Friday, 27 June 2008


First up, the scan went well, everything is growing at the correct rate, internal organs developing nicely, heart going like the clappers (a good thing, we're told) and currently weighing in a respectable 2 pounds and 11 ounces.

The appointment was at 16.10 and we arrived early because, as well as being perhaps the world's worst designed car park where the majority of drivers are forced to get out of theirs cars to insert their exit ticket, there is also normally a twenty minute queue to get into it.

With all of our scans and visits to date I've been impressed with the efficiency of the service and we've only ever waited long enough to read one or two articles in Mother and Baby. Yesterday I was even a little disapointed to be called through as I was only half way through an interesting article on flat head syndrome, a remarkably common complaint caused by babies spending too much time on their backs. Apparently they should sleep on their backs and play on their tummies to avoid it - you have been warned.

To back up, Clare originally had an appointment for next Monday with our specialist obstetrician as well as our scan yesterday. She received a call to say that there was no point in coming in twice and we could do the two at once. What a good idea, I thought, almost business-like to be so efficient. I suppose it had to be too good to be true.

After the initial scan we were deposited back in the original waiting room and then ushered to another about 20 minutes later. I read the Guildford magazine from Winter and then Summer 08, more Mother and Baby and then Country Living before I realised that I'd past my patience threshold without noticing. Clare could see me twitching and looking around for somone to shout out - which is something I used to do a lot in such situations and placated me on a number of times during the next half an hour of no progress. Eventually after an hour of waiting we were asked to go into room to the side of the waiting area. We sat in there for another twenty minutes and I started to become a pain for Clare. She was sitting on the edge of the bed and I'd found the table goes up, table goes down foot pump and although I found it hilarious, Clare found it childish and before long I was even annoying myself.

As I've mentioned before on here, I am trying to be nicer, calmer and more patient but I'm really struggling with the last one so eventually I charged off looking for a row. I didn't have far to go. I found an officious lady who was happy to explain that they were very busy to which I replied 'me too, that's why I turn up to appointments on time'. I went on to explain that we only had enough money for the car park's lowest charge which would be doubling very soon and that we had to be elsewhere not long after, however in this environment there is no customer and therefore noone feels the need to salvage a relationship where the complainant is there because they have to be and would really rather be at home watching the semi-final. Weird how a hospital is the polar opposite of a business yet in the majority of cases manages to satisfy its audience in much the same way.

Anyway we finally got some attention in the large shape of Miss Hutt's locom, who was busily trying to ask questions that we hadn't already been asked in the hope of buying some time until Miss Hutt became free. Then she apologised again and disappeared. 10 minutes later Miss Hutt arrived. Hooray.

Her opening words were 'I'm a little confused, you're supposed to be here on Monday!'

If Miss Hutt wasn't one of earth's most wonderful humans with a bedside manner which would make Florence Nightingale seem like Charles Manson, I think my head would have imploded. Right there on the bouncy table. She has a way of explaining things to Clare with her Spanish accent in perfect English that makes everything o.k again. She talks very closely to Clare but not in a personal-space-invasion way and not in a patronising way; it's a skill which cannot be learnt and lots of people try hard but never acheive it like she does. I hope she has children of her own but her age combined with her 'Miss' status and her vocation could suggest otherwise which would be a shame.

Anyway it took the wind out of my sails and I walked away almost frustrated that I wasn't angry anymore! The clock was at 6pm as we approached the parking ticket machine and queued as the other one was out of order (natch) and I was half enjoying the prospect of having a row at the front desk if the machine told me we'd slipped into the £4 bracket by a few minutes. I was almost disappointed when I saw the £2 fee but glad to pay up and negotiate the exit barrier.

There we are then.

Monday, 23 June 2008

One week closer

You will have noticed that the blogs entries have become less frequent; this is because I find myself less frequently requiring the effect that writing them has. It's fully sunk in and yet I'm probably still in a certain amount of denial. We're three months away (yesterday) from the due date and I'm probably less freaked out than others in my situation who are expecting a perfectly normal (there's that word again) baby.

