Abandon Hope, All Ye Innernets Who Enter Here

Visitors to Hairy Towers generally need something of the… well, the intrepid about them.

For a start, you must travel through Beyond in order to reach the Back, and then take a further right-hander towards The Sticks – whereupon you will most likely sail straight past the tiny and virtually un-signposted gap in the hedge. Then there is the road to our house, which is steep, absurdly cambered, dotted with vaguely macabre topiary animals, and harbouring potholes that need a gear-change down in order to escape. If you value your sump (or, if you are in a hire-car, your deposit) then you make your ascent at Fiennes-up-Everest speed.

Once you arrive on the moon-surface that is our driveway, you are treated to the gaping, roaring, woofing maws of our dogs – if you are fortunate, next door’s pair come to bark at you too – whereupon our two promptly start a turf-scrap, and you can use this diversionary incident to sneak to the front door in comparative safety.

There are a number of things that you might encounter upon ringing the doorbell, most of them worrisome to timid temperaments. What May and H found yesterday, after they had successfully braved both the drive and the mutts, was a bared-to-the-waist, sweaty, busily-vacuuming Hairy Farmer. He greeted them alone, as I was dancing around the bedroom struggling to untangle my legs from my (sweaty, lime & chili-encrusted, child-hand-print adorned) trousers and insert them into a half-way presentable skirt. I had heard the woofing and correctly diagnosed Visitors, but not even my most fish-wifey and repeated shrieks down the stairs to putagoddamnbloodyshirtonferthloveoGod could be heard over the dyson.

The reason John was vacuuming at this belated point hinges mainly around his congenital tendency towards procrastination – and 3 limes. When visitors come, the deal is that I cook, clean and entertain – after a fashion – whilst he runs errands, picks up the toys and vacuums. I had made my request for limes at about 6pm the previous day. At 11.30am, having been booted hard up the metaphorical arse, he went out in search of limes, drew a blank, and was obliged to visit the next town along. Two town visits in one morning was too much for him, and he was forced to relax outside afterwards, tinkering with Harry’s bike seat. Eventually my motivating remarks shrill screams dented his consciousness, but only in time to hoover half of one room before the doorbell rang.

The need for a pioneering-type spirit among our visitors does not end with admittance into the hall. No, no, no. You must have your wits about you at all times in this house. Drinks which you are well known to be allergic to will be casually proffered; bowls of (undercooked, but I think I got away with it. You’re still alive, right? …Right?… May?…) dessert will be presented completely and utterly sans cutlery for you simply to stand there and look at; you will be taken outside to stand under a burning hot sun to hear about wearisome and rambling horticultural inanity when you are already suffering the internal incandescence that is Clomid… and so it goes on.

Poor May & H. There you both are, the nicest patch of the internet in person; you turn up, you bring luscious scented wifey-treats (I smell niiiiice), you bring delicious farmer-beer (Guzzles. Burps. Smiles. Sticks thumbs up) you bring a fabulous wooden tortoise jigsaw (Paint chipped already: demanded via best and most insistent yoda-point on several occasions today, closely and gleefully examined,

tortoise jigsaw

hurled enthusiastically to floor, lather, rinse & repeat) and what happens? You get subjected to an afternoon with in-a-flap Wifey, a half-dressed Hairy, and a grizzly-pants Harry. Sigh. We must practise more at this entertaining business, and do better in future. 

Speaking of doing better in future, thank you all for your kind and bracing comments vis a vis Muscle Mass. I must regretfully disillusion you: it is all honest bulk, and my clothes are all tighter. I am simply an incorrigible fatty. The only muscles I will concede have turned manly toned up are my calves, as I can no longer do up the zip on my boots. Ach! Still, the ‘May & H-are-visiting-(hooray!)-Mississippi-Mud-Pie-that-for-some-bizarre-reason-I-kept-calling-Banoffee-Pie’ blow-out is over, and after I had finished the bloody thing for breakfast (yeah. I know. I have issues.) this morning, I put in a sterling performance at the gym. The fact that I suffered heart palpitations after 45 minutes that obliged me to dismount… is one I shall totally chalk up to hormones and lightly brush over, as dwelling on it will worry me no end.

