Because what the internet needs is more wittering about rubbish parenting

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

It Is A Good Thing....

... that I am not prone to a) anxiety, and b) suing people, otherwise A Certain Hospital would be in trouble. I know I don't normally write about serious stuff, but I thought I would share this with you, as it is, in its own way, almost comical...

I had quite a rough time of it after giving birth to The Toddler, which I will spare you the details of, but it involved a lot of blood loss and some botched stitches, and was really quite painful and unpleasant. Once the newborn haze passed and I thought about it a bit more, I got a bit cross and had a vague notion that I would DO SOMETHING about it. I got as far as requesting a copy of my records from the hospital and taking down the name of the woman at the complaints department, before, being the lazy sod that I am, deciding I couldn't be bothered.

Anyway, after my nice, straightforward delivery of The New'un, where I was cared for by a lovely, lovely midwife, I thought I had managed to escape any more instances of hospital ineptitude. In fact, I felt quite reassured when the midwives on the ward told me that they wanted a paediatrician to check The New'un's face over - she came out at an odd angle, so was pretty battered and bruised. The paediatrician told me that she thought the baby looked fine, and she didn't think there were any problems, but she wanted us to take her to a clinic with the consultant in a few weeks time, just to be on the safe side. All fine and dandy, we thought, can we go home now please? But then shortly afterwards, the doctor came back and asked did I know why she had been asked to check the baby over? I replied that I thought it was because of the bruising. Oh no, apparently not. Apparently, the midwives who delivered her had been concerned that she displayed some of the facial characteristics compatible with Downs Syndrome, but they weren't sure because of the bruising. WTF?! Because she had already told me that The New'un seemed totally fine, I wasn't really worried, but still, it's not a great thing to hear is it?

A few days later we received a copy of the referral letter, in which the paediatrician stated that The New'un seemed normal, and that she didn't have certain characteristics, but did have a couple of them. The ones she had were a flat nose (which I have), deep eyelid folds (which I have) and an increased distance between the first and second toes (which I have. I didn't even realise this until I was about 17, and a friend looked at my feet in sandals and said "Urgh, you could fit a whole extra toe in there!". No idea it was a marker for Downs Syndrome either). I decided not to worry about it. The doctor said she was probably fine, she seemed fine, and if by some chance she did have Downs Syndrome, well, it's not like we could take her back to the shop or anything. We would worry about it if and when we knew.

So our appointment with the consultant was today. When we got there (eventually, FYI, hospital, it is not helpful to send letters out with the name of the unit on them, and then have all your signage with just the ward numbers on), he was reading The New'un's notes with a perplexed look on his face. The conversation went something like this...
Him: "I must say this is one of the most bizarre referrals I have ever seen"
Me: "Yeah...."
Him: "Can I see the baby's face?"

I show him the baby's face

Him: "That baby does not have Downs Syndrome. It's as simple as that"
Me: "Oh good. I didn't think she did"
Him: "I have no idea why anyone would think she did"
Me: "Well she was very battered when she came out, and I think the doctor just wanted her checked when it had all gone down, just to be on the safe side"
Him: "I hope you don't mind me asking, do you have any Oriental heritage?"
Me: "Yes, I'm half-Chinese"
Him: "Ah, that explains some of the characteristics they will have seen"

He then proceeded to ask me where my mother was from (Malaysia) and ask if I'd ever been there, or to Singapore, or if I spoke any Chinese. I was a bit baffled by this slightly awkward attempt at conversation, but I think possibly he was trying his best to draw out the appointment, so that we hadn't been dragged down to the hospital just to be dismissed again within 10 seconds. The consultant then proceeded to dictate a slightly narky letter to the original paedetrician, saying that the baby had been "inexplicably referred" to him, and that there was no evidence of Downs Syndrome, and that the "pseudo-characteristics" they had seen could be explained by the fact that I was half-Chinese (which, by the way, was IN MY BLOODY NOTES if they had thought to investigate that). He seemed quite embarrassed and cross about the whole thing, and apologised repeatedly for any worry it had caused us. I reassured him that we hadn't really been worried.

And we hadn't. True, we are no doctors, but even to us it seemed that the whole thing was a bit ridiculous. I suppose these things need checking out, but it could have caused us three weeks of untold worry and stress. Oh well, at least I have been able to tell my sister she can stop obsessively Googling "signs of Downs Syndrome" now.

(Sorry if this was a bit boring, and not my usual style, I just felt like writing about it. I'll post about The Toddler smacking her face off stuff or something like that.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Who Needs Glasto?

I have had an amazing weekend. And there was no mud. And no Bono.

