On to the other half of the family…
Interviewing via telephone is always an interesting step but we’re a modern adaptable family… RIGHT?!
Without any further ado, please meet our illustrious, Master 10…
If you were a movie character, which one would it be?
Master ten: Um… I don’t know.
*Wonder what he was so engrossed in at that point in time? This being the lad capable of reciting numerous movie scripts, verbatim!
Why are manhole covers round?
Master ten: Manhole covers? (sounds puzzled) Because the hole is round?
*Two boys thought of this! Two out of eight children… not bad!
What is your favorite drink?
Master ten: Lemonade.
*Yes okay. I was betting on tea or hot chocolate!
What is your favorite movie song?
Master ten: Hmmm… What I’ve Done, from Transformers.
*Up loud I hope! (Is there any other way?)
If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
Master ten: (answering instantly) Invisibility and speed.
*I’m thinking perhaps this is something he’s thought about a lot…
If you won $20 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money?
Master ten: I’d renovate the house and give some of it to charity.
*Yes! Although my curiosity would love to know which charity/ies! Oooh!
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Master ten: Ummm… Ummm… Ummm… I don’t know really! Scared of spiders? (giggles) Nah… I love birds!
*Birds? This almost explains why he likes owning a camera!
What do you like about camping?
Master ten: Ummm, hmmm… I like that you get to be outdoors not inside, and I like that there’s lots of room to ride your bike or scooter, and you sleep in a tent.
*Winning!! The child who refused to go camping for-EVER is now singing it’s praises and wanting to go again. YESSSSSSS! *ahem*
What is your favourite food?
Master ten: Sushi! (immediate answer, loud and excited!)
*I think we’ll keep him – he fits in with everyone else in the family.
What is your favourite game?
Master ten: Umm, Minecraft or Tekkit.
*Cough* Goes to show there’s no stopping the virtual games… even for a child who loves boardgames usually! *sigh*
In the midst of a crisis, we often meet inspirational people… today’s story is one of those…
I don’t remember the first time I met her. Sometime soon after my eldest son’s admission to the Royal Childrens Hospital in Brisbane… late on December 6th, 2001. My mind was a haze of information, concern for my eldest child and my own little bubble to hopefully protect me from many of the extreme emotions I was dealing with at the time. In short, I was a little insular and a lot selfish.
However, I do remember her first words to me… as I walked into the ward on my daily visit (well at the time I was allowed to come and go under my own steam anyway),
“Haven’t you had that baby yet?” I’m not sure how I responded… I just remember thinking, oh no… not another ONE! At 39 weeks pregnant with my firstborn taking up residence in a surgical ward, I’m not sure I’d yet found my sense of humour again. Either way, it seemed inappropriate to reply with anything other than the obvious. No. And smile apologetically.
It became a bit of a ritual upon our paths crossing each day. A greeting that would always snap me out of my very sombre world… and remind me that I was carrying another life. One that would soon arrive to complicate life a little more. As any new arrival does. Somewhere in the days that followed, I became aware that she was the parent of another child… also in the ward. We didn’t get to any formal introductions during these exchanges.
There was little to give away any details of patients but I could tell her baby was around six months old. Various boys often visited with their father… and I assumed this was the rest of the clan. My own mind was caught up in a whirlwind of diagnoses, scans, tests, nurses, specialists and surgeries.
My waters broke early on the morning of the 22nd… by late afternoon I returned with a wheelchair, midwife as escort, my partner and our new baby girl. A short introduction for my very ill lad and his new sibling. My return to the Maternity wing was bittersweet.
After much pacing and impatience late on Christmas Eve, we were discharged and I walked from the hospital, this time with my daughter, to sit at my son’s beside again.
The mysterious lady was busy, hastily making an exit with baby, family and all medical supplies, in a small flurry of noise, wishing staff and others a Merry Christmas. My heart wished we were going too… and even dared wonder if they would be back. In that same instant, I felt a pang of guilt, wishing that thought upon anyone.
Christmas day, itself was quiet, save for the efforts of nurses, doctors, volunteers and other parents who did their damnedest to make the day as fun as it could be. I have no idea where we’d have been without them. So surreal.
There was a new chime in now for everyone… had we named that baby yet? Who had time for names? She answered to everything we called her, Beautiful, Adorable, Sweetie, Gorgeous… surely she didn’t need anymore? :-P Our oncologist was probably the worst, trying to point out how horrible this could be for her later in life. We laughed it off.
It was days later I realised the lady (and her baby) were back… she strode in rather purposefully, baby in the crook of one arm… a mass of tubes in the other, looking rather apologetic. A little later again, I passed her in the corridor. Attempting to calm a rather upset infant, who was obviously hungry but needing to go into surgery. A finger in the little one’s mouth was obviously not being well received.
It seemed we were well known by this stage in the ward (I have no idea how ) and by now I knew her first name, Mary. She had three older boys, redheaded and boisterous. And that was about where my knowledge ended.
Until New Years Eve… after much cajoling and prodding about a name, we found one. Or perhaps it found us. I’m not sure which. But I thought it was time to officially let our neighbour know the outcome. I gingerly knocked on their room door and made my way in when invited, my daughter in my arms.
I gave her our news, our little miss finally had a name after 11 days. Her name though, stopped her in her tracks. She introduced me to her baby daughter… Alyssa Grace, a surviving conjoined twin. Her departed sister’s name was Bethany Rose. Somehow, without any of us knowing, my baby daughter had been bestowed with two names, each that related almost directly to each twin. Suddenly it dawned on me that I knew this story. All of it.
Alyssa has grown into a beautiful 12 year old girl, who has endured more heartache and hospitals than any child ever should. She has a gentle nature but can be almost as boisterous as her brothers.
Her mother has always given to others, fundraising and raising awareness of the plight of the hospital, families and patients along the way. Her knowledge and guidance made our journey a lot easier than it could have been. I admire her strength and tenacity and feel honoured to consider her a very close friend.
For now though, Alyssa has a wish. To meet others like her. It seems like such a simple request and I hope we can help make it happen.
Next year the first ever Families of Conjoined Twins meeting is to be held in Kansas USA. Alyssa would love to be there.
What can you do to help?
Please share this post. Or share and like her page on facebook to raise awareness of her plight. I know a young lady who’d be very very estatic if you did… and a mother who will appreciate the opportunity to finally meet some of the people she has corresponded with and supported as well as been supported by, in person.
And you’ll have my eternal gratitude to boot.
1. It takes at least two team captains (older children) and two referees to sort any points discrepancies amongst the children during a game.
2. Training on rollerskates prepares you for anything life wants to throw at you. And to hopefully be able to stay on your feet. If not, at least you know how to fall safely.
3. Whenever things get you down, just make sure you get straight back up again! There is always someone available to help if you need it.
4. No matter where you go, someone, somewhere is dealing with the same family politics/issues you are.
5. Big families are a whole lot easier to manage if everyone has their names printed clearly on the back of their shirts.
6. If you goof off or goof up, someone is going to remember… and possibly have photos (that will be shared around your 18th birthday).
7. Everyone has their own sense of individuality and style. That doesn’t make them any weirder than you.
8. The rules are always being revised. Dependent on safety, time limits, interpretations and fairness. You may not like the changes but you’ll get used to them soon enough.
9. Large amounts of preparation go on behind the scenes to make any event run smoothly, including school drop offs and dinner!
10. It might sound like a whole lot of noise; yelling, whistle blowing and look rather chaotic but it really IS a whole lot of fun. Or we wouldn’t do it. The smiles prove it all each night.