Harry has been very good today. How about that?! And guess, just GUESS, WHO was measured at an absolutely huge and OMG-he’s-actually-growing-after-all foot size 4.5 G this afternoon?

harry M&Ds

Yes! Our 0.4th centile-line man is getting – ever so slightly – larger. It must be all those dry bread crusts we give him to chew on.

harry munching bread

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Wringing of Hands

Child

Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.
I want to fill it with color and ducks,
The zoo of the new

Whose names you meditate –
April snowdrop, Indian pipe,
Little

Stalk without wrinkle,
Pool in which images
Should be grand and classical

Not this troublous
Wringing of hands, this dark
Ceiling without a star.

Sylvia Plath

This post was supposed to be about me climbing sheepishly down off my horse named Melodrama, and telling you that, really, peeps, I’m fine; I just go a little peculiar in the head when I see blood pouring out of my baby.

Of course, that was before he ran across the drive after his Grandad this evening, and fell chin-first onto the tarmac. I’m beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable – and weary – of taking photos of a bloody child with an injured mouth, so I took a couple of myself instead. Harry mainly wanted his Daddy’s shoulder – black-clad this time – to cry/bleed it all out on today, but he stuck with me long enough to make his point.

ann

Ann 2

I’m not an avid photographer-of-self. 15 stone will, you know, occasionally do that to a girl. But these… appeal to me. I have never yet (except poooooossibly the In-Laws-With-Bride group shot at our wedding, by which stage I was getting cold & mizzled on) seen my expression tell a glummer story.

Immediately prior to taking these woeful photos, I endured a 3-hour dinner with my parents. Normally a complete joy to entertain, they omitted to inform me, when I issued the invitation yesterday, that they were not, in fact, speaking to one another. I have a policy of non-socialisation when this occurs, as it upsets me. Today, even John – not the most sensitive human example of emotional litmus – managed to pick up the frosty undertone and the pot-shots. I was just beginning to cheer up as they opened the front door to go, when I saw Harry take his tumble.

An inevitable combination of the 4 deadly Ss – Speed, unSteadiness, Sandals and the Slope sent him smack onto his chin. For some absurd reason, I was supremely confident for a second or two that he couldn’t possibly have bust his lip again, as no-one can possibly sink their top teeth nearly right through their bottom lip 3 times in 5 days. Surely not! The fates are not that unkind to already-mangled and swollen flesh.

They fucking are, you know.

Uneasy Lies The Head

I was also thinking about calling this one ‘Mucus: Wherefore Art Thou?’ Or ‘I can has frequent blog posting prize?!’

I have the twinging pain. In the lazy ovary, too. The one attached to the good* uterus!

I have the LH surge**:

peestick

I have the spots:

(Photo taken but too featuring far too many un-plucked, un-waxed and un-bleached hairs to publish)

But I do not have the mucus. At least, I have none of the right type of mucus.

And this month, I was half-considering having a proper go at things. At 15 stone, (that’s right! a whole stone heavier than the previous ‘I am too fat to get pregnant post!’ AND I went to the gym 3 times last week and 3 times this week ALREADY and it’s only Thursday! AND I sweated properly! AND I have put on another pound! GAH!) this is not a particularly clever move. I have no better reasons to field than A) I lose the best part of a stone in the 1st trimester coz I can’t actually eat, and B) I am surrounded with legions of pregnant women. Simply can’t move for the buggers. Announcements have been coming at me from all sides, which I suppose is inevitable when a high proportion of your girly chums have 18-month old kids.

