Bits from pieces

1) 10dpo. The innernet 10mIU cheapies say no. Tesco wundersticks say no. There is a distinct absence of any cramping, which is completely diagnostic in its own right with me. I feel cheated and depressed.

2) Harry, while no longer the voiceless enigma of his toddlerhood, is still an almighty puzzle to me. He is the most perplexing mix of the confident and the fearful, and while I realise that the spectrum of anxiety to brazen is a contextual moveable feast for all of us, I really am mystified. There’s the odd book he doesn’t like, but TV is the primary source of his panic, in that he is unable to tolerate the slightest suggestion of dramatised peril. He is becoming gradually worse, only able to cope with the most anodyne of preschooler programming. He turned against his former favourite, Come Outside, 18 months ago, suddenly citing the ‘bad dog’ – this, from a child who calmly and regularly faces down an erupting, boiling tide of 3 chunky labradors next door, one of whom generally approaches at chest height – my chest height, and who also loudly bosses our own two hounds around. He was sanguine over the rest of cBeebies’ output until the last few months, when he began to run away at the merest hint of jeopardy, and couldn’t be jollied out of it. He can’t even put up with ‘Grandpa In My Pocket’ anymore, for God’s sake. Neither can I, as it happens, but for entirely different reasons.

I deliberately kept him away from Toy Story 3, knowing full-well that the initial train-wreck scene, containing suspense, a scary pig and the tide of monkeys would send him bolting from the room. He ended up watching it in a children’s play area recently, with predictable upset-fleeing results. He saw a little of Cars at a friend’s house a couple of weeks ago and liked the look of it, although expressing some anxiety about a brief glimpse of a scary harvester chase scene. I bought it, but wasn’t confident. We sat together to watch it after school yesterday, and he lasted until Lightning is ejected, asleep, from Mack (what, 10 minutes in?) and disappeared into the dining room at high velocity, where a sad little voice could be heard complaining about the ‘bad bits’.

Last week, he began a cheerful sentence ‘When we killed the sheep yesterday…’ (last month, in fact, and he only saw the sheep after it was dead) and proceeded to chat merrily about eating up all the yummy lamb in the freezer himself; he has taken to school and new friends with great gusto; he is physically adventurous to the point of outright risk; he seems, in fact, fairly well adjusted to life. Except for this. I don’t know what to think: either that he has an unusually maturely-developed concept of menace, coupled to no ameliorating cognitive context of the likelihood of it actually occuring, or that we’ve simply bred a child who has led such a sheltered existence that he can’t cope with the level of threat contained in pre-schooler TV programming. Neither of which seem likely: I think his upbringing with us has been fairly normal, albeit mired in rural clartiness; and even if John and I were toting odd ideas about infant exposure to The Scary – which I don’t think we are – Harry has spent the last 18 months spending 3 hours a day in a nursery setting, which would presumably right any skewed mental balance. I’m stymied. Perhaps he just can’t stand bad acting…?

3) My hens, which I have more time to actually be cluckily among since Harry has started full days, have stopped laying, the blighters. I have 12 at present – 3 lovely French Marans, 3 Old English Game Birds (a feisty cockerel and 2 hens, one of which is a mightily determined house-invader, despite me booting her unceremoniously outside on several occasions) and 6… well, it’s probably best to call them wee brown laying hens. I assume they are ex-batts, poor ladies, and I have nothing intelligent to suggest regarding their provenance or age, except to say that I greatly suspect it varies widely, despite being recently auctioned as a group at our local poultry sale. (I took Harry twice to the poultry auctions and gave up: he spent the entire time sticking his fingers up his nose and uttering loud protests about the ‘SMELL, Mummy! Bad SMELL! There was a faint fragrance of chicken shit, admittedly, but the child spends a significant amount of time rolling around cow & sheep shit with nary a complaint, and our house is, furthermore, regularly odiferously blasted by the prevailing wind from the pig farm, 5 miles or so away. Which, let me fervently assure you, is no distance at all where pig slurry is concerned.) I went up with a bucket of grain this morning to give them a severe talking-to about the lack of eggs, but after a while, I noticed that one hen has gone lame, and nearly all the Browns are sporting grotty, nodule-ly legs. Google told me I have a classic case of scaly leg mite, so I have promptly bought remedial spray, and am awaiting lunch time and John’s assistance to tackle the problem.