Today, The Toddler turned 2. And to mark this momentous occasion, the little diva got not one, but two birthday parties. She is a very lucky lady. As am I, because I have a fantastic mother, who helped me throw the first one, and a fantastic mother-in-law, who threw the second one.

The first one was a barbecue at my house. Husband got very excited at the prospect of buying a barbecue and truly becoming a man, who makes fire and burns meat. I was quite worried for most of the week that it would rain, but that everyone I invited would turn up anyway. 25 adults and 10 children will not fit into my new-build, shoebox house. But after a frightening start to the day, the weather was glorious, and we had a very nice time. But I have realised that this is probably the last year I get to throw The Toddler the kind of party I like - lots of nice food and chatting to grown-ups while the children run around and throw themselves down a tiny plastic slide. My only concessions to kiddyness were said slide, a very small, borrowed bouncy castle (that I didn't even arrange), some party bags (which were rubbish, and I forgot to give to most people) and two bags of cheesey Wotsits (one of which I accidentally set fire to). Next year, The Toddler and her friends will probably not be satisfied with these things, and I'll have to do things like organise activities, and buy prizes, and put more in the party bags than a box of raisins and a bouncy ball. Maybe I'll even have to do something drastic like hire a soft play. Ugh.

The second party was at my mother-in-law's house. She, having 6 grandchildren under the age of 6, is much better at the kiddy things than me, and there was a very big bouncy castle, and individual snack boxes with little sandwiches, tubs of grapes, and chocolate biscuits in them. The Toddler liked these. She went round picking discarded boxes up from around the garden, and eating whatever she found in there. She had a wonderful time. She is now sunburned (she had factor 50 on, honest!), sticky and very, very tired. So tired, that tonight, The Very Hungry Caterpillar ate through one piece of cherry pie, one cupcake and one watering can, apparently.

I must be very tired too. As I cannot at all remember what else I was going to say, or what the point of this post was.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A Bit Less BS

As promised, whether you want it or not, here is the story of the arrival of The New'un! I promise, it is shorter than the last one, mainly because so was the actual labour. She was in a hurry, this one.

The day before my due date. I had only remembered a day or two before that I was still sending The Toddler to nursery every Tuesday, and, as the hospital bags were finally packed, and the nursery finally sorted, Husband and I were in the rare and enviable position of having a WHOLE DAY to ourselves, to do whatever we liked with! (There was actually tons of cleaning that could have been done, but we decided to ignore that). Instead, we decided to have a good lie-in, and go to the pictures, which we never get to do anymore.

So, I dropped The Toddler off and went back to bed. When we finally got up, about 11am, Husband made me a bacon sandwich. The day was going extremely well so far, apart from the fact that I was feeling a bit twingey. But I'd been feeling twingey for days, so didn't really pay all that much attention. Also, it was a really distractingly good bacon sandwich. By about noon, the bacon was all gone, and I realised that actually, the twinges hurt really quite a lot. Hmmm. Perhaps they could be actual contractions? I decided to time a few. They were over a minute long, and about three minutes apart. But I only timed about three, then I got bored. Husband asked if I wanted to go in the bath to help with the pain. I thought it was far more important to go in the shower, and give my hair a good wash. After all, if I was in labour, I would soon be having a baby, and soon be having pictures taken of me, and therefore the state of my hair was an important consideration. I had my priorities straight.

Really in quite a lot of pain now. Husband times my contractions while I dry and straighten my hair. He informs me that there is hardly any time between them, so did I maybe think I should phone the hospital now? So I do, and they say I can come in. We set off, to do the car journey to the hospital, which should take about 3 minutes. But Husband starts to go the way with all the speed bumps. I am not keen on this plan. I do not fancy contracting and going over a speed bump at the same time. I make him go the other way. Where we get stuck behind a JCB. We finally get to the hospital, only to find that the handy "park herefor 20 minutes if you are in labour" spot has disappeared. Miss the bit of the car park we should go to in our confusion over this. Have to go round entire stupid one-way hospital road system. Get stuck behind a very old person looking for a parking space. Finally get dropped off at the door while Husband goes to park. Each contraction is now at least twice as painful as the last one, and I am getting slightly unnerved as to how quickly it got very very painful indeed. Passing strangers are looking at me with interest as I huff and puff and hold on to the doorframe of the maternity unit. After what feels like a year, I see Husband making his way over. Without my bags or hospital notes. Send him back to the car.

