It's only 9 months... but it feels like Maternity...

Now Known As Postnatal Oppression

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Well, would you believe it - Spawn made it to his first birthday! You have to hand it to him for overcoming what would appear to be insurmountable obstacles (namely, the parents he's got).

We didn't have a party for him - how ridiculous. He's one - he'll never remember anything about his first birthday. I saw it as my job to make it look like he had a fantastic time, take photos as evidence, but not to actually put myself through anything resembling that amount of hard work.
Therefore, we invited no guests but assumed that an assortment of grandparents would call in at various points to bring cards, and a gift would be nice but hey, no pressure.

Spawn woke up on his birthday with not the slightest inkling, at his normal time, and happily began his day as normal. We gave him a birthday card to open from us, and hurriedly removed it when he tried to chew a corner off and rip it in half. He had Weetabix for breakfast as normal, tolerated me taking some pictures of him, a quick pitstop while me and the Husband had a check-up at the dentist, had a nice nap, and we went off to Eureka. When everyone there sang Happy Birthday to him, he raised one eyebrow and glanced around at everyone with an "O.... K...." expression on his face. So far, his birthday was going extremely well.

We got back home, had lunch, and within half an hour we were full to bursting with grandparents. Spawn happily greeted them all. Then the Husband's niece called to say she was coming over to bring a card, but she'd locked herself out and had no car keys, and no-one was around to let her back in. I drove over and picked her, and her 2-year old son, up, saying she was welcome to wait at ours until her mum got back from work. We got back to our house, and it was time for Spawn to have presents. The 2 year old (Spawn's second cousin) pounced - he was ripping paper off before Spawn had the faintest idea what was going on. When he'd got the paper off, he snatched the toys away and began playing with them. Spawn saw most of his presents whiz past him without realising they were actually for him. Whenever we did manage to sneak a present to him, his cousin would stop playing with whatever he'd got, run over and snatch the new one off Spawn. When he tired of that, he decided to chase our cats , who jumped up out of his way. So he climbed up after them - onto windowsills, the sofa, then onto the arm of the sofa, then onto the back of the sofa - at which point I told him NO, grabbed him and put him back on the floor. He decided to push our clock off the fireplace, at which point the Husband told him NO, grabbed him and put him back on the floor. He then grabbed as much food as he could off the table and began stuffing it into his face, and running around the living room spraying the floor and furniture with crumbs (Spawn only eats at the table, in his highchair, so we've never had to contend with this level of mess). He snatched away Spawn's birthday balloon, and even managed to fit in a smack on Spawn's head when Spawn held onto an In The Night Garden book that his Nanny had just given him.

His mother, b-l-e-s-s her, might as well have not been there, for all the control she had over him and the notice he took of her. When they finally left, she walked out of the house without even saying goodbye. I called after her "Bye then," and she waved without even turning her head "Oh yeah, bye" and carried on walking out to the car. Easy to see where her son got his charming manners from.

My head was thumping, I was pissed off and feeling guilty that I hadn't been a welcoming enough hostess and hugely upset that this day was meant to have been Spawn's day, which is why we'd invited no other children, and it had ended up all about 2 Year Old. The Husband tried to cheer me up by saying that on the video he'd taken, he'd managed to avoid filming 2 Year Old as much as possible, and when he played it back to show me, we found that there was something wrong with the tape and the footage of Spawn's birthday cake with everyone singing Happy Birthday to him was all distorted and liney and virtually unwatchable.

Perfect - because for a moment there I'd been hoping that even after everything, his very first birthday, which you only get once and is special for that reason, the one which brought back so clearly all those memories and emotions of that incredible day for me, hadn't actually been ruined. But no - thanks very much Gods/Fate/Karma, just putting me straight there were you, in case I might actually have salvaged a smidge of happiness from it all? I do beg your pardon. What on earth was I thinking?

What do I take away from this though? Well, Spawn was perfectly happy for the best part of the day. He didn't know that his presents (and his day) were being monopolised by a badly-behaved grubby, spoilt toddler. He finished his birthday as he finishes every day, with an episode of In The Night Garden, a bath and a bottle, and went to sleep at his normal time in his normal sound manner, having had, in his opinion, a lovely day thank you very much. The Husband's niece is the one who gave us generous amounts of clothes when her son outgrew them all, and so I will give her the benefit of the doubt and assume it was a bad day for her. 2 Year Old is 2 years old, and knows no better if he's not told any differently, and Spawn may well be behaving the exact same way this time next year.

