I'm feeling sandwiched between the other generations. Squashed completely. No room to breathe. For the past couple of weeks it feels like I've not had a moment to myself. I missed Microblog Monday on the 3rd because I didn't even notice it was Monday until it was Tuesday already and other Microblog Monday posts appeared in my reader. I missed Microblog Monday this week because of a medical emergency. More on that later.
Pickle's teething and age appropriate development means she is being a little more demanding than usual. Fine. Thats to be expected. She's adorable.
But there is nothing like a new baby to bring doting grandparents flocking to your door and despite the best laid plans I have three of them in Melbourne at the moment.
My mother. She's been banging on about wanting to do a cruise in the Caribbean for a couple of years, having not left her rural hideaway in the north of New Zealand for twenty years. Knowing that she'd hate a crowded floating hotel, I suggested before she invested the time and expense of getting to Florida, she try a three hour flight to Melbourne and a three day cruise between Melbourne and Tasmania.
She didn't want to wait until March for that particular cruise before meeting her granddaughter so we agree'd she'd come over for a week and I booked a two night paddlesteamer cruise on the Murray River for the four of us. (That was great. The boat only accommodated 18 people, so it was peaceful and relaxing. Pickle loved it).
My mother turns up, complaining about the flight and how much walking you have to do at airports, on a one way ticket. With tickets for a 16 day cruise around Australia. From Sydney to Perth. And tickets for a two night train journey from Perth to Adelaide. She refuses to fly to Sydney. So I sort out train tickets and accommodation for the night in Sydney, train tickets from Adelaide to Melbourne and a flight back to New Zealand.
It turns out the cruise left Sydney a week later than she thought it did, so she stayed with us an extra week. Although she wound me up (she IS my mother) she was on her best behaviour, careful to blend into the background and allow the house to run normally, careful not to overstimulate Pickle and made an effort to contribute to the household - I'd turn around to do the dishes or fold the washing and find it already done. She was a very considerate guest and it actually went much better than I expected.
Throughout my Mother's trip around Australia I received text messages on the phone she bought for the trip to keep in touch. She hates the cruise. Its too crowded. The air conditioning is too cold. The ship is too big, she keeps getting lost. She's pissed off that they're charging for water. She made the Indian Pacific train from Perth to Adelaide but got laryngitis. The hotel in Adelaide wont let her check in (at 7am) so she's just sitting outside. Now she has heatstroke but drinking lots of water and sleeping in her hotel room until she feels better.
Mr Duncan's parents have come to visit Melbourne for a month. Their plans? Oh, no plans other than see their granddaughter. They're staying in a hotel down the road. Can they come around now? They'll see me in ten minutes ...and stay for the entire day.
Mr Duncan's mother and I have history. When she first met me (and Mr Duncan and I were simply travel partners, not together) she threw a tantrum and forbade him to see me, (not that he was at the time). Forbade her 30-something year old son! Once we DID start seeing eachother she sent him text messages. How much he disappointed her. It was his fault she was depressed. She might like to kill herself. Over me! Please. I had little respect for that behaviour. What the hell did she want for her son?
Since she learned he was not going to obey her, she started being fake-nice to me. I'm not very good at that (or small talk), but it is important to me that Pickle has a relationship with her grandmother and I work hard to be cordial. Its not easy.
Mr Duncan's mother is in Pickles face. Loudly. All the time. Doesn't shut up. 'Ooh look at this, here's a nursery rhyme, look at this toy I'm waggling! Aren't you a pretty girl'. Poor Pickle gets quickly overstimulated.
Mr Duncan and his brother were mostly raised by his maternal grandmother. His mother went back to work after six weeks and his maternal grandparents stayed and looked after the children Monday to Friday and went back home on weekends. So I think she must have forgotten (or never have actually known) just how much time 5 month old babies need to sleep. Pickle is ready for her first nap of the day after just an hour and starts rubbing her eyes and yawning after about 90 minutes the rest of the day. 'Do you have to put her down now? You don't want to sleep do you Pickle? Here look at this!' Will she go down? Hell no.
