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January 1st, 2017


So 2016 was the year we got to know Eleanor Blake. And she is an amazing, powerful girl.

Unlike Suzy she was born into the world in a glorious rush - shooting into my trouser leg before I was even out of the car. Her threatened hip dysplasia never manifested beyond a pavlic harness. Mum said that when I was still being supported into the birth centre a midwife grabbed her and Eleanor and dragged them both inside quickly. Ella had cried when she was born but she was silent then and, worried about her temperature (aparently being born in the streets in October at 2am can bring your core temperature down - who knew!), the midwife flicked her foot. This caused, as Mum says, "her little face to crumple". I saw that crumple quite a bit in the early weeks - and it always caused me to melt. Suzy was just ANGRY when thwarted or hurt, Ella was sad. I used to worry that base sadness would struggle to stand up to Suzy - I shouldn't have done.

Ella knows what she wants and currently her volume is *loud*. She does not cry so much any more - it's just when she comes across an obstacle she cannot work out a way round she yells at it in increasing volume until the obstacle magically vanishes (mostly because an adult comes and saves her). She apparently has the dubious honour of being the loudest child that her childminder has ever known. If Suzy is causing an obstacle then she will get yelled at too. Although obviously in Ella's mind Suzy is one of the best things in the world.

Ella loves music and dancing on TV - she does a vertical wiggle when dancing by herself that just makes me happy. She has worked out how to crawl to the top of the stairs, swing herself round until she is about to descend the stairs feet first on her tummy - and then just slide down all the way calling loudly. She doesn't seem to have fear.

Ella is affectionate - she gives hugs with an arm around the nape of your neck, face nestled into the shoulder. She understood kissing from an early age - she will g "mmmmm" and present her mouth for a kiss - only at the last minute feignting and presenting her forehear instead, so a sort of kissing headbut.

I feel guilty because I wrote a love letter to Suzy at 10 months and now, even at a year 2 months, I can't write a love letter to Ella without including Suzy too. But they are our children and they are now a weird, loud, emotional package. Suzy has never been overtly jealous of Eleanor, never ever hitting out at her and including her in her "Princess Suzy" stories from the word go. She will without prompting name Eleanor as one of the top three people she loves. And Eleanor is so much further because she has Suzy to copy and follow around and laugh with - when they are on the same wave length.

We all know that some things did not go well in 2016. There are times when I question our wisdom in bringing the girls into a world that has reminded us that things don't just keep getting better and better without conscious and constant effort - that the "good guys" often don't win. But they are blessings and we are blessed. In a small corner of Walthamstow - we are currently very very happy

May 31st, 2015

Boobs and Babies

There are a number of pics/memes/articles going the round of facebook of people getting outraged when asked to cover themselves while breastfeeding. As I've been getting pregnant-er I've been pondering this.

I am fully aware that asking a woman to cover up/move to a more secluded location/stop breastfeeding is illegal and I totally agree with it being so. However since Gary has explained why he feels uncomfortable around women breastfeeding I have had a little more sympathy for the discomfort of others (not enough to cover up under a hideous and expensive "nursing" cover but enough to consider where I breastfed and whether to use a scarf).

Gary explained that it is not so much the idea that he was horrified by boobs in a public place but instead he didn't know where to look/how to communicate with a woman who was breastfeeding without feeling like a potential perve. Since then I have been pondering boobs in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

I can only talk from my own point of view. I haven't had enough female friends who breastfed to compare stories. There is an incredible metamorphosis that goes over your body as it makes a baby. I don't particularly enjoy the process but I can see how amazing it is. Everything gets sacrificed to make sure the baby is well. To the point where if you don't take the correct vitamins and minerals the damned things can be leached from your bones and teeth to help make up the baby. Your brain, energy, emotions are all affected - to say nothing of the increase in weight and potential problems with your muscles, bones etc.

Then the baby arrives and your body still doesn't feel like your own as most of your energy is focused on keeping the baby safe and well fed. At this point the boobs are really important.

I love my breasts, normally they are erotic, erogenous zones which help balance out my frankly bottom heavy body :)

I can already feel the 'sexiness' of my breasts changing through the pregnancy. First they get so sensitive that changing your bra can be a challenge, then they become this amazing source of food and comfort for your child. At that point shocked gasps at an inadvertent nip slip when feeding your child (Suzy liked to pull off the nipple and have a look round before going back for more) are quite frankly a shock - I had forgotten that they could be viewed in any other way than as a source of food for my child.

