I had to confiscate some items to keep him on track for the morning routine.
Today, about to leave the house, and…
This kid is a darling. Last (probably!) day of Age school on Wednesday, last day of Mindplus after six incredible years with Diana, and he’s ready, able, and even excited to move on to new opportunities at Western Springs next year.
He’s been through so much, and to see this smile and confidence is a testament to us trusting our guts that school distress isn’t normal, and we weren’t going to pretend, and the incredible people who’ve been there along the way to lift us all up, and nurture and support us through. Bron and Andrea, our amazing psychologist, and a focus on strengths and growth, have us looking forwards with hope.
You’ve come a long way baby.
Ten years ago, I went into labour. Aubrey was already dead. Archimedes wasn’t expected to survive. I was 28 weeks pregnant, my waters had broken at 15w.
At 17w, I was told that both babies were dead. My private (expensive, homebirth friendly) obstetrician transferred into the public system for medical management of my “miscarriage”. That same afternoon an ultrasound confirmed two strong heartbeats.
The chances for their survival weren’t high. The risks for me were great. But I was grateful to live in a country where termination was available, and where I also had a choice to refuse it, and give my babies a chance.
I developed sepsis, and labour started. My wonderful specialist had a night off to celebrate her wedding anniversary(Roshini, if you ever read this, know that you were a bright, wonderful, lovely light on my horizon every time I interacted with you, and you made a traumatic experience so much more bearable). I told the duty nurses, I felt “funny”, and was told to go back to bed. I knew then that the signs of sepsis are hard to identify, and hard to communicate, but that feeling “off/funny/strange” was a red flag. My concerns were dismissed until I was obviously in labour.
They didn’t give me antibiotics. They didn’t try to stop the labour. They gave me a surgical consent form, and I had my second caesarian section.
I was wheeled off to recovery, and Archimedes was taken to NICU, with Mark. I was then taken back to the ward. It was hours and hours before I was wheeled to NICU to see them. Mark had been told it was hopeless.
Eventually I was allowed to see him. He died. Fe came and took photos. Family came to meet him. We were allowed to see him, they brought him to me from the cold place, and we did the crossword together. Eventually we said goodbye for the last time. I was due to be discharged from hospital, when my infection returned with a vengeance. I was hallucinating. Having conversations with people that weren’t there.
They tried stronger and stronger antibiotics. I didn’t respond. My doctor signed the paperwork to have me admitted to ICU. They brought in a special drip bag, covered in warning stickers. The staff hovered, I had special authority to use the “in case of emergency” antibiotics, and that afternoon, I recorded my first normal temperature. I got better.
It wasn’t rapid. I still have flashbacks and cold sweats about some of the procedures I was subjected to, and some attitudes from jaded medical staff who didn’t know my story. Who didn’t know how broken I was, how raw.
When they released me, I couldn’t walk 100m to the car park without a rest. I couldn’t go to the supermarket without sobbing. I couldn’t parent my beautiful child, who couldn’t understand why his world was upside down, and why his mama cried all the time. I couldn’t fathom the cruelty of the whispers and stares of the playgroup mums. I couldn’t do anything else but be “that woman” the one who went through that awful thing. The thing that we cannot believe could ever happen to us. The thing that we know we would never survive.
Inigo and I talked a lot. I did my absolute best to try to answer his questions with honesty and openness. One of the hardest things I have ever done in my life was discussing the philosophy of life and death with a three year old with a giant brain, while also not crashing the car through my tears, driving to playgroup, driving to see friends, determined to make life as normal as possible, when nothing was ever going to be normal again.
But we do survive. We don’t know how we can get through another minute, another hour, another day. We’ll lose friends because our sadness is self indulgent, and we’ll have to learn how to exist as a broken person in the world. It starts by breaking down our ideas about the world and how it works. our schemas, built up over a lifetime are shattered, and have to be rebuilt. Our new worldview needs to incorporate the idea that babies die, and that life can continue. And this is WORK. Grief is WORK. It takes so much effort to just exist, to just scrape away at pretending to be normal, and also recreating your mental building blocks.
And then today you wake up and it has been a decade. Our babies would be turning TEN today. And although their birth was followed by so much sadness, the intervening years have shown me the gifts that their birth have brought into my life. Having lost friends, I know who my real, ride or die friends are. Having survived losing them, I know my strength. Having rebuilt my world, I know who I am.
I know who I am.
Happy Birthday Archimedes Hare and Aubrey Michael. I am better for having known you.
There is a growing body of claims that Role Playing Games, and D&D in particular, are great for kids.
Being the owner of a kid, and also being scientifically minded, I have been doing my own single subject research for the past few years, and have come to the conclusion that smiting + social support + consistent play = engaged, happy, creative, social kid.
And since I’ve now been playing games with kids for more than half the year (one weekly game at each of two schools, plus another home campaign with kids, plus a campaign where the adults welcome a kid player), I thought it might be time to gather a few resources about playing with kids.
This article has a great overview of the benefits of RPG’s in a school setting.
Here is an interview with a Dungeon Master who is running sessions through an online school program.
My private facebook group for discussion about roleplaying games with or for kids.
An “official” video (featuring some famous faces) about the lifelong impact of D&D. Please note that one of the people featured in this video is an ex “adult” film performer, so don’t google her unless you have your filters on!
A TEDx Talk – “Why D&D is Good for You”
I have set up a slack channel for the kids I DM for to communicate with each other, I welcome parents to join up too. Please contact me to get access, as this is a closed server. I’ve also set up an account on D&D Beyond, so that the kids have electronic access to the Players Handbook and other resources that I have (they don’t have to pay to access this). Once they have set up an account I can send you (or them) a link to join my campaign.
At some point I may set up a virtual game so that kids can play from home, but for now I am trying to encourage face to face games to facilitate social connection, and get away from endless screen time!
I’ll continue to add resources here, and I welcome any questions you might have.
Mum came for a visit for Inigo’s birthday and was a huge help. Here is a lovely picture of Inigo enjoying his time with Nanna.
Bloke and kid are off to a DOC hut somewhere near Waihi Beach for an overnight hike with the sea scouts.
So mama is having a party.
Jane Austen board game, here we come!
Homeschool choir variety concert.
Very proud parents.