Tuesday, 30 August 2011

How did that happen?

Last night I said to Shaun, 'is the back door locked?' and then I suddenly had this flash of realisation, 'Fuck, I have a back door' 'Far out, I have a whole bloody house, an entire building that I OWN with my fiance that we are going to raise our kids (plural!) in'. 'Fuck, I have a kid and another on the way'. Do you find that being a grown up has all of a sudden jumped up on you, as if out of nowhere? Because I don't know how I went from this...


To this....


In what feels like a blink of an eye.

A lot of the Mummy blogs I read are American because I was introduced to this blogging world by Jamie from Chosen Chaos. Now bearing in mind out of my closest pre-mum girlfriends, only about 10% of them have any kids at all, let alone more than one; I always gasp when reading a blog of a mum-of-two talking about what she got for her 27th birthday. TWO kids? At 27? How early do these Americans start popping them out?! Because they all seem really young, yet really grown up, and together and funny. Then I realise that I am only 28. And I have a 16 month old. And I am pregnant. I am not that far behind (apart from maybe the together bit!).

And I don't know how that happened.

But I am bloody glad it did.

I mean, seriously?!

I am going to start a 'series' (get me!) about things that happen that make me think 'I meeeeaaaan, seriously?!'

I mean, seriously?! Thought 1.

Our Government are trying to save money because of the mass of debt they have managed to build up. Fair enough but someone should probably tell them about St Ann's Hospital in North London.

I receive a letter in the post telling me William is due for a revue appointment with a number to call. I call said number and explain the letter to the receptionist.
She says: 'I'll send you an appointment in the post'
Me: 'Can you tell me when it is for?'
Her: 'No, you'll receive a letter in the post'
Me: 'And if I can't make that appointment?'
Her: 'Call back and we'll send you another appointment'
Me: 'Right'
Me (in my head): thatisthemoststupidstystemihaveeverheardofwhatareyouanidiothowdoesthatevenmakesenseyouarewastingsomuchofmyprecioustimeandyou'veruinedmydaybymakingmemad

So, just so you are clear, the NHS, in their job culling, hospital closing down, cost cutting ways have approved a system where
a) a letter is sent out. COSTS - paper, ink, energy from PC, energy from printer, labour costs, postage costs
b) I call them. COSTS - my phone bill
c) another letter is sent out COSTS - paper, ink, energy from PC, energy from printer, labour costs, postage costs
d) I probably can't make that appointment what with all the other appointments, speech therapy, sign language lessons, teacher of the deaf lessons, playgroups, swimming etc, so I make another call COSTS - my phone bill
e) yet another letter is sent out. COSTS - paper, ink, energy from PC, energy from printer, labour costs, postage costs

I mean, seriously?

Why not call me, offer an appointment and we can discuss and conclude right then and there? Fools.

Monday, 29 August 2011

A corner turned

I talked a while ago about how William has been refusing to wear his hearing aids. I think he started pulling them out about 2 months ago and we haven't had them in for longer than about 3 seconds at a time since. We tried everything; being nice about it, being mean about it, being strict about it, bribery, treats, threats. Ev-ery-thing. And it always ended up in William crying and more often than not ended up in me losing my temper and crying and sometimes Shaun doing one or other or both of these too. So we gave up for a little while. Tried occasionally but more or less resigned ourselves to this period of 'self expression' and concentrated on signing (which has come along 3-fold over the summer so no time wasted).

And then today. Today was the day it all changed. Today Will wore his aids for 3 hours this morning and 4 hours this afternoon. Sure, he pulled them out every now and then but we put them back in and he continued about his business. No-one has cried. No-one has lost their temper. It's day one so I am anxious and patient and excited and nervous and very very pleased that even if tomorrow doesn't bring the same, today did. It feels like we have turned a corner.  

But the overwhelming emotion I have felt today is, surprisingly, sad. And it's taken me a while to figure out quite why. It started as soon as Will walked into the kitchen with his hearing aids in so that should have been my first clue. I am happy he is wearing them, of course. I am happy because he can now access more sound and speech. I am happy because he is no longer fighting us about it. I am happy because he is happy. But I just feel so so so sad that he has to wear hearing aids at all. I just can't shake it.

