Saturday, 30 October 2010

Rockeries and shrubberies

Two dying art forms, surely? I mean, seriously. Who do you know these days who has a rockery? No one. Well, except for Mad Nana. (And her one is uber cool. You can run along the top of it.) As for shrubberies? The Knights Who Said 'Nee' clearly called time on them. It's sad. I miss rockeries and shrubberies.

The above is a condensed version of the conversation I forced Neil to have as we drove back from Chichester yesterday. We'd had a nice day. We'd had a walk (admittedly, around a golf course - but I take what I can get) and then gone for a pub lunch before going and spending a large amount of money we don't have on M&S cakes. An appropriate way to spend our last Mr-Jamie-free day of Neil's paternity leave. And means I am well stocked up with cake for the coming weeks.

Mr Jamie is as on form as ever. The other evening, as I sat feeding Beth watching Neil dry him post bath, I asked him if one day he thought HE might like to be a daddy.

"Ummmm ... yes. Yes. I be a daddy when I am bigger."

"And what happens when you're a daddy."

"When you're a daddy ... you get a beard ... and a watch ... and a WHISTLE."

He looked quite overcome. It worries me that the fear of parental responsibilities will not be sufficient to stop him from fathering young, when you consider the end result is ... A WHISTLE.

Thanks to nursery already practising for the forthcoming 'Christmas Concert', he's got very into the concept of Father Christmas.

"Mummy, can we go and see Father Christmas?"

"Well, maybe. A bit nearer Christmas. But you'll have to be very good. And think of the things you might want to ask him for."

"I want a dog."

"Right. A pretend dog? A fluffy dog?"

"No Mummy." He looked witheringly at me. "A REAL dog. With paws."

(Somehow I thought we'd at least make primary school before I had to start on the 'reasons why you cannot have a dog' conversations. Apparently not.)

"Riiiiiiight. Well ... we'll see."

"And Mummy?"

"Yes sweetheart?"

"When we see Father Christmas - shall we take him a present?"

"That's a nice idea. What would you like to take him?"

Another withering look in my direction.

"Oh Mummy. He want a Father Christmas Hat."

PS Thanks to all who were lovely re my last post. The tonsilitis has now receded - praise be - and although Beth is still struggling at nights, I suspect snot to be the main culprit. I'm off to buy one of those sucker-outer-thingies (you know what I mean). Parenting is hideously grim.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Apologies for absence

Hello blog. And blog readers. I've been shite, I know. And am likely to carry on being shite for a bit longer, I reckon. Appropriate excuses are as per the below:

1) Am obviously still looking after a 3 year old and a 2 week old. Plus Neil. Combined, this is a fair old drain on my energy resources.

2) The powers that be saw fit to strike me down with a chronic dose of tonsilitis as of Monday. I feel like someone whose throat is being sliced up with razors whilst swimming through treacle.

3) The 2 week old is currently suffering with an as yet unconfirmed condition which means she struggles to breathe when lying down. Which means I have not slept. At all. For three nights. WITH TONSILITIS.

With all that going on, it's a miracle I've got something as coherent as this cobbled together, I reckon.

So my apologies for absence. I will return just as soon as I possibly can - in the meantime, please grab a few extra hours' sleep for me. Seriously. I mean it.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

And after the storm ...

Given the length of Beth's birth story I omitted to tell you the end of it; that is, what happened after my front bottom was closed to shipping for the foreseeable future. As with everything which had happpened previously, nothing turned out to be simple ...

I will confess to using labour as an excuse to give in to all my hidden desires. I flaunted my front bottom proudly and refused all encouragement to put any clothes on; I shouted at Neil in a manner truly befitting 'fishwife' status; and I launched myself at any drugs within a 10 metre radius. I also ignored anything and everything I didn't want to hear ("I think you've had enough gas and air now"; "You can close your legs now"; and "There's a toilet just across the corridor ... you don't have to wee on that chair."), and feigned selective deafness.

The one moment I did manage to regain lucidity was when the midwife started talking to Neil about our preferences for after the birth. "And afterwards you'll go down to Tangmere ward ... did you want me to see if there was a private room for you?" As Neil started to put together a response I raised my head dramatically from my hunched up position on the bed and screeched - between contractions - "I DEFINITELY want a private room, and that's a private room WITH AN ENSUITE, and if there isn't one available then I DEMAND A SIX HOUR DISCHARGE."

(In my defence: I was in a lot of pain, I was more than happy to pay for this privilege, and I would never usually speak to anyone in such a manner. Probably.)

