Hello! I'm BACK. I am in my usual spot, the house is silent and mainly tidy, I have hoovered up the cheerios and corn flakes from the living room carpet (never piss off a two year old and then leave her unattended) and I have a full hour and a half before my peace and tranquility are shattered by demands for yet more Peppa Pig and milk. I shall attempt to catch you up with the various excitements that have occured in the last few months.
Things That Keep Me Up At Night
I have various and many worries that keep me from sleeping even when I am desperate to do so. A while ago I couldn't sleep because I was panicking that the children couldn't speak Chinese. It was so unlike me to worry about such stupid things that made me worry more. I began to panic that everyone was secretly taking their children to Chinese lessons and mine would be woefully left behind when the great Chinese take over of the world occurred. How would they get any job if they couldn't converse with their Chinese counterparts? If they got too old to learn would they be able to learn at all? Isn't now the prime time to get their brains around such things? Maybe this would make up for me not teaching them to play the piano?? In the cold light of day I realised that they are not only still learning to spell and write English but potentially extra French or Spanish lessons to compliment what they are already doing at school, might be a better place to start. I also realised that we couldn't afford any extra lessons on top of what they already do so it was an entirely moot point. Quite why I spent a good few hours thinking about trying to get two reluctant learners and one very busy child taking on another very complicated extra language is a total mystery to me. I have gone back to worrying about all the usuals, 'Why will no one buy my house?', 'Should we move?', 'how will I afford x, y and z?', 'how much fatter will I get?', 'Will I ever sleep enough?', 'Is that Ted - does he need his inhaler?', 'Shit did I put the tumble dryer on?', 'Bugger - I haven't paid that bill', 'Should we move?' etc etc etc
We have finally completed the birthday marathon. All four done and dusted. Four Birthday surprises, three parties, a tonne of cake and hideous, hideous amounts of money on plastic stuff all behind me for another year. The panic beforehand was higher than ever this year. I have no idea why. Before Bea's I awoke in a cold sweat after a nightmare in which I had forgotten to lay her birthday table, wrap presents or in fact do anything to celebrate her big day in any which way because I had managed to fall asleep instead. In the nightmare I had luckily awoken at 2am and screamed at K to wake up and we had set about rectifying the situation. I have no idea if we managed because luckily I woke up before I got to found out and then wallowed in my sweet relief for quite a while before I felt the shock wear off and my pulse rate return to normal. I don't know if, as they get older, the expectations and anticipation is more exaggerated which in turn increases the pressure on me. Or maybe it was my subconscious forcing me to check all the details of her impending extravaganza as the following day I realised the balloon lady and I hadn't actually confirmed a date for delivery and sure enough - her balloons were not scheduled to arrive on time! QUELLE HORREUR. I know normal people would not panic at such things but about seven years ago I stupidly set a precedent when we only had one very cute three year old and a non plussed one year old so it seemed totally ok to over indulge and spoil the then three year old with a pile of gifts and balloons and cakes and a massive and pricey party. And seven years is a long time to get used to something, so I couldn't very well have her waking up with no foil number balloons - particularly as she had reminded me for about six weeks that finally making it to double figures wasVERY important. Anyhoo, there is no point in wallowing in the past. On to the present. I found a local party shop and a very helpful woman was able to come to my aid although sadly she didn't deliver. (This is relevant - keep reading I am not just being dull for the sake of it).
The morning I picked them up happened to be quite windy and I had unfortunately decided to wear some comfy jeggings on my bottom half. I couldn't park outside the party shop so I had to carry a number of helium balloons, including a large 1 and 0 and a small 'airwalker' dog a little way back to the safety of my car boot. The wind wasn't kind and I had no hand free to yank up the irritatingly saggy jeggings so I was very desperate to deposit the balloons quickly so that I could prevent exposing myself entirely. By the time I reached the car I also realised that we had so much crap in the car which we were hiding from the house viewers, that fitting the balloons in at all was going to be tricky. Just as I managed to shove in what I thought was all of the unwielding and cumbersome balloons I saw a small, cute dog balloon fly off down the high street. My initial thought was to leave it to its fate and write it off. Then by some bizarre luck it didn't get instantly run over by the oncoming traffic so I decided to fight for the dog. I slammed shut the boot ensuring the remaining balloons were safe and well and then set off down the middle of Sydenham high street with one hand on my jeans and the other obsessively pointing the key fob at the car and pressing 'lock' in case any local thief had seen this as an opportunity to steal my car and the blessed balloons. The dog (which had weights on its feet to keep it just above ground level - like a real dog) was quite realistically running away and then tantalisingly stopping when the wind died down. I try not to imagine what an overweight middle aged woman trying to surreptitiously run down the middle of a busy high street whilst holding up her trousers in order to retrieve an inflatable dog looked like, but I do think if I had been an onlooker rather than the victim it may have been quite a funny scene. As luck would have it the dog made it to the other side of the road (albeit quite a way down) entirely unharmed and I managed to scoop it up and place it firmly under my arm before the recalcitrant jeggings had revealed the entirety of my backside. I was quite desperate not to turn around and see if anyone had witnessed the whole thing so I was very pleased to see the shop we had stopped outside was a stationers - I went inside and accidentally bought a number of rolls of hideously expensive wrapping paper I had foolishly assumed would be cheap. Still, it gave me a chance to regroup and calm down before I proceeded to return to the car and make it back home in time to deposit the pesky balloons at my obliging neighbour's house so that Bea wouldn't see them.
