Thursday, 31 May 2007

Independance Day

I just realised that my final day here at the College will be the 4th of July which is the U.S. Independance Day!!

Kind of appropriate :-)


Edited to Add:
Actually, the thought of all that freedom is a little disconcerting - I've been at the College for over 7 years now, albeit in different roles, but it has been a very comfortable time for me, and the thought of not having a job to go to is rather scary. Also, because I have a very broad work experience, there are lots and lots of potential oppurtunities open to me, and it is hard to focus any job-hunt. My time with my "careers advisor" has been frustrating is this respect, as I don't really know what it is that I want to be doing medium to long term, which means that he doesn't really know how to help me get there (can't help me).

I do know that I don't want to go back into teaching (althought working in an educational environment is not out of the question), and that I would like to be able to continue working with computers in some capacity, but beyond that it isn't really clear at all. I know that I haven't really had the time or energy to commit to a proper job search of late, and am planning to make some time in the near future, but it is all rather frustrating/scary.

I have been all too lucky in my career so far, and have more or less fallen into very nice jobs (or, I suppose, putting it another way, God had been looking out for me) - but I don't want to have to rely on that when we get home.

Anyway, I'm supposed to be at work, working, but it is *very* quiet!!


Monday, 21 May 2007

Angry day

Today's an angry day... It's not that often that my emotions surface in such a way that I can't put them to one side and get on with life if needs be, but today is one of those days. I'm angry...

I don't really know why - it was an OK weekend, we went to the aquarium, Nellie ate and slept fairly well, as did we, Nicole and I both seem to have a touch of a cold just at the moment, but for some reason, I'm really irritable this morning. One of our suppliers has delayed work on a project that was due to start today - by three weeks - and only informed us late on Friday night. That just started my day off badly and it hasn't got better. Everything is annoying me and I don't care about anybody's problems, I just wish they would leave me alone, I wish I was stopping work tomorrow instead of six weeks time.

Grumpy Graeme...

Friday, 18 May 2007

Vision casting

Well, after missing (completely forgetting about) last week's meeting with the careers advisor, I managed to be organised enough this time around. We talked about my life so far, and the jobs I'd had, and then he talked about the sort of possiblities that might be open to me with the experience I have had so far. He's worked with the biggest and the best, so his horizons are much larger than mine have ever been, and when he started talking about how I could be Chief Technology Officer at British Telecom, I wanted to shout "Whoa Nelly - this is me we're talking about, not some ubermench".

But that is one of his things, that many people (and especially Christians) tend to sell themselves short all the time, by not daring to imagine what might be end up settling for something merely "acceptable" in the name of humility. I know that I do this all the time - "I'm not good enough for this, that or the next thing" - and I think working with Tim will be good for me in that area for certain. I just hope that I have the time before we head home to work through my assorted issues...

I have homework to do which I haven't started yet, so perhaps I had better do so?

Monday, 14 May 2007

Autopsy results

As I had sort of expected, there was no obvious cause for Zoe's death - although there was a surprise in the blood-work that they did on Nicole after Zoe was delivered. She may be positive for antiphospholipid syndrome - one of the blood conditions that I have been monitored for the last 3 or 4 years as St George's (the one that predisposes me toward clotting). For us both to have it is unusual, to say the least. The consultant said that, while this was not a cause per se, in cases where the mother has this syndrome, there is an increased incidence of cases of stillbirth. She was quick to emphasise that, even if this was the case and we had known about it beforehand, there was nothing to say that things wouldn't have happened in the same way. Even if we had induced Zoe earlier and she had been delivered safely, there was nothing to say that she would have survuived. It's pointless playing the "if" game in any event - there are too many...

I found it really odd to think that Nicole and I might have this same unusual blood condition, and even though I knew it was impossible, I felt fleetingly responsible for what had happened to Zoe. They had to re-do the test, as the pregnancy could have caused a false positive, so Nicole sat and waited for hours while I went to work. Another three weeks to wait now before we'll know, one way or 'tuther.

On the way back to the College, I stopped in at St Margeret's church, in the grounds of Westminster Abbey, where I would quite often come at lunchtime to be quiet and talk to God, but I found I couldn't sit still and grew quickly agitated and angry and left again.

Work was a mixture of a welcome distraction (we had visitors that needed to be introduced to the work of the department) and a pain in the whatsit - I don't think I accomplished a great deal. Tomorrow will be the seventh aniversary of the day that I started at the College - as a proper employee, not in the kitchen, and I'm marking the occasion by going to the all-you-can eat Chinese buffet to stuff myself.

The diet starts the day after tomorrow.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

So quickly forgotten?

St Thomas' (the hospital where both Janel and Zoe were delivered) organises a memorial service twice a year, for parents who have lost children there, and we'd been invited to today's service. We'd not been very organised, as we'd only managed to find babysitters at the last minute, so had not RSVP'd and sent the name of our child ahead like they asked us to. So when we arrived, we weren't on the list!!

No problem, they said, we'll just add your child's name - what is it?

Janel Broster-Masureik we said...

It was only when we were filling in a card to be tied to a "tree of life" by the alter that we realised that we'd given the wrong name. As if we only had one daughter's name to give.

