Wednesday, January 02, 2019

It's 2019. What's a blog?

I am returning to blogging because
I need a space to record honestly and hold myself accountable.

On a particularly low day, I took a sick day off and just sat and re-read several pages of this forgotten blog of mine.

Was a big help - I went from wallowing in self-loathing to reliving the past 5-6 years of our lives. Ended up feeling very proud of how B and I dealt with all the various challenges that came our way, and how we evolved from it. Also made me nostalgic and made me miss my dear FIL.

For the past many months, I have, as I am wont to be, been very hard on B and myself for having not got our sh** together about the whole having a child business. Reading this blog made me realize, how it came to be that way. It's not entirely unreasonable, given everything else that we dealt with. It's easy to forget how hard some things were, when we are past it, and reduce it to "oh, a lot of people took care of a sick parent and made babies". But it's really never that simple, is it?

Fast forward a few years later to where we are now. Moved again, almost 2 years ago, after B's father passed away. In my mind, I thought this would be the big break for us personally, and B would enjoy the new role he took up. Quite the opposite. The move backfired pretty badly - B hated his new job, eventually quitting it, and staying unemployed for a few months before better opportunities came his way. If I thought R2I was hard, this was a whole different challenge. New place, steeply expensive, no semblance of a support system and intense regret for leaving family and a decent gig behind us. Add to that pile, whittling away remnants of your fast disappearing fertile months in this quagmire of stress and unhappiness.

Upside- I lost 5 kilos. Heh..

Anyhow. The best piece of advice I got, during this time was, "de-catastrophize". And I tried to make that my mantra. It can be very helpful.

And now here we are again. B is quite happy in a new job with a great bunch of people. I'm still finding my bearings at mine, but if there's anything I learned from B's experiences, good opportunities take their time coming, but you got to be ready to receive them when they do come, by being on top of your game and keeping your self-esteem intact. So wallowing and being morose ain't helping. Onward and upward.

I celebrated my 4-0, we decided we really did want to have a child, and ..took a step towards registering for adoption.

I think that's the best thing we did. Sure, there's a lot of fear, trepidation, uncertainty, worry about the lateness of it all. But I think we will be fine.

To 2019!

Sunday, February 05, 2017

I think I am back

The best part about having a blog. Come and go as you please :-)

B's dad - my father-in-law passed away recently, after a 6-7 year long uphill struggle with dementia. I like to think the early years weren't as much of a struggle, and we were very lucky to be able to be there for him, with him and improve his quality of life in whatever way we could. Ironically, given that his cognition was only mildly impaired then, I also realize that he was the most affected by his situation at that point- irritation and frustration at himself, at having to depend on others for little things, inability to read the paper or do simple things that he enjoyed. But I saw him develop his own ways of dealing with it all as the years went by, and in the face of such a horribly debilitating condition, I remain thankful for the smaller mercies- a good geriatric doctor who guided us, a helpful local chapter of dementia caregivers association, a very caring and sympathetic full time attendant we had for the last year, a supportive maid at home, and of course, the financial ability we had to tap into all these resources.

The last year was definitely the hardest, on him, and on all of us. After a single hospitalization, he was pushed past a brink that rendered him bedridden for all practical purposes. He gradually stopped talking coherently, had to be diapered and hauled between bed and chair...fed by the attendant. He reacted to us, responded to our voices, to his attendant's voice, but in the last months, we saw that also fade out. To the point when we realized our presence/absence was not making a difference.

Around now, a very good career opportunity came B's way. It would mean moving countries, and either admitting his dad in a hospice or taking him with us. We chose the hospice route, based on a lot of reasoning and practical thinking and advice of his geriatrician.

Over the weeks, his condition had gotten worse. He seemed duller than usual, and had stopped eating/drinking -or rather - had stopped swallowing what was being fed to him. All the signs were there. Just as we planned to admit him to the hospice for a "trial", he passed away peacefully one morning, almost as if he didn't want to put us through this experience or go through it himself.

