Friday, 27 February 2009

Birthday

My Husband is another year older today. He's only a paltry 33, but I take great pleasure in playing on his fears that he's 'getting on a bit' and rubbing in the fact that, for a matter of only 6 short days, he's currently five rather than four years older than me.

Earlier this week T and I started a project, a birthday banner to be put up to welcome the birthday boy down to his birthday breakfast (we don't do things by halves in this house). It involved paint and, once T was in bed, scissors, sellotape and frustration.

Half way through the green hand-print session I ran to the kitchen for a cloth. When I returned I asked T whether he'd been eating the paint. He seriously shook his head and proclaimed he absolutely had not ('nooooooooooo') although I'm not sure I believed him.

Anyway, the finished banner looks fantastic. If you look hard you'll see the a in Daddy looks like it's back to front, but that's just a feature of the camera. Honest.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

List four: Holidays!

I have finished work for 18 whole days. This is good for lots of reasons.

1) Through the miracle of part-time working, I'm actually only using six days of my annual leave for an almost three week break. I like the feeling that I am getting two free days off for each of my holiday days. I know the logic of this is skewed, but who cares!

2) I can legitimately have a daytime nap EVERY DAY. I have the early pregnancy tiredness which sees me sneaking off to the loo (no really!) for five minutes peace, quiet and a sit down in the middle of the work day. I realise this is grim.

3) I am running out of long tops. Not normally an issue, but I am already wearing my mat jeans. I don't have a bump of course, I'm not even eight weeks pregnant, but I'm bloated and uncomfortable and still podgy post Christmas and my normal jeans were too tight and now I have an excuse to wear the stretchy ones, so there. Nothing says 'is she ....?' more than elasticated side panels in an office full of trendoids though, and I have offically lost patience for the 'dress over jeans' look I've been working for the past week.

4) The only thing curing my incessant morning sickness is eating constantly, and Polos from the canteen are twice the price as they are in Tesco.

5) I have developed the emotional maturity of a damp squib and cry at a moment's notice. Watching an advert for The Dog's Trust on the sofa at lunchtime = OK. Weeping in the middle of a busy newsroom = bad.

For the next 18 days then I shall mostly be enjoying my freedom. Next week we're actually going on holiday, but more of that later.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Bills

I'm generally not a forgetful person. I manage to juggle work, a child, an almost entirely domestically incompetent husband (who, as an aside, it appears cannot make pancakes, even with the help of a recipe, three ingredients and a whisk proving too much for him) and keep a reasonably tidy house. I remember to call my mother (although don't always remember to wait until after The Archers) to feed the fish and the rabbits, to make my packed lunch and to keep on top of the washing.

I am intrigued then as to how I didn't notice we'd managed to escape paying the milkman since August 2007. He presented the bill proudly last night. Two pints a week for almost 18 months (minus holidays, we haven't been avoiding him, we leave him little notes when we're going to be away) came to £69. My husband gulped. 'It'll have to be a cheque, is that OK?'. It's a good job it was, because if I'm honest we don't usually have £6.90 in the house in cash on regular basis, never mind ten times that amount. Thank goodness he doesn't charge interest!

So perhaps I am not as efficient as, at first glance, I pretend to be. Hiding behind the door I've noticed a fluttering white slip which suggests we also owe the window cleaner for more than a few weeks. Note to self, supporting local businesses only works if you actually pay them.

The shame!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Farming

T and I met friends at Smithills Open Farm in Bolton this morning (if you follow that link, beware the animals with evil eyes on the home page!) It was cold, and busier than I imagined, but there was plenty of opportunity for chicken chasing (what better way for T to learn to walk in his wellies!) and a friendly cow, who licked us, which was not entirely unpleasant. I like to think this was a mark of his appreciation for T's new 'mooooooooo', which is, if I say it myself, fantastic.

Anyway, we arrived at 10 am more than a little bleary eyed. I think I've mentioned my husband's shifts before. Monday to Friday he gets up at 4 am, leaves the house at 4.30 and starts work at 5 am. This would be OK if he was ballerina footed and had mastered the art of putting out your work clothes before you go to bed. In practice he bumbles around, knocking into things (this is as a result of his love for me which extends far enough that he doesn't put on the bedroom light) and making a lot of noise as he readies himself for his long day in the office. Most days, this doesn't matter. I have mastered the roll over and go back to sleep (some days I even get cross if he doesn't kiss me goodbye). This morning, however, T woke. At 4.30 am (with the slammed back door and hastily revved car engine) and Would Not Go Back to Sleep.

