Stick People

I drew three stick-people for Harry to colour in. One had trousers, one (in best gender-stereotypical fashion) had a skirt, and the third was half the size of the other two, like so:

I asked him to draw Daddy some Wellie boots, which he did.

I asked him to draw Mummy some gloves, which he did.

I asked him to draw Harry’s eyes, which he did.

Then I got bored and asked him to draw Mummy’s boobies.

He drew them smack bang in the middle of John’s face.

John looked at me questioningly.

‘We… left the door open?’

On Cue

The red menace is attempting to get itself underway. It knows very well that today is our village fete and I am spending the entire afternoon stood in the middle of a facility-less field. If I am lucky, I will make it to this evening before the serious cramps start and the ominous knicker-staining becomes the ubiquitous trouser-soaking tsunami. If I’m not lucky, then really, neither is anyone else. No-one needs to see that.

I will now be spending Tuesday – *Monday is a public holiday in the UK – on a 60 mile round trip to have bloodwork done. I am not nervous about the needle; but I’m uneasy about what the results might show.

On Wednesday I am scheduled to have my everlasting, continually-tearing, over-enthusiastic-post-partum-stitching freshly-acquired-in-late-life hymen (some women would pay thousands for it, I’m sure) removed. I cancelled the previous surgery date because I was mid-period. Doh. A call is in to Philogynae, but I suspect I’ll end up getting it done anyway.

This month may also spell the (eventual) end of Harry’s protracted morning boob habit, as I fully intend codeining myself up to the eyeballs should I need to.  

That is all.

*Not every Monday. Damn fine idea, mind you, but just this one coming.

Pressure Cooker

How to spend your bank holiday weekend in a fairly mixed fashion, including hysterics, cooking a 4 course meal for twelve, and the whirling pit.

Friday: Poach pears, make cinnamon ice-cream, make creme brulees and slow-cook beef for several hours. Shriek witchily at anyone who steps inside the kitchen. Go to bed at midnight, worn out.

6am: Suffer acute tummy cramps. (Not the uterine kind. I know this because I’ve already had that kind for 10 days. AND spotting. Bastard things.) Sit huddled miserably in bathroom awaiting diarrhoea that does not arrive. Cramps subside. Crawl back to bed and groan pitifully at Hubby. Child kicks me in face. Curse and groan some more. Hubby leaves to farm. Ignore gestured pleas from child for Downstairs! and remain resolutely under the covers.

9am: Arrive downstairs and eat a white chocolate creme brulee for breakfast. Discover to mild horror and zero surprise (a new recipe and I experienced… problems) that they have not miraculously improved overnight. Flavour good but texture gone awfully, horribly wrong. Eat another in case the first one was a fluke – it wasn’t – and now feel sick. Offer taste to husband, who justly critiques texture, and to child, who recoils immediately with an expressive ‘Tssicckk!’

9.30am: Clear dining room table, which was made to my size specifications in order to seat 14. I curse my inability to perform mathematics – not for the first time – as the 12 chairs still manage to look cramped. 

10am: Despatch grumpy teething child and husband to town. They load into the car and disappear, with John’s frustrated cries of ‘You silly little boy!’ echoing down the drive. Harry’s tantrums have turned… quantum… lately. He has nearly knocked himself out twice already this morning with his own thrashing.

10.10am: Try to persuade myself that the tablecloth – a behemothic thing hunted down by my mother amongst the Cypriot linen shops, and selflessly hauled back home in defiance of excess baggage charges – does not require ironing.

 tablecloth

10:20am: Fetch iron from upstairs, come to look at blogs, curse self for wasting TIME, godamnit.

10.30am: Iron tablecloth in situ. Tablecloth sticks unpleasantly to nameless gunk smeared on table that I was too lazy to scrub off as HEY! I’m only going to cover it up wth a tablecloth! 

tablecloth2

11am: The After photo looks identical to the Before photo. Wasted hour. Go me! Start on ratatouille veg chopping.