Turns out I needn't have panicked. Bea's Birthday Bash was a huge success, she was thrilled, her slumber party was just what she wanted, mainly thanks to a superb Magic Masterclass courtesy of her Godmother's talented husband, the Magician and a huge number of sweets (slight sore point there in that when I came down in the morning I discovered that half the children had lost teeth during the night. It was quite surreal as one after another they presented me with bloody tissues and tiny teeth that had succumbed to toffee consumption). Equally George's birthday went without a balloon escaping hitch. Aside from a distinct lack of money after the first three had had their turn, and a pesky viewing by a rude woman on his actual birthday, he received the giant stuffed wolf he had been desperate for (I have no idea where he gets his ideas from - for Christmas I have to find a large stuffed Skunk - any tips gratefully received) and he had all manner of hideous and not so hideous creatures at his party with the very thorough (but exceedingly pricey) Ranger Stu. And now that it is all blissfully completed, I finally get to start diverting all available funds towards the money black hole that is Christmas. Wahoo! I want my advent calendar to end with January 1st which is when I truly start celebrating.
3. Birthing Sister
During the rather dull half term (there is nothing to report on that front - I was forced to sit through a frankly terrifying ((I really cannot do suspense or threats of danger or any violence in any film - I am ruined for anything but rom coms - I do not exaggerate - I find some things tricky to get through on Cbeebies and cried real, heartfelt tears in Toy Story 3)) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film and the far more enjoyable Book of Life and that was really it) Shiny Life Sister went in to obediently timed labour. Typically for her, she was actually a day ahead of her due date and perfectly timed for me - as she wanted me at the birth I had told her it would have to be during half term so I could abandon the children with mother at short notice and one day in, she obliged.
Not that I wish to compete in the tiredness stakes when someone is in the throes of labour but it actually wasn't the best day for me - I had only just arrived at mother's in dire need of some long periods of sleep but thanks to the clocks going back and my very beautiful but early rising nephew deciding that that was the morning to start the day at 5.20 am (old time) - I was pretty done in before I even got in the car to return to London. However, much like in actual labour, adrenalin kicked in and I imagined that she was imminently about to push the baby out so I became panicked about my need to get to the hospital. At the first sign of traffic I dumped the car at Tottenham Hale tube and jumped on my most hated form of public transport (I used to use it every week day but now I find it difficult to cope with - so dirty, noisy, everyone is miserable and if it breaks down I am stuck in the dark underground - what is to like about that?) to Warren Street. Again, it wasn't really my moment in the spotlight but I managed to make it to University College Hospital from leaving mum's front door in precisely one hour and forty five minutes. I felt heroic. I rang mother for praise but surprisingly received none (she was not only more interested in what was going on with Shiny Life Sister but she also had nine children at the house and only one other mother (Kent Sister) for help so was understandably not able to recognise my own heroism in the midst of her own) so I saved it for an appropriate time in the birthing room. Mercifully the father-to-be was suitably impressed by my speed and ability and I felt my accomplishment had been justly recognised. On to the birth.
Well. Turns out that she hadn't been imminently about to push it out and I had become far too used to secondary plus births where things don't tend to take twenty four hours but are mercifully far swifter. As soon as I got in to the room I made the incumbent midwife (who I didn't warm to and mercifully left us very quickly after my arrival) provide my poor suffering sister with some gas and air. This was gratefully received and imbibed. From then on it was just a waiting game. She progressed steadily but slowly and the contractions seemed unfairly strong and painful for the stage she was at. Eventually we opted for some diamorphine to help with the pain, and when that wore off we were lucky enough to get her a birth pool. By the time she entered the pool her husband and I were getting very excited about the birth finally seeming imminent (poor SLS had really had enough by this point - it was about 5pm and she had been in constant pain since 1.30am that morning). By the time she got to fully dilated there was lots of excited speculation about being back in time for Downton and how she was SO close to being out of pain and eating toast in bed. She began to push. She pushed like a 'Mother Fo' (I think that is the term) and she pushed and she pushed and she pushed. The midwife kept putting her bent mirror in to the water to see any sign of a head. I started virtually pushing with her and squeezing her hand in solidarity. Nothing happened. Except that SLS, who was already at her limit of endurance when it had got to the pushing stage, got to a point that there are no words to describe. She was broken. She came out of the pool and tried pushing on a stool. After an hour and a half of pushing she admitted defeat - the baby was not coming out regardless of what she did. Then she suffered an excruciating further half an hour wait whilst plans were put in place to move her to the labour floor as the midwife led unit was not equipped for epidural/forceps etc. The wait was agonising. SLS was in tears and I knew exactly how she felt having had the same experience almost ten years ago to the day. To cut an agonising story short, once she eventually made it to labour ward and the obstetrician eventually made it to our room, it was gone 11pm. I have never seen a more broken human and I would have done anything I could to have taken the pain for her for even a little bit. Finally they wheeled her off to theatre to attempt forceps delivery of this back to back, badly positioned baby girl. At one minute to midnight they managed to drag the reluctant Lia in to the world with brute force and forceps and she was gloriously healthy and well. Finally the ordeal was over. When they wheeled SLS back in to the room her relief was palpable. Although not for long as she started to have a reaction to the drugs and couldn't stop vomiting. So much so that they had to give her anti nausea drugs intravenously. By 2.30am, with her still vomiting, it was my time to leave and finally retrieve my abandoned car and get to bed for a few blissful hours of sleep.
