Back to school.

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She walks through the school gate and looks around to see who else was early on the first day of the school year. There are lots of small children running around chasing each other as a teacher calls out for them to “SLOW DOWN!” Off to the right, three boys sit on the concrete, facing each other swapping Pokemon cards. Two smaller girls sit beside them; the older one has taken out the younger girl’s ponytail and is attempting to re-do it herself. There are long strands of straight black hair blowing in the warm summer breeze, and the more the older girl tries to gather the fly-away hairs, the more she sets free.

After standing by the gate, gazing around, she slowly makes her way over to the metal benches by the fence and sits, resting her back on the fence while she waits for the school bell. She looks at her watch and notes that there are only a few minutes left until the bell rings.

As she rests her head back on the fence and ponders what today will have in store, she notices a boy who looks to be about eight years old standing in front of the water bubblers with a sullen look on his face. He’s standing in front of his father, who is dressed in a crisp black suit and white shirt with a purple tie. The boy has tears in his eyes and lifts his chin up towards the sky as if he’s willing them not to fall. His father is pointing at him and leaning into his face, almost spitting his words in anger. They’re too far away for her to hear what it’s about, but it’s clear the man is angry. The boy says nothing in return, but the father keeps digging his index finger into his chest and the boy keeps trying to keep his tears at bay. What appears to be the boy’s mother joins them from the car – a shiny new black BMW – and teeters over in her sky-scraping black patent leather heels. She smooths her suit jacket as she approaches them and looks to the man with pleading eyes. He immediately storms off and returns to his car while the mother puts her hand on the boy’s shoulder. They exchange a brief farewell and she joins her husband in the car just as the bell rings.

Everyone runs to the assembly area and picks up their bags to put on their backs. The school captains stand out front and lead the school in morning prayer. She can’t take her eyes off the boy. He’s struggling holding back the tears and just as one falls, her heart breaks for him.

As a mother, she just wants to hold him tight. She blows her boys a kiss each and heads back to the car for another day at home with text books of her own and a baby girl to distract her.

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Christmas, 1983: Part II

I remember a handful of things from that humid summer’s night in 1983. I remember walking through the streets in a track suit, rugged up because it was the middle of the night, despite it being summer. We walked for a long time (or maybe my four-year old feet just imagined that bit).

Then we came to a police station. It was quiet, so there were no other people around. We were ushered into a small meeting room with flourescent lights, a big square table and four chairs. One police officer was talking to Mum, who was crying, and the other took me to make a cup of tea. I sat beside Mum, sipping at the tea while they talked but I don’t recall what it was about.

The policemen then took us to a house which looked like any other ordinary house. The lady who opened the front door had red hair. And I don’t mean Auburn or Copper, but it was PRIMARY RED. She smiled sweetly and ushered us into a kitchen where lots of people were packing away from what looked like a very big dinner party.

That night we slept in bunk beds on the second floor of the old wooden house with wooden floor boards. The next morning the red-haired lady went in search of some clothes for us to wear. I got a pair of boys’ pyjamas. They were blue cotton shorts and a button-up shirt with little cars printed all over them.

Mum told me we were in a refuge. I remember for many years to come, I would always think of the nice red-haired lady when we crossed a road and there was a “refuge island” sign. I used to wonder if there was another house nearby like the one with the red-haired lady.

A few days later, Santa visited the refuge. He brought toys, and I got a small cushion with a picture printed on it and three washable textas. I coloured it in but Mum didn’t want me to wash it because the washing machine was only for clothing, and she didn’t want to ask them to throw a silly cushion into the wash.

After our stay in the refuge, I think we went back to the unit with the crunchy stuff on the ceiling. It wasn’t for long, but I think the next time we ran away, we did it with at least a few changes of clothes. I think there was a difficulty with us staying in Australia if the marriage was no longer valid, so all charges were dropped and we moved into the spare room of a friend’s place until Mum got a job and got back on her feet. I recall Mum saying to someone that she was very lucky that his arm was in a sling as it was broken in a body-building accident. If that really was the case, I think we’re both very lucky.

