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Nothing has changed

March 28, 2012
by

This (life in general with 4 children and a husband and a house and all that stuff) is obviously going to be crazy hard.

My life has become little pockets of quiet surrounded by an oblivion of noise and children and work and washing up and laundry and hoovering and cleaning and milestones and smiling and laughing and tellings off and time-outs and giggling and cuddles and homework and spelling and folding and ironing and non-stop craziness.

Kit is changing by the day – saying more and more words – he cheekily tells me Nooooooo to pretty much everything I ask him now – so stupidly funny – has me in stitches every time he says it. He’s understanding everything we say – in fact that’s been quite a while now – ‘come here’ or explaining that he needs to tidy his toys ready for bed, bathtime, tea time – he even went into the kitchen today and got out three bowls from their cupboard – placed them on the counter and pointed at them and then at his tummy and then ran and pointed to the shelf with the cereal on it…. all the time babbling away to me in Kitkat language and laughing his head off.

He is just adorable. Simple.

I had a moment this morning when I was feeding Nina, laying down next to her in bed and realising that this weekend she is 5 months old. Five months!

Where did that time go?? Seems like 2 minutes since she was born. And I know people say that all the time – but seriously – where is my life going? I’m 35 in 3 months and I just cannot believe that. It’s nearly two years since beautiful Freddie was born and died and I just can’t get my head around that either.

The last few weeks I’ve only done 3 days a week and had Thursdays and Fridays off – and it’s been mental – work is back pulling my every corner of brain back into the party and I’m all like – dude! Yeah! I remember this! Engagaing my thoughts and conversing with adults… it’s actually quite nice! My job is busy – I love my staff, I’m happy here although under a lot of pressure. But I worry about money and I wish I didn’t have to. Soon I’m full time – and I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that is going to be.

But mainly – I am starting to wonder about how much time I’m not spending with my children. Nina is crunching her tummy and craning her head forward like mad when she’s laid down flat or in her reclining chair – she’s desperate to sit up and she’s so alert and active and engaging. She sings and talks and gabbles away already – at 5 months! I want to be with her showing her things and bringing her on. I don’t think it’ll be any time at all before she rolls over and hopefully with two weeks off after today..

So…. and breathe.

Blimey O’Reily

March 7, 2012
by

I literally have not stopped.

I am desperate to write – the reasons why I haven’t

 

Last week of mat leave was just crazy. Both girls got a bug that meant washing and disinfecting my entire house. MY ENTIRE HOUSE! Sheets, beds, hoovering, every dish, plate, cupboard, toy, cutlery, cushion, skirting boards, windows, mantles, ornaments, towels. Everything. EVERYTHING.

Those that know me well know that my house is reasonably tidy and reasonably clean. I don’t dust every 5 minutes. I do not have OCD. Kids clothes are clean, beds are clean, kitchen and bathroom and clean but do I dust skirting boards religiously? Erm no.

So that was fun.

Nina then decided that should be the time she turns the cough she’s been harbouring for 3 weeks into a chest infection and started waking through the night coughing until she was sick and strugglnig to breathe. That was great.

Then on the Thursday evening (my first day back was the next day) Kit came back from the childminder with a low fever. He seemed fine, we put him to bed with neurofen and some calpol and thought maybe teeth giving him some hassle – he woke on Friday with the worst sounding cough. The kind that makes them sound like an angry dog. He has been wheezy and coughing through the night, waking needing drinks and being generally miserable.

I spent all weekend re-cleaning all the things I had cleaned at the beginning of the week – re-did the beds, hoovered, sterilised toys, polished, washed until my hands bled. Literally bled.

‘This house is clean!’

I will have to do it again tomorrow.

Couple all of this with the fact that my IT dept in their infinite wisdom have deactivated the 3G card on my work laptop for whatever reason – meaning a long and involved call to the helpdesk which I have yet to make – has shaped up to no updates.

I haven’t even really had time to tweet.

Then just to make everything really lovely – BN and I both caught the cold and have been knocked sideways by it totally – it’s a crummy one with whole cotton wool head, feeling like you can’t hear properly, bruised face sinus feeling type of cold. BN also has really bad aching arms and legs and keeps falling asleep every time I stop talking to him long enough to keep him awake.

So.

I am back at work. It’s busy. I have 2 days a week off work all month and then two weeks off at the beginning of April and then I’m back full time after that. I don’t even want to imagine what full time will feel like because at the moment all I can think about is the fact that tomorrow I don’t need to get dressed!

YAY!

Oh yeah – and I get to have baby cuddles all day 🙂

 

 

Smacking Part 6

February 20, 2012
by

I had to stay away from this story – it was getting me down a bit. It’s actually quite hard to go through it chronologically and list all the times that we were wronged by a system.

I finally spoke to Anna, the Social Worker on the Tuesday. Five days since the Thursday that everything had actually happened. I can’t think now whether I called her or whether she finally called me. But it was just not what I expected at all.

Following my conversation with the Police the day before, who were dropping any interest in the events – I had absolutely expected the Ch Services to do the same. But no.

Anna explained that she had to remain ‘in contact’ with us in order to complete our ‘file’ as she wasn’t satisfied that all was well and that she wanted to visit us at home before she would say anything else. I asked lots of questions but I was instantly very upset and probably not very articulate. I asked about the supervision requirements and she said that she would like those to stay in place. It just absolutely killed me. I remember crying a lot and we arranged a date for her to come to the house. She was due to come the following Wednesday which would have been 13 days since the first event.

So in my brain at this time I’m thinking – God – how can this not be over? I’m thinking – well we can’t be of that much interest as surely to goodness they would be coming round sooner than another week away…? I’m wondering what on Earth she has seen that makes her think she needs to stay involved. She was at the hospital with us for hours as a family and nothing happened there at all that could cause concern.

It made no sense to me.

Dave – the PPU Officer – had mentioned at some point that Ch Services might offer support and did I feel I needed any. We questioned what kind of support but weren’t given any examples. He had questioned in my Police interview that we had two bedrooms and soon to be four children. How was that going to work? I wondered if she was going to come and say that our housing was unsuitable?!

It was terrifying.

We cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. I mean our house is not a show home – but it’s not dirty. We have outgrown it, sure – but we can’t afford to move at the moment so we’re stuck with it. We make do – we have some clutter but Jeez – who doesn’t have some clutter?!

I had two friends at the time who worked in Children Services, one for our own County (although for a different area) and my friend C who worked for another County completely. They both worked in slightly different sectors and could offer different advice.

One was able to tell me exactly what to expect from a home visit as she did them regularly – what the SW would be looking for – what she would be observing and what she would be likely to ask. My other friend, C, was able to tell me via her Senior Social Worker colleague – what the red tape of the situation was that we were going through was called – what the actual steps of it were – who would become involved from our lives and what that meant.

This is what we found out – they would call our GP, our Health Visitor and our Childcare for information on our family. They would be looking at professional’s assessment of our kids’ health – how often we visited the Dr and what for and what concerns they had if any. The same of the HV – ask about her opinion of us as parents – discuss any concerns about our home environment or our children’s health. They would also be very likely (although this doesn’t always get followed up) to contact our childcare.

Armed with this information – I started the ball rolling. I contacted all of these people. AT first in writing alerting them to the fact that there had been an incident that had been investigated by the Police and that they had left the situation but that Ch Services were still involved. I described the event. I called the family solicitor, William, who had been so kind to me – and he advised that the letter was absolutely fine as long as in NO WAY WHATSOEVER – was there any admission of wrong doing.

I also found out from C’s friend that this supervision requirement was – in her opinion – totally unnecessary considering the facts of our case. She felt the whole case was ridiculous anyway but she said that it was voluntary – we hadn’t signed anything legal – I had voluntarily agreed to not be alone with my children and I didn’t have to agree to that if it was impacting our family life.

