Friday, 23 December 2016

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Review Of The Year 2016

It's certainly been a year of change.

What with Brexit and Trump's terrifying take over. The demise of so many great artists including Bowie, Prince and Victoria Wood. Not to mention the crumbling of The Great British Bake Off.

And amongst all this global unrest, Nursery Whines has experienced many changes in our little bubble too.

We moved out of the heart of London to the very outskirts, and went from pushing a pram round art galleries to sitting on mats in church halls with a mug of Nescafé, all in a bid to get out of the house and find some adult company. The latter is much more welcoming.
In 2016 I found my wardrobe had become a capsule of stripes and leggings.
And then I embarked on a conscious effort to... make an effort.
We began the year making strides with the Baby Bjorn, only for it to go horribly wrong when I took a tumble.
I'm a pushchair pro now though. I can even steer one-handed and drink coffee at the same time.
2016 has seen my daughter move into her own room and learn to sleep through the night.
And move back into our bed.
I've gone from breastfeeding to weaning.
And reclaimed my body. Well, what's left of it.
I've found parenting can be lonely.
Parenting can be competitive.
And parenting can be overwhelming.
Keeping a child fed and changed is one thing, but keeping them entertained is where the real challenge lies.
And sometimes you will do anything just to get out of the house.
Over the past year I've come to realise that as well as being a mother I am still me.
And I've learned to let go sometimes. Even if my daughter hasn't.
Perhaps the second biggest change for me in 2016, after parenthood, was that I started my blog. I have learned a lot about the blogging world - about link-ups and self-promotion and awards and conventions. The pressure to 'go self-hosted' and the burden of blogmin.

I have discovered some wonderful people and some fabulous blogs and they have helped me feel less out of my depth at this crazy new job that is parenting.

So, as one year comes to a close and a new one begins, with my daughter and I heading towards an ominous list of milestones, I am glad that I have the mummy blogger world for support and reassurance.

May 2017 bring you all you reach for.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Love Actually: Nauseating But True

It's 5am and I am sitting in a cold bath surrounded by plastic ducks singing Baa Baa Black Sheep.

I am suddenly overcome by an out of body experience as I find myself looking down at the naked, shivering, bleary-eyed woman with a child between her legs.

How did I end up here?

Rewind seven hours and a strange noise alerted me to the fact my daughter had just vomited up most of her supper in her cot and appeared to have gone back to sleep, lying in the putrid lumps.

That vomiting bug that has been going round had clearly struck.

I scraped chunks of cheesy baked potato and tomato off the blanket lining her cot and stripped it down before lying her on a clean towel.

Ten minutes later it happened again.

Hours later, as I awoke from a doze sitting awkwardly in a chair, my feet freezing, my bladder achingly full, covered in foul-smelling stains, with a hot, sticky little body curled up and snoring into my stiff neck, I thought to myself:

Richard Curtis - you were wrong actually. This is love.

Love is not big, overblown romantic gestures like standing outside someone's front door in the snow holding up signs that say you've (rather creepily) been secretly obsessed with them for ages.

Love is staying awake all night to rub someone's back and hold out your hand to catch their vomit and promise them they will feel better soon.

Love is not dashing to the airport to tell someone you think they're a bit of alright.

Love is managing to keep your temper when that someone wakes up at 5am and decides they are feeling much better and wants to sing Baa Baa Black Sheep and pat your face.

Love is not standing in the pouring rain until your shirt goes see-through while you tell someone you don't want to marry with them.

Love is, when you have got all hosed off and into fresh pyjamas and finally calmed that someone back down and convinced them it is still bedtime, not minding that the only place they want to sleep is lying on top of you with their head pressed into your oesophagus.

Love is not turning up at a press conference to tell some Hollywood star you want them to shack up with you in your zillion pound property in Notting Hill.

Love is cancelling your plans to see your friend before Christmas and staying at home all day because it would not be fair to drag a sick child across London. Even if they have stopped throwing up and they want to play the same annoying game over and over and over again.

All the rest is just romance. Parenting is real life, actually.
The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Please Release Me: A Separation Anxiety Parody

Separation Anxiety. It really is a bind.

Up until four weeks ago my 13-month-old daughter had become really independent. She was always crawling off without me and would happily stay with total strangers while I popped out of the supermarket queue to dash back for the milk I'd forgotten.

Now I am struggling to leave her with her father for 10 minutes while I jump in the bath.

If I'm in the room with her it's fine - she'll ignore me and get on with playing on her own or with someone else. But if she looks round and realises I've popped to the loo - boom! All hell breaks loose.