I’ve often wondered what happened to those two boys. His sons… I managed to find one on Facebook a while ago, but wouldn’t dream of making contact. I do wish I had the chance to thank the red-haired lady though. Looking back, I can see that she helped us out when we had nothing at all… and we were only there a short time. I can’t imagine all the good she would have done to the hundreds of other women and children who passed through her house. If you know of anyone like this, please thank them. From me, and from the many other people they have helped, many of which may not even know it.

Thank YOU.

Christmas, 1983

I recently read Emma Donoghue’s Room for my Reading Crime unit and I found a few of the details triggered some memories. It was nothing traumatic, but the way Donoghue told the story from the child’s perspective made me want to experiment a little. So here you go…. I’m not sure how I’m going to end this one, but just that I’m not quite finished yet.

C.


It’s hot and my face is getting sticky. I can hear Mummy and Mick yelling. I think she wants me to have a bike for Christmas but Mick says no. Scott and Andrew are getting bikes but I’m not allowed. I can hear Mummy cry but not too much because I’m in the wardrobe. It’s locked but I can still see through the crack in the middle so I push my eye close up against it. It’s bright out there but dark inside. My nose is ticklish but I don’t want the sneeze to come because I have to be as quiet as a mouse. Mummy yells again and then there’s a bang. I can’t see them in the crack anymore but I can still hear the yelling. That’s how I know she’s OK. He’s a doctor too and he’s always telling me one day he’s going to take me to his work and cut my tonsils out. He scares me but Mummy says it’s joking. Mick yells, “SHE DOESN’T NEED A BIKE, BIRTHDAY OR NOT!” I’m like Jesus. I have the same birthday. This year I’ll be four whole fingers big! It’s all my fault that they’re yelling though, because all they’re saying is about the bike. I don’t want one. I just want them to be quiet and stop yelling so I can come out of the wardrobe. My face is starting to get wet and I need to do a wee…

NEW YEAR’S TRADITIONS

I’m originally from the UK and have been living in Australia since the early eighties. Having spent a few of the Christmas holidays over the years back home with family, I’ve become familiar with a few English traditions and I decided that this year (or last year), hubby would carry out one of those traditions at our place in Australia.

So just before midnight, hubby opened the back door and let 2014 out. He then walked around the front of the house carrying some salt, coal & bread through the front door. This was to encourage the new year to bring enough food to eat (bread), enough money (salt), and enough warmth (coal) into our home. I’ve always thought this tradition was kind of sweet and somewhat therapeutic so I’ve decided we’re going to continue it through the years. Growing a family in a home which is made up of two very different nationalities, I think it’s important to be able to bring both cultures and traditions into the lives of our children. Oh and I decided at about 3.00 this morning that Strawberry Daiquiris are going to be our own little tradition too. Happy New Year!

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How do you know when you’re done?

One year and three months ago I found out my baby had died inside me. I had a D&C as my body froze up in disbelief and refused to let go. I was then was advised to wait three months before trying again. I was supposed to be thirteen weeks pregnant but my baby measured ten weeks plus five days.

One year ago today, my third post-miscarriage cycle was complete and a new one had just begun. We were getting ready to have a few friends over for New Year’s Eve, and I was going to have a few drinks as I wasn’t ovulating until around the fifth of January. I had a bender that night and although it was still shadowed with sadness, lots of cuddles with our two boys, time with good friends, and a few laughs it was really good for me. That night was the last time I felt tipsy.

I’m happy to report that this year, I still cannot have a heavy night on the Strawberry Daiquiris because I am breastfeeding our four-month-old baby girl (she was conceived in the first days of 2014 and arrived four weeks early for those doing the maths). This year though, I’m filled with sadness and uncertainty. I always wanted four children; my husband was happy to stop after our two boys. Our baby girl was our compromise. But how do I know we’re finished? When I was pregnant this last time I vowed I would never go through it again. Every scan terrified me. Every symptom had me worried, every lack of symptom had me picturing that still lifeless figure of a baby on the ultrasound screen … I just never wanted to go through it again. We also just do not have the room for another child. I thought I was OK with that, but now I’m not so sure.

I know I should be grateful for even having the choice to try again. Many people are not so lucky. Some have one child but run into roadblocks on number two, and many don’t even have that chance. I am eternally grateful for the three beautiful children I have and I feel like I should just listen to hubby and stop pondering another … but I can’t help wonder if I’m going to regret not having that one last baby when I’m old and wrinkly.

