Totally taboo – my CVS and me

This post was written over a year ago but i haven’t been brave enough to air it for fear of judgement or recrimination. For all those other mothers to be who are having or have had a CVS and all the associated mental baggage, you’re not alone…


There are some phone calls one hopes never to be on the receiving end of. The one from the hospital labour ward, calling a mere two days after blood tests were taken, with the opening gambit, ‘Is this a good time to talk’ would be one of these. The results were meant to come after a minimum of two weeks and the parting words at the time were, ‘No news is good news’.

So I ask, ‘Then surely this must be very bad news?’

Time stands still, stranded on the pavement equidistant from home and the music makers playgroup we were en route to. And instead of a morning of making music, I find myself dragging an uncertain Babybel back to the hospital where she first graced the earth. Mr A is there to hold my hand and support my crumbling world – but there are some things even he cannot save.

I would not be able to cope with a down’s syndrome child. There – I have voiced the unspeakable. I am selfish and mentally weak. The precipice of sanity has been teetered too close to already. Babybel senses the seriousness of the situation – her solemn and beautiful face looking at me intently. How lucky I am to have such a perfect child. How could I burden her with a lifetime of a dependent sibling? Because after Mr A and I are gone, it is inevitably she who will be the sole provider.

The consultant is so kindly that I sense this is the beginning of the torrent of sympathy reserved for those bereft. And that feeling of grief is creeping up surreptitiously around us like garden weeds. Tomorrow we will have a CVS. Followed by the longest two weeks of our lives waiting for the results.

If we lose this baby, I know with a heavy certainty that I will not have another. Because I will not want another. Nor shall I deserve another.


Handbags at Dawn

This article was first published on on 16 February 2011.

In the bygone era of my banking days, I was once hailed as the Imelda Marcos of handbags.
Today, while walking past the local Waitrose, furiously conducting an internal debate over this evening’s  dinner options (is spagbol twice in a week too much?), I glanced in the window to spot a familiar face. She was looking a tad bedraggled with a hint of the disorganised madwoman about her and she was carrying a rather limp looking nylon handbag of Le Sportsac variety. Then I realised it was me.
It strikes me that I am a long way (geographically, mentally and most evidently, sartorially) from the Birkin-toting self of yore. My footwear is a rotating cycle of Ugg boots/ FitFlop Mukluks/ trainers – a good three inches lower than the de rigeur uniform of towering heels, scaling the corporate ladder. Rosa Klebb dagger was optional but useful in disposing of the opposition especially during bonus season.
Recent years have seen my arm candy of choice reduced to the hideous Le Sportsac (which doubles as a nappy bag) and a wipe clean PVC Cath Kidston number. Suddenly I am pining for my 2.55 (aka Chanel, for the handbag heathens out there). Notwithstanding the fear of a small child defacing a bag worth more than a small car.
I practically run home, almost mowing down a couple of pensioners in the process, sprint up the stairs to the attic where, gathering dust, resides a box marked ‘handbags’. Tearing it open, I discover they are nestled alongside two other long lost friends I haven’t seen in far too long; namely, freedom and independence.
So I have vowed to sling on an impractical but beautiful bag and strap on some killer heels the next time I am not doing the nursery run/ performing a supermarket sweep/ chasing children round a playground. As for my dear friends, freedom and independence, they have been lovingly laid back to rest in the attic for another few years.

Sleeping with the Elephant

This article was first published on 1 Feb 2011 on

Some use alcohol as an emotional crutch; others use food; and more still use religion. As for my son, his crutch comes in the form of a decapitated elephant head attached to a scrap of, admittedly very tactile, blue fabric.

More specifically, the ears of said elephant – he cannot enter the land of nod without having one clamped firmly in the gummy grip of his mouth.

An unsuspecting newborn gift from the far-flung reaches of across the pond has unwittingly become the dreaded ‘lovie’ (Baby Whisperer lingo) a.k.a. comforter/ blankie/ security blanket. It appears my 8 month old is Linus reincarnate.

The problem is that half a dozen months of sucking on said elephant’s ears has left it looking rather lacklustre and fearing the day he awakes to Dumbo with downright disintegrated ears, the quest began for some sneaky substitution. Mr A recommended a bout of cold turkey but I’m yet to find a life occasion worthy of veering from the path of least resistance.

Many hours of (much interrupted) cyber surfing later, it transpires that my son has been inconsiderate enough to develop an addiction to something nigh on impossible to get his grubby hands on outside the US . Amazon (.com not will sell and send for the price of the GDP of a small nation with delivery anywhere up to a month. Cold turkey wouldn’t even take that long. Then, eureka, Google uncovers some obscure luxury baby goods retailer here in Blighty who actually stock them. The euphoria can only be likened to Mr Newton’s apple on head moment. No matter that the cost leaves barely enough change for a skinny latte from a fifty (GBP not JPY).

The elephants (yes, plural – shame it wasn’t 3 for 2 or BOGOF)  arrived yesterday to much whooping and smugness. Evening rolled on and a box-fresh elephant was placed in the cot while his bordering on unhygienic relation, was flung on the precariously close to a landslide of a laundry mountain. But all elephants are NOT created equal. The 8 month old cast it aside like poo from his shoe and as punishment for my efforts to deceive him, promptly engaged in a 90 minute screaming session.

