Christmas Cards

Just a short one, probably a depressing one too, sorry for that.

It all started with the Christmas cards arriving.

My first card this year, ironically came from my dad’s wife, it hit hard. 

Suddenly it’s arrival made me realise that is it for the ‘daughter’ cards. Those beautiful, heartfelt, well chosen, well thought out cards that only a parent buys, in fact my mum would buy two (or three some year so). In its place comes a card not in the hand that I see my cards penned. A card from a multi-pack. A card that probably found her facing her own thoughts of Dad on this first Christmas without him. A card that I’m sure she struggled to write and to me was bordering on devoid of all emotion. I’m not blaming her for this.

I hate the fact Cancer has taken both my parents from me, I hate the fact that Christmas is hugely lacking with both of them gone. I haven’t spent a Christmas with my father for quite some years but I always spoke to him on the day and enjoyed buying him gifts (more so after Noah’s arrival, being able to share our love of photography with a beautiful [in my mind] image of my boy). This year his wife requested that presents wouldn’t be sent either way, a request that I’m sure will stand from here on in. I find myself battling with this. I want to send her something because she has been part of our lives for 26 years, she was my dad’s wife, she is family, but I also feel I should respect her wishes. I find myself browsing my Dad’s Amazon wish list and feeling robbed, whilst doing this I found my Mum’s, untouched since 2007 and feel absolutely devastated.

Whilst trying to buy a card for D from Noah I’ve stared at the Mum and Dad cards on the shelves in the card shops and had to hold back the sobs knowing that I’m looking at something that I will never buy for my own parents and that hurts. Hurts beyond belief. I remember now thinking it such a chore finding the ‘right’ card, now I’d find it so easy. I’d buy the fucking lot if it meant that they would read them and realise how much I loved them, how much I respected them, how much I thought of them, how much I miss them.

I’m sat here at home alone listening to the gentle hum of the baby monitor whilst D is on his works do, quietly dreading Christmas this year but also aware that Noah is starting to get excited about it. I want, more than anything, for Noah to be totally unaware of my hang ups and feel the pressure of trying to make it extra special as a way of making up for my feelings of lack of enthusiasm. 

I find myself struggling once more and hate it. I know I have more grief coming, more anniversaries, family events, milestones, all without my parents there.

So as I go through the motions of preparing for a Christmas without the love and thought of a parent I think more deeply of those in a similar situation. I’m not ‘alone’ yet I know (especially in my previous line of work) there are so many out there that are and realise how much that must hurt at this time of year. I just hope they have atleast received one card with a heartfelt thought behind the words written in it.

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2 Year Review

On the run up to this review I have wanted to know what it entails and have never had a definitive response from anyone, anywhere. I was beginning to think it was a secret society that only those who had experienced it were privy to the information. Friends with children younger than Noah kept asking that I let them know what it entails so therefore I decided to write this post after the review and try and remember as much about it as I could. I even joked about filming it but thought Noah would be more interested in the came than anything else, let’s face it, he doesn’t need any other distractions. It’ll be interesting to know how the review varies depending on geographical location too, so your input would be interesting whether your experience was similar, or totally different.

On the 24th November 2015 Noah had his two year review with the Health Visiting Team.

We had Jo (whom I comically kept calling Jill. Bless her, she never once corrected me) who Noah knows from weigh-in clinics so hoped that he would be at ease with her. The appointment was at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and at home meaning he would be in familiar surroundings, have napped and eaten before she was due to come so I was positive of him ‘playing fair’. I should have known better.

The day started with an unprecedented lie-in which meant his nap was late, finally settling in his cot at 12.30. Then there was a monster nap (a rare event). All this meant that Noah was still fast asleep when Jo arrived so we got all the questions out of the way, which in hindsight was a bad move as he could have spent that time getting used to her in his space.

