Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sleeping in, touch and missing.

1. We sleep in until 11am.

2. Bettany's hair feels like velvet and her cheeks feel like rose petals.

3. I take up my phone and start to dial my parents' number. The landline goes. It's my mother. Alec comes on the line to say that 'poor little tears were rolling down my cheeks' (this is his standard phrase when he feels he deserves sympathy). The mother says he missed Bettany in the night.

4. I am feeding Bettany on the sofa when they bring Alec home. He curls round, latches on, and without any fuss I am nursing both my children. It is strange to look at the different sizes of their heads, and Alec's great rough thatch of hair beside Bettany's thin covering.

Birth, reading and all the other things.

1. At 2.44am my face is buried in the sofa cushions and the midwife is telling me to 'blow out baby's birthday cake candles'. A stinging push, a gasp and a reedy newborn cry. Another easier push and...

1a. 2.45am I am holding Bettany Genevieve Law.

1b. Discovering afterwards that Nick was brave enough and strong enough and kind enough to sit behind me with the midwife so he saw Bettany crowning.

2. "You were like three old crones reading the auguries in some entrails," says Nick. After I had delivered the placenta (my notes say 'maternal effort' was the method used) squatting over a blue plastic tray, the midwives talked through the examination with me.

3. The midwife pauses in her stitching. 'Can you actually feel me down here? Clare! Clare! Take a breath of fresh air!' I take the mouthpiece out and giggle. Good old gas and air.

4. I come down from my shower and the midwives have made up the sofa bed: 'We wanted to make it nice for you.'

5. The stream of wellwishers who put their heads round the door or wave at us through the window and the caring comments on our social networks.

6. My mother comes to look after us all and Alec announces firmly that he will be going home with her, so Nick and I get a night alone with Bettany.

Friday, June 28, 2013

In attendance, too excited and confirmation.

1a. A visit from Godfather Timothy -- Nick is home too, so there's lots of gamer catching up to do. They take Alec out to the park, where they are compelled to play firefighters.

1. There is a bus waiting to take me up to the top of town... and after my appointment, another bus is waiting to take me home.

2. I am trying so hard to be calm so I can help Alec off to sleep, but he knows what's going on: "The roses are blooming and the baby is coming," he says. In the end I have to hand him over to Nick so that I can sit quietly to provide the midwives with a good account of contractions and the baby's movements.

3. The moment the midwife confirms (turn away now, those of delicate sensibility) by looking at the shell pink fluid on my pad (you can turn back) that my waters have broken.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Nothing better, care and a good drying day.

1. Because the cleaner is at work downstairs there is nothing for me to do but lie next to Alec and doze a little.

2. An aunt and the cousins come so that I can have some space to wait in peace for the great event.

3. Last week's towels took three days to dry. This week's towels were dry before supper.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Will you please go backwards down ladders, slow down and up to date.

1. Alec tumbles head first down the ladder from the wooden fort. "It looks like he's saved himself, though," says Katherine. He ends up in a sort of handstand, propped against the ladder. There is no howling.
I hurry over to rescue him.
"Hallo Mummy, what just happened?"

2. "Don't hurry," says the taxi driver, "See, I've turned the meter off. There's no need to hurry."

3. To talk with Nick (in whispers) as we finish packing a sleeping Alec into his nappy and pyjamas.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Doing well, helping in the garden and helping hand.

1. The waitress praises Alec's good behaviour. I think she can't have noticed that he spent most of the meal on my knee and that he was at the centre of everyone's attention throughout. 

2. Half listening to my dad and Alec out in the garden. They are planting up some tomatoes and a cucumber for me. I remember very clearly 'helping' in the same way when I was small.

3. Such a relaxing day -- lunch out, then Rosey amuses Alec for an entire afternoon and helps with supper, bath and story; after that Nick comes home and Alec falls asleep on him.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Imp, bid and deadline.

1. I wake to the sound of running feet and shrieking giggles. When I go downstairs to investigate I find Nick in fruitless pursuit of a naked Alec, who is running in circles round the front room and the kitchen astride a wooden spoon.

