That's what I shared in my recovery meeting this morning, cranky and pissed off that the worst year of my life has been the first year of my baby's life. If Dave didn't get cancer, would Rocco have been a happier baby? Not cried so much? If I had given him more attention and patience, how different a child would he be now?
Fruitless questions, really. Unprepared for the intensity of feelings the past week has brought ... panic and sadness, immense relief it's all over - the chemo/newborn era can now be laid to rest.
There is a chocolate cake in the oven, baking right now for Rocco to demolish it. Tomorrow he will wake up one. One. For months now, he has woken every night every few hours, screaming and hollering the whole house down. I lay him down, put his dummy in - give him his bottle - still crying. 12am, 1am, 3am, 3.20am, 4am ...... I end up standing in the doorway of his room, stricken with sleep deprivation and frustration, crying.
This morning was different ... he woke up smiling. I changed his nappy and he didn't kick me to death. He crawled around and I was able to get dressed with no tears and tantrums. I think we're turning a corner. He is a hard baby, sometimes. I hate having to struggle for gratitude, and much prefer it when it flows freely into my Spirit.
Winter is coming, which also triggers the memories of last year. Dave would sleep upstairs in his chemo wing, and the baby would sleep next to me in his bassinette. Dark, lonely, terrible nights alone with my baby. Max would usually come in and want to be close to me, I'd hug him tightly and tell him everything was going to be ok and not believe it myself. Dave would call me upstairs, needing help to vomit in the toilet. The baby would wake up all night - all night, to feed. Going to bed was a military operation ... nappies piled next to the bed. Nappy cream. Wipes. Blankets ... lots of blankets. They were terrible nights ... carnage would greet me in the morning, nappies strewn everywhere, blankets askew, dirty sheet piles.
I was bereft, and filled with quiet white fury. In my bedroom, I had to hide from the world, because the world wanted to know everything that was going on and I was frozen.
But there was always the Angel in the window, watching over me. She would remind me how sacred it was, to be a mother and to have the honour of looking after a tiny baby. We have stained glass windows in our bedroom ... I took a photo:
Do you see her? She has a pink face, holding a baby close to her. My eyes would always be drawn to her. She's still there, of course. Quietly holding her baby. She always reminded me to hold mine, and I love her for that.
In the early days, the unspoken was that Dave would die. So the baby was an afterthought, an appendage. Even when I was right there in front of him ... I was not "with" him. Always absent, folded inside myself.
Just before I put him to bed tonight, he crawled over to the fridge and took a photo off. A pic of me holding him. I watched him study it closely, intent. He lifted his little hand and stroked his mumma in the photo. He got upset, and thought that I was in the photo and not with him.
"Hey sweet guyo ... here I am! Here's mumma!" He turned to me, saw I was with him, and gave me the biggest and best heartmelting smile ever known to mankind.
I am here, with him now. It only took me a year.
Dave is busy all day tomorrow, so apparently we have to do Rocco's cake and candles at breakfast time. Chocolate cake for breakfast ... could a first birthday be any better!
I will have lots of yummy pics to share here ... maybe even a video. I want to shout it from the rooftops .... we got through! Look at us now! We are all well, and all accounted for!
This is the ad that's appearing in our local paper this week. I'm a poet and I didn't even know it. Let the gushing begin!!
Me: "Hon we have to go to Kmart to buy Rocco some presents."
Me:"Because he's turning one."
Dave:"So? We don't need to get him anything, he won't remember."
Two hours later we were pushing a trolley around Kmart, choosing toys. We finally decided on a drum even though he already HAS a drum .... I turned and looked down and Dave had already given it to him. Dave's reasoning was that by the time we give it to him, he'll forget that he'd already played with it.
Because, you know, Rocco is a GOLDFISH.