So I find myself borrowing the ballad of a famous crooner, Engelbert Humperdinck, as I her sing her this plea to soothe her.

Please release me, let me go
It's not that I don't love you anymore
To waste our lives would be a sin
Do you really want to watch me pee again?

I just have to pop to the loo my dear
And yet you always want me 
I've crossed my legs for far too long
My darling, my pelvic floor is not that strong

Please release me, don't you know -
I'll soon be back to be the one who tells you, 'No!'
Is leaving you with Daddy such a sin?
I just need to hoover and put out the bins

Please release me can't you see
You're missing playtime when you cling to me
Pulling my hair out just brings me pain
So release me and let me live again

I need the loo...
Let me gooooooooooo!

What are your experiences of Separation Anxiety? Please tell me it IS a phase?!
The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback

Thursday, 1 December 2016

What Is In A Name? Top Baby Names 2016

When I was born, the midwife handed me to my parents - their first born - and said, "It's a girl! What are you going to call her?"

"Counceletta," they replied.

"What?!", exclaimed the midwife. "You can't call a child that! I am not giving you your baby until you change your mind."

This is the tale I have grown up being told and eventually begun to relate myself.

I am sure she was joking. But they did change their minds and I am not called Counceletta.

Only, they did still give me an unusual name.

Whenever I am introduced to people, have to give my name, or hand over identification documents, it is almost always commented on.

I have never had to follow up my name with an initial or precede it with an adjective to distinguish me from the others.

At junior school I was a little bit resentful of my name. I don't remember ever really wanting to be called something else. But I sometimes wished it didn't invite so much attention, unfortunate rhyming attempts and, well, name-calling.

But by the time I was 11 I had learned to fully embrace my name. Although I mostly chose to shorten it, I was no longer embarrassed of it, in any of its forms.

I even went as far as to tell my parents that I had decided our surname was incredibly dull and that the moment I turned 18 I fully intended to change mine to 'Rainbow'. 

I honestly was not as obnoxious a child as that might make me sound. But I hope it serves to illustrate that I was no wallflower.

I was not the star of the school plays, the head girl, the queen bee of the cool kids or the class hotty. But I am relatively confident and outgoing, and I believe I owe part of that to my name.

I suppose it is something I feel I have to live up to.

And so when it came to choosing a name for my daughter, it was important that I pass that challenge on to her.

By contrast, her father hates his name. He thinks it is boring and overused and has bad associations.

It is a name often given to the 'regular guy' in TV adverts, and always pops up in reality shows.

So it was really important for him that we give our child a name that was unique and interesting.

At the same time, we did not want to brand our daughter for life with a name that says, "My parents are pretentious bores and I will pay the price for their attempt to be 'quirky' for the rest of my life."

It is an extremely tightly-run gauntlet between picking a name that makes you stand out from the crowd, yet still holds gravitas.

We chose a traditional Edwardian name that has fallen out of fashion, which we think is pretty, elegant, and just unusual enough to be character-building.

It was to our horror that we realised Edwardian girls' names are having a revival, and so our attempt to be different could easily have backfired. But we have been relieved to see that our daughter's name has been absent from every Top 100 Baby Names list so far. And she has two middle names as back up...

I am not trying to do down the Williams and Kates of this world. Nor the Olivers and Olivias - as the Top Baby Names of 2016 turned out to be.

They have all got just as much chance of turning out to be brilliant and changing the world if they want to, and some of them will.

But having worked hard to be more than just an unusual name, I believe I am giving my daughter a good start in life.

And if she is a wallflower... she will still smell just as sweet.
The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Seven Skills I Wish My Baby Would Hurry Up And Learn

Fans of the hit TV series Mad Men may remember that when Don Draper's children were young - only about five or six - he had already trained them to mix cocktails. He and Betty would sit on the sofa looking hungover, yet fabulous, and the kids would whip up an Old Fashioned, like it was some kind of game.

Now I'm not saying the only reason I had a child of my own was to become my personal valet. But it certainly seemed to me like a perfectly harmless way of keeping them occupied, whilst also putting them to good use.

We have been so focused on our daughter reaching such minor milestones as walking, and talking, we have been missing the bigger picture.

Here are the tasks I will really be happy to see her capable of.

::Dressing Herself
It's enough effort to put together a reasonably clean and coordinated outfit for myself every day. Then I have to do it all over again for her as well.
Once she's old enough to choose what she wants to wear and put it on herself, she can legitimately go out dressed in a swimming costume, ballet tutu, pyjama-top-she-has-grown-out-of-with-a-hole-in-it, wellies and a tea cosy on her head, and I can just blame her... Rather than admit everything else was in the wash.

