Harry’s Birthday

I never did get around to posting about Harry’s birthday.

 We were gathered in the hallway about to leave for his party, when Harry, in one of the accidents he so often suffers, overbalanced on the stairs in front of us all and smashed his eye socket hard into the wooden stair rails. I could tell by the thump it was a bad one, although John, also in a tense mood, saw fit to instantly berate me for over-reacting, before he had even inspected Harry’s damage.

So now: Harry has a cut, swollen eye, and is roaring like he is being murdered. I have, strangely, suddenly decided that occupying the same planet as my dear husband is vastly over-rated. I am sat in the living room cradling my shrieking child, tears running silently down my stressed face, as the clock ticks rapidly towards – and beyond – Party Time! Yay! Well, we were late. Half the guests were waiting outside the hall. I turned up at Harry’s 2nd birthday party bootfaced, tear-stained and miserable.

I wanted to grab Harry, flee far, far away to somewhere I could cuddle him in perfect peace, and cry a quiet river into his hair when I got there. The UK ‘BBQ summer’ had rendered the north-facing village hall so cold that we had to make pots of tea simply to warm people up. I suppose I was doing a bad job of trying to adjust my features upwards, because everyone kept asking what the matter was, and then Harry collided with something else which made him cry again, and I had to retreat to the kitchen to do some seriously shaky deep breathing at that point.

I eventually managed to get a grip on some stiff upper lip, and laid the food out. I calmed down a fair bit when I’d got them all sat down and eating, and I began to feel a little less like a trapped animal. Then I cheered up substantially, as someone I knew walked in, who was unequivocally coming to stand shoulder to shoulder with me in my emotionally torrid little corner – bringing two extremely special and immaculately tricked-out little guests:

Nick & Nora

and I’ve begged all these photos from Shannon, as to my annoyance I took virtually none.

We sang Happy Birthday to my handsome little man.

Harry happy birthday

I helped Harry blow out his candle I blew out Harry’s candle

Harry candling blowing

and we cut his cake.

Veg patch

naughty pig

cake

We had practised blowing (oo-er) but all Harry can manage yet are comical piggy-snorts.

After the party we headed home, and Shannon, poor girl, must have been sadly conscious of the contrast between her and Alistair’s welcome of me to their beautiful home… and… ours. She’d just had a really long drive, during which Nora gave her heart failure at 70mph by discovering how to work the door release catch – and arrived to chaos. John and I had completely forgotten to screw the rail for the roman blind up that morning in the second guest room, obliging me to precariously perch a large art print over part of the window to darken the room for Nick & Nora instead. I also noticed that John, despite having had strict instructions to clean the guest bathroom (he claims I must have dreamed telling him this), seemed to have entirely omitted to clean the tidemark of Harry’s perpetual grubbiness from the actual bath. Sigh. We’re just not good at this at all. Shannon’s pair of utterly delightful babies (Yes, babies! Babies! They are ALL STILL BABIES! I will have no truck with this ageing toddler thing!) occupied me beautifully until it was time to heave-to once more, as we were having a BBQ for some assorted farming friends that evening.

I enjoyed the evening party enormously. I suspect my dear old father, incidentally, much as he loves me, wants to swop me for Shannon. He has THAT MUCH of a paternalistic crush on her. He has told me no less than 3 times how delightful she was, and has enthusiastically quizzed me – uncomfortably closely, in the secret COUblogGH!/deliberately-left-murky circumstances – on quite how we met. Sadly for him, Shannon’s Dad is highly unlikely to accept a late-life adoption of all of my 14 stones quietly, so I think it’s a no-deal situation.

The weather had failed to live up to its threats and had turned out beautifully. John duly carbonised some genuine pig product on the BBQ, and we settled down in traditional British fashion to crunch away at the burnt bits. I had forgotton that Shannon was vegetarian, because I am a bit fucking useless, so she was obliged to subsist on salad (which she had earlier set-to and chopped herself, because she’s lovely like that), baked potato skins and the chocolate fountain. I’m positive she needed the sustenance, because effortlessly memorising names, faces, occupations and personalities for every guest she charmed must surely require fuel. It’s one hell of a social accomplishment: I generally find that memorising the surname pushes the first name out of my head, and five minutes later I’m utterly clueless.

John, a seasoned drinker as a Young Farmer, now only goes out every month or so, and has gently morphed into a 5-pint-limit susceptible Old Git. He gently folded himself into an armchair and began to snore. I would probably have left him there but Shannon is made of altogether kinder stuff and took pity on the pain his crunched-up form would suffer; we heaved him, leg and an arm apiece, onto the neighbouring couch. I predicted that he would, around 5am, awake and crawl shiveringly into bed. As indeed he did.

 The next morning hurt my head a little, but not nearly so much as John’s.

Do you remember I told you I had sent a birthday card for Harry to CBeebies – the national UK children’s channel?

timmy

Well, they showed it… probably out of sheer GUILT at having RIPPED THE DRAWING OFF TIMMY’S EASEL! You can see the ripped ends and everything! I spent ages on that bloody rainbow! Harry’s is the last few seconds.

Shannon and Alistair between them most kindly ensured that this recording was immortalised for me, as I was stuck in an appalling Bank Holiday queue in the West Midlands Safari Park at the time, being eyed up speculatively by a tiger.