I’ve googled and even good old Mr Google doesn’t have the answer. The internet is just flooded with many more women asking the same one. How do we know when we’re done? Will I ever know?

TOP FIVE THINGS I’VE LEARNT THESE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS

These holidays I have been making the effort to get my kids out of the house as much as possible. There’s a great new water play park near our place so we’ve walked down to that a few times, done some shopping, visited friends, had friends over for a play. We’ve been really busy, which is great because I am incapable of sitting around at home all day every day. I have, however, learnt a few lessons during the school holidays.

1 – Do NOT take all three of your children to the local pools.

Until a few weeks ago, my two boys aged six and four were terrified of the water. We’ve been through years of swimming lessons which have resulted in them fake vomiting on the side of the pool, waking up crying every morning asking with big, wet, puppy dog eyes “Is it swimming today?” and when they were younger, claw marks down mummy’s back and chest from a toddler trying to scratch their way out of the pool. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super proud of my kids overcoming their fear of water, but they are now fearless little people. Fearless kamikaze children are NOT what you want to be watching slowly creeping their way towards the deep end of the pool while you’re trying to breastfeed a newborn. So lesson learnt – only go to the pool when hubby doesn’t have to work.

2 – Do NOT take ANY kids to the water play park in Darling Harbour on a busy summer’s day.

That place is like one giant MOVING Where’s Wally picture. You can blink and lose a child. Even when I dress my children in the brightest stripes, which I often find make it easier to find them, there is still no way to spot them. Hundreds of moving children and water DO NOT MIX. Don’t do it if you value your sanity.

3 – Do a toy cull with your children.

I’ve not done this one yet but it’s on my list. My kids have been seriously spoilt, as they do each year, but they also learn to let go of older toys. Most of the time I remove the things they no longer play with and donate/give them away or throw them out while they’re not home, but this time my six-year-old will help. I’m hoping the pain from the wailing “I WAAAANT THAAAAT!” is outweighed by him learning where everything goes so that he has some direction come pack-up time. I’m sure he’ll still blame any mess on his little brother, but it’s worth a shot, right?

4 – Do NOT leave uni essays until the last minute.

I always have the best intentions and aim to have my uni assessments started way ahead of time. What I really do is procrastinate, write-up the cover page, procrastinate some more, check the formatting … Skim through the novel again, stick some post-it notes in a few pages, vacuum the house, check the formatting again … You get the idea. This always results in me sitting up until half an hour before the due date, frantically typing away then submitting without proofing. I honestly think this is where my best work comes from, but it’s not a pleasant process and I become an evil, snappy, cranky MUMSTER. There’s my new year’s resolution right there – I will NOT leave my work until the eleventh hour. Wish me luck on that one. Actually, I have one cover page to check over right now, yet here I am …

5 – Enjoy your children.

The holidays will be over before we know it. I want to look back at the end of my holidays and know I’ve spent time with my children. I want to know I’ve shared some laughs, helped them to the next level on Knack (the PS4 game) a few times, shared a special meal or two with them, watched a movie with them, and just generally made memories. And along the same lines, take many photos. These memories when our children are young will be gone in the blink of an eye. I like to make photo albums every year or two. I order them online and they are printed and shipped out to me. So far I have four, and they are my most prized possessions. If my house went up in flames, they would be the first thing I’d grab after my children. We all take photos and they get uploaded to social media, or they get saved to a hard drive. But what do we then do with them? I choose my absolute favourites and compile an album. They are such beautiful things to look at after time has passed. I highly recommend it.

So there you go – the top five things I’ve learnt from these school holidays. I know I’ll make it to the end, where another phase of my life begins. I will have two children in school, no daycare fees, and subsequently only one location to drop children off at. Bring on 2015. May we all make beautiful memories and live happy healthy lives.

“The Santa Lie”

The last few weeks I’ve seen a picture being shared around social media. This picture is a message to all parents to please keep less fortunate children in mind when shopping for presents “from Santa”. The idea is to make one or two small gifts from Santa and if you chose to spoil your child, do so from yourself instead. It suggests that children will compare what they are given from Santa and those less fortunate will feel disappointed that Santa was more generous with other children.