Finally, FINALLY, make it to a delivery room! By now, it hurts A LOT. Eventually, a lovely midwife comes to examine me. She says she wants to get a second opinion as she can't tell what my cervix is doing, but I'm having strong contractions, so "things are definitely happening". They better bloody be happening, if I'm in this much pain but not dilating, I will..... do nothing, clearly, but I won't be very happy about it. Second midwive examines me, and says "Oh, she's 8 or 9 cm". WHAT?! That's, like, nearly there! I'm actually about to have a baby. The midwife asks me if I want some gas and air, and I nearly bite her arm off. The gas and air is as fantastic as I remember it, but the tube has some kind of annoying wheezy rattle to it which is tainting my enjoyment somewhat. I am told not to push, which of course makes me realise just how desperately I want to do exactly that. It all comes flooding back now. I think this is what is called "transition" and is horrible - a combination of lots of pain, and the effort of not doing what you really want to do. I start to think the usual "this is unbearable, I can't do this" kind of thoughts. But somehow I manage to listen to the rather stern voice in my head that is telling me not to be so ridiculous, that I can bear it, and that I don't really have any choice in the matter.

After a while, while the midwife is outside sorting out some of my paperwork, I suddenly can't NOT push anymore, and start hysterically screaming "It's COMING!" like a demented person. Husband goes to fetch the midwife, and I remember that now I've got to squeeze a person out of me, and that that is not a particularly easy thing to do. But I know that I've got to do it, and that I can and I will. I am also determined not to let the head go bloody well back in this time, so, despite me having the odd shout of "I can't do this" (better than the "I'm NOT doing this" of last time though!), I keep pushing even though I feel like my face, and most other parts of me are about to pop, and then the head is out! I feel great at this point, (or as great as you can when you're in pain and have a human head hanging out of you) as I know I'm so nearly there. "One big push" they tell me, and this time I believe them, and do it, and out comes my baby. Husband tells me it's a girl, and I feel happy. I look behind me (I am kneeling on the bed hanging over the back of it), and see my new baby, and loads of other goo, and I'm pretty sure I said "that's disgusting". I meant the goo and stuff, not the baby. But there goes my last chance to say something nice and meaningful on the birth of my child. Oh well. At least I kept my top on this time.

So that's pretty much it (apart from Husband not being able to resist the strange temptation to look at the placenta and listen to the midwife's explanation of what each bit did). The New'un arrived at 15.42, 2 hours after arriving at the hospital. We were told she was 8lb 10oz, although we found out later that someone had done their sums wrong and she was in fact 8lb 2oz. And I had no nasty traumas happen afterwards, and was home after 24 hours. I'm incredibly lucky to have had two such good labours, and even more lucky to have two such gorgeous daughters. Especially two gorgeous daughters who are, right now, both asleep. I am off to enjoy this moment, for the short time it will undoubtedly last.......

Thursday, 16 June 2011

And Then There Were Four.

So. Yeah. I've got two kids. It's still sinking in. The New'un is now 9 days old. She is very small.

My brain is a bit battered, can you tell?

The New'un's birth story will follow (I promise it will be MUCH shorter than the last one), but for now, here's a quick, if slightly incoherent, update on how we've been doing. Apologies if it's not very good, I am pretty tired, and also typing with one hand, as The New'un is sleeping on me, as she's in some kind of mood.

Having a newborn is nice this time around. I get lots of cuddles, and I can leave the room safe in the knowledge that when I return, she will still be where I put her, and she won't be drawing pretty patterns in the carpet with milk. You don't get to enjoy that the first time round, your head is too busy going "Aaaargh!!! I'm a PARENT! I've got a BABY!! What do I DO with it??!!"

Breastfeeding is easier too. The New'un has taken to it like a champ. I don't know if it's easier because I know what I'm doing now, so it's not like the blind leading the blind, more like the sleepy leading the blind and ravenous. I've got emergency savoy cabbage leaves in the fridge in case of sore boobs (Why? Why does that work?!!) but have not, touch wood, needed them so far.

Sleeping is not too bad either. The New'un tends to sleep for about 3 hours at a time, sometimes so deeply that I start getting worried about her and get her up and start shoving my boob in her face. God, if you'd told 22-year-old me that one day I'd be pretty pleased at getting three hours sleep in a row, I would have laughed long and hard. Or just stared at you in blank incomprehension.