Thankfully - for all of us - a private room with an ensuite (for the quite remarkably reasonable sum of £80 a night - cheaper, and nicer, than the last few hotels I've stayed in) was available and following the post-birth front bottom tidying we were escorted down there. New rules on the postnatal ward meant that partners could now stay the night - just as well really, given it was 3am and Neil DOESN'T DRIVE. Sorry, did I mention the 'not driving' bit again?

Settling into the room, I found a laminated sheet of paper next to my bed, entitled 'Rules for Partners'. Interesting. Quickly skimming through it, I learnt the following:

1) Neil had to sleep in the reclining chair next to my bed

2) He was not to take his clothes off at ANY POINT

3) There was to be NO having sex

(Just to clarify: these rules were for all partners. Not just Neil. Although #2 was probably particularly relevant for him.)

Now, I'm all for setting some ground rules - but really. Did they honestly need to emphasise the 'not having sex' bit? Had childbirth not kind of done the job for them? All I can say is there must be some VERY enthusiastic new mothers in Chichester.

And so the three of us dozed, one of us with a nipple in their mouth. (Well they hadn't said anything about ME not getting naked.) Until the next morning, when we found ourselves in a scene surely straight out of an emergency services docu-soap - fire alarms blazing, random medical staff running in and out of the room, and me creating a lasting memory for my husband by standing up and getting out of the bed to reveal the entire blood supply utilised for the making of Saw 3 running down the inside of my legs.

(Just to provide some kind of explanation for the above paragraph: the fire alarms were faulty, so kept going off - just what you want with a brand new baby; the random medical staff kept arriving to tell us this; and as for the last bit - well, that's what happens when you give birth. And I think it's important not to glamorise the whole 'childbirth' thang. (Because I'm well aware of just how glamorous I must have sounded throughout Beth's birth story. Or not.) )

So there you go. After that, I drank a lot of lemon squash, ate a lot of sandwiches, waited for Neil to come back with the car seat (again: wouldn't it be so much more convenient IF YOU FUCKING DROVE), got a taxi home and then moaned a lot about being tired. The sandwich eating and the moaning haven't really stopped since.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

So many children ...

... so little time; hence this poor neglected blog. Sorry blog. And blog readers. Although it's not as though you're missing out on much, not really. Any entry I type at the moment is likely to go along the lines of: am bloody knackered, got shat/weed/vomited on, day time TV blows chunks, still on the plus side at least today I don't have a head emerging from my front bottom. Repeat ad infinitum and you get a fair idea as to the gist of my life at the moment.

Beth, it turns out, likes to eat. A lot. It's times like this (and ONLY times like this) when I really, really wish the scientific world had put more effort into working out a way for men to lactate. She's particularly into midnight feasts, which means that, on average, my so-called-sleep is interrupted hourly by someone snuffling about by my breast and suddenly latching onto my nipple with a quite startling force for one so small. To help Neil share in the experience, I explained to him that the sensation was as if a small woodland mammal had crawled up his leg and suddenly taken a large chunk out of the underside of his bollock. He looked alarmed.

Her eating is paying off though. When she was born she weighed in at 6lb 15oz. Babies lose weight after they're born, but by Day 5 she was back to her birth weight. This morning - Day 11 - she weighed in at 7lb 7oz.

Bloater.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of sleep deprivation? Hourly wake ups (to nipple chewing) are pretty grim in themselves. Throw in a greatly disturbed Mr Jamie who wakes up on the alternate half hours, wailing and gurning and wanting to sleep on my head.

And then?

Well, then throw in YET ANOTHER ROGUE FUCKING SMOKE ALARM. Yes, that's right. Having finally managed to settle both small children to sleep in the early hours of the morning, Neil and I simultaneously sighed, rolled over ... and had our eardrums pierced with the faint yet familiar 'beep ... beep ... beep' from the middle landing.

Who knew mains operated smoke alarms had such comedy timing?

Monday, 18 October 2010

I had a baby! - v2

Right then. It’s the one you’ve been waiting for. Or the one you’ve been waiting to avoid, depending on your personal preferences.

My Birth Story. Or: How Beth Emerged From A Front Bottom Which I Can Confirm Is Considerably Smaller Than Her Head. (Despite The Rumours.)

Readers of a nervous disposition should look away now ...

So then. As you’re all aware, her due date was 10/10/10 – a Sunday. On the previous Thursday (7th), I found myself being even more unreasonably aggressive than usual. (Which is quite something.) I raged my way through a midwife appointment (“And tell me, exactly WHO manages to piss in these pots without weeing all over their hands?”), ranted my way through a trip to Waitrose (“Fuck off, fucking pensioners.”), and rampaged my way through a hair appointment (“My face looks like a fucking truck.”). Truly, a joy to be around.

