Monday, April 23, 2012

Lips that Touch a Kidney Pie Shall Never Touch Mine

The Premise:

If you're Greek, have lived in England for the past seven years and miss a good "sykotaria" (lamb offal including the liver, kidneys and lungs) you may have looked for some at the supermarket. And if you have failed to locate any but have managed to spot some pig kidney instead (the *should have remained* secret ingredient to the traditional steak and kidney pie) you may, like me, have decided it's worth buying some to see if it makes a suitable substitute.

The Discovery:

A few days after that fateful purchase I was innocently walking through the house when my nostrils were assaulted by an overpowering smell of piss. The likes of which I haven't smelled in 7 years of nappy changing, rabbit- hamster- and cat-litter box cleaning. My immediate assumption was that one of the pets had died, released its' bladder in the process, and was decomposing somewhere in the house. When all 4 of them proved to be alive and well, I (reluctantly) followed my nose down the stairs... to the kitchen... where my mother was found hunched over a pot of pig kidneys.

The Revelation:

Obviously the toxin-processing organ of a milk fed, grass eating animal like lamb smells very different from that belonging to 200 lbs of fully grown, omnivorous hog. Why that didn't occur to me before, I don't know. As I fled from the kitchen, retching and calling over my shoulder to my mum to please throw that away, it was clearly a bad idea, she was merrily showering it with oregano and lemon juice, saying "Well, let's see what it's like when it's cooked."

The Perennial Question:

Even if cooked piss smells better than raw piss, why would you want to eat it? MUM? WHY?!

The Narrow Escape:

Shut upstairs in the bedroom rubbing scented skin lotion around my nose, I could still smell it... clinging to me... inside me. It was like olfactory rape. Sending Peter down to tell mum again to THROW THEM AWAY didn't work either, and the only thing to do was to open all the windows and make a  run for it. Out for a walk. In the rain. It was preferable to smelling what might as well have been the incinerator contents of the incontinence ward of a geriatric hospital. Eau de Eau. (I know at this point you think I'm exaggerating for comic effect. How I wish I was. Although Peter found the entire thing highly entertaining.)
When I gathered my courage and returned to the House of Piss about half an hour later, the smell was indeed muchly improved. Which was simultaneously cause for relief and a new kind of horror. Every time I had a steak and kidney pie at a pub, just what had I been eating? 

The Resolution: 

Lips that touch a kidney pie shall never touch mine. Peter.
(And I managed to get my mum to throw it away in the end. Phew.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Wheel of Fortune, It Ran Us Over

When I was pretty much due to pop with Matilda, our car irreparably broke down. We had to scramble frantically to find a new car we could afford asap or risk having no transport when I go into labour. Luckily we managed to get a new car, and all was well.

In the month I was due to give birth to Philip, our *new* car irreparably broke down. Deja vous of the above mentioned frantic scrabbling was narrowly avoided when Peter's parents offered to give us their old car. But we were not naive. We could see the pattern forming.

So last month, when our *latest* car started making a strange rattling noise and we realised it was due for a service right around the time I was due with Clover in June, Peter did the prudent thing. He booked it in for an early service over Easter. My due date is two months away, I don't have to drive Philip to school, no fuss, right?


So, back track a little bit. About 3 weeks ago, I had a routine growth scan. The sonographer was happy with the measurements, but after I left the room, she came out and asked me to come in again. It turned out that even though Clover's measurements were within the normal ranges, they weren't normal when she plotted them on my customised growth chart (the chart created taking into account mine and Peter's heights, and the lengths and weights of our previous babies.) On that chart, Clover was really really small. No biggie, I was just going to have to come in two weeks later for a re-scan, to see if she'd had a growth spurt. In any case, there was a good chance there was some degree of error in the measurements.

Last Thursday was the date of my re-scan. Which showed that Clover had not grown in those two weeks. At. All. Apart from her head, which is still following the appropriate growth curve. At the moment there seems to be about a month's size worth of difference between her head and her body, which wasn't there at my 20 week scan. This pattern (asymmetrical and appearing in the third trimester) of growth restriction usually means there is some problem with the placenta. The consultant thinks for some reason my placenta is not working very well, and as a result Clover's body is directing all the (limited) nutrition she gets to her most vital organ, her brain. The risk with this is that if my placenta deteriorates any more, Clover's oxygen supply will also be affected.