::Using The Roundabout
Why does the roundabout have to be her favourite thing at the park? (Well, after the swings, but there's always a queue, isn't there?) And why does it not seem to make her dizzy in the slightest?
I hate braving the merry-go-round with her on my lap. Going round is not merry, it is nauseating.
So the sooner she learns to hold on to that thing on her own, the better.

I am not artistically gifted. When I try to do homemade, it just looks shabby and halfhearted. But when children do handicrafts; wonky becomes cute and mistakes are just adorable.
All she needs to do is focus on colouring a bit harder, rather than eating crayons, and I can get her to scribble red and green all over a piece of card, shower it with glitter, then cut it up into gift tag sized pieces and my Christmas wrapping is sorted.

::Making Her Own Breakfast
Oh for the day that I can just leave out a Weetabix in a bowl and some long life milk on the kitchen table before I go to bed. Then come the morning just roll over and enjoy the lie in...

::Being A Public Voice Of Conscience
'Kids say the funniest things', as the saying goes. Not so funny when they're shouting, "Mummy, why are you wearing your pyjamas under your coat?", at the top of their voice in the supermarket. Or, "Mummy, look! That woman is REALLY old!"
But wouldn't it be brilliant if you could train them to publicly shame people who are doing you a disservice?
"Mummy, why doesn't that woman move her buggy so we can fit in the bus? We've been waiting for hours in the rain and there is clearly room for us too?"
"Mummy, look! That man has pushed in front of us in the queue!"
"Mummy, do you think the Pret people will choose you to get a free coffee today?"

::Basic Household Chores
As I stood hunched over in my front garden at the weekend, scraping up rotting dead leaves, suddenly aware that my builder's bum was on full view to the entire street, I couldn't help wondering... At just what age is it appropriate to start offering your offspring the chance to earn pocket money in exchange for doing odd jobs?
Just a bit of light housework - dusting, sweeping, sponging avacado stains out of the carpet.
Is 13 months a bit too young?

The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Baby Top Trumps

All parents are competitive when it comes to their children. Even those that would like to think of themselves as laid back - deep down they know their child is best and they're just smiling smugly about it on the inside.

Hanging out with other parents, talk naturally tends to revolve around your children. As much as this is about bonding and making relatable conversation, there is often a friendly undertone of one-upmanship. From how early your child learned to sit up/crawl/walk/recite Shakespeare, to their incredibly varied diet and excellent nap regime.

Even bad behaviour gets competitive.

Have a moan about how your child just won't stop trying to climb the furniture, and it is inevitable that you friend's offspring recently scaled a bookcase all the way to the ceiling. If I had a penny for every time I heard the phrase, "Oh, she/he does that too", I would be able to afford to dress my daughter in Bon Point.

So why don't we stop suppressing our inner competitive parent and make things interesting?

Everyone remembers Top Trumps - the data rating card game that is so simple and so versatile.

I'm proposing we play Top Trumps with our children in order to find some fun amongst all the hard work and effort that goes into parenting. And, at the same time, take back the name that has now become synonymous with the brink of disaster, and remember trump can also mean something good. (Or flatulence).

So here is my Baby Top Trump card. What's your winning category?

How much of a hard time did the little critter give you on their grand entrance to the world?
I won't go into gory details but I'm scoring a high average for this one, I reckon.

::Sleep Deprivation
We all know parenting street cred is about how little sleep you have, not how much.
My daughter lets me down on this front, although she is terrible at napping, allowing me almost no time to myself, so I scraped back some points.

Here comes the science bit. The average age a child walks is between nine and 12 months. Start at 60 and add 10 for every month before nine months that your child learned to walk, or minus 10 for every month after 12. (For crawlers the average is seven to 10 months and sitters it's four to seven months.)

::Eating Habits
Does your baby just love to eat everything you do, or are you having to prepare separate plates of mush for every meal only to scrape it all off the walls afterwards?
Touch wood, I have a human dustbin on my hands right now, so I'm scoring big for this one.

Because you need some good, "Such A Little Terror" anecdotes for your repertoire and perfectly behaved children are just boring.
Mine can be pretty naughty, throws terrible tantrums and just loves defying the word no.

The only people who are going to score 100 in this category are those with a child whose nappy has never leaked, who has never covered themselves in food stains and dirt and never had a runny nose in public.
If you have this child - can we do swapsies?