In the letter to the HV, the GP and my Childminder – which I cc’d to Ch Services – I advised that the supervision requirements was having a negative impact on our health and wellbeing as a family. I advised that it was costing us more money as we were having to leave them at childcare earlier in the day. I advised that we were all having to get up earlier because of that, rush the children even more in the morning which in a house with two sleep deprived parents as it was – was not helping. I detailed how distressed I was feeling under this requirement, that I was 22 weeks pregnant and losing weight and not able to sleep due to all the stress of the situation as it was – without the added upset of feeling like a criminal and not being allowed to be alone with my kids. C’s senior colleague advised me to say that as of now I was going to stop adhering to the request and that should they have an issue with that they had 48 hours to contact me and say why. I gave my contact numbers and left it at that. The Principal Practitioner (which is the name for the Senior Social Worker) said not to give longer than 48 hours. They work full time around the clock as they have to be available at any time and therefore there would definitely be someone available to respond to the communication. She advised that I call Ch Services, ask for Anna’s email, her dept head’s email address and her direct manager as well. I emailed them all and also sent the letters by recorded delivery.

I heard nothing. And this was a weight off my shoulders.

The week drifted past with research into the schools Child Protection Policy – lots of research into the rules and regulations surrounding school’s intervention in situations such as ours. Legal definitions of words involved and we picked it to pieces.

My GP called me to say that she had received the letter – asked me to tell her about what had happened and if there was anything she could do. She also really set my mind at rest by saying that I should relax – her words were that if she had any concerns, she would be calling Ch Services herself to advise that the supervision requirement should stay in place and that she certainly wasn’t going to be doing that.

On the Thursday afternoon, I spoke to my HV who said that she was going to come round and see us on Friday evening after work. I’ve known her for years  since Rowan was born  she’s lovely, knows us well, has been to our house loads of times and is very supportive. She echoed the GP and said she wanted to come and give me a big hug.

It was starting to sound so much better. I was frustrated that we were having to wait for this visit but at least things were looking up.

 

Through the Night…

February 20, 2012
by

Crikey!

Nina has slept through the night with no feeding! I’m not counting my chickens but

 

YAY!!!

 

She went down in her basket at 6.15 and slept through until 6.25 this morning … no nighttime feed AT ALL!

This couldn’t be better timing for the awesome baby it has to be said as I go back to work very soon – a week on Friday is my first day and then I go back for 3 days a week for a month until I’m full time again. Nina has been great – it’s as though she knows… I dread to think what life would have been like if I’d had to go back to work so early after Kit – he was an awful sleeper!

So she’s 16 weeks tomorrow – and all a big girl already. And suddenly that seems like it’s gone too fast…

 

Hm.

Under the Covers…

February 13, 2012
by

Quite a few years ago now, BN and I had a bedroom related epiphany.

Don’t close the page and back away – I’m not that into sharing.. well maybe I am…

But not today.

So long ago now that I can’t actually remember when, we realised that sharing one duvet between the two of us, just didn’t work. At all.

Over the years I have come to know that everyone is different in the bedroom – Lots of conversations with girl friends, boyfriends, other couples and such proves that basically – we are all the same. You are either freezing cold… wafted when you least expect it or suddenly reeling like a saucer on a table with the cloth whipped away from you like a magic trick! Now you see it – now you don’t!

There are those of us who are leaders in the use of duvet – and those of us who follow.

But really?

We ALL want to do what we want with the blanket we are sleeping underneath – but it VERY RARELY HAPPENS!

I like to be wrapped up like a sausage roll, warm and snug and I turn periodically through the night reserving the right to suddenly throw my covers off for however long it takes me to cool down until I want to be oven baked liked a sausage roll again… but I only ever throw them off my back – never my front. Therefore sharing a duvet – leads to issues! I like to have a warm back which means I would have to face him constantly – but I hate someone breathing right in my face which means…. cold back… the list is endless.

BN likes to have his quilt right up to his nose and tucked under his feet at the same time. He does this wafting thing when he first gets in… he lifts and tucks with his feet and toes repeatedly… a kind of duvet shuffle… that takes around 4 minutes to perfect the art of the right amount of toe coverage – that simply does drive.me.insane.

Add to this the fact that I am a lot shorter – the quilt up to the nose thing for him? Practically suffocated me on occasion… not as funny as it sounds!

I cannot share a quilt with a toe covering obsessed crazy person who suffocates me at intervals through the night, at the same time as being comfortably cocooned up, baking in my trapped wind body heat. Coupled with the fact that I go to bed usually at least an hour earlier than BN and afore-mentioned toe covering would wake me up just as he got settled – just leads to middle of the night huffings and puffings – and not the good sort!

According to BN – in the dead of night, I apparently would get cold and then follow him round the bed in my sleep like a truffle hunting pig *snort snort*  BN is always warm through the night and would end up perched on the edge of the bed clinging on like a shivering mountain goat whilst I absorbed every particle of warmth I could possibly steal whilst wrapped in all of the duvet 🙂

So – years ago – years … I mean we have been together almost 12 and this was definitely before we had Rowan – so probably a decade ago… one of us – and I can’t remember which – introduced an extra item to the bedroom.

Meet Second Duvet 🙂

Instantly our middle of the night huffs and puffs – our outbursts of hurrumphing and arguing at 3am stopped. He could toe cover like a crazy person to his heart’s content and I could wrap, turn and cool as my heart desired… and we woke every morning with the right amount of sleep and no more arguing over who had been warmest/coldest/more hard done by/disturbed than the other.

Then we bought the king sized bed and our dreams really were complete…. We get as far away from each other as humanly possible some nights, occasionally meeting in the middle for some hot snoring and bed breath action!

Now this is the way it works for us – clearly four kids on, one very recently, almost 12 years together and counting, there are no issues in the romance department – in our bed (even with a 3 month old and a toddler in the house!) occasionally there is some hot duvet action! Really – there is!

I mentioned the other night on Twitter that BN was just the cutest ever as very early in the morning when we got up with the kids, I had very briefly mentioned that I had been cold through the night. When I went to bed (before him) that night, he had been to the cupboard and got out an extra blanket for me and laid it out on my side of the bed all in line with my duvet. Not just put on my side but actually made it for me. I just thought that was the sweetest ever. I had hardly mentioned it in the morning but he thought of me. I don’t care what *you* call it – I call that romance.

But someone brought it to the table in the brief Twitter conversation that followed, that separate duvets indicated that romance was dead in our house – we couldn’t possibly claim love was alive with separate sleeping… but I disagree – OBviously! 😀

So – that lead me to thinking – what are your duvet antics? Are we the weird ones? Does everyone else just prefer to share and argue or be cold when the other person steals? Do you have extra-large quilts or some other secret? Or are you just willing to put up with not being in charge of your blanket?!

Tell  me!

First snow :)

February 6, 2012
by


First snow 🙂, originally uploaded by Mrs BN.

Although it snowed heavily last year, he was way too little to know anything about it.

This year, he’s had a little trudge with the odd slip and slide… and he was very impressed!

Smacking Part 5

February 3, 2012
by

So – the weekend was awful. I still was very teary.

I was fairly traumatised by my Police interview as well I think and I kept catching myself staring off into the distance thinking.

Ella would keep asking me – are you daydreaming mama? 🙂

I just turned things over and over in my mind. What I could have done to avoid this happening, had I done anything wrong? Should I parent differently? What did they think of me? Would anyone else know? Who else would be involved? What would happen next?

We took the girls to the park on the Sunday afternoon and obviously – because now was JUST the right time! –  ran into some family occasion of one of the teachers from the school. Of course! It was the teacher who had been in the room opposite when we were waiting in the family room. She had been acting deputy head the year before and also Rowan’s reception teacher, so she knew us fairly well. Obviously we have a daily childminder so she didn’t know us as well as she may know some parents – but we had met many times – parents evenings, days off etc. and she certainly knew we were there. And her daughter, G, was at the school too.

