Monday, 31 December 2012

Ring in the new.

2012 began in a roiling black cloud of fear and uncertainty. It ends eating the dust of a boy whose only challenge is the establishment and its blind status-quo.

2013 will greet this family without fear. We got this. Big time.

Roll on midnight.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Shovel the shit and shine up the saddle.

Looking back on the past month, the standouts are simple.  A Dad hug for me.  A frog legged, pressed-up, pre-crawl for young son.  A supported stand.  Perma-horsey setting.  He's so nearly there, I could explode.  If pride is a vice you can call me Miami, buy me a white suit and rev up the convertible.

More.  Two long haul flights uninterrupted by baby bleating for three hundred plus BA passengers.  Well at least MY baby was bleat free, I can't say the same for the ones who managed to score the cot seats.

I guess not being able to get a cot and getting stuck buying a seat for him was a gargantuan blessing in disguise.  Guess those wee bubbas slept like shit in their thin BA travel cots while Rukai chilled in his reclined car seat, his 'command center' set up, Ice Age and Madagascar and Lion King looping on the bubba sized screen in front of him.  Oops.  So sorry.

Seriously, my son was the perfect passenger.  Entirely unaffected by altitude and air pressure.  And here I was so worried about the supposed 'structural abnormalities' those thin statistics say he's likely to have in his sinuses and ear canals that I expected full meltdown and expulsions out of both ends.  I brought five changes of clothes for him on the outbound.  One on the reverse.  I need to go write the 'Take your stats and shove them up your ass' song now.  I may have just penned the chorus.

So only three hours awake the first go and he was snoring five minutes into the return flight.  He woke up when they turned the lights on for breakfast.  Oh, and he woke up HAPPY.  And then he ate.  And then he found the ceiling panel flipping hilarious.  That and the magic intercom voice.  The turbulence, not so much.  The plane dipped and shimmied and his eyes bugged out as if to say whatthehellwasthat while he threw some jazz hands.  The first time I thought 'awww'. When he did it again I nearly peed myself laughing.  I'm not sure I have cracked the visual there but I wish I had been filming.


The reason for the visit home comes in a far less chirpy version: one life is truly beginning.  One is beginning to end.  Our year of turmoil has officially been wrapped in a big red bow labeled 'Dad has incurable lung cancer'.  So we hopped and we scotched across an ocean for a two week visit which included Rukai's first plane trip, as much grandpa time as we could muster, Dean's cottage cheese and Lou Malnatis and Buona Beef and Portillos and store bought Christmas tchotchkes and here we are back home hoping like hell goodbye wasn't really Goodbye.

It turns and it turns and it turns.  My first thought: the problem with life is it ends in death.

My second thought: thank God we went.  Dad has seen his grandson doing well.  That means everything to me.  And that hug will never wash off.  Perhaps neither will the tear stains.  But I will hold that hug in my heart for the rest of my days.  I will hold the conversations in my heart.  My Daddy.  Please let there be more hugs.

My third thought (and segue with me here):  damn, British Airways trolly dollies sure wear a lot of slap on their mugs.  Like theatrical pancake.  Even the guys.  It was like flying Air Madame Tussaud's.

I'm hanging on to thought three because once again that old mom-ism, when you most feel like crying sometimes you just have to laugh.  Leave it to our magnificent squidge to provide it.

Despite our heavy hearts we have been wearing perma-smiles because mister bubba has become mini John Wayne, and is stuck on 'horsey' setting.  Sit.  Flail.  Giggle.

I think it may have been the Chicago water.  The diesel fume free air.  The freak Thanksgiving heatwave.  The 48 oz of greek yogurt.  The vat of pretzels I bought from Kmart with my cart full of tchotchkes.  Ok, maybe not those, those were MINE.  But the last two weeks have given us some extraordinary developmental milestones and equal amounts of joy.

If you looked at my life from elsewhere you may say 'damn, you have been delivered a bit of a shit sandwich this year'.  And we thought that.  And then we look at this amazing kid who just lifts everyone around him and realize that we are staying above it because of him.  Because he IS.  And we are so blessed by whatever higher power has sent him our way.

We even had security people at the airport gurning at his chubby cheeks and (there's that horsey again) three foot long eyelashes.

Security people.  At Heathrow.  At O'hare.  I was bamboozled.  They even forgot to make me taste half his food the second time round.  I may never go anywhere without him again.

Ok, a final few standouts.

I now know that our 'ick', or that skin condition is so hereditary that anyone 'practicing medicine' who relates it to DS hereafter can kiss my son's giraffe speckled ass.  A wonderful afternoon with family cleared that one up.  Not literally but I now have officially scratched that off the is-it-a-symptom-or-not list.  Um, thatwouldbeno.

And the real kicker is anyone who's spent a length of time with Rukai over the past couple weeks has seen what we do.  And that is nothing.  That is 'virtually unaffected'.  And that remains a relief.  We can keep riding that particular horsey.  I'll even shovel the shit and shine up the saddle.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

There's that piece which stays behind.

Just left my son with a stranger.  Feel like I'm going to make my own Rorschachs on the floor.

Sure he's met her a few times.  Sure it's only to give him lunch, max an hour.  For now.  Sure I will collapse in a heap of relief when I go to pick him up and he's smiling and giggling and burping and shouting just like he does at home.  There may even come a day when he cries when leaving her house.  I will surely burn that day like I'm locked in an oven.  I will surely cheer his independence.  I will surely adore his spirit.  Even more than I do today.


Talking with my NCT pals the other day we were saying how it's a dead certainty that we will have to let the babies go, over and over again all through life.  To childminders, to school, to the grocery store, to teen discos, to gap years.  Now having a child of my own, now about to regularly leave him to get to the business of growing up and mixing more often with other kids than with mommy et al, getting to the business of that next phase of life that doesn't involve me changing the bulk of the nappies, feeding all the vegetable sludge, teaching him to hold the cloth, the spoon, the cup, the bell, the crinklebug.  Well, now I understand what my parents must have felt when I left home.  Left the country.  Got married.  Flying flying and flying away.  All the time flying.  But there's that piece which stays behind.  That piece that is woven into their very souls. 

That one stays behind.


Will I one day pick him up and there he will have learned to sit up by himself at last?  I cannot pretend I will not turn a shade of deepest green for a flash before the pure joy sets in.  But I desperately wanted that one.  I wanted it before I went back to work.  I go back to work tomorrow.

Yes, thank you Sir Mick, yes, I realize you get what you need.  But still.

I haven't loads more to say right now.  That is enough.  That is everything today.  It is such a small thing but it is such a huge day.


Saturday, 20 October 2012

Dinner wars.

After not being able to keep any food down yesterday, Rukai has just won the Oscar for most picky baby on the face of the earth.  Today's dinner menu:

2 oz of fresh carrot juice = yum yum go mama, more please
2 spoons of packet chicken dinner = tantrum, I don't want savory thankyouverymuch
3 spoons of carrot/swede mashed up = tantrum, I don't want solid veg thankyouverymuch
1/2 spoon of carrot/swede mashed up, disguised with fruit puree = straight back out and are you fricking KIDDING me?
The rest of the fruit puree = Ha ha mama, I win.
1/2 an organic snack hoop.  Most in his mouth this time.  Ha ha baby, I win this round.
1 teaspoon of Philadelphia cream cheese.  Straight.  A huge hit.  If you won't take your milk, I'll get your dairy in you somehow.  Score two for me.
2 sips of heavily diluted apple/blackcurrant juice.

It's all staying in. What's coming out is one helluva stubborn streak.


Friday, 19 October 2012

You can't cure baby sick with bacon.

It all started when Bubba got blasted by a big bad blockup.  Top end.  Stuffiest of all stuffy noses, the poor boy was snuffling and squidging around so long a couple nights ago we went up to right things and found ourselves with a very warm headed unhappy little man.  We, the old folks downstairs, charging up to fix our baby.  Our boy's not well.  We behaved like parents in an urgent situation and that, to me, was a very strange experience.

Of course we've been behaving like parents for eight months now but it's a bit like getting that first car / credit card / apartment / house / bottle of Jack Daniels.  You think to yourself 'hey I'm an adult now, this is not kid stuff.'  But when the stuff that is not kid stuff IS kid stuff, well, that is when you have truly arrived, baby.

So bubbo snuffaluffagus was unwell and we did our best to fix him.  We seem to have done a pretty miserable job of it, which I discovered today, as two minutes post-breakfast, half the contents of said breakfast were soaking into the carpeting like a Rorschach blot and snuffly boy was screaming blue Jesus.

The mommy antenna went up full height and I admit the urge to clean up the puddle first was a bit strong.  But no, baby first.  He's not only unwell, he's a bit freaked out at that new sensation and I have to find a way to fix it.  How's about a wiped face, a kiss on the too-hot-for-my-liking forehead, fresh nappy and a new top.  Check.  Now let's get him resting a bit on the sofa.  Carefully drape a blanket under him in case the rest of breakfast comes to the party.  Cover him up with another blanket.  Finally open up that Calpol that's been staring me down for eight months and spoon a bit in him.  Good, good.  I'm mommy-ing.  I'm fixing the ick.

He conks out.  I feel triumphant.  Until he wakes up after a brief nap and I go to cuddle him by putting him on my shoulder.  A gurking sound pierces my eardrum like a chisel and as I whizz him around, there we now officially have an empty stomach and more Rorschach on the other side of the floor.  I'm not sure if it looked like an octopus, a racecar or three blooming coins in a fountain but it plain as day looked like a fresh puddle of puke I was going to need to mop up.  He goes back to the sofa and I refill that bowl of water.

Scrub scrub.  I'm mommying again.  He is quietly watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and sucking on a muslin cloth.  I am wondering how in the hell I'll get some fluids in him if it keeps coming back up.  How do I comfort him if he's not comfy cuddling in the newborn hold and the shoulder plank empties his guts?