2. I follow Nick's rule for online auctions: decide how much you want to pay and bid for that amount. I go to bed before the end of the auction feeling quite content. If I win, that's great; but if I lose I will have lost to an idiot who overpays for potty seats.

3. The deadline for changing our supermarket order passes, which means I don't have to think about it again until it arrives.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Get up, shopping trip and gardening.

1. I feel very pleased and proud of myself because I have enough early morning energy to take charge of Alec so that Nick can have a lie-in.

2. They come home triumphant from a rainy shopping trip: Alec's new shoes have dinosaurs on them AND they were in the sale.

3. The landlord arrives and re-does our front garden. He takes out the shameful geraniums that have taken over the gravel, the scruffy lavender and the little tree that is no longer little. He has replaced it with an acer, which will cast less intense shade than the weeping willow. This should cheer up the plants at its feet. His efficiency and the total lack of drama in his handiwork always impresses me.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Newborn nappies, all to myself and vanilla.

1. The parcel of hired newborn cloth nappies arrives from The Nappy Lady. I can't believe how small they are!

2. To have my mother all to myself for the afternoon.

3. The smell of vanilla in my stewed pear and peach.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Roses, cupcakes and early.

1. My mother brings me birthday flowers -- the first magenta Rosa rugosa bloom is particularly welcome.

2. Tiny cupcakes with a swirl of raspberry icing on top.

3. Nick comes home early.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Free, about turn and boy.

1. The last of the two parcels we're waiting in for arrives, so we are free to leave the house.

2. We hear Alec coming hesitantly down the stairs after his nap. Maggie goes to say hallo, and he turns round and hares back to the bedroom. When I investigate I find him with his bottom in the air and his head buried in a pillow. 'I gone all shy,' is the muffled explanation.

3. Our neighbour says, 'He looks like a proper little boy with his cheeky face and dirty hands.' Alec is covered in tomato sauce and chocolate cake and is poking a stick through our railings. I'm trying to get him to come inside and have a bath.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Work, sleeper and ice cream.

1. Even a small bit of work on my course module makes a difference. I have to keep reminding myself how important it is to chip away at a large project.

 2. It's an odd sort of evening. Alec is tired and cross and won't get into his pyjamas. Instead of asking for a story or bubby he lies on the bed playing with a little plastic goldfish for a while and then comes up and snuggles against my leg. His soft breathing changes, and his body weight. He doesn't wake when I roll him off my leg, or when I put him into his night things.

 3. Eating ice cream with Nick on a warm evening.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Collection, snails and tantrum.

1. Alec empties his cabinet of curiosities on to the floor. He tries to cram all the stones, shells, ribbons, badges, elastic bands and small toys into one of its sixteen little boxes.

2. Collecting snails is very satisfying now I've got my eye in and know the sorts of places they hide during the day. I should probably do something meaner than putting them in the compost sack though.

3. It's unkind to laugh at tantrums, but I find it hard to suppress a chuckle when Alec howls at Nick that he wants his mummy, and then at me because he wants his daddy. What he really wants is a sleep, but he will never admit this.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Whiny voice, compost and imperious.

1. We are not happy this morning: Alec is whining about his breakfast and I am wasting fruit trying to make a smoothie with an unco-operative blender. 'Stop whining and talk properly,' I tell him, 'I can't understand you.' I've never pulled him up for whining before because he does it so rarely, and I didn't imagine he would obey. I was voicing my own frustration more than anything.
'More crackle pops,' he says in his usual darling voice. 'And more milk in the cup. Tsorry. I was talking in a naughty voice.' 
I abandon the smoothie and sit beside Alec at the table -- whining, I think, is a last resort to get my attention, and being with him is much more amenable than fighting a kitchen appliance.

2. Of all the things that my garden produces, I am most satisfied (today anyway) by the compost. There's so much of it. Instead of husbanding it meanly as I used to with the bought stuff, I am constantly topping up containers and looking for excuses to pot things on that don't really need it. It is a bit weed seedy though -- but even this has an upside because sometimes a pleasant surprise germinates.

