Monday, 28 February 2011

That will teach me to drink sambuca

It’s a sight that no parent ever wants to see, your baby covered in a rash that doesn’t fade. And yet, as I woke up with my first proper hangover in 18 months, this is exactly what I was faced with.

Finbo chose the day after a friend’s very raucous wedding to come down with a bug. Initially I wasn’t too concerned as he was still quite bright and acted in his usual manner when I tried to take his temperature i.e. screamed blue murder and flailed his little arms and legs wildly in indignation.

I was busy cursing my luck to have an ill baby AND a hangover when I noticed the rash – tiny pin-prick, reddy/purple dots under his neck.

James was ordered to the kitchen to fetch a glass and sure enough no matter how hard I pressed (which was quite hard – at one point I was worried I’d cut off his air supply) the spots remained resolutely bright.

It was hard to know what to do. Yes, he was a bit snotty and clingy and he did have a mild fever but he was also quite smiley and not at all off his food. I’m desperate not to be the kind of mother who has the doctor’s number on speed dial and demands antibiotics every time her child sneezes but despite this we seem to live at the bloody hospital. In any case, I decided you don’t ignore a non-fading rash and off we went.

We were whisked through A&E triage the second the words ‘fever’ ‘baby’ and ‘rash’ left my lips. Right from the off, the medical staff were very reassuring and indeed after a dose of Calpol it was hard to believe Finn was sick at all. He laughed and played with the nurses and generally made me feel like a bit of a fool for overreacting.

By the time we got to the paediatric doctor up on the children’s ward I had clamed down enough to notice that I was still wearing my pyjama top and yesterday’s make-up and that actually I felt quite sick. I was expecting to be sent home after he’d been given the once over but unfortunately, a rash like Finn's has to be taken seriously. 

A battery of tests was ordered, firstly urine. If you’ve never tried it – let me assure you that getting a nine month old baby to pee into a pot is no mean feat. You have to strip them off and hold the plastic cup between their legs until they feel like going. Needless to say that by the end of it I was covered in wee.

Second was blood and I have to admit that I ducked out of this one. I’m not squeamish at all but it’s one thing having my own blood taken and quite another watching a stranger pin down my baby and stick a needle into his soft, podgy skin. Daddy did the honours and when even he came back with tears in his eyes, I knew I’d done the right thing staying away.

Finally, a chest x-ray. More pinning down and scary noises and by the end of it poor Finbo was borderline hysterical.

After that we waited, for a LONG time. With nothing to do except watch Cbeebies (they wanted £3 for two hours of adult tv, the thieving bastards), worry madly and wish I could turn back time and not drink three sambucas the night before.

At about 9pm most of the results were back. And while Finn did have something, it wasn’t meningitis. Just some run-of-the-mill virus that also happens to cause red spots and scare the shit out of parents.

Brightly coloured toys? No thanks, I'll just play with this plastic cup.
Despite the trauma, it was worth getting it checked out. I'd never have forgiven myself if it was something worse and if nothing else, it may make me think twice about doing shots on my next night out.

Monday, 21 February 2011

WARNING Don’t read over breakfast.

Everyone tells you that you can never understand how hard being a parent is until you actually do it. Well, I hope this little insight into my daily life gives non-parents some idea.

There is crap on my wall. There is actual dried human excrement on the wall in my son’s bedroom. ‘Eww. How did it get there?’ I hear you cry. I can feel the weight of your judgement already, but I’m actually a very clean person! Let me explain…

Finn is teething. Three of the little buggers are poking their way up at once and as well as waking him up three times a night and giving him worse mood swings than a menopausal woman who’s trying to give up smoking, they’ve had a very negative effect on his nappies.

We’ve had some atomic explosions down there recently and apparently the charming child subjected his Granny to one when she looked after him last week.

Now, Granny only comes now and again and she’s not as well practised at dealing with poo as I am (oh the glamour), so in her rush to get him out of his soiled clothes she just yanked at them as hard as she could – sending a delightful spray all up the wall.

No-one noticed this piece of modern art until the next day as it was hidden behind the door. So I spent 45 minutes this morning scrubbing it away with dettol. To be fair, it looks as good as new, but I’ll always know there’s poo in the corner.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Motherhood changes many things, among the most trivial is Valentine’s day.

Yes, yesterday was the most (delete as applicable) romantic, over hyped, expensive, day of the year. Despite its obvious frivolity, my husband and I have always quite enjoyed Valentine’s in the past, using it as an excuse to get dressed up, eat posh food and have sex (not that we ever used to need an excuse).

This year however, we are parents to a lively eight month old son. And as well as all the expected knock-on effects of parenting; exhaustion, being constantly covered in dribble, not quite losing the baby weight – we are also desperately trying to dig ourselves out of the financial black hole that maternity leave has caused. All things considered, Valentine’s Day was a considerably different affair this year…

Now that I am back at work, one of us leaves the house early and the other stays to sort the baby out with childcare and vice versa in the evening. So at 7:00am I dragged my weary self off to the office, I briefly saw my husband as he got up to feed the baby so I gave him his card, he informed me he’d forgotten mine.

Later in the day, I got a call from reception informing me in a singsong voice that ‘something’s been delivered’. For once, I bypassed the lift and actually walked down the stairs I was so excited. My husband is usually ace at gifts and I’ve had something thoughtful and beautiful every year since we’ve been together. Sadly this year, I got a cheap bouquet of naff roses interspersed with some droopy gyp. I tried really hard not to be an ungrateful bitch, after all we are POOR, but it was really hard.

I got home to relieve the mother-in-law of the small crazy one at about six. We’d bought relatively nice (not the cheapest available option) food so I put the baby to bed early and got cooking. Three hours later, I’d eaten, the rest was cold and J finally came home.  I couldn’t be mad, we do the same job and I know what it can get like.

Come bedtime, we were both shattered and there was no question of any action. In fact, if he’d even tried it would probably have ended in violence.

I’m aware that none of this is revelatory; I expect a lot of new parents had a pretty similar day and if so I’d love to hear about it. It makes me feel better to know that not everyone is being glamorously amorous on Feb 14th.