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.

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Best if You Stand Downwind

I’m not usually much of a drinker given that A) I’m rather a fatty and don’t need the calories and B) I get pissed on fresh air, but I have just sat down with a half-pint of cocktail. There are several reasons for this.

1. Killing the pain in my back. It has been roaring at me for three days and I’m about brassed off with it. Bad vertebrae. The anti-inflammatories that usually sort me straight out will be, of course, verboten for breastfeeding. I know without even looking. Bah.

2. Suppressing the memory that, notwithstanding reason number one, I have today stupidly, stupidly, shifted heavy furniture about and mucked my geese hut out.

3. Trying not to mind the fact that, whilst mucking out aforementioned goose shed, I have been horrifyingly infested with a poultry mite of some description. They are tiny, pale, and bloody well itch. Tomorrow, we attack the hut with kick-ass chemicals. Fuck organic.

4. Dealing with the fact that I cannot currently de-fester myself of my unwanted personal livestock because the bedroom road to our en-suite is currently blocked off by a DO NOT PASS, BABY IN MELTDOWN sign. We have other bathrooms, but I cannot use either of our other (ridiculously narrow) baths, because of reason (A) given above.

5. Trying to blot out the incessant crying coming from our bedroom, where we have this evening embarked on a sleep offensive with Harry. He is finally much better, and has been judged to no longer need indulgent night feeds and coddling. John has sternly dislodged me from my post, peering in the crack of the door because I forgot to position the monitor, and also sacked me from being the go-to-cot-in-incremental-time-gaps-to-lay-baby-down-then-pat-baby-then-leave parent, on the basis that Harry knows that I am well soft and I also smell of boob milk. What I actually smell of tonight is goose shit, but I do get the point.

6. Coz it tastes nice. Innocent Mango smoothie mixed with Malibu, actually. Tastes like the sort of drink you’d knock back on a beach, and I am quite enjoying imagining I’m elsewhere just now. (Hums: At the Coco, Cococabana…)

(Happy Sigh). The crying is fading out after 35 minutes, and the cocktail is warming my cockles nicely. The poor little lad has very few sleep skills to boast about, given that he was boobed religiously to sleep for the first 5 months of his life; putting him down awake inevitably resulted in a refluxed feed, a change of cot sheets and baby clothes, an awake and empty baby, and all to do again. The following 5 months we have been careful to prod him a bit awake when he goes into the cot, but he still seems to need a car trip, a boob, or a pram-push to get his eyelids droopy. He’s a right bugger to persuade to nap, and evil if he doesn’t get them. Plus he invariably wakes between midnight and 2am wanting a re-run of bedtime.

In short, it’s crap, for him and for us. At nearly 10 months old, we should all be sleeping through the night. So: he needs to learn to fall, and stay, asleep by himself and also, (deep intake of breath) he’s going to have to go into his own room. We are, despite much tippy-toeing, waking him up when we go to bed. This own-room issue pains me no end. I am still a very, very anxious mother. I am hugely reluctant to move him away from me. I would have co-slept with him, had he not been premature, low birthweight and male (prime potential SIDS victim). I still hover nervously around him at night, apnoea monitor with reassuring flashy light notwithstanding, and it has been a Big Thing for me to move his (borrowed, drop-side) cotbed away from my bedside 18 inches (Bedside table again, yay!).

I could have buried my head in the sand humming La La La indefinitely, had this last week not upped the ante. Harry learnt to sit himself up and pull himself up to stand on the same day. Initial joy from mother about her tiny over-achiever rapidly evaporated when we looked on the monitor to see child doing a passable imitation of a baby fledgling plucking up courage to hurl self into the void. Bad. Parents rushed upstairs, to great delight of (more demonic than usual) child
 

 
to lower mattress on the other  cotbed (solid oak behemoth) at the foot of our bed. His icy blue eyes have been staring stonily (so like his daddy) through the bars at me in the small hours, mightily displeased with his relegation.

So, Mum’s a bit down-in-mouth. But he’s got to go in his own room eventually, and if we’re going to stick to this bloody sleep thing, it’ll have to be soon. No point upsetting him twice. On the upside, it means that I get my bedroom back. I can once again retire to bed early, eat junk and loll about reading happily. I can have a (nice rooooomy) bath in the en suite of an evening. Added to the already weighty downside, I will also need to light a firework under my dear old Dad, whom I requested (at 7 months pregnant) to design and make a Brambly Hedge type mural for the monstrous chimney breast in the nursery. Dad, who works on much the same timescales as me, has, 10 months later, just got around to buying the paint.

