A little give

Today was the second time I let my two children scoot home alone.

My big girl is four and my boy is three (big girl is five soon lest you think I’m completely insane) When I say they scooted home alone I don’t mean they were all alone.

Walking home from school, once we’re past the parade of shops and away from the main road, I tell them the rules; watch for cars, stop – look & listen before crossing each road, then I tell them I’ll see them at home.

They are only ever a corner ahead of me but the sense of responsibility and freedom they get is evident in how they scoot. They are faster than normal (racing each other) Yet considered. They slow before each road end and their heads swivel so much to check for traffic I swear they’ll pop off.

Just to put your minds at ease and so you don’t think I’m some reckless halfwitted mother who lets mere toddlers on the road alone. The roads by our house are so quiet hedgehogs stop in the middle for a chat. Chickens don’t bother crossing because there is no challenge. Our road is occupied by people aged 70 and up. We are the rif-raf on the street and the only young family within a mile.

I read about ‘helicopter mums’ in a magazine lately. Apparently there is an uprising of super protective mothers who spray Dettol like perfume and only let their children out of the their sight on special occasions, like going to nursery. Personally I don’t know any mums like this but never the less I refuse to be one.

In my mind that means giving them responsibility on small things here and there, like scooting a little way home alone. I want them to know where they live, that they can remember their address. When we go shopping I lay out the type of behaviour I expect from them. I give them responsibility and roles to full fill, like finding certain items for me when we are out. When we’re at home each meal time we lay out and clean the table away together. We do the dishwasher together. I’m giving them skills they can use for life and also drilling the message home that mummy isn’t their slave, she’s just mummy.

We only get 18 summers with them and I want to pack all the love and real life into them while I am still the voice they listen to. I want to trust my children. I want to build them up to be successful in this life. I won’t be around forever neither will my husband so we need to leave a legacy that goes beyond us and will see our babies in good stead when they go off and have their own babies. It’s all about a little give.

A laborious task.

I was recently regaling a friend, who is expecting her first baby, with the story of my three pregnancies and three labours. I was trying to make it light and jovial as appose to what it actually is.

With two of my labours I had to be induced which I liken to telling Usain Bolt to run the 100 metres in 9 seconds in his slippers, having just eating a full English breakfast and having not worked out in 6 months. His body would be severely unprepared yet he could do it since that’s what he was created for. That’s how being induced felt. My body going from zero to hero in 60 seconds, yet I was created to do it.

With my kidney transplant they categorised me as ‘high risk’ which meant I was constantly monitored with extra scans, midwife appointments and given a date for induction. 35 weeks seemed to be a date everyone could agree on. The Midwife’s were happy with baby’s health and renal were happy with mine. Everyone was fairly sure kidney, baby and I wouldn’t fair well if they let me go longer. It’s one of those things, no-ones ever been able to live and tell the tale of a kidney transplant and going full term with a baby. I wasn’t thrilled about being a guinea pig so I surrendered to the medical professionals. 35 weeks it was.

With any ‘first’ experience you are always nervous and un sure of how the course of the day will turn out. If someone had told me the course of my day would involve various meetings being held in or around my vagina I may have called in sick that day.

With baby no.1 I was started off with various tampons and gels being inserted here there, then I had a lovely bath, a walk to the ducks and a bounce on the ball. I was told if nothing was doing in 48 hours they would mark me up and pull baby out of the sun roof – so to speak.

That’s when I called in the big guns. I vividly remember lying in bed asking God to break my waters. I really didn’t want to have a C-section and add another scar to the trophy case. Within seconds of my plea a sharp tug was felt and a release, much like a bath plug being unplugged. I was drenched. Swimming to the top of my bed I pulled the magical red cord that brought in an gang of midwives. I was lifted from my waters and placed on the toilet while they cleaned and made my bed again.

The next morning with still no baby they put me on the fondly named, ‘Go-Go juice’. This is the stuff that takes your body from woman to mother. From untrained rookie to gold medal winner in less than 5 hours.

Baby no.2 was helped by little more than a crochet hook to break my waters. The attending midwife didn’t believe me when I told her the contractions had started right away. I mean why would you? Yet there I was just two hours later jumping out of the supposed “calming bath” (it’s amazing what adrenaline can do, I’ve not jumped in years) that I looked at myself in the mirror all sweaty, red faced, hair and nipples sticking out at all angles, that I announced under smothered breath; “it’s coming”.

