Sunday 28 February 2010

Broken words from a broken pink week

They say seven days is a long time in politics, they should try it with a newborn.

This post is going to be just about as consistent as a politician's viewpoint, but it's as good as it gets while my eyes refuse to open equally.

Today was our last day having the kraamzorg at home, and in fairness I don’t think she left with too many concerns over the welfare of Mango.

Born at 3660 grams (8lbs 1 ounce), she dropped to 3300 or so and is now already climbing back above the 3400 mark. She’s feeding like a demon and sleeping whenever the hell she feels like it.

She farts consistently like someone on a diet of Guinness and Weetabix, and seems to derive great pleasure from being able to sneeze in my face at every available opportunity.

If the baby had been ugly I would be feeling very hard done by round about now, we sleep very little and are surviving on what we can suck out of her spit up cloths.

Our house looks like he aftermath of a gay pride riot in a candy floss factory, with pink dripping from every wall. A pink obstacle course seems to have sprung up from nowhere, formed from boxes, piles of new clothes, cards, soft toys, balloons, and flowers. All pink.

Heather’s guess on the pool was the best, just 5 hours out, and pretty close on the weight too. Jo is probably 2nd. Tiff would have won, except her guess had just a little too much penis.

Some people have very generously asked if they could sent a gift, which is a wonderful gesture and thank you, but we might just die from guilt if people did that, and then Mango would be an orphan and someone else would benefit from her career as a child star, we just can’t have that. So, if you were going to send something, how about giving some of that money to the Joseph Salmon trust on Mango’s behalf instead? Any money donated there will go straight to the trust.

The trust was founded to help parents and families with the financial burdens that arise from having lost children unexpectedly. Should I get any sleep before July, I will be joining the Hadrian Walkers in an attempt to raise funds for the trust by walking the length of Hadrian’s Wall in the north of England.

On the pronounciation of Mango's name, there was a YouTube video that explained it perfectly, but it's been removed. So for laziness purposes it simply sounds like 'Anna' with an 'S' in front. Well it does when I say it, and it's not my fault if you've got a silly accent.

Now, because my brain is fried, I’m surviving on chocolate biscuits and naps on the toilet, and because it makes people tell me again how beautiful she is, I’m resorting to a photo to close.

Thursday 25 February 2010

Words we never normally use


Way back when, in the days of misery and strife, Dan offered to play one of my favourite songs ever on the ukulele, and post it online should we ever have a child. Today he stood by his word, and it is more awesome than I can describe.

Go watch this and tell Dan what a brilliant job he's done. Do it, go watch it.

To show your appreciation you can always give a quid or two to the Joseph Salmon Trust that he champions, helping parents and families who have lost children cope with the unexpected financial burdens that brings.

Thanks Dan, that is simply magic, we both absolutely loved it. Thanks to all the people who got involved, you are nuts and I love it. The world seems a little smaller this evening because of this.

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Gorgeousness, and how it came to be

It’s not like in the movies.

Mango decided to make her intentions known on Thursday evening; ET’s waters broke, with contractions following closely behind.

After a quick call to the midwife to let her know it had started, bizarrely, we got ready for bed. This turned out to be as useful as tits on a bull, as the contractions started coming strong and steady, 6, 5, 4 minutes apart.

This continued through the night and when morning dawned the midwife paid a visit to check on progress. Just 2 centimetres dilation, which was hardly enough to have gotten her in there to begin with, never mind get her out.

Following a few hours of strengthening contractions, the midwife called again at lunch time to find a whopping 4 centimetres.

Being time to move to the hospital, the midwife rang ahead, only to discover the first set-back of the day; they had no room. Open nights, tours, and leaflets about their maternity services went out the window as we had to move to hospital option B.

By 4pm, 17 hours in, the contractions continued to thunder in but no progress was being made. Still 4 centimetres. The doctors advised pain relief, with an epidural being the only option that would hold long enough to be of use when the end came and it was most needed.

In an attempt to bring that end nearer, they administered hormones to stimulate the contractions and help speed up the labour.

7pm, 9pm, 11pm all passed with progress slowly being made. Too slowly unfortunately as 24 hours had passed since her waters had broken, increasing the risk of infection.