When we were in Cornwall for a week, we stayed with two other families. He didn't wear his aids and at no point did we tell any of them about Wills hearing impairment.

We spent this past weekend away with some old friends and some new ones. No hearing aids and no-one talked about his hearing.

When we were out today and he had his hearing aids in, I could see people looking at them and all I could think was 'what are they thinking about me?'.

I have talked to you before about the heavy weight of shame I carry around with me and I guess what I am trying to say now is I thought it might have moved on, lessened somewhat. Since writing this blog, I have felt a huge weight lifted from me. Talking, writing, processing has helped me sleep better at night and laugh more during the day. I thought I was feeling better.

But turns out, it wasn't the blog at all. It was just the lack of that brutal physical reminder that is the actual hearing aids. They were gone and so was my guilt. And now they are back and although I am very, very happy. I am also, once again, utterly distraught.

This guilt business is going to be harder to shift than I thought.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

How to be a WOMAN

If you haven't read 'How to be a woman' by Caitlin Moran, then you should. She manages to perfectly articulate my feelings on motherhood as well as a number of other feminist issues. I have spent my whole time reading it going 'Ha ha, sooooo funny. But seriously. Nail. On. Head'.

Anyway, it has got me thinking a little deeper about the parts of being a woman I am uncomfortable with and I wanted to share them with you.

  • This housewife business.
We recently got a cleaner. O M G the guilt I feel. We didn't have a cleaner when I was growing up. My Mum worked full time, raised two kids, did EVERYTHING for my Dad (we are talking 1920s style breakfast on table, packed lunch made, dinner ready upon homecoming) and still managed to keep our house immaculate. And NEVER complained. So when Shaun and I both worked full time and he wanted a cleaner I said 'No, my Mum never had a cleaner'. And when we had Will I said 'No, my Mum worked and never had a cleaner'. And then I fell pregnant again and was pretty sure no-one had ever, ever been as tired as I felt. So we got a cleaner. Once a week she comes and makes my house immaculate for me. Cleaner than it ever was when it was my job! And it has changed my world. I am on top of the laundry for the first time since Will came along. I have more time to play with him and I enjoy that time because I am not thinking about what I could be doing instead. I nap when he naps and so the fetus is feeling the benefit too.

But jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezzz I hate myself for it. My sister said 'do you really need a cleaner if you don't work?'. Now she doesn't have children so she doesn't understand how much work not working is. But I can't help but feel she has a point. I mean, I am at home all day. How can I possibly not have the time to clean?

  • This marriage business
Now as you probably know from my smug post, Shaun and I are engaged. Betrothed. To be married. Why are you not married already? I hear you cry. Well, we wanted children. Marriage was just a box that people ticked; we didn't really see the point and we were keen to start trying for our family just in case it took a while. We were very lucky and it didn't so here we are with a 15 month old and a baby on the way.
Now, I always loved the idea of a wedding. Being the centre of attention. Wearing the beautiful dress. Having the stunning cake. Dancing the night away, high on pure love. But the marriage part of it I didn't get. A piece of paper (an expensive one at that). A religious ceremony (we don't believe in God). A commitment (we have A CHILD, if he isn't committed to me already then we are in trouble). Proving to other people or our children that we are committed (In the nicest possible way, I have NOTHING to prove to any of you).

But then I had Will. And I wanted the marriage part of it. And then we found out he was partially deaf. And I needed that extra something from Shaun. As any parent will tell you, the first few months of your first new born baby's life puts your relationship through the biggest challenges. I don't know if having a disabled child is any harder than a normal one but I can tell you that those first few months both brought Shaun and I together and pushed us apart in ways I didn't think possible. Then we lost our second pregnancy in a miscarriage. In the midst of the physical pain and the emotional anguish, all I could think was 'I want to get married, I need to know Shaun will love me through this'.

