Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Struggling with it all

As the title says, life in general and pregnancy in particular are getting on top of me right now. The last few weeks of pregnancy are always hard, never more so in the summer. The recent heat wave - thank God it's cooler today - has reduced me into a hormonal, crying mess, literally. But then, looking at the size of that bump, it's not really surprising.

My six year old took that picture.

I am due six weeks tomorrow, in theory anyway. I can't see it myself, especially as I didn't know my dates at all, so this due date is arrived at purely by scans, but we shall see. Might just be wishful thinking on my part, but the way I'm feeling all points to me that I may have two/three weeks at the most.

I always niggle towards the end of my pregnancies. Having contractions on and off for weeks is so not fun, never more so then in the heat. I can't walk, I can't eat, I can't sleep... you get the picture, woe is me and I am having my very own pity party.

Life is one big roller coaster at the minute. I posted about last week's roller coaster on our group blog.

This week the roller coaster is on a permanent low. A natural optimist, it seems to have failed me this week. Tears are never far away and when I don't feel like crying, I am stroppy and bite people's heads off. I do not suffer fools gladly at the best of times, but right now.... Well, you have been warned, that's about all I can say on the matter and I hope Markus arrives sooner, rather than later, before Hubbie divorces me and I alienate all my friends.

Poor little Tj keeps asking me whether I'm all right and suggests that I need some medicine to make me feel better. He also regularly tells baby Markus off and tells him to behave, which is rather sweet. Not there is anything wrong, as such. I am just pregnant! And I am very aware that I should be grateful for being pregnant and that Markus is happy and healthy and it will soon be over, but my determination to enjoy my last pregnancy is sorely tested.

It doesn't help that I haven't written a thing on my current ms for over a week. I am so close to to the end I can smell it, but I may not be able to finish it before Markus arrives and it's killing me. I like to finish things, but I have come to realise that I may need to give myself permission to just let it go for now. Stressing about it is not going to get it finished...

I am concentrating on re-editing Too Cold to Love instead. It's been a few months since I edited it last and as the partial is now sitting on an editor's desk, I thought it wisest to go over it again. Seriously though, how many ing words and had can one woman write? And why did I not notice these at the last edit?

*bangs head against desk*

I am editing a few chapters a day and it seems to be going well, thankfully.

So, after all that rambling, if I go a bit quiet, I have not dropped off the face of the earth, just struggling with it all.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Happy Father's Day

Today is Father's Day and up and down the country dads are being pampered, receive gifts and cards, as we celebrate great dads everywhere. Our house is no different, in so far that we celebrate the greatest dad I know, my lovely husband Tony.

We are truly blessed to have him. He is always willing and ready to fight the kid's corner, to go the extra mile, to step in when mum's just had enough. He is a listening ear, dad's taxi, the walking cash machine and I am told he gives the best tickles. He is the handy man, the "I know, daddy will fix it," the constant embarrassment to the teenagers and the hero to the little ones. The provider of sweets and cuddles, the perfect climbing frame and slide and broad chest for our newborns to snuggle, the carrier for tired legs and the cheerleader at football matches. The changer of nappies, the best wind up merchant, the enabler, the support and the back bone and the proudest dad there is. When we had one he was amazing and as our brood has grown and grown so has his love and patience for all of us and I don't know what we would do without him.

He would dispute all of the above, he would say he can do better and he is only doing what needs to be done, but I know and the kids know, when the chips are down, the one person you can rely on to come through in a crisis and to find a solution, is Tony.

Sure he's not perfect, he has off days, like we all do and he beats himself up about those more than any man I know, but there is a good reason for this.

You see, fathering is not easy, never more so when you aren't the product of good parenting yourself. Neither Tony nor I are!

There was a campaign on Facebook to put up a picture of your dad in honour of Father's day and all the pictures of my friend's fathers did and do make me smile, but I couldn't do that and neither would Tony. My father once was my hero, as he is for most little girls, desperate for his approval and at one point we must have been close. I am not sure when this changed exactly, but certainly by the time my father remarried when I was nine, he had lost his hero status in my eyes and it was a slippery decline from there on  in.