It was time to get Mango out of there.

The hormones were increased and the contractions cranked up, ET feeling each one through the epidural. Midnight passed, the date and staff shifts changed, and on it went. First 8, then 9 centimetres on the horizon.

A little after 1am the midwife decided that the 9.5 was as far as it was going to go, and even with no urge from the baby to do so, ET had to start pushing.

And push she did.

On and on, over and over, breathing deep and putting more than I could imagine into each push. To no avail.

By 3am, the obstetrician felt the 50-50 chance that she would be born naturally was dwindling fast, and as a last resort she opted for one shot at a vacuum extraction.

Anesthetic was administered for the episiotomy that would have to follow if the extraction worked, equipment was readied, and everyone was braced for one last push.

The push came and the vacuum clattered to the floor, ET and I both convinced the child had been sent flying across the room. She hadn’t, the vacuum couldn’t get enough purchase on her head and had come loose. More than 30 hours after the start, in what felt like a defeat, the OR was readied for a cesarean section.

The moments between the failed vacuum attempt and the OR were the worst kind of limbo. Excited half brains telling us the baby would be out and safe in just a matter of moments, exhausted and anxious half brains imagining all sorts of scenarios in the small hours.

Within minutes ET was wheeled away and prepped, and I was scrubbed up and beside her behind the magic screen. I have no idea what was said, or what was done, just that all of a sudden I was told to stand up and look.

There she was, being lifted from her mother’s belly like a rediscovered buried treasure. Blue grey from head to toe, knees curled up into her chest, wild eyes staring out in front. Some kind of demented Smurf. No crying, no screeching, no wailing, just the crossest of expressions surely swearing revenge for the inconvenience she’d been caused.

She slipped silently into the world at 3:51am, and barely a moment later the Dutch government collapsed. A mere coincidence, surely.

She lay in my arms staring at me, wishing me a violent death until her mother returned. Cuteness ensued, huge eyes transforming from ‘serial killer’ to ‘puppy dog’ with her mammy’s touch.

Much more took place that will probably dissolve faster than ET’s stitches, only visiting our memories before evaporating forever. Only physical evidence of what happened between the night of the 18th and morning of the 20th February 2010 will remain.

That physical evidence is beautiful. Absolutely fucking gorgeous should the overwhelmingly biased truth be told. Long fingers on the end of amusingly active hands, toes that curl and bend with every yawn that comes from the purest mouth I have ever seen, sending milk breath into my face.

Soft but sturdy arms and legs, simultaneously exhibiting her vulnerability, reliance, and potential all in one.

A warm pot belly, rising and falling. Shoulders founding the nape of her neck created by nature to bed my nose and lips where I can kiss and breathe in her smell that I’ve taken to work on my clothes, releasing itself intermittently to remind me that the minutes will pass and soon I’ll breathe the real thing again.

Cheeks full to bursting, reassuring us she is thriving. Eyes, that while open are so wide and deep I might not make it out alive some day, and while closed dance around to dreams behind almost translucent eyelids.

Hair so startlingly thick and black that I can’t help myself, running it behind her ears, curling it on her neck, cupping her head in the palm of my hand.

Her weight on my arm, the heaviness that ebbs and flows in the crook of my elbow with each one of her sighs, beautiful in itself.

There you have it, gorgeousness, and how it came to be.

Saturday 20 February 2010

Me & Katy Perry both

In the early hours of Saturday morning, after 31 hours of sheer insanity with more than it's share of unwanted trauma, I kissed a girl.

And I liked it.

Sanne on the other hand, wasn't as impressed.

Wednesday 17 February 2010


She was kidding, surely.

A little obstetric humour to lighten the mood perhaps, considering she had just been poking around the opening of ET’s obstreperous cervix like a drunk driver attempting to touch the tip of his nose.

No. Alas, no.

You are zero centimetres dilated.’

'Zero' is not Dutch for 8. Or for 6, or for 2 for that matter. It’s Dutch for zero.

