Thursday, 28 September 2006


I am proud of...
  • Finishing the knitting on time (the second project I've ever done!) for Caroline's beautiful girl Emily.

    And here it is in action!

  • My little boy for spouting out new words every day and learning how to turn doorknobs (actually, not sure if "proud" is the right word for that one - "worried" maybe.)
  • My husband for mapping out the closest Starbucks, Burger King, Outback, and Denny's on his fancy pants phone/GPS thingy for our trip to California.
  • My dog for not hating me after I accidentally locked him in the backyard until I came home for lunch the other day, because I thought Paul had let him back in the kitchen before we left. I'm amazed he hasn't run away to the animal shelter down the road yet.
  • Me for not completely losing my marbles and hope after what we've been through.


So last night, I got caught up on some television progammes that have been sitting on Sky+ for a while. This meant that I watched the final three episodes of "Lost" back to back - while our Sky+ box decided that it would be hilarious to malfunction only during these episodes. Every minute or so, the sound would jump, either missing bits completely or getting out of synch with the image. It was like watching a badly dubbed film that had been edited using a blunt butter knife and duct tape. For three hours, I tried to decipher plot twists and key pieces of dialogue with snippets like this: "Who are you people?!" "We're the...frn...blrp...ack...urd." I had to scrape my brain off the ceiling by the end of it, and I'm still feeling a bit woozy today.

Seriously, my aging organs can't take this sort of stress.

Monday, 25 September 2006

bless our cotton socks

Two years ago today, Paul made an honest woman of I waddled down the aisle four months pregnant. To celebrate our anniversary, we spent the night at the Old Bridge hotel, where we got married. We dropped Jack off with friends (the husband is a policeman/inspector, but we did warn him about Jack's cries in case they have concerned neighbours) and went off on our merry way.

A huge, inviting, dog hair-free bed greeted us when we arrived at our room:

and I ran around in little circles, squealing like a child on Pixie Stix when I saw the enormous bathroom:

We tarted ourselves up, and went down to the terrace for dinner. Oh my, but it was delicious. Our waitress has been working there for a while and remembered us from our various visits, and after we told her it was our anniversary, our desserts were presented with an extra decoration:

We ate and ate and ate, and drank and didn't have to worry about keeping a clear head because our little boy was safe and sound with our friends, and stumbled back up to our room. Big feathery pillows sank blissfully under the weight of my tired head. I woke up feeling relaxed and happy, and we lounged around in bed and ate our perfect breakfast:

I had a long bubble bath afterwards, and read the paper slowly. Heavenly, unadulterated luxury for any parent.

Happy anniversary, Paul. Let's try this anniversary lark again next year.

Friday, 22 September 2006

life: get one

The doorbell rang at 7.30 last night, and I could see two neon green vests through the obscured glass panels next to our door. I figured that it was either the police or construction workers, or perhaps other members of the Village People. Two policemen walked in and asked if we have children, and if so how many and their ages. Two thoughts crossed my mind: they are doing some sort of neighbourhood census at a weird time of day or there is some lunatic on the loose and they are going to warn me to lock all the doors and windows. Paul came down the stairs with Jack in his arms, pointing out that this is our one child who is 19 months of age. The policeman asked if Jack had been crying lately as a neighbour rang the police because they were "concerned" about Jack's crying.

No, seriously.

Luckily, one of the policemen had a 19-month-old daughter himself and after taking one look at Jack, knew immediately there was nothing sinister going on in our house. (Apart from that sweatshop we've got in the loft, but who can resist the large cash bonuses from Nike? Oh, and that small child we keep up the chimney. But I digress.) We had a chat about grumpy nights and teething, and he rang his wife to ask which type of teething medicine they used. They left with a "no harm done" farewell, and said that they wouldn't even file a report. It was all rather jolly and civil, but I was seething. What idiot would ring the police for this? Jack cried mostly in the evening. If he did cry in the middle of the night, Paul went into his room to calm him down and even spent one night sleeping next to him. Granted, his cries probably pierced all houses within a 10 mile radius and it's been warm so we've had the windows open, but why on earth would you suspect the worst based on a couple of sporadic crying episodes?

It made me feel sick to know that someone in our neighbourhood thinks we're abusing our son. Considering what we've been through lately and knowing how much more my son means to me now, the accusation is maddening.