I check him again and he's slowly becoming not so grey faced, forehead a bit cooler.  Thank you Calpol.  Having consulted Doctor Google again I see he could very well be quite perky even though he's got an obvious tummy bug and it's only if he's seriously out of sorts that it's time to panic.  And lo and behold he's seeming to bore and crabbing to get on the floor again.  Five minutes after I dump the bowl in the sink, I look down and he's rolled to that same tummy that just returned breakfast and I'm thinking first: 'dear lord, please don't puke on your playmat', and second: 'you sure do bounce back quick.  Tough as old boots'.  He's clearly on the fritz and there he is going roly poly.  Pride.

Yet they say WOMEN are confusing.

He is now full of a half bottle of milk and a couple crumbs of rice cake and napping again, the sleepiness the only indication at the moment that he's off piste.  I think he's ok for now but I may just fill that bowl again to be on the safe side.

The real shame of it all?  Unlike a hangover, you can't cure baby sick with bacon.


In other news, this is officially the last day of my maternity leave.  Nine months gone and it's time to enter a new phase of life and get back to work - only part time til year's end, thank god.  I would sink like a boulder if I dived straight in.  Baby steps.  The adult kind.

Our childminder has been selected.  We are getting close to the first full day with her and I'm growing new greys by the minute just thinking about it.  I am feeling melancholy but more than relieved that compressed working hours are on the horizon and Rukai and I will have one weekday together to keep his development on track.  We are on such a roll and seeing that slow - worse, cease - would break me like Uncle Pecos' old guitar string.  Crambone.

To be at this point after an eight months which started in the wilderness, smothered with such worry and concern, now feels a bit like a quiet miracle.

Rukai is coming on still with no issues, firmly at the tail end of normal where milestones are concerned.  Surrounded by about a dozen other kids the other day at baby singsong I saw that he isn't doing anything any differently than they are.  He may be a bit on the late end but by god he's doing it.

He's now rolling over regularly and with ease both ways.  He's grabbing and trying to shake the very color off his toys.  He babbled an accidental mama yesterday which set me alight and raised a flock of butterflies in my own belly.  He is so strong and rambunctious, so tenacious and stubborn.  So much a perfect combination of me and his Daddy it is just untrue.

So today I have stuffed my worry in a cab to Heathrow, checked it in on a flight to Don'tLetTheDoorHitYa and sent it packing.  It may find its way back but in the meantime we three are going somewhere much sunnier.  I'll send a postcard.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Baby planking.

Well, I've done it.  I've gone and booked a meeting with a childminder because oh-my-god-i-cannot-believe-it, nine months have come and gone and I have to go back to work in a few weeks.  The days of living in my jammies and rolling around on the floor with Rukai are going, and I will need to make conversation about other things than bodily functions, milestones and sleep patterns.  I will need to park my silly faces until I get home.  I will have to use Outlook again.  Go to meetings.  Dig out my work notebook and try desperately to read through what I was working on, if I can see past the many doodles I made in the later days of pregnancy when my mind was adrift in anticipation and worry.  I think my new doodles will consist of little more than to-do lists.  I cannot live these days without lists.  I truly cannot remember anything aside from squidge requirements.  That is all.

Oh dear.  I think re-entry is going to sting.

But back to the childminder selection.  I can honestly say this is a bigger decision than the one I took to move to England in the first place, largely because adult me can handle bad decision making (not that the move was a bad idea, but HAD it been...) 7-1/2 month old Rukai cannot.  Like everything else we have done with and for him, we have to get this right.  I think this is where that maternal instinct and the old 'gut feeling' will kick into overdrive.  It's been a remarkable discovery, since before I had a child the only gut instinct I had regularly was the massive belly ache after an overly spicy curry or football sized burrito.  This maternal thing is just a bit supernatural.  Now that I think about it, if I ever grow those magical eyes in the back of my head I'll have to sell myself to MI6 or the CIA and save the world while I'm keeping Rukai from bashing his head on table corners and such.

I wonder when the time will come that this decision-making-about-the-bubba will stop feeling like brain surgery?  Stop feeling like 'if I don't get this right, they will take away my mommy credentials and send me off to summer camp to climb trees and learn underwater basketweaving.'  I suspect it's easier when you have more than one kid - instead of worrying so much about what you are doing with kid number 1, you have sudden expertise with kid number 2 because you've done it already.  The stuff that is so worrying right now would go in the background for kid number 1 because the littler the person is, the more fragile.  The more fragile, the more attention you have to give and the more attention you have to give...the more wine.

Yes, that is also an essential part of the big picture.  Like many other things I did not really understand before I became a mother, I 'get it' now.  And although wine is a four letter word, it is a socially acceptable four letter word that prevents overfrayed nerves and utterance of other less acceptable and dangerously repeatable four letter words.  So essentially, a nice glass of wine will keep Rukai's first word from being 'shit'.  That's not to say he doesn't find it at around word number ten or eleven but if we don't dare to dream, where will we be?

In other news, our little man is coming along like gangbusters since we started him on solids.  The floppiness is fading, and he is now - for lack of a better description - 'baby planking' when I pick him up and raise him over my head.  That little neck is strengthening day by day and to our delight he is well and truly doing everything he should be doing, only just the littlest bit later than his NCT pals.  To have this group of friends has been a godsend to both of us - to him for familiarity and to me for great friendship and to be able to gauge where his development is against ordinary children.

When describing his latest acquired skills on a recent visit with the health visitor, I detected the slightest hint of surprise as if to say 'I can't believe he's doing that already.  He shouldn't be able to.  Most babies with Down's syndrome can't do that at this age.'

Yes, yes, yes.  But we have determined already that he is not MOST, my good woman.  And I truly think she knows that.  This is why it is only a hint of surprise followed by a slight grin and more note writing.  Ok, good good.  She gets me.  More progress.

As each day goes by I see more of a grit, a determination, a stubborn streak, a warrior.  Although sometimes I fret, these days I am not afraid of my son's ability to soar.

The only thing I fear is getting back on that cursed Central Line again.  So I guess at the end of return-to-work-day-1 it will be for bubba: bath, bottle, bed.  For mommy: cuddles, watch him dream.  Then dinner.  Then wine.  Yes.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Look mommy, I made a rhombus.

Summer is officially over and Rukai has now been on and returned from his first vacation.  Both were a bit of a washout for us oldies but since hes a newbie he didn't really notice.  Then too, I guess there's no need to see anything past your big toe if your feet are amongst the most interesting things on the planet.  We could've taken him to the Premier Inn down the road and he wouldn't have known any different.  I also guess it was a nice change of scenery to see all the rain pissing down from a different living room than the one he's used to.

During the trip we really kicked in the new food sampling into overdrive.  I started out at home with the best of intentions, making fresh purees from fresh vegetables.  This quickly turned into frozen vegetables, largely because I couldn't be arsed to peel another carrot.  But then I hit the baby food aisle at Asda and have never looked back.  It just seemed to take up far too much bonding time to be mashing up all that shit that he gobbles up with equal zeal regardless of how it's prepared.  As long as there isn't any stuff I can't identify in the jar, bring it on.  It didn't help all that time spent boiling and mashing things brought back memories of all that pumping I did when I could've been down on the floor playing roly poly with him.  I can't get those days back and wasn't about to lose any more.  So home made is just not worth the time, but of course I feel a bit of guilt losing another part of the Master Plan.

To be fair, said Master Plan includes a huge check from the National Lottery but until that happens we'll have to make do and resort to plan - what is it now - say, Q or R.  If it makes any difference to soften the guilt, I buy the organic stuff.  In all honesty I don't buy it because it's organic.  Oh, no.  It's because it's called Hipp Organic, which all you bright sparks will quickly identify spells Hipp O.  Hippo.  Divine!  And that is all Dirty Water Pool.  Which makes it required shopping.

Now, with all this talk about eating, alas I must return again to that old gem, poop.  We have entered an entirely new phase of understanding human physiology.  And chemistry.  And geometry.  It's like going back to high school with a drooling farty thing as your teacher.  Then again, I think I had a few teachers like that in high school.

But I digress again.  (Surprise!)  Let's move on.

While we were sampling all these new Hippo foods, young son got a bit blocked up.  Like for about three days.  So I consulted Doctor Google and it seemed perfectly common and nothing to worry about so we waited for the blowout.  It was more of a damp squib but opened up entirely new horizons.

T's changing him one day and the conversation goes about like this:

Me:  Please tell me he pooped.
T:  Heeeeeey, he pooped a triangle.
Me:  A triangle?  (Step closer to have a look)  I think it looks more like a pyramid.  How tidy.  But P.U.

Few hours later, I'm changing him this time and it goes about like this:

Me:  Heeeeeey we got an oval this time.  Kinda looks like a trilobite.  Ew. 
(T looks over my shoulder)
Me:  Kid's a genius.  He's pooping geometry.  Next it'll be a pooallelogram.  Or a crapezoid.  Or maybe even a rhombus.

And so we're back on track.  He's eating like a horse, and will eat just about anything, although a recent sample of sweet potato and beef has caused an unidentifiable tantrum even though he eats it.  Can't decide whether he thinks it tastes like crap or if the texture is too gloopy after his breakfast porridge.  Then too, maybe he's moved beyond the flavor and will next be handing me the menu from the local Chinese while pointing at the shrimp toast.  I wonder if you could puree that?


On another note, because it's just too ridiculous to omit...

This afternoon I finally got the report in the mail from our mid June meeting with the Amazing Patronizing Genetic Counselor.  Not only has she taken three months to merely quote scripture in a typical and all-too-familiar NHS ass covering exercise, but she also completely dodged my request to learn whether there is a more detailed test result for Rukai in the records somewhere.  The prize winning best of the nonsense she's written:

"You explained that you and your husband are very happy to get to know your son as an individual."