Behold a boy dropped into our lives. I waddled smugly back to my bed like John Wayne having lost his horse. With my boy wrapped safely in my arms I looked toward the unused midwife and machinery.

So impressed was the midwife with my labouring skills that she dangled the carrot of ‘birthing suite’ to me. In hindsight she may been rubbing salt into the womb as my notes and ‘high risk’ factors very much disallowed me into the heavenly suite of lovely labours, baths, double beds and low lighting.

By number three we were back to the machines and wires except the freshly anointed midwife forbid me sitting down lest gravity didn’t have its fair share of turns in getting this one out. After hours of swaying and bouncing to ‘Boogie Wonderland’ on repeat we went with the inducing ‘Go-Go’ juice. Sixteen hours and a professional finger wiggle here and there and number three was out.

The sweetest moment that I tried to encourage my friend with wasn’t the pink screaming ball of loveliness that is lumped into your arms after all of the drama, but the true reward given to any worthy untrained marathon runner; the NHS standard tea and toast.

After each of my babies had been born and the feeling of ten double decker buses reverse parking over my body had passed, I sat in a numb post-labour glow. It feels a bit like when the war is over and you’re waiting for the dust to settle. Sat there assessing the damage when an angel walks over to me, all golden rings and everything. She delivers unto me over-buttered toast and highly sugary tepid tea. Chomping down on the only solid matter I’ve had in 48 hours it is utter bliss. A smug sense of achievement falls over me as I look over at my husband holding my tiny premature baby. Of course the real work begins once the squishy love ball is born, any sucker can give birth but becoming a mother is a work of heart. Let the real fun begin!

Age-ed

You know you’re getting old when;

You find a grey hair in your eyebrows…

Finding grey hairs in the hairline is one thing … of which I have many, but finding a grey in the eyebrows is just insulting. I tend to perk mine up with a little colour if I’m going out but one blessed day I saw it. It was practically doing the Macarena in front of me. Gloating, showing off, making its presence known. It took me a good half hour to decapitate it but I know all I did was poke the bear.

You try and do a sexy dance for your husband and your hips click…

We had some good times, my hips and I. Mine don’t lie and they were reliable but one night … a few gins in, I tried my best Shakira moves to entice my beloved and all that was heard was click, click, click. It was like a Big Ben symphony and left us in fits of laughter not amor.

Nothing excites quite like an early night…

After half term and the whirlwind of seeing friends and going on adventures with my kids, the routine of ‘back to school’ meant silence from 7pm. I would potter, do the washing, the ironing but always keeping one eye on the clock. Once striking 9pm it would become a beacon for me, calling me in. I would become like the unseen – ugly version of Cinderella. My belly would turn into the size of a pumpkin. My face would grow long like a horse’s and I scurry upstairs to my bed like a little mouse.

I am well aware of the ageing process but I didn’t think I would begin to look so age-ed so soon! My soul feels like a spritely twenty-one year old. I remember my thirtieth birthday party like it was yesterday. I don’t recall giving my body permission to disown me like this. I feel like a love struck teenager in one of my day dreams, where I am being gently let down by a famous boy band member; “it’s not you it’s me”, except it’s reality and my body is letting me down.

I remember a time in my teens when I was dancing every day and my tummy was flat, my arms were tight and my bottom was behind me. These days, after three babies, my tummy looks more like a deflated bouncy castle. My arm skin has unrolled to reveal bat like wings. I nearly took my child’s eye out the other day with an extensive arm gesture! And my bottom, well don’t get me started, I noticed in the mirror it’s started making a break for it and is now slipping down into my thighs, if I’m not careful I won’t be able to bend next week. Best start working out again…I’ll go after this gin.

Medicinal

I have entered medical heaven.

I don’t suppose I regaled you with the woe-some tail of my previous GP surgery? Put it this way, a two-hour strong wait was not uncommon whether you were ailing with a common cold or an agitating heart condition. It wouldn’t matter if you limped in holding your foot you would still be asked a series of questions by nosy receptionists with zero medical training as to why your foot got severed from your leg.

Once in to to see a GP, they would be stressed, harassed and short of time. Lacking in any compassion they would already be signing a prescription for a truck load of antibiotics which you wouldn’t need since you were holding your severed foot in your hand.