In keeping with my highly attractive new persona, that night I decided I was going to seduce Neil. In an incredibly romantic manner. “I am SO fucking fed up of being pregnant. Now get your arse upstairs, NOW. We are HAVING SEX.”

I am quite a catch.

Approximately three hours later, I woke up. I had a wee. And then I got even crosser, because adding to my woes was the fact that I now had great big bands of pain radiating across my back. Oh no, wait ... that’s what’s meant to happen ...

In case you’re losing track of where we are, it’s now the early hours of Friday morning. When, I can confirm, TV scheduling – even on Sky – is really not at its best. I whiled away a good five hours or so watching endless repeats of ‘Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook’ on Challenge. There’s a TV show that should never have been decommissioned. The ‘kkkkkrrrrazzzzzzy’ antics of the contestants and Ainsley were just about sufficient to distract me from increasingly painful contractions which were coming every 5 minutes or so. I had high hopes we’d be off to hospital very soon ...

Saturday morning, the early hours, back watching ‘Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook’. Groundhog Day, gone bad. Yes, a full 24 hours after contractions had started and I’d forced Neil to stay off work, it appeared I was still in the very early throes of what was no doubt going to turn out to be The Second Longest Labour Ever (Jamie’s, of course, taking the top spot). Sigh.

This time around I thought I’d add some variety by sticking a TENS machine to my back. For the uninitiated, a TENS machine is a small, battery operated device which you attach to yourself via 4 small sticky pads. You then turn the machine on, and it delivers electric shocks to your body. Yes, that’s right. Just in case the pain of contractions was insufficient, throw in a few electrical charges to really send you over the edge. It’s strange the things which start to seem appealing when you’re 9 months pregnant and clearly no longer in control of your sanity ...

At some point during one of the ridiculously frequent loo trips I noticed I’d had what the pregnancy books coyly describe as a ‘bloody show’. In reality, what this involves is a huge great glob of blood ‘n’ snot falling out of your front bottom. Once you’ve stopped vomiting in disgust, you’re meant to be delighted by the fact this signals labour is well on its way. I am sorry to say that, given the amount of time I’d already spent in so called labour, I actually SAVED THIS AND KEPT IT for several hours, with the intention of showing it to Neil to PROVE I was going to have a baby some time this year. Thankfully, rational thought crept in before he woke up and it was safely disposed of down the toilet. God only knows what kind of damage that sort of sight could do to an otherwise stable relationship.

By the time Neil got up, having spent an oh-so-relaxing night with Mr Jamie firmly attached to the top of his head, I was giving every impression of being a totally zenned out mother-to-be. Calmly, I told Neil things had progressed (without at this stage giving him any of the graphic details), that I thought he should take Jamie and his kids round to his parents, and that we might end up going into hospital at some point later that day.

It’s safe to say my calm demeanour didn’t last.

“GIVE ME THE FUCKING PHONE, I AM PHONING THE SODDING HOSPITAL.” This was all of 30 minutes or so later, after standing up and stewing a load of pears (What? I was trying to be productive.) had proved to be far more of an effective incitement to labour than any amount of ejaculation. Contractions were suddenly every 3-4 minutes and, combined with the fact I was still electrocuting myself, were making me shout A LOT. (I know. Any excuse.)

Having persuaded the hospital to let me come in (“Hmmm, I’m not sure, we’re very busy at the moment. Let me have a look round and see if we’ve got room for you.” I’m sorry, what? And if you haven’t got room? Shall I just cross my legs?), Neil duly summoned a taxi. (Resisting all temptation to pass comment on non driving husbands ...) It arrived, and we went outside, me hoping against hope that this time around we might have been allocated a taxi driver who bordered on the right side of sanity ...

Not so.

“Morning.”
“Morning.”
“You’re very large.”
“Um ... yes. Yes I am. That’s kind of why we’re going to hospital.”
“Oh, brilliant, are you in labour? Well don’t leak on my seats.”
“Um – I’ll do my best.”
“Tell you what. We’ll go the back route.”
“Okay.”
“Yeah, that’ll be best, because there’s lots of farms out there, aren’t there? That way, if we get caught short then I can get a farmer to come out and help us. They’re good with births.”
“Um. Yes. Right.”

We set off. I struggle to be polite to chatty taxi drivers at the best of times; contracting whilst electrocuting myself was certainly not the best of times. Nevertheless, middle class politeness overcame me and I chatted merrily about what a lovely day it was between gritted teeth.

Half way through the journey, we happened upon a pig farm.