Now this annoys me. Because my rational head is screaming 'but there is NO POINT. You KNOW he loves you. You KNOW he wants to be together forever. You KNOW getting married won't change that' but my stupid emotional head is crying back 'But I waaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnt toooooooooooo'.

Also, a big old piece of beef I have with the marriage thing, is
  • This proposal business
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my diamond ring. And I LOVE regaling the story of how Shaun proposed on the beach, sun shining, down on one knee, ra ra ra. What gets me is that it was HIS choice. Before we had children I asked him to marry me. I'm still not sure if I was serious or not, I just wanted to see what he would say. He said no, I want to propose. It was really important for him to propose and to do it right which I get but I don't get why? Why has he been made to feel (by society, culture, tradition...) that it is his role to ask me. He knows I wanted to get married, he knows I know he wants to get married. So why couldn't we just decide to get married? Why does he have the POWER? Why, as a woman, did I just have to wait? 

I have no answers, just more questions.

What do you think about it all? Are you comfortable with your role as a woman, whatever that may be?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


Ever since Will was born and looked like, well like a prune, people have told me how masculine he is. How boy-like his features, face, body is. I never really got what they meant but always smiled sweetly and said thank you. I mean, he is a boy so that is a compliment right?

I have always been a big fan of the 'nurture versus nature' argument because it really is so inconclusive and circular and fascinating.  But I think I always thought that nurture had the edge. I believed that people brought up well, in good homes, by good people setting good examples turn out to be good people.  I still believe that (and love how eloquently dweej puts it here) but since having Will I have seen what a powerful force nature is. It has blown me away just how much of a boy William is. It is in his blood like I would never have believed possible. (beautifully illustrated here).

I don't work so from the day he popped out, Will has been with me and just me. We go to playgroup sometimes, he sees other kids occasionally and obviously Daddy at the weekends but I am pretty much his world.

I am a girl. Obviously. I am not especially girly but I hate sport. Passionately. I am terrible at it so that might be why or perhaps I am terrible because I hate it. I am past wondering or caring. All I know is that if a ball is heading in my direction I turn and  run in the other direction. And more often than not cry. I hate them that much.

So it baffles me that all Will wants to do ALL day, EVERY day, is play with balls. Kick balls, throw balls, catch balls, hit balls.

He loves steering wheels, cars, tractors, fighting, thrashing, running and have I mentioned balls? The kid is OBSESSED.

It goes against my nature to encourage all of these things but I do because they make him so happy. I am nurturing his nature.

I always wanted a boy but I had no idea just how much of a boy I would get. Every day he surprises me and amazes me with his masculinity. I don't think that the people that told me how much of a boy he looked like had any idea how right they were going to be. I certainly didn't. And I just hope that if this next one turns out to be another boy my nurturing skills fully take over my nature. Proving that maybe nurture is more powerful after all.

And so the circle continues...

Saturday, 20 August 2011


So you will probably have read about the year that we had that was, well let's be honest, a little taste of Hell. The last life-changing-in-a-negative-way event was the miscarriage in February. Six months on I would like to tell you what has happened to us since...

May 13th 2011 - We moved into our new house. Our first home that we own, as a couple, as a family. It's beautiful. Newly renovated and a perfect space for Will.

June 21st 2011 - a positive pregnancy test!

August 12th 2011 - after a long few weeks of nausea, exhaustion, a couple of scares and 3 scans later our fetus is 12 weeks along and looking healthy! Fingers crossed on or around March 4th 2012 our wee Will will become a big brother

August 17th 2011 - Shaun proposed! On a beautiful beach in Cornwall with a stunning ring. We are getting married!!!!

Today, right now, I literally could not be happier.

Now I am sure that anyone who, in the space of 3 months, buys a home, gets successfully pregnant and then gets engaged is over the moon but I am more than that. I am smug. I am that person that thinks their life is just the frigging best. And do you know what, I think I deserve to.

I don't believe in fate, or karma, or luck. But I do believe that after 2010, 2011 deserved to be a good year for me and Shaun. And it's turning out just that way.

