Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Monkey(s)

I feel a bit guilty that this blog is mainly about Jake as the reason I started it is so much less of an issue or even a thought these days. Plus there is another child; I do feel a bit sorry for Freddie as the second sibling because he never got the same amount of attention before he was born, there was less anticipation as we knew (as much as you ever can) that he'd be fine when he arrived. He's also had less of my time as he came along just as I was transitioning away from a local job and started commuter doom working for the man instead of myself. So the combination of job proximity, having to divide time, love & attention between two kids and not one as well as the lack of anything being the matter, has been something of a triple whammy. Obviously the innate love is the same but the patience, quality time and focus is definitely different for want of a better word.

Having been through Jake's operations along with the natural anxiety the first baby brings and the absolute and utter newness and life-turned-upsidedown-ness of your general situation, I suppose I thought number two would be a breeze. Clearly I was wrong as I've never been as tired, stressed or mentally worn out as I have in the last three years. No offence Fred, it's not your fault but the combination of moving from a couple with a kid to a full blown complete family of four with a cat and a fish. Freddie gets frustrated that he can't do everything his big brother can but when Jake was his age his only frame of reference was us the giants as opposed to someone only six inches taller and much more on his intellectual level (no offence Jake!). Anyway, he's getting there in between tantrums and the crying or shouting and zero ability to follow instruction which seems to last some days from wake to sleep.

But it all adds to these times when the days are long but the years are short. I can't believe where Jake's nearly six years have gone, in the same time from now he'll likely have an underage Facebook account and will be travelling to places on the train on his own but we'll be happy he's got his smartphone so we can stay in touch. We'll probably wish he was five again and Freddie was still watching Despicable Me 2 stark naked as he is while I write this. It's easy to wish their difficult years away so that meal times and holidays become more bareable but I'm sure we'll want them back.

With that I'm going to take the naked child swimming just as soon as I can persuade him to put on a pair of shorts.



Sunday, 18 May 2014

Making Memories

I didn't do much with my dad growing up as he was busy building a business. We're great friends now and I know, on some levels he probably wishes he'd spent more time with me. If, for no other reason than it's quite fun hanging out with your kids! And particularly on days like yesterday, FA Cup final day.

I follow loads of Arsenal fans and bloggers on Twitter and so many of them talk about the magic of the FA Cup and trips down memory lane; going to Wembley with their dads and grandads or just watching it on telly. As football was never on growing up, I got into it late at the age of 16 and I only picked Arsenal to support in order to annoy my Liverpool supporting study mate. Since then, I've had some pretty good days supporting Arsenal, but not for the last nine years (as every journalist continually reminds us) since we last won the FA Cup, beating Man U on penalties...I remember taking a portable TV into the coffee shop I used to run and watching it with terrible reception sat on the floor as the cable wasn't long enough...anyway, yesterday I got the boys as excited as possible and we got our colours on, ate hotdogs on the sofa and watched in horror as Arsenal went two goals down in the first eight minutes! To Hull!!! In typical Arsenal fashion we did it the hard way and as overwhelming favourites, we'd turned up thinking we'd walk it...we eventually woke up and after extra time we won it 3-2.

Freddie might not remember it but Jake will absolutely look back on yesterday as the day he and his brother watched Arsenal win the FA Cup with their dad. You can't put a price on that.


Friday, 24 January 2014

Why I keep writing this blog...

I get lots of emails from people in the position we were 5 and half years ago but this one I wanted to share. (I do reply to them all by the way!).

Like us, they'll be fine and in time the anguish they're currently feeling will completely dissipate, but right now, they'll be going through all sorts of crazy emotions. Having been there I know it's not nice.

But as I said, they'll be fine. Good luck guys.

"Hello!,
You have no idea how much better you have made my husband and I feel!.. we just found out our baby boy will be born with a cleft lip and palate in our 21 week ultrasound and have been devastated. Looking up pictures and google we found your blog and you have given us hope that we can do this!. I cried so much reading your first post because it was as though I had written it myself! Thank you for writing your experience you have no idea how much you have helped us!"


Monday, 6 January 2014

5th Christmas

Crazy to think but that was Jake's fifth Christmas. And Freddie's 3rd. I recently went to my brother in law's 40th birthday and the guys got table gifts of grey wigs (as he is nearly completely grey) and as we all put them on, I remember thinking that we're all getting a lot older fast!

