Sunday, 21 September 2014

Sarah Murren

backup on Sarah being born....

This town is coming like a ghost town...

 A distinct lack of posting on my part. Perhaps I became part of my own 2014 Memoriam to come? Thankfully, or sadly, depending on your point of view, that is not the case. Something equally as life changing happened though.

 I became a dad.

 Now, stepping back in time a bit, but without delving too deep into anecdotage,  when I was diagnosed with my mental health problems way back in the distant past, it was revealed that I was most unlikely to have children due to some chemical imbalance and stuff. At that point, I was a teenager, and so the idea of having children was some adult petrifying thing. As one got older, and allegedly more mature (though I still think that is a rumour put about to discredit me) the idea of children became more of a hypothetical good thing, to the point where one knew one would be greatly saddened if I'd reached 90 and had no one to look back on.

 So without too much information, myself and Mandy had decided to take things as they came.

 She'd been unwell for a few days, and that thing that likes to torment women once a month (Barry Manilow?) was quite late, but both of which I had put down to the stress over Matthew's death.I wasn't feeling all that great myself at the time. So Mandy decided to buy a pregnancy test, a frivolity I was complaining about all the time until it showed a positive result. A swift trip to the Doctors, and I had thought these things were simple "Yes" or "No" answers but it turned out it took 4 days for the labs to examine samples and decide if there was a little Robbie or Sarah on its way.

 That weekend Mandy became more and more convinced she was pregnant. I was utterly convinced of the opposite!

 [That the product of this is currently giggling at me as I am on early morning parenting duty is probably a spoiler alert here!]

 So, yes, she was pregnant. We were 8 months and counting away from our first meeting with Sarah.

 The mums, delighted. Dad, delighted, as he'd assumed my news would be someone had cancer. (Quite like me in the fatalist sense I guess!) Cat, bouncing off the walls in delight. Everyone delighted.

 And then the wait.

 Well, first the bleed. And an anxious 7 hour wait in A&E while both would be parents assumed the worst, only to find out the little one was happily sleeping inside Mandy none the wiser to everyone elses panic.

 And then the midwives. I don't want to speak ill of midwives, as there were some really good ones. Unfortunately, the one who decided my mental health was an immediate danger to all children and foisted the social work on us for ages will be the one who sticks in my mind. "Oh you have a disabled parent, she can't possibly help you look after the child" (Future spoiler - Mum and Cat have been some of our greatest help, and Sarah's favourite people!) etc.

 And then the social, which I don't want to speak of (which should speak volumes). Except to say that the Family Worker who came over in recent months was actually very nice. Anyhow, having a happy child is apparently great propaganda for your parenting skills, so risk assessment passed with flying colours.

 And then the house move. When this happened, we were still living in the flat in Howat Street, which some have charitably referred to as "a dump". With its infestations, lack of insulation, and no bedrooms, it was the worst possible place to bring up a baby.

 In November we suddenly got a transfer offer. Still in Govan, one cant quite escape there yet. But in a quieter part of the town, two floors up (useful to drown out the local drunks at night) and in a two bedroom, insulated, better kept flat. Nearly twice the size of the old place. We took it.

 The move was orchestrated by the Hendersons, whom I assume The Beatles wrote a song about. They are Mandy's family. It was also down in two cars, as a brother-in-law of mine who will remain nameless (a joke which only works if people know Mandy only has one brother, Davey) had ensured everyone he would deal with the van for the move, only to entirely forget!

 "Michael must be getting better, he's swearing much more!"

 A new flat, carpets down, Christmas approaching and a due date of December 28th.

 Which passed without incident. Well, not for poor Mandy, who had been stuck in pre-labour since early December, a horrid state in which you experience all the labour symptoms without being in the actual labour.

 2013 left us, and Mooselet, as Cat refers to her, was still in hiding.

 Then two things happened in quick succession, which are known together as sods law.

 Firstly, I got taken to the emergency doctors at the A&E rather ill, got diagnosed with a throat, ear, tonsil and chest infection (which was ghastly) and got consigned to bed.

 Secondly, right after that, Mandy's waters broke.

 I even tried to go in with her, but got dragged back home as I was nearly passing out in the maternity ward.

 And so I missed the birth.

 [She is currently turning over in her bouncy seat to stare at the switched off TV screen her Uncle Iain brought over.]

 Jackie - mother-in law - phoned about 11am on the Monday, 6th January, to say that wee Sarah Murren had been born about 40 minutes previously.

 And I missed her first 3 days!

 Well, we made up for lost time.

 That Monday to Thursday afternoon went by so very slowly, an eon of eternity, once all the phone calls had been made, so many that my voice gave out on me and I had to text some folk! I had been better but the ward Sister outright banned me from the Ward, in hindsight a wise move but at the time a killer one.

 Finally came Thursday afternoon, after about seven hundred texts to Jon Arnold, writer, wit and parenting guru. "What do I do????" "Enjoy, this is the finest moment of anyone's life..."

 Cat comes up the stairs with the car seat, and in it sits an awake child. Which is swiftly passed to me. Her dad. Blimey, how did that happen? [A blatantly philosophical question which Mandy is always quick to answer with a graphically biological answer!]

 [With perfect timing, Sarah laughed at that one.]

 One develops fast to having a child around. At first, panic! Who made you responsible for this little person? Where is the responsible adult? Oh bugger, you ARE the responsible adult! Help!

 But swiftly the terrifying nappy and clothes change - "What if she breaks!!" - becomes a force of habit, and one becomes more confident in ones abilities to deal with the Wee Yin.

 I am quickly finding out I knew nothing about babies. They have personalities from the off. Heck, they learn charades quite quickly at trying to pass instructions along.

 Sarah appears to be quite the gifted child. (A phrase which meant learning difficulties when I was at school, but now means fast learner...) She could follow who was speaking and look at them from birth, and would try to hold her own head up, though shes only just fully achieved that. {The will being greater than the body at times!] She's already developed cunning. One time she passed her bottle to Auntie Cat, and in the other hand tried to steal Auntie Cat's lunch! She also worked out how to remove her mittens in the hospital, hours after birth, by feeling down each finger for the weak spot. Which was to be a signal of her analytic approach to things.

 Sarah will sit there, staring at something, and you can see the cogs in her head turning. Then, suddenly, the achievement happens, be that escaping from the changing mat, finding a toy, or escaping from more clothes. She can pick up on words - people discuss food, she used to start mimicing holding a bottle for example - and would try to join in all conversations from family to medical history (mums academic expertise).

 Now she has started to wean early on the permission of the health visitor (she started teething in March, before she could get medicine for it, and has two broken through so far) and loves it, though not the taste of the baby rice. Apparently babies have trouble weaning in general. Sarah scoffs her own bowl, drinks the supplemental bottle, and then tries to steal everyone elses food. Then she stares them down to try and make them feel too guilty to eat.

 But what we have here is a vastly intelligent little girl. One with a great sense of humour (mixed in with not a little schadenfreude, her amusement at its greatest when mild misfortune hits someone, like a pooey nappy) and a cunning intelligence that one already needs to get up very early in the morning to outwit! God help us all when she's a toddler!

 And the smile! That smile when she wakes at 7am, and is so happy to see you. Nothing in life prepares you for that.

 So terrifying, yes, but the greatest moment ever? Certainly.

 One feels a bit like the first 27 years of my life were the Prologue to the book, and we've finally reached Chapter One.