As is usual for a baby Pickle's age, she's interested in the world and curious about anything new she sees or hears. So she does not feed properly or happily go to sleep while she can hear their voices and knows they are here. I have a tired, hungry, grumpy baby waking several times in the night for marathon feeds to make up for her light eating during the day. She has black rings under her eyes.
Mr Duncan's father is a fairly laid back affable bloke, but when Pickle is sleeping Mr Duncan's mother seems to require an audience. Not just any any audience though. And not her son. Just me. "Lisa, I'm telling you about... Lisa! Lisa I'm talking to you". I want to say "Well excuse me and f*ck off Mrs Duncan but my baby is waking from her nap and takes priority!"
I'm no wallflower and calmly but assertively set my boundaries. The same boundaries are ignored when I leave the room. Mr Duncan does not support them. He has a lifetime of practice appeasing his mother in return for a quiet life.
Its driving me effing crazy.
My mother is due to arrive back in Melbourne on the Monday evening and her flight is first thing Wednesday morning. The respective grandparents want to meet each-other. A lunch is agreed for Tuesday.
Because her train into Melbourne arrives at Pickle's bedtime, Mr Duncan picks my Mother up from the train station and takes her to her accommodation. The plan was that she'd check in, then come up the road to spend a couple of hours with us before going back to bed.
Mr Duncan arrives home alone. He said my Mother didn't seem very well and would I go down and see her. She's sitting having a cup of tea but has little voice and is very weak. Not to worry, its the heatstroke, she's just a little dehydrated, she tells me. She hated the cruise (predictably), it was too crowded, too expensive. They charged for water. Thats why she's dehydrated.
My mother is a diabetic. I'm concerned. She seems confused. I don't know what to do.
I remember when my mother was diagnosed with insulin dependent diabetes. I was about four. I knew my numbers. She asked me to dial some numbers on the old fashioned rotary dial phone so she could talk to her friend. She couldn't see the numbers. Her blood sugar was too high and affected her eyesight. Her friend came and took her to the hospital and she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (not the neurosis her doctor was prescribing valium for. God love the '70s).
As I grew older I learned how to test her blood sugar levels with a prick of blood on a plastic stick to determine whether she needed insulin or glucose when I found her passed out on the floor at home. This happened more often than I like to think.
I call the Australian equivalent of NHS Direct, the public health medical advice line. They recommend I take her to the emergency room. She protests but I take her anyway.
The upshot is that my mother was suffering from ketoacidosis. This is where the blood sugar is so high, the blood turns acidic. This can affect the function of all the major organs. Her blood sugar was over 30. It should be under 8. At 2am she was transferred from my local hospital to the major one in town that had a specialist endocrinology team and an ICU.
The paramedic in the ambulance who transferred her told me her numbers were so bad that if I hadn't taken her to the emergency room when I did, she'd probably have been dead by morning. He said "next time, call an ambulance".
Mr Duncan defrosted expressed milk for Pickle for the overnight feeds. I return at 6am for her morning feed, express some more milk, get 30 minutes sleep and go back to the hospital. My mother is still critical, but seems to be stabilising. Mr Duncan's mother is upset that he would prefer they don't come around today.
This morning I wake up, feed Pickle, express for her next feed, go to hospital. I keep missing feeds and my supply seems to be dwindling. I get home in the afternoon. Pickle just woke from her nap and is not due for a feed for another hour but sees me and demands to be fed. I'm happy to. I've missed her. She yawns and rubs her eyes as she feeds and falls asleep on the breast. I hear Duncan's parents outside under the sunshade. I put Pickle in her cot asleep, but she wakes a few minutes later and I cannot settle her. Eventually I go outside to announce my presence and hand Pickle to her Dad so I can have a shower.
Mr Duncan's Mum says oh it must be difficult to have so many people making demands on you at the moment. Its nice to think she's noticed.
But it seems she doesn't have the self-awareness to do anything about it as she asks what time I'll be ready for her to come over tomorrow.