That's nothing to the indignity of dancing round the bedroom while your child drinks from one nipple - starting the other one literally squirting in a different direction (don't try and swap boobs - I made that rookie error and then the first was shooting off in the other direction while I was trying to attach Suzy to the second). It was highly amusing but not at all sexy.

It took a long time after my pregnancy to look at my body as anything other than a slightly malfunctioning baby life support system.

I don't think we are honest enough with each other about our experiences as humans. Pregnancy is seen through many lenses but it is mostly obscured by pics of women in white with perfect makeup dreamily gazing at their tiny (non goblin like) baby trying to sell you something.

If we understood a bit more people's experiences we might be more sympathetic towards the frazzled woman with the uncombed hair, trying to feed her baby, comfort a toddler and find something else to pad her bra to stop the other nipple leaking through her clothes (again). We might also understand why she looks at us with blank incomprehension when there are mutters about how inappropriate exposed boobs are in public.

December 5th, 2014

(no subject)


April 15th, 2014


The event was fun - a lot happened that I am getting an IC head round and I thought it would help to write it down... Now it is written down it might as well go here as anywhere:

Cut for Kiera wofflingCollapse )

January 8th, 2014


I attended a funeral today. It was of a man who I hadn't seen in over 10 years. He was the partner of the mother of friends my sister and I had as we were growing up. As I sat in church and heard the eulogy and remembrances from the children of his first marriage and step children from his second it got me thinking.

This was a man of great humour and kindness. I wouldn't have said that I knew him well but when people were speaking I realised, he was the first person to take me out on a sailboat and boat with outboard motor, he was the man who showed me how to fish, to build fires. He was an outdoors man who loved nature and beekeeping and doing. He had a large house in Jura, an island to the west of Scotland, and he would gather up carfulls of people, including my parents, sister and me and invite us all to come and experience the island he loved so much.

We underestimate the importance that other adults have in children's lives. I have one uncle who is unmarried, my mother is an only child. I didn't grow up with a massive support network of other adults and children. Like everyone initially I guess, I believed that every man is like my prickly, clever, impractical father and every woman like my generous, ridiculous, loving mother.

Alex was one of the few fathers of my friends (not that he was a father of my friends but he was involved in their lives since they were very young and later married their mother) who I had anything to do with over a long period of time growing up. He showed me a different facet of how to be a man. And he nailed his version perfectly.

Throughout the service today I kept thinking, how he and Gary would have got on, and how sorry I am that they never got to meet.

January 1st, 2014

New Year

Last year as I kissed Gary at midnight I wished like mad for a happy and healthy baby in three months time. This year as Gary, Suzy and I danced around a kitchen filled with bubbles to the dulcet strains of YMCA I had nothing left to wish for.

I have so much to be grateful for. The reason I am writing this post - while Gary is putting a cranky Susanna to bed - I am so lucky in the people I know. I have been told that having a baby can be really isolating but I have never been more grateful for my friends.

This year (even before Suzy's diagnoses of hip dysplasia) we have had so much help, love and support.

Whether this is through posts and PMs on facebook, an email offering assistance - a place to stay and friendship, people providing gossip that keeps us in the loop, a card of sympathy or congratulation, a phone call from a friend to check up, a gossipy chat over a meal or a museum tour, contact from far flung friends trying to arrange meetups (whether or not they actually were able to take place)... So many other things.

Although we have had more trips to the hospital than anyone would wish for a baby in her first year of life we are aware of how blessed we are. Suzy's condition is fixable - and so far it has needed the minimum of horrible and invasive procedures. However much I have been nervous that people seeing her cast might think we are neglectful or cruel parents I am aware that is nothing to the very real fear many parents have when their children have life threatening conditions and illnesses.

Thanks guys, I hope I get the chance to repay you.

December 13th, 2013

So now Susanna is nearly 10 months old and halfway through the treatment which will hopefully correct her hip dysplasia.

Did you know that she has a yell that means “I challenge you to a duel” and when you go over to wrestle with her her eyes sparkle with fun and danger?

Pregnancy was marked for me by fear. The fear that something would go wrong. That I would miscarry, that the baby would be born with terrible learning or physical disabilities. Every day for the first few weeks I did a pregnancy test. Every marker of pregnancy was to be celebrated, as my stomach swelled and clothes stopped fitting I was happy. Every kick (far too few could be felt) or the rising nausea, or the horrible heart burn that had me chewing ant acids like chewing gum was a sign that my baby was there. Even, towards the end of pregnancy, when the stretch marks I thought I had avoided burst out, red and angrily itching on my lower stomach, I was a little sad but happy too. These signs showed I was a mother and I could feel my baby marking me before I even got a chance to look at her properly.