Needless to say I have nothing pleasant to report about my previous GP surgery. I fear it’s not just me that has sad tales to tell of GP surgery’s like my old one. It’s a sad story to think of all the men and women once proud to hold their medical degrees, off to save the world one ailment at a time, that have now become slaves to a machine run by paper pushers and time keepers. (My personal view)

Skip back to last month.

I have driven past, my now doctors surgery, plenty of times. It reminded me of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory; dark and foreboding on the outside yet filled with imaginable treats on the inside. It was only due to the pain of my previous surgery that pushed me to pass through the unsuspecting gates.

I registered my family and I and booked my first appointment. I learnt it was easier to get into drama school (which was really hard) than it was to reserve a doctors appointment at the previous surgery despite dropping words like – kidney transplant – consultant – serious – daily medication – life threatening… I may have added the last one for dramatic effect as nothing else was working.

I got an appointment at Mr.Wonka’s for the following morning. I nearly cried at the news. I was so stunned my face must have been a picture as the receptionist looked quite concerned, glanced over at the defibrillator kit and back to me. I thanked her, walked out and rang my husband to tell of the joyous news. I even insisted he get ill, which he never does, just so he could get a kick out of getting a same day or next day appointment.

The next morning as I walked into ‘The Willy Wonka doctors surgery’ nerves overtook me as I wondered, could this really be true? Had I suffered a kind of post traumatic episode that caused me to make up the events of the previous day?

I was not suffering, nor dreaming. I was welcomed in by a kindly, unassuming receptionist who knew who I was before I told her. My bottom barely grazed the faux leather covered sponge seat before I was called in for my appointment.

I carefully knocked on the only door available to me and poked my head around. An older gentlemen with a kind face sat behind a large desk he greeted me with such gusto I burst into the room in case he changed his mind. I told him my problems and he listened without judgement. He presented his diagnosis and gave me the option over whether I take antibiotics or another route, helping me understand that antibiotics aren’t the cure for everything.

I’ve since been back to explore the ‘other route’ and I met the only other doctor at the surgery, she works Tuesday’s and Thursday’s and she was really nice. I honestly had to stop myself saying ‘Wow’ when I walked in, she is stunning! I have since told my husband it’s not possible to get an appointment on a Tuesday or Thursday but thoroughly encouraged my single brother in law to attend on those days.

Did I mention they also have a nurse led ‘Chronic condition’ surgery? It’s designed for people such as myself to enter and get a full health check with a specialist nurse who is fully read on our conditions. I mean if that’s not a sign from the Lord that this surgery was meant for me, I don’t know what is!

The cherry that topped off this delightfully light and fluffy cake that contains all chocolate and no calories (because isn’t that the dream cake?) Was a child’s play house! It was all singing, all dancing and rammed full of toys for all ages. My children are often carted around with me when I go for my various consultations and blood appointments etc so to have toys they can play with is beyond Willy Wonka it’s absolute medical heaven!

B-day

It was my birthday yesterday and while the presses didn’t stop, my children were at least reminded to sing the hit tune written for the day, ‘Happy Birthday’. They sung it and sung it and sung it until it became painful to hear it again.

They loudly whispered their great plan to surprise me in bed from the kitchen all the way up the stairs and were still discussing it as they laid out my breakfast tray.

“I’ll sing Happy Birthday first and then you can sing it”

The presents came out and a fight quickly ensued between myself and the children over who would open them. I won. The baby helped by eating the wrapping paper. Of course children are cunning creatures and while I was happily opening my gifts they set to on the breakfast tray. I thought I had tea and toast. I thought I had orange juice. All that was left for me was tea, left because it was just too hot. Looking at my children, their cheeks covered in crumbs and filled with my toast I thought it time to get up and ready for the day.

Turns out birthdays aren’t what they used to be. They used to be lazy, indulgent days spent straightening my hair with the iron (before straighteners) and wondering which top to wear. Now they are just another day. Another day to put the washing on, another day to shout at my kids, squeeze my kids and squirt my vanish gun around various stained items in the house.

This year it landed on a Sunday which is a work day in our house. My husband had to leave for church and so it was down to me to organise the three children and dress, if I had time.

Thankfully baby was happy to play in her cot while I jumped in the shower. It didn’t take long for the boy to come in and ask to join me. Already clean and dressed I suggested he go play with his tractors. It wasn’t long after that interruption that the big girl came in to inform me that the boy had used her face as a road for his tractors. Screaming his name through the steam he popped his face in to be reprimanded for his actions. They both left heads hung low and I shut the shower doors. It can’t have been a full minute until another incident had happened that needed to be urgently reported.

