


I entered my meditation phase today. It started with me being a bitch to the nurses and ended with me breathing out universal love whilst splattering breast milk all over my leg. I AM the zen master!

It felt very strange entering the ward in infection control mode. Most of it in my head as the nurses are clearly not taking it entirely seriously and constantly forget to wear their masks and shut the door. I am quite the little infection monitor facist. I am concerned that they can’t hear the monitor properly as Alexander was continually desaturating today and no one came. I had to shout a couple of times when it went on too long. He is back on oxygen to help him cope today. One of the nurses let slip that they might change the protocol ‘once the doctors have spoken to the micro biology team on Monday’. Ah. So this is precautionary guesswork. Well we live in hope.

As the day went on I came to quite like the peace and quiet. I started talking to the babies in a more uninhibited way and listening to my audiobook. The Pema Chodron talks are better for their guidance than the meditation in this instance. One part that stayed with me was her talking about recapturing the clear open energy of childhood that we have forgotten. That sharp and intense experience of being young where we feel, smell, see everything in vivid detail. If you remember walking into your grandmother’s room or a garden you knew you can probably really how it smelt or how you felt, the quality of the light and of the moment. As we get older we lose that ability to connect. We get lost in conscious repetitive, often negative thought and lose our connection to people and things. I understood what she meant. I often find myself appealing to the nine year old in me. I think I choose nine as the age when you are conscious enough to appreciate but not yet disturbed by the disquiet of adolescence.

This experience is certainly reconnecting me with experience if not always in a joyful way, but mainly. This may surprise you as I moan so much but each day when I walk on to the ward and into their little side room I am very alert to the smells and the simple quality of suddenly being in the presence of two new lives and of my children who I have yet to get to know. It’s very special and I always feel happy as I enter and say ‘hello kids’ and start the routine. Tonight as I fed them and changed them and pumped on my own I was better able to connect to the sounds of them breathing and being, and to appreciate the sharp focus of this experience. Mind you I’m not sure the meditations are a good idea while I’m pumping. As I breathed in shame/rage/guilt and breathed out compassion I lost track of how much I’d pumped and came to to the gentle lapping sound of the bottle overflowing and before I knew it warm breastmilk had exploded all over my jeans. Not very Zen! Oh mummy. It did the trick of making me take myself less seriously as I sponged myself down.

The slightly strange out of focus photo tonight is of the hospital car park and the moon. I took it to mark a moment. As I walked out at 11.15pm after my fourth shift of the day two senses swept me up, the smell of the earth after rain and the hazy half moon blending into the street lights.

Lucas is entering a very grumpy, itchy phase. It is quite bad chicken pox. I’d hoped for a mild bout but there are so many spots and they just keep on coming and are bursting and crusting now. It’s hard to believe his beautiful skin will recover but I’m sure it will. He is still able to have a happy time and forget about the infernal itching. His superdad has managed to take him cycling, roller skating and scootering this weekend. And I’ve had a chance to take him to (deserted) playgrounds and down to the river to throw stones, a mindless act we both enjoy. Daddy is definitely back in as chief carer now and Lucas dismissed me downstairs earlier asking for his dad instead. I am ok with this as I haven’t got much left by the time I get home and feel quite proud of the fact that he can switch between needing us alternately. He’s lucky to have a father he is so closely bonded with that he can choose between us depending on his mood.

My Auntie Enid sent me a rallying email today reminding me not to rush home. As a doctor she quite rightly pointed out that the babies can’t be readmitted to the NICU and if they go home too soon we will spend hours rushing back into A&E and waiting. The bit that made me laugh was this (and I hope you don’t mind being quoted Aunty) “Be strong! Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin were born premature. Cheer up”.


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