So by 10 am we're both tired. T enjoyed looking at the animals, being licked by the animals, pointing to the animals' eyes and saying 'iiiiiiiiiiii' (new favourite word). When we sat down on a straw bale for the goat feeding though, it was a different matter. I shall steal my friend's description that in a matter of moments T became a rigid banana. Arched back, screeching, refusing to sit, stand or do anything that wasn't trying to fling himself on the floor. Drink? Nope. Food? Nope. Toy? Nope. Standing up? Nope. Sitting down? Definitely not. I was running out of options when I realised he actually wanted to be held up to the laminated poster on the pole behind us (something about donkeys, I was stressed by this point) and touch the letters. He has a current fascination with letters and numbers. It started with having to touch the metal oval which contains our house numbers each time we go out of the front door ('that's a three ... that's a seven') and was concreted when Grandma bought a set of squishy letters and numbers that stick to the bathroom tiles and provide hours of fun. Anyway, crisis averted ('oh look, there's T's letter') we settled down to watch the show.

The goats came in, three week old orphans running for milk in bottles held by enthusiastic school-aged children. T was agog, especially when one (having exhausted the supply held by the little girl next to him) tried to suckle his coat sleeve instead. All the children had a stroke of the beautiful soft kids before a farm worker announced that next we'd get the chance to feed and pet lambs. T was trying to suck the coat sleeve already chomped by the goat, so I wasn't entirely concentrating, but somewhere in the far depths of my mind a great, red pregnancy alert flashed. Something about newborn lambs being a danger to pregnant women. I stood up quickly, a move which triggered rigid banana again. T under one arm I juggled my giant changing bag, the buggy and a tantrumming toddler. He kicked. Hard. I put him down on the floor to walk at which point he lay face down in a fresh puddle of goat wee. We went home, he showered. I put the clothes on to wash and sat down with a drink, by which time he'd woken up again.

I need sleep!

Still

This is apparently the word I use most often in my blog. I have been more than a little distracted over the last couple of days by wordle.net, which paints word portraits from any text you care to give it, including blogs, song lyrics, recipes etc. There are some fascinating examples on the website. Mine's below.

I'm surprised that still came out top of the list. Above pregnant, which given my current whining self-indulgent posts is something of a miracle! It makes me sound utterly dull, which of course might be what you're thinking whilst reading this.

A few years ago, whilst working as a reporter for a radio station in Manchester, a later middle-aged couple came up to me at a public event, giggling. 'Are you the really, really girl' they said. 'Erm, excuse me?' said I. It transpired, with much giggling (theirs, I was quite mortified, not least because my then boss was within earshot) that I had a terrible habit of using the phrase 'really, really' on air to buy myself some thinking time. So the weather would be 'really, really cold', the queues at the X-Factor auditions in Manchester (yes, I was the hapless girl sent off to find fame-hungry whores to chat to whilst waiting in vain hope of an audience with Simon Cowell) were 'really, really long'. You name it, I enthused about it, not just once, but twice. Still, it's nice to be noticed for something.

From that day to this I've always been very conscious of what I'm saying, well, if I'm concentrating that is. That's why I'm really, really surprised that my top word is still, and not a six letter one beginning with r.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Sleepless again

My morning sickness has kicked in with a vengeance now. I have that familiar juicy back of the throat feeling that can only be alleviated by either eating constantly, lying very very still in bed or taking deep breaths in wide open spaces. I had a very early scan yesterday, a routine gynae one which had been booked months ago to check on my PCOS. We saw the sac, which my husband lovingly referred to as a caterpillar, but it was too early to see a heartbeat, so we have another two weeks through which to hold our breath before a second scan will hopefully show everything's developing correctly. In the meantime, I am holding on to the sickness with both hands, embracing it, waking up and searching for it, as a secret reminder of what's going on onside. Oh, and I'm eating constantly of course.

There are three sleepless ones in my house at the moment. My husband has a virus and is finding it difficult to sleep. I have developed an intriguing ability to need to sleep on the sofa at 8 pm, finally giving up on the evening and going to bed at 9 pm, but pinging awake at various middle of the night points and being unable to switch off again. T is on another course of antibiotics for his long-term chest infection and they have turned him into the human bagpipes. He doesn't want to eat because he's windy, meaning he's hungry in the night, and the bloating is making it difficult for this committed tummy sleeper to get comfortable. He's spent most of the last two nights writhing between his two sleep-deprived parents.