I don’t dissolve into a sad little puddle of hate the way I used to when ‘the news’ is given. I can produce a smile without having to ratchet it there forcibly from an achingly sore combination of personal obligation, social conscience and pride. I don’t inwardly convulse with a toxic mixture of jealousy, naked distress, and panic. But the memories of when I did are etched so deep that I still get a stab of something unpleasant. My baby isn’t a baby anymore – and fuck knows how and when that happened – and all these other women are leaving me behind with their relentless output; their production line of infants. Again.

My pregnancy seems like a distant dream. Not even the fact that I can still – still! – produce milk convinces me that I’m in the club now. I tell myself that I am, happily, no longer one of the distraught dispossessed. I have the baby magazines, the stairgates, the cute little clothes, the lego, the carseat and everything. Whilst Harry lives, I can never be desolate again. And I still can’t accept the new normal, or take any of it for granted. 

Even if we have another child… after so spending so long in such deep distress and mourning for my failure to conceive, followed by losing my babies, I’m sure I will spend my remaining life stood on the outside of motherhood, looking in. Harry – despite being the light of my existence, without whom I would curl up and try to die – can never return me to the person I was in 2003.

On a visceral level I am truly maimed by his long-delayed arrival and premature birth, but I consciously try to view the traumas of infertility and miscarriage as a catalyst for some seriously stern character development. With varying degrees of success.

** When I requested John to take this shot with his super-duper new close-up lens, he squinted suspiciously at the peestick, went to pick it up, had second thoughts, and withdrew his hand. He then enquired in repulsed tones ‘Which end have you peed on?’

Hairy hubby is such a girl.

Nutritional Overachiever

I poured myself into my new joggy bottoms, the ones that were reduced to £3 for being a rather peculiar shade of navy blue and discomfortingly bum-bifurcating. They are a size 18 and rather tight around the waist.

I squeezed into my new sports boob-flattener, although not without a titanic three-way struggle for supremacy between me, the bra, and my bosum. The bra is also a size 18, and crushes me around the ribs. In the end, I was obliged to physically grasp each of my boobs, which were escaping wobblesomely towards my double-chins, and mercilessly ram them down into the constrictive captivity of the industrial elastic.

I rootled in the cupboard and eventually extracted a dust-encrusted pair of (what were once) sparkling white running shoes. They were cheap, hence quite noticeably uncool, and have absurdly long, stretchy laces which I spent 15 procrastinating minutes attempting to shorten by re-lacing.

I looked in the mirror to view the overall ensemble and winced, as last night’s shopping trip into Stratford had been rainy (and umbrella-less), and my (well-overdue-for-cutting) hair had gone… strange. Think: shapeless hybrid between an Old English Sheepdog

shaggy-dulux-dog

and Farrah Fawcett circa the Cannonball Run,

farrah

but sadly deficient in both the cute and the sex appeal, respectively. (Note to self: double-check I have that the right way around before hitting ‘Publish’.)

But hey! No-one will care, surely? No-one checks out the fat woman at the gym. No-one will even bother smirking at the fashion disaster-encased lard. I’m having my hair cut on Tuesday. No-one will ever remember I looked like this.

I slunk unobtrusively through the main doors and furtively up the stairs.

“Hi! You’re a new member? Stand just over there for your membership photo, please!”

Arse.

Woe!

I am going to tell you about the things that are pissing me off. I intend to enumerate all my anguished trivialities, so feel free to skip this one and come back another day when I’m chirpier.

I have been immovably stuck on 14st4 for nearly two weeks, despite being very restrained, and really had my heart very much set on being 13st-something for Harry’s birthday. I felt as if the psychological boost might make me more inclined to actually be photographed with my son, and I would love a nice photo of the two of us together. I think there’s only about 6 photos of us both in existence. There are no photos at all of the three of us together, because that would mean ceding power of image-capture to a fourth person.