My first thought was “how dare someone else suggest how I choose to share the magic of Christmas with my children”. My second thought was to read some of the other comments being shared around social media. Yes, I can see there may be some benefit to each child being treated equally by the big guy in the red suit, but do children REALLY compare gifts? How about we teach our children a little humility and discretion instead? Isn’t talking about “what you got” the essence of bad manners anyway? And not every child wants the same thing, so how can we all possibly try to keep on the same level in terms of size or price of gifts? The whole suggestion that we need to be mindful of how much we spoil our children at Christmas seems a little ridiculous to me. Let’s teach our children to be mindful of others and not brag instead. They then learn a lifelong attribute and are better people for it in the long run.

I’ve also noticed a whole new debate being argued by some people: the “I wouldn’t dare LIE to my children, so my kids know that Santa isn’t real” debate. I am in shock. I’m not talking about children who are old enough to have figured it out on their own or even heard the rumours in school, but I’m talking about parents of two and three year old children. Since when is it so bad to create a fantasy and give our children a little bit of magic once a year? Do these people HONESTLY live their lives not telling one single white lie? Do they answer “yes” when their partner asks “Does my butt look big in this?” When their five year old child comes to them asking when they’re going to die, do they honestly answer that they could die at any moment, or do they console their child and respond with a comforting “You’re not going anywhere as long as I have anything to do with it”? Are we really THAT concerned that we shouldn’t lie to our children, that we’d sacrifice such a magical experience which won’t last forever? Since when is working hard and spoiling our children with a little white lie once a year so bad?

If you think it’s such a bad thing, then perhaps you need to watch “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and do a little soul searching.

A Birth Story

Throughout my most recent pregnancy, my biggest fear was going into labour when hubby was at work. He works from 2pm until midnight, and I know the majority of women that spontaneously go into labour do so during the hours of darkness. I’ve also had the pleasure of having a super fast and relatively easy labour with my first son. With him, my water broke just before midnight and he was born at 1:26am with just the use of gas and air and two pushes. My second son was born via scheduled caesarean as he was in the Frank Breech position, which basically means he was ready to greet the world butt first. Even before he was born, his personality was shining through. Unfortunately, he was unable to turn head down as he had the cord around his neck three times. Having had both a caesarean and natural labour before, I was aiming for another natural delivery; however, having also been on the edge of post natal depression following the caesarean birth of my son, I was also determined to not let the birthing process influence my emotions. Birthing is such a small blip on the radar of motherhood, and several weeks later it won’t matter how you birthed your baby as long as it’s healthy and you’re both happy.

It’s 11:30pm and I’ve just waddled to bed, complete with empty bladder, ready to settle in for a mediocre night’s sleep (this is the best I’ve come to expect in months). I wedge my pregnancy pillow under one side of my belly and gently roll myself onto it. Then I feel a warm gush between my legs. It’s way too much for it to have been the result of a pregnant bladder. I slide my pants down and jumped out of bed to turn the light on. As my finger flicks over the light switch, I hear a loud “SPLAT” and look down to see a puddle of water at my feet. My eyes go wide. I’m thirty-six weeks pregnant … I look at my watch … It’s 11.30pm. I will be thirty-six weeks pregnant in thirty minutes.

The words of my obstetrician flicker in the back of my mind when he was joking with my husband after the birth of my first son: “Better take note, the next time you might be delivering your own baby at home!”

I take three steps to the right towards my hospital bag which still needs some last minute additions. I pause then take a few steps towards the kitchen where hubby’s emergency work contact number is. I pause again and head towards the bathroom. I turn back around and race back into the bedroom, grab my mobile phone then I go to the bathroom, finally able to commit to a course of action. My hands are shaking and I have no idea what to do first. I sit on the toilet and hear another gush of liquid. I look down to make sure it’s clear then replace my underwear with a giant maternity pad (read: “miniature pillow”) and head towards the fridge. I call hubby’s emergency work number, which I find on a magnet on the fridge, and advise his manager that I am in labour. He replies “He’s on his way!” but I don’t miss the slight snicker in his voice.