Now I'm obviously not suggesting we directly compare our children's looks or loveability. We'd all have a Top Trump on our hands then, wouldn't we?
This category is for rating how good your child is in public, how well they perform their latest tricks in front of an audience and how nicely they play with other children.

The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Warning - Feeling Purple

I feel officially old.

This week I turned 35.

If I were to have another baby now I would be deemed a "geriatric pregnancy".

In market research terms I have left the 25-34 category and am now grouped with the 35-54s.

The newly elected President of the United States of America, Donald J Trump, has advised the world's male population that I have reached the age when they should, "check out" of a woman.

I am no longer one of the footloose and fancy-free, bright young things, who can do what they want, when they want. I am one of the sober, stressed-out, squeezed middle, who has responsibilities to consider and duties to carry out.

The other day in the supermarket I found myself standing behind a woman wearing striped knee-high socks, a bright patterned cardigan layered over a clashing patterned dress and a decorative hat. I could tell from behind that she was not a youngster, but when she turned her head I could see she was at least 60.

I was reminded of Jenny Joseph's poem Warning. "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple. With a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me."

I have always loved that poem. But I found myself thinking it won't be long before my daughter will reach an age at which she would be mortified if I took her to school wearing striped knee-high socks.

So I am old. But not old enough to wear purple and spend all my pension on brandy.

I can't have a midlife crisis and buy a motorbike.

I have to eat healthy cereal for breakfast, sitting up straight at the table, so as to set a good example to my daughter.

When I was a child I always wondered why my mother asked for such boring things for her birthday. A dishwasher, a sit-down iron, a Magimix. Why did she always ask for household gadgets and not treats for herself?

But now I realise these presents made her life easier and so they probably did bring her some small joy in that way.

And this year I asked for a Magimix for my birthday, to help me cook better and quicker meals.

Is this growing up? Is this what I have been waiting for all these years?

I spent my teens racing into adulthood and now I wish I had slowed down.

I want to watch breakfast telly in my pyjamas and eat chocolate biscuits in milk for breakfast and paint my toe nails and spend hours on the phone to my friends.

But I have to get up and get my daughter dressed and fed and try and remember to label the toys we play with so that she learns some words other than, "This."

I am one of the Grown Ups now, and I have to put in my years of being the sensible one before I can become a bright old thing.

Then, once I've paid my dues, I can go back to eating toast with butter three inches thick, going to the cinema in the middle of the day and spending all my money on eccentric outfits from charity shops.

But perhaps I ought to practice a little now. So that my daughter isn't too shocked, when I become old and start to wear purple.

The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback

Friday, 4 November 2016

Someone Like Me - Thank You

This week global singing sensation Adele confessed she gives herself one afternoon a week away from her child, just to put herself first.

She said she found it helped her combat her postnatal depression and that it makes her feel better than if she gave up all her time to parenting.

I'd like to say thank you to Adele. She doesn't speak much about her private life and it feels to good to hear someone as famous as her admit that being a parent is not all cuddles and cuteness.

I met an old school friend, who doesn't have children of her own, at a party recently and she asked me how I was finding, "Motherhood".

"I am enjoying it," I replied, "but it can be a bit more lonely than I expected."

"Lonely?!", she exclaimed. And immediately turned to another friend of ours, who also has children, and asked, "Do you find it lonely?", as though I had just said something quite unfathomable which she was unable to comprehend.

Not many people say it out loud when you ask them about parenthood. I suppose it makes sense that they would focus on the positives, but among the tiredness and the mess and the chaos, it can be one of those things that sneaks up on you and hits you hard.

At home all day with a person who demands everything from you, but can offer very little conversation in return... every now and then I have a day where I feel like the princess trapped in the tower and my daughter is the wicked witch.

So this week I am also saying thank you to my family. When Him Indoors had to go on a business trip to Bristol and said I could stay in the hotel too, they babysat.

When the waitress at the restaurant brought our bottle of fizz to the table she asked if it was a special occasion. "It's the first night we have left our daughter overnight," I told her. "She's one."

We didn't stay out that late but we did go on to a bar and posed for silly photos and ate cheesy chips.

I wasn't glad to be free of my daughter, but, because I knew she was safe and we would see her soon, I found I didn't really miss her that much.

For the first time I forgot the duty of being a parent. I thought of my daughter not as a dependent, but as a person who, actually, I quite enjoy spending time with.

And I realised that becoming a mother has not changed me. I am still myself, just with a parental responsibility.