So here’s hoping the course of cold turkey doesn’t last as long as that left over from the Christmas dinner. As for the exorbitantly priced elephants (ears intact), they are waiting patiently for friends (or foe) to have new babies. At which point, the cycle of desperate parents hunting down substitutes will restart (it beggars belief what parents will pay for the promise of a good night’s sleep). And as for me, I will be first in line if that company ever floats.


New Year’s Revelation

After the best part of a bottle of wine, the discussion turned to reminiscing on momentous occasions of 2010.
Mr A is silent for a while, in what I presuppose to be awed reverence and remembrance at the thought of Golden Boy’s birth.  Pause complete, he pipes up with, ‘All I can remember is the smell when they cut you open; like offal at the butchers… only more pungent as it was warm’. Pop! The rose tinted memory bubble surrounding GB’s birth is now tainted for eternity by a smell that no amount of Oust will out.
There comes a point in a woman’s life AD (after delivery) when she feels she has plunged the depths of dignity-defying degradation. Legs akimbo, screaming like a banshee, while naked from the waist down and carrying more excess body weight than a heavy duty sumo wrestler, it’s hard to cling onto the smallest shard of dignity.  But now I see that Dante was onto something: Hell hath more levels than a woman simply slit open.

Back with a Bang (and Baby Number Two)

After an extended hiatus of mammoth proportion I am ready to write again.
It’s been almost a year in exile. They say time flies when you’re having fun – I say it depends on your idea of fun.
Baby-Bel (I hereby re-christen her Tinkerbell) is no longer a baby by any stretched imagination. The elevated ranking from baby to big sis is a quantum leap in the life-lesson of growing up. She is no longer the fulcrum around which this household pivots; she is now the proud owner of one baby brother – no previous owner, a few scrapes on the bumper, no MOT.
Mr A refers to him as Golden Boy (GB) – a reference to the hypothetical beacon of light that shines out from his behind. Obviously there is no truth in the allegations of GB being a mummy’s boy; furthermore, the only visible output from GB’s derriere is neither light nor shiny.
The last 12mths have seen a settling in to suburban living; gaining (and alas not quite losing) 2 stone in weight (and bringing home another baby as a byproduct); starting Tinkerbell on her long and fruitful educational road to riches; buying and losing a house (damn those fickle vendors). It’s been a rocky road but the pot holes are slowly being filled (still a few down my road, dear Council).
To 2011, the year of the rabbit. To resolutions, revelations, and relations.

Gender confusion

Babybel has started speaking. Well, strictly speaking, not fluent adult-speak per se but rather reiterating any of a dozen words she has mastered in a loud and sometimes nonsensical fashion. Most of her words begin with the letter ‘b’ curiously – bear, ball, bus, bike, balloon, boy – though she has a tendency to drop the b when saying (ba)nana.

She is now en route to deciphering the difference between ‘boy’ and ‘girl (initially all children were indiscriminately labelled ‘boy’), though I am yet to be convinced that her correct labelling is not simply a byproduct of inordinately good guesswork mixed with a good observation of hairstyles (ponytails and/or hairclips = girl; inverse = boy).

This morning as we walked less than a foot behind a woman veering on the hirsute side of humanity, Babybel stretched out her arm, finger pointed, and armed with the confidence of unwavering certainty, declared ‘Man!’ Hoping against hope that the (wo)man was either hard of hearing or at least deaf to the English language, I tried to quieten the over-excited Babybel. Instead, she assumed it was me who was hard of hearing and embarked on a repetitious and really quite loud monologue consisting solely of the word ‘man’, in the manner of a dysfunctional record player.

Grimacing as the woman turned round, I realised Babybel might be more perceptive than I gave her credit for.

We’re all going on a summer holiday

News on the latest media grapevines is that the credit crunch, if not over, is certainly getting less crunchy – things are smoothing over as it were. In chocolate terms, less Cadburys Crunchie and a touch more Galaxy. So it would appear then that the lid has been lifted for the reinstatement of the overseas summer holiday. Goodbye to stay-at-home chic. Who were we ever kidding anyway – Cornwall versus Caribbean? I know which one I’d rather make a beeline for.

The age old issue with packing up and jetting off at this time of the year is that, annoyingly, it coincides with precisely the time of year that every other family and their dog is embarking on the same game plan. Once the school holidays start, the flood gates are officially open. Gatwick airport becomes a purgatory on earth of package holiday makers: pasty white at departures; lobster red and blistering at arrivals.

So quite understandably, given we are yet to be bound by the constrains of national curriculums, we made it a point to time our trip to return just before the madding crowd was unleashed. And not a moment too soon; the day of our departure saw the pool area deluged with a slew of teenagers, keen to shake off the presence of terminally embarrassing parents. 

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable time was had by all parties of the household. Mr A and I even managed to pretend to be members of the civilised childless sect for a few hours a day, indulging in uninterrupted sunbathing and reading, while our one year old took her daily afternoon nap. The biggest downside of a good holiday though is the bump of reality wrought by the return.

Suddenly I have resumed sole ownership of nappy change again – a chore too readily shared if not shunted. Though not without relinquishing the task one last time on the return flight (which surely still counts as part of the holiday) – a shrewd move in light of Mr A’s struggle in the restricted confines of the inflight toilet-cum-baby change. It turns out our less-than-ladylike toddler firstly kicked her soiled nappy to the floor, spilling and scattering its contents to the floor. Then while her repulsed and red-faced father was trying to retrieve the offending matter from the toilet floor, she found a new challenge in trying to kick him in the head while still lying on the changing table. Needless to say, the holiday was officially over at this point for all of us.