Did you know that when she is sad she reaches for my hair as if it is a comfort blanket? She then less adorably tries to pull it out in handfuls but I shouldn’t mention that…

When I gave birth - please don’t be worried I will avoid tales of tearing and blood because for me it is a very sanitised memory. Partly because I can barely remember the pain or the length. I can remember the doctor telling me that they would have to assist with the birth. I can remember thinking “but I thought you said I had been doing well… you must have been lying to me!”. I can remember my legs totally dead with the anaesthetic being strapped up in ski type boots with my knees up to my chest. I can remember a silent grey baby being whisked away (I had seen the colour of new borns so the grey didn’t worry me but the silence and the whisking did). I can remember her first cry and begging, begging Gary to go with her because I was still being stitched up and I didn’t want her first few minutes in this world to be spent with strangers. When I saw her after she was born she was perfect. When they told me that day she had a dislocated hip I didn’t give a damn – there was so much worse.

Did you know that when she is happy to see you she does a full body wriggle?

Now – nearly ten months later my body is becoming my own again. I still have stones to lose that I put on during my pregnancy, but I am feeling so much more myself. I went to the Harts LARP event and felt pretty again for the first time in about a year – it helped that I had a new dress that properly fitted J The marks Suzy left on me will never leave – scars and swollen breasts that will always be marked by the fact that they were able to nourish a baby. But my body is becoming my own again and – do you know what? I really like it! So much so that I am beginning to wonder how much I want another child.

Did you know that when the horrible baby anaesthetic mask went over her face to make her go to sleep for surgery I let my hair hang round her like a curtain and sang to her and she went to sleep without crying?

Everyone knows that giving birth hurts and can cause permanent damage – thank god I avoided the potential chronic back problem, pain issues and vast array of ‘women’s bits’ related awfulness that could have happened. What I never realised before pregnancy was how hard that could be – the exhaustion, nausea and sheer difficulty of hefting this massive bump around. By the end of the pregnancy I could hardly walk up the road without pain and tiredness.

Did you know that even in a cast from above the waist to one ankle and the other knee Suzy tries to drag herself along the floor.?

I had always thought I would have two children – like practically everyone I knew. I still believe it can be great to have a sibling. Mim and I are constantly there as a reassurance in the other’s brain. I know if I needed her she would be there for me in an instant. But I am now wondering whether I could encourage that closeness with others – friends children, cousins… Much as I love my daughter, much as I agree that some point in the future I may be overcome by the urge to have another. I want this to stand as a statement in time. 10 months into my first baby… I feel like I might be done.

October 16th, 2011

Originally posted by gabrielleabelle at Mississippi Personhood Amendment
Okay, so I don't usually do this, but this is an issue near and dear to me and this is getting very little no attention in the mainstream media.

Mississippi is voting on November 8th on whether to pass Amendment 26, the "Personhood Amendment". This amendment would grant fertilized eggs and fetuses personhood status.

Putting aside the contentious issue of abortion, this would effectively outlaw birth control and criminalize women who have miscarriages. This is not a good thing.

Jackson Women's Health Organization is the only place women can get abortions in the entire state, and they are trying to launch a grassroots movement against this amendment. This doesn't just apply to Mississippi, though, as Personhood USA, the group that introduced this amendment, is trying to introduce identical amendments in all 50 states.

What's more, in Mississippi, this amendment is expected to pass. It even has Mississippi Democrats, including the Attorney General, Jim Hood, backing it.

The reason I'm posting this here is because I made a meager donation to the Jackson Women's Health Organization this morning, and I received a personal email back hours later - on a Sunday - thanking me and noting that I'm one of the first "outside" people to contribute.

So if you sometimes pass on political action because you figure that enough other people will do something to make a difference, make an exception on this one. My RSS reader is near silent on this amendment. I only found out about it through a feminist blog. The mainstream media is not reporting on it.

If there is ever a time to donate or send a letter in protest, this would be it.

What to do?

- Read up on it. Wake Up, Mississippi is the home of the grassroots effort to fight this amendment. Daily Kos also has a thorough story on it.

- If you can afford it, you can donate at the site's link.

- You can contact the Democratic National Committee to see why more of our representatives aren't speaking out against this.

- Like this Facebook page to help spread awareness.

August 12th, 2011

Dragons Moot Setup Part 3


And so on to the next instalment

The buildCollapse )

August 11th, 2011

Dragons Moot Setup Part 2


And so on to the next chapterCollapse )
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