In the morning He went off to his meeting and I had a lie in and a long shower.

I went for a walk around the harbour in the morning mist and just enjoyed being able to walk at my own pace and take notice of my surroundings.

I went to a cafe and drank hot coffee and ate breakfast slowly and read a whole chapter-and-a-half of the book I began when I was still pregnant.

When I passed people pushing buggies I smiled at them. I felt like I had a secret. I was a parent and nobody knew, because I am still a person too.

And when I saw my daughter later that morning and gave her a kiss I definitely appreciated her even more.

I may not have the luxury of being able to leave my daughter once a week. But every week I make time to write down my own thoughts, just to remind myself that I still have them.

My child means everything to me. But she is not everything in my life. And it doesn't make me any less of a parent to say that.

The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Bouncing Back

I have found myself feeling a little deflated of late. Literally.

One year of being milked has left my bust a lacklustre reminder of what it used to be.

It's not as though I was ever a particularly garish flaunter of my décolletage, but I had an ample bosom which, mostly thanks to finding the right bra, I had come to embrace.

We've had our ups and downs over the years.

When I was 12 and all the coolest girls in my class had been bought their first bra, I hated my pathetic gnat bites for not warranting anything more than a lacy crop top.

Then the buds sprouted and they were off, blossoming into pert little breasts that I didn't appreciate at the time, but I now remember fondly.  Just the right size to stand proudly, but alone and unsupported.

Oh, how I took for granted the luxury of being able to wear strapless and backless dresses with no supportive undergarments to pull them into place.

I inherited a generous cup size from my foremothers and if anything they soon became a little larger than I considered to be ideal.

I wasn't like poor Jemma G in my class, who was a double G and really into gymnastics, and had to wear two sports bras in a desperate bid to pin them down.

But as a teenager, when Calvin Klein underwear was my 'Must Have' and I spent all my waitressing wages on a designer bra, the largest size available didn't really contain them.

It took me until my early twenties to fully understand the value of a good over-shoulder boulder holder.

I happily used my student discount to buy cheap, brightly coloured, sometimes cartoon-print, bras from Topshop, not really aware of my true measurements and still under the misapprehension that the aim of a brassiere was to force them together, rather than lift and separate.

Then once I got my first real job and had a bit more to spend, along with a wiser head on my chest, I discovered expensive lingerie.

I visited Rigby & Peller, Royal Warrant holder and therefore, one assumes, official bra-makers to The Queen.

For my first fitting I was shown into a cushioned booth, given a silk dressing gown and told to strip down to the waist. A rather stern and matronly woman then came in and asked me to open the dressing gown.  There was none of this faffing about with generic measuring guides like you get at a certain well known high street store that has always let me down on the bra front. She just measured the circumference under my bust and then scrutinised my bosoms, before declaring me a 32F and returning with a selection of bras for me to choose.

For the first time ever I discovered what a properly fitting bra felt like... and it was quite magical. Like two gloved hands were holding my breasts comfortably in place.

From that day forth I was a convert, and while they didn't come cheap, Rigby & Peller became my official bra-makers too.

So imagine my dismay when I got pregnant and discovered they don't do maternity or nursing bras! At first I couldn't believe it. I mean, The Queen has had four children. But then she probably had a wet nurse.

I was back at the aforementioned high street store, trying on nursing bras, which have no underwire, and asking the assistant, "It doesn't really feel like it's giving me any support - is that's how it's supposed to feel?" To which they couldn't really give me an answer.

I had to assume that as you're going to be flapping them out all the time, a nursing bra doesn't really do much but hold breast pads in place in case of leakages.

And now I have fully weaned my child and none of my structurally-engineered undergarments fit me anymore. They just hang there limp and pathetic inside the cups.

Where once I had two plump melons, I now have two overripe donut peaches - flat, with rather wrinkled skin.

I have considered trying to reinstate them to their former glory. Plastic surgery is not an option I would really consider, so perhaps, if I just ate masses of high-fat food I might gain weight in the right place?

I may have to save up my pennies for another visit to Rigby & Peller and be fitted for a downsized structure to suit my new assets.

But most importantly, I just need to learn to accept my breasts for what they are. Not those of a pre-Raphaelite goddess,  but those of a thirty-something mother.

There - that felt good to get off my chest.
The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback

Friday, 21 October 2016

Why my baby NEEDS to be wrapped up in cotton wool

When my daughter was born you couldn't see there was anything different about her. Everything seemed present and correct and all in the right places.

But then I was the same when I came into the world.