I fantasize that the telephone conversation went something like this.
Operator: "Huntingdonshire police, how may I help?"
Concerned Citizen: "A child has been crying really, really loudly in my neighbourhood lately and I'm concerned for its wellbeing."
O: "Right, how long has this been going on?"
CC: "Two nights."
O: "And for how long? All day and night?"
CC: "All night. Well, part of the night. Maybe just the evening. Off and on."
O: "And could you hear any other noises like shouting or anything else out of the ordinary?"
CC: "No, just crying."
O: "How long have you lived in the area?"
CC: "Several years."
O: "Have you heard crying from this house before?"
CC: " Not really."
O: "So basically, you heard the sounds of a small child crying a few times over the past two days or so in the evening. Nothing else?"
CC: "No."
O: [makes little circular "cuckoo" motions with her finger and rolls eyes at colleagues] "Okay, we'll send someone out to investigate."

I am certain that the person who made the complaint is not a parent, has no common sense, and has a lot of free time on their hands. Either that, or it was someone on shift work getting pissed off with hearing my son scream his lungs out when s/he was trying to get a bit of sleep and called the police "concerned". Whatever the motive, it really saddens me that people are this paranoid these days. Have you not seen a toddler throw a tantrum at the supermarket and heard the ensuing screeches?

I'm tempted to push Jack around the neighbourhood in a ratty stroller, wearing nothing but a stained dressing gown, fuzzy slippers, and with a cigarette dangling from the corner of my mouth. Perhaps I'll place a bottle in a brown paper bag in Jack's lap. That'll give the neighbour something to talk about.

Thursday, 21 September 2006

my kid sucks lemons

Seriously, Jack chewed on half a lemon for 20 minutes the other day. Won't eat chocolate cake, but loves lemons. Boys...who can figure them out?

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Tuesday, 19 September 2006

birth days

Jack kept waking up last night, crying out every few hours or so. Paul trudged bleary-eyed back and forth between our room and Jack's, until the last time he screeched at around 5:00 this morning. Restless, not wanting to be confined to his cot, he must have sensed that something was up. Meanwhile, about 8 miles down the road, Caroline started having regular contractions. At 5:21 in the morning, she gave birth to a beautiful little girl called Emily.

We had lunch with Caroline yesterday; Jack and I watched with fascination as Emily the Bump moved around like an octopus in a Ziplock bag. Jack patted Caroline's belly and we talked about whether or not she thought the baby would arrive soon. So for all the ladies in waiting out there, the leek and potato soup at the White Hart pub in Godmanchester may well induce labour. High fives and congratulations to Caroline, Drew, and Phoebe! I'm sorry that my birth coaching skills weren't required, but hey - you're the one who requested a fast labour. Tee hee.

So, what a wonderful day to give birth. Why? Because it also happens to be the same day on which my gorgeous husband was born. Thirtymumble years ago today, Paul came into the world looking very much like his son. And like his son, he makes my heart leap and makes me feel very lucky indeed. I love you with all my heart.

Happy birthdays.

Sunday, 17 September 2006


I went back to work last week. I was partially dreading it because I didn't want to be jolly and sociable, and I was partially welcoming it because it would give my brain something else to think about. It ended up being pretty good on the most part, specifically for the latter reason. A few close friends gently welcomed me back and made me feel loved and supported. The others did the typical British male thing and completely avoided the issue, which was fine by me. I felt almost back to normal and even laughed a few times (some real belly laughs, too), but on Friday night I had a bit of a meltdown. It started with the pain of having to delete appointments like my NT scan, the 3D scan in California, and my due date from my Outlook calendar - I forgot they were in there until I went through it to do some project planning. There was lots of talk about babies, pregnancy, and birth because it was my friend's last day at the office before her maternity leave. Then finally, I opened up the envelope that's been sitting on my desk since Monday containing my hypnobirthing CDs that I'd ordered the week before. It all came crashing down that evening, but maybe that was a good thing. I wept in Paul's arms after having held everything back to a few watery-eyed moments the entire week. I felt better afterwards.

Early pregnancy is a very surreal concept; it was impossible for my brain to process the fact that there was a little human growing inside of me. Before you feel the first movements or have the first scan, it's all a bit abstract. So when I was told that I had miscarried, my brain didn't know what to do with that information. Even now I feel like I wasn't pregnant at all and it was all just a horrible dream. Does that make any sense?

So now, we try again. The nurse said that I will get a scan at 8 weeks next time, at which point if a heartbeat is seen, my chances of miscarrying go down to around 2%. Although miscarriages are very common, particularly in the first trimester, mine was quite rare because it was a "missed miscarriage" (i.e. the baby dies but you do not miscarry naturally until some weeks after, if at all). This only happens in around 1% of pregnancies. But enough with statistics.