Yeah right. Over my dead body he will.

I've suddenly remembered why I didn't write anything in between New Year and now - I was reeling from having to cope with both the Husband and Spawn being incredibly ill at the same time. This was in January.

The Husband came home from work one day, and I'd made him a sandwich for lunch. He didn't look too great (and hadn't been feeling 100% for a couple of days) but he said it was because he was tired and just wanted something to eat. So he commenced with the sandwich. Half way through it, he rushed to the loo and threw most of it back up. Now I'm not exactly Nigella, but I didn't think I could get a sandwich that wrong. And in fact I couldn't remember the last time he'd been sick where alcohol hadn't been involved. Spawn had been particularly ratty for most of that day, but I'd put it down to that great catch-all, 'Teething'. I asked the Husband if he thought Spawn looked a funny colour, but he just said it was probably because Spawn was tired. Anyhoo, I carried on, bathed and put Spawn to bed, and attended to dinner.

After about an hour, the Husband looked at Spawn on the baby monitor and said "Is he - I think he's - oh shit!" We raced up the stairs, to find poor Spawn spewing like a volcano. I'd got there first, just as everything fountained back down onto him - his entire head was covered, and the shock of it had frightened him so much he was gasping. I grabbed him, turned him over onto his front and just held him as he then carried on puking his poor little guts up onto his bed.

By now he was wailing, but I just stripped him out of his sleeping bag and whisked all his bedding off the cot. The Husband took him into the bathroom and tried to see where to start undressing him - the poor little sod's sleepsuit was covered. Luckily I hadn't emptied Spawn's bathwater out and it was still warm. "Just put him straight in," I said. In he went, clothes, nappy and all. As I got everything off him and began rinsing him, the Husband sank down onto the floor in the hallway. Running up the stairs had knocked him for six and he'd gone dizzy and felt sick again. "Get into bed you," I ordered. Spawn had stopped wailing and was sobbing unhappily, then he looked at me with his big brown eyes and started to cry just as he had to let go from both ends into the bath. I lifted him out of the bath and sat him in the sink, and washed him for the third time that night from head to toe. When I laid him on his towel and bundled him up, the poor little thing was shivering and sobbing. I sang a couple of songs to him, and told him that he was a good boy, and he calmed down, but he was so tired and yawning. I dressed him in a clean sleepsuit, cleaned and remade his bed, put him in a clean sleeping bag and put him back in to sleep, and the poor baby lay quietly and dozed off within minutes. I then cleaned the bath and sink with sterilising fluid, and put all the dirty clothing, bed linen and teddies in the washing machine.

When I went in to see the Husband, he was lying in bed wearing pyjamas, with the duvet and 2 extra blankets over and he was shivering and freezing cold to the touch. I went downstairs and made him a hot water bottle - something I don't think I've had to do for him in the 13 years we've been together. By now it was about half past nine. I put the washing into the tumble dryer and settled down to try and eat some dinner. I glanced at the baby monitor and noticed Spawn starting to twitch in his sleep. I looked, and he suddenly started to thrash. I ran upstairs, and as I got into his room, the volcano was back. We went through the whole procedure again - but this time I was on my own. I stripped him out of his sleeping bag and raced him into the bathroom. He had his fourth bath, again puking into it but luckily right at the end so I could just swoop him out of it before it started to drift. I bundled him up, soothing him with songs and cuddles, then dressed him in yet another clean sleepsuit. The Husband had heard the commotion but was too weak to even move from the bed.

At this point, I'd run out of clean sheets and sleeping bags for Spawn, and wasn't happy about him sleeping in his own room if he was going to be sick again. But I hadn't anything else for him to sleep in - he was way too big for his basket now, and if I put him in his pop-up travel cot and he puked in that, it would be quite a job to get him out of it quickly, not to mention to clean. In the end, I folded up a towel, laid it on his change mat, and he slept on that, on the floor in our room, with a blanket over him. I could tell he was feeling like crap because he quite happily accepted the arrangement when I put him down on it. The Husband reached down from the bed and stroked him, which was as much as he could manage. I had another load of bedding and clothes to wash and dry.