I was mad with her. Petty maybe. But she represented the school. I was angry and hurt and I felt that she could have (facially anyway) been more supportive that evening. Some kind of sympathy would have been good. And in the park? A smile?? Too much to ask?

Rowan suddenly yelled out – there’s G there’s G!! pointing to this teacher’s little girl and ran over to them – I saw her, she saw me. No hint of anything. No smile, no engagement. We stayed on the bench we were on and after a couple of minutes I called Rowan and Ella back over and we left.

Whatever. I remember thinking – just whatever. Fuck you all.

We tried to be normal for them. I tried. We laughed and played all weekend. Did normal stuff and then all too suddenly it was Sunday evening which I was dreading and waiting for all at the same time.

It seemed to take an age and go at hyperspeed all at once. I watched the clock all through the night. I went to work like a zombie. Had to go all through explaining to my team what was happening. They have worked for me for a long time and one of them had phoned me knowing something was going on, on the Friday evening before – offered support etc. And I just tried my hardest to work all morning until suddenly at around 10.30, my mobile went and it was Dave calling.

He was good. As good as he could be. He wasn’t all ‘we’re the best of friends now I know you don’t abuse your kids’ but he was more pleasant that he needed to be I think. He offered words of support. Again he asked me if I was going to change the way I parented and this time I gave him the answer that he wanted. Because I just wanted it over.

I asked what would happen with Childrens Services and he said that he had already called them before calling me so I should expect a call from them shortly. He seemed so positive. In response to me he said he couldn’t say they would definitely drop everything as PPU and CH Services are separate but he didn’t have any criminal reason for them to remain focused on me.

So I just waited.

And waited. And waited.

And waited.

Finally at around 2.30 in the afternoon, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I called CS and asked to speak to Anna. She wasn’t there.

She wasn’t even fucking there.

I asked if anyone had access to her cases, if she’d left notes that I could be updated with. Anything. Eventually they put me through to a Principal Practitioner, who is basically like the Branch Manager of their unit. She explained that although Anna was newly qualified (I was right that she was new) she was managing her own cases, didn’t have to report decisions to anyone and as she hadn’t yet had a chance to write up her report, she was unable to give me any information.

She recognised that it was urgent to me and that Dave had called to let me know there was no Police interest and that obviously I was anxious for news and took my mobile number and said she would pass on the message. But that I shouldn’t expect to hear from Anna until Tuesday or maybe Wednesday.

😦

I just broke down. I was so weary already, that breaking down for me had become just this limp, wilting feeling. Silent tears running. I had basically done nothing but cry for almost 4 straight days and I was exhausted. As if being pregnant with two children and a baby wasn’t tiring enough, I wasn’t eating or sleeping. I was constantly dizzy and queasy and just feeling like a zombie. I couldn’t concentrate. There was no way I was working. I was just – nothing.

I left a message for BN and then because I had to talk to someone, I called my friend, C. I hadn’t spoken to her directly since the Thursday evening at the school, although BN had updated her – and I just really needed a friendly voice.

First thing she did, was say we should look at the website of the school and look at their Child Protection Policy. She got all business awesome like and felt that the way we had been treated was unusual in her experience and unwarranted considering the lack of severity of the injury and this was when it all started to get interesting.

We loaded up the site together, located their CPP and started to read. Their online CPP clearly stated (although the document itself was not very clear in places and desperately needed updating) that unless ‘Significant Harm’ was suspected then the parents of a child should always be notified BEFORE Childrens Services are called. We were both instantly like – dude – hang on a minute! I should have been called??

I should have been called??

 I should have been called!!

One of the most distressing things about that entire day was getting a call from my childminder to say that the girls were not being released into her care. She had no details, she was upset. It was not the calm, informed call it should have been for me. Not her fault at all. Another thing – getting to that family room and seeing the note on the girls’ stuff that made it clear something had been going on for hours and we hadn’t known anything.

And then this. These are the details that I left out earlier because it would have got too confusing.

Information at the school – information they had given to Childrens Services and the Police had been incorrect, in more than one place.

Background – The school are highlighted as having Outstanding Child Protection Status due to their invention of a specific form that is a different colour to usual paperwork and used in every instance of suspected child abuse or even any child injury noticed at the school that is sustained outside of school premises. This form, is filled out by a member of staff and then goes directly to the Family Liaison Officer. We later found out that the school instruction is that it should be the member of staff involved directly with the discovery of an injury or the member of staff that has dealt with the child. Once with the FLO, she will should then (following the CPP that the school have written and placed on the website) call the Parents of the child (unless Significant Harm’ is suspected) and then Childrens Services is an optional extra depending on what the FLO feels after speaking to the parents. This is what should happen. As per their CPP at that time.

Their CPP did state that they were able to call CS for advice on occasion, before contacting the parents, if they felt that something was not clear cut or if the FLO felt there were grey areas and the school required clarification.

It is then common place once this has happened for one of two things to follow.

Either

CS will decide that the information they have been given does not require their presence and will advise the school in how to proceed or advise for the school to deal with it on their own

– OR – 

Childrens Services will say on these ‘advisory calls’ this sounds like something we should be involved in – DO or DO NOT call the parents, we will be sending someone etc. and then take it from there.

In our case we found out that CS were called for advice, they *did* say they were sending someone even though the FLO, Clare, didn’t specifically request that as the purpose of her call but they DID NOT say that we shouldn’t be contacted and informed what was happening. This call happened at around 1pm on the Thursday.

So that was the first thing.

Secondly – we had found out on the kick off evening, the information the school’s form contained was wrong. A conversation with Clare, the FLO, before the Police arrived highlighted there were details that weren’t correct but it was really the conversation with the Police and Anna before the girls were interviewed that made it clear there were major problems.

I told my solicitor about it after the Police interview and he called it ‘monumental distortion of fact’. The same conversation in which he had said the school appeared to have waded in unnecessarily. It was one of the reasons that CS and the Police had been so interested in the first place. The form was filled out by ET, Ella’s form tutor who had NOT been in the room when I dropped her off. I had not seen or spoken to her and she had been given no direct information by me whatsoever. Mrs H, the teaching assistant, I *had* seen in Ella’s class was mentioned nowhere on the form whatsoever. Secondly the form implied that ET *had* spoken to me directly and the information was first hand.

The form said that when I dropped Ella off at school that Ella was visibly not her usual self. Not true. She was smiling and laughing with her friends at my side whilst I talked to Mrs H. It stated that I had described grabbing a milk carton from Ella’s hand and had injured her finger in the process that morning. Absolutely not true. I never said anything of the sort. The form stated that Ella said I had smacked her and hurt her finger. Therefore our stories didn’t match which was a worry to the PPU and Ch Services. The form also stated that Rowan had been in the ‘feelings corner’ and been quiet in the morning and that when discussing with her teacher she had said that I had been cross, told Ella off, hurt her finger and that Ella didn’t deserve it and that she was worried. Now I don’t doubt that Rowan was a bit worried – but she is known to milk things rather, so whether she needed to be in the feelings corner or whether she just felt like sitting out the lessons for the day… well!

We were made aware along the way through discussions with various people, that Rowan’s description of the event and the fact that she used the phrase of Ella not deserving it, coupled with my apparent lie when I left her at school, of how the injury occurred not correlating with Rowan & Ella’s description meant that CS had to be called.

Now I want to make it really clear – again, as I did with practically every professional I spoke to – these measures should be in place. They should. People hurt children. Parents hurt children. And that is wrong. And I absolutely, desperately want that to stop along with every other normal person and mother and parent. People that work with children should be vigilant. They absolutely should.