I have found that I've lost a bit of spark about my personality and have become a bit more serious. Maybe this has just made me grow up in a bit more of a hurry, and that's not a bad thing anyway!

I also have a desire to be a bit nicer. I'm not a bad person necessarily but I do like a rant and I'm probably too quick to judge. I cringe whenever think of when I've been outspoken, (albeit to carefully chosen ears) about other people's babies. All of my closest friends have genuinely lovely babies but I know of friends of friends who've had, er, less than beautiful babies and whilst by all accounts I was a really, scarily ugly baby (as my dad loves to remember!) I do feel bad. Or do I? Do I just feel bad because I think I've had a kick up the arse by karma or is it because I shouldn't have said it in the first place? Not sure, maybe a bit of both. I think it would be harsh of karma to manifest itself by way of a physical blemish in return for a bit of joke aimed at someone who was none the wiser. Either way I don't comment on other peoples babies in the pejorative anymore and that's a good thing. I'm also trying not to judge anyone negatively either. The point is that something's changed slightly and I'd rather it hadn't. Perhaps I just think too much. Actually there's no perhaps to it.

As I mentioned before, I have a chapter on karma and my thoughts about it all but I'm still saving it. Unlike Earl, I don't have a list and have no burning desire to put right any wrongs, mainly because there aren't that many wrongs which keep me up at night, but like him I do have a conscience, especially now. Anyway it's ironic that Joy (his ex-wife in the series) described a scenario where their wrongdoings would come back to haunt them and all their kids would be born with hair lips. I hate that expression but it's perfect for the trailer trash character she plays anyway Clare and I looked at each other and winced.

During the last few weeks we've only experienced positivity and kindness and this was the first time we heard anything negative. Yes it's a fictional TV show, yes it's supposed to funny and yes the vast majority of people wouldn't give it a second thought but you can't help but be just the slightest bit affected by it. It was a weird feeling and it made me think about how we'll feel if the little boy or girl comes home in tears after being teased or bullied. I suppose it's the same for all parents and at least we'll know what to expect, but this is my blog and I'll ruminate stupid stuff if I want!

Next scan is on Thursday, back at Royal Surrey so will write more then.

Friday, 13 June 2008


So it's a been a while since the last post because Clare and I have been away. We spent a fantastic week emptying our minds in Egypt and it was just what we needed. Holidays are a great time to reflect and for introspection. I only ever really read books on holiday and always find them a good source of inspiration. I usually find myself making plans for when I get back but usually find that the inspiration gets stopped at customs and subjected to a full cavity body search.

I read a weird selection of books. First I red Slash's autobiography, one of my heroes, and it was a great book - he did a LOT of drugs but is clean and sober now. Earlier in the year I read Clapton's autobiography (another of my heroes) and he probably did twice as many drugs but the two books were surprisingly similar in terms of their respective journies. Next was a forgettable book based on an email thread and although it was reasonably amusing it was over before it began and not exactly thought provoking. Then I read Piers Morgan's book, a sort of diary / autobiography. My Dad, along with many others, thinks he's a tosser but I've always liked him and it was a really honest tale of his descent into the wilderness following his sacking from his editor post at the Daily Mirror. Despite having no money worries and lots of work he seemed to be struggling finding his new niche - an editor is an editor, liked and loathed in equal measures, but still respected as an editor. A sacked editor is merely an ex-editor and who wants to be one of them? The diary charts a year or two from sacking to being a major US star on America's Got Talent with Simon Cowell and he ends up having found what he was looking for. The book also serves as a splene vent and he describes Kate Moss as an 'ill tempered, foul mouthed, bad mannered little Cordon girl with a cocaine-desecrated hooter and spots!' which made me laugh out loud.