I then text hubby, but my shaking fingers don’t quite work properly.

Git hom qik.

Com now.

DUCK! In laboru! Get home now!

My mobile phone rings and I answer immediately. He breathes down the phone, “Are you for real?” I assure my husband this is no joke. I explain I’ve had no contractions yet so will wait for him to get home as he’s already on his way.

I go into my inlaws’ bedroom and nudge my mother-in-law just as I hear my four year old son wake up calling out “I need-to-go toilet!”. I tell her my waters have broke and ask her to help me.

I help my son to the toilet, then guide him back to his bed. My mother-in-law tends to him while I throw my phone charger and iPad into the hospital bag along with my most comfortable tracksuit pants and a breastfeeding top.

I phone the hospital and tell them my waters have broke and I have a history of fast labours but no contractions yet so I’ll just wait until they kick in. The midwife asks how far along I am. When I tell her I’m thirty-six weeks, she says not to wait for anything, but get there as soon as possible.

As I hang up, I hear my husband’s car pull up out the front and I meet him at the back door. He throws his things into the kitchen, changes his shirt and heads off to the car. I duck back into my bedroom to use the doppler to check for the baby’s heartbeat. After you’ve had a miscarriage, there is never any point where you take anything for granted and I realise I’d not felt any kicks since my waters broke. With a steady heartbeat detected, we head off to the hospital

We walk into the birthing suite and are greeted by a petite young midwife. She’s in her late twenties, has her hair tied back in ponytail, a name badge which reads “Louise” and she speaks with an English accent which reminds me of my family overseas. I giggled with excitement while she asks me several questions. She checks my pad and hooks me up to the monitors then the room fills with the loud beat of my baby’s heart. Louise explains that it would be better for baby if she stays inside for at least another week, so as long as I have no contractions, I will stay in hospital while baby gains some more weight. She leaves the room and we start to discuss names as we still have no idea what we’re going to call this baby.

Not even ten minutes pass and I feel some light cramping. A few minutes later, I feel what I’m sure is a contraction. While I’m squeezing hubby’s hand and breathing through the pain, the steady thud of her heart beat slows down. It’s noticeable, but once the contraction finishes, her heart beat picks back up again. Louise the midwife reappears to check a few things, and I ask her if that was normal. She says it can happen, but we’ll definitely keep an eye on it. She gives me IV antibiotics as a precaution since I’ve not had the routine swabs done yet. My obstetrician is overseas and I have an appointment to meet his colleague next week. It looks like I’m not quite going to make it …

We’re alone again in the room and I feel another contraction coming on. This one is tough. My stomach muscles go rock hard, I feel like I have horrible period cramping but it keeps increasing in intensity. I grab hold of hubby’s hand and rock back and forth groaning in pain. This one is knocking me about and doesn’t seem to be stopping. I realise the steady beat of the baby’s heart has become one beat every two or three seconds. I look at hubby with frantic eyes while breathing through the pain and start to shake my head and point at the monitor. Hubby can hear it too. I start to panic. There is no beating. I say “COME ON!” and hear one beat … then another … Hubby hits the emergency button and the midwife comes running. My contraction has finished but the baby’s heartbeat remains scarily low. I picture my little baby girl struggling for oxygen. Can I have made it this far and go home without a baby? My mind starts to ponder how easy things can go wrong.

Louise goes out to call the obstetrician who I’m scheduled to meet the following week. She says there is every possibility that I may need an emergency caesarean. I tell her that it doesn’t matter how it happens, but we need the baby to be OK. Louise returns to the room and explains that they’ve called a Code 1, which means the theatre staff, anaesthetist and all relevant medical staff are to get to the hospital immediately. They put a drip in my arm and start preparing me for surgery. Once my nail polish is removed and I’m changed into a gown, they wheel me down for surgery. Baby’s heart beat is still too slow and they prepare me to be put under a General Anaesthetic. I cry at the thought that I may sleep through the birth of my baby. They go through the protocol and as the last of the theatre staff arrive with mussed hair and smudged eye makeup, her heart rate returns back to normal. The anaesthetist is a solid man with an accent and a deep voice. He explains to me that we’re going to have time for a spinal block so I can be awake for the birth of my baby, and the recovery is much easier.

