Category Archives: Family

Christmas 2009

I’m participating in the Best Of 2009 Blog Challenge.  Every day this month, I write something different about what’s happened this year.  Today, a special Christmas post about the best gift of 2009.  Also, there is another photo from today over at the Daily Photo.

This time last year, we left hospital in the winter sunshine, wondering what on earth we’d created and how we’d survive.  It’s been a wonderful year in many, many ways, but it’s been hard.  And we’re not doing it again.

Christmas this year has been all about David.

Paper was ripped and parcels were unwrapped.

Boxes were played in.

New garages were played with.

Footballs were hugged and headed.

And Wilfred had a great time with his sock monkey:

David’s favourite present (and our favourite of his!) is by far and away the simple, no-batteries-required, quiet football.  Mine is the morning of advanced driver training from Joe, and his was the wooden bricks that my parents bought for David!  The best thing ever, though, was spending Christmas as a family.  Here’s to many more to come.

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Complete

Over the last few days and weeks and months, I’ve been thinking an awful lot about the number one.  Specifically, the number of children we have and are planning to have.  My mother is constantly asking if we’re planning another.  (Having one, apparently, will lead to David becoming spoiled, selfish and antisocial.)  My Nana said that we should have a girl next.  People assume that, because we’re young and because David is nearly one, we’re ready to start trying for another baby.  “When you have another…”, “Just wait until you have two…” and various phrases along those lines are used regularly.

Here’s the thing.  We aren’t going to have another baby.  I can say now, without hesitation, that our family is complete.

The road that led to having David was a long, hard one.  I had an abortion at fifteen: it was the “right thing to do”.  After all, I was clever.  I had sixth form, university, a career to look forward to.  My previously supportive boyfriend got scared and ran away, and I would’ve been a single teenage mother.  I was nine or ten weeks pregnant when my parents discovered it, and had little time to think about the decision: I went along with what they thought was right, because I didn’t know.  I couldn’t think, I just couldn’t make the decision.  I knew that I wanted qualifications and a career, but I never considered the alternative.  I never thought that I could have the baby.  I would’ve been about twelve weeks along when I finally had it done, and it hit me harder than I ever imagined it would.  I will forever regret that decision.

I hadn’t known until then that I wanted a child.  When I’d thought about it hypothetically, I’d reasoned that I’d want to concentrate on having a career, and anyway, noone would commit to me, would they?

Fast-forward a few years.  I had put all thoughts of having a baby out of my mind.  Joe and I had been together for a few months, and although we were serious, we weren’t quite serious enough to think about babies in anything other than abstract terms.

Well, whoops.  One broken condom later…

During my pregnancy, we struggled to adapt to life as a couple, soon to be a family.  Friends and family were shocked that we “hadn’t been more careful”.  They questioned our decision to continue the pregnancy.  (We had discussed it, but it wasn’t an option for either of us after the initial shock had worn off.)  A couple we knew had been trying to conceive for a long time, and we both felt guilty about how it would affect them.

I loved David the moment he was born.  Everybody did.  It didn’t make things any easier.  I’ve written about postnatal depression before, and all that needs saying now is that I, we have come through it, mostly, but it was hard.  There are times when The Crazy still comes back and slaps me round the face, just to remind me that it’s still here.  I don’t want to choose to go back and feel like that again.  It’s not fair on Joe or on David.

All the history and the drama aside, there is one overriding reason why I feel we are complete.  This.

David is enough, more than enough for me.  I don’t have the words to express how much I love him.  He learns something new every day, he’s starting to listen and respond to instructions.  He’s affectionate and caring and kind.  He travels next to me in the car, and we have conversations about traffic lights and slow old ladies in Micras driving in our way.  He gets ridiculously excited when he sees the other yellow Seicento that belongs to somebody who lives near us, and when a traffic light turns green he shouts “Go, go, go!”  He wouldn’t have this attention with a sibling.  He deserves my time, my attention, and all of my love.  I cannot offer him anything more.

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Filed under David, Family, Mental Health

Word of the Year 2009

I’m participating in the Best Of 2009 Blog Challenge.  Every day this month, I write something different about what’s happened this year.

Awesome.  This year has been really, truly awesome.  Look at this photo of my nearly-one-year-old and deny it.

Nope?  There we go.  Awesome.

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Peace

I’m participating in the Best Of 2009 Blog Challenge.  Every day this month, I write something different about what’s happened this year.

After a difficult day, I am finding it hard to remember a peaceful moment this year.  Things are so busy, so rushed, so stressed: I rarely sit down for longer than five minutes, unless it’s to work.  I know that I have letters and emails to write, photos to edit, clients to recruit; however, I am getting as close to peace as I can by writing, writing and thinking about the good things that I have, and staying positive.  I’ll find peace and calmness through it, even though it will last for at most five minutes before it is shattered.