I am sure he must have loved me in his own way, at least my gran forever assured me of this, but he had a funny way of showing it. An epileptic, he was not a well man and every fit made him that little bit more volatile. They say that every fit robs the brain of oxygen and kills off braincells and I could certainly see the decline in my father's mental capabilities the older I got. Eventually he did receive the right medication and his fits decreased considerably, but by then the damage was done. A man, given to violent outbursts of temper and easily led by others, I grew up with domestic violence a never far away sceptre. Things came to a crunch when I was a teenager. By then I had lost all respect for the man I owed my very existence to and being taller than him by then, I gave as good as I got. He never laid a finger on me or my gran after that!

I left home when I was 18, determined to make a new life for myself. Not just home, actually I left the country to go to England and I have been back to Germany only a handful of times since. My father passed away 18 years ago and I didn't even make it back to his funeral. I am not sure I even mourned him. We just didn't have that kind of a relationship and happily married to Tony by then and with two small children I was far too busy to dwell on what might have been. That may sound harsh to some, but we do what we need to to protect ourselves and he stopped being my father when I was seventeen. You know that scene in Eastenders "I'm not your mother" or was it "I am your mother!" can't quite remember what she said, but it was a bit like that. Only I was doing the screeching, being the dramatic teen that I was...

"You are not my father!"

In fact the whole thing left me so scarred that I was never going to have children of my own, ever! Why put a child through what I had been through. Not having a sibling I had no one to share the blows with either. Well I have a half brother somewhere, but as I have not seen my birth mother since my dad divorced her when I was three, that doesn't really count. My only memories of him are of a red haired toddler, who peed in my bed, broke my toys and who my mother favoured over me. To this day I do not like red haired men. It's funny really how deeply childhood traumas affect you, even  when you cannot remember them fully.

I also had a deep distrust of men in general, not helped by an ex-boyfriend in Germany, who had been three years older than my own father.... Yeah I know, a psychologist would have had a field day with little old me I am sure.

However all that changed when I met Tony. Marrying him was one of the best decisions I ever made and twenty three years and almost nine children later our relationship is stronger than ever.

It has been a privilege seeing him grow as a father, especially as his childhood was even worse than mine. Whilst I can make excuses for my own father due to his illness, Tony's has no such excuse. What's more the man is still living and Father's day is an emotional time for my lovely husband, never more so than this year.

He has wreaked havoc on Tony's and subsequently our lives from the minute Tony was born several weeks premature. He grew up with the constant taunts of "I should have switched off your incubator," and "I never wanted you," not to mention the physical and verbal abuse and a mentally ill mother, which meant that Tony was basically brought up by his older sister and brother. Complicated relation ships all round, even to this day. I always say his family can't even be described as dysfunctional! At least I had the loving presence of my gran to keep me sane through my child hood years. Tony had no one but himself.

Yet still, he honoured his father, until that man did the unforgivable and we broke all contact 15 years ago. To protect the innocent I cannot say what prompted this, but it was a dark time in our family life and the repercussions can be felt even now.

So Father's Day is difficult for Tony at the best of times, but this year has hit him harder than ever. He attended a child protection day at our church yesterday, part of his ongoing training as a Sunday school teacher. Now these days are never easy. I attended a few myself when I was a childminder and your heart grieves what some people will do to innocent children.

But for my husband it brought back the demons snapping at his heels louder than ever, especially with today being Father's Day and it breaks my heart that I cannot help him more.

So this post is for my husband and all the other people out there, for whom Father's day is painful, for whatever reason. It is a day of celebration of Fatherhood and for honouring all those great dads out there, but it is also a day for reflection and grief.

A good father is a joy to behold, a bad one leaves scars that run deep indeed....

Friday, 17 June 2011

The importance of the right midwife

I just had to blog a follow up to my previous post. Yeah, I know two blog posts in one day, what's wrong with me... lol.

Seriously though, I have to get this off my ample chest, so be warned this may be a little ranty. And I feel the need to add a disclaimer too, lest my midwife friends disown me. I have the greatest respect for midwives, they do a wonderful job in sometimes difficult circumstances, they are underpaid, overworked and drowning in red tape, but really!!!