Are you fucking kidding me?  Do ya think?  Oh my lord.  Please remove 'counselor' from your title because if you ever 'counseled' me on anything I think I'd lose the will to live.

Never mind.  Rant over for now.  I 'm gonna go look for a sphere.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Veni vidi peachy.

The sun is too low on the horizon for 2 pm.  I've only put out my green garden waste twice since summer began.  Time is flying and my legs are tired from chasing it.

Rukai is up in his bed, fighting the nap again, keeping company with the warm yellow orb on the base of the monitor which tells me all is well and right with him even though he is not beside me.  He is snoring.  I am head over heels in love with that sound.

We are here on the other half of his first year.  He has filled his belly up these past few weeks on baby rice and carrots and yogurt and peas and avocado and decorated his bibs with color like he once decorated his sleepsuits from the other end.  He has tried juice and puckered appropriately.  He does not have any trouble eating.  For a child with Down's syndrome, this is a triumph.  For us, this is one more worry off the list.  Strong mouth = hope for clear speech.  We live on hope these days.  I have tried hope with chocolate syrup, dunked in a cup of tea and grilled with mushrooms.  Hope tastes good.  Just like carrots.

I have now added to the dishwashing three spoons and a monkey bowl, plus one green sippy cup that we'll be replacing with a free flow because I'm so paranoid about that little tongue of his getting too used to being out instead of in.  This is the reality.  As I revel in the first bit, I am bound by the second.  I have never felt so emotionally divided.

To think I was worried about whether he'd somehow end up with red hair a year ago makes me feel like an ass.  I didn't want his life to be hard because of bullying like mine was.  How trivial that seems now.  How hard his life is going to be anyway.  How much extra work will he need just to try and keep up.  How serious we have all become.  How hard I am working on maintaining the lightness inside when life sometimes feels so damn heavy these days.

Ah but how much is he the source of that light.  How much is modern medicine the heavy.  The fat.  The big black bear in the forest of 'what if' trying every day to take a chunk out of my heart.  This life is hard.  I did not ask for this life.  But I did ask for my son.  So part of this life was indeed on the request list.

I love him so much it hurts.

I compare the Rukai who came to us vs the Rukai we were expecting with a music playlist I made for him before he was born.  The list I replayed for months on my iPod, an iPod which I lost just before that amazing day we finally met him.  The playlist, too, was called Rukai.  I was more upset about losing the playlist than losing the iPod because the playlist was the music that defined my thoughts for him throughout my pregnancy.  My worries for him.  My hopes for him.  It was optimistic and dead certain he would be 100% healthy which we now know is only true to us.  The doctors would have us believe differently.  Society will support the doctors. 

This is the reality.

I was going to make a copy of the music on that playlist and give it to him on an appropriate electronic device on an appropriate birthday.  Tell him how I was feeling when I made it.  Watch him make faces at those old songs mom used to listen to.

When I finally figured out how to replace the playlist, I re-created it on a new iPod so I could have it in the hospital when he was born.  I picked the same songs from the same music folder on the same PC.  And wouldn't you know, it somehow turned out different than it was the first time.  Different versions of the same songs somehow found their way into the list.  It wasn't the same as I expected.

And in all honesty - because what is the point of sharing if not with honesty - lo and behold, neither was he.  And instead of the playlist rolling while I was in labor, we had an endless loop of Adele's Rolling in the Deep as I recovered from a cesarean, watching him asleep in that hot box, agonizing in wait for the result of that blood test.  It just fit.  '...Finally I can see you crystal clear.'  Oh yes.

I will still give him the playlist.  He is still our Rukai.

But still, these six months we have ridden a rollercoaster.  We buckled up on the ride called Optimism and somehow have found ourselves careening up and down hills called Reality.  If 'rollercoaster' is not one of the states of grieving, it damn well should be.  And it is true grief that I feel on the dark days.  But why am I racked with sobs some days?  What exactly am I grieving over?  It feels foolish sometimes.  But that alone does not make it hurt any less, as desperately as I wish it did.

I read something yesterday about how parents of children with disabilities must let go of the child they expected and come to grips with the child they have been given.  (Dare I say as something of an agnostic, blessed with.)  But not only do I not currently consider him disabled, but I find the idea of 'letting go' of any version of our Rukai just downright cold.  Because diagnosis aside, Rukai really IS exactly the child we expected.

I think we are fortunate to have Rukai as our first and quite probably only child, because everything he does is 'normal' to us.  We look at him and see Rukai.  We don't look at him and see any different from any other six month old on the planet.  I am by no means cheerleading or saying 'look at how great we are dealing with his diagnosis' because I still very much rail against it right now.  And if that is denial, call me Cleopatra.  Buy me some snakes and a ton of gold baubles and build my ass a pyramid.

But I am saying once again, 'what is normal?'  Some days asking that question is the only thing that keeps me going, aside from the 24 carat grin of my precious squidge.  I live for that grin.  And I live with that question.  I burn with it.

Heavy heavy days and this rollercoaster seems endless.

Yet today after what seemed an eternal wait, he rolled over and I was bowled over.  I cried through my ear to ear grin.  I grabbed his hands and hooray-ed and scooped him up and gave him a million dollar cuddle.  Rollercoaster or not, so we will ride.

We came.  We saw.  We conquered.  Maybe not DS, but we sure as hell can destroy a monkey bowl full of pureed peaches.  And today that will have to be enough.

Friday, 17 August 2012

White stripes and pretty weeds.

White stripes...

That sneaky white hair showed up on my head again this morning.  How it managed to stay hidden long enough to grow six inches is beyond me, but once spotted it didn't have a chance.  I ripped it out unceremoniously along with two perfectly good red ones.  Chalk one up for collateral damage and move on.  Nothing to see here.  I must remember to stay vigilant.  Thank goodness they don't grow in larger quantities or I'd surely go bald with this prevention method.

The odd white hair isn't the only thing reminding me of my age these days.  Trying to get up off the floor is hard enough with both hands let alone with a fourteen pound dribble fountain squirming around in my arms.  I almost got stuck yesterday and ended up making my mother's noise when I managed to right myself.  It still beggars belief how fast I can walk crouched over, one hand balancing Rukai over my shoulder and the other trying to concurrently straighten out the stiffness in my back and counterbalance.  I may not be as fit as I used to be but damn, I'm good at multitasking.

Doing four thousand things at once is now a way of life, an unknown reflex as much as is breathing.  I sometimes stop and try to inventory everything I've got going, then forget what I was doing before said inventory-ing.  I can't recall finishing anything in the past six months other than dinner, a roll of toilet paper and the cup of tea I at long last get to making somewhere around 3:00 when Rukai is having his fourteen second nap.  This child is so good at sleep avoidance I should probably get my request for a Supernanny consultation in asap.  I guess I could always just turn on Fox News and let all the droning American political bickering knock him out.  That is, in the absence of the Proms.

...and pretty weeds.

Thanks to all the negativity and low expectations the scaremongerers - er, I mean 'doctors' - put in us from day dot, we remain annoyingly surprised at Rukai's interest in and interaction with his environment.  Each day we both look and say 'there's NOTHING wrong with this child' yet wait for the proverbial shoe to drop.  The clock tick tocks to that magic end of the first year when we are supposed to see him begin to fall behind his peers.  Although we think it's all a load of old bollocks and that we'd have seen some indication of delay by now despite what they know from those fabulously reliable studies done on two people, I hate that fucking clock.  So in my mind I have dug a hole in the garden and buried it like old Fortunato behind that wall of bricks.  For the love of God.  For the love of Belief.  I truly believe one day that clock will go quiet.  I don't know if anyone else does but if that is the best I can do for our boy - to keep believing, to keep loving, to keep nurturing - then I can do little else.

Joyfully, six months on, Rukai is showing no indication of any problems aside from a very lingering upper body muscle weakness which is more likely due to limited tummy time than to anything else.  They can label it low muscle tone all they want but this to me would mean he'd require intensive therapy to get that upper body in shape.  And here all he's getting is 'roly poly therapy' a la Mama and lo and behold those muscles are doing just what they're supposed to.  He has full use of both arms, and has been able to bring them to his center for the past couple months now, which is supposed to be of huge magnitude when low muscle tone comes into play.  So that isn't a problem.  He grips tightly with his hands and can use his arms to push, pull, and hold himself up, just like any other six month old.  That bit of neck lag is going the more tummy time he gets, and with tummy time being the solution for ordinary kids, they can officially take that 'low muscle tone' label and stick it in one of those places people don't talk about at parties.  Well, child-friendly parties anyway.

A lengthy, bobble-head-free supported sit on the floor yesterday blew my mind.  Where did this come from?  Like magic, the bobble has boogied.  Have those magic angels come back and whispered 'your Mama is getting a bit worried, so chop chop, get your sit on.'  Thank you angels, one and all.  All within the ordinary range of development.  So the tick tock clock can go join the 'low muscle tone' label and all those doctors on a muddy, sinking island somewhere and have a negativity festival the HELL away from me.

We'll have to now re-locate that sit to the garden the next time the clouds blow over so he can inspect the borders from a vertical vantage point.  He's fascinated with the weeds I have had no time to pull, since they seem to be of the pretty variety, with little purple and yellow flowers among them.  Last night he was a virtual giggle machine, letting out those awesome baby laugh bursts 'uh-HAH!!' while scoping out the silhouette of the plum tree against the faded blue horizon.  I think it's a nice view.  He thinks it is the most amazing thing ever.

I cannot wait to take him on holiday, to the zoo, the aquarium, the beach.  I only hope he's awake enough to enjoy them - the stroller and sling are like baby Nytol, and he's usually out cold within my first ten steps.  Perhaps the nap during the drive will take the top off that need-to-nap-now-am-feeling-so-sleepy baby thang.