But they should be vigilant in every aspect of protecting that child AND the family if necessary and that vigilance should also encompass the information they present to professional departments. The school severely let us down over this aspect.

Schools and people who look after children, also have a duty to be truthful. And I have no doubt here, and also some evidence, that information and circumstances were deliberately manipulated to create intrigue and concern and doubt. A lot of the information was distorted by inexperience and by accident, I have no doubt of that, but there was gross incompetence at play and also serious judgements and lack of sensible judgement from some involved that meant things took a far more serious turn than they should have.

So at this point in the saga, I am still waiting to hear from Childrens Services. I am still a wreck.

It is Monday evening. The girls are playing in their room whilst I’m in the bathroom with Kit, running a bath and then there’s a thud. And a scream. And then Ella ran into the bathroom, Rowan was hysterical. I lifted Ella onto the laundry basket to look at her head as I understood their frantic babble…

She had nothing, but as I lifted her fringe, blood started leaking down her face. She had a hole in her head It was clear after only a few seconds that she had to go to A&E. At the front door 5 minutes later, I handed her to BN’s open arms and she screamed for me to take her and I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it.

I just kept saying, Daddy will take you, I need to stay with the baby….

I was being left at home under the supervision agreement with my children that I wasn’t supposed to be alone with – and for the second time in 4 days my child, the same child, was going to A&E with an injury and I was totally panic stricken that we were about to be majorly investigated as it was! let alone adding to it with anything else.

I was already damaged by this point – even though she was crying for me not to stay at home, I made BN take her because I was too scared to go.

So wrong. And so unfair.

Nina and Ben

February 2, 2012
by


Nina and Ben, originally uploaded by Mrs BN.

Welcome to the world, my very handsome teeny, weeny nephew, Ben.

Scrummy!

Size difference much?!

Smacking – Part 4.

January 28, 2012
by

The next morning was intolerable. But I set about making it my business to know what I was up against.

I have well placed friends and I started to research. One of my best friends is in the police force and I called her. I asked her about interviews, what I shoud say and what I should do. I told her what had happened and how it had been misinterpreted.

She was amazing. She advised me to absolutely take the duty solicitor for the following reasons:

– they can explain the whole process to you so you know what to expect

– they can go over all of the events with you and advise you how to word things and if there is anything you say that they think you should leave out due to it being irrelevant.

– he advised me on my emotions – he said I may think it would be better to be emotional and tearful but that actually it would be better to be composed and articulate to get it over and done with as soon as possible.

– he was supportive and he was there for me. 100%. And I needed that absolutely. I am so glad I made the call and told Dave I wanted a solicitor after all.

You can easily assume that agreeing to a solicitor implies you admit guilt on your part – i did – but it absolutely doesn’t. I urge anyone in this position to take a solicitor and let them help you. Let them support you and be there for you. If you are lucky enough to get one as nice as mine then that emotional support alone when you know you have done nothing wrong, is worth its weight in gold.

I also asked Dave to move the interview forward – I was so nervous waiting. It was due to be at 2pm but I had also planned on going to school that afternoon at 2.30 as Ella was due to be in the assembly to collect a certificate for good work. I explained and he was so sweet saying he wouldn’t want me to miss that at the school and that I should come at 12pm instead.

I got there on time but had to wait quite a while for the duty solicitor to arrive. I was desperately trying to control tears in the waiting area. People kept walking past me and I was some weepy, snivelling pregnant woman in reception. William was amazing. He talked me through the whole process. He and Dave obviously knew each other quite well and they went for a brief meeting first to discuss the details of the police evidence and so on for a possible charge.

When William came back we went to an interview room. Just like you see on the programs. A table, two benches, a massive tape recorder and grey walls. Nothing else.

He was very upbeat and straight off the mark told me that I didn’t have anything to worry about. He said it seemed very straight forward and that he couldn’t see it going any further than that day. We talked through the events of the previous morning. The children’s descriptions from their interviews.

He did a similar thing to Dave and said he could remember getting a good wallop when he was little – how we all come from a generation where that was how it was done. Dave had described how he knew it was hard – he had small kids too and he knew life could be tough with them. I felt like he was trying to get a confession to be honest. I just shrugged at William and said – well not so much really. I remember getting slapped legs when I was little and the odd slap on the face from my mum but I wasn’t telling him that! I just shrugged and said – not so much really. He told me about controlling my tears and keeping my emotions in check. He didn’t at all suggest I should be withdrawn or blank – just that crying uncontrollably wouldn’t really help.

Dave came in and told me the interview would last about 20 – 30 minutes. William had explained that Dave would ask questions as well as asking me to go over the events. Dave explained the same and then loaded tapes into the recorder.

There’s nothing quite like seeing scenes from various crime programs you’ve watched being played out in front of you in real life – to make you feel quite as much like a criminal as I did right then.

The tape recorder gave a loud beep, I had to say my name clearly, Dave gave his and William’s, the date and the fact I was there voluntarily being interviewed under caution. Then I had those words read out to me about evidence I may later rely on in court.

Crazy.

I can’t actually remember any of that interview at all. If I think back, I can picture the room, I can picture Dave sitting opposite me, William next to me. The baby kicking frantically swimming in the pool of adrenaline my body was creating – no doubt sending it absolutely whappy.

They asked me questions about my children, I remember they asked me about having a fourth baby in a two bedroom house. How will that affect us? Will we cope? Where will they all sleep? He asked about the children’s characters I recall – did they get on, were they naughty children, did they fight, argue etc.

He went on an on about how he knew I was really tired because Rowan had told them Kit was waking early every morning. How was I coping with that … and pregnant – crikey, the stress of it all. You must be so tired etc.

William had warned me – I wasn’t phased as I wasn’t surprised. I just calmly and positively answered all the questions – no they weren’t naughty, we were lucky, they were smart, intelligent, friendly, tactile and loving. They got on – they bickered but nothing special etc.

He asked how I discipline – I explained as I mentioned earlier – with tone of voice, asking them to describe their behaviour to me. Being firm, setting boundaries, repetition. Proper supernanny stuff! Did I smack? Yes I did. Often? No. Where? Hands and bottom and that’s it. And so very rarely. So rarely that Ella didn’t even think it had ever happened before. I explained that smacking was rarer and rarer. It was something that was used as a warning when they were say 3 ish. The years when they are likely to cause themselves harm by being silly, hyperactive toddler/ small child age and sometimes not listening when they really need to – like the time Ella ran into a road after wrenching her hand from mine. There was a car which swerved and did an emergency stop. Luckily she was on reins. Did I smack her hand? Yes I did. Did I shout? Yes.

Was I afraid she could have died? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes.

But my point is Ella never ran in the road again. She got the sharp shock of seeing my horror, the smack on the hand and the yell. She got it. Totally. Did I thoroughly explain on that occasion – no not totally – she was around 2 and a half years old. She wouldn’t have listened to war and peace on crossing roads. But yes I did explain about roads – but I think it was the yell and the smack she remembered. We’ve reinforced it ever after.

Do they get smacked for not eating their tea or bickering? for messing about in the bath or getting dressed slowly in the morning? No, of course not. For me it’s usually an absolute last resort and even then not for just anything. Usually first resort is a time out followed by losing a priviledge. DS games or Wii time, going to bed early and so on. This is how I explained it.

Anyway – the interview came to an end and Dave asked me – do you intend to change the way you discipline from now on?

That was a very difficult question – I knew he wanted me to say yes – I probably should have. Just to make my life easier. But you know? I said no. No I don’t. The big misunderstanding here is that people seem to think that I smacked her so hard that I hurt her. That’s just not what happened. I gave her a focusing short, sharp shock on the hand. A quick smack that didn’t even leave a mark or redden her skin. What happened to her finger is a mystery. I can only assume that somehow it got caught and rucked backwards with my hand maybe or possibly she put it down behind her when I plonked her on the sofa and she sprained it somehow. That’s if it even happened then. I would love to know.