A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Apropos of the No Eggs! Cockerel Complex! whimpers that populated my previous post, Thalia comments:

Um. I assume you did either chemistry or biology o-level. And if you remember back to those days you’ll remember that UNITS are very important. And now if I tell you that UK measurements of E2 are made in pmol/litre and US units (and the charts which show normal levels) are shown in pg/ml, you’ll hopefully start to blush a little, then feel relieved. Divide 94 by 3.67 (see here http://www.globalrph.com/conv_si.htm) and you’ll get your actual level according to this chart (http://www.fertilityplus.org/faq/hormonelevels.html#female). 94/3.67=25.6 or NORMAL.

Now stop worrying. hahahahaha

Brains. The lovely lady haz dem in spades! And also, bloody Americans! If you hadn’t gone and DONE stuff back in 1775, and become this whole swanky World Power thing, we’d all be singing together uproariously from the same scientific hymn sheet right now – and I wouldn’t have had a sleepless night.

All this is precisely why Doctors cry and hammer their heads into the desk when their patients confidently pipe up with their self-diagnoses of beri-beri, leprosy or galloping dandruff. Although, they can’t entirely blame the phenomenon of internet…

Jerome K Jerome: Three Men In A Boat. Published 1889.

THERE were four of us – George, and William Samuel Harris, and myself, and Montmorency. We were sitting in my room, smoking, and talking about how bad we were – bad from a medical point of view I mean, of course.

We were all feeling seedy, and we were getting quite nervous about it. Harris said he felt such extraordinary fits of giddiness come over him at times, that he hardly knew what he was doing; and then George said that HE had fits of giddiness too, and hardly knew what HE was doing. With me, it was my liver that was out of order. I knew it was my liver that was out of order, because I had just been reading a patent liver-pill circular, in which were detailed the various symptoms by which a man could tell when his liver was out of order. I had them all.

It is a most extraordinary thing, but I never read a patent medicine advertisement without being impelled to the conclusion that I am suffering from the particular disease therein dealt with in its most virulent form. The diagnosis seems in every case to correspond exactly with all the sensations that I have ever felt.

I remember going to the British Museum one day to read up the treatment for some slight ailment of which I had a touch – hay fever, I fancy it was. I got down the book, and read all I came to read; and then, in an unthinking moment, I idly turned the leaves, and began to indolently study diseases, generally. I forget which was the first distemper I plunged into – some fearful, devastating scourge, I know – and, before I had glanced half down the list of “premonitory symptoms,” it was borne in upon me that I had fairly got it.

I sat for awhile, frozen with horror; and then, in the listlessness of despair, I again turned over the pages. I came to typhoid fever – read the symptoms – discovered that I had typhoid fever, must have had it for months without knowing it – wondered what else I had got; turned up St. Vitus’s Dance – found, as I expected, that I had that too, – began to get interested in my case, and determined to sift it to the bottom, and so started alphabetically – read up ague, and learnt that I was sickening for it, and that the acute stage would commence in about another fortnight. Bright’s disease, I was relieved to find, I had only in a modified form, and, so far as that was concerned, I might live for years. Cholera I had, with severe complications; and diphtheria I seemed to have been born with. I plodded conscientiously through the twenty-six letters, and the only malady I could conclude I had not got was housemaid’s knee.

I felt rather hurt about this at first; it seemed somehow to be a sort of slight. Why hadn’t I got housemaid’s knee? Why this invidious reservation? After a while, however, less grasping feelings prevailed. I reflected that I had every other known malady in the pharmacology, and I grew less selfish, and determined to do without housemaid’s knee. Gout, in its most malignant stage, it would appear, had seized me without my being aware of it; and zymosis I had evidently been suffering with from boyhood. There were no more diseases after zymosis, so I concluded there was nothing else the matter with me.

I sat and pondered. I thought what an interesting case I must be from a medical point of view, what an acquisition I should be to a class! Students would have no need to “walk the hospitals,” if they had me. I was a hospital in myself. All they need do would be to walk round me, and, after that, take their diploma. 

Then I wondered how long I had to live. I tried to examine myself. I felt my pulse. I could not at first feel any pulse at all. Then, all of a sudden, it seemed to start off. I pulled out my watch and timed it. I made it a hundred and forty-seven to the minute. I tried to feel my heart. I could not feel my heart. It had stopped beating. I have since been induced to come to the opinion that it must have been there all the time, and must have been beating, but I cannot account for it. I patted myself all over my front, from what I call my waist up to my head, and I went a bit round each side, and a little way up the back. But I could not feel or hear anything. I tried to look at my tongue. I stuck it out as far as ever it would go, and I shut one eye, and tried to examine it with the other. I could only see the tip, and the only thing that I could gain from that was to feel more certain than before that I had scarlet fever.

I had walked into that reading-room a happy, healthy man. I crawled out a decrepit wreck.

I went to my medical man. He is an old chum of mine, and feels my pulse, and looks at my tongue, and talks about the weather, all for nothing, when I fancy I’m ill; so I thought I would do him a good turn by going to him now. “What a doctor wants,” I said, “is practice. He shall have me. He will get more practice out of me than out of seventeen hundred of your ordinary, commonplace patients, with only one or two diseases each.” So I went straight up and saw him, and he said:

“Well, what’s the matter with you?”

I said:

“I will not take up your time, dear boy, with telling you what is the matter with me. Life is brief, and you might pass away before I had finished. But I will tell you what is NOT the matter with me. I have not got housemaid’s knee. Why I have not got housemaid’s knee, I cannot tell you; but the fact remains that I have not got it. Everything else, however, I HAVE got.”

And I told him how I came to discover it all.