In theory, the 40 weeks being up and Fatso Mango not budging wouldn’t be a very big deal if it wasn’t for the small matter that Fatso Mango is, well, a fatso. To be more accurate, Fatso Mango being a fatso in itself isn’t the issue, but when it’s combined with the fact that Fatso Mango’s Mammy is only a wee thing it does turn a smidge more problematic.

I’m not one to cause alarm, but the obstetrician couldn’t find the child’s legs on the ultrasound today and we believe that the baby has eaten them for nourishment.

Eaten its own legs so it has, the hungry parasitic savage.

Add that to the fact that I'm not sure if a number on the report we have is the estimated birth weight in grams or the doctor's mobile phone number, and it’s got to come out soon, for everyone’s well being.

40 weeks are up. It’s like joining all the dots, stepping back to admire, and still not having a notion what the picture is.

Idle threats to smoke Fatso Mango out have turned into solid arrangements.

The countdown is on; you have 5 days to make your move.

Come out, come out, wherever you are.

Friday 12 February 2010

Bravo Zulu Fatso Mango

Tensions are running high here on Walton’s mountain.

In fairness, there isn’t a mountain within 300 miles of us and we are about 2 good days of rain away from needing canoes, but the brain is feeble today and misplaced topographical parallels are all I can muster.

Not content with forcing me into having to put on its mother’s shoes and socks, this child also seems intent on making her walk like a wardrobe being pushed up a hill. This, it transpires, is due to the fact it’s bloody massive.

That’s the midwife’s official view anyway, which she shared with us today while running through the measurements from last week’s scan.

An average head, colossal belly, and tiny legs. Yes indeed, the universe is getting its own back on me, and I’m going to be raising someone that looks like Jabba the hutt.

The upside of growing a monstrous all consuming savage is that they won’t let it get too big without smoking it out. Apparently if it reaches the size of a hotel mini-bar it’s quite difficult to remove through a vaginal passage. Who knew?

Add to all this the fact that concerns that have been voiced over our ability to appropriately name the kid, and it’s feared we will call it after a fruit, or a celebrity, or a celebrity fruit. Therefore we’ve decided to embrace a new name for the belly dweller.

Mango. Fatso Mango.

So you, you umbilical bungee jumping big lipped bugger, this is a warning to you. Make an appearance soon Fatso Mango or we’re coming in there to get you out.

Over and out.

Tuesday 9 February 2010


This thing takes an age to boil.

I sit at the table and lift my exposed legs and bare feet an inch or two up off the cool kitchen floor. Through the glass to my left the sky displays schizophrenic tendencies, clear, sharp and deathly still behind dark laden patches of cloud, in a hurry to somewhere else.

The creaks above my head tell me your mother is stirring. Your restlessness initiating hers for what feels like the thousandth night in succession. Falling in and out of half sleeps, dreaming faceless half dreams of catching, falling, and reaching.

On the other side of the street, few lights burn bright. They’re the evidence of absence of rest, telling tales about a long day not yet at an end, or perhaps one prematurely begun. Some night soon, while we wait for rest to come to you, I will point out those lights and I will tell you their tales.

The impatient clouds unwittingly animate the floor. Midnight blue shadow projections converge and diverge in perpetual motion and silence. Tilting my head, I see rabbits there, but then again in my weary adult mind I always do. Some night soon, we will sit here together, and you can point out the lions and tigers that you see, you can tell me their tales.

Maybe then I will be able to see them too.

Hundreds, even thousands of miles away, others are sitting in their own late night kitchens, waiting for their own kettles to boil. I imagine aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents, and friends you couldn’t even begin to count have all sat a while, staring into blue gas flames. They are briefly reminded of you, and by the light of open fridge doors they wonder if it is almost time.

The idea of your arrival being impatiently awaited on distant shores makes me smile, a concept sickeningly over-poetic in terminology, yet still incompetently insufficient.

Against the sound of more unrest from above, I myself wonder if it is almost time, I rise and return the unused mug to its place on the shelf.

I turn the dial, vanishing the blue flame. It takes an age to boil.

Heavy with sleep now, I can wait. Until tomorrow.

Monday 8 February 2010

Step away from the vehicle

With hindsight, not keeping it in the boot of the car is quite a wise move.

I can only imagine the bewildered looks and cautious questioning I would be on the receiving end of should it be exposed.

