A bleak, February visit to Edinburgh

I remember giving her the airline tickets as a Christmas present. It was her first Christmas with me and my family, and only four months since she moved in with me (and for her – to another country). The start had been a bit rough, but I expected as much. We were slowly coming to terms with living together, and living in the same country together. And, so I decided to buy two tickets to Edinburgh, Scotland as a proper Christmas present. We would spend five days in the Scottish capital in mid-February 2010. Couldn’t have been more off-season if we had tried. I wanted it like that, besides, it was also cheaper.

The look on her face was priceless when she opened the present. She didn’t really know what to expect from a Christmas Eve and what presents she would get. For once she was at loss for words. It’s the best gift I have ever given anyone.

I feel that Edinburgh in February of 2010 was almost a peak in our relationship. Everything was still very fresh. There were no IVF, no issues with finding work, no immediate money problems. No focus on depression, anxiety or OCD either. Just two people going on a trip to abroad to a country we both loved. The weather at home was bitterly cold. In Edinburgh there were no snow, no sub-zero temperatures. Just a mild winter. It just felt good.

There were tourists, but not many. The weather was bleak with heavy clouds, but we loved it. No sunshine, no heat. Just a regular winter in Britain. We walked around the streets of Edinburgh being happy. Just happy. «If only more people knew!» she said while we climbed up some steep stairs towards the castle. She was thinking of the lack of tourism. But, hey, it was February. It was like we were all alone in this magnificent city.

We walked up the Scott Monument, visited her university (she had started an online degree there), visited pubs and ate unhealthy English food. She bought herself fudge and claimed that any time of the day was «fudge o’clock». She was almost like a child in a an amusement park. We didn’t really do selfies back then, but I had my video camera, and she had her handheld Sony camera. I videotaped, and we both took photos. Photos of us on Princess Street, besides the statue of Hume, at the castle or around some high point look-out spots in the city. On almost every photo, we are smiling. She’s smiling. In some photos I see that she has taken off her glasses before the photo – something she often did. I may not always smile in the photos, but I am happy down to the very core of myself. I can tell. There’s not a single worry in my eyes and posture.

In one photo there’s just a bunch of KFC food. Not understanding the Indian accent added in with the Scottish dialect, we didn’t understand a single word of what she asked when we ordered, and we ended up with a huge meal we couldn’t finish. We laughed. It’s funny what you remember and what you forget from a trip like this.

We went to St. Andrews in the rain. We saw the ruins – completely alone. I videotaped while we were walking around studying buildings and architecture. Looking at the North sea and holding hands. It started to rain even more heavily. We only had one umbrella, and we both tried to get room under it for cover while we crossed an ancient church yard. In the distance, an RAF Typhoon did circuits at RAF Leuchars. There was no one else about. The photos clearly shows it; not a single soul. Just us, a couple of sea gulls and the sound of a jet fighter somewhere in the background. And the rain. Heavy rain.  My video camera stopped working due to the heavy rainfall. I didn’t really care. The trip was almost over anyway. It stopped raining shortly afterwords.

I write this because I was just asked what my favorite vacation was. There was no hesitation when I answered. It’s not my trips New York, San Fransisco or Texas. It’s not Cambridge, Munich, Prague or Krakow either. No, it’s Edinburgh during a bleak and rainy February 2010.

It all felt like it was just us (sometimes it actually was just us!). We were in love, we were together, we were still fairly young, and we were out exploring the world. It was exactly as we had envisioned the start of our lives together.

Sometimes I truly wish I could go back and do that trip with her once more.

 

P2120095P2150234

Advertisements

The cost of a baby

It wasn’t until I had paid for the baby trolley my mind started to wander off to the past. By the way, baby trolleys are apperantly a huge fucking deal. The size, the color, the wheels – everything. I was asked to choose the color, and I looked at them all sitting there in the store and blurted out; «but they are all in different shades of grey for crying out loud!». So, we chose the dark grey one after considerable time and kilometers driving around the lake in search of that perfect baby trolley. Ironically, it was basically the first one we looked at two months ago, but I’m not judging.