There’s nothing like a little chicken shit around the trousers to endear you to fellow parents at the school-gate, after all.

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In No Particular Order

There’s a Moose, Loose, about this Hoose. More specifically, it is attempting to chew its inexplicably noisy way from behind the plasterboard adjacent to our bed, choosing to do so exclusively between the hours of midnight and 2am – which is usually when my endurance cracks and I leap out of bed, yammering imprecations at the wretched rodent, and start banging on the wall. John will likely sleep through the last trump, but can’t quite blot out an enraged woman hurling herself bodily against the wall some 3 ft from his head, and therefore turns grumpy at roughly 2.01am.  As a result, he is currently in the loft, laying mouse traps.

I am 7 dpo following IUI last Monday. It was fairly disastrous, in that the wrong ovary (I wanted the right. It is almost invariably the right. It was the left.) popped a lead follicle, and consequently John’s gametey creme de la creme – stained a disconcerting pink, I observed – had to be aimed in my shy, retiring left cervix, as opposed to war-weary old baby-battered Cyclops on the right. I was told to come in starved, just in case worst came to worst and they had to send me to theatre to prod it in surgically, but like a total pillock, I absent-mindedly ate three bites of Harry’s rejected breakfast cereal. I came clean, not actually wanting to Die Of Cornflakes on the table, and the (snotty cow, aktually) anaesthetist naturally refused to touch me with a laryngoscopic bargepole.

Consultant – nice chap, but not the heroic soldier of the previous titanic struggle for Project Cervical Location – struggled manfully with catheter and speculum for half an hour, before announcing that, had he not observed it at the outset on ultrasound, he would not have believed there was a second cervix present at all. My non-sedatable status apparently dictated that he was not able to use his toothier grip-cervix-and-wrench-to-one-side gynae instruments, although I did urge him to just bloody get on with it and ignore any squeaks. (Abdominal pain – what with one grim experience and another – holds absolutely bugger-all fear-factor for me these days; although, oddly, the slightest twinge of tooth-or-earache reduces me to a 5ft 5″ quivering chicken). It wasn’t an option he felt he could take, so we had to settle for depositing the cocktail-pink swimmers in the holiday destination of North Vagina, and I lay, head down, feet up, for half an hour.

If this half-arsed cycle doesn’t work, I am a bit puzzled as to whether my unbroken run of positive pregnancy tests following IUI & IVF cycles would still stand or not. It’s an odd point to call off IUI: on the theatre table with the catheter approaching the bullseye, so to speak. On the other hand… cervix, shmervix; you’d think all the little chaps ought to head in the correct approximate direction, given that the Woody Allen timid-types had been assiduously booted out from the great egg race.

And if it all does manage to work, however temporarily, then I expect a little heavy lifting and long days on my feet will be juuuust the ticket for me. Wary of permanent commitment, but in distinct fiscal deficit, I have obtained a seasonal post at the big high street booksellers whose name begins with a W. The interview was comical: they asked me to recommend a book. And had to practically beg me to stop talking. The wages are pitiful, particularly when you consider that nearly everyone behind the counter earning their not-lavish-minimum-wage actually has a degree – in a proper subject, too –  but there’s an outside chance I might actually enjoy being there, a little bit, which would make the wages more palatable. I hope. If not, I’ll have to return to something sales-y with bigger £££ and generalised misery attached, which me no want.