Then he opened me and looked down me, and clutched hold of my wrist, and then he hit me over the chest when I wasn’t expecting it – a cowardly thing to do, I call it – and immediately afterwards butted me with the side of his head. After that, he sat down and wrote out a prescription, and folded it up and gave it me, and I put it in my pocket and went out.

I did not open it. I took it to the nearest chemist’s, and handed it in. The man read it, and then handed it back.

He said he didn’t keep it.

I said:

“You are a chemist?”

He said:

“I am a chemist. If I was a co-operative stores and family hotel combined, I might be able to oblige you. Being only a chemist hampers me.”

I read the prescription. It ran:

“1 lb. beefsteak, with
1 pt. bitter beer
every 6 hours.
1 ten-mile walk every morning.
1 bed at 11 sharp every night.
And don’t stuff up your head with things you don’t understand.”

I followed the directions, with the happy result – speaking for myself – that my life was preserved, and is still going on.

Very Nearly An Armful

I both love and hate the internet.

My consultant told me my day 3 blood tests were, and I quote, ‘normal’. I have therefore spent the last couple of days all Tra-la-la!-ish and not giving it another thought, until I have just now sat down to google the actual numbers involved, which I dutifully asked for and scribbled down.

FSH: 6 Good!

LH: 5 Better!

E2: 94 Not good. Not good at all. I’m now worried that the FSH figure is rendered meaningless, and that I am possessed of about as much future egg potential as the average cockerel.

Prolactin: 126do hope I have written this down wrong. I think I meant to write 26, which still seems the higher end of good.

SHBG: 27.1 The internet has no strong opinion on this.

Testosterone: 0.5 This seems awfully and suspiciously low. John has just rolled back from an infrequent trip down the local pub and, when I mournfully broadcasted this figure as being woefully insufficient, he nodded sagely and promptly and plaintively cited his sex life as also being woefully insufficient. Apparently, the two are linked.

Lastly, I have written ‘Thy’ which I suspect means thyroid stimulating hormone. I have 1.607 somethings of it, which is probably about normal.

I’m now attempting desperately to give brain space to the phrase ‘Diminished Ovarian Reserve’ in a way that doesn’t actually involve me chewing on furniture. Most of me is thinking that if my Beautiful Lady Consultant (Stunning. Face, figure, the lot. Obviously possessed of a simply humungous brain. And a kind, courteous person, too. Gah!) isn’t worried, then neither should I be. She impressed John and I once again – very much – and really, I just need to get off google and let her get on with it.

I told you that ‘it’ would likely take the form of knives or cameras: in fact, it will now involve both. Consultant number 1 will be driving cameras via my cervi (Cervixes? I’m never sure.) into both Cameron and Blair and zapping furiously away at anything adenomyosisy the cameras see, particularly this synechium thing, whilst Consultant number 2 (my previous Awfully Important chap, and apparently a particularly outstanding surgeon) will be slicing into me via the sunroof and having a good rummage about down the back of the sofa uteri for anything interesting. If they find any buried loose change, I must remind them that the landowner gets 50%.

They are, at my particular request, also going to have a look right behind my uteri, and see if I have any endometriosis sticking them to the front wall of my bowel. I’m royally fed up of sinking, cross-eyed in pain, to my knees and gasping like a gaffed fish every time I have concurrent lower-bowel peristalsis and a period. 

Surgery form

My surgery form highlights the fact that my BMI is 33 (I was slightly indignant about the upwards pointing arrow. It is exactly 33, thank you so very much. I feel the different ranks of Obese and Even Obeser need to be preserved here.) and that I will be in theatre for well over an hour. I’ve been knocked out by general anaesthetic a fair few times, but never for more than 30 minutes, so I expect John will be fielding the sick bowl on this occasion.

I was perfectly calm about it all until I spotted the bit about them requiring 2 units of blood. Eeek.

Beautiful Lady Consultant said two things to me that I had some difficulty processing:

Firstly, that ‘you have absolutely no problems with fertility at all.’ I was about to fall about laughing, until I grasped her meaning. I am, thus far, rather good at becoming pregnant, if an egg and a sperm are introduced into a candlelit womb and invited to slurp oysters together. I have never, in fact, failed to become pregnant from any finished course of treatment, and have managed to do so once from an unfinished course. My problem, of course, is that I refuse to either ovulate properly in the first place, or obligingly stay pregnant.

Secondly, she was sorting industriously through the towering piles of paper that constitute my notes, and pulled out a collection of scan photos. ‘Which pregnancy was this?’ she asked me, pointing to the date of January 2006. John and bickered conferred briefly, but could not decide whether it was the first or second IVF. ‘It was a twin pregnancy,’ she said, casting a quick upwards glance at me.

Which… is something I was never quite sure about. I had been told, albeit blurrily, in the midst of grinding pain, that they had seen a second sac, but this was during a scan the day after I had already miscarried, and I saw no further – evidence, shall we say? – over the next few days. So I had almost thought they were mistaken. But the photo BLC showed us was of two unmistakable pregnancy sacs, albeit collapsing, and I’m a bit confused how they missed telling me about this during earlier scans, although the evil was plenty sufficient to the day thereof in any case. I lie awake at night sometimes picturing these children of ours; these extinguished beginnings. Their sleeping faces, their soft limbs, their laughter. I’ve been counting three, and it should have been four.

She told me I had a month or so to get some blubber lost – not precisely her exact words – although I have been trying to get hold of their office all day to delay the scheduling more towards Christmas, as during November I will be flat-out working. Hopefully fat-out, too, but we shall see.