11.30am: John returns with only half his To Do list done, and a sleeping child. He deposits sleeping child in cot, and settles down to enjoy a nice cup of tea. 

11.40am: Finish chopping. Hand throbs.

ratatouille

11.55am: Two large pans of ratatouille are bubbling nicely. John’s tea break ends when the diarrhoea that threatened me earlier finally makes its unwelcome appearance, and he is required to take over stirring. I emerge staggering, and proceed to clean hands obsessively. 

12.10pm: Hurry back to the bog for another go. 

12.15pm: Start to hum a Johnny Cash song.

12.20pm: Finally make escape from loo. Rigorously sanitise all areas of self. John disappears to complete his to-do list. Wonder why he is so cheerful about being sent into the town centre on a Saturday to shop. Realise that he has got his MGB out and is now driving away from the kitchen – with the top down, in the warm sunshine. 

12.30pm: Begin to work like buggery fuck. Pan fry chicken and cool. Make chicken casserole sauce and cool. Chop french beans. Chop runner beans.

1.15pm: My mother arrives to mind Harry. John returns from town and goes to wake Harry up. Lets Harry play with purchased top hat.

hat

Continue to work. Make a rhubarb crumble. Make ANOTHER lot of Creme Brulee to tried-and-tested recipe which also, inexplicably, goes yukky-textured. Womanfully resist urge to cry. Make salmon parcels with cream cheese, soured cream and dill filling. Make beef bourguignon, experience a slight setback adding red wine to pan,

wine-spill

 and cool. Make butter curls. Attempt to chop butternut squash and remember I am allergic to the sap. Summon Hubby to chop instead. Start to arrange crocks on table, aesthetically cringing at the necessity to use soup bowls that Do Not Match my dinner service. Bloody Wedgwood. Receivership is No Excuse. 

 

Assess fridge and consider how to fit a quart into a pint pot.

fridge2

 5.30pm: Make fishfinger dinner for Harry, who has been playing on the tussocky grass with Mum, and has fallen and hurt his leg. Is crying and struggling to walk. By now, I want to sit and cry too. Prepare bowl of watercress and rocket instead.

6pm: Mum goes home, frazzled by Harry. Put large tray of butternut squash cubes on to roast. Put 3 saucepans of new potatoes on to boil. Fold napkins into uncomplicated shapes. Arrange bread rolls in a bowl. Put new potatoes into heated hostess trolley. Cook beans and peas: into trolley. Arrange watercress and rocket onto plates. Open the carCOUGH!tons of soup and pour into saucepan. Discuss Who Should Not Be Sat Near Whom with John, while Harry watches Night Garden. We allocate the laminated place-cards I photoshopped for our 2007 party.

white-ann-baylis1  mustard-john-baylis2

If you think I’ve made our faces look bad, you should really see what I did to our friends’.

7pm: Under the impression I have 45 minutes until guests appear, I sit down for the first time since I emerged from the bog this morning, to blog speed read. Ain’t no-one getting comments today.

7.10pm: Turn squash in oven right down. Attempt to go upstairs to bath and change, but Hubby is reading a story to Harry with the bedroom door open and I dare not be seen. Print ‘Do Not Ring Doorbell On Pain Of Pain’, etc, sign and affix to front door.

7.15pm: Hubby creeps downstairs, shutting Harry’s bedroom door and I creep up, treading on our absurdly creaky floorboards as I go. Harry whinges. I rootle hurriedly in wardrobe to sort out vaguely cowboy-ish clothes.

7.25pm: Hear first guest knocking quietly at door. Remember I have actually told everyone 7.30pm for 7.45. Sound of new voice downstairs sends Harry into full-scale roars. Guest is unceremoniously left to entertain herself whilst John and I attempt to sort out costumes in total silence. Abandon all thought of bath, and Hubby is now hogging shower. Apply facial cleansing wipes rapidly around sweatiest sections, liberally apply bodyspray and perfume, and scramble into clothes.