So, anyway, I pulled out my MasterCard and paid for the thing. The whole thing set my card back 1335 dollars. Come to think of it, that’s just 700 dollars less than for my old Volvo. Apperantly, baby trolleys cost a lot of money.

It was when we got back home we started to discuss how much money I had been spending on unborn children since 2013. Through IVF (public and private), travel costs, hotels and now baby trolleys, equipment, clothes and what not.

Back in 2013 my ex-wife went through examinations and an small surgery. This was free though, except for a small fee. Then in 2014ish we started IVF which set me back about 2000 dollars. The medicines (which also cost a lot) were thankfully covered by our more than welcoming healthcare system. Then came travels to the capital, a few hotel stays over night and food. We also took the train a few times down there for reasons I do not remember. In 2014, also due to lack of baby success we bought another dog at 1500 dollars.

After our unsuccessfull public IVF treatment, we went private. I remember paying half of a 7000 dollar sum, split between myself and my ex wifes mother for a three-attempt package which was not refundable at any time. On top of that there would be medication – by now not covered any longer by the public health system. I did the math back then and figured the total cost would be about 12.000 dollars. We only did one attempt though. We aborted everything, split up, and went out seperate ways. The medication, for one attempt, was around 1000 dollars.

Then came everything inbetween then and now. With my latest investment at about 2000 dollars worth of equipment and baby trolleys, the total amount of money I have spent trying to have a baby ended somewhere around 8000 dollars. And, my daughter haven’t even been born yet.

However, I believe I speak for most people that have been in this situation with IVF, adoption or any other challenges in trying to create a family when I say; “I would be more than happy to pay it all again if that’s what it takes. I’ll pay whatever it costs, and I’ll do whatever I possibly can.” And I have. I have suffered economically, emotionally and I have ended relationships for it. And it’s all worth it. Because it was the right thing to do.

You can’t possibly put a price tag on it. Money means nothing.

My grandparents

In September, a baby girl will be born. I will be her daddy. My parents will finally be grandparents, and my grandparents will be great grandparents. If they had lived.

I guess it comes to most people when a new generation is born. Suddenly you start to look back to where this baby girl comes from, this fresh new human being. I finally understand why old people when I was a child studied my face and told my mother how I looked like so and so relative. Or how I looked like my dad but had the heart of my mother. It comes from perspective. It comes from understanding that life is finite and suddenly it’s all over and a new generation will take their place. And in those 100 years or so since my grandparents were born, everything have changed and nothing have changed at the same time.

I don’t even know when my fathers father (my grandfather) passed away. I think my father was 15 at the time. For me, it’s always been like this and I never dwelled on the fact he wasn’t around. It is only during these last years and months I have come to realise that this kind man never got to experience growing old. He would never see his grandchildren being born. He would never experience that day when my father got his private flying license and roared over our house in a Cessna 172. He would never see how much my father have accomplished. From five year long boat and car restorations, playing blues rock or attending air shows with his son. The story of my grandfather is nothing but a sobering tale of «what if’s», but I guess – like my father most likely have concluded – you can’t dwell on it. A life ended halfways and there’s nothing you can do about it. I never got to meet him, and at times like these, with a baby girl coming, it creates a certain grief I have not experienced before.

While my father have been resilient about everything, my grandmother was not. Her life spiralled out of control after he died. She would never recover, and would spend decades struggling with un-treated anxiety, periods of severe alcoholism, chain smoking and simply living a horrible life alone in an apartment 60 minutes away from my family by car. I guess that with my grandfather life ending so abrubtly, so did hers. But she had a choice, and she made poor decisions. She would neve really be a functioning grandmother, but my father always sheltered his children from her behaviour. I remember once when she would visit us and we would pick her up at the bus station. She came as planned, but obviously drunk. My father caught on at once, and told her to get out of the car and take the bus back where she came from. And that she did. It happened so quickly I never really understood what happened until I was a grown up. She died about five years ago, having lived a very unfullfilling and lonely life. A failed life. But she’s still my grandmother, and I miss her. I can even understand her. Life is sometimes just too hard to handle. She was the one that gave me the Christmas present I remember the most; a CD stereo system. She must have saved for months and months for it.

