Tuesday 27 April 2010

Blue and grey

They really should be brown.

Even today I look at her and still expect them to be brown.

Her skin is sallow, and the mop of dark hair frames her chubby face like an ill fitting Elizabeth Taylor wig. They themselves are huge. Wide open, full of magnetic focus, as if she were some sort of floppy hypnotist.

Nevertheless, they should be brown.

Instead, I see them sparkle out bright blue in the sharp sunlight of these Spring weekend mornings, turning metallic grey as the days turn into evenings.

They live and breathe with her, they dance on their tip-toes when she laughs or screeches, limbs flying in every direction. They hold themselves focused and sure as she takes you in, her whole body stiff as she examines your change of expression.

They hold their gaze until she has passed her judgement, a return to the dancing orbs and smiles, akin to a Roman thumbs-up. A full face frown the thumbs-down, the sentencing to death of he or she who fails to entertain her.

They should be brown, but surprisingly and wonderfully, they are not.

Thursday 22 April 2010

Coronary π

It has been threatened for a while.

She was always ready with huge tongue lolling smiles, arms and legs pumping like crazy, breathing rapidly, all the while urging her vocal chords to join in.

Tuesday night I held her in her bath, and gently pushed waves of warm water up her chest to right under her soft chin.

That was the trigger.

‘Keeeh hee hee hee.’

Over and over again. ‘Keeeh hee hee hee.’

A rolling hearty laugh that made her wobble and shake. The kind of laughter I’m certain neither you nor I have laughed in many, many years. From the very balls of her feet up to her throat, causing it's own little baby bath tsunami.

A perfectly scaled down version of the rasping laugh of a two pack a day 60 year old smoker, albeit with a head full of shampoo, sopping wet, and stark naked.

We could do no more than stand, gaping like idiots, laughing right back at her.

She was most likely oblivious to the risks she was running in choosing that particular moment to debut her laughing abilities, the combination of me struggling to hold her through my own laughter, and us leaving her submerged to the point of the onset of pneumonia in the hope of a repeat performance, may result in her never daring to try it again.

She did duly piss all over me shortly afterwards, so who knows.

We’ve had the ultrasound heartbeat, we’ve had the 3D video, we’ve had her first screeches and her babbles, but in truth none of it comes remotely close to this. None of it.

The difference between her not existing, from being the stuff of daydreams, something always just out of reach, to lying there laughing heartily up at the both of us is beyond calculation.

Long may the difference continue to grow, immeasurably. Unquantifiably.


If you haven’t read about the Hadrian's walk already, please do here, and if you can help somehow, regardless of how small, please do.

Tuesday 20 April 2010


I have often wondered about the various people on the periphery of this 3 year long mental massacre. I wonder do any of them think of us now.

From the GP I visited wearing the Abbott and Costello of the footwear world, to the head-bandaged IUI assistant who stood frowning at ET’s vagina like it were a set of dodgy spark plugs, to the croc footed fertility clinic employees who silently hovered around the premises whispering at everyone.

From the nurse who ran out of fingers on which to count the( ever so slightly more than the expected three) follicles during our first IUI attempt, to all the brave souls who handled with such care the fruit of my self-abuse, to the ultrasound technician that first pointed Mango out to us in her tiniest form.

From any one of the dozen dildo-cam wizards who impaled my fair lady on an almost daily basis, to the (figuratively speaking) faceless Canadians packing our online orders for hundreds of ovulation tests, to the shop assistant down the road bagging up our bizarre purchases of pampers and durex.

I wonder do they ever cast a thought to that short foreign couple who kept badgering them for tests and appointments. Each one of them contributed, by their own hooks and crooks, to Mango being here today, chubby and sallow, with a head of insane black hair complete with fair streaks, feeding like a demon and sleeping through the night.

Some have made it their profession, but others remain clueless as to how they helped this family.

Walking around every day is an oblivious army of heroes; remarkable if you just stop to think.

Thanks a million to everyone who have already helped other families by supporting Hadrian’s Walk through donating or spreading the word. If you haven’t read about it already, please do here, and if you can help somehow, regardless of how small, please do.

Thursday 15 April 2010


Every night we put Sanne to bed, a few rocking motions enough to bring those ever increasing eyelashes down and close her massive eyes. Every morning we are greeted by the sound of her having a waking conversation with someone unknown from within the wicker walls of her Moses basket.

Parents all over the world do the same thing, every hour of every day. Just over 5 years ago now, Neil and Rachael Salmon did the same, they put their 3 year old son Joseph to bed.

Joseph never woke up.

When I first read Neil and Rachael’s story 2 years ago I could appreciate their utter devastation. Now as our own long awaited daughter sleeps just feet from where I’m writing this, it sends shivers through me, sickening my stomach with unwanted dread.

In the years that followed Joseph’s death, Neil and Rachael took it upon themselves to create some good out of their sadness. They created the Joseph Salmon trust. The death of a child is usually not something people expect, nor make financial preparations for. The trust raises and distributes money to parents and families that have lost children, helping with the unexpected burden of funeral costs, a headstone, maybe a treat for siblings, or perhaps just paying an electricity bill while the family wage earners try to hold their world together.