7.35pm: Rip label off pink cowboy hat, don cowboy boots (which between the ages of 14 and 16 never left my feet) and creep downstairs past intermittently-grumbling child. Laugh at guest’s costume, ruthlessly delegate clue envelope handing-out, and scurry off to unwrap salmon parcels and place on salad, which has gone limp. Camera flash turns salmon an extremely unappealing colour. Add purchCOUGH!ased sauce.

salmon2

7.45pm: Put soup on stove to heat. Apply chicken to casserole sauce, beef to bourguignon sauce, and place on stove to re-heat. Stop to pour glass of wine and swig deeply while guest number 1 spots cars and races out onto the drive in order to organise and pre-shush (predictably and thankfully late) arriving guests.

8pm: Relax somewhat and decide cannot be bothered to decant food into Wedgwood serving bowls and will serve it in pans instead. Pour self a larger drink in celebration of acquiring this new wisdom.

8.10pm: Warm tureen, empty soup into it. Tell guests to get out of the bloody kitchen and sit down. Soup is served; I do last visual sweep of the kitchen. See huge pot of ratatouille, gasp, put hastily on searing stove setting to heat up. Go into dining room and read scene-setter out loud. Start the round off. Return to kitchen every 2 minutes during soup to frantically stir ratatouille.

8.25pm: Serve fish. Only one Fish?! refusal and one played-with plate. Relieved.

8.35pm Serve main meal.

dinner-party-food1

Peas have turned hideous colour in trolley, but everything else as planned. Spy forgotten and uncooked rhubarb crumble on worksurface and quickly turn the oven back on. Pour self another large refill.

9pm – 2am: Hazy.

horsey

2am: Final guest leaves and I take stock of surroundings.

detritus

2.15am: Find hubby asleep in the office and gently usher him towards stairs. Has a few false starts and is obliged to tackle the stairs at a crawl, but rolls into bed intact. At no point notices I am filming him.

2.30am: Snores.

5.10am: Child screams loudly. I awake to discover I now have the whirling pit. Nudge Hubby with foot and ask him to pat child back to sleep. Repeat several times, getting jabbier with foot. Hubby, entirely drunk, blunders next door and starts talking chirpily to child. I vaguely think this is odd. Hubby appears with Happy! child in doorway, whereupon I inform him it’s only 5am. He attempts to return Unhappy! child to bed. Experiences failure. Re-appears with Happy! child. Child makes determined lunge for boobs and is firmly rebuffed. Roars.

5.15 – 5.25am: Excessive rampaging over parents. Repeated attempts to access boobs.

5.25am: I leave in drunken stupor, taking my alcoholic boobs with me, and retreat to the spare room. Sleep for further 2 hours.

7.30am: Hubby appears with child. Announces that he ‘may have nodded off for a while’ and that Harry has trashed the bedroom, broken his specs and emptied his wallet. He cannot find two of his credit cards. He is feeling too ill to cope and retreats to the sofa downstairs.

john-asleep

8am – 1pm: I give Harry two scrambled eggs and blearily watch him happily play with the dogs. John eventually returns to bed whilst I start to clear up. His hangover appears unaccountably bad, until he tells me that the first bottle of Port he rootled out of the drinks cupboard at midnight was already open, sedimented and tasted odd… but they drank it anyway.

1pm: Next Door Neighbours appear for lunch of leftovers. I have cleared the table, cooked some fresh chicken, and heated leftover potatoes and veg. Am beginning to think I am wonder woman.

Afternoon and evening spent quietly playing and TV-watching with intermittent wearing tantrums from child. 

Bank Holiday Monday, 6.30am: Child kicks me in the head, headbutts me in the mouth, and finds it funny. I leave for the spare room again in a strop.