I really want to remember this baby, so I have put my scan pictures, pregnancy tests, and the cards and a printout of the comments and emails sent to me in a box. We nicknamed this baby "squeak" because Jack was "pip"; this was the first thing that came to Paul's mind when I asked him what we should call the baby. So to remember Squeak, we are going to put a little mouse ornament in the garden. Christ, I'm making myself cry again.

I am better, but still in a bit of a daze. Time will heal this wound, along with the sound of Jack's giggles, the arms of my husband, and a furry black dog who likes to sit on my feet.


After each episode of "Lost" that I watch, my brain hurts just a little bit more. It's the double episode season finale in two weeks. I expect my skull to implode at approximately 11pm GMT on the Tuesday.

See, this is why I should just stick to shows like "X Factor".

Tuesday, 12 September 2006

happy dance

I'm on the rocky road
Heading down off the mountain slope
And as my steps echo echo,
louder than before
Another day is done,
say goodbye to the setting sun
See what I found,
Turn back to the ground
Just like before

And hey hey hey
Hey beautiful day, hey beautiful day

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Friday, 8 September 2006

thank you

When Jack was born and I was feeling miserable in hospital, Paul printed up the 40+ comments that people left on this blog and brought them to me. Reading through the 40+ comments you've left for me this week has lifted my spirits once again. To know that friends, family, and people who only know me by the words I type care enough to leave a word of kindness and keep us in their thoughts has helped enormously. For all the emails, cards, flowers, phone calls, and the enormous box of chocolates (I love my girls), thank you. The hole in our hearts is getting a little bit smaller.

I'm grateful for our beautiful son and for my husband who has made me feel more loved than I thought possible. I'm grateful that I've got a furry black dog who thinks I'm the greatest thing since rawhide chews.

Talk of trashy television, cookery, strange things that people have knit and other such sundries will return shortly. It needs to, for my own sanity.

Tuesday, 5 September 2006

goodnight sweetheart, goodnight

When I woke up yesterday morning, I saw more blood. Paul rang the hospital and they told us to come to A&E. Our neighbour came over to mind Jack and she held me tight, whispering that she once had this happen to her, too. The drive to the hospital seemed so much longer than usual, although the empty waiting room was a welcome sight. We were taken to a room right away and waited to see a doctor - the one doctor that they had, due to cutbacks. We sat in the brand new wing, the plastic all clean and bright, waiting for hours for the one doctor to see us. The girl in the room next to me also came in with bleeding, and we could hear her moans of distress through the paper thin walls. An old woman down the corridor kept pleading in a shaky voice, "Would somebody help me, please!"

I was wheeled to the early pregnancy unit where a kind, grey-haired nurse gently explained that she will get her bearings first and then show me the screen once she knows what she's looking it. A few moments passed and she turned the screen to me, "I can't see from this angle; it's too blurry to make out any details." I saw the gestational sac and what she called my "little one", which was completely dark and solid. She switched to a transvaginal ultrasound and called in a colleague. On my back, staring up at a spiral decoration that twirled with the breeze, I heard nothing. They agreed, "It's not good" and the nurse placed a hand on my knee, shook her head and said "I'm sorry." Our baby stopped growing almost two weeks ago.

I sobbed from a depth within me that I hadn't reached in a very long time, so pissed off and so distraught. I cried because I hadn't known my baby had died and because my belly was still expanding. I cried because up until the morning before I was still nauseous and feeling so positive about this pregnancy. I cried because I was nearing ten weeks and our midwife was going to try and listen to the heartbeat the day after Caroline's baby shower, and if we were successful, I was going to tell more people about the baby. I cried because our first scan was booked for the day of our second wedding anniversary. I cried because I would have to cancel the scan we planned in California, because I knew my VBAC CDs were coming in the post today, because I just bought some maternity clothes, because we already had names picked out, because we had hired a fantastic independent midwife and I was finally starting to feel confident about birthing at home.

They gave me a tablet and a leaflet, and we went home. The handout said that I may experience period pains, but it felt more like early labour pains and they became almost unbearable. Today, the cramps have subsided but I am experiencing something that is very much like lochia and it will go on for another week or so. Tomorrow, I am going back into hospital for the day where they will give me more medicine (which means more pain) to ensure that all of the "pregnancy product" has been removed. In a week, I will have another scan.

I held Jack tight, tight. I went up to bed and stroked my belly, and whispered "I'm so sorry" over and over because I couldn't hold on to my baby. I am broken.

Friday, 1 September 2006

laughter is the best medicine

Nothing in the world cheers me up more than the sound of Jack's giggles. Absolutely nothing.

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