Everything in his eyes is new and beautiful and fun.  His innocence does not notice milestones and fear and worry (and white hairs), only love and comfort and security.

Oh to see through the eyes of a six month old again.  Even the weeds are pretty.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

I believe.

Just ran into the midwife I saw about a dozen times and could not for the life of me remember her name as we were speaking.  And this is the one I liked.  We had an innocuous conversation about baby rice vs vegetables.  And I was sort of annoyed to have bumped into her.  The one I liked.

I knew that regardless of what she said I would do what I was planning and no longer needed to take her advice.  The surprisingly nameless 'somebody that I used to know'.  What a catharsis.

Methinks my mind is already washing the bad shit away and moving forward.  This realization filled me with joy for the everyday beyond what I've felt in many many months.

As I thought this, I also realized that I do not pray.  I believe.  This is a pretty significant difference that some friends will understand and some will try to challenge.  I'm glad I have both types of friends.  But I am more glad that I am of the kind who believe.

More imporantly, our squidge has successfully completed the 'grab the toes' challenge.  On the right foot.

Off on the right foot.  Perfect.

I had the Athletics on TV at the time, and this to me was of far greater excitement.

I have a new hero and his name is Rukai.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Life in the baby tornado.

I have discovered the secret to a serene morning - it's called 'waking up before bubba'.  This enables me to do all those essential things before the daily baby tornado kicks in, which include sitting up, wiping sand from my eyes and having a cup of tea.  It's been so long since I've been able to have a morning cuppa I can barely remember what it tastes like.  You can forget about coffee unless it's prepared the night before.  That must take at least thirty seconds to sort out when I only have the five.

Admittedly in the past few weeks I have been using up the entire allotment of 'mommy time' watching the Olympics.  This is where the baby sling has really repaid its cost when I can pop him in it and pace while watching the gymnastics.  He has that elusive nap and I get more mommy time.  It's a total win-win.  Shame I don't win any medals for it though, I'd swap them for some chiropractor appointments.

I still cannot believe the Olympics are being held in our own city, and even more so that we've been blessed to attend four magnificent events baby free thanks to T's family looking after Rukai.  I think we could've stayed in the Olympic Park for a week and they'd still be glad to be with him.  The joy is truly reciprocal and I love to see him grin at his relatives not only because it's just so cool, but also because they need to know how constant that grin is.  The constancy of that grin and the innate curiosity behind it shows us that he is firing full whack on all cylinders.  It takes my worry and shreds it.  One of those doctor-numptys wrote in his report 'he is a sociable baby'.  Don't need your notes to know that, dude.  So we continue to be doing something right, which in this kind of situation beats the hell out of doing something wrong.

Back to the Olympics, which we are so much enjoying we realized it would be a major act of wrong-ness to not bring Rukai to the Games at some point.  So the three of us are going to Paralympic Judo and I'm going to take Rukai alone to some Paralympic Athletics.  This latter bit has put the fear of God in me, mostly because although my seat is up pretty close to said God, and on the opposite side of the stadium to the sprint start line, Rukai will surely out-scream the starting gun at one point or another.  I can only hope that the folks around us are forgiving and celebratory and fall in love with how cute he is in his Team GB kit.  Barring that, we'll have to hang out in the walkway and do a lot of up and down the stairs.  To hell with Pee Wee, this is Mommy's Big Adventure.  It makes taking the tube across town look like a game of checkers.

It does get better.  They have finally installed the elevator in our train station.  So I no longer have to try and get up and down all those stairs with baby sling plus whichever-buggy-required-for-destination.  Although whenever I do get going across town, I got a hot tip from a friend yesterday on managing escalators which I will only try outside of rush hour.  The last thing I need is some uptight doofus in pinstripes 'ahem-ing' behind me for delaying him ten seconds by blocking the side of the thing.

But I really do love taking Rukai out there in the world.  The world that seems so big to me must seem galactic to him.  Every time we go out, his eyes are like moons, mouth always in that perfect 'O', soaking up as much as he can before the movement knocks him out again.  Then he wakes up in a station, a bus, a park, a living room, an office, a shopping mall, wondering 'where?' and 'how?' and 'mommy, are you still there?'  I peek around the stroller, or squeeze his hand in the sling, or find our reflection together.  That grin, that amazing grin, blooms like a perfect rose.

These are somewhat random thoughts but these too are somewhat random days.  Which is unsettling when you are used to routine as are we but then we realize he likes routine so let's make some.  He's getting used to it.  Barely a complaint at bed time and he giggles at the nightlight on the monitor as it soothes him to dreamland.

So simple are his joys, and so complex are his needs, and so vast is our love.  I look forward to each and every tomorrow.  Even in the funnel of that baby tornado.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Jammin' until the break of dawn.

Back in high school, the ability to make up silly songs by writing new lyrics to old melodies earned me the nickname 'Ditty Queen'.  This skill was later fine-tuned by writing appropriately rude songs in honor of my friends' bachelorette parties.  But it's never been quite as handy as it is now that I'm a mother, although admittedly these days the lyrics are far more Mickey Mouse than they are Magic Mike.

Motherhood has made most of what comes out fit to the tune of Camptown Races, probably down to the huge giggle I get in reaction to each hearty 'DOO dah! DOO dah!'.  We have quite a repertoire too - gems such as 'Rukai's done a poo again', 'Is it time for you to eat' and the quintessential 'Why won't you just go to bed' are in constant rotation.  Chicago friends will appreciate the bedtime lullaby best, which for some strange reason has firmly affixed itself to the tune of a twenty-something year old TV car ad song 'the whole town's talkin about the Webb boys...'  I really have no clue how that happened, but alas this will be an early memory for our bubs.

Mornings are most fun of all, and mornings when Rukai decides he's going to be a crab ass all day take the cake.  Although I'm not entirely sure it's PC to sing anything to a baby based on the tune of 'What do you do with a drunken sailor', my latest creation just fell out: 'What do you do with a cranky baby'.

'Put him in the bin till it blows over' sung with a smile gets a gummy grin in return as if he's well in on the joke.  But what the hell, I suppose it really is best to laugh when you're being deafened by a scream.

We've also got a song for the days of the week, which comes out to that twee singsongy ad lovely 'little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky...'

Which goes something like: 'Hello Monday, how you doin', haven't seen you since last week, thanks for sunshine, where'd ya hide it cos the weather's been so bad...' Note how the end's got that very important lesson about how crap the weather is here in England.  Better we prepare him for it early.

I remember back a few months ago when I was ever so pleased with the bouncy chair bing bong song.  Today I realize it only takes 14,832 plays of the similar music living in the crib mobile before you want to chuck it under the nearest express train and smash it to shrapnel.  I am so tired of this music I was almost grateful to have partially deafened myself with a q-tip last week but that's an entirely different story.

Anyway and thanksbetogod Rukai is much more keen on the up-tempo: dance music, Mauritian Sega and reggae rule the roost in our house.  And I've learned with great joy in the past month or so that Ziggy Marley's Conscious Party looping off the iPod is a far better lullaby than anything coming out of that magic yellow box.  I am ever so glad we can mute old Mozzie and run the mobile on its own because aside from the bandanna whizzing around on the ceiling fan that mobile is his favorite thing.

Music has a far more important role to play for us, though, as I secretly hoped and secretly knew it would since I first found out I was pregnant.  Since the days le bump was growing, since the days I spurned Mozart for a tinny Stevie Wonder 'Master Blaster' played through a headphone into my navel.  I need Rukai to love music.  I need music to light him up and lift him.  And oh man, it does.  It so does.

In the same section of kitchen where I used to bop around with my bump, I park the ditties up in my head and pop on some real tunes.  I hoik him on my shoulder, grab his left hand with my right and we dance like no one is watching.  And he could stay up there for weeks, rocking and swaying, chin on my shoulder or bobbling in the air, steadier each day he grows stronger.  His huge brown eyes scan his surroundings, mouth in an excited 'O', taking it all in.

As for the music, I know he loves it but more importantly I know he remembers it.  I know I have been doing something amazing for him since he was on the other side of the belly.

'When you're moving in the positive, your destination is the brightest star,' says Stevie.

Rukai bops along.

We'll be jammin until the break of dawn.

Monday, 16 July 2012

That is my sunshine. That is my summer.

The gloomy weather during this summer-that-never-was has ensured us plenty of face to face house time.  Rukai is a learning machine - like a giant Chia Baby sprouting a new crop of skills just by adding milk and a play mat.  His progress would amaze the skeptics and I'd be lying to say it did not amaze me.  But this last bit also pisses me off.  Severely.  Because I should not be amazed at my son growing up like all babies do.  I need to learn to expect it.  I am severely pissed off that the bods planted those seeds of doubt that I've accidentally watered somewhere along the way.  Like the bad gremlins, multiplying and raising hell.  I need to smother those seeds in slug pellets, kill the weeds, plant a butterfly garden.  I need to do these things but the sun won't bloody come out and it is not helping my mood.

The only thing I should be amazed at is the mere fact that we actually created this boy.  Our precious squidge.  I look at him sometimes and just cannot believe that we made him.  I can't even make instant oatmeal without it boiling over half the time and here we created a person.  This magnificent person, full of promise, gunning to shatter the status quo.  And he will.

But I tell you what, this bloody SYNDROME is a pig.  I hate it and it just keeps grunting and rolling in the mud.  I am constantly obsessing about milestones, consulting Dr Google after Rukai's in bed to see if things are fairly common amongst other babies.  You know, the 'normal' ones.  And sure enough, they pretty much are.  I know clearly what I see and what he is capable of.  I know he is getting on just fine but still that negativity festers thanks to those aloof medical bastards.  Blue day, I'm afraid.  Tired of frowning.