When David had just turned eight months old, we paid a visit to the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, Devon.  He relaxed completely and took it all in, then he stayed chilled out for the rest of the day.  Nothing else had ever had that effect on him before, and until recently, nothing since.

A few months on, I decided to fork out £25 for annual membership of the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham.  We’ve been twice since, and each time David has completely relaxed.  He’s quiet and calm, but talkative: fish seem to turn my little whirlwind boy into a breeze.  They focus his attention in a way that nothing else can.  There is one tank right at the beginning that he loves: we have to walk up the slope to find somewhere to park the pushchair, but as soon as he sees it he gets excited and wants to get out.  It’s on his level, and he sits still in front of it and takes everything in, and points to bits that interest him.  When asked, he pointed out spotty fish, thin fish, fish with whiskers, rays, and yellow fish.

We spent nearly four hours there today.  He’s sleeping so, so well tonight, and I’m finally at peace for five minutes at a time.

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Best Book of 2009

David was born on the 23rd December 2008.  That might explain why I haven’t sat down and read a whole book for a year.

Rather, I haven’t read a whole grown-up book.  I’ve read lots of these.

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A Little More Conversation

David dropped a book on the floor this morning.  We’ve been having little “conversations” and I’m never sure whether he’s actually talking to me or not.  Today, I knew.

“Have you just dropped a book on the floor?”

“Yeah.”

“Are we having a conversation?”

“Yeah.”

“Would you like your book back?”

“No.”

“Would you like some milk?”

“BO!”  (“Bo!” is his word for bottle.  It’s pronounced with a hard “o!” sound, not “oh”)

We’re not doing too badly for eleven months old, are we?  Apart from making a mess in the bathroom and blaming it on “Eh-Rh!” (Eric.)  Well, it was blatantly his fault.

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Cat Naps

Before David was born, nearly everyone warned us that we’d treat the cats differently when we had a real baby.  We were warned to make sure we put a cat-net on the cot, that we shouldn’t allow them to sleep in the same room as him, that we’d have to be extra-cautious about sterilizing everything.  Our midwife was horrified that we weren’t “getting rid” of them.

Well, we’ve never really been bothered about germs.  The cat-net on the cot lasted for the five minutes before Snowball worked out how to remove it, we let the cats back into the bedroom after ten minutes on the first night home from hospital, and the ten-second rule applies to everything that touches the floor in this house.  Joe goes by the mantra “if it hasn’t got cat hair on it, it’s probably OK.”  Snowball is fed on the side in the kitchen, otherwise the boys jump on her, and we keep a litter tray in the kitchen, too.  We clean the side and the floor pretty regularly, and make sure we disinfect the side before preparing food (which, to be honest, I’d do anyway.)  There is a frequent exchange of toys, especially balls, between cats and baby: we just make sure that none of the cat toys are a choking hazard, as they’re pretty much guaranteed to end up in someone’s mouth.

Now, I know that there’s a school of thought that says you should keep pets, especially cats, away from children whilst they sleep.  We never had a problem with Snowball or Wily sleeping in the Moses basket or the cot when David was tiny, although there were occasions where Snowball would sleep next to David on the sofa.  They still don’t really go near him, especially now that he’s big enough to chase them and pull their tails.  Until this morning, Eric hadn’t shown any interest in sleeping in the cot, either.

I caught him there when I went to collect David from his nap.  Well, he’s certainly showing interest now.  It’s in a nice, warm spot, and the duvet is soft and comfortable.  There are snuggly soft toys, including Mini-Eric.  It’s not easily David-accessible unless we put him there, and Snowball and Wily have never slept there or marked it.

You know what?  I’m not going to bow down to pressure or paranoia on this one.  The stories about cats smothering babies are clearly an old wives’ tale: no cat would ever go near those grabby hands.  (Eric, certainly, would not sleep within reach of David.).  David, meanwhile, is clearly benefitting from growing up so close to these three beautiful creatures: he is mostly very gentle, and he can now say “puss!” and “miaow”.  I want him to wake up to a cat sleeping on the end of his bed, like I did with Jenny and Charlie.  One of the reasons that we got Eric when we did was that so he and David could grow up side-by-side, and I’m so very glad they are.

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Ginger Tiger

Sorry for the absence this week, I’ve had swine flu since Saturday.  Yesterday was the first day I could sit at the computer, and today is the first day I can sit up for any length of time.  The fever has gone, thank goodness, but I still have a raging sore throat and earache.

And you know what?  In the midst of all the fever, this thing decided he was going to use me as a nice, warm bed.

He is my big, beautiful tiger, and I would have been much lonelier through this without him.  He’s now eight months old and the same size as Snowball, who didn’t stop growing ’til last year.  Look at the size of that tummy!

Normal posting will resume shortly.

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Guy Fawkes’ Night

Last night was Guy Fawkes Night, so we headed over to Joe’s parents and up to the local college, where they put a display on every year for the villagers.