So frustratingly – the only reason I was in this position was because I assumed that I had hurt her.

Dave explained the next step of the process to me.

His boss would have to look at case and sign it off. He wasn’t able to make that call and unfortunately there was no one senior to do that available until Monday. He was very apologetic but said this would have to go on over the weekend. He couldn’t tell me that the Police would be taking no further action but he certainly seemed to be implying that.

William and I went outside into the heat of the day and he did his best to reassure me that everything was nearly over. It was at this point that William made a comment that started the next ball rolling.

I probably could attribute a lot of what followed to him actually.

He said – this just sounds like a school wading in where it clearly wasn’t necessary.

We still had the Children’s Services hill to climb but they were supposed to be calling me on Monday – Anna had told me that they would take their lead from the Police and Dave had just said to me that as soon as he had a decision from his boss, they would inform CS of their decision and so on. So I was thinking – OK, the weekend and then on Monday this should all be over.

How wrong could I be!

The school is th enext step and there are parts I have left out up until now in an effort to not make the story too confusing. But what all started the following week was amazing. Gobsmacking, disturbing, wrong and just so frustrating. And I would love to help stop this ever happening to anyone else.

Smacking – Part 3.

January 25, 2012
by

Slight delay in this post as I have had the most horrendous toothache for a few days. It started at New Year and then on Sunday night it was so bad I honestly would have rather taken pill after pill than continue to go through it. Luckily my mum was on the end of the phone and talked me through it.. I don’t even know how to describe it.

Way worse than having babies. Way.

Anyway – smacking story – there is a reason for this story – I do really want to help other people and there are some facts and details in the way that we dealt with this that I would never have known save for the help of my very good friend, C.

We arrived at the children’s Ward anyway – probably around 6.30 or just before. Kit would normally have been having milk around this time and he was grumpy and clingy to me. Obviously wondering what on earth was going on.

There were several ‘worse things’ about this day and I can’t keep saying ‘one of the worse things’ as it doesn’t quite get across how awful so much of this was. When we arrived at the Children’s ward we were let in and basically all the nurses acknowledged Dave and Anna by name. This didn’t really register with me until much later on in the evening when it suddenly dawned on me that everyone … everyone in that ward knew why we were there. We were suspected of abusing our children. The knew Dave – he was an officer for Children’s Police Protection Unit and they knew Anna – a Social Worker from Children’s Services. And they all said hello like they all knew each other. I cringe when I think of the minutes of discussion – they don’t look like the type, or worse, they do look like the type, which child? All of them?

Gossip gossip….

Dave explained once we were in a room that the next step would be a Paediatrician would come and examine Ella’s finger and would also want to look at Kit seeing as Rowan had described the morning with his grump over the mobile phone.

We weren’t quite prepared for what followed though. Anna was clearly watching us – I felt very watched. My every interaction with the children was being observed. Kit was clambering over everything. Standing on the bed, shaking the metal frame, throwing himself around and generally having a whale of a time. Luckily we had some snack biscuits for him in his bag and he was munching on those one after the other. Ella and Rowan were showing off as they are likely to do when faced with adults who are watching their every move and interested in every single word they have to say…

The Paediatrician explained that he had to x-ray Ella’s finger and check for a break and it was kindly explained to me that if Ella’s finger was broken then I would be charged with ABH against my child. A lot of the time now events in my memory are jumbled of this evening. There were times I was in the room with all the family and then there were times where I was next door either alone and talking to Dave and Anna or just Dave. Sometimes BN was with me and sometimes not. I pretty much sobbed my way through the evening when not in front of the girls. I didn’t cry in front of them at all.

Ella’s finger was not broken – as we knew and then the Dr explained that he needed to examine them. Whilst we watched and helped a little a Dr examined Ella from head to toe. including removing her underwear and examining her genitals for signs of abuse. He held an A4 piece of paper where he recorded every single abrasion or mark, cut, scrape or bruise on her body as if I was watching some kind of TV program. To be honest she basically had nothing on her. She had a scraped knee and he asked her how it happened and she said she’d fallen at school. He marked the injured finger and that was it. I kept jolly throughout reassuring her. Ella giggled her way through the whole thing. Her little nervous laugh when she’s not quite sure what’s going on. She does the same thing when she’s in trouble but when she’s not sure quite how much trouble she’s in. Rowan got very unsure at this point. She was in a plastic hospital chair up against the wall and when the Dr started to examine Ella’s bottom, Rowan said ‘I don’t like this anymore, I want to go home.’

My heart absolutely broke for her.. I saw a sudden flicker across her face of ‘what on earth is going on here that I don’t know about…?’

We reassured her quickly that the Dr was just looking at Ella to make sure she was well after she got hurt and Rowan, bright spark as always, said – Ella hurt her finger, why is he looking at her bottom?

What could we say? I just said it was fine and that we’d be going home soon … I remember digging my nails into my hand to stop me from crying.

He then looked at Kit – the Dr I have to say was just lovely. He was an older Indian man and he quietly glanced sideways at BN and I and said he was not concerned in the least – he even said he would expect to see far more marks on kids of their ages just from life in general. He told us not to worry.

Would have been nice not to have to.

Kit was amenable thankfully – he was also stripped naked, nappy off, bottom examined, penis, every inch of his body scrutinised and appraised. I wanted to shout at everyone to just get away from them. Stop touching my babies and STOP IT RIGHT NOW!

But you can’t. You have to let them. And it killed me.

I can’t ever forgive the people that made that happen. Ever.

After this I was taken into a separate room. Kit fell asleep in BN’s arms as we sat and listened to Dave explain what would happen next. I was to be questioned under caution the following day at the Police Station. I didn’t understand at first. When Dave said he wanted to talk to me, I thought he meant that he would be coming round to the house. I asked what time – he was kind it has to be said… he was very gentle with my feelings – probably worried I was going to go into premature labour or collapse. I was so distressed. Sobbing with no tears left.

He wanted my version of events. My side of the story. My chance to explain why all of this was so very wrong. Except of course that isn’t what he wanted. He wanted my version of events to see if I needed to be charged with a crime. Punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

I mean really? The reality of this still hasn’t really dawned on me.

I was asked to attend the station the next day and if I wanted a solicitor which I declined. After this, Anna asked me to sign a voluntary request not to be left alone with my own children. I didn’t even really get it. We asked questions. I wanted clarification of how far this went… how does BN go to the toilet? I do bathtime every night upstairs by myself while BN cleans, tidies, hoovers and gets bedtime drinks ready – is that allowed?

They said just to use common sense. BN had to be within earshot of me with the children. He couldn’t go out and leave me with them. He couldn’t go to the shop. Or to work. I wasn’t allowed to be alone with my own kids. Anna feared for their safety. Until she knew not to.

Around 7.30, the girls were given a couple of slices of toast each by a nurse. They were waning in their enthusiasm for the situation although credit to them they were never naughty, they were bored. But I think by this point they were aware that perhaps there was something else going on that maybe they didn’t understand. I certainly think Rowan had an idea. Although she wouldn’t have known what.

We were released. We called a cab. We got home. We gave the girls cereal, we gave Kit some milk and put him to bed. We sat. We stared. I cried. BN made phone calls to the people we had called. I stared. And cried. Great wrenching sobs. Small tearless weeps.

I sat like that in a daze really – till around 1am when I felt I could sleep. I was awake by 3am and I just lay there looking at the ceiling, weeping, thinking, imagining all of the bad things to come. BN woke up and put his arms around me and I just lay there. And I felt very alone.

