You Couldn’t Make This Up

I didn’t start blogging until Harry was seven months old, but regular readers will not have managed to escape the fact that my pregnancy with him was precarious. A spontaneous, unexpected conception, he took root in Cameron (my didelphic uterus of zero-lining-at-all-times and presumed poor blood-supply, as opposed to Blair, which boasts the juiciest lining ever) because only Cameron’s ovary works, even half-properly.

Harry spent the next 31 weeks struggling, like the determined little fighter he still is, to stay alive in there. I lived every hour on a knife edge, hearing his heart skipping beats and slowing down to… well, to a stop… on a daily basis. I bled every 10 days or so, in increasing quantities. His growth slowed to virtually nothing. I was a near-permanent fixture in the labour and delivery unit. When Harry did finally decide that conditions were shit and he would be better out than in, he reacted violently to the big wide world with massive desaturations and acute blood pressure issues. He required fully ventilating and remained in NICU for 10 days – at 3lbs 12oz and (comparatively) mature gestation, the biggest kid in the place by a fair margin. His subsequent stay in SCBU was some weeks longer.

I cannot even begin to give you a flavour of how badly these experiences affected me. The one topic I have been increasingly immovable on (particularly since it became apparent that my uterine artery was not necessarily attached in any way whatsoever to Cameron) is that of never, under any circumstances at all, attempting another pregnancy in that benighted uterus – also now intermittently (?!) filled with adenomyosis, complete with synechium. I have been filled with horror at the thought of subjecting a baby to the same challenges to survival that Harry faced. He largely overcame them, but he still clipped the bullet. His marked fetal stress is almost certainly not unconnected to his continuing profound poverty of language, his ongoing mobility issues, some of his behavioural oddities and his 1st-centile height.

My anxiety on this issue has increased as parts of Harry’s development continued to fall behind and his short to medium term prospects in mainstream education became much less sunny. The last six months in particular I have been uber-careful concerning contraception, tracking LH surges, watching mucus like a hawk, and insisting on using condoms.

The thought of needing IVF in future to transport the good eggs all the way over to the good uterus was offputting, but not near so much as feeling another child struggle to stay alive inside me – and perhaps lose the fight against my inadequate housing this time around.

So.

That’s all sorted then!

 

Or… not.

What, and I realise this is a cliche, the fuck?

Yes, it’s in Cameron again. This is my fifth pregnancy (count my children and work out my likely odds of success for yourself, btw) and I can totally tell where the action is taking place.

No, I don’t yet know how pregnant I am. Probably between 4 and 5 weeks.

No, we don’t understand how this has occurred, what with the boingy rubber barrier an’ all.

And No, I’m not certain what to do about this just yet, but… I’ll work it out.

Without too much… ummm… opinionated advice, if that’s ok.

The next few months are going to be shitty awful, whatever happens.

Hold my hand?

 

Paradigm Shift

Although a predisposed-to-introspection only child, I’m not particularly self-analytical. I’m not given to taking my own psyche apart, and I don’t tend to go rummaging down the back of my mental sofa to see what I find. My cognitive outlook defaults to a baseline of Cheerful with frequent daily spikes of Impatient, Put-Upon and Grumpy, and, beyond that, I don’t give myself too much brain-time.

Perhaps I should. Perhaps if I made an effort to be more attuned to my subconscious, I wouldn’t be so pitifully startled when I do eventually recognise in myself the signs of acute stress.

I really should cotton on to stress a bit sooner. I’m not without knowledge of how  it feels. I have experienced uterus didelphys, failure to conceive, IUI, miscarriage, IVF, recurrent miscarriage, a high-risk pregnancy, premature birth, a NICU, a SCBU, a transposed heart, and a child with special needs, in roughly that order. Which is a fair-sized list, even focussing solely on the issues of my body and my child; I’ve ricocheted off about as many more generalised personal disasters as the next chap/ess.

Stress, for me, characterises a period of adjustment between the old normal/new normal in a process resembling mental plate tectonics. The prevailing paradigm of my longstanding hopes and expectations is insidiously drawn into an increasingly pressurised relationship with what actually is. Eventually the forces of compression are unsustainable, and the duality of my mind becomes first paradoxical, then untenable. An emotional threshold is exceeded and there is cataclysmic, shaking upheaval. My vicarious ambitions are subducted beneath the dominant sheer mass of the new status quo.

The current tectonic event has been precipitated by nothing more significant than my inability to realistically further sustain some aspirations I had for my child.