“Right, we’ve reached the pig farm, so this is the point of no return. Do you want me to find a farmer, or are you alright if we carry on to the hospital?”

I THINK he was trying to be funny ...

Arriving at the hospital, I was examined, and pronounced to be 4cm dilated. Thank god. I might have the agony of childbirth ahead of me, but at least I could relax in the knowledge we were going to be making a saving of about £200 from last time on taxi fares ...

Neil describes the middle section of my labour as ‘boring’ (and it was alright for him – he had a book with him), so I won’t traumatise you by dwelling on it. Very little of any entertainment value occurred, apart from both Neil and I getting to grips with the gas and air. (According to Neil, it was ‘helping him stay awake’.) Having not had a drink for the past 9 months I made the most of getting to feel vaguely pissed, and recall giggling like a loon at the fact I could no longer move my face. Why that stuff isn’t available in Tesco, I’ll never know.

To keep you up to date with timings, it’s now about 8pm on Saturday night. Yes, that’s right: I’ve been having contractions since about 2am Thursday. Deep joy. At this point the midwife shift changed over, and it was time for me to be examined. Thanks to the gas and air I was still pretty cheerful at this point, and spent an unnecessarily large part of the examination lauding my abilities to touch the bed with my knees whilst they shoved their hands up my front bottom. I could tell Neil was proud.

I think there’s a need for some kind of counselling training for midwives. Casually breaking the news that in the past 9 hours I’d only dilated a further 2cm needed to be accompanied by vast amounts of gin if they’d hoped I’d respond in a positive manner. Particularly given the way in which I’d casually remarked prior to the examination that I was no doubt ‘at least 30cm dilated by now’. That will teach me to make bad jokes.

To make me feel better, my midwife offered to give me a sweep. If that sounds like I’m confusing pregnant women and chimneys – well, it’s pretty accurate. Upon my acceptance, she immediately rammed what felt to be her entire forearm up me and rooted around as if searching for my lungs. I responded in a supportive manner by screaming my head off and resisting the temptation to clamp my legs shut. Fortunately, distraction was on hand in the form of a random member of medical staff who wandered in half way through, to be confronted at eye level with my rather angry front bottom. “Oh. Hello. I thought you called me. By the way, my name’s Kate.” I couldn’t be sure if she was talking to me or my vagina. Both of us smiled and had another ridiculously middle class conversation about the weather with the midwife with her hand trapped between my legs. Surreal is not the word.

Once no longer being fisted, Neil and I took a trip to the loo (he was a necessary part of this excursion in order to drag along my canister of drugs behind us), where he risked life and limb by being distracted by our conversation enough to be insufficiently quick off the mark when I suddenly hurled myself in the direction of the gas and air mouthpiece. I may or may not have deliberately stepped on his foot as a punishment.

Back in the delivery room, things stepped up a gear. I can confirm, here and now, that contractions PLUS electrocution (yep, TENS still on), PLUS excruciating back pain (Beth was ‘back to back’, which essentially means that for every agonising contraction in your tummy you get an even worse pain in your back, which makes you want to kill people. Particularly the bloke who got you into that position in the first place.) are just about the least fun you can possibly have on a Saturday night. Yes, even despite the gas and air. The midwife suggested Neil applying large amounts of pressure on my back to help counteract the back pain. This was good, and worked well. Until Neil, WITHOUT PERMISSION, snuck out of the room and had a wee. Missing a contraction. And returning to feel the full weight of my wrath.

“WHERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN?”
“I just went to have a quick wee. I was desperate.”
“HOW DARE YOU HAVE A FUCKING WEE WHEN I AM IN THIS MUCH FUCKING PAIN. NOW RUB MY FUCKING BACK.”

Reasonable to the last, that’s me. (The rather nice postscript to this episode was when we arrived down on the postnatal ward, about 5 hours later. Neil got up to go out the room. “Where are you going?”, I asked. “For a wee – I’ve been desperate for the last couple of hours but I was too scared to go.”)

With me now in full on angry shouting mode (although if you’re followed this from the start, you’ll see not much had changed), the midwife suggested I had some diamorphine. Why, why, WHY had I forgotten about the wonder which was diamorphine? “Oh god, yes, yes, YES”, I shrieked. “Your birth plan says that you want to consult with Neil on any additional pain relief ...”, she attempted. “FUCK NEIL”, I responded. “He’s not in pain. Now give me my diamorphine!”

As a direct result of the diamorphine, I can tell you very little about the next hour or so of my labour. Apparently Neil came over to me to ask if it was working yet. “Don’t ... be ... so ... fuckin’ ... ridiculous ... it ... doesn’t ... work ... that ... quiiiiiiiiiicccccccckkkkkkklllllyyyyyyyyy ...” I managed to slur out, thereby fulfilling every ‘drug addict’ cliché ever presented. Lovely lovely diamorphine. Will miss giving birth, purely for that reason.