Ah, me. Tempus fugit, and all that.

I wonder if the dog flea spray will work on me?

Some days: Pigeon. Today? Statue.


NaComLeavMo

NaComLeavMo: More Conversation Than You Can Shake a Stick at

I have pummelled my keyboard for 2 hours. I have immersed myself in WordPress FAQ and Forums. And still, STILL, I can’t get a single bloody image that isn’t Flickr into my sidebar. In a post? No problemo. Look at Mel’s lovely orange drawing, nestling comfortably exactly where I left it. The Sidebar?  Having none of it! Even changed my damn theme, and still zip. BLOODY THING!!!

To cap it all, it’s a Saturday and therefore: Family Time! Not farming time. Hairy Hubby pissed off at 9.25am to ‘just pop and sort out a lamb with maggots’ – knowing full well that in blowfly season I haven’t a leg to kick him with stand on when a lambkin is in trouble. Two hours later there was still no sign of him and Harry was being a bugger displaying tiresome behaviour. The poor lad still hasn’t shaken off this viral nasty, in fact, it’s currently enjoying a resurgence. His snot is truly impressive and widely distributed around his face and the furniture. Hubby eventually turned up looking vaguely apologetic, muttering something about orf (another lamb Nasty) which I pretended not to hear, and has been firmly handed child to feed and mind whilst I enjoy my Harry-free time HURTING MY HEAD trying to figure out WHY GOD, WHY the HTML code I have obediently inserted doesn’t sodding work

I give up. I’m going shopping. It’s Hubby’s birthday on Monday and I need cake ingredients. Also BBQ stuff, despite the likelihood of the weather turning utterly pants. Still, we are British, we only know how to BBQ in the rain and wind.

Incidentally, I forgot to mention that the return of the EWCM was a cruel vaginal hoax. My period returned the next day, and is back to stay with me, seemingly forever.  Considering buying shares in Always Ultra.

 ***Update***

Finally have image… don’t know what the buggery fuck I did to make it work though.

 ***Updated Update***

It’s gone! It’s gone! I scaled it down to fit and it’s gone and pissing well fucked off and left a little red cross instead. It’s left me an electronic turd, the bastard thing! They should prescribe WordPress for patients with low blood pressure.

***Updated Updated Update***

MWA HA HA HA HA HAAAAA!

Collective Noun: An Inferno

We saw the mysterious return of Harry’s 39 degree temperature yesterday evening (I’m going to write a really stern note to someone about this) followed by a Restless, Sleepless and Comfortable night respectively (Harry, Ann, John, in order).  This morning Harry seemed sufficiently himself to frisk merrily amongst his toys, enjoying in particular a boisterous game of Ride the Mummy-Horse. If his future hold on the reins is equal to the death-grip he applies to my neckline, then Pony Club is in the bag.

Harry will be having a pony, by the way. Mummy has spoken. The bruises will be good for him.

There are 3 disused stables at the bottom of the drive; John has any amount of grassland; the Delightful Next Doors are horse gurus; Harry’s Godmother is an equine Vet; we have straw, hay, oats, and barley all in-house; we even own a wheelbarrow. There is NO GOOD REASON why Harry should not have a pony.  And yet, still, the hubby demurs. He is egged on in his opinions by our farmer friends, many of whom have horse-owning wives. Essentially, horses are firmly viewed as a waste of space, land, time and food amongst the chaps, and are colloquially known as Hayburners.

Subterfuge has consequently been resorted to by the ladies. I was told that one girl owns 6 horses, yet her partner is still under the impression she only owns 5, numbers 5 and 6 looking conveniently identical. Another friend quietly inserted a Shetland pony into the furthest outreaches of the garden in the depths of winter, knowing full well that hubby left and arrived in the dark. It was some time before he spotted the cuckoo.

I suppose that John likes horses as much as the next man, provided the one he has put his shirt on comes in at 50 to 1. I have dragged him out riding on holiday and although his technique is lamentable, worse even than mine, he has, infuriatingly, a naturally good seat. Insert-Shetland-By-Stealth friend opines that men sit deep into the saddle in an unconscious attempt to prevent their bollocks from becoming frisbees; and certainly all attempts to unstick John from the saddle once he’s on, have come… unstuck. I have flattered him outrageously about this natural ability, but he still refuses to unbend and agree to learn to ride one properly.