The trust works locally in the Huddersfield area of Northern England, is completely voluntary, and operates with very small amounts of money.

Dan, the most sickeningly nicest man on the planet, but more importantly a friend of Neil and Rachael, has taken it upon himself, not for the first time, to try and raise funds for the trust. The poor chap is not very inventive, but he is ambitious, and in July this year he wants to raise money by simply walking.

He has managed to convince (or as I’m legally forbidden from calling it, 'emotionally blackmail') me, and 58 others to walk with him, across the width of England.

On 5th July this year, 60 people coming from the UK, Holland, and the United States are leaving family and comfort behind, in their own time, at their own expense, to walk for 6 days and 84 miles along the historical Hadrian’s Wall trail.

The goal is for us to raise £20,000 for the trust, for the families in the area that will unexpectedly lose a child in the coming year, all in memory of one little boy who left his own mam and dad far too soon.

In the grand scheme of things £20,000 is a small amount of money, but it is of unmeasurable value to the trust, and more specifically the people the trust helps.

I’m sure some of you could blow that target out of the water with a couple of keystrokes, so feel free. I’m sure more of you could manage to help a little towards the target, also feel free. Those not in a position to help financially can help by spreading the word, stumble or tweet this post, or any of the links below.

While I go and make sure a certain someone is sleeping soundly, I ask that if you can give a little or a lot, please do so here.

Thank you.

Monday 12 April 2010

No Mr. Dickens, greater

You are not at all what we expected.

A screaming, sobbing newborn is what we most likely envisaged being handed to us. The reality was a silence, a stand-off. Your parents being no exception, you stared everyone out, the only sign of anything bordering uncertainty being the occasional slow blink, eyelids peeling themselves back to the point of impossibility to let the entire world in. And out.

Weeks have passed and we’re become more and more familiar. An evolution is taking place; I now know nibbling on your chin and neck makes you laugh a tongue flapping laugh, you’ve learned how to burrow your way into the sweetest spot under my neck, little head butts clearing a path towards sleep, and I know how much you enjoy feasting on your own fingers, often with an entire fist falling fowl to your gummy jaws, it’s limited dimensions being all that stops you gorging on everything up to the elbow.

Your world is limited but you rule it, nothing disturbs or upsets you here. You seem to know this is your home. Your babbling, while frequent, is contained to gurgles that are at first wrapped up and then let loose in more combinations of vowels than are imaginable.

It’s scary to contemplate the things you might say to us were you able, all fierce and bold and sure. Until then, every day you tell it like it is in your own way.

It is ridiculous to call it such, but you possess an unusual confidence. Maybe it’s better described as an inherent comfort with how you are and what you do, in your own 7 week old universe. You lie content in your surroundings, yelping instructions when something is not as it should be, smiling and laughing when it suits you to make us do your bidding.

I wonder when does that comfort fade in people, when might you become as unsure or uncertain as the rest of us. Never, I hope.

No, you are most certainly not at all what we expected.

Saturday 10 April 2010

Yes I know the music is playing, but...

Again big thanks to Jo, who it transpires, actually did leave it behind in Galway after all, but was too scared to tell me. She magically rallied a fleet of friends and assistants to recover it and it arrived here during the week. Big thanks to them also.

It's heavy enough to kill a man or break a toe, or break the toe of a dead man if you so wish, which are the real criteria awards should be judged on.

It's currently employed as an 'oooh-look-please-stop-crying' but I reckon it'll work it's true magic as something to chew on when she starts teething.

The Irish blog award category best personal blog was sponsored by Microsoft Ireland’s Developer & Platform Group.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

You won't like me when I'm angry

It’s a pet peeve.

‘Who does she look like?’

She doesn’t actually have to look like anyone, does she? Now, granted, a combination of genetics and a limitation on the number of variations a face can have will result in her displaying some similarities to others, but there is no written rule that she needs to have her parentage identifiable by her ears, or chin, or hair. As faaaaabulous as her follicle abundance may be.

If the opposite were the case surely we would be walking around bumping into Adam ‘n Eve lookalikes all day long. Fig leaves et al. It would give Tiger Woods a great excuse though.

Anyway, I digress.

Mango does in fact look like someone. While the untrained eye might see some of her mother or myself in her, having spent countless hours observing the little creature I can pinpoint a more accurate doppelganger.

As the female young of the species are wont to be, she is often dressed in pink. When she occasionally decides that it is time to scream with all the fury that her 10lb body can muster, she turns a delightful shade of red from top to toe. Coupled with her American newsreader head of black hair, she turns into the spitting image of a figure from my childhood.

The incredible hulk.

With her entire body one bright red colour, a mop of black hair, a face turned upside down with rage, and fists clenched in front of her hunched torso, my daughter turns into a miniature pink version of the incredible bloody hulk.

The only notable difference of course, is that you can’t help but like her.

Even when she’s angry.