This last week I’ve tried so hard. I’ve been so good. I’ve skipped my main meal three times in favour of bloody weetabix; in fact, I’ve cut my food intake quite ridiculously low. On Saturday and Sunday I sweated like a navvy, wielding a blunt spade on unyielding clay. I got on the scales last night to find I was a pound heavier. I’ve got on them again several times today, just in case there was some dreadful mistake, but no. I haven’t been this savagely angry with my body since it was persistently refusing to either downregulate, ovulate, conceive, or stop killing babies. I have cried about my weight 3 times today, and might not be finished yet.

Not only has cutting down on my food intake failed miserably to shift a single ounce, it became apparent this morning that my boobs were sagging limply like a pair of empty sacks: I’d been so intent on eating less that I forgot to consider my milk supply. Poor Harry was thirsty, and sucking so hard that he had hollow cheeks. This is not my intended weaning strategy, and the thought of my only-barely-on-his-growth-chart-line son not getting his vital milk because I’ve been a stupid twat, is upsetting me. I am now awash with the copious liquid and rather more substantial spag bol I have eaten.

The current Met Office forecast over our house for Friday:

Date Time Weather  Temp  Wind Visibility
Fri
1
Aug
Day Heavy Rain Shower 23°C SSW 13 mph   Poor
Night Heavy Rain Shower 15°C SW 12 mph   Poor

Only their symbol for tropical storms has more raindrops. The garden party is obviously a washout, so I will therefore have invited 20 babies and 18 mothers into my lounge. Imagine how pleased I am with myself.

The EWCM that I mentioned a few posts back? What a waste of some perfectly good soul-searching. I started spotting a day or so later, and things are now working – very slowly – up into a proper period. The length of intro is highly suggestive that here is another 70-day humdinger of a bleed.

Whilst finishing the black-out blind for Harry’s room – he will move to his nursery soon – late on Saturday night, I managed to get about a dozen glass fibre splinters into my fingers, and both my thumbs. Seriously, who was the moron who decided to make the rods for roman blinds out of glass fibre? Bring me his freshly-severed head. I wish to stick pins in it.

My ezcema has flared up wildly since the weekend, and I have a particularly irritating rash developed under my (aforementioned sacklike and sagging) boobs. I look so classy when I scratch it. 

I have to haul Harry and myself into town early tomorrow, along with the appalling rush-hour traffic, in order for the optician to peer at my left eye. I appear to have some sort of bacterial nasty living in there, as my monthly-wear contacts are becoming fogged with immovable cloudy deposit shortly after insertion. I suspect he will send me on to our GP, who will do nothing.

It is the kind of day that would, in times gone past, have sent me to bed in disgust with a good book and a plate piled high with nice things, in search of some perspective. Except it’s hotter than Hades here tonight and the bedroom is absurdly stuffy. The plate of nice things A) would not solve my misery, rather the reverse, and B) are non-fucking-existent because I purged the cupboards weeks ago of anything illicit. (I did, however, eye up the cooking chocolate I have bought for Harry’s birthday cake.) And there’s still a baby sleeping in our room who has the hearing of a sodding spaniel if you open that tasty pack of crisps I haven’t bloody got.

Quite a few people love me and, to the best of my belief, no-one hates me, but I am still going down the garden to eat some worms. I hear they’re low on fat.

Then I Met A Man With No Feet

It’s 9.30pm and I have just woken up from my booze-induced stupor. And it’s Sunday!  Dear me. How hedonistic. Two glasses of wine at lunchtime and I could barely string a sentence together. I was obliged to crawl blearily out of the car and lurch upstairs to sleep it off. Hubby, as usual, was both amused and slack-jawed in disbelief at my total inability to process the good stuff.

We have been to Derbyshire today for the Christening of my cousin’s little boy. The smashing little fella is a few months older than Harry and was impeccably behaved throughout. Harry, on the other hand, threw a screaming paddywhack in the packed church, right in the middle of the very important water-chucking bit, so I carted him unceremoniously outside, cheeks a-glow with shame.