Of course, when we met my parents to celebrate within 2 minutes my Mum had fallen over and broken her ankle so we spent the afternoon in hospital sans celebration but you can't have it all. And as much as I feel sorry for her, it's not taken away any of my buzz.


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Good vs Evil


It started with, well let's be honest no one is really sure whether the shooting of Mark Duggan was good or evil or one under the guise of the other. Who were the good guys and who were the bad is yet to be established. But what has come from it, what the country has become because of it, was definitely heading towards a big old bag of evil. Looting, arson, violence. Thoughtless, mindless thugs destroying entire communities and innocent peoples lives. And essentially a million miles from whatever lead to Mark's death. Kids, children, young people who should have been at home with their families were out committing an array of heinous crimes because they don't know how else to be heard. Committing EVIL because it's the only thing that made them feel part of something, made them feel like they belonged. Is that the fault of a bigger evil?
Poor parenting?
Poor education? 
Government cuts?
The housing situation?

But then came the

Hundreds of people with brooms, cleaning up the streets, their streets. Communities coming together not to prove something, not to rise against anyone, just to sweep up the mess. Out in force they cleared away the broken glass, the litter, the rubble and, as best they could, made their local streets into what they had been before the evil had gotten there. These people don't know each other but they care for each other. They care for their community and are working together to make things better. To prove to that good can rise above evil and win. Like it always does.

Over the past few days I have experienced an array of emotions. The first and strongest was anger, and then depression, sadness, concern and sometimes downright misery at the state of the country and the attitude of these young people. But today it changed, today there is hope, today there is spirit and today I cried tears of happiness.  

Because you see for me it is all about William. I am no different from any parent out there (apart from maybe the ones that brought up these jokers)
and I want the best for my son. So a few months ago we bought a house, our first house purchase to mark our time as grown ups and somewhere to raise our children. Now, I have mentioned that we were already aware that Tottenham wasn't a 'nice' area but overnight on Saturday it turned into a war zone. Buildings were burned to the ground, shops were looted and the high street was destroyed. So my first thought was 'what have I done to my baby? Is this his future?'. I do not want him growing up alongside people that think that this is acceptable behaviour. I do not want his peers raised by parents that have NO control over their children's attitude or whereabouts. I don't want him raised amongst evil. I have let him down again, already.

But I no longer feel like that because, it turns out, the majority of people are not like that. The majority of people are like this

The majority of people want to help clean up the mess, want to donate what they can to help those in need and want to make the world a better place to be. As well as the people that cleaned up the streets with their brooms and the people that left these notes on a boarded up shop I have seen so many other positive role models for my son. The community of Tottenham has come together and shown strength, resilience and a sense of community that I am incredibly proud of. And these are people I am very happy to have my son brought up amongst.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

As the riots continue

So this is how the riots have affected me...
  1. I couldn't order chinese from my usual on Sunday because it was in the middle of the riot
  2. I can't pick up the bits I need for my holiday because all of the shops around me have either been looted or are closed for fear of being looted
  3. My online shopping arrived an hour early waking me up from a nap because they were trying to fit in all the deliveries they had missed because of the rioting
  4. I have had broken and disturbed sleep due to the sirens and helicopters circling overhead.
So essentially, nothing that I cannot recover from with a cup of tea and a sit down.

This is how the riots have affected other people in my neighbourhood...
  1. They don't have homes
  2. They don't have any belongings
  3. They can't feed their families
  4. They are afraid to walk on the street
  5. Their businesses have been burned to the ground
  6. Their livelihoods have been lost
  7. Their entire worlds have been turned upside down.
Last night I took a duvet, some pillows, some nappies and some food down to our local sports centre where they are collecting donations. A lot of people told me how generous and kind I was. I don't feel like a good person just for giving up some things I don't actually need anyway. I want to do more. I want to go out on the streets and scream at those idiots out there, reason with them, try and understand why they think this makes sense.