11am: Go to local retail park in order to purchase gift for Father’s birthday tomorrow. Retail park is extremely busy. Cannot find suitable gift. Go to town centre instead. Get mildly stressed but also finally buy David Attenborough’s autobiography for self. This takes away much of the pain.

12.15pm: Child falls asleep in car and is left to doze in peace.

1.30pm: Harry wakes without us noticing and works self into proper state before he is heard. There is much screaming and complaint.

2.15pm: I drive him to my friend’s house.

2.50pm: The bank holiday traffic is heavy and I arrive annoyed. Harry immediately has another meltdown the moment he walks through the door. He does this nearly everywhere we go. He Does Not Transition Well. I am becoming extremely exasperated, all the more so because I realise he cannot be blamed.

3pm: I am struck dumb with surprise when I hear my friend’s daughter ask her Mummy for ‘more juice, please.’ Harry has no exact contemporary among the children we see often, hence I have always managed to avoid comparing his speech. I become increasingly upset and aghast as I hear the little girl carry on basic conversations with everyone there and realise to what an advanced degree she can understand sentences and instructions. She has begun to inform her mother of impending bowel movements. (Her own, naturally. Anyone else’s would be even more impressive.) She is apparently not considered a big talker by her parents or nursery, but Harry still has no real words that we can clearly recognise and to me, she is Cicero. I start to want to cry.

3pm – 5.30pm: Harry kicks off again. And again. And again. Pushing. Hitting. Screaming. Grabbing. Kicking. Roaring. There were 3 other toddlers all having the odd strop because of various minor combinations of all those behaviours, particularly THEY-TOOK-MY-TOY-WAAAH! sad and teary red-faced episodes, but Harry… Harry is simply in a different league altogether: frequently catching himself violent wallops on hard surfaces as he throws himself about. I suddenly become aware of my own body language: I have retreated to a corner seat, I have unconsciously picked up a cushion and am holding it across my tummy. I emerge only to re-site Harry’s tantrums into more padded areas.

5.30pm: I leave, managing to hold back my tears until the car is moving.

6pm: I arrive back home, worn out and distressed. John greets me on the doorstep and tells me regretfully that Mrs Brahma has been eaten by the fox. I sit and cry. He takes Harry out from underfoot to ride in his trike in the garden.

6.10pm. I chop an onion and put rice on to cook. I am chopping mushrooms when Harry and John return. Harry is hungry and tired, and has always been tricky to handle at this time of day. He runs up to me and violently pushes my legs. I take a deep breath. He does it again. I burst into tears, which almost immediately turn into proper I-can’t-actually-fucking-breathe hysterics. John removes Harry, plonks him in front of the tv – always a winner to calm him down – and returns to attempt to calm me down. Today, because I am tired, worried and upset, Harry has – to borrow a clever phrase that struck a chord – become reduced to the sum of his quirks.

Harry, at 21 months, has no real intelligible speech yet. His sense of balance isn’t all there by a long stretch. He has, as they told me when he was born, possibly suffered some mild brain damage. His behaviour is most likely due to communication frustration.

It’s hard for both him and us. It’ll probably get worse. But I’m so indescribably sad that my son, my beautiful and precious son, still can’t talk to me.

 harry-hat-2  harry-hat

And the one hen I was genuinely attached to, who was old and tired and wise, has been ripped apart by the fucking fox.

mrs-brahma-rip1

Mixed Feelings

Regular readers of this blog may have picked up on the fact (as it’s been continually Bang! Bang! Bang! between your eyes) that I am an acutely over-anxious parent. I don’t mind admitting to it. In fact, I’ll put my hand straight up to it, even when I am being gently rebuked for it. The rebuker generally tends not to have had 1) as many fertility treatments as I have, 2) as many miscarriages as I have, or 3) baby photos looking anything like ours.

harry-ventilator-small

I’m more relaxed about Harry these days. It’s been… well, let’s call it gradual, shall we? Because it sounds that much better than absurdly delayed. I only moved him into his own room – monitored to the max – at the tender age of 12 months. I stopped using the apnoea monitor when he was 14 months or so – you know, the thing that was deemed medically superfluous after his first, ummm… 20 days of life – solely because we were getting 3+ false alarms per night.