Whilst perambulating amongst the gravestones, one in particular caught my eye. Now, I am not the type of person to mock grief. Losing your son is tragic, even after 172 years. However, gravestone fashions have moved on since 1836, and this one was so bloody lugubrious that I actually found it vaguely funny, and pointed it out in passing to all my relatives. Who all obediently peered at it, whilst transparently concluding that actually, I was distinctly odder than they had thought. Oh, well.

The verse at the bottom reads:

A pale consumption gave the fatal blow

The stroke was certain, but th (sic) effect was slow

With lingering pain, death saw him sore oppress’d

Pitied his sighs and kindly gave him rest.

Phew. Heavy.

And whilst we’re all miserable, I must share my shoe agony with you. Three days of intensive, miserable shopping for a brown and pink outfit just so I could wear my pretty brown and pink shoes.

I dragged them out of the shoe heap storage area yesterday, to find an ankle strap missing. My distress was palpable! Even Hubby had a poke about looking for the missing strip of leather, but it has vanished into that lurking fourth dimension that contains all the odd socks, used biros, and that special valuable edition of Barnaby Rudge I borrowed in 2002.

I returned to town with Hubby yesterday in an attempt to start my outfit plan from scratch, based on my identical yet inferior black shoes. Predictably, after an hour and a half of fruitless searching for something elegant, inexpensive and large, I began to get uber-anxious and teary and was duly taken home, empty-handed, apart from the very-tightly-clutched hubby paw. I ended up in much-worn but comfy black linen trousers and a slightly NHS-ey pink linen top. But I managed to avoid all cameras, all day, so… RESULT!

On a more upbeat note, Harry’s first visit to a pub went well; he spent most of the party playing happily under the table, soaking up family adoration and dispensing carefully-calculated doses of charm. There are far worse places to spend an afternoon than relaxing on a pub floor…

Robin vs Priscilla, Round II

Today I went on a shopping trip to Birmingham with both my mother and a teething baby. Brave, yes? I went with the intent of shopping for clothes, both for self and child. So frankly, it was never destined to go well.

Recent experiences involving reflective shop windows and my mile-wide bottom have taught me to skulk in the shadows wherever possible, but there’s just no-where to hide in a changing room. It’s as if you’re supposed to actually look at yourself in there: there’s mirrors and everything. I cowered into the corner as far as I could but the lighting was remorseless, and I could clearly see just how far apart the fasteners were on the size I had – hopefully – selected. Also, the material was… was… how can I put it? Bluntly, I suppose. Ladies, I had camel-toe.

Oh, that cringing trail of shame back onto the shop floor, past the helpfully-beaming assistant. ‘Any good, madam?’ Back out to where I could hear my screaming, over-tired infant being pushchaired in a holding-pattern outside the changing rooms by my mother. Instantaneous increase of stress levels and haste. Searching with fumbling fingers for the next size up and OMG, they don’t make them any bigger in this style.

Firmly fight back tears, visit pushchair, make laudable effort at happy-noise smiley-face at scarlet-faced bawling child. Who immediately discerns my concealed distress and promptly attempts to incorporate the essence of my despondent karma into the tenor of his protests. If he continues along this vocal path, he will shortly only be audible to dogs.

Mother decides that he is over-heated (he isn’t) and wheels him outside into the rain. I strongly suspect that Harry is now wailing because he is in titchy shorts, a t-shirt that has ridden up to his armpits, and is being rained on.

And so it went on. For 4 hours. Oh, and the train home was rammed, so child naturally trotted out his soaring ululations again, to the delight of our fellow passengers. Groan. Not a happy day. What my poor mother must have suffered. I went out determined to buy something simple and well-cut in a bright, cheerful pastel for a family christening this Sunday. I came home with a £12 pair of brown crop trousers. Robin of Sherwood just kicked Priscilla’s arse again.

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