I think even in the position I’m in – a very strong, loving, trusting relationship – I felt very alone. I wasn’t prepared for that at all.

It’s one thing having your family examined – it’s another thing being the reason that it’s all happening.

 

Smacking Part 2.

January 20, 2012
by

I left work immediately – my manager called BN at work using my mobile as I just couldn’t even speak. I remember shaking badly and walking around my office and trying to press buttons on my mobile and that she took it from my hand.

I met him from work and we went straight to the school where we were met by a ‘family liaison officer’ and shown to the family room. Her name was Clare and it was really evident to us very quickly that she was new. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that she had no clue what she was doing.

I was really upset, BN was more questioning. We asked to see the girls, we were refused, we asked where they were and what was happening and we were told that they were in the school and being looked after and that we were waiting for Police and Children’s Services to arrive and that they should be here very shortly. We got there about 3.20pm I would say, and they didn’t even get there until after 4pm. The girls’ belongings were in the room which was incredibly distressing and I immediately spotted a note on the top of their things written in pencil by Ella’s form tutor, ET.

It said

‘what shall I say to the girls’ child minder when she arrives?’

or words to that effect. It was signed by her and of course what this told us straight away was that this had been going on for hours. We hadn’t been called, notified or contacted in any way. Clare saw me find & read the note, I showed it to her, I think she acknowledged that it was unfortunate that it was there and tried to take it. I resisted and eventually she gave up and let me take it – I told her I was keeping it and put it in my hand bag. It was an uncomfortable moment but to be honest I wasn’t really bothered about what she thought.

Before the Police Officer, Dave, and the Social Worker, Anna, got there, I asked Clare what were the potential outcomes of what was happening. I was clearly pregnant, clearly distressed and she said ‘the worst case scenario is that the girls will be placed in alternative care for the night, ideally they like to place them with family though.’ Her tone and demeanor? She may as well have said – well usually we like to give children vanilla ice cream but if we don’t have any we offer them chocolate.

I heaved really sharply and was almost sick, she fetched a washing up bowl from the sink.

I can’t even begin to tell you how her words affected me. And then she left. She was supposed to be our family liaison officer. And she left the room. She left us. She was clearly out of her depth – she was unsure how to handle us, she didn’t calm us down in the slightest, she offered no concrete process or facts to reassure us or help. She was transparent platitudes and incompetence wrapped up in an unsure bow of inexperience. And it was painfully obvious.

I started making calls immediately. I called my mum and found that she was literally moments away from stepping onto the Eurostar to go on a 3 week holiday. My dad now lives in Egypt and my sister was newly pregnant. All of BN’s family either live just outside North London area or in New Zealand. My brother is in Australia. I was frantic. I was starting to think that if they were to be placed elsewhere then who would they send them to if we had no family?? I thought of a close friend we have who the girls know really well and I could think of my child minder and that was it. Would it even be our choice if we had no family available?? My mind was racing.

I rang one of my oldest friends. It suddenly occurred to me that my good, good friend, C, worked in Children’s Services for a County Council elsewhere in the country. And to be honest, if it weren’t for her and her contacts and knowledge not just then but through the entire ordeal …. then I really, honestly don’t know what would have happened differently.

She was amazing.

I called her – and first of all she reassured me that the likelihood of the girls being placed in alternative care was basically zero. She calmed us down wonderfully and gave us great advice about how to communicate with the Police when they arrived and the Social Worker. By the time I finished talking to her I did feel a lot better. One of my many criticisms of the whole event was that it just shouldn’t have been her responsibility.

When Dave and Anna finally arrived they made it very clear that from a Police perspective they did not want my version of the events from the morning. Dave needed to talk to the girls first and foremost. Get their story, independently from one another. My children were interviewed by Police and Children’s Services. I still can’t get over that.

Dave reassured us that it was very straight forward and that they should be back with us within about 10-15 minutes. He talked us through potential outcomes. In some cases, families have to visit the local hospital to be seen by a Dr. he said and that seeing as he hadn’t seen Ella’s injury as yet, he didn’t want to make a call about it. Again he told us not to worry. He understood it was difficult and so on. He was perfunctory but nice.

They left us and judging by his explanation we looked at the clock and expected them back somewhere around 4.40pm. By the time it got to almost 5pm I was once again frantic. I was pacing, crying, looking through the glass panel in the door into the corridor… pacing, crying. I could see Rowan’s reception teacher from the year before in an opposite room…. and she saw me looking and gave the flat mouth detached sympathy face – like oh dear that poor woman – not poor Rowan’s mum who I *know* but just – that woman. I felt utterly alone. We were alone and I was even more desolate. This wasn’t aimed at BN it was aimed at me.

They didn’t trust me. Me. I was suspected. Not BN. Me. Just me. And it was incredibly lonely.

Finally they returned about 5.10pm and things took an even more unexpected turn.

They gave us the details of the girls’ interviews. Ella had candidly told them she had never been smacked before – which actually isn’t true but I thought that at least showed that it is part of their discipline so infrequently that she couldn’t even remember it happening before. She told them that she had been naughty and that I had told her off, smacked her hand etc.

In Rowan’s interview though – bless Rowan with her dramatics – she told them that I had lost my temper and shouted at Ella and that she hadn’t deserved it. She told them that I threw Ella on the sofa (a fact that Ella disagreed with in her interview when asked) and that I had smacked her hand. Dave and Anna then apparently asked her if anything else had happened that morning that she thought they should know. Rowan told them that I had made the baby cry and wouldn’t let her make him feel better.

Now this was something totally separate. And frustratingly I probably could have avoided this added extra stress at this point if I had taken a bit more time to explain to Rowan in the morning why I didn’t want her to make Kit feel better when I had told him off.

Around 6am – BN had gone to the bathroom – Our morning routine was that we would do whatever with Kit at whatever time he woke up and that around 6 or so BN would go the bathroom first and get showered and ready. He would then come back to our room about 6.30 and all of them would go downstairs whilst I took a shower. Whilst BN was in the bathroom, Kit had been sitting on the bed, crawling around etc. and the girls were watching TV. He was occasionally occupied by telly but at 11 months if any of you are familiar, they tend to watch a bit and then generally mooch, cry, giggle, get tickled, try to kill themselves by leaping off the bed in the direction of the floor, head first usually in Kit’s case.

I had been looking at my mobile and the room was fairly dim, I put it back on the bedside table and I was still very reclined in bed. Just my head and shoulders propped up on pillows and 5 months pregnant. Kit was a big boy. He was over the 100th percentile in development and at 11 months he was wearing clothes sized for 12-18 months old. He was a hefty boy. But obviously not walking yet or being very stable, he was a bit of a lump. He saw the light from my mobile and suddenly launched himself across my body. I think for the phone. Instinctively I grabbed him, I caught him by his hips and pulled him back over my body and put him back on the bed. He would have landed head first on the floor. There’s no doubt in my mind. Beds are soft and infinitely less likely to cause injury to heads. Could I have put him down softer on the bed? I’m not sure really. I was trying to stop him hurting himself and he was very heavy. I had to pull him back hard to resist his falling weight. And he landed on the bed with the force of his own bodyweight I would say is the only way I can articulate it. He was cross – he didn’t like that I wouldn’t let him have the phone and he did a grumpy strop. You know babies, right? A shouty scream at me and clenched fisty type of strop. He was very capable of telling me that he wasn’t happy. Clearly he had no clue that he would have landed on his head on the floor. I told him no, sternly, and then it was time to get up. Rowan went to give him a hug – she’s very motherly which is adorable and wonderful and to be honest? I mostly take it as a tremendous compliment to my own mothering. I think that’s allowed. She loves to hug babies, sooth them, cuddle them, help change them, carry them, help with nappies, mother them and generally be in charge. It’s only that bit that can get in the way sometimes. I snapped a bit I should think. It was 6.30 ish in the morning. We’d already been up for 2 hours. I told her not to make him feel better (because he was in trouble) but I didn’t explain that to her and I probably should have. Could have. It had all happened in an instant and she hadn’t seen it I don’t think so I just…. didn’t.