Like I said earlier, Markus has been giving me a few issues over the last week and I was looking for a friendly chat with my midwife just to put my worries at ease. Not that I am *really* worried, reassurance is what I needed. What I got was a lecture and being talked to as though I was a teen mother, not a mature, intelligent woman in her forties with eight healthy pregnancies under her belt. There isn't much I don't know about pregnancy and labour and I am very in tune with my own body and a firm believer in my instincts.

I should add here that this was not my regular midwife, who is lovely! And that was without doubt half the problem. This lady didn't know me, I didn't know her and quite frankly should I encounter her when in labour, I might just sock her one ;-)

Now this a bugbear of mine, but for starters is it not common courtesy to at least introduce yourself? I didn't see a name badge, she may have worn one, but is it so hard to say,"Hello Doris, I'm xyx."
Doesn't take much, does it now. I have no idea what this lady was called and she was no newbie either, so should have known better really.

Anyways, I sit down, list my concern, namely that I have been niggling and I think I may have sprung a leak last week, which is normal for me. This is what I do in the last few weeks of pregnancy, but I'm only 32 weeks so a tad concerned. I know Markus is fine, he has been wriggling as usual, but should I be concerned?

She completely ignores that question and wants to know, why I didn't go to the hospital. I again reiterate that I know my waters haven't broken, just think I may have had a leak, which has since plugged itself, cause there have been no more incidents, shall we say, for the last 48 hours. She will not accept this, just goes and on about the risk of infection setting in etc. I reassure *her* that I know this and I also know that Markus is fine and I would go in, if I thought it was warranted.

She then goes on to ask about pelvic floor exercises. Ooookaayyyy, I do know the difference between pee and amniotic fluid, believe it or not. I manage an incredulous "Yes," at her lecturing me on the importance of pelvic floor exercises. You don't say, I think to myself, whilst smiling through gritted teeth. However I have a very expressive face, so some of my thought processes must have shown, as she is now back pedalling fast.
"Clearly you must know about them, after all these babies and if you've had no problems before, but you know you're older now and well.."

I am still smiling, just. Ok, so now I am old and decrepit and incontinent. Cheers love.

She then glances through my notes and sees that I had raised blood pressure in the last week of my pregnancy with Tj. Cue sucking of teeth and "Oh, we must keep an eye on that." Even though my blood pressure is just fine. She does at least confirm that my iron levels are nice and healthy.

She then asks where I am going to give birth.

"Well, I am aiming for a home birth this time round, or the midwife led unit, but really am playing it by ear, because you never know what may happen."

She gives me the look and then launches into the old chestnut of the risks of haemorrhaging, because of the number of babies I had, blah de blah de blah. Again I just smile, but I dread to think what my face must have shown, because again she back pedals, and the student midwife behind her, is giggling like anything.

"Hmm, I guess you have heard this before a few times."

"Urm, yes you could say that and I am making an informed decision, besides it all depends on what happens  at the time."

"Yes, of course it does, but you need to be aware of the risks and I have to tell you."

Cue, me thinking, fine, tell me, but don't badger me round the head with it!

"Have you bled heavily with any of the others?"

"No, never. In fact, when I saw the consultant he said to me that he would be less concerned about me having a home birth, than he would be about a first time mother, due to my history."

I am still smiling, just! Actually I was quite proud of my self restraint at that point.

Eventually she does listen to the baby and the student midwife, who was lovely btw, checks on position etc. Markus is head down and doing his usual trick of wriggling away from the doppler. We can hear him, but only faintly. I reassure the student mw that this is normal for him. She measures me and I measure 35 cm, no surprise there, he's a big boy.

Cue, more mumbling and sucking of teeth by the lead midwife. I can hear her whispering to the other lady writing in my notes about how this can't be right as I'm only 32 weeks *sigh*

Clearly I am now also deemed deaf...

Anyways, you get the gist and tone of this appointment. What's more when I make it back home and check my notes she hasn't filled them in properly either. There is no mention of how many cm I measure, nor it is plotted on the chart, so I do it myself. I am over the highest centile, again no real surprise there, he is following his own curve. I am due to go back in three weeks and her parting shot is that I will have to discuss birthing options with my own midwife then. She also says, "You look a bit fed up, what's wrong."

I look down at my bump, raise my eyebrows," Now let's see. I am huge, everything hurts, I can't sleep and I have eight weeks to go yet, now why would that make me miserable, I wonder?"