While my grandparents on side ran into hardship and even death, the other side lived a different life. A countryside life with many children and a heap of grandchildren. My mother was the fifth and last in line of girls. I guess my grandpa, in his early 40s then, wanted one last go at having a boy, and subsequently failed in the attempt. He had no education to speak of, but worked different jobs through life. Often when I worked nursing homes in the beginning of the 2000’s, old men that knew him often remembered  his height. He was quite short. Family to my grandpa was everything. He never travelled, he settled. Like most people in his generation did. Because they had no other choice. It doesn’t mean he didn’t have a good life. Family is the most important thing, and grandpa had that in a large scale. I grew up next door to my grandpa and grandma, but they were already growing old quickly when I just started growing up. I wasn’t even a teenager when my grandma developed alzheimers and I’m the only one of my sibblings that developed some sort of relationship with them. My grandpa sort of gave up his physical state in the early 90s and ended up in a chair in his home for the last six or seven years of his life depended on home nursing. In 1998 he died, and the last thing he did was call out for my grandma.

There’s something strange about my grandma though. When I think of her, I get a sense of love and care I can’t figure out. It’s been coming to me the past years. I have developed some sort of new bond to her even if she’s been gone since 1994. My grandma was a lot like my mother. With deep care and commitment she took care of her family and her grandchildren. She knew little about the world and it’s complexity. The whole world to her was the surrounding peaceful countryside. She was a real a product of her time. Simpler times. It’s indeed a wonderful place most people in the world can only dream to live in. When I was very young, I often played outside and I could smell that distinctive smell of the dinner she was making. Potatoes, brown sauce, Norwegian meatballs. A smell that is not often to be found today. And I know she cared deeply for me. Alzheimer destroyed her last five years on this planet. I can’t even imagine what she went through, knowing she would drift away somewhere else.

I have developed a new relationship with my grandma these past years. I have almost gotten to know her again. It is one of the most strange spiritual experiences I’ve had. I can’t figure out what it all means. It doesn’t matter what it is really. I just accept that it is. And if she’s somewhere around looking after her family still, I know she will be very excited and very proud that another generation will step into the world this September. Like all of them would be.

“Pay via Paypal”

“Did you buy her any toys yet?”

The question came from one of my best friends and co-workers. I had to honestly admit I hadn’t really been buying her anything. Perhaps it was because I up until now had no money to buy anything. Perhaps it was because it hadn’t really sunken in yet that this was really happening.

“Take your stepdaughter with you and buy stuff. Let her pick the toys”

I had to admit, once again, that this advice was really good, and I was surprised I had not thought of it before. I didn’t want to wait though, so I went online and bought them both a teddybear. One of those TY bears for my stepdaughter (shocking have you can make a fortune on teddybears by simply enlarging their bloody eyes) and one bigger rabbit to my unborn daughter.

It was a peculiar moment. I was buying something for my own daughter. I suddenly had a direct relationship with her. I was picking out things for her. I had to stop and just take in that moment. Suddenly it became so very real.  Have I been in denial the whole time? Was the struggle to get where I am now last winter so bad that when it was finally over, I couldn’t shake it and continued to live in a state of limbo? I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. Suddenly it was a simple question from a friend and one fluffy rabbit online bought via Paypal that made emotions just flood me. I mean, I have felt my girlfriends stumach. I’ve felt the bumps and the moves and everything. But no, a click on “pay via Paypal” did it. I was buying my daughter things. Real things for a real girl. My girl. My daughter. That silly looking fluffy rabbit is for her. I bought it for her.