Harry’s first full day of school happened today. He is having a simply delightful time, and I am very relieved, although concerned by his manifest exhaustion, exhibited in tremendously increased, prolonged meltdowns. ‘You are being VERY RUDE to me, Mummy! Those are VERY RUDE WORDS! HARRUMPH!’ *folds arms with an audible thump, and stomps goosesteppily off* (Upon being imposed upon to the extent of, say, being asked to tidy his toys.) I saw his Paediatrician last week, and although I managed not to lay my head on her desk and sob, it was a near thing. She made the usual ‘he’s still very young’ noises, but I managed to convey that the wet-pants situation was driving me to the absolute end of my tether. The continual smell of piss is really starting to get me down, although I’ve drawn uncertain comfort from a couple of friends in the last few days who, it transpires, have suffered worse, for longer.

Harry’s not rare – but also seems likely to be one of those children who just isn’t going to suddenly ‘get it’, either. The paed seems fairly sure that there’s no physical issues, as Harry’s not worn a nappy at night for months – he’s plonked on the potty, 9/10ths asleep, between 11 and midnight, and is dry until morning, but she’s organising a bladder scan to rule anything out. We’ve also been referred to a specialist team, which I welcome enormously, as I can’t help but be convinced that we’re part of Harry’s problem.

Harry is bringing contrariness, a will of iron and a… ahem… spirited temperament to the table, for sure, (along with the usual developmental disadvantages inherent in being a premature, low birth-weight male); John and I are bringing… broadly the same, I suppose, albeit layered in good intentions, unavailing encouragement, and loud praise for any successful episodes. But definitely exasperation now, too, not always concealed as well as it could be. Not after all this time. We have a non-conformist, stubborn child sprung of two non-conformist, stubborn parents… and I urgently need some help dismantling the situation, heaven knows, because I know it bothers Harry, too.

Anyhoo, I DO have some happy for you: my hastily thrown-together and fractionally overdone 3-egg Victoria Sandwich garnered a novice First (tempered by a mild judge’s remonstrance in re: Stodge, which was fair comment under the wedding-cake-due-day-afterwards rushed circumstances) at my local agricultural show: ladies produce section, and was the final participatory nail in my coffin; I was instantly propelled onto the Committee.

 (Some 4 hours later, I was absorbed into the School PTA, too. Some people can just see me coming. I now need to find out everything humane you may possibly know about woodlouse racing, having foolishly, oh so foolishly, suggested it for upcoming Coffee & Conkers fundraising morning. Berate me: I deserve it.)  Harry’s leaf collage, which was contributed to heavily by John, I admit, also won First, and tears before bedtime were neatly averted.

The farm animal made out of sweets that I made for him (What…?! He helped! Or, leastways, was in the room during construction, having strayed upon discovering the non-instant nature of edible glue.) came no-where, and I think we were bloody robbed. The standing sheep made from liquorice – not that that will narrow it down, looking around – and a giant white button in the lower right quadrant is ours.

Damn you, local Brownie pack, and your mass paper-plate entries. Damn you and your highlighting of the blatant parental ringer.

And lastly, because it is nearly time for me to do battle with the wee sleekit, couring, timorous beastie, I made a wedding cake for my friends’ special day Friday just gone, and really quite liked it, although managed to take nary a decent photo of it

and I wore a hatty thing to said wedding, that I loved so passionately, I wanted to take it to bed and be filthy to it forever.

Which made for a slightly awkward ménage à trois, as John didn’t fancy it much at all.

Vote Hairy

I am very seldom genuinely pleased with myself.

Today, I am pleased with myself.