I get that they are are unhappy, frig we are all unhappy with the Government, the taxes, the cuts, the unemployment. BUT YOU AREN'T HELPING THAT. I don't understand why they can't see that they are costing the Government more money, costing themselves more money, more time out of a job, more pain and unhappiness as these wrongs are made right. These high streets WILL be rebuilt, the majority of shops WILL reopen. The fires will be put out and the windows will be replaced. You aren't leaving a legacy. You aren't hurting the big people, the people you think are hurting you. You are only hurting the little people. The people like you, the people who one day were in your position and worked hard to get out of it. Worked fucking hard to have the things that you have taken away from them with one match and some lighter fluid.

These thugs make me feel physically sick but still I want to help them, I want to make a difference to their lives to stop them hurting. Stop them from hurting so hard that they hurt other people. It's not right to feel so anonymous that you are happy to be filmed looting, burning buildings and vehicles. Donating a few things does not make me a good person, going out there and making a difference would make me a good person. Being a police officer would make me a good person. Being a member of parliament would make me a good person. You might not like these people or think they are doing the right thing right now but they are doing what they think is right. And who am I to disagree? All I can do is offer a loaf of bread.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Rioting. ACTUAL rioting. WTF.

So this is where we live

I have always known it wasn't a 'nice' area. I mean it's London right so if you aren't rich you can't afford to live in a 'nice' area. And we want to live in London. And we aren't rich. So we live in Tottenham. Which was fine, until last night. Sure, you pass someone on every street smoking weed but surely that happens in everywhere? And it doesn't hurt anyone. Every now and then someone gets shot or stabbed but that stuff seemed avoidable. Gang culture that if you weren't part of you could easily pretend didn't go on. It doesn't hurt me or my family. And so when Mark Duggan got shot on Thursday night I figured it wouldn't really affect us. But he got shot by a police officer. Not by another gangster. So, apparently this changes things. This requires a more elaborate revenge that your average gang shooting. One that does hurt me and my family and hundreds of other innocent people and shopkeepers. This revenge was big.

And I totally get it. I totally get that when you are annoyed with a situation, angry about a death, needing to act out, the best way to do that is to ruin EVERYONE ELSE'S lives. And I'm sure that's what Mark Duggan's family wanted - for the local carpet shop to be looted, the local charity shop, the local supermarket. For an entire street to be burned down. For peoples homes to be destroyed. For people to fear for their lives just walking home from the pub. Because when you lose a son, a brother, a family member, nothing dulls the pain like a nice new (if slightly charred) carpet, a second had tea pot or a stolen packet of biscuits. Knowing that someone else is hurting too. Making sure everyone else suffers with you. I am sure they are all sat at home this morning feeling much, much better about Mark's death.


That's not how you make a point. That's not how you get justice. That's not how you live life you complete IDIOTS.

As you can probably tell I'm angry. I don't feel sad. I don't feel scared. I don't feel concerned. I feel really bloody angry. How selfish of you. How painfully, horribly, disgustingly selfish. What point were you making when you stole that TV from Curry's? How were you achieving justice for Mark by burning down someones business? Someones HOME? Someone who ISN'T a police officer, ISN'T a gangster, DOESN'T own a gun. IS NOT INVOLVED but will now have years and years of hardship trying to rebuild their life.

During my psychology degree I studied 'crowd culture' and the violence that goes with it. So I understand. I know that the 'anonymity complex' kicks in. That in a crowd you don't feel like you are an individual, you feel like you belong to the crowd and because of that there are no consequences. You believe that you cannot be punished because there is no 'you', there is just the greater cause. So I understand the science.

What I don't understand is how it becomes a 'crowd culture'. Whose idea what it to make a petrol bomb? Who throws the first punch? Who smashed the first window? Who burns down a bloody bus?!

And do you know what, I don't want to know. I don't want to understand. Because all there is to it is stupidity. Selfish stupidity. Last night's riots were nothing but mindless vandalism. No retribution was served for Mark Duggan's death. NOTHING WAS ACHIEVED. Apart from even more heartache and pain for even more people that live in Tottenham. Well done.

Well done you absolute twats.