I was reminded of a book I used to read as a child called, ‘Five minutes peace’ by Jill Murphy. It was a wonderful story of a family of elephants. A mother elephant who had three elephant children. The story tells of the mother elephant wanting five minutes peace away from the incessant noise, complaints and questions from her children.

I used to read this book laughing at the things the children would do to their mother, getting in the bath with her and even finishing her tea and toast that she’d made for her breakfast. Oh how I laughed at the – clearly made up – story of this elephant family. For a kick off elephants don’t live in houses nor to they walk on their back legs. Surely the rest of it was made up to? Oh to have my naive mind back. A mind if innocence and glee at having my tea and toast stolen.

I was reminded of this book on the CBeebies channel’s ‘bedtime hour’ slot. I sat the children down to listen to the wonderful, heartwarming tale of a family of elephants. I listened again to the words, the story of a mother who just wanted five minutes peace. My eyes started to fill with tears. I couldn’t listen to the horror anymore.

“Why did they get in the bath with her?” I cried. “Why couldn’t they just leave her alone for five minutes??”

By the end of the book, as the author read the last line, I had left the children sitting on the sofa and I was hunched up in front of the tv like I was watching a thriller; ‘Off she went downstairs where she had 3 minutes and 45 seconds of peace before they all came to join her”

“Oh thank goodness for that” I hadn’t realised I had been holding my breath.

The book I used to enjoy as a child has now become a cautionary tale to all whom give life to children. You never get any peace.

You’ll be glad to know the husband heard my cries and took me away for the night for my birthday and once I’d given the babysitters the kitchen sink and endless lists of things to do and not to do for each of them we drove off into the sunset.

Upon my return home every item in my household clamoured for attention, the cooker needs cleaning, the floor needs mopping, the clothes need washing, the grass needs mowing. It was the bottle of gin in the fridge that shouted the loudest followed by the sofa, wanting a safe landing of my bottom. So I obliged with gratitude, once my three little elephants were safely tucked into bed. Peace….until morning.

Why Multiples?

I warm up to each blog like I’m warming up for a marathon. I stretch, I shake and I will the creative juices to flow into deadened cells. Unfortunately, the only juice to flow this morning was my period, which must be said, is always a relief to see. You can take all the precautions in the world but until you see scarlet you never really know. Maybe that’s just me. Having spent the last four years being pregnant it’s weird getting used to not ‘finding out’ again. My womb and I gladly pass the baton on to anyone who wants to join the baby train. Our little unit is done. I often have to pinch myself to realise we are a family of five. FIVE! There are moments though. Moments like this morning…

Dawn is cracking through the edges of the black-out blind and the birds begin their morning chorus, so sweet and loud that I have to get up to shut the window! Ruddy birds. Snuggling back into my warm bed I wonder how long it will be until the ‘rabble’ wakes.

It starts slow. A murmur here, a yawn there and all of a sudden, my son, whom we should have named big-foot, comes stopping out of his room. He’s three. He turns on the bathroom light, which has an automatic fan attached to it which must be the biggest interior mistake I’ve ever made. The light switches on so does the monotone whir of the fan. The lad sits on his throne for what feels like hours as I lie in my bed listening to the whir of the fan. The baby also hears the whir and takes this time as a vocal warm up before her morning chorus of ‘mama’ begins.

My eldest is also disturbed by the fan and slowly floats out of her room in a sleepy haze which makes her look drunk. She and my son begin a discussion about the toilet and once he slips off, she slips on. Bladders empty they slowly push open the door to our room. They creep in like two stealth assassins. Husband and I lie there pretending to be asleep, firmly under the assumption that if we don’t move, maybe they won’t see us. One gets a foot hold on the mattress while the other slips through the bars at the bottom of the bed. In one synchronised movement they both land on us laughing heartily under our groans of pain. It’s in this moments I wonder, why multiples?

I look to the window and see the blind now unable to keep the sunshine at bay as rays of light pour through and land on the floor. I must have fallen asleep for a few more hours after the bird song. No child has ever woken before 7 in our house. They are simply not allowed to. Years of strict routine and discipline has given us its reward of 12 peaceful hours each night, bar the odd bout of teething or sickness. Which again is rarely allowed between my walls. It seems dust and dirt are the only thing allowed to flourish in my house and it does so with gusto. I feel my Dyson judge me every time I lift it from its dark corner. What I would give for a cleaner. Probably a child.