Fingers crossed for some better nights soon.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Lines

It appears that I am pregnant! After four tests I feel confident enough, although still slightly wibbly if I'm honest, to write it down.

I think the first clue that I might be came on Wednesday when I had to take T for an x-ray. The radiographer said 'is there a chance you might be pregnant' to which, before even thinking about it, I said yes. Of course there was a chance, we chucked out the contraceptives a while ago, although because I have PCOS things aren't necessarily as predictable as they might be. I had no idea where I was in my cycle last week, but the affirmative was out of my mouth before I'd even really registered the question, so out I trotted whilst a man with a curly mullet held T down so they could take a photo of his chest.

Once home, I pushed the thought to the back of my mind. I have peed on lots (and lots!) of sticks, and know the heartache of willing a second line to come up in a resolutely empty window. On Friday night though it all got too much for me. My husband was out and I dug out some cheap dippy tests I'd bought online a while ago (20 for a fiver, that cheap!) and a disposable cup. The disposable cup took some time, eventually I found a Halloween one secreted at the back of the sideboard. I didn't dare pee in a regular cup or glass. How could I ever drink out of it again, now matter how many times it had been washed in antibacterial liquid!

I dipped. The control line came up. I waited. The packet said something like 'positive results can come up straight away, but it can take up to five minutes to confirm a negative'. I waited. I squinted. Nothing. I waited. I squinted. What was that? There was definitely something there, just below the control line. I looked at the packet for a picture of a positive test. Hmmm, the line was very faint. Was I imagining it? I took it downstairs, and held it up under a different light. Nope, still no darker. I tried to take a photo of it, it didn't show up. I looked online for pictures of 'faint positives' and held it up to the screen, but was still none the wiser.

I dipped again on Saturday morning (still very faint) and yesterday (slightly darker, but still barely there). I read up on evaporation or 'ghost' lines and looked at lots (and lots!) more pictures online. This morning I caved and went to Tesco. Eschewing the £13 digital version with 'conception indicator' (I still have loads of the internet cheapy ones left!) I bought a double pack of own-brand tests and peed. Again. There are two thick pink lines. It's definitely positive.

I do believe that, when asked the question in the x-ray room last week, my body 'knew' I was pregnant. I answered the radiographer from deep in my subconscious, before my brain had even got into gear. The word 'yes' surprised me as it burst from my mouth, but do you know what? It was true!

I have so many dreams for this baby, for now a small cluster of cells. My second child, a brother or sister for T, and the fourth member who will complete our family.

When I was pregnant last time, nine months seemed like an eternity. Now it's almost incomprehensible to think that by next Christmas, if all goes well I'll be a Mummy to two. And guess what, the sleepless nights will begin again. I'm not lying when I say I absolutely cannot wait.

P.S. If you know me in real life, please don't say anything yet. I don't want to tell the world until after the 12w scan if possible. There is still enough anonymity in this blog to let me write it down here.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Thievery

There are some things that just instantly remind me of my own childhood. The smell of waxed jackets (which my Dad always wore), 'Soul Limbo' (the cricket theme tune which followed Playschool on BBC children's TV during the 1980s) and the Happy Families series of books by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. Then there are others which, not having been thought about for more than 20 years, sometimes reach up and slap me in the face.

I took T to see the doctor. In fact I needed to go too, so I'd booked a double appointment. T sorted, it was my turn. I put him down on the floor and he raced across the room and tried to pull the needle out of the old fashioned doctor's scales. After I'd retrieved him twice, the doc pulled a box of toys and books from under his table. And there it was, my childhood, hard-backed, dog-eared and just as I remembered it.

The book was the Ladybird A-Z and I had to make a real effort to concentrate on the doctor's questions. I didn't want to talk about my ovaries, I wanted to sit and slurp down the detail of the book just as I remembered it, the apple, the elephant, the rabbit! This was one of my first books, well-loved and eventually (sacrilege!) cut up to make a collage of some sort when I was old enough to know all of my letters, thank you very much.