 

Two small thumps

I haven’t bothered your mother much about touching her stomach. You have to be a bit smart with these things considering everything we went through, and how much I fought for you.

But, this week I felt a startling sensation on my hand when I touched her stomach. It was you, and you kicked instantly as to say hello to me.

We were down at her familys pier, just talking about stuff. I think we touched upon the subject of overweight, and I was trying to tell your mom something when I placed the upside of my hand on her stomach.

Instantly I felt two thumps. I wasn’t sure what it was, thinking it was just her stomach doing something when she slightly moved – and not you. But, it was you. It was really you.

I kept my hand there a few more seconds, and you kicked hard. That was the first time we had any form of contact even if it came via your mothers stomach.

A few days ago I did it again, and you kicked so hard I felt my fingers move upwards.

I do apologise for playing a song from the soundtrack of the Trolls movie as your first song ever the other night, but your half sister was there and she loves Trolls. I couldn’t really go for my fave song –  Estranged by Guns N’ Roses right there and then. Maybe later?

You kicked though, either because you liked it or because you hated it. Hopefully the last. It really is some shit songs on that soundtrack, and they drive me nuts.

You know, I always imagined you being a girl. Even if I strayed a bit on that since my ex and I split up and everything changed. It was only fitting you were a girl. I know you by looks won’t be exactly the same girl as I envisioned you years ago, but from my side of DNA, genetics and what not of it you will be. My part of you will be the same. Perhaps my part of your spiritual essence of you is the same even if you will  look different? Perhaps you will be that girl I could almost feel was there beside me at times when I was struggling and not feeling the best.

I often missed you terribly and couldn’t get to you because you never had the chance to exist. I think I once wrote that you will never been exactly the same even if you got to be born later at one point. Maybe I was wrong?

Maybe my part of you will be just like I imagined it. You will be THAT person.

So, I finally get to meet you! It’s like you’ve been by my side for years now. And now you will step out from the spiritual world and into the physical world. And we will meet. You’re almost ready, kicking my hand from inside the womb to say hello to me and tell me; yes, I am here.

Breaking the news

We told her daughter the news last Saturday.

It was something she had dreaded for months and months. She was convinced her daughter would throw a fit of some sort. Fall into depression, cry hysterically, scream profanities or simply falling to sleep silently every night in tears over the nightmare news of a little sister.

Perhaps my relationship with her would suffer greatly. Maybe she would hate my guts over how I basically “stole her mother away”.

Even I thought it would pose a bit of a problem, and I often told her that it most likely would be a bit of crying and screaming but it would pas with time. It’s not like the daughters experience with her half brother seems to work out well judging by what she says about it.

However, none of that happened. The daughter must be some kind of psychic. Two weeks ago, she started to ask for a little sister out of the blue. We weren’t telling her anything, and we didn’t confirm it either. Last Monday, we come home from the ultrasound and the first thing that comes out of the girls mouth when we get back is; “will I get a little sister?”. We still didn’t confirm the news, we waited until Saturday when she once again asked and wished for a little siter. The girl was over the moon when we confirmed the news.

No tears, no screaming, no nothing. Just joy on her part.

Trying to take advantage of this and put it into a wider perspective I try to tell my girlfriend that since this went so much better than what she thought, maybe other aspects with this pregnancy would be a positive surprise as well. Well, she wasn’t really buying into that and she would hardly accept that the “hell” as she described it once (telling her daughter would be a experience out of hell) never happened. “Things change” she said – as an explenation. Well, dauh, yes they do. Maybe other things won’t be “hell on Earth” either then.

Her brain often starts to work overtime at midnight. Again last night. I’m ready for sleep by then, and the look of surprise on her face when I say that midnight is a good time to fall asleep never fails. Going through the usual issues she started to talk about walking her daughter to school. She said she refused to give this up even with a new baby because it was “quality time” with her daughter. Given my perspective of things, children being able to walk to school alone is a crucial part of them growing older and being more self dependent. I have observed children coming to school in the morning, and there’s very few parents actually walking the kids all the way up to the door holding their backpack. No offense. I guess it’s simply a matter of being afraid of something new, holding onto the old. My life has been “new” for the past three years or so. It’s come to be the norm. I guess that’s why I’m not that worried.