Since then Shiny Life has lived up to her name. In the first week she went for a shopping trip to John Lewis Oxford Street, had her hair done, took Lia trick or treating and when I took Bea and Cybs back for a visit on the 7th day, found her with full hair and make up, in an immaculate flat with a very happy breastfed baby. I was not in ANY way envious of her ability to adapt or keep her figure or manage great make up and have a tiny new baby. Not AT ALL. All hopes for her to get fat, tired and haggard have been entirely dashed. I bet her boobs even stay perky. Sometimes shit like that just happens. I have decided to just deal with it and be a very grown up big sister and to be happy for her. (Albeit through gritted teeth).
4. The Accidental Fifth
It sounds like a musical chord. It isn't though. Somehow, with the excitement of the loft and all the birthdays we have managed to have a small accident. An accident that will get bigger and bigger until in May next year when it rips me in two to enter the world and take its place in this big family. Am I thrilled? Honestly, even with my love of newborns and children I really can't summon too much excitement about it. It sounds ungrateful and I know that 99.9% of people assume it was intentional even with my protestations to the contrary but really, it was truly a surprise to both of us. I am sure once the tiredness eventually wears off (I am hoping that it must be soon, surely - I have been so exhausted I can't stay up past 9pm, and have nearly been to the doctors on a number of occasions to find out if I have some serious, undiagnosed major health issue) I will feel more positive, but at the moment I am just getting through the days. I also seem to be causing issue with the medical peeps because not only am I fat for this pregnancy but I also turned a year older last week so now I am fat AND old. This is not a combination the medical world seem to be keen on. I have been referred to several different consultants to 'consult' on my fatness and elderliness. One supposes that were I to attend these appointments they would tell me to be less fat and possibly try to be less old (I jest). Due to the high blood pressure issues with Cybs I am also 'on the radar' as 'high risk'. SIGH. Oh and also my placenta is lying low (maybe due to the sheer weight of the rest of my body pushing is southwards...) so I have to attend something called the Placenta Clinic. Such Fun. These appointments annoy me immensely. Not only because I would just like to get on with the hell of pregnancy, not keep being interrupted by people wanting to talk about it or take my blood or measure my sodding blood pressure or tell me to eat less and move more. Also each appointment means either leaving Cybs with Lovely Friend or worse, taking her with me. She is adorable, naturally, but as a two year old with a temper she isn't the best appointment partner. Anyway, this is why the Accidental Fifth keeps me awake at night. Not only does it make me need a wee in the middle of the night, it also makes me worry about a. coping b. being hideously fat c. stupid BMI fattists who now have a say in my fat which drives me mad. I will lose weight, I just can't be arsed to do it right now. d. how the hell Cybs, who still shares my bed every night, will cope with something smaller and cuter wanting me and my boobs at night. (Just to clarify, she comes in to me in the middle of the night after going to sleep beautifully in her own cot and also, she is actually off the boob, she just still likes to stick her hand down my top to go to sleep - like a warm, squishy comfort blanket. Much as I hate the hand down my top, I do actually love sleeping with her. I can't imagine not doing it.)
So, there you have it. That is sort of the last few months in a nutshell, and why I haven't managed to write for two months. I think that brings you all up to speed. Oh, re the house - no one has liked the house enough to make an offer which is intensly annoying. I HATE having to keep the house tidy for stupid people to view - ideally someone would just drive past and decide to buy it from the pictures but people are stupendously picky when it comes to parting with hundreds of thousands of pounds - weirdos. We aren't on the internet at the moment so as not to jeopordise K's job which isn't helping. We are planning to try again in January, all guns blazing and on every property website known to man. Hopefully that will bring a steady stream of people willing to buy. I can't really think ahead until we know where are on the house front so in the mean time we will just settle down to enjoy our final SE23 Christmas and as a family of six.
Now I shall leave you to your lives. I must go and sleep. As per usual.
Until the next time.
(As a footnote to all this - how the hellidy hell do people work from home? I have taken hours and hours and hours to write this - an hour and a half was nowhere near enough - I have checked facebook and emails around a hundred times, I have taken a long and leisurely lunch hour, had a little lie down with Cybs ((to get her to sleep but also because it is lying down)), taken an unusually fervent interest in the outcome of an episode of Cowboy Builders and also played a lot of Words With Friends. I think it is quite obvious that if in the unlikely future, I ever had to return to the world of work, it would most definitely need to be in a formal setting with time structures, no kitchen and no TV. And preferably no internet access.)