Deep breath, work it out.  One day at a time.  Baby steps.  Any other motivational cliché to pull my head out of my ass.

I'm kicking myself furiously for not giving him more tummy time earlier, since his neck is still pretty weak for five months.  But maybe I'm just being neurotic - of course Doc Google came into play on this one but it sure seems this too is pretty normal for many his age.  Nevertheless, he now owns a bubba sized chair and he is probably more determined to be able to sit upright in it than we are for him.  Our daily sessions of 'roly poly' followed by those glorious press ups that make me grin ear to ear when I see the elated expression on his face in discovering this new amazing view of the world.  The important thing is that he's clearly cognitive of what he is learning and equally curious about the world around him.  I doubt very much that any syndrome is going to bring this to a halt.  Ever.  Nothing has a snowball's chance in hell of bringing this to a halt.  Take your stats and shove them up your collective ass.

The latest skills also include recognition that his left arm is attached and his efforts to control it.  So stretching his arm out and shouting at his clenched fist has become de rigeur.  Maybe he's practicing for the podium.  For Wimbledon.  For St. Andrews.

He's also figured out that he can fit his thumb in his mouth alongside the bottle, which has me in fits of laughter every time he does it.  What the hell, two for the price of one.  He loves his Mr Bumbles, his billy goat and his tiger rattle, having gummed them all to within an inch of their fabric lives.  He gets bored easily and is very particular about which activity he is interested in undertaking at a particular time:  want to look outside, want a cuddle, want to lie on the sofa, want to eat, want a clean nappy, want a cuddle, want to lie on my play mat, want my chair, want a cuddle.

Note how 'want to nap' is not in that list.  Doesn't come up unless we get him in the pram and go walking.  Damn.  The only way I can get him to sleep is to exercise.  Where have they put the hidden camera because this is surely some kind of practical joke?

He laughs and converses with the ceiling fan every evening before going up to bed.  We have tied a red bandanna around one of the blades which he thinks is hilarious.  I wish I was so easily amused.  He is getting used to the breeze outside and - now that he can bear to keep his eyes open outdoors - is becoming more interested in looking around.

He is five months old and doing just fine.  Now to convince my subconscious.

And other things are growing with him.  I'm not sure I can survive watching his father with him any longer, because my heart is going to explode.  The way they look at each other.  Rukai's expression says 'my hero, my teacher, my comfort'.  More.  The quiet cuddles, the conversation-free strolls in the back garden.  So much to say and so often not requiring a sound.

Dear lord, I could not love someone any more.  Some two any more.

That is my sunshine.  That is my summer.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Three cheers for the red, white and poo.

Rukai hosted his first Fourth of July barbecue last week.  Unfortunately his hosting skills consisted of a couple good gurgles and, natch, the requirement to be fed just as the grill was fully lit and ready to rock and roll.  So as he slurped away, his friends' mums magnificently jumped to action and got the food cooked for the lot of us.  While I used the spoken word to convey gratitude for their help, he let off a scream and a fart which I'm sure meant 'thank you so much, oh mummies of my friends, you are all so awesome and saved the day!'  Then too, maybe it was just 'hey, are you gonna eat all those s'mores?!  I may not have teeth but those marshmallows sure look gummable!'

The weather held, the nappies held, his temper held, he didn't need to be held.  I'd rate that a huge success.  Plus I got 13-1/2 hours of sleep out of him that night.  If that's the result of a big dose of fresh air, I vote we follow up with a Bastille Day picnic.


I think the Wimbledon final was on TV yesterday.  I say I think because I could only manage to watch 30 second spurts of it while engaging with Rukai in a rowdy conversation consisting of uhh-AAAHH!-mmnnngggg-AAAH-OOOO!!! and other such infant gems.  I'm not sure who he was rooting for but he passed out at the end of the match so he must've found it exciting.

This is one thing I don't recall any warning about pre-pregnancy: you will never be able to watch a live sporting event in its entirety ever - EVER - again.  Following that challenging attempt, I am now convinced that the inventor of Sky plus and the rest of those digital TV record-and-playback mechanisms was surely in possession of one very feisty infant.  So I have resigned myself to investing in an appropriate digital TV receiver and will hereafter completely avoid the news if I ever want to be surprised by sport again.

Until yesterday I was really excited about the prospect of watching as much of the Olympics as I want during my maternity leave but I am now entirely conviced Rukai will save his biggest exploding-up-the-back-shit to occur just as the last two pixie-like powerhouses are flinging themselves hither and yon in the battle to take home the coveted gymnastics floor exercise gold medal.

And speaking yet again of shit, since you just cannot help it while being in charge of an infant...

(If you tire of the subject, look away now and by all means, be sure not to procreate.)

I've heard of throwing a ball, throwing a fit and throwing your voice, but throwing your shit?  Yes, he managed to do a gargantuan poop the other day that completely missed the back side of the nappy but appeared up the front.  This is a new and very surreal trick that makes me want to call up Ringling Brothers and ask if they have any openings, because this life with young son is now officially well and truly a circus.  I'm ready for our intro:

'Now introducing Rukai the Amazing Crapshooter and his mother, the Bearded Lady!'

Unfortunately, they'll have to hand out ponchos and goggles to the front three rows which will significantly undercut our profit.


As those tooth nubs continue to do the 'coming-to-the-surface-jig' I have officially shoved aside 'Crusty BooBoo' in favor of his latest nickname, Mr. Dribbles.  I honestly do not know where all the saliva comes from.  It's like a bad day at the dentist and I'm probably going to have to buy one of those suction jobbers and affix it to him with duct tape if this keeps up.  Either that or dangle him from a jungle gym over a stack of muslins to catch the runoff.


Today is officially random cranky ass day.  After a half day of general malaise and whining (and Rukai's downright miserable too) I've decided to petition the government for an extra bank holiday, not to celebrate but to recover.  Thank god for my left arm and shoulder which seem, for now, a very effective sleeping potion.

Guess I best I go watch some sports while I can.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Sod's law for babies.

Following weeks of Rukai sleeping through a full twelve hours at night, the one night I go to bed über late he awakens after eight.  I arise after my own scant four hours and lo and behold he is a non-stop action man, like GI Joe on Red Bull and Laffy Taffy.  Like Bear Grylls at the top of a cliff with a buffalo carcass draped over his shoulder and ready to rappel.  The usual nap times fade into no more than fantasy, like the shat-in sleepsuits I've washed fourteen thousand times.  I am on the run all day. 

Where did I put that wine?


'Oh you are SO lucky!  February is the perfect time to have a baby.  You will be able to go out and about all summer.' 

This is what they said.  What they could not predict is that we'd have the worst June since records began and once we did get out, I'd have one of those kids who cannot handle big wind just yet and squirms around like a greased eel when I take him outside.  Then he lines up the 'air raid siren' shriek and fires away, clearing a path for 200 feet in every direction, felling trees, de-feathering pigeons.  I turn around and race back inside, lest the neighbors think I am torturing him.  I can only hope he grows out of it before it gets cold again.

Oh wait, that may be tomorrow.  It IS England after all.

And to hell with curry, it is WIND that surely is Britain's favorite food.  I say food because you really cannot help swallowing the debris that is constantly flying around in it.  So while lucky bubba gets packed up in his 'baby Ferrari' with the swizzy rain cover and enjoys a debris-free, mellow ride, I end up covered in small bits of bark, takeaway menus and week old copies of Metro.

But as you do, we have to go out sometimes.  Not really because we need to be anywhere but mostly because going out is the only way to get him to nap.  I tell you, that big spend on a swish pram was the best thing we did.  In fact, I may see if we can special order an adult sized one.  I'll hop in that sucker and get T to take me around this weekend cos I could sure use a nap of my own.


The magic formula has turned 'le shit' the most remarkable shade of green.  Time to upgrade the wardrobe again since that will be disastrous if scattered across all those yellow clothes.  But then too, maybe it would turn into camoflauge.  Wait, not a good idea, particularly in THIS house.  I haven't bought the Lo-jack yet.


Why is it that just when you've taken him out of the bath, applied, lovingly dressed and prepped for a cuddle, that a full day's worth of baby constipation decides it's time to make an appearance?  Followed by the most beaming, delightful grin imaginable from up the other end.

I'm pretty convinced he's laughing at me, I'm sure of it.  I must locate the baby phone where he's receiving the texted 'play book' from his pals.  They're in it together.  It's a plot.  It's got to be.

Somebody call the SAS, I think I'm going to need commando training for this.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

They're just boobs again.

They're just boobs again.

Now, despite how appropriate it would be to apply that statement to the English national football team, I'm afraid I really am talking about boobs.

After our failure to breast feed and my only solution to express a bit, I'd been cursing the pump since day dot.  I went through three different pumps trying to maintain or increase my supply.  I sat in different rooms, different chairs, trying different food / drink combinations, all the while feeling like a methane-filled farm animal named 'Bessie' whose sole vocabulary word is 'moo'.  Not pretty.

Even uglier was as the supply kept dropping anyway, I started dwelling on the anger I had for all the tunnel-visioned midwives and postnatal nurses who were so eager to push breastfeeding on me when they should have been promoting breast MILK - any way you can get it.  Had they bothered to tell me to start expressing every three hours from the beginning we would have had a much better go of it.  Not to say I didn't try - good lord did I try.  But they all need a swift foot in the ass and a nice round of re-educating to identify where they again went wrong.

Anyway, although the pumping came into play late, it worked for four and a half months so not too shabby at all.  Unfortunately the supply started to dwindle and after trying to increase pumping frequency which was near impossible, plus trying the Fenugreek 'eau de maple syrup' fiasco I decided to throw in the towel.  When you work an hour at something for so little reward it becomes almost a joke.  Kind of like a mathematically challenged person doing a Sudoku.  Or doing crunches without cardio.  Or trying to pluck your own eyebrows into a nice arch.