So at the moment, this is where we stand. I have to go in at least a couple of times a week for a CTG (this is where they strap me on a monitor and record Clover's heart rate and movements for at least 30 minutes to assess her well being.) I have to be very careful about keeping track of how active she is every day. (Apparently one of the first signs that she's getting more poorly is that she'll slow down.) Any change in movements and I'm supposed to go in for yet more monitoring. I have to go in at least once a week for a Doppler scan to measure the blood flow through the umbilical cord and the levels of amniotic fluid around Clover. (If the placenta deteriorates these things will probably be affected.) And on next Friday, two weeks since the last measurements, I have to go for another growth scan to see if she has grown at all.

As I understand it after talking to the Consultant and a couple of midwives, if her movements slow down and/or the CTG isn't good, they'll likely deliver her right away. If the next Doppler scan (in two days' time) shows the liquor volume and/or cord blood flow is deteriorating, they'll likely deliver her right away. If by the next growth scan next Friday she still hasn't grown, they'll likely deliver her right away. If she has grown (a bit) they may decide to leave her in for a bit longer and keep a very close eye on her. Any deterioration and she's out. And even if everything goes really well, they would DEFINITELY not want to keep her in any longer as soon as I hit 37 weeks (considered full term.)

The bottom line is, this baby is likely to be born in the next three-four weeks if not sooner. And until then I'm going to be needing to make a lot of trips to the hospital.

In our car.

Which is sitting in the garage as we speak. Because they have found that the rattling noise was something (far far beyond my understanding) which means it's not really safe to drive or reliable. AND it may be too expensive to be worth fixing (we'll know in the next couple of days.) So we may well need to....

...wait for it...

...frantically start scrabbling for a new car, when I'm likely to give birth at any day.

To quote Terry Pratchett: "Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess, and you don't find out until too late that he's been playing with two queens all along."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Lowdown

This is a desperate attempt to ressurect my poor blog. (Hey, it's Easter, right? Seems appropriate...) Unfortunately I'm really out of practise and don't quite know how to go about it, so stick with me while I try to guide you through...



Yaya finally made the move from Greece to join us. It was a bit of an operation involving a chaperone (her friend Anna) and a taxi ride from London, but it worked and she's here. Transition went amazingly smoothly, and she has been getting a lot of help from physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Since she arrived, she has actually gained so much in mobility and independence. As of now, she is largely self sufficient around the house. She can get in and out of bed on her own, dress/undress without help, shower by herself, get in and out of the car (almost) by herself (she has a step stool to stand on, because our car is very high, so someone needs to put that in and out of the car for her, and a sort of nylon band to help her lift her leg high enough, which she handles herself,) go up and down the stairs to the kitchen, and generally potter around the house as normal. We even managed to get her to go out a few times! ;) When she arrived in August she could do none of these things, so this is massive improvement.

She has been getting to know the children, and she is responsible for feeding Philip when he refuses to eat his dinner :P


Philip started school. Since he had his Asperger's diagnosis before starting, we were able to spend a good amount of time meeting with his teacher beforehand, talking through Philip's needs and the ways we use at home to help him through things he finds challenging. He started with one-to-one support in the mornings only, since that was when most of the "structured teaching" would take place; but the school soon decided that Philip would do better with more support, and that it was especially the more "unstructured" and more chaotic times in the school day that he struggled with. (There were a few incidents, such as him trying to escape or hiding away during play time and refusing to come out.) His one-to-one support was expanded to include the whole day. Philip's One-to-One, Mr E, is fantastic, and Philip is very fond of him -and so am I! He has shown on many occasions that he really takes the time to figure out what makes Philip "tick" and I am 100% sure that this school year would have gone a lot less smoothly without him.