"Oh you can't sleep? That's unusual at this stage. I am sure it will get better."

I may have managed a smirk at that statement.

"No it won't. I always sleep much better, when I have actually had the baby, even with nightfeeds."

"Ok, do you breastfeed?"

(Now I know she doesn't know me, but I have been a breastfeeding counsellor for the  last nine years, am listed on the hospital breastfeeding helpline etc. and quite well known for that in the area!)

Anyway, I just smile and say,"Yes," having to restrain myself from adding a sarcastic - what else am I going to do - remember Doris, she doesn't know you!

Her response is a tight,"Oh that's good then!"

I am so glad she agrees with on me with something! But really, how condescending can you be...

I seem to have written a small novel, but this really has annoyed me. My eldest thinks I should complain and I will certainly have words with my midwife when I see her next. At least I hope it is my own midwife next time, or I may not be held responsible for my actions.

Pregnancy is such a vulnerable time, and I never did get the reassurance that I needed. Apart from knowing that Markus is now head down - he had been consistently breech up till now. I was 99.9 % sure he had turned by the way he is constantly head butting my bladder and kicking my ribs anyway, but it was good to have it confirmed. One less thing to worry about.

I just wish this particular midwife had actually listened to me, instead of being so concerned with crossing Ts and dotting Is and basically covering her own back. I am none the wiser, whether all these niggles mean that Markus may make an early appearance and to be fair I guess no one can tell me that. It is not an exact science after all.

Ok rant over, if you're even still listening ;-)

Just a little heads up

Today is my regular slot over at The Nuthouse Scribblers so do come and say Hello :-)

I am talking about fitting my writing round the family and the importance of having a wonderfully supportive husband and the turning  point that weekends often are in relationships. There is also an excerpt from my Erotic Romance Scandinavian Scandal.

Go on, yo know you want to...

I'm off to see my midwife. 32 weeks pregnant and feeling like a beached whale. Markus has given me a few niggles over the last week, so it will be good to get checked out. I'm sure he's fine, but I can't shake the feeling that my little fellow is impatient to meet us. You can quote me on that when I'm still lumbering around in August, getting stuck in doorways - already no one else can fit past me in our hall way or the kitchen - and generally speaking feeling fed up.

And just because I can and I know folks seem to like bump pics - this was me on Tuesday...

Monday, 13 June 2011

A new Venture

I have a new venture. The lovely ladies of my critique group, otherwise known as UCW, have started a group blog.

The Nuthouse Scribblers

As the title suggests, nutty and dare I say saucy things will be happening on that blog. Get us lot together and you never know what we may do.... So you have been warned ;-)

Bearing in mind us Nuthouse Scribblers have varying tastes, from Sweet romance to Erotic Romance to M/M romance, Paranormal and Horror- well you get the idea - there should be something for anyone's taste. One thing we all have in common is a wicked sense of humour and did I mention we tend to get carried away... so if you're easily offended, then maybe avert your eyes, lol.

One thing I can promise is posts from all of us on varying subjects and oodles of fun.  We have all picked different days. Mine will be Fridays. I have yet to decide what to call my Friday slot.... any suggestions welcome.

So far I'm rolling the following around in my head

TGIF - Thank God It's Friday  (not the most original, I grant you)

Freaky Fridays

Funky Fridays

Fun Fridays

you get the idea.

Am I wondering whether I have taken complete leave of my senses? You bet I am. It's hard enough at times to think of something to blog about on here, let alone have a regular Friday Blog Spot. I predict lots of moments of Thursday evening despair of "OMG, what am I going to post about?" And even more blonde moments than normal and I can't blame them entirely on placenta brain, though I do try!

But hey I'm a writer, right? Can I hear an loud Yeah from you all please?

Hmm, the silence is deafening....

So I should be able to think of something. So far I have come up with the bright idea of WIP updates, excerpts of Manuscripts, book reviews,  recaps of my week in writing, funny episodes and, and and. Oh dear, why am I doing this again?

So, watch out, be warned and keep an eye on the Nuthouse. There isn't much there yet, but give us time, give us time......