The last 6 months I have taken his health pretty much for granted, aside from my continuing worries over his speech and balance problems. I no longer check him for fever every night when I come to bed. I cheerfully leave him with his grandmothers as frequently as I can get away with. I have left him in my gym creche for an hour to be cared for by strangers, and when he first complained vocally about being abandoned, I mentally shrugged, figuring that he was now old enough to lump it with no major ill-effects.

Harry rolls in plenty of dirt – eats some of it, too.

But I’ve never been apart from my son for more than 6 hours.

And then Helen Shannon emailed and said… wanna come? Eat? Drink? Bring the boys!  And I did want to go. Really wanted to go. But I didn’t want the stress of taking a child who is still regularly screaming for hours on end during the night (and OMG-my-brain-is-beginning-to-dribble-lumpily-out-of-my-sodding-ears-over-this) into a household where I knew that there were beauteous twins who sleep from 5.30pm to 7am without stirring a bloody peep. NOT ONE PEEP, I TELL YOU! My heart sank at the prospect. Harry does not Travel Well. But I had a big incentive to go, so… I eventually decided to leave him with John and go alone. We weren’t worried about the evening: bath, story and sleepytime have long been an entirely Hubby-led operation. It was Harry’s morning boob that was troubling us.

I have been muttering about weaning Harry for a while, but I am heavily conflicted. He is nearly 21 months, and I have long felt that the only women in the entire British Isles still stoically breastfeeding were Barren Mare and I. I’ve held off on weaning for a number of reasons, both practical and emotional – essentially, I never really anticipated that breastfeeding and I would have such a long and happy relationship.

Firstly: he’s only on one feed a day and it’s not exactly a problem to provide: John has no issues with my breastfeeding, and fetches him whilst I stay in bed, 90% comatose, before Harry hurls himself upon me, jaws gaping like a Great White in anticipation.

Secondly, he obviously enjoys his first breakfast. I have castigated myself with the thought that I’m contemplating removing something he revels in, something beneficial to his health, too. I’ve worried about his calcium intake if we stopped, as although he devours yoghurt and cheese, he won’t touch cows milk except a small dash on his morning cereal.

Thirdly, when he’s been poorly and extremely wound up, breastfeeding has always conferred instant calm and comfort when cuddling and rocking has failed. Having a magic baby-soothing device up one’s sleeve t-shirt is not to be sneezed on at.

Fourthly, having any decision of mine swayed by peer pressure and public perception sits awfully badly with me. My instinct is to raise a finger or two to the ‘really?‘s and the ‘still?‘s and the you are?‘s and carry right on with what suits us. However, my tongue has been disregarding my instinct’s instructions lately and telling porky-pies to non-intimates. I have been disappointed with myself about it. I’ve talked about the trouble I had getting my boobs to work properly on the radio, FFS.

Lastly, and this is the biggy, it’s the last tie I have to his babyhood. I went through the usual stages of acute breastpump hell that breastfeeding mothers of premature children undergo, in order to acquire an – eventual – effortless supply and demand situation. I cannot count the hours we have spent in quiet blissful communion; at first by the exhausting-hour-on-end, and – more lately – often the only oasis of peace and closeness I achieve with him all day. Perhaps my feelings can ‘seldom withstand the melancholy influence of the word “last”‘, but I sat and cried like a heartbroken child a year ago when I read the first paragraph of this post of Thalia’s – and her words to Pob have been in my head ever since. How can I make the decision to dissolve such an elemental, visceral bond?

