White Rabbiting

Picture me, if you will, hurtling towards you at high speed, flushed, breathless, tripping over the furniture, scurrying around obstacles, grasping an over-sized pocket watch, late, late, late for my important date with the Internets.

There was some talk of every three days, I believe. *hollow laugh* I was born on time, and I’ve been running behind ever since.

There was something reminiscent of the best-laid schemes of mice & men about last week: Harry had a night terror that kept him awake whilst still-petrified-asleep for nearly 4 long hours in the Monday morning small hours: always a morale-breaker. I surfaced groggily at GOD o’clock knowing that I had three nativity costumes, two large birthday cakes, and several small Christmas cakes to produce; I also had to source & purchase turkey, rolls, stuffing and cranberry sauce for the school Christmas Fayre – highlight of the festive season. John kicked off the whole Gang Agley business by prosaically announcing that Catholic Hen (whose overnight lair I had searched for in vain) had not shown up for reveille – ergo, had become fox food during the night.

I dropped an over-sleeping, exhausted Harry to school an hour late, and trudged morosely up the hill with my morning coffee to play Hunt The Feathers, and to my slack-jawed astonishment, there was a tiny, bright yellow chick darting busily among the flock. The fox had evidently missed this tiny fluffball, which was completely unphased by its brush with near-extinction, and looked like a natural survivor to me, although it must have been perilously cold. As such, I felt I owed it something, and promptly fell to considering how I could keep it alive. I provided food for it, but needed heat and secure shelter, pronto. Naturally, the only power lead long enough to reach the hen run belonged to the farm, and my poultry heat lamp had a broken bulb. D’you know how many of my local shops DON’T stock suitable bulbs? Particularly when there’s a chick with no feathers freezing to death in the rain? And then, of course, I had to actually catch the bugger.

Wick little things, chicks.

I left for work at 5pm. So, that was Monday.

Tuesday morning, I spent on the phone, trying to either locate a companion chick, or give my chick (resplendent but lonely in a cardboard box) away to a home with other chicks. Waste of a Tuesday morning, ‘pparently. Our chick is destined to be une fille unique. She is also destined to be a damned expensive hen by the time the foxes consume her, as they inevitably do all my poultry sooner or later.

In the meantime, I am feeling short on babies.

So I have named her Gertrude.

Wednesday, I spent running around local supermarkets like a rat in a shrinking cage, shrieking into my mobile at store managers, trying to buy turkey crowns – with remarkably little initial success – and exuding free-flowing stress at everyone I encountered about my Badly Slipping Schedule.  

Thursday, I baked my bottom off. I forget when I went to bed.

Friday morning, I excelled myself and actually got to the Post Office. Fridge magnets are On Their Way, and I thank you sincerely and profusely. Holler if they don’t arrive.

Friday afternoon, I helped to set up the school Christmas Fayre, which felt like I was being useful right up to the point I was asked, ‘Where are the rolls?’, because the answer, disappointingly, was ‘Fuck. Still in the shop.’

Friday evening: the Christmas Fayre, complete with Santa’s grotto, and Harry’s performance therein, videoed at my request as I was stuck on a stall.

I know I promised John to conceal Harry’s identity on this blog a little better, but really, the image quality on this video is about on a par with the Paris Hilton sex tapes. I was mildly aghast at the absence of pleases, thank-yous, and the cobra-like speed at which the present left Santa’s grasp. It starts well, mind; the first 2 seconds are priceless. 

And yes, he has a Knights’ Castle. Don’t tell him.

Friday evening, late, my best friend came for her belated birthday dinner and we didn’t go to bed until gone 2am.

Saturday, I was starting to flag, but I boxed up a cake I was fairly happy with,

put on a posh frock and went to a posh restaurant and ate exceedingly posh food for a lunch that seemed to go on until dark. Poor me. 

Sunday, I fell over in a weakly twitching heap, and concentrated on constantly edging away from John, who had a Pukey Thing going on, and I am famously nervous of Pukey Things. I also made a King costume, tweaked a Mary Costume, made a headdress, and started on a turban. Finished at 2am. I was then woken by John, who is Not Himself still, every hour until the alarm went off.

Today, Monday, I started my new job. I have a vivid red t-shirt that says Bookseller, and I have been getting to grips with the till and the geography of the ground floor bookshelves. I find the minimum wage element quite depressing, but there are certainly worse places to work.