So, Harry has Mummy whispering ‘lots of girls at Pony Club!’ in one ear, and Daddy whispering ‘Burners!’ in the other. It’s a job to know which way he’ll jump in the end, but currently the Mummy-horse seems a winner. We have bottoms of a similar damn size, too.

Baby Song

Saw with much joy this morning that Flotsam baby Simone is finally home and busy making life… well, busy, for all around her. Which is all very right and proper! Thom Gunn’s poem has kept popping into my head all morning, as the last verse resonated so much with me when Harry was also a tiny newborn. Or at least, a newly-come-home.

Reading Alexa’s post, I had a sudden recollection of quite how bad my own personal baby-meltdown was. It was a horrific shock to me when I rapidly mutated from a sensible, capable adult to a bewildered, shaking mess. I’ve heard it said that the baby blues (not PN Depression mind you. Kettle, Fish, Different.) consist almost purely of sleep deprivation. Given that I only experienced my can’t-recognise-myself lows when Harry came home – a month after his birth – and that the miserable inundation rapidly receded once I’d slept for more than 3 hours a night, I’m inclined to concur.

I used to spend the day firmly wedged in my rocking chair, in varying states of consciousness, with Harry either clamped to, or craning hopefully towards, my nipple. My hair went unwashed for days. I also seem to remember that toilet breaks were alarmingly infrequent and most of my hot drinks (made exclusively by other people. I only managed to get as far as boiling kettles) went cold. The thing is, I can’t for the life of me remember now what he was doing to make life quite so testing. 

And now I come to think of it, given that Harry howled like a burgled banshee last night, for the third night running, perhaps we haven’t moved on quite as far as I think we have.    

From the private ease of Mother’s womb
I fall into the lighted room

Why don’t they simply put me back
Where it is warm and wet and black?

But one thing follows on another
Things were different inside Mother.

Padded and jolly I would ride
The perfect comfort of her inside

They tuck me in a rustling bed
– I lie there, raging, small, and red.

My Heart Belongs to Daddy

It has been my turn to host my post-natal group lunch today – a collective noun for this many babies is evidently a Piddle – and I have just waved off the last mother. Their offspring were all immaculately bibbed-up, and the only baby to puke on the carpet was Harry. I lay no blame: the carpet is buggered anyway and besides, when you have to let it go, you have to let it go. I re-discovered this fact with some reluctance at 4.30am yesterday morning when Harry’s usual dawn chorus of chirrups, squawks, head-bangings and subsequent wails ushered me gently into the new day and rising nausea. It rapidly became apparent to me that I was inescapably going to bid farewell to what remained of last night’s dinner, so the child was foisted unceremoniously onto his father for the duration.

Hairy Farmer Hubby was feeling the imperative twin summoning of a delightfully sunny morning and the alluring open fields, and was markedly displeased by this intolerable turn of events. He returned at intervals throughout the morning to sweep an impatient eye over my prostrate form and enquire with barely concealed frustration whether I would ‘like him back yet?’ I managed to lift my head from the pillow long enough to bark an emphatic and profane negative, and I believe Harry spent the morning with his paternal grandmother. At 3.30pm, having managed to keep bowel and tummy contents torpid for two whole hours, I caved in to spousal pressure and accepted delivery of one child, who was fresh from a nap and ready to partay. At 4.30pm, following a sudden and ugly trip to the downstairs toilet, the sheer impossibility of twitching an unnecessary limb, let alone hefting and consoling a tear-streaked (you LEFT me, Mummy), arms-lifted-in-imploring-fashion child, was forcibly borne in on me.

Like every delivery driver who has made a drop he knows is not quite kosher, John had instantaneously scuttled off at high speed, and was now industriously spraying crops some miles away. His mother had gone to visit her mother. My mother was at work. The Delightful Next Doors were both at work. John’s father belongs to his father’s generation in many respects, and despite his daughter and twin boys, has never been left alone with a baby in his entire life. This only left my father. Who, bless his heart, offered before I could even ask, jumped straight into his car and bowled out into rush-hour traffic that I know worries him badly these days following a nasty car accident. And I know he still feels rubbish from the 6-week dose of viral nasty that Harry gave him previously. He came anyway, braving the thin line between sickness and health that only the hygiene-hand-gel determines.