So… I simply haven’t. But I’ve worried a fair bit about when and how we were ever going to stop. I’ve also worried that his early waking and night screaming are being sustained by the alluring dawn prospect of cosying into bed with Mummy for a nice warm milky drink and (often) a bit of an extra snooze if I’m sleepy enough myself to let him get away with it.

The prospect of Harry thundering boisterously down the corridor, wheelspinning around the corner into our room, and taking a flying scramble towards… an empty bed… was concerning. But I’ve felt lately as if I was ready to test the weaning water, at least. John was game – although not enthusiastic – to face Harry’s emotional fallout. I was very appreciative of the big hug and kiss Harry had bestowed as I left Saturday afternoon – running late and flustered – but I was guiltily (A-ha! Finally, the G-word is spoken!) anticipating a rough Sunday morning for the little lad.

I suppose I might theoretically have missed Harry during that evening and the small hours, had I not been in fabulous company and exceedingly… relaxed. Yes, that’s the word. Not drunk. Relaxed. So, actually… it was fine. 

I rang home when I surfaced properly at 9am with a sinking heart, wondering if I would still hear his inevitable 6am BOOB FURY! ROAWR! continuing. All I heard was a cheerful husband, CBeebies and a happily babbling child.

Apparently, he leapt into bed, gave the bedroom a cursory sweeping glance before catching sight of a televised Teletubby, and settled back against the pillows next to Daddy, seemingly highly appreciative of the extra space available in bed. After a minute or two he deigned to look at some of his books, and then they went and had breakfast. End of. After some brief internal conflict, I settled for Half Delighted, Half Astounded, with a tiny soupcon of Hurt.

By Monday morning my boobs were ouchy and I fed him as normal, but this morning I scuttled off into the spare room before John fetched him into bed: exact re-run.

This is obviously going to be easier than I thought in one sense: Harry’s not going to give me a hard time over weaning. It’s evidently a habit, not a need. All I have to deal with now is my own sadness – and I’m pretty damn wistful about it – that this time is coming to an end, and may never happen for me again. I’m not quite ready to go cold-turkey, but I’ll work him down gradually now to a gentle stop. God knows, there’s a lot more to motherhood than this, but it’s been… emotional. 

I was also emotional when I saw the incontrovertible evidence on my scales this morning that I’d had a really bloody good weekend amongst two delightful people I hadn’t met before and two very wonderful people that I had, with witty, hospitable, clever, charming and perfect hosts, and paid for it in pounds. Alastair cooks. Shannon cooks. They cook spectacularly well. I eat spectacularly well. Divine harmony…

Not wishing to arouse too much envy among the rest of the bloggy populace, but we did enjoy ourselves. I really had the most fabulous time. Shannon does not exaggerate: the seven of us managed 14 bottles of wine with extras. We also managed an awful lot of good nattering, a bit of soul-sharing, some highly inappropriate googling, and a 3.30am bedtime. I was also privileged enough to have me some serious twin-munching time the next morning.

Now, I am reasonably immune to cute. I get cute on a daily basis:

cute

These two? Beyond cute.

Cheeky babies by everyday_stranger.

This one is my new favorite photo of them. by everyday_stranger.

Cute is a line to this pair…

Blind Baking

My chaps are both loaded with cold and acutely miserable. They have both demanded, in their distinctly individual ways, Extra Boob as a comfort. Harry’s snot is flowing so unstoppably that I have been reminded of a greenly mucosal magic porridge pot; right up until he lies down to sleep, whereupon it promptly mutates into superglue and chokes him. The poor lad is so hoarse he cannot cry loudly enough to make himself heard in the next room; whilst I can feel the first ominous tightening of my own throat. Arghh.

John has managed to combine a few acres today, although it’s now pissing stair rods, so that’s him done for the week. I pounced on his wrist with a loud cry of triumph yesterday, ripping back the sleeve despite his yammering protests, to reveal the first unmistakable blotches of the harvest-stress eczema he repeatedly attempts to deny he suffers from. Hah!