And… that is all. I am All Caught Up.

Tomorrow! (Or possibly the next day.) I am going to give you recipes for three cakes that went down well at my charity coffee morning – as promised to Wombat, who tried at least one of them, and pronounced it tasty.

Stay tuned for Chocolate Fudge, Coconut Lime, and Ginger. They do not read like recipes you find in proper recipe books, you’ll be unsurprised to hear – this is baking à la HFF Wifey. I’m sorry you’re too far away for me to feed you cake in person, so this is the best I can do.

If you likes ’em, the collecting tin is – ahem – here. There’s an archaicly insulting fridge magnet in it for you. *winks*

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Redemption

I’ve been having a wee bit of a melancholia, culminating Saturday morning in the simultaneous arrival of yet another crushing delivery of germs, an invoice for my (failed) IUI, an eye-watering Visa card bill, and, triumphantly, my period. God daym.

Saturday afternoon I took Harry to a kids’ birthday party where he got a bit rough-housed, and complained that the kids in question were using ‘words I don’t like’. (This will in no way have involved any type of expletive, most of which he views as just another piece of parlance. Which is entirely My Bad. Words Harry doesn’t like often include ‘give’, ‘can’t’, ‘share’, ‘wee’, ‘tidy’, ‘hurry’, and ‘bed’.) Partners in despondency, on this occasion I cut our losses and brought him straight home.

I felt vaguely better after spending the rest of the afternoon pottering about in the garden, although I faffed far too much over the most feral of my hens, who has, with catholic abandon, injudiciously produced 5 chicks in the midst of November. Bird-brained animal. I couldn’t help but muse that, given my catastrophic ineptness with live bearing, it would be nice to have the opportunity to try sitting on a clutch instead. Knowing my reproductive luck, I’d probably suffer from some ridiculously obscure eggshell disorder, and… yeah. I’ve been feeling bitter lately.   

I’ve been working at a lot of toddler groups the last couple of weeks, and it’s not helped the whole Miscarrying Rage thing much. So many children. So many bumps. Outright jealousy has not played an overt part in my mindset hitherto, although the undercurrent was there, but I have lately found myself looking at these women with bewildered, acid resentment of their ability to effortlessly, bloomingly reproduce. At will. Without undue fear of mishap, misfortune and misery.

How the hell must that blithe expectation feel? Pregnancy minus the core underpinning of abject terror? I watch their composed serenity, their glow to my umbral shadow, and feel the unreasoning flare of my oppugnancy, in vicious, flailing antagonism toward what I perceive to be the buoyant ignorance of the oblivious blessed. They have what I have not. I am rancorous, furious and barren. I am desperate, and full of malice and spite. I am dismal, sorrowing and pitiful.    

Which is all a bit heavy, considering I only went there to sell them a bloody card.

Sigh. I didn’t quite mean to strike out so far in this direction today; it’s just that as further fertility treatment slides from my broken fiscal grasp, I fall correspondingly deeper emotional prey to the unchancy vaguaries of my own reproductive so-called cycle, in the nebulous hope that the entirely organic conceptual surprise that was Harry, might re-occur. After 5 ovary-wearying years, I fear very much not, yet I’m going down fighting like a mad thing. *pause* I am a mad thing. And I’m a mad thing fighting for two, because John has lost all hope and enthusiasm for this, and wants to concentrate on the son we have.

Our son. Our sun. Our King! (Yes, there will be photos. How could I not give you photos?) 

Harry scampers round the playground; diminutive, dishevelled, and delectable. He is fabulous fun just at the moment, and gloriously good company when on form. I want another one, just like him. A healthier start in life would be preferable. But I am a reproductive beggar, and beggars’ choices are famously narrow.

Despite the internal emotional maelstrom – which I daresay is not awfully discernable to The Outside, given my dementedly upbeat public persona – the weekend before last, I embarked upon my annual charity coffee morning for Bliss, the premature baby charity.

My primary reason for so doing, is, as I have written before, an expiation of what I obscurely feel to be my indebtedness. Payment for that very small sun indeed, whom, at first, beamed such a muted light. Dulled by seizures and overwhelming, sweeping apnoea, tethered to us and his life by the ridged ropes of a ventilator.