I currently need a list to propel me through the day without profound scheduling disaster. I have forgotten important stuff. I have failed to reduce a to-do list of truly titanic proportions. The gentle background hum of my mental radio has become a screaming dissonant cacophony and, more literally, my tinnitus is roaring away at many times the volume of its usual muted hiss. I am crying every day. I have a fuse of precisely no length whatsoever. My parenting is hovering somewhere between inconsistent and diabolical. My digestive tract is a fireball from top to, and I use the word advisedly, bottom. My driving, usually fairly skilled, is impulsive and sloppy. I am profoundly tired after 8 hours sleep. I suspect I have a vaguely hunted look.

Theoretically, my mind should contain fewer pressures after this episode of enforced synthesis.

But the thing with convergent faults is that they don’t stop damn well moving.

Admonished

Whenever the red mist descends upon me, I remember an article that Stephen Fry – a talented lad – once wrote for The Listener about losing his sock. I haven’t lost my sock – on this occasion, at least – but my personal DEFCON is fast approaching pushtheredfuckingbuttonandtohellwith’emall.

‘I am angry. I am really angry. I am so angry I can barely go to the lavatory. I am fuming. I don’t think I’ve ever been crosser. If you poured boiling jam down the back of my neck, set fire to my trousers, defecated on the back seat of my car and forced me to stare without blinking at the cartoon of myself that accompanies this article I couldn’t be more furious. Hopping mad about sums it up.’

I’ve managed to empty my bladder, but it was touch and go for a bit.

I fought my way into Coventry during the rush hour this morning for an appointment with my consultant. She gravely thanked me for sending her my back-to-front heart report, and told me that I definitely do need a laparoscopic exploration. I nodded expectantly, waiting for her to announce why she had summoned me back to her clinic instead of simply noting the whole peculiar heart-thing and rescheduling my (postponed-because-of-said cardiac-weirdness) operation.

But there was nothing of the sort forthcoming. She merely started to write out another surgery form, identical in every way to the one she wrote out last September… when she cheerfully bunged me on her laparoscopy waiting list.

I furrowed my brow. She’d forgotten – evidently – that we’ve already driven round this particular roundabout.

I had been scheduled for the knife on the 1st of February – and made that fact clear in every piece of correspondence. I had only agreed with her secretary to postpone the surgery (this was during Consultant’s extended holiday: I was the first case upon her return) because – and feel free to call me cautious – I had thought Consultant might like to be aware that my abdominal arteries and veins are probably somewhere fairly unusual. Her secretary had assured me that she had spoken to her, and simply re-scheduling the Lap was not an option: she wanted to see me in clinic. Furthermore, it has only been by utilising a judicious mixture of furious complaint and wheedling charm that I am not waiting until the end of April for today’s appointment.

I toyed with the idea of remonstrating loudly about the pitiful miscommunication, the complete waste of her time, my time, my diesel, a morning’s childcare costs, and five months of my dwindling amount of child-bearing life, but I couldn’t see much actual benefit in it. I’ve always been a firm believer in making the person cutting your belly open (whilst driving a camera up your fanny) like you as much as humanly possible.

So I sat schtum, and grimly waited to be handed another form. ‘Her list’s only a couple of months,’ I thought. ‘You can cope with that. Cool blue oceans!’ or some such shit.

She stopped scribbling away and looked up.

‘Last time you were here we spoke about your weight. (We did. She told me it would be good to lose some. I agreed. I know an anaesthetist well. I know how tricky it can be to knock out fat people safely. I am totally on board with the losing-weight-is-good concept. But I… didn’t. She hadn’t seemed quite rabid enough about it, I suppose.) Now, before I put you on my waiting list, I think we need to get your BMI down.’

‘Wh… what?’

‘Just hop on these scales, please. I’ll take a kilo off for your boots.’

They were kind scales. Even in my boots, I weighed 4lbs less than I did 3 days ago standing stark naked, having squeezed out every drop of pee I could.

She stabbed around on a BMI chart and merrily announced that I would only have to lose a stone before she would accept me for surgery. Or, to put it another way, I’d only have to lose a stone in order to return to exactly where I was last September, when I weighed exactly the same as I do now.

I’m never wearing this skirt again. It obviously does nothing for me.

‘It’s only a stone!’ she said, evidently noting that my features had clouded over. ‘But you need to get down to at least 88kg please.’

She tucked my surgery form firmly back into my folder, ignoring my outstretched paw.

‘Give (secretary) a call as soon as you lose the weight; she’ll find this form in your notes and put you on the waiting list straight away!’

I thanked her through gritted teeth, and marched out of clinic.

And came home.

And examined a BMI chart.

Her chart must have been as kind as her scales, because 88kg is still a BMI of 32 and unless I insist on using her set of scales again, I have to lose two stone, not one.