Alas, diamorphine, like all good things, doesn’t last for ever. Pretty soon I was in even more hideous agony, and yelling for the anaesthetist who had previously popped in to see if I needed him like he was a long lost lover. “But I neeeeeeeed an epidural. I know I said I didn’t, but I was wrong. Bring him back. BRING HIM BACK!”

To shut me up, they agreed to examine me again. Middle class to the end, I agreed to the student present examining me first to get some extra experience, provided that she agreed to tell me I was 10cm dilated. Fortunately, she did.

“Great news. You’re ready to push.”

Oh arse. This is the bit that REALLY hurts.

I’m not sure whether to be pleased or disappointed that Beth didn’t just ‘fall’ out. On the plus side, clearly my front bottom is less wizard-sleeve-esque than I might have thought. On the down side, that meant 37 minutes of VERY ouchy pushing. (Neil was required to hold my leg during this. I’m not entirely sure why, but I do know that this was apparently a very onerous task. Hmmm.) But on the plus side again, this did of course mean we made it to 10/10/10 – her DUE DATE. Ever the time pedant, that’s me.

And so Beth arrived, I did my usual confused scan of newborn baby genitals before relying on the midwife to tell me whether I had a boy, girl, or something in between, a large lump of placenta fell out, I demanded excessive praise from Neil, Beth and I had a cuddle, and I finally, FINALLY turned off the bloody machine which had been electrocuting me for the past 24 hours. My stomach has just about stopped spasming ...

So there you go. Epic, just like the birth. Beth is more than worth it, but I have no desire to do it any time again, despite Neil’s casual “but we might have an accident” statements. (He is lucky I don’t turn that TENS on him.) Short second labours? My arse.

Bloody hormones

So, we're a week in now to life with a very small baby, and so far things are going relatively well. All four of us are still alive, in one piece, and with our sanity pretty much intact. (This was most certainly not the case post Jamie's birth, when sanity was a word only found in the dictionary, and he'd already failed the 'intact' criteria when I'd managed to cut the end off his finger while clipping his nails. Poor boy.)

I'll be honest, I'd kind of hoped this time around I might have got a 'sleeper'. Excuse me while I pause to laugh ironically. Beth is no more of a sleeper than her brother - in fact, were such a thing possible, she may even be slightly less of a sleeper. Her current night time routine goes as follows: Eat. Burp. Poo. Have nappy changed. Yell. Eat. Burp. Poo. Have nappy changed. Etc. You get the idea. Oh, and that routine occurs approximately once. Every. Hour. Yes, that's HOURLY wakings/feedings/burpings/wailings. All carried out by yours truly. The sooner Neil - or Mr Jamie - learns to lactate, the better.

It was with the haze of sleep deprivation hanging over me that I took Mr Jamie to nursery this morning, leaving Beth sleeping (but of course - after spending the entire night awake it's no wonder she was bloody knackered.) on her father. Mr Jamie was something of a reluctant participant in this process. "I not want to go to nursery Mummy. I want to stay here. I play with my toys." I ignored his protests and bundled him into the car.

We arrived at nursery and I persuaded him to come inside and upstairs with me. And then the tears really started. "No Mummy. I come home with you. I want to play with my toys. I want my Daddy." There was a brief moment when he ran off and I thought he might be going off to play with his friends. No such luck. He returned, heartbreakingly, wearing his coat and a tear stained face. "I being a good boy. I got my coat. I come home with you now."

One sobbing individual is probably more than enough for the nursery staff at that time of the morning. I wasn't going to let that stop me. Lack of sleep, plus a heady cocktail of hormones, meant I lasted all of 30 seconds before I joined him in his sobbing, attempting to hide my tears from him by hiding my head in his neck. God only knows what the staff must have thought of this woman, collapsed on the floor, sobbing on her small tearful child. I could sense concerned looks being exchanged above my head.

After about 30 minutes of this they thankfully took matters into their hands, and ushered both Jamie and I down the stairs with promises of searching for a drill. (I'm pretty sure these were aimed at Jamie, as opposed to me. I'm rather less enthralled by drills.) Jamie was given chocolate and cuddles by his key worker and I was gently shoved, sobbing, out of the door, and told to phone in half an hour to see how he was.

I drove home. Sobbing. I went into the house. Sobbing. I fed Beth. Sobbing. And then I made Neil phone the nursery given I was clearly in no state to give the impression of a responsible parent over the phone.