Digressing again.  How unusual.  Or not.  These days it's all I can do to remember my name, where I live and that my teeth need regular brushing, let alone follow a train of thought.

But back to boobs, because that's really why you're still reading, right?  Yes, it was taking me an hour of pumping to express some measly 20 ml, which needed about 4 or 5 friends in the fridge before it was even remotely close to enough.  Then the trouble started.  The small amounts were starting to mess with Rukai's belly so much that he'd start off a feed completely stopped up, before the laxative effect of the breast milk would get his innards churning and gas bubbling away.  But it wasn't enough to finish the job, which made him rip into a shriek so loud it quite probably shattered space junk, after which he'd pass out on my shoulder and fart for the next half hour in his sleep.  My poor chicken.

He'd be ok when he woke up, blinking and grinning and oblivious and hungry and wind free.  But we'd spend the next two hours trying to recover our hearing and feeling so shit that there didn't seem to be any clear way to help the situation.

I tell you, it's a wonder I have any wine glasses left.  I mean from the shattering caused by a high note, but then again the drinking of wine has also been in play here.

In all truth, I do count us seriously fortunate that he hasn't been an incessant screamer from birth - the screaming out of our wee bubba has actually been so infrequent that it startles us into a frenzy when it does happen.  Combine that surprise upset shriek with his 'joy scream' that comes out during play - every one is like an alarm that keeps our 'fight or flight' reaction on red alert 24/7.

So we are freaking exhausted.

But the good news is, we've tried a new formula that for the past 24 hours has been a small miracle.  Rukai is content and napping, and I am able to sit still and observe all the housework I have been putting off while trying to solve the gas-plosion problem.  I am not typing one-handed with my Spectra 3 churning away beside me.  And I'm able to think clearly.

I clearly deserve that glass of wine.  You know, while I still have a glass to put it in.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Baldylocks and the three pills.

The crusty boo boo scalp invasion was getting too extreme, so our little man has had his first buzz cut.  The good news is, this enables me to apply Oilatum to his head and not simply wax his hair down like the Pringles guy.  The bad news is, old bubs isn't keen on head massage so he's becoming expert at a scream we have lovingly named the 'air raid siren'.

I can't seem to clear the cradle cap living in his eyebrows so I mentioned it to the nurse when he got his jabs last week.  She recommended - of all things - a specific nappy rash cream.  If that's the case I think I'll try one we have to hand first and see how we go.  But it's seriously getting to the point I have to apply so much cream to this poor child I may as well slop it on with a trowel.  I can hear it now: 

'Gee, for a half Asian kid his skin's really pasty white.'
'That's not his complexion, that's spackle.'
'Aha.  Well, you do great work.  If you get some spare time, you can come over and patch up the walls in my living room.'

On that same visit I mentioned to the nurse my C-section scar was a bit sore yet so she hunted down a couple antibiotics prescriptions for me.  Superb.  Just add those to the vitamins and supplements going in already and I can safely estimate a quarter of my daily caloric intake is in pill form.  And thanks to the Fenugreek I am starting to smell like waffles smothered in maple syrup.  I expect a pack of dogs to follow me down the road next time I go out.  Maybe I'll give Lady Gaga a call and ask for the meat dress just in case.

As for my own hair, well it's still falling out nicely (or not so nicely if you were to ask the drain how it feels about it).  The stuff that remains goes so quickly greasy you could quite probably wring it out and fry up some chips.  I haven't had greasy hair since puberty, so the mysteries of motherhood just keep on weaving their magic.  For my next trick, I'll grow a beard and four dozen skin tags.

Oh wait, I think that already happened.

This week's top challenge is sleep regulation.  Rukai loves to have a huge nap just before what we hope would be his last bottle of the day.  Of course this means he's wide awake when it's time to go to bed.

So I've tried twice today to put him in bed when he gets dozy mid day.  So far so good half hour ago - no sirens, just two servings of a half-hearted whine that faded when he jigged I wasn't coming back for a while.  Must be practicing for his first day of school already.  I swear he plots this stuff when hanging out with his little pals.

So while my squidge rests I'll keep one eye on the baby monitor and celebrate this quiet time just enjoying the silence.  Not much of that around here these days and it's a complete slice of heaven.

The proof, the whole proof and nothing but the proof.

We finally had our genetics appointment.  Four months waiting, expecting that all-important proof, expecting to see something on paper that leveled us out, stopped us spinning, gave us direction.

Instead we got more of the same shit, different day.

I really am beyond flabbergasted and haven't had the heart to report back.  My faith in human decency is officially in shreds.  I don't want to be hard but...well, it's getting too hard NOT to be.

So no proof, but what did we get?  A first question of 'how did you reach this point?'  Delivered with a false smile and a hefty dollop of full-fat pity.

Um, if you don't know I'd really like to have my morning and our four month wait back; we have better things to do than dilly dally with you when you clearly do not give enough of a toss about us to have done a little research.

She gave us much more nothing.

The offer to view a chromosome map but not that of our son.  The patronizing instruction to 'just keep loving  him and caring for him like any other child'.  The look down her nose when we expressed our optimism that Rukai would be breaking boundaries, exceeding expectations.  'You poor, deluded, sad bastards,' she was thinking.  We both felt it.  Felt it hard. 

I wanted to clump her.  I raised an eyebrow, smashed my lips together, crossed my legs and folded my hands in my lap instead.

I asked her how many of his cells they tested, wondering if they could have realistically ruled out Mosaic (no, in case you're wondering).  I asked where the proof was.  She handed me the single sheet of paper we'd seen before that contained little more than a line of text summarizing the actual evidentiary test result.  It was like being told you need a hip replacement and not being shown the MRI because 'you wouldn't understand what you're seeing anyway, you're just an ordinary person and we are doctors practicing medicine.'

Indeed you are.

One lousy line of text, shorter than the entirety of this post, to define the condition which will shape our son's life.  She told us they probably don't keep these records because 'the doctors wouldn't find much use for them.'

What part of 'it-isn't-about-the-fucking-doctors'-needs-it-is-about-the patient's' are they still not getting?  I can not believe she used this as an excuse for discarding a test result which - on any plane of existence - should be made available to the person on whom the test was done.  How is this unreasonable?  I despair.

'They may not have found any use for it, but we would have wanted to have it,' says I.

'Most parents don't ask for it,' says she.

I couldn't even say 'but we are not MOST parents.'  I couldn't say it because at that point I realized that the true path we are on now cannot be shown to us by someone who's read a lot of books and hung a certificate on the wall.  Rukai will show us the way.  There is no other.

So instead I chose to walk away.  In my head we'd already left but still we kept conversing with her.  Still we finished up the meeting.  Still we left with a cordial goodbye and that lousy line of text.

She promised to ask the lab if they happened to keep the records so we could get a copy.  I won't hold my breath.

She asked if we had any further questions and T summarized the situation so perfectly: 'the only questions we still have can't be answered.'  Time is the only thing with answers and for it, we must wait.  And chase.  And hope.  And live.

Tick tock.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Fangs for the mammaries.

We heard a persistent alarm going off the other day.  It sounded a bit like unnh-nnnhh!  Unnh-nnnhh!  Unnh-nnnhh!  I looked outside, thinking some cats may have been shagging in the garden but it turns out the sound was coming from our son.  Wait a minute - a whiney baby?  Who stole ours and left us this one?  Bad enough it's been pissing down rain for a thousand years, now this!?

We frowned at each other and went through the baby emergency checklist:  check nappy, check feeding schedule, check when he last shat, check if he needs a burp or fart, check body temperature, check the house temperature, check whether he's bored, check if he needs a cuddle, check them all again.  Check that we checked everything needing checking.  Check that we checked them all again.


Unnh-nnnhh!  Unnh-nnnhh!  Unnh-nnnhh!  It was the infant equivalent of 'Arewethereyet? Arewethereyet?'  But we couldn't manage this one with a juice box, a handful of Goldfish and a Disney DVD.  Damn.

We were baffled, until...hangonaminute, there is drool.  There is drool, and there are bubbles.  There is a fist constantly being chewed.  There is a history in the past week or so of chewing on the bottle instead of slurping from it.

Ok, let me check that lower gum and see if - wot hey, there seem to be nubs!  Man the torpedoes!  All hands on deck!  Full speed ahead and get the teething gel!  And Daddy's magic pinky took action and lo and behold the alarm fell silent and bubba went back to gurgling and cooing and staring at the fan, giggling.  Phew.  Magic stuff, that Bonjela.  I wonder if it works on headaches?

Anyhoo, I guess this means the likelihood of Rukai ever officially taking to breastfeeding proper is now pretty slim.  So it's back to the pump for me.  (Damn the pump!)  Breast may be best, but we're growing teeth in there.  This is a whole new ball game.

Teeth.  Hmm.  Teeth chew.  Teeth require brushing.  Teeth hurt whey they push on gums.  And wouldn't you know it, mommies really hurt when they hear their living baby alarms going off.  I'm such a softy when I see him upset - this will not be easy.  Let's hope they aren't bothering him on Wednesday when we go for Jabs, part III.  If so, I may have to buy some earplugs, a carton of Kleenex and a twelve pack.


Our little weed last measured at 60 cm and seems to have grown significantly since.  That's two whole feet long.  That's too long for the 3-6 month sleepsuits we bought about ten minutes ago, so I've had to stretch them to within seconds of popping.  I'd cut the toes off and leave him in socks but the weather is so bleak I want to keep him a bit bundled up.  This is really cramping his summer style and efforts to chew on his toes.  He still can't master the leg lift but lo and behold we keep practicing.  Then too, if the weather doesn't change soon he may forget he has toes.