3. I am now so large and bumpy that I can be imperious and call Nick from the other room to do menial tasks for me: 'Bring this up from the cellar!' 'Pick up that!' 'Get the laundry off the bottom of the airer!'

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Getting out, a beautiful thing and a good deed rewarded.

1. To take Alec out and leave Nick to his own devices for a few hours. His plans involve a steak and a long nap. Alec and I are heading into the Sussex countryside with Fiona and Ayla on a visit to see Diana's garden and feed her fish.

2. Diana shares her beautiful thing -- watching the air bubble floating to the surface in a squeezy jar of honey. Later she says that she is looking forward to hearing how Alec described his visit to Nick.

3. Ayla's sunshade has fallen off the car window. I reach back to secure it and she gives me the loveliest smile.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Peaches, gags and hero.

1. There are peaches in our fruit and vegetable box.

2. I notice that Alec is laughing at the gags on Mr Tumble. It's not his usual uncontrolled giggling (which I love to hear), it's more of an acknowledgement of something he finds funny.

3. To come down from settling Alec to find that Nick has checked the weather and brought the washing in from outside. He has also emptied the washing machine and hung everything on the airers. My hero.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Nurture, surprises and points.

1. Sympathy and kindness from my lovely chiropractor.

2. To scurry around town picking up surprises for Father's Day.

3. I don't quite know how, but I've accumulated enough points on a loyalty card to get a free coffee and muffin.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Melon, not cleaning up and easily confused.

All you UK parents and grandparents, please consider signing this petition to keep sales reps out of post-natal wards where they hassle and distress new parents. Here are some details about the campaign on Mumsnet and here's the petition.

1a. Alec climbs out of bed and walks off clutching a pillow that is the same size as his body. He says that it's hay for his horse. I find it later in the bathroom.

1. A cooling slice of perfectly ripe melon.

2. I tend not to deal with food that Alec rejects until the end of the day. This is why. At supper time he asked for the ho' chocola' he didn't finish at breakfast. 'It's cold chocolate milk now,' I told him as I handed him the cup.
He drank it down in one. 'Thank you much, Mummy.'

3. I find myself explaining that a woman horse is indeed called a mare, but this is not the same as the 'mayor wife' who Alec saw at the fire station open day on Saturday.
'What a little girl horse?'
'A filly, I think.'
Then, with a lot of hope in his voice, 'Do you have a filly in your tummy?'

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Columbines, sleeping and distraction.

1. The garden is full of columbines, some doubles that look like frilly underwear, some the colour of a midnight sky, some pure white.

2. To sleep after lunch while my mother looks after Alec.

3. Alec is cross that his ride-on tractor has to stay at Granny's house. I make him laugh by pointing out that the goldfinch on the bird feeder has chest markings that make him look as if he has bubs.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cot, shopping and all lit up.

1. A call comes to ask when we want the co-sleeper cot delivered. It's one of those 'We're actually having a baby' moments.

2. An epic supermarket delivery full of tiny nappies and snacks for the birth and its aftermath.

3. To go round with the electrician and confirm that all the lights really do now work.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Speed, rescue and noodles.

1. 'Is this speed all right for you?' Nick wonders. I have slowed down a lot in the last few weeks and get out of breath just walking up the High Street.

2. Yesterday Alec and Nick went to a gala day at the fire station. Today is all about rescuing toys from a towering inferno on the step ladder.

3. A large pan of buttery noodles.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Flying visit, settling and first fruit.

1. As always Paul V's visit is a flying one, but as always it feels right and good to hear his news and share my own.

2.  I'm trying to settle Alec for his afternoon nap but he keeps calling for Nick who is himself napping upstairs. I am very glad when he comes down and snuggles in beside us.

3. A lot of white (and pink) blossom and a few hard yellow nubbles: there will be strawberries soon.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Entertainment, nurtured and giving up.

1. Alec and his friend running in and out of the kitchen and shrieking with laughter. It's hard to say what's so funny -- but then we are not two and a half.

2. I am told, very kindly and firmly, to sit back and relax for five minutes with my cup of tea.

3. I surrender. I can't carry this furious toddler up the stairs to bed. We're going to sit on the sofa, have some bub and wait for Nick to come home.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Ready to go, water and as a couple.