And so I found myself in my doctor's surgery wondering how I might be able to steal this book, just slip it in my (massive) changing bag and make a speedy exit. I knew I wouldn't. The book belonged to Doc's own children, the grown-up ones he's always telling me about, but I wanted to, I really wanted to. A piece of my childhood I'd completely forgotten about, a chance meeting with a now 'rare' book. I took my prescription, a deep breath and promised myself I'd check on ebay when I got home.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The end

I'm pretty sure, after sixteen and a half months, my breastfeeding days are over. Not forever, obviously, I envisage being pinned to the sofa by another small beast at some point, but T has had his last Mama milk.

I can't decide how I feel about this. I loved breastfeeding, well, from 5m on I did, before that I utterly hated it. Seriously, I dreaded every feed for the longest time, T couldn't latch for almost a week after he was born, and for a while after that only with the aid of a nipple shield. Each feed was a battle, and couldn't be achieved without flashing my entire post-natal midriff as I endeavoured to position the baby and hold the shield into place. Once he had got the hang of feeding 'bare back' I became engorged, had mastitis and nipple thrush (ouch!) and then he started rejecting the breast. I clearly remember weeping in the middle of the night when my hungry baby just wouldn't suckle.

I don't remember when breastfeeding became easy. I just remember one day realising it hadn't been a battle for a while, and liking that feeling. From then on we were flying! I fed T everywhere and anywhere, including once in the middle of a miniature golf course. I kept my free hand ready to shield his head from errant balls, but he was a hungry baby, and needs must!

T loved his milk (from me, cow's milk is evil and must be spat from the beaker, obviously, we've tried, lots!) and until relatively recently he was still feeding in the night, snuggled into my chest he'd latch when he liked and drink his fill. As much as I wanted my marital bed back, there's nothing to match the feeling of looking at a chubby milk-drunk baby and knowing that you did that. Seriously, for someone with frustrated creativity, what better 'make' could there be!

I always said I would wait for T to self-wean. Despite the raised eyebrows from friends and relatives who asked if I was 'still feeding?', once I'd got to a year, why would I stop on anything other than his schedule? I sort of imagined he might go off the taste of his own accord had I become pregnant again, but actually, before I've even had the chance, I think his lust for life has overtaken his lust for latch.

T's shown much less interest in milk for weeks now, down to a feed a day for a month (mornings only, barring an extra couple whilst he was poorly) and they've become shorter each day. He's obviously keen not to linger one moment longer than he needs to, having working out a way to wriggle his entire body off the edge of our (low) bed so he can stand up whilst continuing to suck. Surely I should win some sort of double jointed boob award? As soon as he's had his fill this means he's perfectly poised to run off and start the day proper, with big boy food like, erm, Weetabix. I think the best sign that his weaning has been natural is that, 84 hours after his last feed (or three and a half days, which probably makes more sense!) I've not suffered any discomfort. My hard fought for supply, maintained during those nursing strikes with Fenugreek and my trusty breast pump, has truly followed his lead, and dwindled gradually before losing interest altogether.

I am sad we didn't manage to make the magic two year mark, as recommended by the WHO, but also very proud that we got this far, stuck with it and stopped entirely on his terms. Beyond bringing my son into the world, feeding him myself (a Victorian phrase I've always kind of liked) has been my proudest achievement. I suppose this Baby Led Weaning superfan got her wish.

Goodbye my clip-up bras. Hello the bedside board book pile. Well, you didn't think I'd give up my morning cuddles that easily did you?!

Monday, 2 February 2009

List three: toys we love!

To be honest, list two was actually a list of toys T loves. We don't have the room to keep anything he's not enamoured with, so if it's ignored, repeatedly discarded after a couple of minutes play or flung on the floor in disgust (such a charmer, my son) it goes off to one of

eBay (money to be used to buy something more suitable)
Grandma's loft (if I can stand the thought of any future babies playing with it, most noisy electronic things fail this test)
the charity shop

I think I made my feelings on the list two toys perfectly clear. I'm not a total killjoy though, there are toys which both T and I love, and in the interests of fairness, I'm going to share them.

1) The mysterious magnetic ball

Procured from the local Help The Aged shop for £2, this has been one of T's most-loved toys. It's a (heavy) ball made of wooden cones which attach to a central shape using magnets. He rolls the ball on the wooden floor, pulls off the pieces, carries the pieces around, sticks the pieces back on. Hours and hours of fun! I wish I knew who made this, or where you can buy one as it's the sort of thing I'd love to give as a gift to the children of friends, but I've never seen anything similar.

