It took me a few weeks to fully recover from hoofing a baby from my foof. I weebled about for quite some time.
On one particularly day, I decided to catch the bus into town. I normally walked the mile or so to save feeling stir crazy at home. I was severely bored/mentally unhinged/twitching looking at the same four walls all day and was convinced my 2 week old baby was thinking exactly the same thing. She also loved being cuddled, which I had no problem with. The problem I had was that the cuddles involved motion at all times, and not sitting down rocking motion, always standing up motion. She would fall asleep on me, either in the sling, or on my shoulder and I would try and lower myself down onto the sofa, a millimetre at a time. Thigh muscles shuddering under the pressure, and trying not to tense my stomach muscle (yes, singular) too much, I would eventually succeed in planting my backside on the cushions beneath. About 1.7 seconds later, my daughter would stir and start crying. Therefore, I walked. And walked. And walked.
I digress. On this particular day, I decided to have a break from all the walking and catch the bus. Clearly looking like I hadn’t seen sunlight for several years, I perched myself uncomfortably on the hard seat, trying not to put any weight onto my stitches. I had sat down next to a glamorous elderly lady who gave me a knowing smile and before long we were chatting.
We had the usual small talk about how old the baby was, how’s she sleeping, etc etc. She told me she was 84 (seriously looked ten years younger) and had moved to Devon 40 years ago. After a couple of minutes, the old lady rather cryptically said that she wanted to tell me a story. Ok, I thought, I’m intrigued.
“I used to live in London with my husband and three children. We were very happy but then my husband suddenly became very ill. It turned out he was suffering with kidney failure. At that time I was in my early 40’s and just after my husband was diagnosed, I discovered I was pregnant. It was a massive shock and in those days, was not really the done thing to have a baby at that later stage in life.
My husband was told he wouldn’t be eligible for a transplant as they were still a relatively new practice so he would only be able to survive on kidney dialysis. At that time there were only three diaslysis machines available in the country that could be used at home. I fought and fought my case to have one for my husband and was finally granted a dialysis machine to bring home.
So whilst I was pregnant, and still looking after my other three children, I learnt how to give my husband dialysis every day to keep him alive. Soon I was also looking after a newborn, my husband and my three children.
It wasn’t long before my husband became too ill for the dialysis to sustain him and he told me he wanted to die in Devon, where he’d grown up. So I sorted out the house sale, found a house in Devon and brought my husband and children down to set up a new life. Sadly, it wasn’t long before I had to say goodbye to my husband, and the children to their father.
There was one thing that kept me going through the dark times, and that was something my mother had told me. Everything passes. No matter how much anguish you’re in now, no matter how tired you feel, no matter how desperate you are, everything passes.”
And with that she pulled out photos from her purse of all her grandchildren and great grandchildren which she proudly showed me one by one.
I never saw her again, despite my many bus journeys thereafter. But I will never forget her or her words. ‘Everything passes’ has helped me more than she will ever know.