Anyway, lots of questions ensued about his emotional and physical development, I have listed some of these questions below but fear I have forgot quite a few, so forgive me for that…

Does he run and stop without falling down or running into something, walk steadily and ‘true’, jump so that both feet leave the floor at once. (Yes)

Do his feet point inwards or tip inwards at the ankle. (No)

Does he laugh, smile, look at you when being spoken to, turn when his name is called. (Yes)

Does he repeat actions over and over and over for a considerable amount of time, like rocking; flapping his hands; spinning. (No)

Does he hurt himself or others on purpose (such as biting, hitting, scratching). (No)

Is he rigid when not in a tantrum. (No)

Does he say 10 words (Yes, just but not consistently).

Does he string atleast two words together, like “Mama Play” (No)

Does he have a varied and healthy diet. (Yes). Is he very fussy (Not generally, certainly not so I worry). Does he use a spoon. Does he use a fork. Does he use a proper cup. (Yes, Yes, Yes)

Does he engage in imaginative play e.g. Does he feed a teddy, put a nappy on etc (Yes)

Does he cry for longer than 15 minutes when having a tantrum. (No) Can we calm him down when having a tantrum fairly easily (Yes)

Does he sleep; in his own bed (Yes) ; for atleast 12 hours in a 24 hour period (hmmm… Hit and miss)

There were various questions on home safety, she observed there was a stairgate into the kitchen and asked if any on stairs but as we live in a flat, irrelevent. As Noah is still in a cot (due to him being in our room) then advice on watching that he doesn’t climb out (a little tiresome as it’s irrelevent seeing as we are in the bed next to his cot so he’s never even had time to attempt it before we’ve got him up).

She also asked about whether Noah was potty trained yet and gave us a rough guideline as to when to remove nappies at night which was generally between 3 and 3.5 years, when we notice nappies are dry in the morning.

Then a doozy of a question. One we scoffed at. One we were a little offended at being asked but in hindsight I can see why it’s asked and how they can’t just assume. We were asked. “What do you like most about Noah ?” Our answer was instantaneous and we shared the same answer… “EVERYTHING. We like (love) everything about him, his pure existence”

Noah was still fast asleep when all this finished so we had to get him up… Not ideal. He was already a little miffed as to being woken up and then to find a strange person in his house when brought through meant he turned limpet for ten minutes.

On finally prising him off us, Jo gave him some simple tasks to do…

Book

She passed Noah a book but didn’t actually do anything with it, he was still very shy at this point so asked us questions as to whether he could turn pages on his own. (Yes) Identify objects/characters in the book. (Yes). Know the words for objects/characters in the book. (Difficult to answer when he isn’t really speaking yet)

Build a tower of 7 blocks

Noah loves building towers with his blocks, and does this pretty much every day but today he was not interested in this at all but thankfully she believed us when we said he could do it, in fact the moment she left the house he sat down and built one 10 blocks high, typical. It took all my will power to not run after her and drag her back. Why did I feel the need for her to see that he could do it? I have no idea.

Thread a large ‘button’ (for want of a descriptive word for the objects) onto a shoelace

Now he has never done this before but after showing him once he proceeded to do it with relative ease.

Unscrew a bottle lid, remove a coin from the bottle, replace the coin into the bottle and redo the bottle lid 

Noah leapt on this one but it took us a while to coax him into replacing the coin as he just wanted to hold it… What can I say, it was money and he has a Yorkshireman for a father 😉

Line up 4 objects. 

Noah can do this with ease but he does prefer to stack things rather than line them up, however the objects Jo had were. 4 matchbox cars… Cars! With a little boy! Needless to say he wanted to drive them around the carpet rather than line them up but he did it eventually, though a little wide apart. She wasn’t too bothered about this.

After all this we got Noah weighed and measured which is always a bit of a mission these days and took. 15 minutes of coaxing for each task but we got there in the end.

Weight : 13.75kg (30.31Ibs)

Height : 89.5cm

All in all the review went well, she was more than happy with Noah’s development but will give us a ring in February to ask about his speech and see if anything is needed to be done. She did point out that their team do the reviews, usually, at 2 years and 1 month+ but somehow Noah was called 2 days after his birthday so she wanted to be ‘fair’. She’s not concerned about any underlying issue as his level of communication and understanding is excellent but he should be stringing words of atleast 2 together and saying 10 words frequently when she contacts us again.