Of course, I’m now wondering whether delaying a whole extra month means wasting one of my puny number of remaining eggs.

*shakes head to dispel image of cavernously empty ovaries with a tiny handful of rice-sized eggs cowering, utterly endocrinally overcome, in the corner*

Lets talk about something else, hmmm?

I had a lovely surprise yesterday morning. Katie has knitted a beautiful, elegant and soft snuggler for me, as part of the Pay It Forward scheme, and my photo by no means does the fabulous knitwork justice. It even suits me! 

snuggler

After admiring the workmanship, it occurred to me that I had actually better pull my finger out and get mine finished underway. So far I have stitched one (1) item of the three required, and not even completed the seams. Roll on the long winter nights, else they haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell.

A Bargain Assortment of Bads and Goods

I’m sat here deciding whether to compare myself to a busy bee, an army ant or a blue-arsed fly. Whatever. You get the picture: me, insect, scary hybrid, yes?

My exoskeleton bum has not touched the ground much. I have actually got going properly with my cards since returning from that thing I loosely termed a holiday, and have finally turned over my first thousand quid. This is money I can keep all to myself!  must share with the Inland Revenue  must give to John, who pays my credit card  must use to pay Harry’s nursery fees will never actually see, but it’s highly satisfying to have my own funds in my wallet, nevertheless. John keeps asking hopefully when he can retire.

Tomorrow afternoon we are off to hear how desperate – or not – my FSH levels and all my other assorted bloodwork gubbins are. I am taking my ultrasound report: the bad one. I think it’ll either be cameras or knives next. Bring ’em on.

Harry has passed his exams, bought a car, left home and got married since I last posted. Or… something very much approximating to it, anyway.

I have explained here before that Harry, in addition to a walloping great speech delay, has a further communication block with the concept of ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. He can’t say the words, does not understand what nodding means, and has only recently begun to shake his head occasionally, when he wants to emphatically and imperiously reject something actually being physically held out towards him.

Over the last couple of weeks John and I both felt that his understanding had moved up a gear; that, in subtle and indefinable ways, he was much more au courant with our conversations and activities. On a hunch, I crouched in front of him last Sunday evening, gained his eye contact and spoke up clearly:

‘Harry! Yes or No? Would you like an ice cream?’

‘DJESS!’

Cue much, much jollity. I wasn’t sure he’d do it again, but he has, he has, he totally bloody well has, every day since, although not quite yet every time. Sometimes the word isn’t recognisably a ‘yes’ – it can default to ‘dat!’ or ‘giss!’ but that’s not so important in the scheme of things. Even more encouragingly, a day or so afterwards he began to shake his head in response to spoken concept choices. Predictably, the first instance of his demonstrating this was our asking him if he would like to go to bed; there was an icy, considering stare, followed by a determined shake. He promptly slithered off the sofa and beetled off at high speed to hide in the kitchen. John and I laughed like a pair of blocked drains, and he did, in fact, buy himself another 20 minutes of play time with that shake.

This is, obviously, several different and fetching shades of Complete Awesomeness.

He is still dribbling buckets and has his fingers permanently jammed in his mouth. I was convinced the dribble must be low muscle tone until I peered inside his mouth during naptime earlier today and found that 2 of his secondary molars were erupted – and obviously have been for quite a while – and the two remaining baby teeth are bulging at bright red and white gums. That’d be a Maternal Observation for Dummies: Module One FAIL, then. 

I also spotted that this peculiarly yellow, calciferous-looking tooth

Harry tooth

harry tooth 2

has not improved any since the last time I had a squint at it. The rest are all pearly white and smooth, but this one popped out of the gum bright yellow and obviously has something strange going on. I know enamel irregularities are rather more common amongst premature children, but I don’t like the look of it  – or the sides of his rear tongue – much. I don’t expect it’s significant, but I’ll show it his Paed in any event.

What else? Ah, yes, physio. I wrote a stinking email to the head of Paediatric Physiotherapy, challenging their refusal to treat Harry if I supplemented his treatment with private care; I mentioned in passing his other professional care input. She rang me back to apologise for the ‘miscommunication’ and freely admitted she had not prioritised Harry: his Paediatrician’s referral had made no mention of the fact he also recieved Speech Therapy and Portage from the multi-disciplinary team, merely that his parents had concerns regarding his mobility. I knew this to be perfectly true – I have a copy of the referral – but I rather thought the fact that they do all work for the Integrated Disability Service was significant. She explained that the involvement of other professionals generally rang warning bells for them, and that Harry would now be seen within a fortnight. Result. Of course, if I had listened to John and asked Harry’s Portage key worker to hurry the physio referral along on our behalf, he’d have been seen a month or more ago. My bad.

In an entirely different Not Listening to Hubby (My Bad) episode: my friend had a old summerhouse she wanted rid of, which was the precise size and dimensions that I have been hankering after and scouring Ebay unsuccessfully for. We agreed on giving her £20 for it, and I booked Hubby + trailer + strong right arm to come and dismantle it from her garden last Wednesday.

John was dubious about the whole idea, and said so. He was excessively mentally scarred during a dilapidated greenhouse dismantle-and-reassemble project that his Mother talked him into, a decade or so back. John’s unprecedentedly savage response to the absolute piglet job she had landed him with (some of his muttering was, apparently and unusually, actually audible and decipherable) has remained the talk of the family ever since, and he has entered a firm nolle prosequi to assorted proposals of garden buildings removal ever since. I have, however, been banging on relentlessly about wanting a summerhouse for a couple of years, and we haven’t been able to afford so much as a dog kennel, so he cautiously agreed.

