Monthly Archives: April 2011

To sleep per chance …?

Is my husband replacing the milk in the bed time bottle with something else? Something perhaps, amphetamine based??? We’ve had a very regular bedtime routine pretty much since she was born. Bath, story, bottle, bed. End of. That last bottle usually knocks her out, and quite often, she’s asleep by the end of it. So what the hell has happened? For the past two nights, Grace has finished said bottle, merrily bashed it out of my hand with a triumphant yell, and thrown herself on the floor – in her sleeping bag – in a kind of sack-race-meets-the-great-escape type scenario. Everything to her then becomes hilarious. The cat is terrific fun to chase, and the baby babbling becomes incessant. It has become optimum time for practicing her dance moves. Weird eh? Any thoughts?

The first night, I tried desperately to keep her calm. Soothing voice etc, lights low and tried to make her sleepy with shushes and lullabies. Mission impossible. She wrenched herself about, bashed me in the face and screamed till I let her go off for a wander. Second night I tried a different tack, sat with her on our bed, and watched in wonder as she stood up on the pillows facing the wall. Put her arms in the air, and made an ascending “wooooooooooooooooooo” sound to build up to the action of throwing her self backwards, laughing like a maniac and kicking her legs before rolling over and beginning the whole process over again.
Several times.
In fact, repeatedly for 40 minutes. 

When we finally do get her down it’s a matter of time before she wakes up and realises we’re not there with her. This is what happens:

•    Grace screams. There is no build up. It is immediate, it is loud, and it is piercing.
•    I shuffle into nursery, zombie like, check nappy, then lie her down with a little pat and a shhhhhhhhh.
•    Stand and watch at the foot of the bed for a few minutes till she’s quiet. Occasionally she lifts her head to checks I’m still there.
•    Side -step out of the room.
•    Grace realises I’m gone, screams again.
•    Side-step back into room.
•    *DO NOT PICK HER UP!*
•    Screaming stops when she sees I’m there.
•    I wonder briefly if it’s worth investing in a life size cardboard cut out of myself to stand at the foot of the cot.
•    Try again – back to bed.

It’s anyone’s guess how often this process has to be repeated.

It has also highlighted a fundamental difference between the attitude of Mummy and Daddy. In the morning, when it’s a work day, and madam has to be woken so I can get her to the child minders in time, I go into the nursery and look at the little bundle curled up in amongst her cuddly toys and blankets in the corner of the cot.  I HATE having to wake her. Oh – the guilt as I reach down and extract that warm ball of sleepy loveliness from her little nest, and I cuddle and cuddle her as she furiously thumb sucks and tries to drift back off. I change her as gently as possible, only open the curtains a smidge, and let her come round slowly.

Daddy on the other hand declares it’s her own fault she tired because she was up so much in the night, and will spring, light-footed into the nursery rubbing hands together happily at the prospect of a bit of mild revenge. The curtains are flinged merrily aside and singing “Good Morning, Good Morning” he’ll whizz her out her bed and onto the changing table. I have even witnessed jazz hands.

She doesn’t seem to mind though, and within minutes of a nappy change and a cuddle, all is forgiven as she bibbles about her day doing very important baby things. Those hairclips won’t put themselves in Mummy’s shoes y’know.

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The Meaning of Tattoos.

I have tattoos. Most people like them. Some people love them. A few people seem to think I have “spoilt” myself. One thing I tend to hear a lot (and I’m sure those of you with tattoos will have heard it too) is;

“What about when you’re older?”

Well, on behalf of all my tattooed brethren I hereby, officially answer this very common concern. . .

I will be older, and have tattoos.

That’s about the size of it.
 I will not wake up when I hit 60 and begin hacking limbs off in a frenzy of regret. I will not need to revert to the days of the leper and shuffle around the streets of Bolton ringing a bell to warn the innocent, clean skinned public of my approach. The sun will still rise, the stars will still shine. The world will not end.

Quite frankly, I shall be happy to reach old age and not be incontinent, ill or barmy. The least of my concerns will be whether or nor a picture on my skin might look odd.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m no fan of crap tattoos. (except it is a really funny thing to Google when you’re bored) or tattoos for the sake of fashion/celeb following. (The wonderfully talented lady that’s done all of mine gets an influx of people wanting the Cheryl Cole hand tattoo every time the X Factor’s on. I just think it’s a shame. If you’re going to have one it should be about you – be beautiful – or mean something special.) Let me tell you about mine.

Some of you will know about my Mum passing away. The night she died, I was sleeping on a camp bed at the foot of her bed in the Hospice, and was shaken awake by the nurse on duty that night. I woke up with a massive jump having only just drifted off listening to Mum’s laboured breathing and the beep beep beep of the intravenous morphine machine. The nurse  quietly explained that Mum’s breathing had changed, and that her nose was very cold. She suggested I come and sit with her and say my final goodbyes. I sat by her bed. For the first time in days she had shut her eyes and her mouth, and was no longer gasping, but breathing very gently. I held her hand. I wanted to get in and cuddle up but there was too much machinery and  too many wires. I thanked her for being my Mum, kissed her on the forehead and said “Night Night, God Bless.” Her breathing stopped. I felt the nurse’s hand on my shoulder and I turned to ask her “has she gone?” The nurse leaned forward and Mum – I like to think in one last act of defiance – gave a final deep breath.

Then she was gone.
 I sat there for some time and watched her. The nurses hand didn’t leave my shoulder. As I watched, it was like her face kind of morphed – back into the face of Mum again. No pain, no awful stare and gasping mouth, no blue skin, just Mum. Even the faintest trace of a smile. The really strange thing was that even though it was the middle of January, the middle of the night, and below freezing temperatures, I could hear birds start singing. Clear as a bell. I turned to ask the nurse if she could here them too, and she said she could, and that some very strange and beautiful things can happen when someone dies.

To commemorate that bitter sweet, beautiful moment of comfort, I have my back covered in garden birds and cherry blossom. I’d sit in the tattooist’s chair and concentrate on the buzz buzz and the scratchy pain and for a short while every week or so, it helped to take the other kind of pain away. I now have what I consider a beautiful commemorative piece for my Mum.

Grace was born 10 weeks before she died. She saved me from going to pieces at an awful time. I don’t know what I’d have done without her and my husband. Consequently, I have “Servo per Venia” tattooed on my wrist which is latin for “Saved By Grace” and my husband’s initial “S” on my neck. A gesture I knew he’d love to show him how much I love him. In future times, when I have a defiant teenager playing us up, or testing my patience, I shall look at my wrist and remember how precious and important she is, and how she unknowingly got me through the hardest time of my life.

We subsequently (apart from Grace) had a horrendous year for reasons I simply don’t feel ready to share with the world quite yet, and the Phoenix on my leg represents rising up from bad things and coming out stronger. I have always loved and been fascinated by the concept of the phoenix. It was the perfect thing to get done and tells me and others how strong I can be.

I love my tattoos. They make me feel beautiful and unusual, like I’m a living breathing piece of art. They tell a story. They are part of me.

So . . . what about when I’m older???

Bring it on!

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