 

Body and soul, he was far, far away from me, trapped inside both a plastic bubble and the dark oblivion of critical illness… and he came back. Came back fighting. Fought the ventilator, fought the drugs, fought me, damnit. The single determined survivor of my murderous, Medea-like uteri, he protested, fought and struggled his way into blossoming, vivid beauty. It could so easily not have been. The baby next to Harry also protested, and fought, and struggled. And died.

I feel I owe a personal restitution; a weregild ransom, blood-tribute for my live, whole, coruscating, luminous son. 

Deluded, idiot I, because what price a child’s life?

Somewhere, deep in the malaised core of our NHS, someone knows the answer in pounds and pence. Our most vulnerable neonates are fighting budgets as well as for life, and it’s going from bad to fucking ridiculous. Specialist nurses reduce infant mortality drastically, and a third of neonatal units are making cuts to and downgrading their nursing workforce, when more were desperately required a year – two years – five years ago. Ten years ago. A baby requiring intensive care in the UK still cannot reasonably expect to receive the same standard of nursing that adults can,and are dying in greater numbers accordingly, despite the Secretary of State for Health claiming that they have made “tough choices on public spending so that we can protect the NHS and ensure that the sick do not pay for Labour’s debt crisis”. Sick babies are paying. If I do ever manage to gestate to viability again, my odds of a premature birth are incalculably high, and I will watch my child fight both the woefully inadequate start that will likely be all my uteri can provide, and the horrifying shortages in care provision.

So, tough it out, babies! If you can hang on in there doughtily while we push Bliss’s SOS campaign under the noses of government as noisily as we can, that’d be… useful, yes? 

 I’m sorry; again, I didn’t quite mean to run on so much. Recurrent miscarriage and dying babies: topics upon which I Officially Become Cross and Type With A Series Of Big Hammery Thumps. 

I have a stress headache induced purely by my own angst now – fule! – and Harry has started coughing a lung up and is shortly going to wake and complain, so I am going to pinch the words I wrote last year when I asked for donations, on the basis that A) they are still absolutely true and B) times are still awful hard.

However! Before I do so, I have a small additional incentive to dangle in front of you this year, because I have felt so writhingly and infusedly humbled by your past generosity, knowing that I could offer you nothing but my most heartfelt thanks in return. I have given the matter a little thought, and, given that I live immediately outside Stratford Upon Avon, I have duly purchased sets of magnetised Shakespearian Insults and Love Quotes, intended for your refrigerator door. They have the benefit of being light, thin, and, in many cases, bracingly rude.

I have looked carefully at Royal Mail’s airmail costs, weighed the magnets, weighed envelopes, sourced lighter envelopes, and I reckon that, even if you live in Darkest Peru, the very most it’ll cost me in postage to send you a vituperative/sentimental bijou for your fridge is 76p. Email me your postal address at hairyfarmer@tiscali.co.uk when you donate (There is a minimum donation set by the Just Giving website of £2 [approximates to USD$3.17 / AUD $3.11 / €2.3 / 0.00178456 gold ounces] and if that’s what you’re comfortable sparing, then please, believe me honestly, truly grateful, and more than grateful.) and I will happily despatch a magnetic message full of love… or slander. Entirely at random! I promise faithfully not to sell your postal address to JunkMail.com. You can, in fact, absolutely trust me to lovingly regale or abuse you with no strings attached. 

I know a small, colourful patch of Shakespearianity on your fridge isn’t much of a payback for levering open your battered purses in these times of financial anaemia, but perhaps you might (and particularly whoever gets the ‘she is spherical’ one) feel, when you see it every day, that there is a bit of my heart (the bit that isn’t permanently screwed up in either reproductive grief or anxious maternal blatherings) that is simply devoted to thinking kind thoughts about you, the possessor. It is already true for those who have already donated, sometimes anonymously, these past two years, but it would be nice if I could give you something tangible to actually invoke it for you this year. Nothing says ‘I love you’ quite like ‘Thou Smell Of Mountain Goat’, no?

….

I was humbled beyond belief last year when so many of you, whom I have mostly never met, donated online. I was completely mentally tripped-up by the notion that my odd little corner of the internet could have generated so very much unforeseen good will, generosity of spirit, and sheer human kindness. Many of you found me here because you do not – yet – have children, and yet you gave your money to Bliss – a charity that helped us, Harry, and his medical team –  because it was a cause dear to my heart, not yours. 

