Friday, February 28, 2014

Flying with a cage fighter

I emailed the following to friends after we landed in the UK at the end of January 2014.....quite honestly the whole episode nearly killed me.

Do not ever take a flight with a kid who has chipped a chunk off his tooth hours before take off. i.e. for anyone contemplating travelling in a confined space or with other members of the public place your child/ren in protective clothing (AKA body armour) a gum shield, obligatory kayaking helmet and safety goggles no later than 48 hours prior to departure.

On Monday evening Chris, Leo and I met up with some great friends for an early dinner in Kampala prior to driving through snarly evening traffic to Entebbe airport.  After the meal Leo and his friend Kya ran about in the gravelly car park.  Shortly afterwards Leo took a hit to the mouth as he face planted into the ground.  I have it mentally registered (forever) that this happened on Chris's watch, he was there watching them.

Leo had the obligatory boo hoo and 10 minutes later started complaining about having a 'stone in his mouth'.  We poked about a bit with the Nokia mobile phone torch with a tiny beam and noticed, to our horror, he was sporting some nasty splintered front tooth and a bloody lip.  At this point we hastily got the bill, dosed the kid up with Calpol, said our goodbyes and took to the city streets for Entebbe.
Upon arrival at Entebbe I was lulled into a false sense of security.  The tooth now wasn't an issue, in fact it had been forgotten about.  We had bags to check in, daddy to wave goodbye to (and curse at) and planes to ogle from a dusty cafeteria.  Boarding wasn't a problem, nor was the shifting of seats because I can't read boarding passes.  Taking off at midnight was exciting as Leo clutched the arm rests and roared, 'we're whizzing really fast' and twenty sweet minutes later he was asleep across my lap.  I carefully plugged myself in to watch Blue Jasmine on the stamp sized screen and grazed quietly on a bag of jelly tots.
An hour and a half later we hit the Apocalypse.  Leo woke up and THAT, as they say, was history.  His mouth was throbbing and his tooth was poking out of the red gum at such an angle it was poised at my neck.  Such was his rage he tried to strangle me with my headphones.  After much handbag wrestling on both our parts he refused to take the Calpol sachets I'd smuggled in my bag and screamed for everyone to 'GO AWAY'.  The air stewards all converged on the opposite aisle and ignored us while the rest of the passengers put the skinny plane blankets over their heads, praying for sleep or worse.
I don't remember much of the following 6 hours apart from when I dragged Leo into the grim airplane toilet cubicle - it was as though I'd unleashed the tiger from Life of Pi into a cardboard box.  He ranted, raged and tried to kick the door down as I balanced precariously on the toilet seat.  To add to his grief and utter displeasure when I flushed the toilet it felt as though we were both going to be sucked into oblivion.  We wailed like savages and from that moment on I didn't care what happened.  Fortunately between the toilet saga and flying over Europe I'd managed to chug 10ltrs of Calpol down his neck so he was tripping nicely by the time we bounced through the fog and landed at Heathrow.
I managed to get an appointment on the afternoon of our arrival at the dentists where I'm registered.  I didn't take him, my mum did.  As I've noted over the last couple of years there is a amazing amount of respect that small people have towards their elders so I wept with relief when mum trotted across the road with him.  Fifteen minutes later he reappeared with a sticker having had his mouth investigated and photographed.  A piece of the tooth had chipped off and the lower half was hanging on by a piece of gum.  For fear of exposed nerve and potential infection a specialist appointment had been arranged for us at Ipswich Hospital the next morning.  Oh FFS!?!
As things crashed from bad to worse later that afternoon Leo tucked into a triangle of soft sponge cake and chatted happily away.  Moments later mum sat up in surprise and mouthed, 'that hanging piece of tooth's gone' - he'd gone and swallowed the snaggy bit along with the cake to leave a stump, like a mini headstone.  So the next morning we travelled with my sister and her son to hospital (why make it simple, take the rest of the family too) and after much deliberation by the consultant he finally agreed at my request to take the stumpy tooth out.  *This was made easier for everyone after Leo finally stopped shouting 'GO AWAY' and snapped open his mouth once I had bribed him with a lollipop.  Always travel with lollipops*
The tooth extraction involves surgery and a general anaesthetic, but it outweighs the possibility of something nasty boiling away and causing an infection over the next few weeks.  So here we are, 24 hours in and Leo is on the emergency list and due surgery within the next 5 days.  He is being his usual stubborn self but embracing all the delights the northern hemisphere has to offer, plus his Jack Sparrow impression is doing wonders for his popularity with the ladies - of the short variety that is.