Christmas gets better and better as now both boys are excited and get what all the fuss is about...Jake's got to the 'more is more' stage of gift receiving and asking for more...something we tried to avoid but like screen time, squash and chocolate, there's a few things you let slide after a few years of being knackered into submission. Pick your battles they say.

Moving on, I subscribe to a free service which lets you store all of your digital photos ever taken for free in the cloud - (check out MyShoeBox) - anyway every day I get a 'this day in history' email which shows photos from this day 3 years ago and 8 years or some other random number...it's  brilliant way of looking at photos you'd almost certainly never see again unless you were really looking. Photos lost forever although stored safely and separately backed up, now popping up like magic.

Five years ago we were this very week planning to take Jake for his cleft lip repair - have another read about the big week.

Here's a couple of the last photos taken of his cleft lip.



And here's a few five years on!




Thursday, 14 November 2013

Autumn

It's been a funny old autumn really. If I had to sum it up in a word that word would most likely be 'shit'.

That might sound dramatic but the picture below is a woe-is-me selfie from A&E one Monday morning after a night where my heart was beating so fast and so hard I thought I'd written my last blog post. Of course, I wasn't having a heart attack but the doctors told me I was in the right place. My normally spot-on blood pressure was through the roof and I wasn't hypochondrically dreaming about the palpitations, there were in fact, palpitations. Anyway the root cause of this was a combination of stress and anxiety.



If anyone ever asked me if I was stressed I don't think I'd say I was but that's how it works...it creeps up on you slowly. Commuting, working under pressure, balancing finances, childcare and life's daily traumas slowly tap, tap, tap away at us and if it's not managed, something has to give. None of this is exclusive to me, this is modern life, deal with it. Man up. It's true, but it needed dealing with and I didn't deal with it. The doctor earlier in the year told me I was the sort of soul who needed to proactively seek relaxation and persevere with it; just 'chilling out' wasn't a possibility in his opinion. I did download a hypnotherapy course and went to a hot yoga class (I know!) but alas it wasn't enough.

I spoke to my dad and he said he'd gone through a virtually identical period of time. Late thirties, young, energetic kids, financial pressures, chasing the dream, worrying about the Joneses and suddenly you're shaking like the proverbial defecating dog. Things are improving but it's a day by day process which involves trying, as the sign on my kitchen wall triumphantly advises, not to sweat the small stuff and a Yantra mat - a sort of medieval torture mat containing 8,821 plastic spikes which dig into your back and release the requisite endorphins for a decent kip.

And so at this time of year, we inevitably look towards the next and what it will bring. Firstly it'll arrive without a thirteen and whilst I'm not overly superstitious, I'm definitely placing some of the blame of feeling so rubbish on that number. I will be besting my one month off the booze achievement from this January and lasting until March 9th when I run the inaugural Surrey half marathon - the aim is also lose 20 pounds in an effort to run the 13.1 miles in under 2 hours...a feat I missed by 8 minutes in the Royal Parks half.



So, having indulged me for this long on a blog about my son and not my state of well being, I suppose I ought to mention Jake. All things cleft related seem okay but one of his gromits has fallen out and his hearing has got quite a lot worse. Well that's how it seems, it's amazing what he sometimes chooses to hear and chooses to ignore! Seems to be a hearing epidemic in Surrey as the next available appointment is in December...for a child's hearing? Dreadful from a normally brilliant local service.

He celebrated his fifth birthday on September 8th and the day after he started school. That means two things; firstly my first born seems to have grown up very fast and secondly, this blog is 5 and half years old. Seems mental to think about all the time that has passed since I started writing this at 4 in the morning the day after we had his cleft diagnosed. Along with all the intangible and wonderful a child brings and lives through over 5 years here's a quick list:


  • 2 x cleft repair operations (1 lip, 1 palate)
  • 3 x new jobs (me), 1 x new job (Mrs F)
  • 1 x new kitchen, 1 x loft extension
  • 1 x wall fallen over
  • 3 x cars 
  • 1 x gromit insertion operation
  • 5 x holidays to Spain
  • 1 x second child
  • 1 x holiday to Lanzerote
  • 2 x holidays to Italy
As Ferris so eloquently said 'Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around every now and then, you could miss it'.