A Tiger? In Africa?

First things first: a sincere and very humble thank you, thank you, thank you for your wonderful, unexpected, staggeringly generous support. I am truly bowled over by it.

I had thought maybe a handful of you might chuck in a couple of quid for a good cause and I would have been so delighted and appreciative had you done just that. As it was, I kept blinking at the screen in awe as the total kept going up; the fact that so many of you dug deep into your credit-crunched pockets has left me stupefied, touched and grateful beyond words. I cried so many bloody pints, in fact, I couldn’t shift the resulting headache until yesterday. As of this evening, the grand total http://www.justgiving.com/DarthToddler stands at £751, and the gift aid (tax relief) Bliss can reclaim on our direct donation of the £261 raised via the coffee morning, will send the effective value well over £800.

Bless you, internets.

(BTW, UK readers might like to consider Bliss’s lovely Christmas cards. If you are a knitter, there is something else you can do, too: knit some breasts.)

I’m still not in my usual mental place about cake (deep and fervent desire, generally) and I was fair buggered after it all on Sunday. John, with a forbearance he does not usually exhibit, let me sleep in until 10am without muttering under his breath OR inflicting Harry – a bouncy, morning toddler – on me. He didn’t even moan much when I disappeared, grinning broadly, to the Hobbycraft show at the NEC, although it was absurdly, tiresomely crowded and the queues for coffee were daunting; after an hour or so of employing the wifey Elbow into unyielding backs I was beginning to feel a bit limp about things again. I even fell asleep in front of the TV, which is almost unheard of – and followed it up with a night of insomnia, which isn’t.

And since then my arse has not stopped scurrying dementedly about, because this is, work-wise, the busiest month of my year. I attempted to combine parenting with work this morning: my post natal group (which, for want of a suitable collective noun, I term the Piddle) meet at the local playbarn on Wednesday mornings, and I thought, as Harry generally scuttles about the playframe by himself – much like a hamster on speed – while I latte-up and wave from the ground, that I could arrange a regular stationery-selling gig there, and still take him with me. The playbarn agreed, so this morning I saw him bustle off to play alongside the rest of the Piddle toddlers, and had no sooner begun unpacking my boxes of Christmas cards when a friend appeared at my side.

‘I realise this isn’t what you want to hear right now, but Harry’s filled his nappy. It… errr… reeks!

Ohhhhh. Nice!

Gave friend cash tin to guard. Captured protesting child before he could spread it about any further. Inserted him in arms of another friend who had unwisely strayed too close. Galloped outside and extracted nappy bag from car. Reclaimed child. Carted yammering child to changing rooms. Recoiled in dismay from diarrhoea-y output. Noted glumly that vest was heavily… compromised. Trousers, thankfully, escaped with mere light staining, which I pretended not to notice, due to absence of any alternatives. Changed impatient child. Double-bagged shitty vest. Noted sore bottom. Rummaged through bag for barrier cream, unsuccessfully. Cursed. Unleashed clean child back into main area. Returned to unpacking cards.

A few minutes later I am still head-down, arranging, when a lady I have never seen before in my life approaches, holding Harry by the hand. He is wearing … Christ! … just his nappy and t-shirt, and she is holding his trousers.

‘Excuse me! Is this your son?’

‘Oh God.’

She took this for assent.

‘He was running about happily at the bottom of the big slide, but his trousers were sat half-way up it!’

I managed to splutter something about thanks, made reasonably incoherent by shame. The Piddle were all wetting themselves – ha ha – and Harry was firmly shepherded into the toddler section where they could keep an eye on him for me. Work/Motherhood FAIL. Thankfully he forgot about his trouser-removing mood, but later duly proceeded to have more diarrhoea, necessitating another lengthy trip to the changing room. I was worried about him rubbing his little bottom raw, but repeated enquiries about ‘Home?’ all met with a determined nolle prosequi and it was gone lunchtime before I brought him home for a late nap on the sofa, nappy off, legs sprawled and bum slathered in barrier cream.

His portage visitor is coming in the morning and I am guiltily aware that both cramming in more work than normal and the weekend’s frantic activity have meant that we have not done our piano practice, so to speak. His portage worker is puzzled by Harry, as are we all. He seems such a bright little boy in some respects, yet there are some fundamentals that he still isn’t grasping at all. He can answer a question regarding his own wants easily, but cannot grasp anything more abstract.