The dust has settled a bit. I realise how much I miss my father-in-law. Even in his stage of advanced dementia, there was some sort of strength we drew from having him with us. It's very hard to explain. And there was the daily routine that he was an integral part of.  B derived satisfaction in making him his first cup of coffee every morning. I wished him good morning and good night unfailingly, and upon returning from a tiring office commute every evening, would enjoy seeing him the first thing as I entered-  sitting with him, holding his hands and asking him how he was doing.

The finality of death is truly cruel. I cannot even imagine how B and his brother deal with it, having lost their mother quite tragically over 10 years ago. How we take the presence of a person for granted, and how, one day, they are just snuffed out. A weird, selfish feeling where we are willing to accept the n-1th day in the face of this, despite all the hardship that person may have been facing. Its a very helpless and humbling feeling.

B and his brother were brave and stoic through all of it- I do believe the rituals and ceremonies had some therapeutic effect. Family rallied around us, and B's closest buddies stood by him, with him, through all of it. To use my dad's words- theirs was an "unparalleled" kind of friendship he had never seen elsewhere. I am so thankful they were there, because I don't think I could have been there for him in the way that they were  - partly because I was grieving too, and also because of the way these rituals are structured- starting with the cremation of the body until the 13 day rites- there is very clear gender separation and women-folk don't participate in most of it. I did not argue or resist that.

A new phase begins now. B's left to begin his new job in a new city. I will be joining him in a couple months. It's all exciting, although tinged with the sorrow of losing his dad, we have to be thankful that we didn't make the move with lingering thoughts, worries and concerns behind us.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


I have always thought that people who have been either fat or pregnant, will have no trouble telling the difference between fat and pregnant. I, for one, can tell. In the past many years, there were a few occasions when I was mistaken for being pregnant. The janitor in my university, stranger on the subway offering me a seat..etc. I always managed to laugh it off and it never really bothered me. But in recent times it stopped being funny. Perhaps a reflection of all the indecision that we face - even a well meaning friendly jab only serves as an unwanted reminder of the conflict and confusion and doesn't amuse any longer.

Which is why, when I visited the doctor last week complaining of exhaustion and fever, and he asked me if I was pregnant I immediately bristled. "No, just fat" I grunted defensively, whilst doing the math in my head. I couldn't possibly be, I thought. But just because this was a doctor asking, and not a nosy annoying auntie, I began wondering- just what if? So I picked up a test on my way home. B was out of town, and I began thinking of all those chick flicks where the husband comes home and the wife shows him a plastic strip with two lines on it. And there's much disbelief and jumping and emotional moments of all sorts. Of course, the test was negative and my faith in the ovulation cycle was reaffirmed. Of course I felt a tingle of disappointment, but had the result been anything else  I think panic would reign above all else.

We've had a great social spell the last few weeks- just after I blogged about how bereft I feel of a social life. One of B's closest buddies was visiting from the U.S. We had a great time- one of the times we went to his house while a horde of his relatives were visiting- and as he introduced us to his cousin- she looked at B and another buddy of theirs and said to him- "Oh of course I know these guys- they have been the constants in your life". That really described the kind of friendship these guys have and I couldn't help feeling a teeny bit envious. After this friend left, another bunch of friends visited and we got to see up close and personal what it is to have two kids, within the age span of a year. When you are of advanced parental age, so to speak. Its a lot of energy, a lot of patience, and a whole lot of sacrifice. I am sure it is satisfying too.

And then a good friend visited me yesterday after several months. She told me that I seemed a lot more calm and at peace- and it felt good to hear that. It is indeed true. She has seen us through all the stages of our return to India and our tryst with my Father In Law's condition, and yes, after all of it, I have learned, I think, to just let it be. Take it a day at a time. Be positive and stop fretting about things out of my control.

Yeah! That's not such a bad mantra to have. :-)