1. The midwife comes for a recce ready for our planned homebirth. She brings the most wonderful surprise -- two student midwives who are caseloading. Caseloading is the gold standard for midwifery care but is rarely available on the NHS. It means that you get a particular midwife for your postnatal care and for the birth. If I have a home birth, a senior midwife from the community team will be there, though I don't know which one. Now I am guaranteed at least one of these lovely students -- who will also be doing my post-natal midwife appointments (at home, what service) from now on. And even if I end up in hospital, they will come. Alec's birth was a good experience -- but it was among strangers. I can't tell you how much it means to know that I will have a familiar, trusted midwife with me.

2. The cup of water at the end of my chiropractic treatment.

3. To meet Nick and do the nursery pick-up together.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Crossing, entertainment and round the garden.

1. We are trying to cross the road and a driver stops for us. I point out that there's traffic coming the other way, but he shakes his head and waits some more until it is safe for us to go over.

2. A lovely Polish grandmother and her small granddaughter play with Alec while I sit in the shade. She doesn't speak much English and I don't know any Polish but we get along. She tells me off for wearing a v-neck when I have a cough and recommends honey, milk and garlic. All the while she is popping snacks into her granddaughter's mouth like a bird with a nestling (Alec gets his share, too). The children chase Alec's yellow ball round the basketball court and climb up the five-bar fence in an un-nerving way (I'm secretly proud to see Alec practising something new).

3. Alec conks out very early in the evening and I find I have an hour all to myself. I do some watering and weeding and enjoy the garden smells of broken vegetation and wet earth.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Saved, getting out and strange sky.

1. 'I saved some raisins for you, Daddy.'
'Did you? Thank you very much, Alec.'
'But then I ate them.'

2. Very late in the day I remember that it's games night, which means that I don't have to deal with bedtime and I'm going to have an entertaining evening escaping from reality.

3. It's half past ten at night and the sky is duck-egg blue.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Juice, rest and escaped.

1. Every day at breakfast Alec asks, 'Can I have some of your juice?' I give him the last mouthful in the glass and he never asks for any more than that.

2. Nick is at home today so there is time for more rest.

3. A nudey, shrieking with laughter and pink and white after his bath, has escaped down the stairs. He nearly makes it out into the garden before I can turn him round and send him back up

Monday, June 03, 2013

Quoting, bucket list and a kindness.

1. Yesterday I read Alec one of my favourite picture books, Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor. In the past he seems to have found the rich (and slightly frightening) illustrations overwhelming. Recently, though, he's got into pirates and started to enjoy things that are 'little bit scary', so we gave it another go. He asked lots of questions about the strange animals and the even stranger characters, but never asked me to stop reading. It was very gratifying to hear him quoting the Yellow Creature's 'Yo ho' catchphrase this morning.

2. We go as a family to the last day of Cricket Week. I rest in the sun while Nick and Alec soak up the atmosphere. Alec checks an item off his bucket list -- meeting the Kent Cricket Club mascot Victor the Horse. We have to go back several times.

3. It's time to go home, but Alec needs a nappy change. He is howling out his usual range of conflicting and unreasonable demands and we encounter some sour faces as we make our way to the changing hut. When we get there an elderly gent takes the time to distract Alec from his tantrum. He even goes so far as to offer to wipe Alec's very runny nose. And after all that he compliments my cross snotty-faced boy on the unusual colour of his eyes.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Solemn, running and escape.

1. A solemn little boy breaks into giggles when his father starts pushing the swing.

2. Boys with long legs playing a complicated chasing game in and out of the alleyways around the Grove.

3. We leave Alec with my mother and go off into the night to attend a party.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Wave, fluff and white on green.

1. To see a familiar husband and father waving as he walks towards us across the park.

2. Nick reports that the floating willow seeds were so numerous up at the cricket ground 'that it was like watching through a snow storm at times'.

3. The drifts of daisies in the grass are like galaxies.

Art book, gossip and watermelon.

1. Among my birthday presents is a new book of Tove Jansson's art, featuring lots of bits I've never seen before. 2. Stopping for a ...