Tomorrow Vegemite get on an airplane and commence our grand tour of the US and UK to visit family and friends. The original plan was that we would all go, but Lil Z’s deteriorating health and uncontrolled seizures led QB and I to decide that I would go with Vegemite and QB would stay home with Lil Z.
It wasn’t an easy decision and initially I rejected it outright. However, I was convinced mainly by the argument that it will be my last opportunity to spend time one-on-one with Vegemite before she begins school (and I become a much less central part of her life). Plus, it hasn’t been an easy year for Vegemite – Lil Z’s high needs and constant hospitalisations have taken a toll on the amount of attention Vegemite gets. So, I agreed to go. And I’m looking forward to it. Well, not the massive amount of time we’re spending on airplanes and in airports, but seeing family and friends again.
And I know that I’m worn out – physically and mentally. The physical side of looking after Lil Z has hit recently in the form of intense back pain. I’ve never had back problems before, but the constant lifting and carrying of a 13kg toddler has begun to set in. I’m planning to start a new pilates class aimed at helping my core strength manage lifting a growing Lil Z in January, but until then, I’ll just have to rely on painkillers… and rest.
Mentally, its been an intense month with lots of appointments and discussions about what to do next. A break from it all will hopefully give me perspective and help me come back to the next raft of appointments (starting in February) with renewed enthusiasm.
Still, this will be by far the longest I’ve ever been away from Lil Z in her life and I don’t want to leave her. The longest I’ve been gone before has been 3-4 days, and even then I missed her dearly, so 3 weeks will be tough.
I suppose part of what makes it difficult is not knowing how she will interpret my absence. Will she miss me? Will she think that I’ve abandoned her? Or equally awfully, I wonder if she perhaps won’t even notice I’m gone – and won’t recognise me when I return. When I returned from a business trip recently, as soon as I sat down beside her and said hello, she turned to me and smiled. However, what will I do if when I return from this trip, she wants nothing to do with me and prefers the nanny?
Equally difficult is handing over her day-to-day care. I’m the one who manages appointments. I’m the one who knows exactly what to tell the emergency operator when Lil Z has a seizure and we need to call for an ambulance. I am the one who navigates the ever-growing team of specialists who care for Lil Z at the RCH – and the one that they all know. My head is full of Lil Z’s medical details. But its not so much that I don’t think QB can cope – in fact, I know he can. Its that I’m not sure I can hand over the control.
On the other hand, it would also be nice for QB to struggle – well, just a little bit. It would be good for him to see how frustrating it can be when you’ve got an important meeting at work, but Lil Z pulled her NG tube out during the night and you’ve got to run her into the Emergency Department to get it put back in – which can take hours, if they’re busy or can’t get the tube in properly. Or how exhausting it is when she’s having nighttime coughing spells, meaning you are constantly up and down all night – and then are expected to function in the morning.
Today, Lil Z woke up from a nap but was obviously still tired and cranky. I was walking her around on the veranda and sat down in my (beloved) “egg” swing chair. It was a beautiful day – not yet too hot and with a nice breeze – and Lil Z was soon fast asleep on my chest. I sat in the swing for nearly two hours, holding her while she slept and admiring a beautiful Christmas Day in Brisbane. I didn’t get bored (although my arm did go a bit numb) and I enjoyed cuddling her for that long – like I was getting a Lil Z fix before I go.
I will miss Lil Z, but I will survive.