Readers, he was nasty to me when he saw it. Admittedly, it was rather more rotten than I realised and the roof was larger than the estimations I had given him by a factor of roughly 350%. He attacked it brutally with a crowbar, ignoring my yammering protests when aesthetic or vital bits splintered and ricocheted off in all directions. I kept a low profile for the rest of the day. I have no idea where it currently is: John drove down to the farm with an expression that indicated the only place he was considering parking the trailer was by the burning heap. I haven’t asked after its fate.

The day after that, John and I managed to miscommunicate badly, with the net result that he thought I was aware he had left Harry downstairs watching TV, and I was in the shower thinking Harry had gone with John to the farm. After 30 minutes of blissful leg-shaving-hair-drying-toenail-painting-me-time, during which I had been strangely puzzled by the odd thumps and bangs from (I presumed) our tortoise, given that we were supposedly alone together, I arrived downstairs to encounter – horrified – a totally naked small boy, a puddle of wee (these first two items are common encounters) a torn £50 note, a wallet emptied, plastic and coinage contents scattered to the winds, and a number of ‘don’t touch that, please, Harry!’ items where they shouldn’t have been. Our bad.

I have made jam.

The great jam massacre

Lots and lots and lots of jam, nearly all of it either under-or-over boiled. Damn you, £6 Lakeland jam-thermometer. Bloody thing. It tastes fine – I didn’t burn any of it this year, at least – but most of it needs bringing out of the jar with either a chisel or a spoon. I have 2kg of preserving sugar left, and probably ought to go and relieve the groaning trees of their plums – fnarr, fnarr – but I’m not sure I can face the inevitable jam carnage again.

I was going to do a post about dozens of things this week, and had time for none of them, but I want to write a little about about our local ploughing match, despite the fact that I was flustered (due to downstairs-alone-toddler) and took no camera – without which I can’t do the event justice. A shame, as it was held this year in fields perched high above the River Arrow valley with simply glorious views. There are proper, old-fashioned Bilbo-Baggins eleventy-first-party white marquees, built with huge centre poles and hemp-type guy ropes; men with ancient tractors roaring away industriously at their rich, dark, straw-scattered furrows 10 feet outside the marquees; the hedgelaying competitors turning a straggling, leggy length of centuries-old hedge into – well, I never quite understand how they judge hedgelaying sections, but it certainly looks neater when they’ve finished; the Shire horse pairs with their gleaming flanks, braided manes and tails, fluttering head plumes and polished show harness; the 100-year-old traction engine and threshing drum making an almighty racket as wiry old men feed armfuls of wheat into its maw, and honest-to-God agricultural types who turn up in tractors and battered 4x4s wearing a green-to-dun spectrum assortment of boiler suits, cotton checked shirts, boots, wellies, flat caps, waxed hats and Barbours, complete with a thick scattering of farmers’ wives, who bring splashes of pastels and bright pinks to the golden straw-stubbled field. There was a light breeze, scattered clouds, bright sun, a fresh smell of straw, liberally mixed with horse shit and tractor oil – and I was unusually and fabulously happy. I do love this event, even when it’s pissing down with rain. As I was, for the first time, working as opposed to visiting, I was inside a marquee selling cards with tractors on for most of the day, but I was by the door and could see over the main field and valley beyond. My Mum bought Harry along in the afternoon and he went potty with excitement over… just about everything. A good day. A really, really good day.

Speaking of which, Harry had a good time at nursery last week. I stayed with him for the Tuesday session, but he flew the nest alone on Thursday with barely a wobble when he saw I wasn’t staying. I bawled all the way home; he had a marvellous time. They are still getting used to his wobbles, and he came home with an – unmentioned – small red welt under his eye which later turned into a shiner, but that is unfortunately almost a bi-weekly event for Harry in any case. I’m not surprised they didn’t mention it, they won’t have noticed him do it. On Tuesday, I was asked by one of the junior staff if Harry’s tolerance to pain was ‘like, insanely high’?

Sigh. Oh, he feels it, all right, luv. He’s just used to it.

He’s off again tomorrow morning, and I have the unaccustomed luxury of deciding what particular household or business activity I want to apply myself to. Last Thursday I had an order for a birthday cake to keep me (very) busily employed (fun to do if you can spare the time, but hugely unprofitable unless you charge a small fortune – and absolute murder on your back) (the first person to tell me that the Union Jack is missing some bits gets a poke in the bloggy eye. It was late, I was tired, I was aching, and John is still blinking);

Suitcase cake 1

Suitcase cake 2

but tomorrow I am free to choose what I do in my toddler-free slot. 

Reading with your feet up is a household activity, surely?

A holiday is what you take when you can’t take what you’ve been taking any longer

They say that a change is as good as a rest.

You do hear a lot of unmitigated bollocks*. It is emphatically not a rest. It is not remotely close to a rest. It is, pardon my vulgarity, exactly the same shit in a different toilet.

(Apropos, Harry, bless his 2nd percentile soul, generally shits like a Great Dane. His progress towards potty training consists of sporadically attempting to remove his nappy concurrent with urination or shrapnelling defecation, resulting stickily in catastrophic overflow.)