For instance: although he can give a firm and clear affirmative to ‘Would you like some grapes?’ he cannot grasp the meaning of ‘Have you finished your grapes? Are the grapes all gone?’ It’s not that he has no personal gain or motivational interest in answering an abstract question per se, or even that he doesn’t understand the meaning of the individual words, because he does – it’s just that there’s no comprehension there at all. He listens to my words, but remains impassive, clueless on how to respond, or even that a response is required. Yet if I ask him to give me one, two or three kisses, he wheel-spins towards me happily to plant the appropriate number of smackers on my lips.

His communication is slowly, imperceptibly improving. His proto-words and phrases are becoming more consistent and although he still does not have a single clear word he is sometimes easy to interpret; one of the playbarn ladies who rescued his trousers (pause to wince and mourn my maternal pride) assured me she had asked him where his Mummy was and understood his response. (I expect she got ‘Daretiss!’ (‘There it is’) with an enthusiastic gesture to back it up.)

His gains are so gradual that I’ve had some panicky days about it again lately. His default babble-noun currently is ‘Tayzass’. Everything is bloody Tayzass, all day long. He  has expanded on the ubiquitous Muuurrrrmmm! and his repertoire of animal sounds now includes piggy-snorts, horsey clip-clops (with jiggly rein hand-gestures), sheep baas (glotteral throat-coughs that sound like a machine gun with a terminal blockage) and tiger, complete with a lovely little RrroOAaaaWWRrr and pouncey-paws. I get regaled with the Snorty-oinks, the Muuurrmmm, the Ack-Ack-Ack-Ack-baaas and the clippety-clop sounds pretty regularly from the back seat as we drive around Warwickshire – and his hawk-eye spots a tiny specimen 4 fields away. Tiger-roars from the back seat are, reassuringly, reasonably infrequent.

I have only just now realised (go me! but Yay for the constructive thought-process that is blogging) that his effortless recognition of large numbers of Makaton signs coupled with his indistinct, confused and highly limited use of them, precisely mirrors his difficulties with spoken communication. His understanding of speech is entirely age-appropriate – everyone thinks, bar the reservations over his puzzling comprehension-gaps – but his speech output is currently still fairly banjaxed. He only uses the signs for ‘ice-cream’, ‘more’ and ‘please’ pro-actively, although he uses those plenty and often. Are you getting a cupboard-love theme coming through, here?

I had a fair few people who caught sight of him beetling happily around, a beaming centre of attention, at the coffee morning, later ask me breezily about his speech – in the obvious expectation that I would have news of his suddenly starting to speak in sentences, Just Like Their Neighbour’s Cousin’s Stepbrother’s Friend’s Kid They Cited To Confidently Reassure Me last time I encountered them. And I found myself taking no pains at all to let them down gently – or give them much of a leg-up out of the subsequent conversational hole they found themselves in – when I answered that No, no speech and next stop: Psychology & Brain Scan. Which was undoubtedly uncharacteristically unkind of me, particularly as they had dutifully tipped up to give me some money, but I’ve been feeling rather angst-ridden about Harry’s future lately and its been spilling out around the edges of my Politeness containment field. We saw the little girl who is Harry’s direct contemporary this evening, and she is suddenly three inches taller, spouting huge sentences, jumping with staggering co-ordination and rolling the skittle ball like a bowling pro.

And to think I was revoltingly smug because Harry could sit up and walk first! I know, I know, I know: he’ll probably catch up, and the fact that she’s obviously developmentally surged ahead of him shouldn’t get to me, but it really bloody has. Despite everyone’s best efforts he is still struggling against difficulties with both his body and his brain – and the more I feel like this, the more I feel that I really want that MRI, for the bringing of either reassurance or answers.

And And And And my period is now well into its third sodding week, and getting heavier and more aggravating by the day. My hair needs cutting. My gym membership has run out. I have lost no weight at all. My eyes will no longer accept my contact lenses, and I detest wearing glasses. The gastro thing I kept moaning about so often earlier in the year is still happening, I just got tired of whinging about it continually. I am woken up at erratic intervals, always and without exception between the hours of 2am and 4am, by a 3 or 4 hour bout of debilitating upper abdominal pain. Drs best guess is endometriosis, ulcer or – mostly likely, given the symptoms, but least likely given that prodding my gallbladder doesn’t make me yelp – gallstones. I am currently on anti-acid thingies, with the additional instruction to eat a thoroughly greasy curry and see if it brings on an attack.