I managed to get into bed by about 2 o'clock in the morning, and after listening to Spawn sleeping, had finally managed to doze off for about 30 minutes, when a loud noise outside awoke me. Suddenly there was the sound of two people screaming at each other, right outside our house. One young man's voice was explaining to a young woman that he did not care for her any more and she was a strumpet, who was to please leave. I couldn't believe it - I thought I was dreaming for a minute, but the Husband had leapt out of bed and was at the window. The screaming continued, as did the loud noises - the boy/man was smashing the wing mirrors off cars parked in the road as he made his way down it. The Husband, forgetting that he was in the middle of a viral illness, went into Policing mode, threw on some clothes and went out after them. A few neighbours were also out, and the Husband got in the car and drove down the road. I was leaning out of the window trying to see where he'd got to, when I heard more screaming, and what sounded like the Husband's voice, then the voice of the young man shouting "I'll fucking stab you!" I went cold - ran downstairs, and tried to see where they were from the living room window. I rang the Husband's mobile, but just got his answerphone. For the next 5 minutes I rang his mobile constantly, consciously NOT imagining what might have just happened and thank the Lord he suddenly answered it, saying "Yeah, I'm just driving back - little fucker threatened to stab me." He came back, then went over to let some of the neighbours know that he'd 'called it in', and then, we tried to go back to sleep. (HA!) We managed to miss the police car that drove down the road a few minutes later, but that was the end of that really.

And bless his little heart, Spawn had slept through the whole thing, on his change mat on the floor. We didn't hear anything more about it from the police, and the Husband and Spawn were poorly for another couple of days and the next week respectively. I did remind the Husband that running around streets in the middle of a winter's night in pyjamas and a jumper tackling drunk knife-threatening hormonal teenage delinquents is not a recommended course of treatment for Norovirus.

And - this is not the normal sort of goings-on for my street. Honestly. This is a nice respectable neighbourhood, I'll have you know. Probably. Oh, and I was absolutely fine. I don't have time for being ill, you know.

Hey, I've managed to make it back after only a month or so... stop moaning. (Yeah, like anyone is reading this).

Did I tell you that Spawn has now had 2 haircuts? The first one done by the Husband just after Christmas: I didn't want him to do it - my little Spawn had curly tendrils that looked ever so sweet, but in all honesty they were getting rather long, and he'd been mistaken for a girl so often that it was now becoming embarrassing. The Husband had been threatening to cut his hair for a couple of months, and the good Mrs. B had backed him up saying that if one of us didn't do it soon she would. I was alone in my defence of Spawn's Mercury-style wings.

Then one night the Husband volunteered to bath Spawn and put him to bed (rather than us paper-scissor-stoning to see who lost) - I should have smelled a rat, but I was so grateful to get a break that I jumped at the offer. I thought they had been quiet for a while, and then they reappeared downstairs accompanied by the Husband's triumphant "Da-da!" and proudly showing off what he'd done to my first-born's untouched locks. After the horrified shock had subsided, I had to admit, he'd done a pretty good job - Spawn suddenly looked like a proper little boy and not such a baby any more. I asked the Husband how he'd done it. "Just sat him on the toilet and cut bits off." Hmmm.

The next day, I noticed that he'd left a long strand next to Spawn's ear. "Give me the scissors - I'll do it while you're holding him," I said. "No, no - I'll do it," he replied, control bloody freak that he is.

He'd managed to nick the top part of Spawn's ear with the scissors. Ears bleed a rather unnecessary amount, don't they? What a bad daddy, oh dear, Mama will protect you from the nasty evil man... I milked that one for a good ten days :)

One thing I've noticed about Spawn's hair is that it seems to have a Magician's Nephew quality about it - the more we cut it, the quicker it grows. He needed another haircut about 6 weeks after that. By now he was much bigger and more mobile, and I suppose he knew what was coming, so every time he heard or caught sight of the scissors, he'd whip his head round to that side. I let the Husband do battle with him until their tempers were hanging by a thread, then decided that I could finish off just before Spawn's bath. I was attempting the Fringe - I know now that this is not for the novice. I wasn't going to give him an Edmund Blackadder kind of thing, just shorten what was there, but at my very first snip he moved and I ended up with a nice diagonal line. Shiiiiiit.

Long story short - I hacked a few more bits off, the Husband managed to even out the fringe, and I trimmed around his ears (a blood-free episode this time, which I hastened to point out to the Husband), and he looked fairly respectable at the end of it all. But he now needs yet another one, and we are both pretending that we haven't noticed.