Harry slept in our caravan exactly as well as I expected him to: reasonably badly. Answering, as ever, to the name of Lucky, he rapidly acquired a sleep-annihilating cough, probably due to the spectacular pea-souper that thickly wreathed the so-called English Riviera for our first 2 days. (Not unusual. During a previous trip to the Minack

Minack

 I had marked difficulty in discerning the actors, and at no point saw the sea.) Harry was also difficult about his naps – too much new stuff to look at, mainly – so this, paired with poor night-time rest, resulted in a particularly prickly young pear.

Even though it is always Harry behaving like a monumental and complete arse, John and I, without fail, manage to blame one another for whatever family crisis of overwrought nerves Harry’s relentless, single-minded pursuit of trouble has landed us in. We are clever like that. Our bitter mutual castigation harmonises nicely with Harry’s ululating screams of inarticulate rage, and the juddering blows/protesting squeaks/sickening thuds from whatever unfortunate surroundings are currently suffering the full force of his directed fury.

I’m honestly not sure how much of Harry’s behaviour is a result of our joint genetic legacy, or his individual… lets call them… issues. I waver daily between fearing his behaviour is a pint-size, highly concentrated sample of our worst character flaws – or believing him to be simply a toddler with an iron will, an iron fist, an iron skull, a steely glare and sadly limited communication.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Thwart this child at your bodily, mental and marital peril.

It is, I fear, only a matter of time before Harry breaks my nose with his furiously lunging skull; I never expected to receive my first Glasgow kiss from my son.

He still has no speech. Proto-words are emerging, sporadically, unreliably and slowly. He knows dozens of signs, but simply does not understand how to use them to communicate. I see 10 month old babies communicate more effectively than Harry, and my sadness for him – and for myself, truth be told – is profound. We will never be here again. I can’t redeem the time – too much time – that I spend exasperated, grappling, struggling, coaxing, crying, furious, swearing, persuading, embarrassed, manhandling, dejected, out of breath, really fucking annoyed… and beaten.

The beauteous Amy phrases it perfectly: ‘a meltdown at a playground is different for us, that it’s not the kind of meltdown *your kid* has, no it’s just NOT, that it’s like someone set our child on FIRE, that there’s no redirecting or soothing, there is only FLEEING.’

Come 6pm, I would rather face down a hungry bear** than cross my ferocious – fabulous – flailing little bundle of determination. I am sometimes asked if I think he might be somewhere on the autistic spectrum – to which I used to reply No. Lately, I say… I’m not sure. He is a social, smiling child (when things go well; by which I mean: his way) who seems to be growing away from some of his odder quirks (fear/anger at certain noises/frequencies, some texture aversion) but he remains, in ways, a strange child, and a challenging one. Until we break his communication log-jam, I – glumly – expect no improvement. 

He was not feeling or behaving his best this week, and we were fairly strained in consequence, but I didn’t set out to moan quite as much as I actually have here. I am, when you get right down to it – and not very far down, either – wholeheartedly and emotively thankful for every last one of my bruises. The sound of his giggles lifts me. I beam when he beams. The comical little ‘uuUMM!’ noise of interest, pleasure and surprise he makes when confronted with something new and deeply intriguing makes me radiate happiness. I would slowly disembowel myself with a spoon – a rusty one – if it saved him from pain.

Mind you, after about the 45th minute of doleful howling from the back seat in protest at his Wrongful Carseat Incarceration, muttering from the front seat, and with over 100 miles of motorway still to go – disembowelling myself sans anaesthesia began to seem like a comparatively attractive distraction.

But we did have fun, in between the squalls. Look! Smiles, and everything!

sea wall

sea wall 2 

slide

But not at the waves, which Harry is highly nervous of, possibly due to witnessing the severity of our disgusted recoil from the filthy foam topping the waves at Weston Super Mare a few weeks ago.

waves

John taught Harry a fascinating new game: putting large handfuls of cold, wet shingle down the ample Mummy-cleavage.

pebble cleavage pebble cleavage 2

Hubby seemed oddly vexed when we fed pebbles down into his jeans in reciprocation. Apparently they got wedged in his underwear.

Harry shot through most of Plymouth Aquarium like a bored torpedo, but he particularly liked the sharks, and is consequently now the proud owner of a foot-long cuddly specimen.

 Shark

 shark2

I did actually manage to get one of the five books I took read, although I had run my fingers through my hair so much (as a result of wall-to-tiny-fucking-wall Peppa sodding Pig. Now there’s a porcine family that needs sausagizing, stat.) that it began to look like an Old English Sheepdog crossed with Spinal Tap; I did well to make out the words at all.

Fiery cross

And now we are home: the laundry mountain is visible with Google Earth and Harry is sleeping beautifully again in his own cotbed.

He starts nursery on Tuesday.

We can’t actually afford to send him to nursery. Not even the two measly mornings that he is booked in for – but I can’t afford not to send him, either. He needs to be surrounded by more speech than ours, he needs to learn to share toys, he needs to learn not to hit, and he needs to become accustomed to the school site in which he will be educated until he is 11 years old. He will begin a hefty 5-half-days-a-week-all-or-nothing preschool there in a year’s time; the year after that… he will begin school proper, a whole year earlier than his conception date entitled him to expect.

And I need him to go, so, so badly. I need a kitchen that isn’t a continual heap of clutter, and a bedroom floor that isn’t a swirling morass of toppled laundry heaps interspersed with ankle-crippling lurking toys. I have a young business that I need to spend time growing – which reminds me in turn that I have a sadly neglected garden. My to-do list is, in fact, impossibly long for the 6 hours a week that I am consigning him to daycare for – but no matter.