I cried. I cried for days.

I do not take your support for granted, and I know – don’t I just! – that times are hard, and the wolves are likely snapping as closely at your fiscal sledge as they are at ours. But if you are able to hurl off an undeserving peasant give (from each according to his ability, from each according to his need, type-of-thing) then I would be… well. I think the word is verklempt.

http://www.justgiving.com/DarthToddler

Thank you.

School Nativity Casting

We’re reasonable people. It’s his first year, we thought. There’s dozens of kids. He still doesn’t speak so clearly as he might. We figured: one end or other of the donkey, perhaps. (Likely the back end if he persists in delightedly locking all the school toilet doors from the inside and crawling out underneath…) It’s a non-speaking part, yes, but he can bray with the best of ’em. Or fart, whatever.

Or a stable cat; he can climb like one. One of a cherubic flight of angels if someone has a daft sense of humour. Or maybe – just maybe – a shepherd; the kid knows his sheep, after all. We’ve been quietly eyeing up potential stripey tea-towellage in case parents were supposed to provide costume.

I think the phrase I want is… goat rodeo.

There are no, repeat no worries about getting Harry into character here, but with this King in charge of following yonder star, the production will head in unexpected directions.  Possibly the emergency exits.

I’mma bring popcorn.

Fountains Running Red

Three days-smays. No-one’s counting! *ahem*

The linen on our bed was changed yesterday (that refreshing bi-annual event!) as Harry had up-emptied some of his chocolate milkshake on John’s half of the duvet. I was busy and had vaguely considered leaving it (it wasn’t my half, after all) to dry but I did eventually drag off the fitted sheet and duvet cover and cart them downstairs. John put fresh linen on at bedtime (leaving the bed unmade-up is a cunning ploy on my part: J almost always retires upstairs first – to be confronted with the inescapable prospect of mild domestic drudgery for the next 3 minutes if he wishes to sleep between sheets) and the world continued to spin on its axis. The mischievous sprite who jerks the strings of my life, however, had taken note of the fresh – white – linen, and promptly nipped out from behind the cosmic skirting boards and sliced open a blood vessel in Harry’s nose.

I heard a series of puzzlingly wettish-sounding coughs around midnight, shortly after I’d peed him (place 95% asleep child on potty, murmur gentle get-on-with-its, wait for tinkly sound or urine smell, replace child under duvet) but his chest is currently sounding like a badger colony, so I thought nothing of it until a small, very red figure appeared on the bed, uttering vague complaints, clambering clumsily over John’s drowsy form towards me. Erk. And double-erk.

I am not prone to nosebleeds; I think I’ve had 1 in the last 30 years. Harry’s never had one before, and it was an absolute humdinger. I concealed my alarm under march-into-bathroom-hold-nose-sit-on-towel practical type-activity, but he was choking and frantically swallowing blood as the fat, splattering drips came faster and faster, and I began to furiously consider how to stanch the tide. My knowledge of ENT anatomy – never a well-padded entity to begin with – fled from me completely, and I found myself feverishly wondering if he could somehow have accidently severed a tonsil with his tongue, dislodged a sinus by coughing or be inexplicably haemorrhaging from his… his… epiglottis?

Harry – sleep-dazed and confused – justifiably considered current events to be sucking hairy donkey balls, and, becoming tired of standing over the toilet watching his life-force pour from him in a steady cascade of tiny haemoglobinal water-bombs, hurled himself at my kneeling, naked form, and gripped determinedly. Which stemmed his distress a little, but now meant that the red river was dribbling down my back. The bathroom already resembled a worryingly flamboyant crime scene, and although I am unfortunately quite accustomed to sitting dejectedly in a bloody puddle, I made the discovery that even the inhabiting of bloody puddles can have a sliding scale of desirability and I had found the bottom, no pun intended.

Well, we all survived (although Harry’s official school photo (today, naturally) looks slightly red-hued-of-nostril); John had been busy changing Harry’s liberally bloodsmeared bed linen – two beds in one evening! – but I kept him sleeping with us on the off-chance he started fountaining again, and what with one thing and another, the attractive new polka-dot pattern on our duvet didn’t become apparent until morning.

I fear John is about to set a 3-times-in-24-hours personal best in bed-making.

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