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Friday, 8 February 2013

November the 5th

November the 5th
(Taken from my book)

We stood watching the fireworks through the flat window. Although we were the same number of weeks pregnant, my close friend Tracy was expecting twins. I watched as she rubbed her swollen belly ruefully. She laughed out loud each time the babies jumped after another set of fireworks exploded in a sky already strewn with the smoky remnants of burned metal salts and gunpowder.
 I placed my hand on my bump and willed Jade to move. Anything, a somersault, skydive even hiccups. I would have settled for wind at this point. I was scared now. Really scared.
Photograph by Lily Hall
Jade still did not move........
 It had been like this since I felt her very first, fluttery movements. Tracy was expecting twins so I knew her baby kicks were going to be far more exaggerated than Jades, but as I continued to compare our pregnancies as they progressed, the faint niggle in the back of my head, seemed to get bigger and bigger. I ignored it of course. Pushed the awful thought to the back of my mind as you do when you simply choose to dismiss that subtle dimension. 
Photography by Lily Hall
Tracy's family were a pretty great bunch of people. Her brother Bill had special needs and I thought Tracy's Mum and Dad were amazing with him. He was treated exactly the same as everybody else and I often watched and wondered how it affected them all as a family. 
'It doesn't Jane'  Tracy shrugged after I had plucked up the courage to ask her.
Photography by Lily Hall
 'He is just Bill, same as I am Tracy and Debbie is Debbie ( sister).
 'The only difference being, he is a spoilt git.' She laughed her hearty laugh and I knew she meant every word. They did not see Bill as being any different at all. I am ashamed to say that I did. Now of course, I understand completely. But hindsight is a cheap commodity. My excuse I suppose, was  naivety. That and of course my selfishness.  I was not to lose that until the day Jade was born. A short sharp lesson in priorities was waiting for me just round the corner.
Photography by Lily Hall
  As far as I could see, Special needs took up so much of your time. Family outings, holidays, social visits all had to be planned and executed in military fashion. Favourite toys could NOT be left behind without a nuclear fallout. With a 'normal' ( You have no idea how much I hate this necessary label.) child, a forgotten toy can be slowly dismissed under the blanket promises of a new one and the ever present bribe of sweets or chocolate. Not so with special needs. Their anxiety can levels reach apocalyptic proportions, which in turn produces the meltdowns that will match any domestic Chernobyl! Believe me I have witnessed this first hand on many occasions as I cowered in my front row position within the fallout area! 
Photography by Lily Hall
On November the 5th 1991, as we stood watching the Fireworks through Tracy's bedroom window. I knew..... I knew without a shadow of a doubt there was something wrong with my baby. It was no longer something I could dismiss or pass off as 'normal pregnancy anxieties.' My instinct had forced its way up from the deep recess within my brain and presented itself as a reality. 
I shared this with no one. A secret that filled me with fear and would keep me awake for many nights.
 When I did sleep, my dreams were full of strange pregnancies and births.I remember this particular one so vividly. I dreamt I had given birth to a tiny baby boy. He wasn't breathing but his eyes were open and were following me around the room as I moved. No one believed me when I told them he was special needs and needed help. I still remember the distraught fear as I struggled to make the nurses understand my baby needed medical help. I always woke up bathed in sweat and crying. An omen some might say. A sixth sense maybe. Who knows? I knew!

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