The Palace Park

The Palace Park

Monday, 25 January 2010

And before you even arrive, the guilt sets in. . .

Today your application for the University nursery arrived.  It seems weird to be putting you down on a waiting list for a nursery place before we've even met you, but needs must, poppet.  That is, unless you've got a black AmEx and the trust fund to pay off the monthly bill tucked away somewhere I don't know about. . .

Money is not everything, just so you know.  It just feels that way sometimes. And we won't even talk about the first inkling of guilt that has set in over 'farming you out.'  I -- as a baby and toddler -- was lucky that for the most part, I had my mom at home.  I didn't become the bolshy and independent creature writing now until I was at least 4.  I don't think.  Your uncle was farmed out, first to a lovely Mennonite woman, then to a very active Le Leche activist so really, how much more Mother Earth can you get? Again, there are countless therapy couches that await you.

I'm still  (unsurprisingly, I suppose) on the mend.  It does occasionally take me aback how long it takes one  to mend after an illness.  Walking to the corner shop or the high street sends me into a fairly decent rendition of a narcoleptic siezure.  This of course, makes Josephine beyond thrilled. She loves when I nap because a) I'm sleeping and b) I'm in one place.  Plus, she can use my ever-increasing stomach as a pillow.  What's not to love?

It has also occurred to me that I should clear up any confusion re your last name.  Though it will be a (rather dignified) mouthful, it isn't Biffington-Smythe.  Biffington-Smythe is the name bestowed upon  us by the amazing and stupendous Mary Stuckey, who (in addition to being a gorgeous redhead) is incredibly brilliant, with a mind like a razor blade and a wit that rivals Mrs Parker and Benchley combined and she does political rhetoric.  I know.  She's the best.  Anyway, I digress.  She coined the nickname as an in-joke and I, well, I took it to a whole new level.  By the end of the conversation, I was desperately trying to convince your father that we needed to get two neutered rabbits, one named Mr Biffington and one named Mr Smythe and they would get married and be Messers Biffington-Smythe and wear matching bow-ties.  And we could train them, and they would be cute, and . . .

I know.  Your poor papa has always had the deck stacked against him. You can only imagine what has insued since Pregnant Me has come on the scene.  Even Josephine has been known to take cover at times.  In fairness, your father was warned: at our wedding, my daddy did tell tell that I was not unlike a 'lynx trapped in a phonebooth' when I get angry.  

Friday, 22 January 2010

Home Sweet Home

Well, fanglet, my little off-shore oil driller, we made it home late Wednesday night, courtesy of Miss E.  Your dad would have happily come to fetch us but I thought he had done enough time ferrying himself between the hospital for the time being.

Our release (which was a bit like this) was agreed late in the day on Wednesday with a varieties of conditionals: we'd take it easy, watch pee for strange regressions, share more samples, and come back next week.  Thursday we slept straight through for 11 1/2 hours (aside from the sleepwalking bathroom breaks). Last night, we slept for 9 hours, getting up to drag ourselves back to the hospital.

This weekend is all about just taking it slowly and getting better. Better is good.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Set 'em up Joe, and play walking the floor

Where is a jukebox when you need one?

Things just weren't getting better in the UTI  department, Fang, so Sunday night I packed myself off to the North Mid (again).  Well, I swore at your father, said some pretty mean things, cried, peed blood, tore at my hair for a few hours and then, then I packed myself off to Hospital.  I know, I know.  Drama. 

The hives, they are just stress but the infection got worse. A fever set in, chills set in, and other syptoms that all had gone even further awry were flicked on like lights at last call.  We took the maternity bag and your dad drove like champ to the Hospital where we were seen rather more quickly than either of us thought.  A round of antibiotics was started straight away by IV once they caught sight of my most recent sample, a murky mixture of high proteins and blood that made even the Dr recoil a bit bemused horror. 

It was decided I would initially be admitted for 24 hours and sent down to the Ante-Natal ward. I had mixed feelings about this: the Ante-Natal ward is a mixed ward of 4 beds to a room, all women who've just given birth or are wounded penguins like me.  I kind of wanted to see what the ward was like to gauge if I was going to cough up the £60/a night it costs for a private room on the floor. 