It wouldn’t take much more than a fender bender or a heavy accelerator foot for a member of my host Queen’s police force to be rummaging through the contents of my boot.

I envisage holster clips being released and faces turning solemn as the bag is opened and its contents removed, item by item.

Baby clothes. Several pairs of underwear. Pajamas. A bag of sucky sweets. A prepaid mobile phone. Not to mention the digital camera.

The absence of a roll of duct tape is all that would save me from spending my child’s first hours in police custody whilst they verified that it isn’t actually a kiddie fiddler’s starter kit, but is in fact nothing more sinister than the famed hospital bag.

Packed and ready to go, like my sanity.

1 week, 2 days.

Thursday 4 February 2010

Pucker up

Midwives are magic Zen masters.

They exude an air of calm and leave you treats of mental time to spare.

So when one sees a midwife spring into huffy action making speedy appointments on your behalf, using phrases like ‘low fluid’ and ‘handing you over to the gynaecologist’, your heart beats that little bit less comfortably and the time to spare evaporates.

Yesterdays midwife visit was one such moment. ET is big and round, and only getting bigger and rounder. In an attempt to measure the baby the midwife had doubts over the level of amniotic fluid she could feel and thought it better to arrange an ultrasound to be on the safe side.

So there we found ourselves once again staring up at a grainy screen having unidentifiable body parts pointed out to us against a whooshy soundtrack. It transpires that all is well and the midwife’s caution was just her being thorough.

She was right on one point; it’s a big ‘un. Quite an odd shaped big ‘un by all accounts. With short wee legs, and a small head, it still manages to weigh more even now than most newborns do thanks to a ginormous belly.

We are basically breeding a Jerry Springer guest. A short arsed fatty. At least we will save on the cost of a paternity test.

As we left she semi-jokingly commented that it could easily arrive tonight.

That remains to be seen, but in the meantime this isn’t a bad sight to tide us over.

1 week, 6 days.

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Turning you off your cereal

I'm impotent. Or maybe omnipotent. Or omnipresent perhaps, I forget.

Some one of those anyway, but basically I'm in many places today. Here, and somewhere deep in the bowels of today's Irish Times health section.

Early last year they featured an article about our attempts to conceive, and today they ran a short catch-up piece for the sane people with jobs who don’t read here every day.

Complete with picture that makes me look like an anaemic wino with a glandular problem, and a title that will nauseate many, today's article can be found here.

For the lazy among us, the original feature was run last March and a follow up based on the reaction it generated ran a few days later.

As you were.

Far more entertaining are the guesses being placed here. Go on, give it a shot.

Monday 1 February 2010

The klossen

They were bloody heavy.

I carefully picked my step across the car park, sadistically enjoying each fresh crunch of snow under my feet while fearing the inevitable slip that would send me arse over tit. Any comfort that the close proximity of the hospital brought was overshadowed by the public nature any fall would now take, not to mention the severe battering I would undoubtedly suffer under the weight of my cargo.

They really were bloody heavy.

As the fall never came, I bundled the contents of my embarrassingly aching arms into the back of the car, and just 14 hours later I’d completed the 15 minute drive home through the snow.

Upstairs, I pulled them apart and arranged them out on the floor.

The 'klossen'.

There were 6 of them. 10 inches tall, grey rod iron, like miniature Eiffel towers.

One by one I slid them into position, and corner by corner I lifted our bed a foot off the ground and aligned the klossen underneath the legs.

Ironically, the act of installing them so that the kraamzorg doesn't damage her back while looking after ET has probably ensured another 18 months at our friendly neighbourhood chiropractor for me. Beds are heavy.

So now the silly turns to absurd, and the 5 foot tall incubator living with me has to use a plastic step to get in and out of bed. I’m just waiting to be awoken by the sound of her smashing her face off the radiator on the way to the bathroom at 4am.

Not one to be bogged down by minor negatives like nocturnal head injuries, there are upsides. I finally have the top bunk that I always wanted, and my bedroom is home to the coolest fort ever.

2 weeks, 2 days.

Wednesday next we have a midwife visit where she might reveal great mysteries, or maybe not, so until then you can get your guesses in here.