I am now a sobbing, angry, frustrated, premenstrual fat woman with a growling empty stomach.

Do Not Approach.

You’ll Never Know, Dear, How Much I Love You

Last night, I stayed up until nearly dawn writing a report that was 5 times longer than I’d originally envised it, detailing Harry’s… quirks… for his new nursery staff at School Fabulous (© May). I’m hoping his more adorable qualities will become self-evident to them, because I haven’t had space to talk about those. It’s… kinda long.

John and I took him to meet the staff there today (he banged his head three times in 30 minutes). There are four nursery staff, and currently only 3 other children doing afternoon sessions, one of whom we already know. It is, you will not be surprised to hear, a special school, catering for children aged 2 to 19, all of whom have special educational needs.

School Fabulous is a pretty cool place. Sensory garden, light room, soft play centre, hydrotherapy pool, huge indoor sand pit, areas for every type of play I can think of, and a playground strewn with Exciting Stuff. There are speech therapists, physiotherapists, nurses and nursing assistants, all visiting on-site.

The school is well-known throughout our county, as… THE special school. How can I put this? There’s a lot of parking for wheelchairs. There’s lots of kids wearing head protectors. When I tell friends who haven’t heard about Harry’s lack of speech that he is starting there, they all look mildly horrified and blurt out a variation on ‘Why, what’s wrong with him?’ before hastily re-modelling their faces into Kind Concern and I’mSureHe’llComeOnVeryWell fervent nodding.

What I feel about that generally depends on how much I like the friend.

What I feel about his admission, following a panel meeting, is huge, profound relief. I sat and wept writing my long, pitifully long list of the things that Harry does that, taken as a whole, make him such a challenge to parent. I’d never held the collective weight of every single one of our difficulties in my mind before then, and I’d not realised quite how many minor troubling issues I had been hoping he would grow out of.

Whih is absurd, really, because Harry is making very discernable progress, if not in his actual speech, then certainly in his communication. Either his comprehension of our speech has taken a  leap forward, or his newly-acquired skill of nodding has motivated him to integrate with us more – perhaps both.

This morning, on a whim, I asked him to say the word ‘Tesco’ (Yeah, yeah, I know. Of all the words to pick. We were outside!). And he tried! He’s never mimicked a sound on request in his entire life. I think he either hasn’t hitherto understood what ‘say’ (i.e. ‘Harry say it’) meant, or his brain just can’t retrieve and reproduce memorised speech-sounds accurately yet. Again, probably both. I’d most likely have had no luck had I asked him to mimic any sound except T or D, which letters begin most of his babble, but he definitely sat there having a go at repeating ‘Te…Te…Te’ after me. 

I floated into the shop. Which was some achievement considering the scales registered an all-time personal worst for me this morning – why, yes, that does include pregnancy OMFGlalalalaHalpHalpHalplookattheprettyweather. Looking on the bright side (I will, consequently, have to move out of the way of the GODDAMNED SUN) I have re-joined my old gym, and will shortly be gymming and swimming Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons while Harry is in his new nursery, just around the corner. My health, sadly, desperately needs these 7.5 hours a week devoted to improving its host.

I am planning to keep him at our local mainstream nursery on Friday mornings, and extend his session over lunchtime. We will be financially better off all-told, as his new nursery place is fully funded on account of his specific need, and I will be paid a mileage allowance for taking him there.

Which brings me to the only part of this that makes me really bite my lip and think about the whole Holland thing again. I don’t have to take him myself if I don’t want to: Harry is entitled to free transport there and back, as it is a needs-based placement. Although I would not even remotely consider the option at present, the school would arrange to deliver him door to door.

In their – short – Sunshine bus.

We’ve Been Better

 

I carted Harry and his new welt down the GP’s this afternoon, banged my head on his desk, tore my hair and wailed incoherencies about Can’t Get A Formal Diagnosis and Seriously I’m Not Making This Up He Really Does Have Significant Mobility Problems and What If Social Services Ask Questions and What If They Don’t Believe Me When I Say He Falls All The Time and Where’s His Fucking Brain Scan Got To; none of which he can help with, but he wrote stuff down and I felt a little better.

Just for shits and giggles, I reviewed the previous 12 months of Harry’s collision injuries. I couldn’t go back any further; I was too sad and frustrated. 

I should emphasize that, except where noted, these were all separately sustained; I have omitted photos of the sometimes-awful mouth and tongue sores he is depressingly prone to, possibly because he bites them during more minor impacts. Of which there are dozens a day.

 

What’s a mother to do, for crying out loud?

?

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.