(With the notable exception of my ovaries, alas, which, on day 11 of IUI stims this week, were dropping the gonad equivalent of a moonie, blowing a derisive 11mm raspberry, and severely imperilling the scheduling-end of next week, when I have 2 days on which I Absolutely Bloody Cannot Spend Half A Day In Hospital, am Busy with Important Stuff, JUST NONONO CANNOT BE DONE. Bastard things. They know, I swear they know. AND the lead follicle is on the left, damnit. It’s never on the bloody left. I banked on it not being on the bloody left. *Headthunk*)

You may remember I constructed a straw bale Bride & Groom a wee while back. Or, more truthfully, I thought it up, scribbled diagrams on the back of envelopes in the pub (I really did do that, in fact), foraged among the fert bags for materials, fabricated all the gubbins, then leaned heavily on John and his father to actually stack and secure them. I was the shrieking girl with the clipboard, they were hanging half out of the tractor and yelling back why it couldn’t be done, I was stamping my foot and saying that it bloody well could, and  they…  well, you get the picture. Discreet trailer-propping and a few ropes later, and Bob was obligingly our uncle.

We took a few scrappy photos. A nice local amateur photographer called Steve Felton saw them, took photos at dawn the next morning, and entered a fabulous one

into the massively popular BBC Countryfile’s photographic competition. It proceeded to battle it out with 55,000 other photographs… and it won.

It bloody well won.

My straw people will have their own month on the 2012 BBC Countryfile calendar, and I am seriously as delighted as a little piggy in poo about it.

Now, of the 12 winners, there follows a vote for Best in Show. They are showing them on this Sunday’s Countryfile, 11th Sept at 7.30pm, and viewers then choose an overall winner.

If you should happen to be watching… vote for Hairy straw bales!

Harry’s first week at school went exactly how I thought it might: mixed, but fundamentally Awright. They found Harry changing his own very wet pants on the first day, and I felt completely out of our depth when I asked if they’d reminded him to go at break-time. ‘Yes, but we wouldn’t know if he’s one of the ones who went or not’. Eeeep. Ok. That’d be the Not At Nursery Anymore, Fostering Independence-stuff I’d heard about, then. They evidently learnt by the experience, as Harry has had dry pants at pick-up the rest of the week and has mentioned being asked by teachers to visit the toilet. Although, I did quite narrowly avert him from taking a quiet leak behind the school toy shed at pick-up today.

He is full of enthusiasm for school, per se; all keen to go and seems to be enjoying it. His teachers have already cottoned on to his fiercely independent problem-solving approach – asking for help is just not a Hairy thing whatsoever at all – and both say that they have got the general gist of absolutely everything he’s said; the boy described in his Statement, they agree, is not at all who they have in the classroom. He is falling less then they thought he might. They are impressed with his progress, and very upbeat. 

I think he’s troubled on some levels by the new-ness of it, naturally. He’s suffered weepy melt-downs over the sky being the wrong shade of blue as soon as he’s reached home every day, and has been sleeping his first-ever 12-solid-hours, even though they’re only doing 9-12 this week. I worry a little about his social skills, as his communication delay has left him rather more likely to meet & greet by delivering sudden bear hugs than saying Hello – the resulting melée usually resembles a rolling maul as the startled recipient takes fright and flight and cannons into other children in their haste to escape Harry’s headlock-of-iron.

Communication is a factor in his (as yet) inability to manage playing en masse, I think; groups seem to centrifuge him out almost immediately, and this morning I saw him join, then bounce straight off, a cluster of the 4 other boys in his class, and promptly seek one-to-one play with a girl (the class is 5:10 boy:girl, I think, but they all move a bit too quick to tell) instead. He was most crestfallen today when he told me that ‘no-one listened’ to his Show & Tell about London, and my heart ripped neatly in half; he’d been so excited about the prospect this morning, and I can’t help but be curious about what actually went on.