"He's absolutely fine. In fact, he was absolutely fine from about the moment his mum went out the door ..."

What's that they say about parental guilt? They don't know the half of it.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

It's my birthday today. Huzzah. No month long build up this year, for obvious reasons, but that isn't stopping it being a v joyous event indeed - even despite the controlled alcohol consumption.

Oh, and in case any further proof of the wonder of Neil was required? My birthday present this year? A professional massage chair ... AND associated massages of wonder from him on demand.

I love him very muchly indeed.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Bodily fluids

Hmmm. I know with two children now I should have prepared myself for this, but I could have done without the amount of the buggers I've seen in the past 24 hours. That's bodily fluids, as opposed to children.

Last night, rather incredibly for one my offspring, Beth actually slept quite well. To the point where I reckon she was only waking every 3 hours or so for a feed. Trust me, for one of my children, this is quite, quite remarkable. (It was also, no doubt, a complete one off. Sigh.) Something which you would have thought would have meant I might actually benefit from a reasonable night's sleep ...

No. Instead, Mr Jamie decided to mark his sister's good behaviour by choosing last night as the one where he'd pick up his first stomach bug of 2010. And so night four of life with a newborn baby was marked by me accompanying Mr Jamie to the toilet every 30 minutes or so ...

I should have been pre-warned by the events which had occurred earlier in the evening. I'd taken Beth upstairs to change her nappy, with Mr Jamie accompanying me. Taking off her nappy, which was suspiciously dry, I realised we had no more clean nappies upstairs. I can only imagine it was sleep deprivation which then led to my decision to pick up small baby, sans nappy, carry her downstairs from the loft ... and then be forced to stop half way down as she erupted in a simultaneous explosion of poo and wee all over me, the stairs, and the top of Mr Jamie's head.

Which is where Neil found us, seconds later, as he responded to my cries for help and came charging up the stairs to my rescue, brandishing his trusty upholstery cleaner ...

I have only myself to blame ...

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Oh, and one more thing ...

I had my first glass of wine of 2010 last night.

Truly, there are no words ...

Finding normality

Not quite such a good film as Finding Nemo. Fnar fnar fnar. (Look, when you're surviving on an hour's sleep a night, you take your kicks where you can.)

So here we are. Finding normality. Always a challenge, when you're me. Nevertheless, post Beth's eviction from my front bottom we are starting to fall into some kind of a routine. Albeit one which can be managed when you're sleeping for less than an hour a night. (Sorry, did I mention the sleep deprivation again?)

Mr Jamie has been remarkably tolerant of Beth's arrival, though not a little bemused. He's extremely keen to 'cuddle' her; unfortunately, as his cuddles consist of climbing onto her head and sitting on it ("I being gentle, Mummy"), this enthusiasm has had to be curbed. He is particularly interested in the breastfeeding aspect of things ("Mummy, she need her breakfast. That one food, and that one milk. She want the food one first."), and has developed an almost voyeuristic interest in my nipples. (Like mother, like son ...)

Three highlights to date which I thought you might enjoy:

Day 1. I am in the bath, shaving my legs, whilst Mr Jamie is allegedly watching CBeebies in the bedroom, and Beth is allegedly peacefully lying in her hammock. (I know. Be very impressed. In charge of two children, by myself, AND ensuring full body hair removal is carried out. One day after giving birth. I certainly have my priorities correct.) Needless to say, Beth starts yelling. Mr Jamie runs over to the hammock and stares at her before rushing into the bathroom.

"Mummy! Mummy mummy mummy. She sad. She crying. You come. She need you Mummy. SHE NEED YOU."

Day 2. Changing Beth's nappy, with Mr Jamie's 'help'. ("I put all the cotton wool on the floor?") Undressing her, her umblical 'stump' is clearly visible.

"Mummy, what that?"

"That's where she used to be attached to Mummy, before she came out of my tummy. It's called a cord."

"What that string?"

"It's the cord sweetheart."

I take off Beth's nappy, and she responds by yelling for all she's worth. Mr Jamie looks startled.

"She not like that string Mummy. It making her sad. You take it off her please."

And Day 3. Mr Jamie and I are in the bathroom. I'm attempting to have an unaccompanied wee, without success. Mr Jamie is standing between my legs, watching me pull down my pants. For those of you who are yet to experience the joy of giving birth - or are male - I think it's fair to say that post head-out-of-front-bottom, said front bottom is a bit of a disaster area. Think Nightmare on Elm Street, but with better effects.

"Yeuuuurrrccch, Mummy. What that?"

"Well, you know how Mummy told you that when the baby comes out it's a bit ouchy for the mummy?"