Once the baby is lifted from her cot it’s all go for breakfast. A herd of elephants couldn’t compare with the noise my herd make. A diatribe begins over the porridge which sends sachets into the air and of course they were opened before the tussle began so its oats all over the floor. The baby begins to eat them and I’m half tempted to pour milk onto the floor and offer out straws. Husband trots down dressed for work and slips into his seat and begins eating his breakfast. Boy needs a poo. Babies already done one and before I know it husband skips out of the house to work. Ah the daily grind.

All dressed and ready for the school run, we drop the big girl off and its back to the house for operation clean up. The smaller two hit the play room like a hurricane and I slip upstairs for a wash. A shower is very much out of the question until adult supervision can be found. I grab my face cloth off the radiator but don’t get a proper grip and its only then I realise that after everyone’s emptied their bladders, and back passages, that not one of them has flushed the toilet. I look down and watch my face cloth soak into the contents of the toilet bowl. Its then I ask myself, why multiples?

Even now I type with one hand as baby tries to chew the screen. My hair looks like it’s been washed with olive oil and I smell like a sweaty mattress that’s been slept in by 100 naval officers who haven’t had access to fresh water in 90 days. Yet snuggling into the folds of my babies neck I know why we had multiples, but again, one look in the mirror or down at my snot stained top I ask myself; why multiples?

Catch Up

I like to start each blog like I am writing a letter to a dear friend. That dear friend is you reader and I thought it high time for an update, a catch up if you will. It has been many years since my last blog and many years previous to that since I started writing at all. If you are new here I’d like to direct you to my old blog;

http://mrsjffarrington.blogspot.co.uk/

If you have no time to read back, allow me to summarise.

I began writing due to kidney failure. My younger mind thought others would appreciate hearing about my journey through sickness, surgery and beyond. I wrote for nearly three years and it became a book! Ha – okay I only said so for the shortest of seconds you’d think you were reading the works of an actual ‘Author’. Alas, no. Not yet anyway.

My blogs, long winded and full of puff, were bound up by my now-husband. Doubtless he thought binding up my works would woo me into submission. It worked. We’ve been married six years this year. Six years and three children. Three children the doctors said I may never have. Turns out God had other ideas in mind.

Oh no I mentioned God!! That’s right, I believe in God and more relevantly His son Jesus.

If you want to leave now that’s quite fine, we can part here as friends.

If, however, you’d like to stick around dear friend I’d like to get to the point of why I am writing in the first place. I thought, in my somewhat older mind, not too old mind! That I’d like to share where I am now on my journey.

I am a mother of three under five years – one just started school last year so I have begun what feels like a life sentence of tedium doing the ‘school run’. I am married to a pastor of a local church where I lead and serve. I work for the family business which after all these years still don’t fully understand what they do. The rest of the time I try and grow polite young children out of what sometimes feels like animals.

My kidney transplant was donated by my mother. Yes before you ask, birthdays are a quandary as no gift can ever compete with an organ but she seems happy with the gin. Kidney was gratefully received on the 8th July 2010. I got married in 2012 where an eager husband and wife entered the consultants room to be told that the chances of conceiving were very small and if by chance i did get pregnant it may not survive, nor would I be able to carry it. The new kidney was placed in the front right of my abdomen which understandably meant that each baby would be squeezed out by its current occupant.

God stepped in. Things are impossible with man but nothing is impossible with God. So we put our situation humbly before Him and in less than what seemed like 5 minutes later (it was 3 months) we got pregnant with our first baby girl. Less than two years later came our boy and another two years after that came our second girl. Blessed beyond measure, I like to say. I say it everyday, usually after 7pm when they’re all in bed. Either way I know we were given an extraordinary gift in our children. One we never take for granted.

Kidney is in good shape and I go for check ups every four months, which, if you stick around I shall fill you in on. That and a whole load of nonsensical tips and hints on motherhood, faith, love, life and beyond. I really know nothing but I get asked about these things a lot so why not answer them in a fashion that can work for us all.

Until next time dear friend.

Websites to check out:

mrsjffarrington.blogspot.co.uk

Crossgate.church

www.organdonation.nhs.uk

http://www.kidneyresearchuk.org