All they told me was that Rowan had relayed an event from the morning involving the baby and that they felt he should be seen. At first I was gobsmacked and incredulous. I didn’t even remember any event from the morning. Kit leaping off the bed was a ‘nothing’. It must happen at least ten times a day when you have a very young, trying to toddle infant. I felt my jaw drop. ‘Nothing has happened to the baby’ I spluttered. I was wracking my brains trying to think where Rowan was getting it from – I fleetingly wondered if she was making stuff up. There’s no doubt that Rowan loves attention. She particularly loves adult attention and she’s very articulate so I wondered if perhaps she had just embellished something because she (obviously not understanding the seriousness of the situation) just loved that she had two adults simply hanging on her every word….

Dave then described what Rowan had told them. That I made the baby cry, shoved him on the bed and wouldn’t let her make him feel better. It all dawned on me, I tried to explain, he wouldn’t let me. They felt this warranted a trip to the local hospital so the children could be examined by a paediatrician.

A short while later, the girls were brought back to the family room and ET was with them (writer of the note from earlier, Ella’s form tutor). She had her head bowed, made no eye contact with us at all, muttered that she was getting her bag and left the room. I felt utterly judged. Judged and found guilty.

The girls were thrilled to see us – they were full of stories and over excited. I asked them if they had been given tea. I had repeatedly asked if they were being fed throughout the time we had been there. They are used to a cooked meal at 4pm as they go home with the child minder – I really must think of a name for her. I can’t keep writing child minder. We had repeatedly been told in response that they were being well looked after.

They had been given a banana and a drink. The girls actually told us they had been given nothing. But we found out later they’d had a banana. I was livid.

I’d had to call the nursery several times as we usually collected Kit daily at around 5.15 and we were terribly late. Although they were open until 6pm we were never actually there that late. By the time we got there in separate cars – Dave had taken BN and girls to the children’s ward at the hospital and Anna was with me – it was around 6.10pm.

The one girl at the nursery that I didn’t particularly like was with Kit. Sarah just wasn’t on the ball as much as the others. She gave him standard crisps one day instead of infant low salt ones which annoyed me as I’d specifically told her. She wasn’t one of his detailed key-workers and I dunno – I just felt like she didn’t know him as well and I didn’t really feel that she paid attention as much. She was lovely, just a bit meek and mild and not as thorough I guess. The nursery was FAB and I loved it there. It was just Sarah. However, in a nursery when there are shifts and so on, she would occasionally be the one left with the remaining babies and that was the case this day. I asked how he was and she started detailing how clingy he’d been that day and how unlike his usual self he’d been. Well, yes, he’s teething I replied with the Social Worker standing behind me. I felt like Anna was just thinking – hmm clingy, not usual self, we’re going to find injuries. Totting up the evidence. It was just awful.

We put him in the car and made our way to the hospital to meet Dave and BN with the girls.

I thought I’d had the worst three hours of my life by this point. How wrong you can be.

Smacking.

January 19, 2012
by

The whole debate over the Coronation Street brings me nicely onto the issue I had last summer.

I don’t actually watch Coronation Street – or any soaps for that matter – I hate that my parents were right about that. I did grow out of them. Dammit. But everyone is talking about it and I wanted to blog this – so deep breath – get a cuppa. It’s a long one and probably going to be more than one installment.

Last year – I was around halfway through my pregnancy with Nina – it was coming up to the end of June and Kit was a very draining and demanding 11 month old. BN was full time at work – as was I. Kit was going through a very difficult phase – waking very early every morning and never going back to sleep. It had been going on for about 3 weeks. That in itself would have been OK but for months at that point, each and every morning the first thing he would do is wake up, stand up…. and cry. And if you didn’t get him – like – IMMEDIATELY he would scream. Scream, cry, tears, snot, dribble – scream screaaaaam.

We tried sleep training – we tried pick up put down – we tried cuddling back to sleep and then placing him down fast asleep (cue wake up and scream), pacing the floor, Calpol (teething?) extra blankets, a drink of water, milk. I tried everything. Everything in my repertoire – all I had and he was just impossible. So every day started at 4.30am – with screaming and crying – and I must admit it was tough. Really tough.

The days themselves weren’t like this at all – he got himself to sleep every night in his own bed – always cute, funny, great sense of humour – really cheeky and really, really good fun to be honest. Never a dull moment and hardly ever a scream or a cry in the day. He was just learning to walk – taking a few stumbles every other day and eating fine – drinking plenty. Trust me – I really thought of everything.

So eventually – we just stopped trying to work out what was wrong and we just got on with it. Every day started like that – we just had to buckle up and suck it up basically. It was awful – truth be known – every day between 4.30 and 6.30 I didn’t want to be with my boy. But mainly because I wanted to be asleep!!!

The girls were great – mostly they knew we were having a tough time in the mornings and they were ace at getting up and getting themselves ready (with occasional reminders of stop watching TV with one leg in your trousers and continue getting dressed)  🙂 and basically being just fab. Love them.

Ella was struggling with the new baby thing a little bit – not in very obvious ways and definitely not all the time. But every now and then Kit was just ‘in her way’…  in her way of me – of cuddles – in her way of daddy – of anything she wanted at that minute. Those minutes were few and far between by the time he was a year old and considering she was only just 4 shortly after he was born and I think she did pretty well. A tough age to be usurped.

Anyway – on a particular day – she wasn’t being great. Kit had been up since 4.30 crying and screaming. Don’t forget the screaming. I was tired – not at the edge but just tired and you know – wishing it was Friday and not Thursday. She has a very particular way of being cheeky in an amazing way when she’s in a good mood and a very expert way of being cheeky in a very aggravating way when she’s trying to get under your skin.

She was not happy – she was pushing buttons – I had already heard BN telling her off whilst I was getting washed upstairs – it’s never anything serious apart from answering back or having a moan about something she hasn’t been able to do – the usual I’m4andangryattheworldsometimes sort of behaviour.

BN was on an earlier shift that day and he left about 7.30 and I had about 20 minutes before we had to leave. Rowan was disappointed because he had inadvertantly spent longer cuddling Ella when he left and so I pulled her on to one knee and Kit onto the other and called Ella in for a group hug. I’d been snappy and a little grumpy that morning and I always like to make sure that when they leave for school they are happy and smiling and feeling loved. I can’t have it any other way.

Ella took part in the group cuddle which I had to cut short because Kit had started to squirm on my lap and instantly she whined. Why have you put me down, why did Rowan get a longer cuddle, it’s not fair kind of whine. I explained that she’d had a longer cuddle with Daddy and I was trying to make sure that Rowan had got a good cuddle too. I said she had also been part of that cuddle and that (in a firm way) I didn’t want her to whinge and complain because she wasn’t being fair. It’s fair to say I was on the cusp of exasperated. I tried to get everyone feeling happy and settled and it had got spoiled by her moaning – so they were harsh words I suppose.

She flipped – Ella has like a Jekyll and Hyde switch somewhere sometimes and immediately she stamped and clenched her fists and growled at me and gave a response of some kind – I can’t actually remember but it was something stroppy and she went to stomp out of the room.

I picked her up, plonked her on the sofa and told her off. I took her left hand with my right hand by the wrist and slapped the back of her hand with my left hand. I am right-handed. It wasn’t hard. I didn’t leave a mark or hit her hard AT ALL but a few minutes later when all the kids were already absorbed in morning Milkshake TV again, Ella said that her finger was hurting. Her little finger on her left hand – I took her on my knee – it felt slightly warm and looked a bit pink and puffed up – not exactly swollen but puffy. I asked her if it had happened when I smacked her hand and she said yes … my heart absolutely sunk and I just made an instant decision to take her to hospital.