I’m too… ummm… chicken to do it.

That is all, as it is nearly 2am and I can think of nothing else to whinge about just at present.

Thank you so very very much, again, for your marvellous support of sick, small and premature babies – and of me.

To borrow the phrase of a dear friend: I appreciate the fuck out of you.


13 Responses

  1. Oh dear me. You ARE having a week, aren’t you?

  2. I think it’s great that you’re telling people about Harry’s evaluations and testing – it’s nothing to be ashamed of and the more people who know about it, the more people who might take some extra time to speak to him. Any little bit helps…or doesn’t hurt, anyway.

  3. Nothing more to say than, oh shit.

    Love the new header though. x

  4. Oh dear. Sorry about the tummy problems. That’s so horrible, draining and demoralising. I have tremendous sympathy.(Maybe the lap will help with it, if it’s endo? I felt better after, definitely).

    Fingers crossed for our little Tiger friend. Raaaarrrr!

  5. What a week you’ve had! Hoping it all calms down and you’ll be sitting there twiddling your thumbs with absouletly nothing to do. Sounds blissful, doesn’t it?


  6. How wrong is it that your posts make me smile and laugh? And too bloody right about telling it like it is to the smiley-smiley-lets-just-slide-past-all-that-nasty-reality people.





  7. oh bollocks, it does come crashing down sometimes, doesn’t it. I think you’re doing exactly the right thing in saying how it is to those who ask about Harry – it does no one any favours to obfuscate on these points. I always told people who asked about our infertility, figured it was their problem if they were embarassed since after all, they’d asked in the first place.

    hang in there.

  8. That’s quite a bite you’ve got there. I should imagine it stings a bit.

    I wish I did have your leg hidden somewhere so I could give it back to you. It sorrows me that all I can do is stuff fivers in the Bliss collecting tin.

    I wouldn’t be arsed with being Sunshine And Unicorns about Harry’s issues either. A little discomfited embarrassment won’t hurt them, and may make them less oafishly breezy about People With Issues in future. Also, if the Piddle Parents et.al. know that Harry’s issues are being looked into Very Seriously, they’re not going to be snitty or down-nose-look-persons and make you feel worse when he’s having a bad day, are they? Not that they ever should’ve in the first place, because all toddlers have DevilSpawn moments, even the allegedly ‘very advanced’ angelic ones. I loved the image of him counting kisses. That was just so damn cute.

    But, my dear, you must look after you too. If you’re in pain every night, and bleeding so much, and having to run about like a bluebottle, and looking after Harry… ohh, my dear dear woman. I shall now worry about you. Yes. I shall. I remember the bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeding for eeeeeeever thing and it is HATEFUL. Do you have a date for the laparoscopy/ hysteroscopy? Will they be good and careful and examine your stomach as well as your uterii while they are at it?

    Hugs. Lots of hugs.

  9. Oh bugger. I was exhausted just reading all of that.

  10. Every now and then, from my position of senior age and memory, I stumble upon your blog and really enjoy your easy writing style. More impressive when you’re writing about issues that aren’t easy. I do see some similarities in your little boy’s behavior/speech/coordination issues with those of a little boy, Noah. His mother, Amy Storch has a blog titled amalah.com. Just as you have been searching for answers and diagnoses, she has as well. Each child is so different, I know, and there may be no correlation between your two children, but I’m sure you’re looking at all angles in order to help your boy and maybe, just maybe, there is a thread in one of her blog postings that may help you. FIngers crossed.

  11. Sometimes a good dose of reality, bluntly brought, is what people need in order to fully grasp that the situation is what it is and not, in fact, the hysterical imaginings of a distraught mother. Although I do dearly wish that this reality would get brighter for you; tummy distress and three-week periods just seem cruel on top of everything else!

    I love you and I think you are an amazing person. That you can carry on at all, let alone work on top of everything is really blowing my mind. This is me hugging you from thousands of miles away. I hope you are fast asleep right now.


  12. I’m sorry it’s hard sometimes. Harry is gorgeous, and you’re clearly a fantastic mum to him. Hugs.

  13. I just popped in to thank you from the bottom of my heart for visiting my blog and for your compassionate and gentle words of support. It’s hard, but it will get easier, I know. Thank you for listening xx

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