Exhausted and wishing to lie in a dark room for the remainder of my days

Friday, February 21, 2014

Stalactites in the sky

Sometimes you spend the whole day just looking for a small break in the clouds.  The drip, drip, drip of falling rain on the already swollen landscape; the soaked roads, the shimmering trees, the saturated grass, the damp people, the dirty puddles, the massing of flood plains and the freezing air.  This deluge all seems too much to bear on mother earth's tough crust. 

Yep, Leo and I are smack, bang back in England.  It's a stark contrast to the tropical and humid heat of Uganda - one that has been stripped from our memories - so we're embracing it as stoically as we can by stuffing our faces with pastries.  This has not prevented colds, flu, possible malaria, snapped in half baby tooth, rogue coughing, hunched shoulders and a wet scarf rubbing on a sore chin.

Catching our chilled breath, clutching a gloved hand, scooting on footpaths, potty training on hold, steaming cups of tea and often trying to entertain a wild toddler in a contained space have been order of the day.  February is a crazy time to be home, parts of the country are experiencing severe flooding after months of continual rain, but in other corners of the world Kiev is burning, Venezuela is protesting and Syria remains at conflict. 

I press my face into the winds of change and breathe hope into the chilled air as I gently and very quietly share my news.  There is a small heart beating close to mine, a tiny life that has surprised the hell out of mine.  I have found it difficult to articulate this pregnancy before now, mainly because I've been in denial, but at 14+ weeks it's becoming harder to hide the expanding tummy and the anxious look of a grizzly bear from my face.

There are still plenty of blanks to fill in about how we got from there to here, but for now I'm trying to remember to breathe and avoid the dripping stalactites...whilst carefully holding on to the sunshine.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Thankful for kind words

Back in October 2013 when I mentioned that a friend suggested I should stop coming here to write about the loss of Ella, I received two days later the below message via facebook. 

It was sent to me by someone I know not well, but well enough to appreciate that she is a gifted, beautiful and intelligent woman who is a devoted mother and wife.  Her words continue to resonate with me and I am often caught thinking about her, her family and what she went through to bring her own little boy into this world. 

I wrote the post, According to African Legend because a dear friend had suffered a further miscarriage and I hoped, if she read it, it would provide her with a small window of courage and hope.  Little did I know it would also strike a chord with another friend too.  I remain humbled that she wrote to me and thrilled that she did.

Sometimes it feels like I'm writing into the void, the internet can be a strange place, but when the void catches and hooks certain words and stories and places them into the hearts of others....well it's a magic (you coined it Stacey Conner in the comments section of Three Is The Magic Number) that shouldn't be stopped. 


30th October 2013

Hi Georgie,

This is probably completely random and out of the blue, but I have thought of writing you many times and haven't... for fear of expressing myself incorrectly, saying the wrong thing, or simply the fact that I barely know you…

We shared a weekend of crazy and wonderful horse galloping and swimming a hundred years ago and I loved it. I really enjoyed spending time with you, and am so glad we’ve stayed in touch (through the crazy world of facebook) these past few years…

Your latest blog post made me shelf all my hesitation and decide to write you and tell you that I hope you keep writing… You are a beautiful writer, and the strength, courage and vulnerability that is in your blog is stunning. Simply stunning. It is also giving support and encouragement more than you know.

During my pregnancy, I wanted to write to you… I was in Ivory Coast and got very sick – I was hospitalized for five days, and was uncertain as to whether or not my baby would be ok. Throughout that time, I was terrified, but I also thought of you and found strength and encouragement in your blog. Many times throughout my pregnancy, especially during those five days, and the time a couple months later that I started bleeding and didn’t know why, I went back and read your blog post that really stuck with me (April 28, 2012 - According to African Legend). It provided strength, and comfort during a time when I was very afraid. 

If you decide to stop writing, that is of course entirely up to you and it will be supported and respected. But, I just wanted to write after all this time to say to you that I am very grateful, that your words meant a lot to me, and that I respect you enormously.



Thursday, February 6, 2014

Toilet Humour

The following are an example of where we're at with Leo and his public speaking;

'Willy bum, bum'

'I'm going to do a big poo on you'

'Mummy's got a hairy bottom'

'You have a big wobbly bottom'

......Running naked in the warm African sunshine Leo stops to do a wee in the flower bed and shouts, 'I've got a big willy like my daddy'.

My inner parent is slowly being eroded away and he's not even THREE.