I dropped Rowan off at my childminder – told her what had happened – Rowan being Rowan was distraught that Ella was going to hospital and cried when I left her – I explained that this was just about checking she was OK and that I didn’t think anything was really wrong. I dropped Kit at nursery and took Ella to A&E.

We were seen immediately by a triage nurse who looked at her finger and assessed that there was no serious damage. I broke down on her as well. I felt such awful guilt and I remember she leant over and touched my face and said look – this happens – it was an accident and she’s fine – she even said you can see a Dr if you want – there wasn’t a long wait that morning but that she didn’t think it was desperately urgent to see one if I didn’t want to. I made a choice to stay – around 40 minutes later (after Ella had jumped all over the children’s soft play area) – we were seen by a Dr who said that he didn’t think there was any damage. He said maybe maybe a soft tissue damage or a pulled ligament under the finger but he wasn’t sure if it was even that. I think he said a mild sprain. My only thought that was perhaps when I had taken her hand in mine or when I had put my hand forward to smack her my hand had somehow caught her finger at an awkward angle. The Dr agreed and reassured me that he didn’t think it would have been possible to cause her injury by the smack itself. I agreed. How can smacking a child’s hand on top cause a pulled ligament or soft tissue damage underneath…? She was offered calpol and she declined it saying it didn’t hurt. It was slightly more puffy and pink than it had been an hour before and it was warm but she insisted she was fine and wanted to go to school.

I took her to school around 10am – took her to her classroom and spoke to the teaching assistant as the actual form teacher was with other children in a computer suite and told her exactly what had happened. She again – knowning me from Rowan’s class the year before – reassured me – said accidents happen, she seems fine. I told her the Dr had recommended no aggressive play for the day and to try to keep the hand rested on the desk rather than letting it hang down – only to reduce any potential swelling. I asked her to take Ella to see Rowan to reassure her that all was well and that Ella was back from the Dr and not dying anywhere. Rowan has a tendency to the dramatic 🙂

Ella and I kissed and cuddled, I left and she was all smiles.

I got to work, told my colleagues, cried briefly on another couple of managers at my branch that day and when I say cried I mean not sobbing. Not out of control crying. Just a bit teary that I felt I had hurt my own child and that I didn’t really know how it had happened. I felt bad.

My childminder asked me via text in the day if the hospital were reporting it and I text her back saying she was mean with a 🙂 I said I felt bad enough without her taking the piss – she text me back and said she wasn’t she just genuinely wondered if the A&E dept. were going to report the case. The thought had never crossed my mind. AT ALL.

Smacking is a last resort in our house. We do warnings, we do time out – we do talking, debate and discuss making choices about our behaviour. If they are riling me I generally ask them to tell me about the change in my tone of voice – how does my voice sound? – what is going to happen next? – they’ll answer – we’re going to get a warning, your voice is getting cross. We’ll have time out etc.

I’m not perfect but neither are they – and to be honest Ella is very different to Rowan. She snaps sometimes and when she’s going to have one of her tears and sobbing episodes you very often struggle to get much sense out of her for a good fifteen minutes. She is willful and stubborn and all these things I love about her – but none of them are useful 10 minutes before you have to leave the house in the morning when you still have 5 things to do including finishing to get an 11 month old baby dressed in a coat, shoes and so on.

With Ella? A little smack on the back of the hand works. She focused. I was able to talk to her. I told  her off – she got her words from me – we do not scream, stamp our feet or shout at mummy and so on and it worked. Within 1 minute we were done and she was watching telly. I can’t even tell you the time before that they – either of them – got a smack.

At 3pm – my mobile rang. It was my childminder – she had been informed that Childrens Services and the Police had been called and that my girls were not being released into her care and that she should leave without them. I’d had no call and no warning whatsoever.

I fell to the floor and cried out and I don’t remember much of the following 15 minutes.

Work is Looming

January 16, 2012
by

I have three weeks left.

Three.

Bless my little Nina – Full Stop as she’s known in the house – she was a happy accident – a blessing – but an unexpected one…. last year’s maternity leave left us rather lacking in the financial department to be honest and when it became clear that we were going to be having another baby, we had to make plans as to what was achievable – not achievable – realistic….

It became clear very quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to take 6 months off work again. The mat leave payment scheme at work is pretty good. The length of time I’ve been there affords me 3 months off fully paid – which is great (otherwise I’d have been back at work when she was two weeks old!) but it does mean that I have to go back when she’s only three months.

My bank balance just can’t take another three months paid at only SMP. It’s really sad and I’m not coping very well with it really. She’s so tiny. She’s been smiling for a few weeks but just this morning was the first time I got a glimpse of a proper laugh when I tickled her. And it was great and really awful all in one go.

My childminder is excellent – she has Kit all day as well so the familiarity for them both there will be great – the girls are there every morning and evening too – which is better still. She’s also really honest with me which I love. If Kit says a new word – she tells me – if he does something new like jump – she tells me. I don’t get on very well with the nurseries and so on that keep milestones a secret. It suits some but not us. We like to know.

But it hit me this morning that she will likely be telling me when Nina rolls over… when she crawls, when she walks or says her first word – all of this is likely to be stuff that I miss – that she will see.

And as much as love my childminder – I’m not happy about that and I can’t pretend that I am.

3 weeks to go.

😦 Big unhappy today.

Out in the Cold!!

January 10, 2012
by

We have been bombarded with colds for weeks!

Weeks I tell you!

Weeks!

The baby got one when she was only two weeks old – which incidentally seems to be the way with my new babies – I then got a really bad cold and sore throat which led to a sinus infection which I always get as I have nasal polyps. The baby’s cold lasted for 6 weeks which I thought was pretty mean. I felt really sorry for her.

Then BN got the cold, then Ella and Rowan (although they have it far more mildly than BN who seems to have it worse than anyone) and now Kit. He has also JUST got over one. BN’s led to a chest infection – he’s now on antibiotics – with a cough that WILL.NOT.GO! and now Kit has started waking in the night (which actually he’s started doing anyway) and last night he woke with the start of a cough. A very good impression of a fifty year old dog with emphysema.

Awesome.

And now? Now – now the baby has started to snuffle and snort and sneeze. AGAIN. Seriously – I need some cold break!

On top of this? I have THE worst toothache ever. Last year after Kit was born – about 6 weeks I started to get toothache in one of my molars. I went and she found decay and I had to have a filling. Only my third ever. My first two when I was 16. I take such good care of my teeth and I was gutted. She reassured me that pregnancy is hard on teeth and I should be proud that I only had three but to be honest? It was the pain that I was most unhappy about.

Two or three days before New Year’s Eve I started to get a slight throb in the same tooth. It started off being abated by painkillers, then not. basically. On the Monday evening after New Year, it got so bad and so relentless, I couldn’t even take care of Nina. And I was crying. Crying!

I went back to the dentist and she found decay under the filling and it had reached the nerve. She seemed to do a very mild procedure, took out old filling and replaced. Gave me lots of injections …. two very far back behind the nerve that runs into the bottom jaw. And a week later and I still have really bad ache. Is that normal?? My jaw feels like I’ve been punched. I’ve developed ulcers all down my gums along the offending tooth area. My front teeth seem to have transferred pain. And whilst the tooth itself isn’t hurting I don’t think I also have apparently developed an unconscious need to push my tongue against the inside of my teeth which is making it worse. Worse? I can’t stop.

Argh!

And on top of all of that? More colds.

Bleurgh.

Yawn!

January 6, 2012
by


Yawn!, originally uploaded by Mrs BN.

This is soooo boring.