So we started the service in tears. And cried most of the way through it. The service itself was a hymn, a few prayers, some poems, a short address, silence to remember, lighting of candles, some more prayers and another song. Fairly bland, non-controversial, to allow those of all faiths and none to commemorate their loved ones. This one poem hit me the hardest:

Cold Saturday

I wrote, Your name in the damp sand
Using the toe of my boot
Then stood watching
The sea nudge it away

I shouted, Your name to the sky
While the wind knifed my body
But the vast beach deadened the sound.
Then - because you will never know
And I had to tell someone -
I yelled, To the whole great emptiness
That I loved you, loved you, Loved you -

If anyone saw a fat woman
In suede boots, eyes puffy from crying
Walking blindly by the sea
Shouting I love you at the screaming gulls
Thank you for ignoring me

Anne Lewis-Smith

I had a good (nay, great) friend in Cape Town that tried to commit suicide. Part of the therapy that followed involved shouting - and so we used to go down to the sea near Hout Bay, find a cove where we could be alone, and shout at the waves. In her case, this was a lot about releasing the anger, but there was a freedom in being able to shout your heart out, knowing that no-one else could hear. I feel that I would shout a great deal if I had the space to do so, the confidence that I would be ignored. A lot of the time my grief, when I have the space to express it, is wordless, and this makes it hard, when people ask how I'm doing, to know how to respond.

Tomorrow we meet the consultant for a review of the autopsy results. I really don't know whether I want there to be a reason or not - if no reason has been discovered, then it means that no one (neither the doctors nor ourselves) is to blame for Zoe's death, no one could have done something different to prevent it; but at the same time, we will always wonder "Why?", and when we fall pregnant again, we will worry the whole time. If there is a reason, then the opposite is true, we will have a name to put on this and will be fore-warned for the next time, but the question of whether we or the medical team could have done something that would have saved her will linger. All in all, not a happy place to be. We did have the option of not having an autopsy at all, but I think that would have been even worse than either of the two options above - just an emptiness, a vacuum.

Also tomorrow, my next session of counselling - after last week where I took a side road down other personal issues, we return to Zoe, so I'm not expecting to enjoy it, but it is the only real outlet I have at the moment, so I need to take advantage of it while we're still in London.

Time for Nellie to have her bedtime story...

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

What was I thinking?

I completely forgot about an appointment I'd made for this evening - to see someone who was going to help me with the job hunt back home. The College has appointed my successor now, so it really means that there is no going back for me. This guy is a management consultant who does careers advice in his free time because he enjoys it, and I just completely forgot about it. I feel really bad about wasting his time, especially because he'd doing me a favour. We've rescheduled for next week, and I really hope I don't mess this one up too...

I'm not the most organised person at the best of times, and when I'm stressed, its even worse than usual - fortunately work is fairly demand driven at the moment, so I don't need to be organised, just respond to whoever is shouting loudest at that point in time. The one thing that does need care and attention is the handover notes for Richard (my replacement), so of course, those have yet to be done - although I did make a start today.

I got a bit of a shock when I arrived home - I'd forgotten that Nicole was babysitting Ella this afternoon, so when I walked in, our (Zoe's) moses basket had been set up and there was a baby inside. For a fraction of a second, I did a double-take and then remembered what was happening.

Just for a fraction...

Not much to say

I'm finding it hard to express how I'm feeling at the moment - this week's counselling session is on Thursday thanks to the Bank Holiday this Monday, and that may well release something - or rather, help me to find the words to express what it is that I am feeling.

If someone asks me what I am feeling, very often I have nothing to say - no words will come that even remotely fit, and it is like a clamp has shut itself across my throat. This is when a skilled counsellor/listener is so useful - they ask questions which help you start talking, and once I start talking, I find that the words come so much easier.

It is the starting of things that I find so hard.

Like this blog :-)

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Bereavement Counselling

I started bereavement counselling at the church on Monday evening - I am aware that I am far too good at "coping" with things like this, especially when there are people that need to be cared for, and so the counselling will give me a structured time to explore my grief, to get things started before we go home so that when we do get there are are busy with setting up our new lives and all that that entails, it will not easily be set aside...

When I started this blog, and sat down to write the first post, I wrote the following and then stopped:

I have to confess that both pregnancies were rather surreal experiences for me - this was something that was happening to Nicole, not me, and although I could walk alongside her and be a support to her, it was not *my* experience. I never really felt that I bonded with either Janel or Zoe in utero, certainly when Janel was born, I felt completely unprepared to be a father. That's not to say I was disinterested - at least I hope not - but just that it all felt separate from me. I never felt the urge to communicate with the babies in the way that some parents describe, although I did make more of an effort with Zoe than I had with Janel.
I stopped, because I really didn't know where to go from there or why I had typed it or what relevance it had to Zoe or my grieving for her. On Monday, after talking through a bunch of different things, we ended up with me in tears being able to name the fact that I never *knew* Zoe as the most pressing source of my grief at the moment.

With most people, when they die, you grieve because you have lost something or you miss something because they have gone. I grieve at the moment because I never had that thing in the first place.