Leaving Z

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Nooooo, Mummy! Please don’t go!

Tomorrow, Vegemite and I will board a plane and fly to Michigan to visit my family for nearly 3 weeks, leaving QB and Miss Z in Brisbane.

I really wish it didn’t have to be this way. I wish we were all going as a family. But it quite simply isn’t possible. Miss Z isn’t healthy enough for long-haul international travel, even if we could somehow manage to get her and all her equipment and supplies on an airplane and find travel health insurance to cover her.

Vegemite has a very simple, yet quite genius, solution to this problem. We need a private jet. Then Miss Z wouldn’t be exposed to all those germs from other passengers, she wouldn’t gross anyone out when she vomited mid-flight, we could take as much luggage as we wanted, and if she got sick during our trip, we’d just put her back on the plane and fly home.

Unfortunately, QB informs me that it may be some time before we are able to purchase a private jet. So, it looks like Vegemite and I are taking the trip by ourselves.

But in all seriousness, this breaks my heart. I’m happy that Vegemite gets to see her extended family, spend time with her grandparents, and enjoy time in the state where I grew up.

But I wish Miss Z could do all that, too. She has only ever been to Michigan once – when she was 3 months old – so her extended family in the US has never really met her.

Even more difficult for me, however, is being separated from Miss Z for nearly three whole weeks.

Recently, I’ve started to use the phrase “if you can pry my hands off her” a lot. Yes, Miss Z is going to start school full time next year – if you can pry my hands off her. And yes, she will be taking the bus to school – at least, she will if you can pry my hands off her…

Leaving her to go to the airport is going to feel a lot like that.

I am Miss Z’s primary carer. We spend a lot of time together. And since she is reliant on others for all her needs, I am often the one who is making sure that she is washed, dressed, wearing a dry nappy, fed, watered, and comfortable. That she gets the right medications at the right time in the right amount and that the nebuliser and suction are used as necessary. That her stoma dressings are changed daily and the water levels in the balloon in her mickey button is checked regularly. I also make sure that she spends her day in a variety of different positions (even when she would prefer to lay on her mat on the floor all day) and doing a variety of activities.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t other people caring for Miss Z – there are. QB does his part, of course, and we have two fantastic support workers who help with Z. But Miss Z needs help with everything – from getting fed to changing position in bed at night – and it is a huge responsibility that looms large in my life, every single day.

And it also means that I am very intimately involved in Miss Z’s life. I know her better than anyone else.

When babies are first born, they don’t see themselves and their mother as individuals, but rather as one unit. It is only later in their development that they understand that they are separate people. However, for Z and me, it feels like we are still that one unit. Going away for three weeks makes me feel like an individual again, but that can be bittersweet. Because I don’t mind being part of the Z unit, if I’m honest. And since we don’t know for how long we have Miss Z, I inately resist losing even the tiniest bit of our closeness.

None of this will stop me from going. I want to see my family, to have respite from being Z’s primary carer, and to spend some one-on-one time with Vegemite. I know QB will look after her well – and that in fact, it will strengthen their bond, which is equally important.

But it still may come down to if you can pry my hands off her.

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