Lastly I read the Kite Runner. My mum had given it to me a Christmas or two ago and I'd never read it as I like to buy my books at the airport and always forgot to pack it. Anyway I'm glad it did pack it this time as it was excellent. One of the main characters in the book has a 'hairlip', which is the non-PC way of describing a cleft lip so it obviously resounded from page 1. The book is set in Afghanistan where such things are not treated as early, especialy not in the seventies where the story begins. I won't go in to the story other than to explain that the author spends his life in turmoil after having deceived /let down his best mate (with the hairlip) and the story finishes with his atonement, his redemption if you will. A great read and more inspiring than the bios I read.

A friend of a friend emailed me while we were away to explain that his boy is 18 months old and has just been through the cleft operations. It was so much more comforting to read his story than those online of complete strangers. He didn't find out about the clefts until the baby was born which is quite common and obviously a massive shock after the trauma of the birth. So much to take in when you least expect it. He said he felt a bit cheated that the special time was tainted as it was. He also talked about the 'why us?' feeling but actually, I feel that less now because I know him or I know of him via a mutual friend. The odds are around 1 in 600 and whilst our mutual friend is a very popular guy I doubt he's got 1,200 mates! I also think, as I've said before, that if you wallow in 'why us?' you also have to stop taking for granted all the other bad stuff that hasn't happened. We don't wake up everyday and feel glad for what hasn't affected us. Perhaps we should.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

More pics

I noticed a poster at Guildford train station highlighting the plight of babies born in Africa with clefts. The poster has pictures of 6 kids born with clefts and the headline reads,

'If you think it's difficult to look at, try living with it'

I totally understand the reason behing the poster, it's intially intended to shock and then shame passers-by into making a donation. However I bet the artworker or account manager responsible for the ad doesn't have a kid born with a cleft! I found myself thinking 'Fuck you Mr. Ad man, my baby's going to be beautiful, how dare you etc, etc'.

The point is that babies born with a cleft are very different and yes, the first time to look, you will be shocked to a point. The you look again, then again, then you do a bit of research and eventually you see right past the cleft and then just as you're fully used to it, the baby has the cleft repaired and before you know it's a distant memory. I think I've written already that a lot of parents report back of being upset when they see their baby return from surgery. Although the birth defect has been corrected, their baby's face has been changed. In another context you can understand why they would be upset, but right now I can't see that. I'm sure I'll change but right now I just want a time machine which transports me to Summer 09 after the success of operation number 2. I am not the most patient of people.

When I read the book on fatherhood the writer wrote a chapter on 'competitive dad syndrome', the crux of which was about how we only see beauty and perfection in our own children, whilst everyone else's baby is a hideous monstrosity! I know that if our baby was born bright green with two heads, I'd love it but I'm still worried about the reaction of other people. That said, I walked down Guildford high street today and struggled to see an attractive adult; seriously most people are properly ugly in this town so I reckon that with Clare's looks and my, er, er, sense of humour (?) our kid should do just fine!

I've joined a group on Facebook for parents with or expecting babies with a cleft and thought it would be good to show some before and afters.

Jacob at 3 months

Looks alright to me!
A unilateral complete cleft lip
You wouldn't look twice
This boy was born with a particularly severe complete bilateral (both sides) cleft lip and palate.

Baby Pics

Here's a few pictures from the various scans we've had. The 3D ones are not very clear and there's loads of distortion, but the consultant managed to get a reasonable view of the cleft and area imediately above it. Where the nose looks deformed that's just more disortion unless our baby has the biggest nose of all time! Clefts don't actually affect the nose even though they look as though they do. The nose is actually always perfectly formed but where the lip line is broken the forces of the face splay one of the nostrils. When the lip is repaired the nose returns to normal. Clever eh?!

Here's the first scan. This was taken from the left which is why the cleft cannot be seen.

Here's a couple from the most recent 3D scan. The right side of this picture starts to distort at the nose but the cleft is pretty visible.
Chillin' like Dad!