I need to draw breath.

*often on this site

 **I have incidentally, faced down a bear, albeit a really rather titchy one. I was walking across a Lake Louise car park; I had yummy-smelling food and the bear was obviously keen to partake. But so was I: stony broke and hungry, I convulsively clutched my bag of goodies defensively and glared with all the venom I could muster. The bear, recognising a stiff fight when he saw it, obligingly buggered off. I heart food THAT MUCH.

Blazing Saddles

I am the woman who shares.

I have told you about the time I was infested with poultry mites.

I have told you – with photos – about the time I picked up Harry’s turd in my bare hands. 

I have written an entire post – with illustrations – about suppositories. (Note for American readers regarding British medical terminology: pessaries generally go in your vagina. Suppositories most definitely go up your bum.)

I have posted a photo of a spectacular geyser of baby Dire Rear.

I have told you in eye-watering detail about my gynaecologist’s exceedingly narrow escape from being plastered with the contents of my wayward bowels.

(I’m seeing a pattern here. The British obviously are obsessed with toilet humour.)

The only reason I didn’t tell you about my amnotic fluid bursting forth and hitting the midwife – and the wall 4ft behind her – like a water bomb, was that I hadn’t yet started blogging.

Consequently, I feel almost contractually obliged to provide you with a clear description of the current sad state of my undercarriage.

Imagine a small animal, with sharp teeth. A rodent, possibly, or a very small, yappy-snappy dog. Imagine those teeth sunk deeply – well, ummm… here, (and I should perhaps have warned you during my previous post that the link photo illustrating the precise anatomy – an improvement on the drawings I found, I assure you – is not entirely suitable for opening on your daily commute. John, incidentally, has just appeared over my shoulder, peered at the photo in surprise, and asked me excitedly if I was contemplating batting for the other side. I enquired: had he not read my previous post, avec link? ‘Oh yes, but I don’t go wasting my time opening links.’) and refusing to relax its jaws for any inducement whatsoever.

Yesterday, it felt as if the stitches (I think I have 4 of them, but I need binoculars to be sure; it’s a long way down there and I have to circumnavigate my intrusive belly) were in imminent danger of bursting, despite my having consulted an ancient edition of the BNF and judiciously prescribing myself 150% of the recommended dose of post-operative voltarol. Today, it merely feels like someone has sliced my perineum in half and stitched it about a bit. Funny, that.

Most women have a newborn baby to distract themselves from the unpleasantness of this procedure. I, instead, have a toddler, the prospect of a long afternoon selling cards (courtesy of the current plethora of fetes and produce shows, I am working every Saturday for the next… ever. But at least I don’t have to sit down, which, emphatically, is not my favourite stance this week.) and the necessity of readying our caravan for travel to Devon on Sunday or Monday.

This week is the only window we have to escape before winter; naturally, the weather forecast has satisfied my predictions by changing from warmly optimistic to wetly foreboding. I said I would never caravan in the rain again, but it’s a choice between biting the meterological bullet or going nowhere, as the budget will not stretch to anything more exotic this year. We are, at least, leaving the dogs behind – but we are swopping them for a 2 year old. I’ll get back to you on whether it was an improvement or not.

John is currently attaching an old cot-side to the end bunk to form a baby-cage

caravan

 but I’m still pessimistic about the chances of us, or the surrounding campsite, getting much any sleep.

I am going armed with a large pile of unread books (bliss!), an oil-filled radiator, and a steely determination to walk short distances only. John is likely taking his bike.

I will not be taking mine.

Saves Nine, or Thereabouts

Continuing the theme of our glorious NHS:

Yesterday, Harry and I drove 31 miles to the regional hospital where I have received all of my fertility treatment to date, and where Harry spent 10 days in the (brand-new, state of the art) intensive care unit. I took my ticket, glumly noted that I was 81st in the queue and settled down to entertain a tired-but-refusing-to-nap toddler – in a ballroom-sized waiting room, containing nary a toy or book. I had anticipated a good old British queue and came dutifully prepared with sticker books and crayons, but there’s really only so far 2D Bob the Builder will take you: an hour and forty minutes later, I was running out of ideas. When my number did eventually pop up onto the screen, I was ushered into the inner sanctum – where Harry spotted a large toy box, and dove in happily. I was promptly and skillfully phlebotomised; the entire procedure took less than a minute. Then I had to extract my furiously protesting toddler, who had not even had time to strew the toybox contents messily onto the floor, which is his preferred method of proceeding.  NHS logical thinking FAIL. And then 31 long miles back home.

Today, I left Harry in the care of my mother, and drove myself to my local hospital. My appointment time was 2.15. I eventually made it into theatre at 5pm. Yes, theatre.

See, I had it in mind that it would be a quick snip of the scissors type-job. I had mentally signed up to a tiny slice of the scalpel and voila! A couple of minutes to stop the bleeding, and away I would go. I started to smell a rat when I was formally admitted, bunged in a gown, and consented. When I was (eventually) led into theatre which possessed the usual complement of begowned-and-masked nurses, I was beginning to wonder if it was worth babbling that really, it didn’t bother me all that much, and perhaps it was too much trouble to everyone, and maybe it would be better if I just went home and we forgot all about it?

It began to dawn on me that perhaps I had underestimated quite what the job entailed. A bit of lignocaine gel obviously wasn’t quite going to cut the proverbial mustard here: I was evidently going to be repeatedly jabbed in the perineum with sharp needles. Arse.