2) Baby Einstein Animal Discovery Cards These are a bit Meet The Fockers, but I promise we haven't been hot-housing T since an early age. He adores these cards, they're strong enough to withstand being carried around/sat on/half-heartedly chewed, and loves me to go through the animal photos and make the appropriate noises with him.


He can now do duck, cow, monkey (complete with under arm scratching, which might just be a covert way of giving his pox a good itch), lion and tiger (raaaaaaah!), cat, dog, bear (well, he says bear) oh, and frog. We take these cards everywhere with us, they're perfect restaurant/waiting room distractions.

3) Sticklebricks Actually, I'm not sure if I love these. Yes they're fun to squish together and pull apart, but finding one this morning with my bare feet on the living room carpet (ouch!) has made me reconsider a little.

4) Ikea toy pans Ours are slightly different, but the gist is the same. I bought these after T showed himself to be obsessed with the metal treasure basket at the local Children's Centre. They are good for putting things in, using as an impromptu drum kit and just generally clattering about with. They also prevent him opening the kitchen drawers and getting my real pans out!

5) Alphabet frieze I know this is probably not strictly a toy, but I bought it this week and stuck it up in the corner of the living room which holds T's larger toys (buggy/annoying garage/activity cube) at toddler height and he's just fascinated by it. We walk along, pointing at the pictures. He says 'what's that?' (woss da?) and I tell him. He's most fascinated by the picture of a queen for some reason, and keeps going over to touch her face and crown.

As a sub-list, toys that almost made it onto the main list, but not quite

Click Clack Track
The cars get lost too easily, which frustrates me, although we love playing with it together
Soft Ikea football. T carries it around (obviously the football matches) we've taken him to haven't yet sunk in
Crayon Rocks Touchy feely to colour with, T can make much better marks with these than traditional triangle grip crayons/pencils. He's slightly too keen on eating them though!

I haven't included books on this list. I'd need a giant list for books, or maybe a list of lists

board books
books to be read as bedtime stories
pop up books
touchy feely books

Maybe that's something for me to work on!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

List two: annoying toys

From the occasional list series, toys that irritate or frustrate me. Without fail, T adores playing with everything on this list.

Fisher Price Garage
Not only is it unwieldy and plastic, but one of the little people in the car is holding a mobile phone. Do these toy manufacturers not know that's against the law??!

Fisher Price Laugh and Learn CD Player My husband brought this back from Tesco having committed the cardinal sin of not playing with it first to see what it sounds like. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you country music nursery rhymes. I'm not sure whether this is going to come across, but I'll give it my best shot. Baa Baa Black Sheep, in the style of this hideous contraption

(American accent) Baa Baa Black Sheep have you any woo ooo ooo ooo oohl
Yes sir, yes sir, three baa aa ags fuu uuu uuu uuu uuul

Leapfrog Animal Globe Another of the husband's supermarket picks, this time it was reduced so he had to buy it and he didn't check it first. It's American (again). I like Americans, and American things like er, Oreo cookies, but I'd absolutely prefer my son's first toys to speak with an English accent. Don't even get me started on the mock-tudor twiddly music which claims to represent Europe. Oh, and one of the Frogs is called Chad. That annoys me in itself.

ELC toddle truck This isn't the version we have, they've changed it, ours is plain wood on the outside and plain bright coloured blocks in the middle. And it's these blocks that really rile me. They tesselate into the body of the walker leaving a 4 inch gap at one end. They couldn't have added another block to fill the gap? I know it's probably to help little fingers pull out said blocks to play with, bit it frustrates my highly honed aesthete's eye, or something.

Marks and Spencer Police Car
A Christmas present. Once the plastic tag is pulled out of the battery compartment to turn it on, this CANNOT BE TURNED OFF. That's right, unless you procure a miniature screwdriver, undo the battery casing and take out the batteries, given the slightest movement or touch the siren and lights on this car activate, making it extremely, extremely annoying. It's going off in the bottom of the toybox as I write this. I'm leaving it, in the hope the batteries run out soon, it's become the Mum vs toy standoff, pistols (well, sirens) at dawn. I know who's going to win. If all else fails I could accidentally leave it at the doctor's surgery or something.

Tomorrow, toys we love!