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.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

From Captain Crap to the Baron of Belch.

I seem to have given birth to a frat boy.  This child can burp like a champion.  He gave the best demo to date to T's boss yesterday - imagine:

'Hey what a cute--'
'Apple doesn't fall far, eh?'
'Blame mummy's side, we don't roll like that.'

That's mah boy!

At least it comes out.  Thank God it comes out.  I shudder to think if those stayed in, the volume of screaming we'd be hearing.


I thought babies were supposed to have a nice 'baby smell'.  Mine seems to consistently smell like spit up, what he expels from the other end, and Oilatum.  At least he's not so much Crusty Booboo anymore.  More of Stinky Poopoo.  Poocasso.  Squidge.  The latter not only a moniker but also a nappy change alarm.


Grandpa's gone back home and it was safe sailing until Man Flu arrived.  So much for my bank holiday weekend lie in.  Only consolation is today's hair appointment in town.  On my way back, I'll have to accidentally forget to change trains at Stratford and take a wrong turn into Westfield.  There I will of course pick up some Man Flu armor (read: medicine) and maybe a new top for next week's girl's night.  One not covered in spit up.  And definitely not yellow.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

If love could cure 'syndromes'.

Every time I talk to a medical person about an appointment Rukai needs due to DS I want to glue my ears shut with chewing gum.

It's innocuous I'm sure.  They mean nothing by it, I'm sure.  But this one referred to the doctor who leads the 'syndromes clinic'.

Good lord, that word is so negative.  It's so ugly.  It's so limiting and smacks of low expectations.  It just makes me want to jump in the shower and scrub it off.  Is this how I'm going to react every time?

How many other words will I add to that list before he's a year old?  How many lumps in my throat will I have to choke back?  How many tears will escape anyway?  How will I ever be strong for him when some days I find it so hard to be strong for myself?

I want to pound my fists.  I want to throttle someone.  I want to curl up in a ball.  I want to go back to before he was born, when we didn't know.  When everything was still ok. 

And then I look at him sleeping off his breakfast.

Just nestled in like any normal baby.  Just snoring away like mama.  My little angel boy.  My squidge.

Damn this is hard.  If love could cure 'syndromes'.  If only.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

That voice in my head.

I'm sure I'm not the first, nor will I be the last mother to wonder if I actually suck at this.

Am I playing with him enough?  Am I feeding him the right amount?  Does that face mean he's still hungry or is he just remembering what it's like to eat?  Am I dressing him comfortably?  Should I put him to bed earlier?  Is this fabric softener causing his skin to dry out?  Will I ever sleep soundly again?

I answer the voice in my head:  "I think so, now please piss off because you're stressing me out."

I mean, if I'm getting this wrong, he'd be screaming persistently or failing to thrive or calling Bob Crow or Jimmy Hoffa or whoever runs the squidgy boy union or something, right?  But I get babble, coo, smile, cuddle, poo, short-scream-resolved-with-bottle.  (The last bit works on adults too.) These would seem to indicate a happy, content little man.  So I guess we're doing ok for now.  Guess I'll have to pack that voice in a box and ship it off to Timbuktu.  Or Boise, Idaho.  Or Mitt Romney's house.


I was also recently wondering when to anticipate the return of Aunt Flo.  Upon Googling I learned that breastfeeding can delay this indefinitely.  I may just have to keep expressing through menopause.