A house call from the police, a trip to the ER and sirens blaring. These have all been part of our world in the last 2 weeks. Ok, so the sirens was actually our doorbell, which screams out the American national anthem with lights flashing at the top of our stairwell (unsurprisingly, not our choice). Over the past few weeks, it has taken to going off by itself, even with no batteries in it. And, when you have spent 3hrs trying to get your stubborn 2 1/2 year old to nap, and it goes off just has he has, it is, hmmm, a little frustrating.
Then there is the police coming round to our door. Yes, this really did happen. It was after I had to leave the house for a while, after a full bowl of cereal and a glass of milk were deliberately poured out on the floor by the aforementioned child, and I poured hot tea over my huge belly as I got up to stop him. This comes after a week of relentless and deliberate bad behaviour, which has mostly been out of character for our Wee Man but nonetheless exhausting and stressful. Someone needed a timeout, and it was me. I was sent a not-so-reassuring text a little later that “its ok, he calmed down once the police came round”. What?!!!! How bad had we got? That’s what people do to bad parents. This did not help me to feel better. (It turns out this wasn’t an act of civil concern on the part of the neighbours, but that the policewoman actually lives next door and was coming off night shift). Either way, tensions were running high in our family.
And, then there’s ER. Nothing like the American TV show, or the ‘I-know-what’s-going-to-happen-next’ British version, Causality. Although if a camera crew had been following us throughout the day, the audience may have seen it coming. In the mental and physical exhaustion we were both feeling (these days running into each other due to lack of sleep), we dragged ourselves to a 6hr baby preparation class to find out how things are done in the great state of Texas. As 7 very pregnant women and their partners wandered round the labour wards to reassure ourselves in a quiet mantra that we all would be ok, it became obvious that my husband couldn’t stand up. He was the only one of us needing a wheelchair. Things not looking good. With ‘Causality style hindsight’, we should have stayed at the hospital. But no, we came home. Things got worse, becoming an excruciating back pain, and it became apparent that emergency care would be needed. Of all the days, today was St Patrick’s Day (which the Americans have embraced with an excitable fever I have not seen at home), and a Saturday night. Not a great time to go to ER. But it needed to be done, and as he was kindly driven back to the hospital, I took Wee Man home, experiencing the worst pregnancy pains I’d had yet, praying baby didn’t think it was time for a grand entrance.
Cut to 10hrs later, husband comes home, exhausted, wife has had a few hours broken sleep but thankfully no baby. Huge amounts of drugs later and as husband tries to resume normal life by taking a shower, the shower head randomly falls on his back, sending him into spasms of pain once more.
So, we’re now a week on, husband is nearly walking again but still far from recovered, I have slept a little and Wee Man has regained some of his shaky toddler composure. But this period has been, and still is, very tough on all of us, with both parents in pain, patience stretched to its limits and love short on the ground.
In all of this, somehow, I managed to get to see the film ‘The Artist’. Being a little hysterical, I didn’t take all of it in, though I see why it won the Oscar. Among the many things I kept hearing about it, was its originality, the fact it was in black and white, and about the dog. All very good. But what I hadn’t actually heard, was what it was about. And like every good piece of art, it allows you to take away what you want. The overriding feeling I got as I left the cinema and later as I reflected on it, is how much love is a choice. In the film, despite the man’s proud and self-destructive actions, the girl still hangs on and loves him no matter what. That would have taken some hard choices. There are times when it is not healthy or safe to stay in a relationship – there is never an excuse for violence or abuse – but it seems to me that all to often when it gets tough, relationships fall apart and marriages fail. These few weeks have been truly hard. The two people I love most in the world have made my already exhausted and painful 8 1/2 month pregnant life extremely hard, not deliberately, but difficult none the less. And it’s at these moments, you start to question everything, your ability as a wife and parent and as a person. But through this and the no doubt hard times to come, I’m choosing to love first. I am grateful for an upbringing that showed that in action, and later on, a faith that reassures me that I can love because I am securely loved first. But it doesn’t stop it from being hard, or a decision none the less.