The 'Great Big Toe Grab' goes hand in hand with his other new favorite game, which I think is called 'Sit me the hell up already' but is far more difficult with neck muscles that don't quite cooperate.  He lasts about five minutes doing tummy time - hates it like I hate the rain - so he hasn't mastered the upper body essentials.  But he damn sure is trying.  You can take that particular 'trying' and define it in any way you'd like.

So every day for about three weeks now, we practice.  He grabs my thumbs and when he pokes his head forward and gives a tug, I sit him up.  He bobbles around looking ecstatic like he's just won Olympic gold and I lie him down to rest.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

Let go of his fingers to give him a rest too early and he screams bloody murder until I hold his hands again.  And sometimes he wants to go straight up to his feet - those legs are powerhouses compared to the upper body and by God he wants to use them.  Miss that cue and whaddaya think?  He screams bloody murder.  Do it right and he's the world champion in the Gummy Grin event.

At this rate, when he grows up he's either going to be a cheerleader or the lead singer of an ACDC tribute band.  Better keep those earplugs handy.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Perception and conception.

Let us reflect.

After a pregnancy made difficult and unenjoyable by a slew of rubbish medical professionals, our only child was born with Down's Syndrome.  Throughout the better part of that nine months, a diagnosis of gestational diabetes put me under such close scrutiny by these people that it felt impossible to breathe without condescension and interference in my life.  Where most pregnant women have about 3 antenatal visits in the UK, I believe my final tally was somewhere around 19.  Following the birth, not one of these people called to check up on how we were handling the diagnosis but they did send their midwives around to badger me about breastfeeding and fill in more forms.  Guess they don't have a checklist for 'giving a rat's ass about your patients'.

Amongst the stupidity, they fault my son's low-ish birth weight on DS yet haven't ever bothered to ask about my diabetes diet, thus taking into account the very relevant fact that I only put on 5 pounds during pregnancy and ended a stone lighter.  They made errors in case notes that will go into permanent files uncorrected, particularly because I have to beg them for copies of reports.  And still they continue to look and speak down their noses at us.  One genetics appointment left next week and hopefully we can wash our hands of them indefinitely.

Unless you have been through this you cannot begin to imagine what it was like.  It has been particularly agonizing to a free spirit like me who does not accept being told what to do on any level.  Despite how well meaning people may be, I really don't want advice unless I ask for it, quite simply because I have the sense to actively seek out all the information I need.  I am 40 years old with a long list of experience behind me.  I am well read.  I am well educated.  I am well informed.  I have common sense and I deserve to be treated with respect and allowed boundaries.

If you don't, watch me get very angry.

I have been angry for a long time and frankly I'm sick to the back teeth of being angry.  It doesn't suit me.  I wish people would back off already and just let me heal.  But now with this diagnosis our poor boy is in for medical scrutiny.  We are in for a life under the microscope - 'are you doing a good enough job?', 'will you raise your child properly?', 'do you need some extra help?'

We are and we will and we don't.  Not just now.  If we do, we'll ask.  Please give us some credit.

Beyond us, Rukai needs LOVE, not help.  Beyond that, we need people to understand what a shitty hand we three have been dealt in that medical bods are forcing our entire extended family to worry about a ghost.  Because as you recall, Rukai is healthy today and DS 'symptoms' are not guaranteed to appear.  He is developing incredibly well and I'll get back to that on a day I'm feeling a little more upbeat.  Today is blustery and so is my heart.

Now anyone who has children (and probably most who don't) know that new parenthood is difficult enough without all of this additional crap piled on.  Of course my husband is going through the same stress, so after we talk to each other, where do we turn next?  He can switch off.  I haven't got that ability.  But I CAN write.

I've been writing since I was 8 years old.  Back then it was mostly about who I had a crush on but now, it's my lifeline.  Now it's the only way, barring exercise, to get this stuff out of my head.  So as a means of working through this pent up stress, worry, anger, frustration - but more so as simply a way to COPE with our son's diagnosis - I began to share tongue in cheek musings with friends and other new mothers from my antenatal class on Facebook, all of which I've transferred here after those who'd had a good laugh reading it encouraged me to blog.

I began posting in this very public forum with the hopes that the conversation will continue to help me cope, continue to help my new mum friends laugh and perhaps someday help someone else out in the world who may be facing a similar experience.  God, I wish I had something to read that made my belly quake with laughter much earlier.  So I post with humor because humor is what makes me tick.  Humor is what heals me.  I post with humor because my own mother who is 4000 miles away when I need her most taught me that sometimes it's better to just laugh when you most feel like bawling your eyes out.

All that said, aside from heartfelt comments about the worries we are having as parents, this blog is intentionally satirical.

If anyone reading takes offense to anything I have said to date, I am truly sorry that you clearly do not know me well enough to know it means nothing.  I am not sorry for poking fun at my own life and having a laugh with my friends.  I am not sorry for what I have said here.  And I hope that never in your own life will you have to directly face something this difficult and have to try and find a way to deal with it.  The shock of being given such a diagnosis without your husband at your side.  Seeing the look on his face when he finally came into the room.  Standing in the hospital bathroom after your first shower having tried to scrub off the pain, head spinning, wailing with grief and lost dreams and denial and fear.  Trying desperately to grasp what it all means, what you will do next.  I am only sorry I did not see Rukai's possibility at that point as it's only now with that knowledge and the written word that I heal.

I'm afraid I cannot censor my feelings and because I share them, you will find them here, warts and all.  Some may see this as foolishness, others as courage.  I see it as survival.


On a much lighter note, I believe our sweet boy was conceived a year ago about now.  So I will end this post by turning my attention back to celebrating him.

Friday, 1 June 2012

This thing starts with 'ick'.

The zebra book won me a full out giggle today.  And here I thought it was pricey when I bought it - seriously, nine quid for a seven page cardboard book?  But great googly moogly, I'd have paid nine grand for that giggle.  I think I 'get it' now.

So it seems Rukai's love of black and white firmly charges on, which means dalmatians and pandas are very much next in line.  Now that I think of it, I suspect Ansel Adams photos and old movies would fit in there somewhere.  Then too, so would prison uniforms.  And Michael Jackson.  And Goth.  Good lord, all this from a zebra.  Maybe I should return it and just wave a copy of War and Peace at him.

Anyhoo, I thought I'd start setting up an evening routine by showing him the book just before his pre-bed Oilatum greasing - thanks to our local pediatrician we now know that 'crusty boo boo' has a name: Ichthyosis, which should be manageable by keeping the skin well oiled.  Grand.  Just what I wanted - something else to research.  I should get a fellowship or something, no?  Nobel prize?  Free scratch card?  Ok, at least a cold pint?

And how appropriate this thing starts with 'ick' - a skin condition named after the scales of a fish.  Peely brown patches caused by a build up of cells that don't flake off as they should do.  Although looking at it, I'm really thinking less Nemo and more giraffe or lizard.  Still, I have to laugh.  How appropriate for a kid from the dirty water pool, a kid who we call our little dragon baby, to have scales.  You couldn't write this.

Oh wait, I just did.

And here I thought it'd clear up over time, but it seems more likely to be something that will stick with him and ensure he's constantly in a state of greas-ed-ness.  I guess the bright side is I can stop trying new laundry detergent now, since that doesn't seem to be the cause.  And of this, I'm truly relieved.  I can imagine I'd have eventually run out of name brands and resorted to trying crazy potions off ebay made from croton oil and hydrolized yak butter to nil effect.  Appears as if this doctor visit malarkey has its benefits.

The good news is that, aside from dragon-itis of the skin, our wee man has once again been signed off with a smiley 'he's doing fine'.

Yes, he is.  Crusty boo boo, fire in the belly and all.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Hair today, grin tomorrow.

Despite the most gallant of efforts to moisturize and exfoliate his scalp, the remaining tufts of Rukai's original hair are on their way out by way of crusty boo boo round 2.  As onlookers continue to ask if I want to talk to someone about his dry skin and I respond for the 857th time 'been talking about it for 3-1/2 months, got Oilatum, changing laundry detergent, cheerio', bubs remains oblivious and goes back to figuring out how to cram his feet in his mouth.  The fact that he can't coordinate the leg lift yet hasn't registered, and he gets spitting mad when his efforts come up empty.

Hmm, a short fuse.  Wonder who he got THAT from?

Anyway, as his hair goes, so too does that extra layer of thickness in my own hair that grew with him, thank you hormones.  I was shocked the first time I saw the collection of felled hair in the shower drain and couldn't identify the cause until Rukai shouted at me from the moses basket that I'd been in said shower far beyond my alloted 52 seconds.  This succeeded in stirring me from 'me time' utopia and reminded me that the extra thick hair belonged only to pregnancy and I had to give it back.  Damn.  Well at least I get to keep the baby.  Or is he keeping us?  I can never be too sure.

What I AM sure of is that I will no longer have a heart but merely a puddle of gloop if he continues to grin ear to ear when he first sees me every morning.  And here I thought you could only get such affection from a Cocker Spaniel.  It is my life's deepest delight and confirms that yes, I certainly am doing ok at this.

The smile has brought with it much lively conversation, and to my great joy he has started repeating sounds back to me.  This includes the old gems 'ooo ooo' and a nice 'ahh ooo' combo.  But I guess that means it's time to put the kaibosh on 'shit' and all the other colorful lingo of which I am so fond.  Still, I still expect his first words to be either 'can you grab me a beer?', 'pass the remote' or 'quit farting around and finish this bottle'.

I will, of course, report back.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Baby Everest.

As bubs grows, so does the almighty power in his legs which now properly hurt when they smash into my chest.  So I have now road tested my 'mommy's annoyed at you' voice in response to a particularly overexuberant flail mid feed.  It seemed to work, if the look on his face and surprise fart are anything to go by.

I've started to have trouble burping him on my shoulder because he seems to prefer instead trying to scale it like Baby Everest, more interested in seeing what's on the other side.  He's probably also fed up with looking at my grey hoodie.  Note to self: must get one printed with zebra stripes.  Or a Sudoku.