Friday, 5 August 2011

Cheeky Monkey

I thought my blog would focus more on my cakes than it has done but I guess there are more pressing matters at hand. Anyway, I made this for a cheeky monkeys tea party fundraiser recently, I think it's pretty cute.

The year of 'challenges'

I know I have spent a lot of my blog so far talking (whining, wailing, sobbing) about Will's hearing deficit. But you know, it's a big part of our lives and this is the first time I have really talked about it and my feelings so I have a lot to get off my chest. Generally in life I am a fun, happy, a little bit tipsy probably, live life as it comes type girl. Or I was. 2010 changed me a little. Or a lot. I'm not quite sure yet. It was, quite frankly, horrendous. So in a bid to get all the negativity out of my system I thought I would share our rough year with you. Not for sympathy or reward, just to get it off my chest so I can move on. Think of yourselves as my therapists (I probably need multiple).

January 31st 2010 - Our home was burgled. All of our electronic goods were stolen. If you have ever been burgled yourself you will understand that the stuff doesn't matter, it's the violation of privacy. The fear to be in your own home. The trauma of knowing someone, many someones, have routed through every inch of your house, turned on all your lights, opened all your doors and rummaged through your knickers. Still makes me want to vomit.
May 6th 2010 - I went into labour. In the course of the next 2 days William's heart stopped 3 times, they did horrific things to my most personal parts and I think at some points Shaun and I thought we were all going to die. Medically it was a 'straightforward' birth. Yeah, tell that to my foofoo. Or Shaun, who still can't think about it without freaking out and breaking down, let alone talk about it.
May 2010 - Shaun's Grandma in New Zealand died. She was old, had lived a good life and we had been expecting it for a while but still, with her great Grandson only just born it was a very, very sad time for all of us.
May, June, July 2010 - William was breast fed. I was very lucky in that breastfeeding came very easily for me, I only had one problem. He fed ALL the time. For hours on end. 6 hours, 8 hours. Most days he was attached to me for 18-20 hours out of 24. I would feed him lying down and sleep while he continued feeding. I went to my GP, to breastfeeding councilling, support groups, back to the midwives at the hospital and no-one found a problem. I received comments like 'He's a boy, boys like boobs', 'You are a new Mum, you just need to put your baby down'. I could go on. Eventually I saw a lactation specialist and within 5 minutes she had diagnosed a tongue tie. Within 2 weeks we had been referred and he had been operated on. The operation involved starving him and then watching his little face look over at me in terror as the staff strapped him to a bed and cut a portion of his tongue out. Horrific. But within 2 days he did start feeding every 3/4 hours which was a massive relief and meant I could actually leave the house.
August 2010 - Tongue tie cut, feeling a little more like we had an idea about parenting we went to the US to see Shaun's Dad and his family. The day we left William got his first ever cold - excellent timing for his first ever flight. Over the course of our two week holiday, Shaun and I also caught colds, Shaun's Grandfather (also in NZ) died. His step-mum spent 4 days in hospital having a gastro operation so we missed out on time with her. Our flight back was delayed so we missed our connection and had to spend night in a hotel that 'don't offer cribs because we've had too many problems with them'. Right, my 4 month old (about to learn to roll any day now) will just sleep in a double bed then, no worries at all. At all. It was wonderful to see that side of the family and introduce William to them but felt very little like a holiday!
September 2010 - After 5 failed hearing tests and lots of false reassurance Willam was finally diagnosed as having moderate hearing loss in his right ear and severe hearing loss in his left. He will have to wear hearing aids in both ears.
September 2010 - Shaun and I played squash for the first time since I had fallen pregnant with Will. It felt so good to thrash the ball around the court and sweat out some of the anger I felt about Will's hearing. Until I thrashed myself in the hand, hard, and broke it. It was very painful but I didn't go to the doctors for 4 weeks by which point it had healed itself. There were x-rays and casualty and talk of rebreaking it but it had been so painful the first time round and so difficult to look after Will I couldn't face that again. So now I don't have a knuckle on my left ring finger and I have a lump half way down my hand where the bone fused itself. Nice.
September - December 2010 - We struggled to come to terms with our perfect baby not being perfect, with the practicality of hearing aids, and our new routine of deaf playgroup, speech and language therapy, learning sign language. William had to have an MRI scan, an ECG scan, a kidney scan, an eye test, blood tests. When I think back to how traumatised I was when he had his first immunisation, I look back and laugh. If only I had known the horror of these other tests. I would have let them jab him over and over again!
23rd December 2010 - Our bedroom ceiling collapsed. While we were in bed. 5am. I will let the picture do the talking but just remember this was 2 days before our very first Christmas as a family after a hard year. Needless to say this put a dampner on it. And yes that is a giant piece of plaster on our pillows where our heads would have been. It fell second, if it had fallen first we could have died.