I had my first son without an epidural not because I’m wonder woman, but my fear for the giant needle far outweighs my fear of the pains of natural child birth. I honestly HATE needles. I don’t know how I do it, but I relax and curl my spine forwards while he inserts the spinal block. The pain and feeling of that needle going in will always be the worst feeling I’ve ever felt in my life, but it only takes a minute and I can already feel my legs going tingly. They lie me back on the cold metal table and I start to shake. I’m covered with multiple layers of warm blankets as they bring in my husband who takes his seat to my left.

After a quick check to ensure I couldn’t feel any pain, I start to feel tugging. My body is jolted around so much that I worry I might fall off the table. The anaesthetist explains to me that there is scar tissue to get through so it will take a little bit longer than last time. Hubby and I chat for a few minutes and then someone calls out “Get your camera ready!” Hubby raises his mobile phone to the top of the curtain in front of us and the obstetrician lowers the sheet. I’m not expecting this and I don’t want to see my insides, but it is the most amazing sight I’ve ever seen. Just as I look down, I can see my daughter’s head. Her face is all scrunched up, her eyes are shut tight. A hand comes around her neck and she’s lifted out of my stomach. I cannot believe it. I have just watched my daughter being lifted into the world. She lets out a loud cry and I start to sob.

Louise explains to me that they will measure her in theatre, but if she weighs less than 2.4kg, she’ll be transferred to the special care nursery. If she’s over that, then she can room in with me and we can bond like I did with my other two. I hold my breath while she’s weighed. Louise explains that she weighs 2.395kg, but there is another set of scales upstairs in the labour ward and they could be out by up to 30grams. Hubby goes with them and our tiny new baby and I call out for them to “just lean on the scales a tiny bit”.

Once I’m stitched up and have spent some time in recovery, I’m wheeled into my room on the maternity ward. Hubby is there waiting already with our baby girl, who is completely healthy and weighed in at a refreshing 2.406kg.

Apart from a bit of jaundice a few days later, she has had no problems. From the day she was born, she has fed and slept just perfectly. She doubled in size in the first six weeks, and even the paediatrician who had called her “scrawny” in hospital commented that she had piled on the weight and even looked chubby.

The birth of my daughter was meant to be my perfect labour, just like I had with my first son, but things don’t always go to plan. Just like with my second son, I needed to have a caesarean for the safety of my baby. The difference is that with him, I was in denial right up until the last minute, I resented the fact that I needed major surgery when my first labour was so easy. I panicked and needed much more drugs than necessary which meant I couldn’t walk or hold my baby for a few days. This was a big factor in my mental health following the caesarean. It took me a long time to get over the disappointment of things not going to plan, and those times sometimes cast a shadow over what should have been happy bonding time with my new baby.

This caesarean experience I was determined not to panic and to just accept what was going to happen was required for the safety of my baby. I would do anything for my husband and children, and this small sacrifice is one of many which I’d do again. One thing that I was sure of is that I wasn’t going to let my failed expectations cloud one of the most memorable moments of my life. And when you don’t fight it, a caesarean’s really not that bad at all.

Thank you for reading.

Love and Laughter

My husband rocks. No, really. I’ve not been hacked, it’s still me and he honestly rocks!

I was thinking today of all the times he’s made me wet my pants over the years. Sometimes it’s been begrudgingly on my part. You know when someone is being so cheeky that you try to keep a straight face, but inside you’re just bursting to cry with laughter? There have been many times where I’ve tried to be angry at him but it very rarely works. He just makes me laugh.

First, there is the “car-waft”. When we were first dating and we’d pull up to traffic lights in the car, he would promptly wind down his window while fanning his face and pointing at me. If the car was close enough, he’d even tell them “Awwwww she farted!” No matter how many times you’d shake your head and deny it, you could tell by the look in their eyes that these people do not believe you. After all, even if you DID do it, you’d still be denying it.