“It’s a girl”.

Week 19 (+1)

The Babylon 5 episode titles will now end. It is only fitting.

I can honestly say; hey, that went quite well. Smooth even.

We went down to the hospital, and I think we were both a bit tense. I have never been with someone I can sense the way I do with her either. It got better once we came down there. We got inside at the exact moment our appointment was. The first thing the midwife said when she put the ultrasound device on her was; “well, lots of activity here”.

Well, a big sigh of a relief then. The baby had certainly survived that fall up in the hills.

So, alright. It’s kicking and moving and everything’s fine.

“You want to know the sex”? she asked us.

“Sure” I said.

“It’s a girl,” the midwife replied.

What?

I had such a distinctive feeling it was a boy.

But yep, it’s a girl, and due date is 20 September.

Going back home we had no heated discussions or emotional outburst of any sort. We ordered sushi, but almost forgot to pick it up.

We spoke of children’s name on our way back. It was just fine. Finally something that turned out to be a good day. It had to turn around eventually, and perhaps it just did.

I waited until after football practice to tell my parents. Like 22:00 hours. I had told her to stay awake because I had a photo I needed her input on. I told her I didn’t know what it was.

So I showed my mother a blurry ultrasound photo. It took her about two or three minutes until she understood what it was. It my was dad who first said it was an ultrasound photo. I don’t think she dared to even ask if it was. She was over the moon. Just like I expected her to react. It was just lovely. It felt like the fulfillment or conclusion of that difficult talk I had to do with her in the spring of 2016 when I told her I had split from my ex wife – and I told her all about the IVF at the same time. This was finishing that talk with a good outcome. An almost Three year struggle. It felt like a demonic entity lifting off my shoulders. Like some grey mist that just left me. It was peculiar and bizarre. At one point I felt like I was floating. Imagine that.

And now the real job will commence soon enough.

20180423_131034.jpg

Into the Fire

Another D-Day today. It’s been too many. Maybe this one will be the last one?

I just saw an Instagram photo by someone I slightly know. She’s pregnant. “We are so excited!” the text said attached with a countdown photo of her pregnancy.

They are obviously over the moon and really looking forward to June – her due month.

As for me, well, I haven’t mentioned my girlfriends pregnancy to anyone lately. Well, with the exception in a conversation with her mother when my gf rudely told her “maybe it’s dead” when her mother mentioned it. I should have told her to fucking behave her age. Or today, when we’re off to the ultrasound in a couple of hours, and I wrote her “you know, my gut feeling tells me it’s a boy” and she responds with “ok, I’m going to lie down now”.

It makes for great excitement. But hey,the male has to be supportive. Just be supportive. Whatever she wants, it’s good. Doesn’t matter. Just act like an adult and try to be there for her. And I do. No need to lecture me on female rights – I’ve read all, and support all. But there’s no substitute for decency.

She fell a two or three weeks ago out on skis. Might have fractured a rib. There was no other injury, but I was obviously worried about the baby. She haven’t bothered that much about it, and did not want to see a doctor or anything. So, for me, without getting any consolidation from her about what’s going on inside her – the ultrasound will at least confirm if the baby is alive. I think it is though, but it’s still frightening. So, that’s what’s been on my mind for the past three weeks.

I talked to my doctor last week. I told her my past two years have not been normal in terms of family, children, relationships I’ve been through
more than most do in a lifetime. There’s just nothing normal with any of this, and I haven’t even begun to feel bitter about my girlfriend taking
away my initial joy and excitement about a pregnancy. Because right now, I’m simply numb. I told my doctor the same thing. I’m numb. Like I’ve been
in some form of war or fistfight for the past two years, and even if I did win the fight, I am so battered that I can’t enjoy my victory. If it is a victory that is.