Here are the best of the pictures.

And the best thing?  David loved it so much that he fell asleep on the way there and didn’t wake up until the end!

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A Dilemma

fbFacebook.  Ah, Facebook.  The way to make “friends” with people you haven’t spoken to in years, most of whom you wouldn’t have missed.  The way you keep updated with the minutae of everyone elses’ lives.  A brilliant marketing tool, and a nice way to keep in touch with the people who you do actually care about, as opposed to those you never really knew.  It can be updated from Twitter, used to share blog updates, that sort of thing.

And here is where my dilemma is.  My dad has added me on Facebook.

Dad

A Deliberately Anonymous Crappy Picture

The invite is sitting there, ignored for the moment.  I know that I really should add him, that it would be the polite thing to do.  Well, here’s the thing.  There are elements of my life that I like to share with my parents, and elements that I like to share with everyone but.  Being friends with Dad on Facebook (and therefore sharing my blog with him) feels like a gross invasion of privacy.

My parents: where do we start?  They mean well, I think.  They both have a tendency to interfere more than they should, and Mum does it more than Dad.  For example, within five minutes of walking through our front door, she’ll be “tidying up”, reorganising, and telling me how to run the house.  She organised David’s baptism to the point of telling me which food I could bring to the party and what everyone should wear, and she’s trying to pull the same trick with our wedding.  She is highly critical of everything that I do, and even worse, that David does.  Since David was born she’s been offering her usual helpful advice on what to do, and telling me exactly why what I’m doing is wrong.  She is horrified that we own only THREE baby books (not books for him, books about him) and that we look things up on the internet instead.  She’s horrified that we do baby-led weaning instead of feeding him purees and crap in jars.  She’s horrified that I’m “still” carrying him in a sling (some of the time) at ten months old, that he wears shoes when we go out(?), that he’s allowed the occasional chocolate biscuit or packet of crisps, that he watches TV, that we let him cry it out when he’s tired (“child abuse”, her words), that we eat in restaurants with him(?), that he goes to the childminder, that he comes to work with us sometimes, that Joe looks after him as much as I do… you get the picture.  She’s not afraid to scrutinise my every move, and tell me exactly where I’m going wrong.  She also sends me “helpful” links, (and for the record, Mother, I KNOW he’s probably teething again), and has bought me six or seven baby books (edit: nine) and recipe books to make up for the shortfall of information on the Internet.  I know she’s probably only trying to help, but seriously?  I can’t bear to give her any more access into my life.

Useful Information That Can't Be Found on the Internet

That Which Babies Must Not Wear

Dad goes along with what Mum says, most of the time.  He, again, does try to organise things for me, but I think he realises that I’ve grown up enough to make my own decisions.  (He was the parent who, on collecting me from a rather drunken party, asked if “someone had spilled beer on me or something”, because I smelled of alcohol.  I was about fifteen at the time, and I thought I’d got away with it for years afterwards.  Thanks, Dad!)  He doesn’t tell me that what I do is wrong like Mum does, he just appreciates having a grandson to spend time with.  His attempts to get “down with technology” are usually hilarious, but incredibly annoying: I wish he’d stop sending me joke chain mails and just tell me a joke over the phone, for once.  However, I’m still not entirely comfortable with being Facebook friends.

My parents are not yet aware that I’ve been diagnosed with depression.  As far as I know, they have no idea that I have any mental health issues at all, and I’d rather keep it that way.  There has always been an expectation in my family to hide things, to stay strong and supportive for others: depression is “not something we talk about” (my mother when I tried to broach the subject) and “just hormones”.  My Asperger’s (or whatever it is) is “just my personality” and I’ve apparently “always been like that”, but “can’t be autistic because (I) talked early.”  I feel that by giving my parents access to my blog, I’d be unable to write about these things.  I choose to keep them fairly private, but I don’t want to feel uncomfortable writing about them if I want to in the future.

"But I don't LIKE black and white pictures..."

Still, it would be nice to keep Mum and Dad updated without the half-hourly phone call every day, and without the nagging to send pictures.  Pictures which are always criticised: “Oh, I don’t like black and white photos.”  “Couldn’t you have got his whole head in there?”  “Your brother is SUCH a good photographer, even though he’s only got a little camera.”  It would be handy to get Dad addicted to Happy Aquarium or Farmville, so that I could have another neighbour.  (Come on, I’m honest.)

So, what do I do?  The current idea is to add Dad as a friend on David’s Facebook profile, which has the best of the photos on.  That way, they get updates on David’s development (which, to be honest, is all they’re interested in) and don’t get to see my blog or my status updates.  Blog-wise, I’ve registered a WordPress blog in my married name, and when we’ve tied the knot I’ll cross-post David’s newsletters.  Is this the way to do it, or would something else work better?  We’ll find out, I suppose.

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