My vindication point? When your papa turned to me and said 'I am so, so sorry. You were right and I should have listened to you. You WERE ill.'  That he didn't accuse me of being pregnant crazy (a theme) or do anything else then other than just hug me, well that was just pure love.

After being administered with a drip and antibiotics, we moved upstairs via a super-secret elevator (turns out this is to deter baby thieves) and I bedded down for the night with all the other wounded birds.

My roommates were two lovely Turkish women, one of whom had gone into labor early and had been injected with something to stop that silliness and the other who had given birth on Saturday, as well as a very young Jamaican girl who was screaming 'Oh, God! Oh, God, Oh, God. . . the baby IS coming. I'm telling you. . .' a litany that would become her mantra over the next 8 hours.  In fairness, even the people in a private room heard her, so I don't know that we'll be going that route, unless we have to stay longer than a couple of days. 

The end result to that little story that, yes, her baby was indeed coming. She projectile vomited on the floor (my side of the floor, mind you, all under my curtain and on the back of the chair, poor lamb) and tried to get out of bed.  She made it to the floor before the baby started crowning.   I ran to the front desk. 'Hi, sorry. . . the young woman who was ill earlier? She's in labour.'

'You don't know what you're talking about. Get back to bed.' 

'No, really. She's crowning. And she's just pooped on the floor.' 

'That girl! What do you mean, she's pooped on the floor?! Why didn't she use the toilet?! Bah!.'

'Um, because she's in labour?!'


I go back to my bed in shock. Get to the room to find one of the turkish women standing in front of the tiny slip of a thing in horror. 'Where is help? Did you get help?'  I shake my head, pull my emergency alarm cord, and rush over to the other side (like I'm going to help deliver the baby, right? Me, the woman who doesn't even like to open tins of wet dog food. I mean seriously. . . ) And there is a baby, coming and coming and I find myself start to kneel down in front of the girl and am saying over and over again, 'It will be okay, it will be okay,' when one of the nice midwives comes rushing in. 

4 minutes later, it is over and one of the midwives is wrestling with her placenta (the girl -- she's 18 if she's a day -- is back in bed now) and then tells the young woman 'Well, you need to get up and get yourself cleaned up. You've made a mess of this room twice tonight.' 

I'm not even joking.

Your dad looked so sad and frightened when he left and I wanted to run after him and a) comfort him and b) well, to be honest, there was no 'B'. Fanglet, I was freaking addled.  Since Tuesday, I've slept maybe 3 hours a night? I was a wreck, unable to function without crying. Unable to do LAUNDRY. The laundry TAUNTED me. Monday night I didn't sleep any better, but I did get three solid naps of an hour each in today and even that little bit of sleep made a huge difference. And last night: we slept 5.5 straight hours. In one go. Bliss. 

And yes, I am still taking my crazy pills so the world is on an even keel except that it is FUCKING UPSIDE DOWN!

Fang: sleep makes a huge difference. Sleep on a crazily adjustable bed where I can sleep like a worm all disjointed and crazy is even better. 

The rest of the time here has like a farce. Truly.  The bonding, the POW camp air of the inmates. It actually kind of reminds me of Hogan's Heroes, this great sitcom from the 1960s when I'm not frothing with resentment and anger.

And the baby born on the floor was a little girl and she and her mum are doing very well.  The mom is in shock but doing very well.  And the evening midwives appear to have forgiven me for asking them to come and give her a hand. Either that, or they have just spit in my herbal tea.  But I make them laugh and they'll remember me, which could work either way.

There is a rumour they may spring us today. One can but hope. . . one can but hope.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Leaking oil

Well, not really oil. I am not, after all, an automobile or a tank.  Even if I feel like one.

Last night, I awoke to find my entire left bosom drenched in colostrum.  Enough colostrum that the wet patch measured about 3" by 3".  Now, in fairness, this isn't a shock.  And it really isn't that big of a deal but at 3am, it sure as hell freaked me out, as I burrowed into my snug haven of sleep.  I've been producing colostrum in thin drips and drabs since month 3.5.  I know. About the same time I fit into that that size 38EE bra I had bought two weeks before.  The production levels To the point where your father walked into the bathroom once to bring me something (he did this reluctantly, being English and all) whilst I lounged in a WARM (not hot, people.  Relax.  I have not hard boiled you, Fanglet. You are fine. In fact, you just hiccuped so I know you're in there) bath.   But this is the first time I've ever produced enough to wake me up. 