I wrote my doctor, as she told me, a letter explaining my situation and how I wanted someone to talk to. To sort all this out. Sort out my ex-wife and what
I went through there as well my ex-girlfriend and my current state of affairs. It’s all mixed up in one big pile of mess.

But one thing I do know; this is it. On the path I am now taking, this is it. There will be this chance or no more. I am going into the fire.

And I can’t believe I am where I am right now, just a year after I started this personal blog/diary. I still don’t know if I’m better off or not.

It’s like someone hearing my thoughts and replied with; “we will give you what you want, but you will have to endure and you will have to fight”.

Atonement

“So, congratulations on becoming a father!” she said yesterday. She’s a friend of my girlfriend. Long time friend. Like, really long time. I know her from middle school, but we never really talked. Not until recently. She seems to be quite smart, reflective even.

“Thanks, but I’m not one just yet”, I somberly reply. The answer catches her off-guard, and there’s an awkward feeling the air. I know my girlfriend have been talking to her about her feelings about this pregnancy; that she basically don’t want it and have this idea I pressured into it. I am quite sure it’s a bit more complicated than that though.

I change the topic as quick as I can.

I dawned on me that I am completely numb from this situation. There is no joy any more. Not like it’s supposed to be. Two people being happy. Here’s one person so unsure and frightened about it that she has truly and utterly destroyed any feelings of happiness. I don’t blame her for it, but I am bitter for it. I am bitter because there was absolutely no point in doing it like this.

I visit my mom later that same day. I was about to tell her, but I didn’t. I want it to be a happy time. Not a sober time where I basically tell her she’s becoming a grandmother in some robotic voice. It’s not supposed to be like that.

Maybe I will find the excitement again down the road, but right now I am totally out of breath and out of energy. I am numb. Simply numb. I don’t really believe it any more for some reason. And, considering my age and my relationship – this will be the only time I’m going through this – and you know what? If it’s going to be like this, I’ll be happy with one time only.

I have an doctors appointment on Wednesday. Maybe I’ll need it. I don’t know yet.

The Ragged Edge

Wednesday. D-Day. Low risk? High risk?

I have a terrible night. Vivid dreams. I dream the call is made from the hospital with the comforting words of “low risk pregnancy”. I get upset when I wake up and find out it was a dream. Another dream follows quickly. My dog, in my care, is let into a huge compartment store and for some reason dies in there. I wake up again. My girlfriends daughter is sound asleep in her bed.

I notice when daylight arrives. I hear the morning train howl it’s familiar sound on its way to Oslo.  I finally look at my phone. It’s 0655. Five minutes before the alarm.

I get her daughter ready for school. She behaves proper. I give her milkshake for breakfast since its the first time I’ve taken care of her in the morning. I forget her wollen socks which my girlfriend notice at onces when she arrives 30 minutes later. I make my girlfriend fresh orange juice as is the norm these days.

We exchange a couple of words before I take her daughter to school so she can sleep off a hard nights work. “If it’s a high risk..then….” she starts. “I don’t want to use sick days to go to another ultra sound”. I had booked one for Thursday just in case the result would be high risk and this drama would not be over yet. I am surprised it doesn’t mean enough to her for a sick day, but like a lot of things I just swallow that one too. She says she needs to sleep and won’t answer the phone when they call either. I shiver at the thought of another day or another night in limbo but let that go as well. What can you do?

At 0900 she sends me a surprising Snapchat message. Doctor called. Low risk. There’s nothing wrong with the baby. So, that’s over and done with. Funny how so much worry and so much aggression and frustration can be dealt with in just one simple fucking text.

It’s week 14 now, and we’re at the end of all this. I’m about to let this little secret out to most of the world, and she can’t stop me. That’s it. No more.  Then I realize it’s me we are talking about. I am sure there will be another curveball within hours or days. I am ready.