And as for The Toddler, she's been just brilliant. She came to the hospital the day after The New'un was born, bearing a gift of Winnie The Pooh, saying "Hiya Baby!". She loves her little sister, and likes to help me out during nappy changes by soaking a cotton wool ball in water and dripping it on The New'un's head. When The New'un cries, The Toddler tells me what she thinks is wrong - "Baby nappy!" or "Baby 'ungry. Woobies!". "Woobies" is what The Toddler took away from my explanation that, though it was very kind of her, The New'un did not need a drink from The Toddler's beaker, as she just has milk from Mammy's boobies. I think this is funny and cute when she does it, but really need to stop using it myself. I am nearly 30 years old. I do not have woobies.

So, all in all, things are going well. Although what I would do without my wonderful, fabulous husband, I have no idea (and no, he's not making me type this, and he hasn't just stolen the laptop off me). He has been running around after me, and more exhaustingly, The Toddler, since.. well, I was going to write "since The New'un was born", but actually he's been doing it since I was about 8 months pregnant. One of these days I will be able to get off the sofa and look after him a bit. But certainly not today, if The New'un has anything to say about it. Growth spurts. Ugh. Had almost forgotten about these......

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Bad Mammy Is Pleased To Announce....

.... the arrival of The New'un!!!

The New'un is a girl-flavoured baby, who arrived into the world 1 day before her due date, scuppering my plans to go and see X-Men with Husband. She was born at 15.42 on 7/6/11, after a very speedy labour, weighing in at a chunky 8lb 10oz. We are all doing fine, The Toddler keeps trying to put things on her head, but otherwise is being very good with her new little sister.

More details and stories will undoubtedly follow as I spend the next few weeks chained to the sofa with a baby attached to me...

Saturday, 4 June 2011

False Alarm

I thought I might have been in labour the other day. I wasn't.

I was having mild contractions all day, and just when I got to the point (at 1am) when I started telling myself that this was IT... I suddenly woke up and realised that it was 5.30am and I'd fallen asleep, so it clearly was not. But it was all quite exciting for a while. Even though I know that these things can come and go, and that you don't necessarily get any "signs" that you're going into labour (I didn't the first time until 24 hours before), and I'm always gently mocking the crazy women on who have been posting since the minute they hit 37 weeks "I'm feeling twingey, could this be labour?" (and then go on to reveal that they've just eaten a large chili-beef pizza to themselves and walked up 10 flights of stairs. Do you think maybe that might have more to do with it, you lunatic???), I still found (and find, a little bit) myself wondering "ooh, I wonder if this is something?" at every little niggle.

So I am not in labour, which is a good thing, as I have been instructed by my sister that she has loads to do this weekend, and she can't have any time off work to come up from London, so next weekend would be much more convenient, thank you very much. But my little flurry of excitement has brought home to me that actually, it could be anytime now, and I'm now just sitting around, waiting to have a baby. I tried very hard not to play this game last time, certain that it would drive me demented. I was determined not to get attached to my due date (I didn't even tell most people exactly what it was), and mentally prepared myself for going two weeks over, just in case. I went out and did things, including going for a lovely long drive up the Northumberland coast on my due date. This time, it's all gone a bit wrong though. I can't be arsed. I have no energy, or inclination to do anything fun. Or anything at all, in fact. I would be quite happy to sit right here, on this sofa, and wait. Even if it takes another two and a half weeks. But I fear The Toddler may not approve of this plan. Or maybe she would, it would probably entail a lot of CBeebies.

Let's hope the weather picks up again. It's ok when the weather is nice. I can just put her in the garden, and she can amuse herself by rolling around on the grass -"Roly poly! Mammy too!" "No sweetheart, Mammy really can't join in this game..."

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

It's June!!!!!


That means I am having my baby THIS MONTH! Actually, it means my baby is due NEXT WEEK, but I'm trying not to dwell on that part so much. Still feeling quite frightened and unprepared, but I am also definitely looking forward to not looking like I've swallowed a beach ball, having lumpy bits poking and wriggling around in there, and my skin feeling like it's been stretched to the thickness of filo pastry.

And I am oh so very tired. I realise that this is not set to get all that much better once The New'un actually arrives. But it will be a bit better - no sleep-deprived tiredness I've ever experienced is quite as wearing as pregnancy tiredness. Husband starts his last set of shifts for a while tomorrow, and I have a feeling that the Beebie-sitter will be employed a LOT until he's off. Although I have found some interesting new things that keep The Toddler greatly amused, including a bag and some potatoes (she puts the latter in the former, and drags it around the floor. For ages), and a South-East Asian phrase book, which she likes to "read" to two of her soft toys, proclaiming it is "story-time". If she actually starts coming out with some Vietnamese, I'll be very impressed.

Oh, and The Toddler's gem of the day: on pulling my dress up to kiss the baby, and seeing my stretch marks, "Tummy.... spotty! Oh dear."