As it is, Philip loves school and is actually very popular -especially with the little girls! :P It is a constant source of amusement that Philip will be walking down the road to school and any number of little girls will start waving at him from across the street, or rushing over to hug and kiss him (sometimes in groups!) Philip would happily accept the attention and enjoy it, then I'd ask "Who was that Philip?" and the response would be "I don't know." (Friends and playmates are fine, names are not so important in Philip's brain!) His closest friends are 3 girls, all of whom claim he is their boyfriend. (Philip: "No Erin, I'm not your boyfriend. I'm your friend.") One of them likes giving him a bearhug, getting really close to him and saying "Philip, you like me, don't you? You really really REALLY like me!"

Of course, as much as some things about school are genuinely challenging for Philip, he does also try to "play the system" some times. ;) Example: Philip hates going to assembly, because it's too loud. They are working with him to help him find ways to manage it, and have a timer so that he *has* to stay in for a set length of time (gradually increasing.) Recently, Mr. E approaches me and asks if Philip has any snesitivities or aversions to specific colours -why? Because he has been saying he doesn't like the assembly hall, because of the colour of the walls. Hmmmmmm... That's the first time I've heard him mention that! Later that day, the following discussion takes place.

Me: Philip, Mr. E said you don't like the assembly hall.
Philip: Yes.
Me: What don't you like about it?
Philip: I don't like the walls. They're too brown. I don't like brown.
Me: Ok. Chocolate is brown. So now you don't like chocolate.
Philip: No! I like chocolate!
Me: Ok. But Bingo is brown. Does that mean you don't like Bingo anymore?
Philip! Nooo! I like Bingo!
Me: Mummy's hair is brown. Don't you like mummy any more?
Philip: No, I like mummy.
Me: Philip, I think you're trying to play a trick on Mr E. I don't think you don't like the colour of the walls in assembly. Tell me what it is you REALLY don't like.
Philip: The walls. They're....erm...too FLAT.
(Translation: Telling them it's too loud isn't working that well any more, let's try coming up with other things I don't like, it will buy me time!)


Teddy turned 2 years old, and started crawling. We encouraged him to do that by placing him on the floor and piling all his toys out of reach at the other end. Yes, we're mean :P Here is a video of him figuring it out (he started doing it proficiently a couple of weeks later.)

We also found out we're expecting baby #4. Currently nicknamed "Clover" and due around the 9th of June.


...passed in a blur of nausea and extreme tiredness. I suspect I may be having twins because the symptoms are so much more intense than they were with Matilda and Philip, but when I have my 12 week ultrasound we find out we're only having one baby. The whole of the month is filled with worry because I keep spotting blood (this happens on-again-off-again until January.)

Clover's first picture!


Nanny comes to stay and we host Christmas for the first time ever! It actually goes really well, I manage not to burn the food and everyone likes their presents. (Quote of the season: Matilda, upon opening her present from Yaya: *excited squeal* "Congratulations Yaya, you made a good choice!" (Erm... Thanks?)

We also get to go on the steam train and meet Santa, thanks to Teddy's special needs team! :)

Getting ready to board the Hogwards Express:

Teddy and his baloon:

Slightly underwhelmed by the party favours...

Tuckered out at the end of the ride:


This is the month that we will find out if Clover is a boy or a girl! Philip is absolutely convinced it's a girl and refuses to discuss the alternative. I'm counting down the days to my scan.

On the day of the scan, Philip is at school but we take Matilda with us so she can have a sneak peek of her baby brother or sister. The sonographer tells us she'll try and see the sex, but it's not always possible to say. But as soon as she looks, it's obvious -Clover is lying with *her* legs in the air, flashing the world!

February and March:

...are largely uneventful. Philip has a birthday party but no photos because the camera wasn't being cooperative. I start feeling Clover move and think about the birth. I want to have another homebirth like I did with Matilda.

The highlights of the month do include a few memorable Matilda quotes (where would we be without them?)

Quote #1:
Matilda: Mummy, I hope you're not planning to hoover the stairs, because playing with all that dust is very entertaining to me." (Errr... We aim to please!)

Quote #2:
Matilda: "When I grow up I'm going to be a police woman. And Philip can be my police brother. That's like a police dog, but a brother."

Aaaaand ACTION!