Sunday 30 June 2013

Now you see it, now you don't

I've written a few times about when Jake's scar is more visible than others. It's normally when you see it in reverse like in the mirror or a selfie taken of him and me in a mirror. But then we all look different in reverse! 

I'm sure you can see some small difference in his lip if you don't know him but this is a photo that you almost certainly wouldn't look twice at from a cleft point if view. 

Just got back from a lovely trip back to Spain; ten days of shouting, swimming, sand castles and ice creams. Pretty much what any kid wants from their holiday. 

Since first having Jake, each time we go away we have the conversation about when we get 'our holidays back'. Clare and I used holidays before children for lying on a lounger and reading books. The only effort or exertion was the competition to see who could get the best tan and who could read the most books. Whilst we're not as brown as we used to be and we didn't read as much, holidays are definitely getting easier. 

Freddie is becoming more robust so can just about splash in the tide without drowning and Jake learnt to swim which is obviously a priority in being more able to relax on holiday. Of course it'll never be the same but really I don't want it to be the same, I want these trips to be the ones the boys remember and try to recreate when they are in our position as life inexorably cycles on. 

God bless Apple, by the way; genuinely the single best thing about an iPad is the effect it has on children on long journeys. Before kids we would judge lazy parenting by the amount of gadgets they used to give their children. Now we get it! Without wishing to be horrendously patronising, the best behaved kids are the ones belonging to non-parents!

So it was lovely but I'm also quite looking forward to going back to work. Another strange phenomenon about holidaying as a dad of two mental children!



Sunday 10 March 2013


Jake and I went for lunch with a few of my friends yesterday. And just because I recently realised that he's the age of the boys whose photos I couldn't really relate to when we first got 'the news', I thought I'd post a couple of pics and reassure anyone else who has recently also had a cleft diagnosed that a) the next 4-5 years of your life will go by in a flash and b) a cleft lip really isn't a big deal. I'd also like to apologise for the length of that sentence.  

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Bullying. Sort of. OK not really.

A week or so ago I asked Jake about what he'd done that day and he described having bumped into his friend during a visit to Wisley. He went on to tell me all about his friend and why he liked him. Which was nice. He then said on his way home he went to the park and saw someone else from his school;

"I don't like him because he hits me"


I immediately went into over protective and over the top dad mode. Initially asking questions to ascertain the authenticity of the claim - Jake can be prone to the odd embellishment - and then into solution mode.

I really don't want to turn him into a thug but for reasons including, but not limited to, the scar on his lip, I want him to stand up for himself from day one. There was a guy at my school who was an arsehole to everyone including me and it definitely affected me then and probably my confidence ever since, at least where confrontation is concerned. So I'm keen Jake understands 'reasonable force' as the police refer to it.

It turns out Jake was being a tad dramatic and the boy who 'hits' him, hit him once during a hitting-everyone frenzy and hasn't since hit anyone and was summarily told off. But regardless, I had a session of telling Jake exactly what to do. It starts with getting a bit closer, staring the offender down the barrels and saying 'no, you do NOT hit me', followed by, if getting no joy from the situation,  a meaningful push to the chest whilst still glaring them in the eye. Most bullies crumble when confronted and I hope if he ever comes across one that he has the cojones to stand up for himself.

I don't remember having had the conversation about these things with my dad, probably because he never had it with his dad and these things you just worked out for yourself, but it's something I'll be involved in as it is important and how we deal with things as a kid will have an impact on how we deal similar situations as adults.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Cleft checkup

This weekend, I had the pleasure of four days with my beloved children. All to myself, how wonderful. *needle scratches off record*. What I mean to say is, last Friday I had to take a day off work in preparation of a four day single parentathon whilst my wife swanned off to Dubai to a friend's wedding. When the wedding was announced I'd just got back from the wedding I went to in South Africa last year (the one where Clare was about to take off to meet us but Jake had an accident and she had to stay - that one) and it was just too expensive for us both or all to go to. Normally when she goes away for a weekend I decamp to my parents' place, but they also went to the wedding. Ditto my sister. And as Clare's mum does a lot of baby sitting already, I didn't want to ask her. Anyway, so it was just me and the boys and to be fair, they were great. I made sure they were entertained every day and apart from the Monday (which I also took off work by the way) they behaved impeccably. It was my fault for thinking the ordeal was over sooner than it actually was and I let them watch TV all afternoon; an activity which is certain to turn them into Tasmanian devils. Not great when you consider I was trying to paint the kitchen at the time. The point of this is that one of the duties I was left with instructions for was taking Jake to see Professor Haers for his annual checkup. That in itself was something of an accomplishment. I know I'll not get any sympathy from any mothers reading this but for someone whose normal routine is get up, shower, breakfast (maybe), leave, the task of getting both kids up, fed, milked, dressed and out, before getting through rush-hour and parking at a hospital in order to be on time for an appointment, is quite impressive! We went in and I'd forgotten the size of the team we'd originally been given and, having expected to see Prof H and maybe Anne, it was a shock to see all seven of them before me. They were all there, the psychologist, dentist, orthodontist, speech therapist, surgeon, community nurse and one other whose profession escapes me. I took this in my stride as I'd got used to how amazing the set up is for kids and the issues they get born with. Jake, however, found it a touch daunting and went into super shy mode and was curled up in a ball and wouldn't look at me, let alone the audience. Professor Haers wasn't bothered though, he didn't need to see or hear Jake and was happy the shyness was 'age appropriate'. They asked me a few questions and whether I had any concerns at all and also weren't worried about the slight lisp I reported - apparently this is very common in kids, cleft-affected or not. So, this post is much ado about nothing. More to say that we're free for another year. Next September or so we'll go to Guys for a photo session and another chat and the year after we'll be back at Royal Surrey to discuss the operation to graft a part of Jake's hip onto his gum. Sounds pretty nasty and not something I want to worry about for a while. As always, if you're here having recently found out that your son or daughter will be born with a cleft or indeed, that your child has just been born so, then please go back to my first posts around May of seems a long long time ago but I can still remember how we felt our world had been turned upside down, wondering how we'd ever feel like we do now.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Jake is 4

As these posts get fewer and further between, the less perhaps relevant they become to the people who turn up looking for information. As I wrote once before, we saw loads of photos of kids who'd been born with a cleft lip but because they were 4,5,6 or older there was no context as we were expecting a baby, not a child! I suppose it is useful though to see how a baby with a repaired cleft turns inevitably into a child with a repaired cleft. I'd like to think I'll be doing this to the point where I can show you what a teenager and then a man looks like after having been born with a cleft. Anyway, Jake recently underwent a very small surgery to unblock his ears and to insert grommets. This is to overcome glue ear which is very common in cleft-affected kids...whilst it was performed under general anaesthetic he was knocked out, operated on and awake again inside an hour and I can't tell you the difference it's made to him and us. Although Jake would often ask 'what did you say?' when we'd clearly said something loudly and he'd curl his hand to make a sort of ear-horn, we really didn't grasp how bad his hearing had become. Almost instantly after coming round from the op he said how much louder and clearer everything was and was clearly very happy about it. We no longer have to call him for his tea umpteen times before getting angry at him. We feel a bit guilty about that by the way! It's a bit of a pain as he can't get water in his ears, so we're using cotton wool until we have his ear plugs made up. Anyway, hopefully there won't be any other operations before the one we know about when he's 8 or 9 but it's another hurdle cleared for the better. Jake turned 4 last Saturday. which means I've been blogging about him for 4 and a half years.
Where the hell did that go?!