On that subject, we did buy him his first book called 'If I Were a Zebra'.  All well and good but since I have an American accent and we live in England I have now reached the first 'which way do I say it?' plateau.  Do we want him to call it the British 'ZEH-bra' or the American 'ZEE-bra'?  Well, I guess as long as he doesn't call it 'rhinoceros' or 'Pomeranian' or 'L Ron Hubbard' we're doing ok.

I tried to read it to him after the latest Everest incident and got so far as page 1 before he finally did belch, and with fervor.  Then something across the room caught his eye and the zebra was rendered about as interesting as belly button lint.  Which will be probably be interesting in itself one day.

I'm sure with this personality and strong will he's going to be a handful.

And I am elated.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

See you on the other side of the status quo.

If you've seen the movie Cast Away you'll know how we felt going to Rukai's follow up heart scan yesterday.

The scene where Tom Hanks finally escapes from the island.  Frantically paddling, eyes akimbo, screaming over the wind 'hold on, Wilson! Hold on!', then in goes a deep breath, up goes the makeshift sail and at last he clears the monster wave that kept him captive for so long.

We cleared the monster wave, and pretty bloody early thanksbetogod.  Rukai got a clean bill of health and we came out on the other side.  Our boy currently has no health problems.  Aside from that pesky third chromosome 21 but that, my dears, is on paper.  That is speculation until manifestation.  That is theory.  We work in fact.

Rukai is healthy today.

Of the two holes in his heart visible at birth, one has closed completely, the other is too small to cause a problem.  The specialist - a very strong and healthy man by all appearances - told us he has one to this day.  Joking about how much he may have grown were it not there.  Commenting how unusual it was to see the other one of Rukai's close so quickly.

Speaking to my NCT pals yesterday afternoon, I noted how many times in the past three months we've heard that kind of thing with regard to our son: 'that's uncommon' and 'I've never seen that before' and with each I am lifted. 

Our little warrior.

So minus one VSD and half a PFO, home we go via TFL for some B-U-B-B-L-Y.

I remain a novice but am already read enough to know that Down's syndrome is not a disease.  It is not like a cancer, all of which operate pretty much in the same way, just in different parts of the body.  In cancer, dodgy cells multiply and destroy good cells.  Sometimes they can be stopped, sometimes they can't, but the basic way a cancer behaves doesn't really vary.  Stats about cancer are far more realistic.

Down's syndrome is about as far from this as anything about which I have ever read.  I believe in stats about Down's about as much as I believe politicians in an election year.  And when you stop and peel this banana to get a good look at what DS really IS, it's really not that bad.

I'll repeat that one because it's a ridiculously important means of looking at something that is usually tagged as a monster under the bed or fate worse than death.

It's. Really. Not. That. Bad.

Mind you I am coming from the viewpoint of someone whose child has avoided many of the most problematic congenital health problems - and for this we are and always will be eternally grateful to mother Fate - but this is really to say there IS another side to the coin; a side of which most people are blissfully unaware.

Bottom line is, Down's is mostly a learning disability with a huge range of 'symptoms' - or related health conditions - and physical features which may or may not appear.  In as much as every individual with the condition is unique, the manner in which he or she will be affected by it will also vary hugely.  No research has yet identified why.  To top it off, the IQ range of individuals with Down's actually OVERLAPS with the range in the (and here's that word again) 'normal' population.

That said, I suspect Rukai's intellect will certainly surpass the entire casts of Jersey Shore, The Only Way is Essex and every other reality television program, so what is so bad?  Now with a clean bill of health until - IF - anything materializes later in his life, the answer is: nothing.

It is there we find our greatest hope and the greatest possibility.

When it comes to a condition that likes to play chameleon, no amount of research on other people will predict its affect on our son.  Tell me all the 'MOST have higher risk of A' and 'MANY face a greater likelihood of B' you want but until I hear about a proven 'ALL' it is only theory.  Our son is healthy and behaves like any other child without a label.

It is called 'practicing medicine' for a reason.  We are not about to practice life.

See you on the other side of the status quo.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Jabs 2: The Sequel.

Just when he thought it was safe to get back in the pram, I took Rukai for his 2nd round of inoculations yesterday.  After hog tying him so the nurse could jam a needle into each thigh, he screamed bloody murder and gave me a look that said 'how could you LET them?' My heart sank and he passed out. We get to go back in four weeks.

I'd rather shove a hot poker in my eye.

Anyway, after the ordeal ends, they tell you to watch for signs of illness caused by the jabs.  I wonder if I should tell them about my burst eardrums and overwhelming sense of guilt?

Oooooohhhhhh they mean illness in Rukai.  Right.  Well, unless eating like a horse and being particularly smiley is a problem I think we're in the clear.  That said, I'm wondering what in the hell they shot in him, liquidized Jolly Ranchers?  A family sized bar of Lindt?

Tomorrow we get another trek across town for the follow up heart scan, hoping to find that the two small holes in his heart have gone the way of the dodo.  Up side is, at least that definitely won't hurt physically.  Emotionally?  Remains to be seen but we are being cautiously optimistic and inserting a bottle of bubbly into the fridge, preparing to celebrate some good news for a change.

So I'll hold my breath til I turn blue and who knows?  Maybe it will lead to casting in the Avatar sequel.  At least then we can swap public transport for a chauffeur driven car.

Monday, 14 May 2012

As the time flies so do the angels.

I'm convinced that maybe the reason we don't remember things before a certain age is because infants are on a different level of consciousness, retaining remnants of what they knew before their arrival to this life.  Adults can also reach this place, but there's usually wine and a nightclub involved.

But I digress.

I've heard it said that babies can talk to angels in their sleep. That said, I am convinced Rukai has seen and conferred with more than one by now. Not only because they seem to be looking after him so remarkably well, but also the level of conversation he has come out with virtually overnight is astonishing - it's as if he's met the ghost-of-hooked-on-phonics and had a crash course.

Either that or his great grandma has come and advised him 'Baby!  Tell her that formula tastes like crap and get her to fry you up a pork chop'. I'd swear there's one ooo-aahwaahha combo that has a distinct Louisiana twang.

He also has a habit of staring off into the corner and giggling, which can also be caused by wine, but in this case of course isn't.  What does he see?  What is he thinking?  In that he is a child of the male persuasion, I rest with the knowledge that this last question won't ever be answered.

So be it.  Let them all come and hang out with him whether I can see them or not - they're helping me to raise one helluva fabulous kid.  Three months old now.

As the time flies so do the angels.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Has anyone seen the floor?

My mother once told me 'you don't put AWAY, you just put.'  I'm afraid having a baby has only worsened this affliction.

Advice in the new mommy handbook about leaving housework alone is moot when it's been perennially low on my to do list anyway. I didn't think it possible but I've married someone who ranks it even lower.  I think he remembers it when we're out of plates and he has to drink out of a boot but that's about it.  Together, we rate pretty much hopeless on the housekeeping scale and quite probably require professional help.

Needless to say, out comes Rukai and our house now looks like the set of Twister.  Good thing we did all that pre-baby DIY then, because it looks so NICE.

Or not.

To be fair, when 'eat' is always in the 'maybe' column, who honestly gives two monkeys about scrubbing the bathtub and dusting the blinds?  (Must admit though, we were really thinking clearly buying silver ones.)

But back to housework (and you see how easily I digress) I always get to 'baby maintenance' and can pretty much tick off 'wash clothes' but never seem to get them put away.  So one of our living room sofas is now Rukai's dresser.  The coffee table is the main changing area.  Hell, he now OWNS the living room and we have to rent out the recliners from him.  I think he's already bought a Ferrari, a racehorse and a yacht moored in Cannes.  He's named them all 'ahhhhhh-ooooooo' because that's all he can say at the moment.

His actual dresser has become a huge lamp table and contains little more than a bag of cotton balls, 3 Q-Tips, another changing pad and everything he's already grown out of.  Our stuff seems to live either in the laundry basket, somewhere near the hamper or on our backs.  I think the wardrobes might actually be empty - if only I could reach them I'd let you know.

Amongst all this detritus, I worry we may somehow misplace Rukai during the toddling years, but am thinking if we dress him in some beenie boppers and a Lo-Jack we may just get by.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Euston, we have a problem.

Taking bub on a 1-1/2 hour public transport journey across town today to meet the work family, with a pitstop on the return to meet my hairdresser.  Sounds simple enough, right?

Um, no.

This is not a bus trip to the local mall.  This is serious.  This is London.  This involves the tube.  Worse yet, this involves the Central Line.

This could be carnage.

There are escalators and shedloads of stairs out there.  There are unhelpful mean people rushing around like their asses are on fire out there.  There is filth and there are queues and there is chewing gum stuck to shoes.  There are few stations with elevators, and few buses without two mothers already standing in the buggy spot.

It may have been easier to just shit can the visit and Skype but hey, I've had 3 months practice raising a baby.  I can do anything.

Needless to say, the past 48 hours have been overflowing with journey panic.

Spreadsheet and flow chart?  Check.
Study of every possible route to and from our destination, with alternatives built in pending the weather and inability to get on a bus?  Check.
Changing bag, handbag, bags under eyes from stressing about it?  Check.
View the forecast and panic even more?  Check.
Full pram, car seat or sling debate?  Check.
Change my mind exactly 426 times?  Check.

The final burning question is: having decided to leave behind the kitchen sink, do I bring the bungee cord and the grappling hook or just a wad of cash for a taxi when I give up on all those stairs?

Alas, we will go and it will all work out somehow.  I have, after all, raced along the Seine on a Segway in a hailstorm and came out unscathed but that is another story entirely.

Despite the aggro and 87 tests I have to take to do it, I guess it's finally  time to get my license over here.