So now, I have a collection 1ml and 5 ml syringes to freeze some of this stuff in case you appear early (a suggestion from the lovely Elaine at the NCT breast-feeding hotline.  I know, I know. . . wasn't so long ago I had the Information Commission and  National Archives Advisory Service on my speed dial. Now, the we've added the breastfeeding hotline.  I'm still not quite sure how that happened.)  Going to by the syringes was actually quite amusing.

Envision this scene: a busy pharmacy on a Saturday in Wood  Green.  A Large pregnant woman who probably shouldn't be wearing leggins (but hey, who are you to judge?) and a skirt waddles up to the register.

'Hi. Do you um. . . do you sell empty syringes?'

'We do.  Why do you need them?'

"Oh, it isn't for a drug habit or anything.' I smile nervously.  Way to go, FA, way to go. Make her think you're not a freaking nut job.  You have no drug habit.  You haven't had a Galoise  in months. MONTHS!  You barely have 2 cups of coffee a day.  'I just need to express and freeze the colostrum I'm producing. I'm high risk for pre-term labor, so want to make sure we're prepared.' 

The clerk blinks, and steps back, looking slightly uncomfortable.  'Uh. . . okay.  Well, we do have syringes.  I'll just. . . I'll get some for you.'

I leave with my syringes and saunter back out to the high street to go and buy some size 20 underpants.  The clerk is still eying me nervously.  Your Auntie W, who is with me, is trying so very, very hard not to laugh.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Wherein I contemplate venturing outside

. . . and instead eat another cinnamon roll. Okay! I admit. 3 cinnamon rolls.

The snow is on its way out.  In a few months' time, the news will be full of flooding stories rather than tales of snowbound travelers. 

Today I slept in, listening to Radio 4 and contemplating my day.  I am officially on holiday and am wearing my pajamas to prove it.  Yesterday, I ventured out to the corner shop to pick up some supplies for dinner (Beef stroganoff; your father was 2.5 hours late and I had a flashback/forward to future evenings or a parallel past where fathers don't call and mothers are tucked safely away in kitchens, contemplating martinis made with Drano) and next door to help your Auntie W with some Ebaying, but other than that, we have been cosily tucked in bed or on the sofa, whiling our way through rather appalling television or videos.  Yes, I said videos.  Two DVD players and they are both on strike.  Never mind. The VHS works and I've got enough Alfred Hitchcock and Samuel Goldwyn films to last the week.

In addition to sleeping in (I've been sleeping, you've been up to all sorts of hijinx, swimming around like an overexcited carp), we've had all sorts of exciting deliveries: my new wellies (for those retaining water), new soda cartridges for the seltzer syphon I got your dad for the holidays, and a new Toshiba flatscreen TV that your father's employer (an investment bank run by swiss gnomes) gave him as a 'thank you' gift.  And. . . drumroll: the rug for your room!  And two very sweet Jehovah witnesses who will be stopping by on Feb 4th for tea (herbal infusions, of course).  I know, I know.  But they were so sweet and really, what does it hurt to chat about faith?   There's far too little of that kind of talk in our house anyway, what with your father being a firm C of E drop-out and agnostic.  Which reminds me, I really need to get back on the synagogue hunt.

After our good news Tuesday morning, I went to North Middlesex as there was yet another letter waiting on my doorstep requesting more urine.  I know.  Really, how much urine can one hospital need?
I cajoled your Aunt W along with me (promises of Ikea work wonders), since my US drivers license expired in October and they won't renew it for me as I am not in the Services or a Services dependent. Since we're not flying anytime soon, I will probably have to retake the Ohio Driving Test, as well as sit (okay, little pedant. Okay 'drive') my practical exam next month.  I rocked up to North Mid, paid my £3.20 for parking (I know, talk about fleecing golden geese) and went to Ante-Natal where the great debate over 1 or 2 samples began.  And where the midwives now always know my name, which leads me to believe I must be Norm in this Cheers-like scenario.

I could write more, but I need a nap.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Wherein Once Again We Have Baffled the Medical Establishment

Dearest Little Fanglet

And so here we are, in between hospital trips.  We've just finished a trip to UCH and are now preparing to go to North Middlesex Hospital to leave not one but TWO urine samples, because you know. . .  one isn't enough.