I must scuttle off to tend and succour, but I will leave you firstly with a photo of the cake I made for my friend’s 30th on Saturday, which I was not entirely displeased with. Cough. Dunno why I don’t just come straight out with it and jump up and down clamouring Praise me! Praise me! Praise me more!

I also want to share with anyone who has had a cake Gone Bad (and do post some links if you have immortalised your special culinary moment) this wonderful site. I have had my baking disasters (aesthetic and poisonous) in the past, but these… these are truly awesome.

No Udder Milk Will Do

A baby of less emotional intelligence and fiscal insight might have been nonplussed and overwhelmed by such an influx of gaily-wrapped parcels and adoring relatives and friends.

Not Harry.

He clambered determinedly over the increasingly vertiginous heap, bestowing the odd possessive pat here and there on a particularly honoured leg or an exceptionally sparkly package.

He likes the truck John and I gave him

but seems significantly less taken with the rocker I suggested to my parents as a suitable gift. We pinned him down on it long enough to look acceptable, smothering any attempts at a premature dismount,

but I need Mum’s babysitting services later this week, and I suspect that she may notice that this wonderful item

 is now the absolute Centre of His World.

Or at least, right up to the point he catches a glimpse of the Mummy boob, whereupon I am immediately restored to favour. Today is my first day of weaning him down to two feeds, morning and night. I kept him busy this afternoon and he had tea early, so he didn’t have much of an opportunity to squawk his disapproval. I’m in no hurry at all to stop the bedtime feed but the morning feed – or, more accurately, the abuse of my torpid form by our morning baby – is starting to wind me up a bit. It used to be so peaceful: John would gently remove a wailing infant from the cot at dawn, place him down next to my snoring form, and depart for work. I would drowsily snuggle boob and baby together and promptly return to sleep, rousing only partially to change sides after 15 minutes. Harry would feed himself back to sleep, and we would both wake up when John returned for breakfast at 8.30am ish. I never knew I had it so good.

Harry now feeds furiously for 5 minutes whilst very wide awake, feet kicking, one eye keenly raking the bedroom, locating targets of interest, whilst his chubby little paw blindly pats and taps like a white stick, searching with tweaky fervour for my unoccupied nipple. I have swiftly evolved a practice of draping my chubby paw over it like a fruit cage whilst I snooze. Eventually, the sight of some random object swimming in the repulsive morass of contact lenses, earrings, fruit stones, snotty tissues and towering piles of books that currently occupy my bedside table proves too much for him and he can contain himself no longer. He rips himself off my nipple (Six teeth the child has. Six.) in order to propel himself enthusiastically towards the edge of the bed, limbs paddling frantically in the cloying duvet. He generally treads heavily on my boob as he leaves, and as I lurch sleepily to grasp the biggest chunk of departing baby left within my reach, he frequently also manages to land some telling kicks to my face.

The cleverest course of action is to rise for the day and take him downstairs, to where there exists coffee. If I foolishly attempt to continue to keep my form in horizontal partnership with the mattress, he launches himself, grunting, eyes popping with effort, across the treacherous rising expanse of the pillows towards the wooden bedhead. By dint of herculean effort, he hooks a hand over the top and hauls himself triumphantly upright, swaying precariously. He delightedly pats the wall, before his beaming gaze slides sideways to the bedside table to fall upon the original object of his interest, and he starts to sidestep hastily along the pillows (bouncy, boingy pillows) towards the edge. When his solid little hooves are unfairly prevented from making proper progress – when impeded, for instance, by a grimly-determined-to-sleep occupant of said pillow – then he continues to lean over, or kneel on, the obstruction, at an increasingly perilous angle, until he has both fists so tightly locked around the turned bedpost, he can only be unpeeled painlessly by tickling.