"Yeah."

"Well that's what happened, it's just a bit sore."

He peers closer. (Foolish boy.) And starts to cry.

"Nooooo, Mummy. I not like it. It all dirty. Put it away Mummy. PUT IT AWAAAAAAAAY."

Normality, my arse.

Monday, 11 October 2010

News in brief

I had a baby!

Hooray.

Succinct details: Beth, weighed 6lb 15oz, born 0037 on 10/10/10. Which, apart from being a bloody brilliant birthday, was of course her due date. She is clearly a time pedant, just like her mother.

Full and graphic birth story to follow. You have been warned. In the meantime, here are a couple of photos from my sleep deprived sofa bound state.


Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Happy Birthday Mr Jamie

It's that time of year again. That time of year when I breathe a sigh of relief that it's been x number of years since I last had a head assaulting my front bottom. I know, I know. There's a lot of ironic sighing going on in my house today.

Anyway, front bottoms aside, Mr Jamie is 3 today. Which is a terrifying thought. He demanded to go off to nursery this morning (which is just as well, given his birthday euphoria would no doubt have clashed with my designated maternity leave routine of 'sleep until 11, then sit on arse for rest of day'), and so is currently running amok there before I go and collect him after lunch so he can run in hysterics round the house. He is SO my son. He marked the morning by waking up, wetting himself, and then demanding chocolate cake for breakfast. That's my boy.

So here you go, a little photo montage for you today. Happy Birthday mad Mr Jamie.

3 years ago. I debated long and hard about sharing this photo with you, but decided honesty was the best policy. I look like a dead person. With the frizziest hair known to man. Jamie's cute though. Albeit with a very pointy head.


2 years ago. I picked this photo over the one where he's wearing my black thong on his head (for reasons purely known to his mad 1 year old self). Some things really shouldn't be recorded for posterity.


1 year ago. His face still terrifies me.


This morning. Ahhh, we've reached the halycon 'fake smile' stage of childhood. You'll note the bag of cake in his hand. No chance he was letting go of that.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake

It's Mr Jamie's birthday tomorrow. Somehow, he's going to be three. Three years since I last had a head emerging from my front bottom. Oh the irony.

Anyway, seguing seamlessly from front bottoms to cake ... when asked what he wanted for his birthday, he responded in no uncertain terms with "CHOCOLATE CAKE". (He is a very cheap date.) And so I, as his mother, have provided. I hope you're VERY impressed.




I MADE THAT ... and that's despite being 9 months pregnant AND used to existing on a diet involving culinary challenges no more stretching than opening a bottle of wine and a packet of cashew nuts. I am a culinary fucking GENIUS.

(Oh, and this year - not even a terrifyingly freakish person in sight. Which in some ways, I'll be honest, is a tiny bit of a disappointment. They were quite remarkable.)

Monday, 4 October 2010

Back to hospital

No, not to have a baby - I'm still far too busy indulging myself in my pre-baby maternity leave. (General daily routine: get up, take Jamie to nursery, go back to bed, sleep until 11am, sit on my arse, eat food, surf the net, watch Sky, collect Jamie, sit on my arse, eat food, surf the net, watch Sky, go to bed. Any babies arriving had better be prepared to fit in with that kind of schedule.)

I did however find myself on the labour ward on Saturday night, which was mostly annoying for the fact I was missing the X Factor at the time. (Priorities, priorities.) Having had a day with minimal leaping from a usually hyped up small baby I decided the sensible thing to do was to go in and get checked out. Plus, this had the added advantage of me actually being able to find out where the labour ward was. My memories of last time are somewhat hazy, to say the least.

I turned up and they strapped me up to the usual set of monitors, post asking me to wee in a large cardboard tray about 30cm in diameter. (This presented a slightly different challenge to the usual 'must-not-wee-on-hand' dilemma when asked to piss into a small test tube. Try and wedge the tray under the toilet seat? Or stand like a man with the tray on the floor and point and aim. I went for a combination of the two. Let's just say I won't be repeating it. The toilet looked like Mr Jamie had been let loose in there.)

Lying on the bed two things became quickly apparent:

1) I was having contractions every 5 minutes. I know, so what else is new? The midwife looking after me saw them showing up, and coyly asked me if I had any 'tummy tightenings' as this was what was being displayed. "Oh yes", I said. "I've been having contractions since I came in at around 34 weeks." "Oh. Okay." Little does she know I am totally going to claim this as the longest labour ever. In the meantime, I'm living in some deluded hope that all of these contractions will mean I will be one of these incredible women who gets to 10cm dilated without even noticing ...