December 30th 2010 - I realised I couldn't ignore the tiredness, nausea and random bursts of crying anymore. I did a test and I was 5 weeks pregnant. After lots of pacing and saying over and over 'we're not ready', we got our head around the idea and were very, very happy and excited. A late summer baby, wonderful.
January 31st 2011 - Whilst on 'holiday' in New Zealand I started to miscarry. After a week of heavy bleedy and excruciating contractions, various trips to hospitals including one in an ambulance, emergency scans and a whole heap of codeine and heartache we lost our baby. In Shaun's Godmother's toliet. Flushed away like a piece of dirt. Turns out the baby had died at 6 weeks gestation. I was 10 weeks pregnant when I lost it. It was dead inside me for 4 weeks; a whole month and I had no idea. So much for Mother's intuition. I was as far away from my Mum and Dad as it's possible to be. I was in unfamiliar doctors, hospitals, cities. I have never, ever known heartbreak like it.

So there you have it. Our rough year. Bookended to the day by horror. It wasn't all bad, there was William's first smile, first laugh, the first time he slept all night, I am sure we laughed at some points and, most importantly I think, we got through it. We are still a couple, still in love, still a family and still a team. And I feel better for sharing it with you. Thanks for listening. x

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Thanks, but shut up.

I know that a few of you that read my blog have deaf children. I also know that most of you don't. Which means that most of you have NO IDEA what it feels like. I don't pretend to understand what it is like to have a physically disabled child, a downs syndrome child, an autistic child or a normal child. All I know is a child with a partial hearing loss.

And as a parent of a child with a partial hearing loss there are some things I do not want to hear (awkward phrasing I know).

  1. If I had a choice between being deaf and being blind, I'd choose deaf.
    • It's not a game. The point is he didn't get a choice. It's not like you have to have a disability and you get to choose. It's not any less sad because he isn't blind. He could have been normal. He could have been healthy.
  2. He'll grow out of it
    • No, no, no he won't. Unless I have explicitly explained what is wrong with him to you or you have independently researched dilated vestibular aqueducts, don't offer me hope, just shut up.
  3. Be positive
    • I AM POSITIVE. I can see the best case scenario. I know that we are lucky he doesn't have a more serious condition. I know we are lucky to have him at all. I spend my days laughing a smiling and marvelling at how wonderful he is. But that doesn't make him any less deaf and it doesn't make me any less heartbroken. And I am entitled to be sad about it every now and then.
  4. If you're worried about him being bullied, just teach him to fight.
    • Seriously?! I have two points to make here
      • Just because he is more likely to be bullied because he wears hearing aids doesn't mean that I am going to bring him up to be a bully or a thug.
      • If he hits his head (or someone else hits it) he will lose his hearing altogether - back to point 2 - if you don't know the full story, don't offer an opinion. Please.
  5. He doesn't need to learn sign language if he wears his hearing aids he will learn to talk
    • It's not a black and white problem. Deaf kid + hearing aids = hearing kid. I wish. The sounds he hears through his hearing aids aren't the same as the sound we hear and he still needs to learn to listen (not hear, listen) in order to pick up language. And there is the issue that he won't always wear his hearing aids. And more to the point it's our choice to learn and teach sign language - not yours.
  6. You shouldn't feel guilty - you are raising a gorgeous, smart, talented, funny, wonderful little boy.
    • I know. I don't feel guilty because he is not any of those things. I am proud of my son and everything he is, even his bad points (mainly because they are clearly from me! dramatic temper tantrum anyone?) I feel guilty because he is deaf.
The feeling I have most frequently and most strongly when talking to other people about Will's hearing is 'you just don't get it'. Because you don't. And that doesn't mean that you don't care, I get that. Or that you don't want to get it, you do. But you never will. So the best thing to do is ask questions. Ask how we are all getting along, how the hospital appointments have been, when the next one is. Ask about schools, playgroup, hearing aids, speech. But don't try and make it better because you can't. And you will just end up on one of my grumpy ranting blogs like this one.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Sleep. It's a big deal, but it's not the only deal.