But the news me, you, your father, and the people who love you want to know is thus: you have no genetic abnormalities (confirmed by a fax from Homerton Hospital to UCH today), no chromosomal abnormalities, no limb discrepancies, and no reason for the abnormal amounts of fluid that are distending my belly and making it look like a team of crack feline assassins have been using my stomach as a scratching post.

And we got some groovy 3D images of you.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

But Baby Its Cold Outside

Regardless of whether you're a Johnny Mercer/Margaret Whiting fan or Louis Jordan/Ella Fitzgerald fan, come on; 'But Baby Its Cold Outside' is a great number.  One of the songs that you've been getting a lot of lately is 'Life is so Peculiar,' a duet that Jordan did with Louis Armstrong. But baby, it is cold outside, and we're hunkering down with apple cinnamon tea and lots of blankets.

We were going to Florida, where a box of goodies including a few new maternity dresses and your bedroom curtains, were going to be waiting for us.  Mama does love Restoration Hardware's curtains and when we looked at the price of made-to-measure here and the fabric choices, well, we just decided we'd rather have the ones we knew we liked.  Your room, which will be getting a bit of a work over this weekend when we bring home your Moses basket (a precursor to your living in a van down by the river, of course) and a few other bits and pieces home.

Our trip to Florida has been postponed primarily because I have enough fluid in my uterus to irrigate a desert nation. A small desert nation, to be sure, but kid, if this stuff could be desalinated, sterilized and reused, you wouldn't have to worry about your college fund.  I'm just saying. . .  This condition -- apparently -- is called Polyhydramnios and can be nothing or something and my doctors, well, they have no freaking clue.  Literally.  In fact, Mr F, the OB, looked positively downtrodden when he got my gestational diabetes results which were negative.  It would have, he said, explained everything. And now nothing is explained.

Remind me to have your Oma tell you the story of what they had to through to get my birth abroad registered.  It will be fun for you.  Honest.

Anyway, this excessive fluid makes me look between 4-6 weeks more pregnant than I am and could be our way to to meet early.  Not that I am in a hurry, poppit.  You need to cook a bit more.  Honest.  There will be loads that I lie to you about over the course of your life: the tooth fairy, Santa, the Screaming Latke, the Great Pumpkin, but is not one of those things.  You need to chill out, stay put, and make sure your little kidneys are processing.  Mama will work on decreasing the water.

I allowed myself 1 day of intense self-pity over not going to see your Gigi. But I bounce back quickly and besides, I have some complaint letters to write and a dissertation to step up the pace on, so we'll just take it easy and rock n' roll. 

Josephine is, by the way, ecstatic that we're staying home. 

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

So much to write, too much to process

Dear Fanglet

London is covered in snow.  Florida is sunny.  We have yet another consultant appointment this afternoon at the North Middlesex Hospital this afternoon -- an unplanned one. That makes 7 trips in a week. Which, in my mind, is 7 too many.  But all will be revealed.

And these are interesting times.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year!

Dear Fanglet -

Welcome to 2010.  There is a blue moon out tonight, which is most exciting.  And we are safely snug at home on an witchingly cold night, which is also exciting, at least for me.

Last night your father and I stayed in.  In years past, we have thrown parties or attended parties but this year, I felt it more my speed to stay home and take a nice bath.  I took your Auntie W to see a play (Jersey Boys, which was very good) and to a nice ladies' lunch at the Critterion, which is just a gorgeous venue.  Beautiful ceilings and lovely atmosphere. It was a great day but it left me wiped out and I was grateful for bed.

Today, we tidied and tidied in preparation for a new year and people coming for brunch.  We also began the 2nd series of SLINGS AND ARROWS, a very cleverly done CBC series with Paul Gross (he was in a fab show called 'due South' about a Royal Canadian Mountie who gets stationed in Chicago; a great series.  You'll learn to love it.   We then went over to Miss Z and Mr B's for Shabbat dinner.  Beef Wellington and a gorgeous floating chocolate cake.

We're going to Florida this Friday to visit your Gigi Lo, which shall be a lark.  She spends winters in Florida at this park called Crystal Lake and it is heaven because it is one of these places where grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) can do no wrong.  We are like Infants of Prague, moving through the community, feted and adored.  I think we can handle a week of adoration, pettest, don't you?