 The nurses (a competent, kind bunch) were potty with excitement over their brand new stirrups – a menacing pair of highly padded black plastic bondage boots – although it took them some time to work out, firstly, quite how to attach them to the trolley, and secondly, how to insert me inside them. They eventually velcroed me firmly into position, so I consigned to history my last vague thought of overturning the drugs trolley as a distraction and legging it down the endless corridors, hospital gown flapping madly, my fat bottom twinkling out of the gaping fabric at my unfortunate pursuers.

Philogynae was actually pretty skillful with the needles; one was sharp enough to make me draw breath, but God knows, worse things occurred in the area when Harry appeared. He pointed out the problematic web of skin to the juniors craning close over his shoulder, and talked them through the scalpel cut. I enquired, as he worked away, if another vaginal delivery would have done the job for him, and he agreed it would have done, albeit untidily. A stitch in time, I thought… 

I vociferously sketched for him the mind-blowing, consciousness-withdrawing pain I had suffered when Harry’s head became firmly wedged half-way out (the fiercest contraction at its peak was nothing in comparison to it, and I do now wonder if the second uterus and my [full to bulging] bladder were pressing down on nerves somewhere) and requested that he properly ensure the route for any future baby-heads was… free from obstruction, shall we say? He cheerfully agreed, although I thought I could maybe hear a faint roar of protest carried to me on the wind from home, 15 miles away.

I think I got what I asked for. The nerve block was total, but I suddenly became disagreeably aware that my bum was now sat in a small puddle of blood. Lovely. I watched, fascinated, as he drew long, gruesome lengths of bloodstained suture thread up into my view, and then down again. The tugging sensation as he tied them off was most peculiar, and put me in mind of c-sections I have heard described – painless, but most unpleasantly weird.

I was wheeled out of theatre at 5.20, and deposited in recovery. I was mildly surprised, upon clambering down from the trolley, just how much blood was on the fresh sheet they had put underneath my bum before leaving the theatre. Day 4 of period not withstanding, I appear to have bled plenty, and I am now fairly curious about the nature of the topography changes.

I experienced a little difficulty in discharging myself, as the nurses in recovery were horrified that I intended to drive myself home, and protested that I should obtain a lift. I dryly informed them that farmer’s wives are rather expected to paddle their own canoes at the best of times, and certainly in busy season. Hearing this seemed to actually increase their agitation, so to cheer them up I bracingly told them that the previous time I had been admitted to hospital I had unceremoniously discharged my 2nd-degree-torn self some two hours post partum, in the face of rather dour medical disapproval, and had promptly galloped at high speed across the hospital car park, lugging my own 3 heavy bags, and comically dragging my dead leg – which was the only thing the epidural had managed to successfully numb. I tried to drive the car, but John caught up with me by that point.

In fact, I had actually never suggested – or even particularly desired – that John accompany me today, as I am, when you get right down to it, reasonably good at wearing big-girl panties. There is also the secondary consideration that John is spectacularly bad at hand-holding, being fairly impervious to discomfort himself. He is even worse at kicking his heels in waiting rooms. Finally, a few stitches and an undercarriage shot full of lignocaine does not render someone incapable of safe independent locomotion; I shall be feeling far more sorry for myself tomorrow, I expect, when I am swollen and sore. 

Anyways. I am… re-sectioned. The area in which this rather chilly-looking young lady has her uppermost piercing is the area in which I am, once again, sporting stitches. The local anaesthetic wore off a few hours ago, but Philogynae enthusiastically bunged two Voltarol suppositories up my arse – in friendly fashion, you understand, but nevertheless… enthusiastically. He also told me he would prescribe voltarol suppositories to bring home, but discharge nursey was a bit hard of thinking and seemed to think he meant aspirin. I didn’t bother contesting the issue, I have plenty of voltarol here from the last time my back went.

Philogynae heard my descriptions of the disappearing adenomyosis with puzzlement. I explained that the period directly following my adenomyosis diagnosis was shatteringly painful. The period I am currently having – following on from August’s you-have-two-lovely-normal-looking-uteri-Mrs-HFF! scan, has been comparatively painless. He told me I was presenting a enigma; I gloomily agreed. He evinced no surprise at hearing that CRM were talking about laparoscopies and hysteroscopies, and obligingly sent the nurses scurrying to photocopy the scan report for me to show my consultant in a fortnight.

Scan report 

He also, upon hearing my Not The Right Uterus Again, Thankyou pregnancy worries, advised me to pay the £10 fee for a copy of my medical records, the maternity section of which could be shown to CRM. I was a little stunned hearing this, as I had always understood that requesting a copy of one’s own medical records in the UK was tantamount to declaring Intent To Litigate to the hospital in question, but he assured me not. I will be phoning up first thing in the morning, as I am avidly curious to read my labour notes: such a momentous few hours, about which I remember so very little.

So… here I am. Sat gingerly on the office chair, with legs clamped tightly together. It’s burning and stabbing a little bit, and the stitches feel scratchy. I shall, unfortunately, have to go and pee soon; I have been putting it off, but the time is nigh. I am intending to follow it up with an early night, accompanied by Voyager, which has been Shannon’s lifesaver to me throughout today’s lengthy wait (it has taken a good deal of concentration to ensure that I have not lapsed into phonetic Scots while writing this post, me bein’ verra osmotic wi’ accents, ye ken.) a plate piled high with illicit munchables, and packets of voltarol and paracetamol clutched firmly in my paw.

I am heading bogwards. Wish me luck…

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