Blarney is currently in hospital awaiting the birth of her twins. She's had a rough few weeks - her back, which isn't the best in normal times, is buckling under the weight of her two boys snuggled in her extended uterus. Her normally muscular calves are now the size of my thighs, swollen with fluid. Her blood pressure is doing strange things. She has no energy. She can barely walk. Thankfully, she's in the best place: hospital. Even better, she's in hospital ten minutes walk away from where I live.
A lot of time has been spent in the hospital with her over the last week. I normally pop in on the way home from work. All of her family are in Ireland, not in a position to come out here, so her network of friends are making sure that she is not wanting for anything, keeping her company, ensuring she has somebody about the place during visiting hours. All she has to do is lie there and wait. The wait is excruciating for her. Thankfully she's far enough along that when the babies are delivered they'll be fine - they're not too far off term. Blarney's partner, Barney, is being wonderful too. He's a good man. They have a loving, giving, peaceful relationship. I don't worry about them - they'll be grand when the boys get here.
So today, after doing my morning stuff, I dropped into the hospital this afternoon on a mission. After looking at her feet and hands the evening before with another of her circle of friends, Niamh, we agreed that one of us had to step up to the plate and give her a manicure and pedicure - her nails were a bit of a fright.
I'm getting used to performing unusual tasks in hospital rooms. When Grounded Dutchman was in hospital for three months last year I found myself giving him a haircut. I haven't cut hair since university - and to be honest, it wasn't a too bad a job - not that anybody other than his mother was going to see him before his next professional haircut when he got back to Holland about two months later. When Reindert and I saw him off six weeks later the cut was lasting well. After the haircut, he looked cared for - it really perked him up. I'm still amazed that he let me do it - but he was looking like the wild man of Borneo by that stage - he was wanting a haircut when he had the accident.
So today, armed with an emery board, nail polish remover, base coat, a couple of colours in shades of polish from gothic black to pale pink, I set to work on her nails. As a reflexologist I'm used to feet yet it's a really different perspective to clean, cut, trim, paint and polish somebody else's nails. After an hour of gentle work, stopping to let the colour dry between coats, Blarney was restored.
"What do ya think?" I asked.
"Lovely colours." She said, admiring her scarlet toenails and baby pink fingernails. Not a too bad a job if I don't say so myself.
"Quite proud of that job. I normally stuff it up on myself."
"You did well."
I told her I rather enjoyed the experience. I didn't get to do this for my own sister when she was pregnant with my nieces. Blarney's the closest thing I have to a sister.
"What are the colours called?" she asked.
I had to have a giggle. "Your fingernails are painted in "Innocence". The stuff on your toes is called "Slut"."
The joyous paradox of womanhood - Madonna /Whore, innocence/experience, virgin/slut. Maiden.Mother.Crone.
What Blarney can't see is that behind the swollen legs, the soreness, the lethargy and the placenta head is the pure potential of pregnancy. She looks the Eternal Earth Mother. I've never seen her look so beautiful. She can't see it - she says she looks like the back side of a barn. I took a photo of her on my phone, making the promise not to distribute the shot. This hasn't stopped me showing a couple of mutual friends... but that isn't distributing technically - the shot hasn't left my phone.... She really is blooming in every way. it's a joy to see.
She'll have her babies in a couple of days. It sounds like her doctor will be giving her a caesarean sooner rather than later.
After the paint job, we sat and chatted, before Naimh returned for her shift. It feels a bit like tag team visiting. I know that Aoife will come early in the evening and other friends will pop by. She's being looked after well.
I said my goodbyes and returned home, feeling that small sadness that I'm feeling more and more when friends are expecting. I often wonder what it would be like to go though such an experience.