Yawn

It’s 3am and I have been driven from my bed by my usual demons: a tormenting mixture of insomnia and recurrent waking nightmare-type things, in which I invariably end up cradling my dead son. It appears that my years of infertility, miscarriages, eventual knife-edge pregnancy, NICU and possession of an over-developed imagination have left me a tad prone to anxiety and disproportionate existential dread. Quelle surprise.

Between 1am and 2.30am I tried, although not concurrently, sex and sobbing; both were entirely satisfactory in their way but ultimately not helpful, so I’ve left Hubby in peace and sought solace downstairs in a large mug of sweet tea, twinkly fairy lights, and eBay retail therapy. If I look like I feel, then be really, really thankful I don’t have a webcam to scare you with.

Harry was curled peacefully in his cot when I came downstairs, undisputed King of the jumbled heap of soft toys he has carefully amassed before falling asleep over the top of them. I am so happy to say that his tantrums have markedly reduced this month – (fortuitously, as I elicited this week that the paediatric psychology service A) lost his referral and B) said he was too young to be referred there in any case. I have left his Paediatrician’s secretary chewing on that particular problem. I also have days when I think know that if I didn’t, de facto, administrate his medical paperwork myself, we’d never even have made it out of the blasted maternity unit.)

Harry has started to (potentous intake of breath) play with other children. I first noticed this about 4 weeks ago when I saw him chase, giggling, after some older girls at the soft-play barn. I smiled. Then he began playing alongside other toddlers at playgroups without always resorting to his usual unpredictable wild aggression if they so much as looked at his toy or stood too close – although I’ve been careful not to take him out tired or peckish. Yesterday afternoon we hosted 8 children aged 7 years to 7 weeks for a playdate and I was fully expecting the usual toddler rodeo. Mind you, I always quietly sympathise with his indignation: if someone who I only vaguely recognised walked into my house and promptly started rifling through my stuff, there would be kicked arses ere long.

Harry was… angelic. Simply and wonderfully angelic. He took the hands of the other children and led them toward his toys. He gave them enthusiastic bear hugs. When I saw him take toys from other children, he handed them back obediently when I asked him to. By 5pm I was sat in a bemused heap on the floor, staring in wonder at my son – who admittedly was just beginning to turn a little tired and tetchy over his toys, but entirely within normal parameters for 28 months – while behind me, two of his peers squabbled loudly over a tractor. It felt wonderful to be able to tell John when he got home that Harry had been so fabulously good; I simply couldn’t praise him enough. He had even shared his absolute favourite toy: perching as a contented, albeit wobbly, passenger, whilst F (a month older and 50th centile for height, to give you some scale…) piloted him jerkily around the dining room.

It’s now 4am: the cheeky fucking laptop has just shut itself down without consulting me in order to install updates. I went to the kitchen in a huff, made another cup of tea, took a couple of paracetamol, and bid on a jumper. This insight into my insomnia will probably cure yours.

John’s snores are audible from here  – and likely in the next village along, too. The man deserves his rest; he will doubtless end up picking up the slack in the morning when it’s nearly time get Harry in the car and I am once again too wiped out by my own insomnia to have actually successfully dressed or fed our child. John managed to rip a muscle playing hockey yesterday – he is also the possessor of several flesh-wound scars and the conspicuous non-possessor of a number of teeth due to playing this sport for Stratford with entirely too much gusto and a fair dollop of accident-prone-ness. Instead of tearing down into his groin it has, more unusually, torn up into his abdomen. He can hobble about ok, but only has limited use of one leg. Our wonderful and kind GP neighbour, a sports injury specialist, has told him to take it bloody easy for 10 days and then start Pilates. If that doesn’t mend it: it’s a surgical job. Which is a bit of a shit, really, because John will be utterly incapable of taking it easy at work; at home I can barely shift the bugger off the sofa, but his farming ethic is fairly demented.

I am first in the queue for abdominal surgery, at any rate. He’ll just have to wait his bloody turn.

The last two months have inexorably reduced me (alas! not in literal size) to a limp, slack-jawed slattern with a monumental headache. Today was the last day I’m working before Christmas; I now merely have a house in acute domestic disarray to sort out while maintaining Harry’s weekly schedule of nursery and play groups: now with an extra sprinkling of Christmas parties to add to the chaos.

Apropos: the adage about never working with children or animals? True.

Last year’s outfit… no longer appears to be a fitting option for this year.

Wiping his nose with a Christmas Pudding hat. Really.

Ran off to play peepo.

Having a crisis of confidence regarding his motivation for playing this reindeer.

I rest my case!

5.20am and the main road outside is starting to get busy.

Will try another go at this sleeping business.

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