Next is the “salad sandwich”. My husband is Lebanese and I am English. His family and friends are the most welcoming and hospitable people I have ever met. If you shiver, they will try to force you to take the jumper off their shoulders. They often show their love through food, and much of their lives revolve around sumptuous feasts. Even to this day, when we pull out the barbecue to cook the kids a few sausages for dinner, my in-laws start asking who we’re inviting to the “barbecue”. And it’s said like you’d say “wedding” or “christening”. Anyway, whenever we would visit his friends who still lived at home (and even his parents in the early days), they would always offer us food. I’d politely shake my head and say “No thank you” and hubby would say “She was just saying she wants a salad sandwich”. The lady of the house would always without fail, excitedly reply with “You want a salad sandwich? I make for you!” I’d then smile and explain that no, we had eaten on our way over, then he would lean forward and say “She’s shy, she’s going to tell you she doesn’t want one, but she really does”. This would then result in AT LEAST twenty minutes of “Are you sure?” and “I’m happy to make one for you” while hubby would sit opposite me snickering at my discomfort.

Another one he’s got me with over the years is the “shopping list edit”. Imagine this: You’re heading out to the local supermarket with several items on your list. You have a toddler who sits in the trolley scribbling on the shopping list, and then you bump into someone you know. You’re stood there chatting away and they look down at the note pad with the shopping list and scribbles and you realise hubby has added a special item which won’t be found in the medication aisle next to the condoms. Your list now looks like this:

* Bread

* Milk

* D**k suck

* Baked Beans

* Yoghurt…

You’re smiling at the person in front of you while they look down at the notepad encouraging your toddler to keep drawing. The only thing you can do is start jolting the shopping trolley from side to side in the hope that their eyes can’t focus enough to make out the new addition to your shopping list. – Not. Cool. (My son’s neck is getting better by the day, I promise).

I’m sure there are more, but I’ll leave you with those gems for now. And it has to be said: Sorry ladies, he’s taken! 😛

Cancer, please don’t take my friend.

I don’t know what to say but know I need to say something. I’m lost. I’m angry, scared and upset. A friend of mine has been battling breast cancer and a myriad of related ailments for a few years now and it seems the end is near. I’m scared for her, as I know she’d be scared too. I’m upset that her two boys aged six and eight will grow up without a mother. I’m lost because I have no idea what to say. The tears are flowing, and my heart is aching for her, but I can’t put how I’m feeling into words. I just know I need to write.

My friend (we’ll call her “S”) had her second son the same month as I had my first, so we were in the same birth group on a parenting forum. From there, she drifted off when the majority of us moved over into a private Facebook group. Our group stayed active and from her Facebook profile it appeared that S had suffered a miscarriage. I contacted her and reminded her that we moved over into a private group and that we were there for her if she needed people to talk to. She accepted my invitation and one of the first posts she read was one from another friend whose boss was dying from breast cancer. This friend urged us all to check our breasts.

From that moment, things moved fast for S. She found a lump, then had a mammogram, then a biopsy and was scheduled for surgery within a few weeks. She had an extremely rare type of breast cancer which had grown very fast. S received treatment, which appeared to be successful and after a long battle, she was in remission. The medications and treatments had led to weight gain, hair loss, and her body would never look the same again following a double mastectomy and reconstruction, but no matter what, she was always so positive and to many, was the most beautiful person in the world.

I guess what gets to me the most are the similarities between S and myself. It could very easily be me saying goodbye to my loved ones. She’s a few years older than me, had two boys first, two years apart then had a miscarriage. I guess I looked at her and thought “that will be me two years from now” … until the cancer hit. For her, that lost baby is the reason she was able to get treatment in time and extend her life, to gain a few extra years with her boys. For me, I was blessed to go on to conceive the girl we both always wanted. Why though? I was certainly no more deserving than she was.

Tonight I fed my baby girl with tears falling on the pink muslin wrapped around her. Then I burped her on my shoulder with the only movement coming from my sobs while I pondered how extremely lucky I am. S has been given a few days to live. To hold her boys, and say goodbye to many who have been blessed to have known her. Why do bad things happen to good people? I’m scared for S and I can’t imagine how hard these next few days will be for her. How do you spend those last few days with your boys without being an absolute mess? One thing I do know is that S will do it. She is one strong woman and she will do what many people couldn’t. She always has.

To any women out there reading now: CHECK YOUR BREASTS!

This post is dedicated to the most amazingly strong and inspiring woman I will EVER know. I love you. xx