Child fell contentedly into Gramps’ arms and proceeded to gurgle happily downstairs, whilst Mummy retreated to gurgle most unhappily upstairs. The lower floor escaped with only some minor collateral milk-damage to a shirt. I pass over the state of things upstairs.

By 10pm I was eating biscuits. By midnight I felt sufficiently confident to return my bucket (don’t ask) to the cupboard. I woke this morning dehydrated, shaky, 4 pounds lighter (little Yay!) and enormously cheerful about my upswing in health. Continence makes me happy.

Dire Rear

The washing machine is going full-pelt. Harry’s fever is down and his rash is fading, but the Hairy Farmer Family are struck down by the Meanie Bug. So called, because a tummy bug that is unkind enough to infect a baby barely recuperating from the ‘Virus That Sounded Meningitisy But Wasn’t’ obviously hasn’t heard of fair dos, but there you are. John has been vaguely sicky, I have had tummy cramps after meals, and Harry has been scoured by the longest, most fluid farts I’ve ever heard, bovines included. 3ft geysers of yellow liquid have liberally sprinkled both parents, the carpets and all his clothes. I don’t know why I took a photo, but I did, so I will make you look in the hope that you may then share my pain, if not my laundry detergent bill. 

 

The poor lad doesn’t look dehydrated, but he patently isn’t feeling top of the pops.

Just to complicate things, Harry is the baby that Does Not Drink. We junked regular expressing pretty much immediately we got around the corner from the SCBU, and he’s been solely breast fed ever since. We discovered at Harry’s Christening party in November that he was no longer au fait with the whole bottle thing – inconvenient at the time, as I had specifically expressed that afternoon before getting fairly rat-arsed. Harry emphatically rejected all attempts to insert milk into his parched little mouth via an artificial nipple: he insisted on the real thing; which he eventually had to have, booze and all. His refusal to accept all imitations means we cannot lure him into drinking water. We have a cupboard bulging with every sippy cup, bottle and teat on the market. Won’t have ’em. Not one. Screams if you persist. Our only successes have been an occasional sip from the doidy cup, and a few slurps daily through a straw. This is the baby that managed to constipate himself for 8 days on breastmilk, so we shovel green veg down him in heaped-high quantities these days to keep him… flowing, shall we say.

Diarrhoea and a fluid-phobic under-the-weather-anyway baby do not couple well, so I would normally be carting him A) up the hill to Delightful Doctors Next Door if we were very concerned or B) down the GPs 9am tomorrow. There will be a slight delay, however. Tomorrow, 9am, is Harry’s Development Check.

Our two Health Visitors (community nurse specialising in kids) are pleasant & knowledgeable women. It’s just that I take even gentle criticism two ways: badly, and worse. And their advice, sovereign as I’m sure it is, doesn’t always suit us. I get my knickers tightly, painfully twisted in particular about their blind spot regarding Harry’s weight. Apparently, a baby who wavers from his weight-gain centile line should be manoeuvred back to it. Which is fine if you’re some other baby I don’t care either way about. Not if you’re my son and born IUGR, in which case: bugger orf! I think they forget that he was so tiny to begin with, and I’m so busy clamping my lips tight (we’re British, you know, and Do Not Publically Make Waves) that I haven’t reminded them. 

After an injudicious (I should know better than to blab) bleating from me about how lousy Harry was at staying quietly asleep, questions were rapid-fired and the fact elicited that Harry still slept in our room. Despite the fact that half the world shares a bed, never mind a room, his proximity to us was indicted for all our problems. Out, she said. It’s Time, she said. Hmmm, I replied. BUGGER OFF! I roared in the silent vaults of my mind, where I am less socially constrained by the need Not To Publicly Confront Nice Ladies. And then she opined that Harry would be Better Off in his Own Room. Weeks later I am still reeling, collar-contents on fire, from this statement. Had she told us that Harry would be less disturbed by our snorts and snoring in his own room, I would have taken no issue with her remarks. Or had she said that hubby and I would get a better night’s sleep without his squawking close by, I could not have disagreed. But to tell me that our son would be better off without my presence was, I felt, broadly incorrect. 

Incidentally: the period? Still going, albeit less enthusiastically. Day 43. I think my previous best was 6 weeks, so I should probably toddle down the GP myself. I wonder if this is some kind of menstrual record?

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