Monday, 16 February 2015

And then there were two...

I'll never forget the day I brought my son Liam home from the hospital, eighteen-and-a-half years ago.  Don't worry, I'm not going to get all mushy on you!  But it took a while for us to bond, Liam and me - not through any fault of our own you understand.  After losing our first son Luke at two days old after being born prematurely, the doctors wanted to take every precaution to ensure Liam didn't contract the same Strep B virus his brother had been unable to fight, so as soon as he was born he was taken off to the newborn unit, where he spent the first three days of his life under constant observation in an incubator.  Eventually he was pronounced out of danger and returned to me but no sooner were we reunited than he developed jaundice and no matter what I did, the little bugger wouldn't stay awake long enough to feed or do anything.  This went on for a whole week and it was only by chance when a friend came to visit who was actually an anaesthetist at the hospital and found me in floods of tears, he kicked up a fuss and demanded my baby be put under lights immediately.

At first Liam quite enjoyed sunbathing in his little solarium but before long he got pretty cranky at having an eye mask permanently taped to his head.  I wasn't supposed to touch him but one night he wouldn't settle and no matter how many times I pressed the button nobody came to help as he lay there crying and wriggling in his plastic prison on the other side of my room.  He'd had enough and so had I.  I remember being so scared to touch him but I carefully picked him up and took off his eye mask.  He was only wearing a nappy from being under the heat of the lights and I didn't want him to get cold so I wrapped the dressing gown I was wearing around us both and got into bed with him snuggled up on my chest.  Immediately he stopped crying and as we both drifted off to sleep I remember thinking 'so this is what being a mum feels like'.

Seven hours later a nurse finally came in and found me sitting on the bed feeding him.  She went nuts.  I had broken all the rules.  I wasn't supposed to get him out of the incubator.  I wasn't supposed to breastfeed him (the jaundice had made him so sleepy the nurses had made the decision to bottle feed him) and I DEFINITELY wasn't supposed to sleep with my baby in the same bed!  I didn't care. He was mine, we had bonded and there was no way anyone was looking after him now but me.  We went home that afternoon and as I sat with Liam in his new bedroom at home and looked around I realised that there was no longer anyone to watch me and tell me what to do.  I could feed him when I wanted, cuddle him when I wanted, use whatever nappies I wanted - OK so I was scared out of my wits but at the same time it was brilliant!  At last I could learn how to be a good mum at my own pace without anyone breathing down my neck or telling me I was doing it wrong.

I must have done alright because that little bundle now towers over me and three days ago he left home to start a new life as a uni student at the opposite end of the country.  And after 18 years of parents, teachers and everyone else telling him what to do, he is now solely responsible for looking after and making decisions for himself. No one to tell him he can't do this, shouldn't do that or 'you're doing it wrong'; from now on there is no other way except his way and he is free to learn everything he needs to learn at his own pace. Just like the day I brought him home from the hospital.  Awesome but scary!

Last day of sibling time. 
They'd never admit to it, but these two actually get along rather well :)

I don't think any parent ever feels they have prepared their child enough for leaving home do they? But I think he'll be alright and we certainly did our best to cram as much as we could into the last few weeks.  I refused to let him leave home until he had learned how to make lasagne and thanks to all our selling of stuff on Facebook and Trade Me we were able to send him off with a really good supply of food and other essentials.  As well as something a bit special - his very own 'mum's survival guide'.  When I asked him if he would like me to get him a basic recipe book he said 'Can't you just make me one?'  So I did.  

'Liam's Guide to Life!' (well bits of it), took me two whole days and is a real labour of love.  It contains information on how to cook pretty much EVERYTHING he likes to eat, as well as a laundry guide, what to look for when shopping in the supermarket and how to make his own cleaning products so he never has to buy them when he runs out.  I hope he enjoys using it as much as I enjoyed putting it together for him!  Even though I've written two cook books before, this is the first one I've ever written in teenage boy language and it was a lot of fun.  How can anyone go wrong with instructions such as 'Bacon spits like a bastard if you have your pan too hot?'  Most recipes are written so badly, especially for new cooks but Liam's guide explains not just the HOW of everything but WHY.  As in the laundry section which contains such gems as 'Always wash your clothes separately from your towels.  Unless you like your clothes to look like shit'.  Might sound a bit uncouth to the civilised ear but the thing is, it works.  Kids remember that sort of stuff. 

So all going to plan no son of mine shall ever starve or have bobbles of fluff on his shirts.  And now our little household is just down to Ali and me and the pets.  It's weird not having Liam around and saying goodbye was horrible so I won't dwell on that.  After all, he's going to have a blast! Now is a time of new challenges for all of us. With no Family Tax Credit for Liam since 31st December (that's almost $1000 less coming in, even though he has still been in my full time care up until February 14th!) yet easily that much again going out in uni bonds, chattels and other costs to send him on his way, Ali and me really are starting off on the back foot.  Not to mention his brother left me the parting gift of a $300 fuel card bill!  We have less than zero.  But we both have a lot of determination and our bills and debts are still being paid.  And I have a feeling that the two of us are going to do a bloody marvellous job.  We already are!  Today's post is just a catch up on the last week or two.  It's been a pretty full on time but from now on it's going to be full steam ahead and I'm looking forward to documenting our savings every week.  Bring on the next post already!  

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to hear about your financial difficulty, but the plus is that you know how to live in difficult times and it wont' be long before you are back on your feet again!

    I love your idea of a survival guide, I would love to make one for my teens :)