To Infinity and Beyond

I had the shittiest dream last night. I dreamt I was pregnant in the same uterus Harry was in – the uterus I now think of very firmly as the blood-deprived, factory-of-doom, Wrong One To Use. It has been cramping and spotting again lately in its usual will-I-won’t-I-wait-until-you-get-into-the-swimming-pool fashion, plus I have a vague viral thing that has settled joyously upon my weakened form and issued orders for Dizzyness and Mild Nausea: stat, so there was a reasonable physiological subtext for my brain to have Bad Fun with.

I remember feeling frozen cold in fear and so absolutely convinced that the pregnancy would be another oxygen-deprived how-much-brain-damage? nightmare –  that I was actually considering an early termination rather than play another months-long game of Russian Roulette: Choking the Fetus.

(When I woke up, I realised that that part was actually true. That’s how much I distrust Cameron, my right uterus. She is never to be given another child of mine to house. I awoke in an actual waking panic, having dream-connected the Nausea and Twanging Cameron and shot out of bed towards my peestick stash like a wild-eyed, snaggle-haired, ungainly cannonball.

I never thought I’d see a time where I was truly glad to get a single line. Life: you are bloody strange.)

My dreams are no more logical than anyone else’s: despite being panicked and horrified about the location, I was also aware that I had a scan and blood test tomorrow to see if the baby was still alive – and I was desperately hoping that it would all be ok. Contradictory much, yeah yeah yeah. The fear was gut-wrenching and miserably upsetting: I was trying not to cry whilst I was frantically wrenching the correct pee-stick from its bag, dancing from foot to foot because A) snow-cold, unheated bathroom and B) large mug of tea just before bedtime.  

My brain hasn’t thrown these sort of night-time bricks at me for years – they stopped right about the time they changed to NICU-horrors, oddly enough. I’d forgotten the exact nature of the torment, the excruciating uncertainty of waiting for the next appointment. I’ve remembered now, this weekend, because my darling, deserving friend May is sat squarely, again, in that Place of Fetal Uncertainty. It is a spiky, needle-strewn chair, with a ground glass cushion.

Tomorrow morning, she and H will collapse Zombryo’s wave function and see if and where there is life, death, or further zombryonicity in Schrodinger’s uterus. 

Either way: she will need much in the way of virtual cuddling and I shall be away on holiday, so I am handing y’all (What? What? I have American family. I have American friends. I read American blogs. I’m Entitled. If she won’t use proper English then neither shall I, so there.) the banners reading ‘Cautious Rejoicing & Temporary Exhaling!’ and ‘Stop All The Clocks’ for you to take over there and display as appropriate while I am gone.

 Her blog is considerably better-written than mine: you will like it.

My preparations for tomorrow’s departure consist of packing a basket full of illicit sugary consumables – partly with the intention of indulging ourselves, and partly in the hope of shamelessly bribing Harry into good behaviour –  and sorting Mount Laundry

into its respective drawers. It’s 9pm. I should now go and pack, or something.

It’s been nearly a year (caravan excepted) since we last took Harry away, and I’m hoping he’ll settle better at night than he did last February. He is (this week, at any rate. It will All Change with his next cold virus) sleeping through for 12 hours, no bother. He learnt to jettison his Grobag so has spent the last week sleeping successfully with a toddler duvet. John and I are currently chewing tensely on the issue of moving him into a toddler bed, as he is perfectly capable of vaulting out of his cotbed – greedy boards notwithstanding – now his legs are free. 

He swiftly gets bored with the books we plant in the hope of delaying him and generally briskly completely disrobes on waking. If we don’t get in there sharp-ish in the morning, there is not only a giggling na.ked tod.dler (the google searchers who necessitate my fullstops will burn a long time downstairs, I hope) bouncing gleefully up and down, but a large puddle on the mattress to boot. The potty, incidentally, is going… badly. Not ready.

There’s not a cat in hell’s chance of him staying meekly in any bed without bars yet: he’s simply not old, placid or mature enough and I have the devil of a job getting him to stay on the sofa to nap every day. There’s several weeks/months of shitty-awful sleep involved in moving a toddler of Harry’s disposition to a open bed – and once it’s attempted, we can’t go back. Harry has Views on withdrawal of privileges: if he’s had or done something new once, then case precedent has been firmly set and he will throw heaven and earth about in a rage until he is allowed to do it again. So in summary: it’s a damn shame he’s in proper danger of hurting himself by falling out, because the bugger really needs to sleep in there for the foreseeable.

Of course, we could better the odds by providing something like these


to render Staying The Fuck Put a little more alluring, but there’s a wee problem with that, to wit: I blew well over a grand – our entire baby budget – just on nursery furniture for Harry’s room.