Will has taken to waking up at 5.38. Every day. I always thought I was a person that needed a lot of sleep and since becoming a Mum I have learned, and surprised myself, at how little I actually do need. But still, 5.38 is the night time. Before 6am is the night time.

When I was pregnant, people (friends, family, strangers - both with and without children themselves) would say things like "Get as much sleep now as you can", "Looking forward to not getting any sleep?", "Oooo congratulations, you'll never sleep again". I always wondered why no-one ever said "You will love them more than you know possible" or "When they take their first steps your heart will actually explode".

Being a parent changes you and your life, relationship, eating patterns and yes, sleeping patterns in ways you will never, ever understand until you have children yourself. I wish people had said something other to me than "It's all sleep deprivation" because it's much, much, much more. I wouldn't have listened but still, these are some of the things I wish people had told me about being a Mum...

  1. When they are born, the feeling of love and protection is OVERWHELMING. You literally have no idea unless you have done it. It is the most powerful emotion possible to the extent it is actually quite frightening.
  2. What is also frightening is the realisation that your parents felt, and probably still feel, that same way towards you. Cue massive guilt for teenage drama inflicted upon them. And massive understanding of why they still love you whatever you mess you get into. The circle is complete
  3. That everyone has an opinion on how you should raise your child. From your Mum, your partner's Mum, the lady in the grocery store or on the bus. They all think they are right and that their way is the only way.
  4. They are wrong, you know best. Mother's intuition is a powerful thing and confidence in it is even more powerful. I learnt this the hard way with William's tongue tie - a story for another time.
  5. That faeces becomes a massive part of your life. That you will regale stories about it (a particularly large one, wet one, hard one, messy one, one with grapes in it, peas in it, something you couldn't quite pinpoint but it was a bright, bright red colour) as if this is apporipriate conversation.
  6. That sometimes you won't want to do it anymore. You'll want to give up, walk away, never look back.
  7. That those feelings are ok and that they pass quickly (normally - if not, help is out there)
  8. That a day of tantrums and screaming and shit (again) can be swiftly and so perfectly rectified with one snuggle in to your shoulder and a small hand patting you on the back as if to say "well done Mum, you survived another day".
  9. That one of your shoulders (whichever side you carry your baby on) will be permanently grubby with bits of food, drink and dribble.
  10. That your clothes will need washing more than you knew possible as they get smeared with food, snot, saliva, our old friend faeces as well as anything you might try and hold - your darling is bound to spill it.
  11. That out of NOWHERE, with no reason or explanation your baby may end up with a disability. And that your heart will never, ever recover.
  12. That you will never (especially if you decide to be a stay at home Mum) get a minute to yourself again. Or a meal. Or a trip to the toilet.
  13. That coffee and wine will be your new best friends and will become, frankly, essential for survival on some days
  14. Your house will never be tidy, or clean, again.
  15. That you will be tired, shattered, exhausted. For years. But that you will cope, even thrive, on less sleep than you have ever had. Because it's worth it. It's completely, utterly, profoundly worth it.
I would have liked it if someone had told me that being a Mum is the best job in the world. And that sleep deprivation is just a tiny part of it. Although granted some days it doesn't feel like that. But there is always coffee.