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Writers Wednesday

The lovely ladies From Fact to Fiction have a Writers Wednesday feature, where unpublished writers are profiled.

Today's Writer's Wednesday is all about yours truly. Yip, blatant self promotion I'm afraid ;-)

So go and check me out, so to speak and if you're an unpublished writer and would like to be profiled please email Elley  Whilst you're there, check out the rest of the blog too, for all things writing related.

Normal service can now resume....

*goes and removes tongue from cheek*

Monday, 6 June 2011

Two weeks on....

a much happier post from me. Can't quite believe it's been two weeks since my last post actually.

So what's happened in the last two weeks. Well for starters as I am typing this I have a little purry fluff ball called Erica perched on my bump, trying to pounce on the keyboard :-D

The day after we lost Eric a friend posted on Facebook that she needed a home for a little black and white kitty. I had a word with hubbie, not sure whether it was too soon etc and was blown away by his enthusiastic response. I had thought that we may get another kitten in the future, but not this quickly. However it did seem meant to be and hubbie chose the name Erica in honour of Eric. Cue more tears all round, but also a fair amount of excitement. The kids were bouncing in fact and kept asking daily when Erica would join us.

She arrived on bank holiday monday, a tiny fluff ball of  six weeks old cuteness. I was a bit worried when my friend said one of her litter mates had died that morning. I know he had been poorly and on antibiotics, so we took her to the vets the next day to be on the safe side.

She had a weepy eye and was sneezing occasionally, so he advised a course of antibiotics to be on the safe side as this could well be the start of an infection. He also weighed Miss Tiny and she weighed in at just under half a kilo, told you she was tiny. So small that her dose of antibiotics was just three drops twice a day, bless her.

Tiny she may be, but she certainly has spunk. I had to giggle at the vets when he gave her a worming tablet, or I should say attempted to give it to her.... "They take this no problems," he said. Famous last words, three attempts and a scratched hand later, a slightly pink vet finally managed it. It was rather amusing, I have to say!

Looking back on it now, I think she must have been sickening, because after 24 hours of her antibiotics she was a changed kitty, much more active and alert and into mischief. She quickly established herself as top dog so to speak. Nothing funnier than seeing two grown dogs whimper and cower before a hissing bundle of kitten. Sookie, Eric's sister is absolutely terrified of her. She refused to set foot in the living room, since we got Erica, though lately she has ventured in again, always keeping a wary eye on that killer kitten. ;-)

When Erica first arrived she couldn't quite jump on things, so she would do her spider kitty impression of jump, sink her claws in and climb. (Just as well our settee is not new!) Nothing funnier to watch then our fifteen year old son's face when she did this to his leg. He was wearing shorts at the time and I did have to admire his restraint of just standing there and going "Yooouucchhh, claws!" rather then throwing her off.

A week on she has learnt to jump on the settee and has turned into Houdini. We have her confined to the living room and kitchen and she has become an expert at making a dash through people's legs the minute they open the door and then running off with one or the other of the kids in hot pursuit. The shouts of shut the door and watch the cat and where is Erica now are a daily occurrance. I must say the kids have been brilliant watch dogs, even Tj is on cat alert as we call it.

After initially being wary of the whirlwind that is Tj, he has become one of her favourite people and they can be found curled up asleep on a regular basis.

As I mentioned earlier my bump is also a firm favourite.

I have to say, getting Erica has been the best thing we could have done. Her antics have us in stitches every day and whilst Eric will never be forgotten, getting to know this new little bundle of fun has been a great healing  experience for all of us, especially the kids.

Tj summed it all up really.

"Eric is gone and I was sad, but Erica makes me laugh."

So much for me thinking it passed over his head. He clearly thought about it all and processed it in his own way.

So it's all good news really and this morning even had Sookie and Erica nose to nose. Admittedly it had the look of a High Noon Showdown about it, but I'm sure as Erica gets bigger, the two of them will at least tolerate each other, if not become friends.

The arrival of Erica also brought the return of my muse. Having not been able to write a thing for far too long, inspiration has struck  and my paranormal WIP now stands at just under 18K. This was supposed to be short, but the story has taken on a life of its own and whilst I don't think it will make it to a novel, it will certainly be a novella.

I can't tell you what a relief it is to be writing again....