I bludgeoned John into making this purchase of QUALITY, SOLID ELEGANT OAK  (Fer the love o’God, don’t tell him they’ve just reduced it by 10%. I keep having to reassure him about the resale value) by telling him that it would totally last until Harry is 5 and then we could have another 8 children who would all use it too and it’d be a heirloom for all of them and then I would use it as a day bed and if we have the cot bed then we really have to have the beautiful changing unit as well or it’ll look odd on its own and oh look the changer top comes off so it can be our chest of drawers afterwards and I really really love the gently flared design it’s so stylish and we’re only going to ever have one child so it needs to be absolutely perfect because I deserve it after all the shit we’ve had and OMG look the blanket box has got little teddies sat on it and there’s squeee more inside we have to have one of those as well it’s the most gorgeous thing ever and OW the baby just kicked I think he really likes it I think I’ll just sit down on this glider chair here that I really love as well and rub my bump obviously in a pleading fashion whilst you peer in foaming disbelief at the price tags and mutter.

He bought the furniture. My Nan bought the glider. My parents bought the pushchair/carseat. I am a spoilt middle-class cow. If I suggest buying another bed he’ll want to murder me… but the man does like to sleep…

It’s bloody cold in this office and I’ve had no supper yet, but I have to log that Harry has continued to do New Stuff this week, or later, I won’t have the foggiest clue when it happened, and it’s important to me that I remember the When for some reason.

He has built on last week’s Nodding triumph (it is now in hourly, useful, exciting use) and used it to facilitate Abstract Questions. Formerly, Harry has only been able indicate a Yes/No to specific ‘do you want to: do [this]/eat [this]/go to [here]’ questions. He has been utterly bemused by any other question apart from ‘where is [actual object]’ to which he will point in response. Ask Harry if he wants food: you get a yes. Ask him if he likes his food/has eaten his food/has dropped his food/his food is hot and you get a blank, uncomprehending stare. It’s a communication wall of iron.

Yesterday morning, I asked him if he had done a poo in his nappy? 

And he nodded.

Now, I knew it was there: I have a nose. I know he knew it was there – if I’d asked him (as I often do) to point to the poo, he will cheerfully point to his own rump before leading me in a Benny Hill chase around the furniture, as he hates nappy changes. He has never responded like that before, and my streaming eyes were not purely down to what he had to declare in the turd department.

Yesterday afternoon, John accidently caught Harry’s nose on the zip of his jumper: because Harry was tired and crotchety he cried. I knelt down and asked, as I have for many many fruitless months (often several times a day, too) where his hurt was? and shook my hand in the ‘hurt’ makaton sign. This time – he pointed sadly to his nose.

Yesterday evening, John and I were pratting about and chasing each other around the kitchen island – over the last bottle of Heineken lager, in fact. Harry was gurgling with laughter and joining in, when he slipped over and banged his head on the kitchen cupboard. I cuddled him, and asked him where his hurt was? He pointed to the exact bit of head I’d seen him bash. The iron wall is definitely beginning to crumble a little. Knowing which bit of your child is causing the pain is pretty key. Not having a clue where to look has hitherto caused me much grief.

I asked him later on if he had been tobogganing with Daddy, and he nodded. (He had). I asked him if he liked tobogganing, and he nodded. I’m not completely sold on how much he understood the completed action/active liking element to my words because he was giving at least 50% of his attention to Timmy Time at that exact moment, but it was certainly progress from tuning me out completely. The current professional opinion on Harry is that he has a listening and attention disorder with sensory oddities. Some noises upset him. Some noises he completely zones out. Some noises he is absurdly sensitive to. Paraphrasing his SALT report: he has difficulty following adult-led activity unless it is very high-interest or active, and prefers to follow his own play agenda. The challenge is to attract his focus for longer periods: when he pays more attention and listens to others better, then his speech should follow.

I can see him taking longer and longer steps away from his babyhood: I am pleased and pained. His babble sounds seem to me to be growing in scope and range. Shortly before Christmas he began to join in with me when I sang him carols in the car (a fine way to explore which carols you don’t actually know the second verses to, although you thought you did. I got mightily confused and started singing cut & shut hybrid carols instead; I fear the resulting lyrics gave a reasonably heretical impression.), making sounds that remarkably resembled his father’s two-note repertoire.

He won’t let anyone except John’s mother touch his hair. He has fallen deeply in love with Playdoh. He has possibly the biggest fleet of toy tractors outside of a retail environment and copies perfectly what he sees his father do with the real thing. He copies everything that he sees other children do: usually things I would prefer him not to notice. His proficiency at jigsaw puzzles is impressive and markedly in advance of his peers. He still loves feeding his toy animals, often from his own plate. He is a clambery, ants-in-his-pants, unco-operative arsehead when he is tired. He gives absolutely the best lap snuggles – with extra kisses – in Christendom. God, I love him. So, so much.