I am shitting bricks about his staying for school lunches next week, as it seems he will have to carry his own tray of food – with a drink – over to a table and actually get on with eating it by himself. Ruh-Ro. I had a hasty word with the food-servers today, but even so, I can foresee that going spectacularly… badly. I managed to mention textural aversion and dyspraxia, so they know he’s quite liable to A) baulk at the sight of some foods and B) drop any food they do succeed in giving him all over the floor, but…yeah. Concerned. And mildly wondering why the school dinner supervisors don’t already know who he is, given that they are supposed to be acquiring an extra one mainly to keep a weather eye on him – but maybe his teachers are supervising breaktime currently. I dunno. It’s really early days, and I didn’t want to collar the Head in her first week back; I will do next week. And perhaps the best way through this is for Harry to demonstrate through trial and error what he can and can’t manage, rather than me trying to iron out the wrinkles ahead of him. Most of it he’ll sail through just fine, and a dropped tray isn’t the end of the world – it’ll highlight the issue louder than I could. It’s just that I remember the roar of sarcastic applause that used to echo through my high school dinner hall when, once or twice a year, someone’s tray went down with an almighty clatter. He’s… quite young and small for that, you know? And… I don’t know what he’s doing, who he’s playing with, or if anyone is going to be standing close enough to assist him if he hits difficulties. And I am a control freak, as well as a parent of a Statemented child, to boot. So, excuse me while I chew the furniture in continuing anxiety.

However, I was touched that a couple of the older children appear to have taken him under their wing; Harry’s minibus driver from School Fabulous had told his son to look out for Harry, and son & friend have been playing with Harry at break-time, they tell me. Several children have smiled and said hello to us as we’ve left at lunchtime, everyone has been friendly and welcoming, and I essentially feel reassured and confident that he’s in the right place.  I just wish they knew him better already.

And yes, yes, yes, of course I snivelled the first day. All the way across the car-park, and all the way home. Only John saw, so it DIDN’T COUNT.

A delivery driver saw me the second day, so that may have counted a little.

Third day I was dry. Well done, Me.

Bound for Morningtown

Well, my child, you start school in the morning. You are, you tell me, ‘so excited’. Buoyant, intrepid, boundingly enthusiastic; light of my heart, you are, by and large, quite ready to spread your wings; this small sorrow is my lament, and mine alone.

Your father and I were, unusually, singing for a most perplexed and unimpressed you a couple of evenings back, songs from an album that we both had as children. And although we merely gave you rousing renditions of the comedic ones, the Seekers’ Morningtown Ride was also on the album

 and likely contributed significantly towards the early construct of safety and contentment built by my childhood psyche. I have always found the track relaxing and oddly poignant, and it appears that, even now, I find the notion of a sleeping child, travelling long distances at sundown, loaded with hypnotic charm.

Driving back home from London, heading north, the sun sinking to our left, I saw your sleeping face in my mirror, fathoms deep, and knew you to be tranquil, safe, warm, stuffed with your favourite junk food, contented; your jumbled stories of expanded horizons ready to spill out to your father when you woke.

Mellow, extremely tired, and terribly Clomid-sentimental-maudlin, I felt I wanted to chase the sunset always, with you tucked peacefully, barefoot, comfy, blanketed and snug behind me, forever suspended together, rocking, rolling, riding.

Huffy, animated, interested and exhausted: you, the country boy, steadily negotiated our frenetic capital city, pattering jerkily yet unwaveringly along, grasping my hand, unphased. It was so important to me to spend that time with you, and, while I mourn the lost possibilities of my failed pregnancy for your sake as well as mine, I also know I could not have made that journey with you alone while pregnant – and so we have gained, you and I together, as well as lost.

You are starting a far longer journey than that now, my little traveller, one so big that you cannot comprehend it. The first, small, one-day step takes you a metaphorical – and actual – mile from the shelter of home, and while I am immoderately proud and pleased to watch you rush confidently toward your new worlds, in doing so, you are beginning to leave mine, and I feel such selfish anguish that I cannot envelop you in some imaginary, endless childhood utopia with me.

Somewhere there is sunshine,
Somewhere there is day,
Somewhere there is Morningtown,
Many miles away.

You’ll be absorbed and kinetic on arrival tomorrow, I know, re-acquainting, exploring, scurrying; so, please God – let me not cry anywhere you can see me.

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