2) The heartbeat of Little String was not behaving as it should. It would beat merrily along at around 140bpm for a while ... and then suddenly drop to around the 100bpm mark. (This is not good.) Hmmmm. We watched it for a while, before she had to go out the room. She left me with what I can only describe as an old fashioned school bell. "If it happens again, ring this and I'll come straight back in." Strapped to monitors, propped up on the bed, wildly ringing some large brass bell - I can only imagine how mad I must have looked.

The monitoring continued, interspersed with several bell ringings from me. (I wanted to shout "Oh ye, oh ye", but feared this would result in me being marked down as 'difficult'.) A different midwife came in with my midwife, and between them they puzzled at what might be causing these strange drops in heart rate.

Twenty minutes later, they'd worked it out. "We think the monitor is switching between picking up the baby's heart rate, and YOUR heart rate." Ah. Not quite as reliable as we might have hoped then. "We're going to move position and keep the trace on you for 10 minutes, then as long as it's consistent you can go home." Excellent. I might just make X Factor yet.

Alas. It was not to be. Re-strapped up, I became aware of a loud shrieking from out in the corridor. (They should really think twice about letting women who are yet to give birth onto the labour ward, where they are highly likely to be exposed to the full horrors of childbirth.) This was followed by a lot of Casualty-esque dialogue involving 'stats', 'theatre', and 'generals' and the running of several pairs of feet. And then silence. Lots of silence.

With no other alternative, I sat on my propped up bed and waited. And waited. And waited. (Fortuitously, Little String's heartbeat was now a steady 135, and my bell ringing duties were absolved. Just as well really.) Neil had stayed at home to look after Jamie, and so with nothing more exciting to do I found myself counting the ceiling tiles. Repeatedly. For AN HOUR AND A HALF. Needless to say, hopes of returning home in time for the X Factor were now but a distant dream. Sigh.

At last, on my one hundred and twentieth round of Count The Ceiling Tiles, my midwife came rushing back into the room. "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, we were all called away, but don't worry, everything is fine." With me, or with the shrieker? Further interrogation revealed both me and the other lady were fine. Which was a huge relief. I reassured her that I had no problem being left, that clearly they had an emergency they needed to deal with, and never let on that due to the numbness in my bum cheeks I thought there was a strong chance I might never walk upright again.

And so that, as they say, is that. Small child appears to be fine, the hospital staff were lovely as ever, and having caught up on the X Factor repeat the following day I can confirm that I really didn't miss out on anything much at all. I do however have an underlying sense of guilt which suggests that when I do actually go in to have this baby ... I might just take some disinfectant in with me and give that poor bathroom another thorough going over.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Oh, and as if the Burberry on its own wasn't bad enough ...




I don't think there's anything I can add to try and explain that away, really.

Nursery update

So, while Mr Jamie sits absorbed in a breastfeeding leaflet the Health Visitor brought over this week (I am staunchly resisting the urge to pass any comment on his behaviour) I thought I'd give you an update on the rather 'delicate' situation outlined in my previous post.

I can confirm that there's some good news on the nursery front. Unfortunately, there's also some bad news. But let's start with the good ...

It transpires that the chat Neil and I had with Mr Jamie actually worked. Dylan's mum had a similar chat with him, and since then there have been no cases of trousers down/willy touching whatsoever. Thank god. His room leader did alarm me by telling me when I arrived to pick him up that "He's done so well, he's still got the same pair of trousers on", leading me to spiral into some hideous world of trouser-swapping cartels set up by Mr Jamie, before she confirmed it was simply that he hadn't wet himself that day. Hoorah.

So, sex pest behaviour abated, what's the bad news?

Well, yesterday afternoon I arrived at nursery and was informed by one of the girls that Jamie had a new shirt. (I know: more clothes swapping.) Apparently a new batch of 'spare clothes' had been brought in by one of the parents, and Jamie had got particularly attached to one of the shirts. So much so that nursery had kindly said he could keep it.

Lovely, I thought. Before walking up the stairs to Mr Jamie's room ... to find him wearing said new shirt ...

It's Burberry. Short sleeved, chequered, Burberry. A look which, as I'm sure you're well aware, is these days rather more synonymous with those at the lower end of the fashion spectrum, rather than high designer living.

Particularly when you live near Portsmouth.

Particularly when, as in Mr Jamie's case, you team said Burberry shirt with TRACKSUIT BOTTOMS.

Oh god. My son is a chav. Waiiiiiiiiil.

Needless to say, he hasn't taken it off since. He even wore it in bed last night. And now we have to go out. Shopping. To M&S.

I think I'd almost rather he had simply stuck to being a sex pest.

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