12 Responses

  1. OK, you’ve made me cry now. *Cries*

    Seriously, my dear, what a lousy, lousy dream. I feel quite bad for being a trigger and setting the bastard thing off to play merry hell with your poor subconscious. And instead of privately resenting me for seeding your dreams with ground glass, you start rounding up cheer-leaders for me. I shall now cry again. With gusto.

    Also, my blog is NOT better written than yours. I merely aspire to being NEARLY as well written as yours. Shush. Stop arguing. Is so.

    I so very much love reading about Harry’s progress. I bounced off to find H and tell him Harry was NODDING the other week. ‘Is he?’ said H, ‘Excellent!’. As I type this he is now reading the above post and making approving remarks. Harry has fans. And Harry is communicating! *Does snoopy dance*. And the thing with the puzzles? And the feeding his toy animals from his own plate? Impressive and lovely and cute all in one.

    (No advice on beds. None at all. Trouble was a horror and Diva was a horror and Minx was a horror (I was angelic. I have been assured of this many times)).

    Hugs, my dear. Enjoy your extremely well-deserved holiday. Have a cocktail at the Lagoon Bar for me.

  2. John has just wandered in and commented that he was cross that I apparently wouldn’t let him haggle for a discount on the furniture. In Mamas & Papas. In Solihull. For their most popular furniture with a 14 week waiting list.

    Good luck with that, buddy.

  3. I can’t believe you spent that much on furniture that will be chewed, climbed, peed on, and generally destroyed! Unless it’s made out of concrete or steel, it will take a beating until you remove it from the room of a child. My frugality is wincing. Don’t tell John that we used an inherited (i.e. free) desk and an old (maybe antique, but it was only $75) dresser as our changing tables (and dresser).

    Hurry for Harry! Quick progress – maybe there was a wall you needed to break through in order to see improvement. It’s a very good reward to be understood, so I expect you to see even more improvement as time goes by. Language does seem to be like a leaking dam – first a trickle, then a stream, and the next thing you know, they’re presenting dissertations on snowballs melting in pockets.

    What you need for the transfer to a real bed is a digital clock. Then you can make the rule of “If the clock says xxx, you need to be sleeping.” What? There’s a small chance it will work – does Harry like numbers and rules?

    I hope you have a great trip!

  4. That’s Hurray for Harry…

  5. That bed- totally worth the money! From one spoilt middle class woman to another!

  6. Horrible dreams. So awful when sleeping is worse than waking. I hope your holiday is everything you each need it to be. And that is wondrous furniture.


  7. The wall is falling, 1989 in Berlin-like? THAT is GOOD!
    Oh, that is so good! It’s thrilling to see those connections being made, isn’t it? That’s the boy!

    Have loads and loads of fun and relaxification on your holiday – and no bad dreams. Not even a disturbing thought must cross your blissful mind..

  8. Wishing you the best of holidays with only peaceful dreams and lots more “Look what Harry Did!” moments.

  9. So, so, so thrilled to hear about Harry’s progress!! Please keep us posted on that front. I’m also glad to hear that you have, perhaps, a more helpful diagnosis to assist you in knocking down that wall completely.

    As regards the big-boy bed: DON’T DO IT!–that is, if you can avoid it. I am not sure if Harry is actually climbing out regularly, or just capable of doing so. Our son stayed in his long past the point where he could climb out if he wanted to; he seemed to enjoy the security. (At that point we had finally gotten him into a good bedtime routine, so he wasn’t interested in fighting it. During a brief period of misguided time-outs in the crib he escaped very easily.) But if H. is a regular escapee, your crib would also take a crib tent (e.g.

    I say this because at 2.5 we got S. a new bed–although not an extra-cool car bed, it’s true, just this (, put together the low way obvs., with a nice starry roof on it–and if anything, the change in beds as well as routine made things worse. To be fair, we had also just gone on vacation and switched rooms at his daycare, but still, it sucked, and we went back to the crib. At 2 3/4 he has just made the switch by his own demand, and I think it was basically because he was old enough.

    Of course, if Harry climbs out regularly and a crib tent freaks him out, then you have no choice, and you’ll be OK; but if you can avoid the agita, do!

  10. Oh tell John to be quiet about the furniture, I think your line of argument was spot on. And you will have other children to love it, I so hope.

    Hurrah for Harry, he sounds like he’s making progress by leaps and bounds. We can get him together with Pob soon and he can teach her how to do jigsaws.

  11. There must be a way for you to buy the Crib Tent II in the UK:

    Toddler prison. It’s the only way.

  12. Great to hear of progress with Harry.Have a lovely break.

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