When retrieved, he sits bolt upright in the middle of the bed for a moment, calculating his next move. His busy gaze eventually, inevitably, alights on the milk tankers and he unhesitatingly hurls himself head first into them, mouth gaping, teeth glinting in the dawn sunshine drizzle. Puzzled, firstly by the roars of Mummy-protest, secondly by the strange absence of nipple-in-mouth, and thirdly by the smothered sensation around his ears, he belatedly realises that he has crash-landed squarely between the aforementioned tankers, and proceeds to wriggle and rotate frantically until a stray nipple bounces past his vision.

Imagine a particularly conscientious rottweiler who has had a paralysingly quiet few months patrolling the fences, who is suddenly shown a guiltily-fleeing bottom, and you will have an idea of the zeal and vehemence with which my nipples are pursued. Eventually I can struggle and resist no more and submit to being uncomfortably suctioned into the gaping maw, only to be painfully spat out in frustration mere seconds later, generally because he has not worked out that you can’t easily work a boob when A) they are lying flat, B) when you’ve bullishly buried your entire face, including nostrils, in the fleshy fullness of them, or C) you are sat, casually propped against your mother’s ribs, craning your head in order to ensure that the crazily-stretching nipple you have clamped in your jaws remains a prisoner whilst also trying your best to reach over to conduct experiments about twisting the other nipple off completely.

When I can take no more of his wild flails towards the bed precipice, interspersed with his brutish attacks on my person, I plonk him on the floor to romp among the towering canyons formed by my laundry heaps, whilst I slump, already exhausted from baby-wrestling, counting my bruises, and bemoaning the fact that it is not yet 7.30am. Once I drifted hopefully back off, ignoring the suspicious-sounding thumps and small squeaks of total joy as he pawed hopefully towards a succession of forbidden objects (e.g. hairdryer, perfume spray, cufflinks, cold cups of coffee) waking up properly only when youngster, who had cruised over to stand jauntily by the side of the bed, stood on tiptoe and helped himself to my nearly-protruding-over-the edge-of-bed boob.

I do not mean to complain, you understand. I’m delighted and pleased to have been able to BF him for a year: it’s often a ridiculously hard and bloody painful road in the beginning, and bodies that have played Silly Buggers about the whole being-knocked-up business often seem to have a final boo and hiss at this unwelcome point. (The extremely special and delightful Geohde, in fact, is much deserving of large helpings of internet love on this very subject currently.) It’s just that I’m beginning to feel that my boobs are as much a source of amusement as nutrition these days, and they’re taking a lot of rough punishment. We have tried him with cow’s milk – nice, proper moojuice – in his sippy cup, but I fear his expression was not approving. 

We must persevere.

As I did when he initially rejected his chocolate birthday cake. Silly boy. It took a day of repeatedly posting chunks into his mouth, but he has now probably happily munched his way towards his first proper tooth cavity.

Bless.

Gulled

Fox #1: ‘Did you ever manage to get out to that lovely little place I told you about? Divine menu, darling, simply divine. Can’t believe we’ve not discovered it before.’

Fox #2: ‘Well I did, Reynard, and thank you so much for the recommendation. The electric fencing isn’t effective, you’re quite right. I popped in for a late lunch yesterday, and had a simply marvellous cockerel.’

Fox #1: ‘Yummy, yah?’

Fox #2: ‘ Totally, darling, although I was a leeetle disappointed that hens were off the menu. I think someone was a bit greedy before, yah? I could only see one and that was a Brahma, and I always think they’re tough.’

Fox #1: ‘You’re just too picky, darling, it’ll be lovely with a spot of slow munching. Meet you there for lunch?’

* * *

I am out for most of the day. Very tempted to tuck Mrs Brahma – who was chased horribly by my geese this morning, the rotten buggers – under my arm and take her with me. Leaving her in the run is tantamount to making a present of her to Foxy, but it’s hot today and I feel she wouldn’t enjoy it. Hairy hubby reacted badly when I requested a proper hen run, with a wire ceiling. Poor henny-penny, what shall we do? 

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