So it was impossible to tell if I had passed on the cursèd gene.

However, one year into her life and it is has become clear that my daughter has inherited my affliction. Two left feet.

And now the evidence is staring me in the face whenever she smiles at me... with half her front tooth missing.

To a parent, their child will always look perfect. But they truly are closer to perfection at the start of their life. Their skin so smooth and unmarked. Their teeth so pearly white.
Fresh out of the box, they are so shiny and new and untarnished.

Looking down at the battleground that is my body all I can think is, "The poor little little mite doesn't stand a chance."

My knees are covered in the scars of trips and falls spanning three decades. My hips are littered with bruises from the numerous times I have bumped into doors, chairs and the pushchair over the past week. My hands are branded with burns from various mishaps with the oven or potato peeler.

My daughter's knees are always bruised now, the result of crawling doggedly over anything that gets in her way - from wooden blocks with sharp corners, to gravel and stones. Her forehead and nose often tell a tale of bumps into tables or tumbles over piles of toys.

As if it wasn't bad enough that her own mother is prone to clonking her head on the odd doorframe if we have to dash for a nappy-change, she is just as prone to clonking herself in the face with her cup or a book.

We've already been through the trauma of the A&E dash after I tripped over in the street while wearing her in the baby-carrier, and narrowly avoided crushing her beneath me. She escaped with a grazed face, while I bear fresh physical scars on my knees and raw emotional scars that prevented me ever using the sling again.

Together, we are a recipe for disaster. As Bath Time after a long, tiring, First Birthday weekend proved.

Having spent the day tidying up the house, playing with her new toys and eating leftover cake, we were both feeling shattered.

She didn't want her hair dried, but she did want to stand up against the side of the bath. So, for an easy life, I let her, while I hurried to dry her hair and get her pyjamas on so we could all go to bed.

But she really didn't want her hair dried, and she suddenly pulled her head away from me with all her might.

There was the most almighty bang, which echoed through the bathroom and shook me to the core.

I grabbed her and pulled her close to me, at the same time desperately trying to peer at her and work out where she was hurt.

Her face contorted in agony and that terrifying silence before her first shriek of pain seemed to last for an eternity.

I could see no blood. I could see no obvious bump.

Then there in her wide open mouth, on her outstretched tongue, I saw it - glinting like a gemstone, a bright white shard of tooth that appeared, to me, to be monumental in size. 

And then she started to howl.

Her cries didn't last that long. And within minutes she was all smiles again, tears still trickling down her cheeks.

The next morning I rushed her off to the dentist.

As I unfolded the sandwich bag in which I had kept the lost fragment of tooth, it suddenly seemed a lot smaller than I remembered.

"I'm not sure I can do anything with that," sighed the dentist.

The verdict is that the point is very sharp. But as my daughter went from smiling and waving, to screaming as soon as the dentist put her white gloves on (an irrational phobia in action), there is no point risking further injury by pinning her down and trying to file it off.

And eventually her milk tooth will fall out and she'll grow a new one.

The night it happened I lay awake, wracked with guilt and What Ifs and If Onlys.

But I've stopped beating myself up over it now. We've both got enough bumps and bruises already.

The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

One Year Ago...

A year ago today I ate toast with butter and jam for breakfast, and drank my first cup of caffeinated coffee in almost ten months. The toast was cold and a bit soggy, and the coffee was only instant and also pretty tepid, but I was so hungry and grateful for them that I didn't care.

I was lying in bed in a cramped, curtained cubicle, hooked up to a bleeping machine that I'm still not sure quite what was meant to be monitoring.

It was around 6am and I had been awake for well over 24 hours.

Blinking under the throbbing strip-lights I had just begun to realise I had a headache among all the other different parts of me that were hurting.

In a little Perspex box on wheels next to me lay a sleeping baby. My baby.

I knew I should try to get some rest but all I could do was stare.

After about an hour they unhooked me from the machine and a nurse told me I could have a shower while they kept my baby at the nurses' station.

That hot water felt so good, but the shower didn't feel quite the same as usual. When I closed my eyes and tipped my head back and let the water gush over me, I still wasn't able to completely let go of reality.

Part of me was still attached. Not to the physical world, but to another life, lying in that box out in the corridor.

Since that day I have never been able to find a feeling of total detachment again.

A year ago today I created a new life in another person.

When she is tired I can't feel rested. When she is upset I feel her pain. When she laughs I can't help smiling. And when we are apart I feel like a part of me has been left behind.

Over these twelve months I have occasionally felt lonely, but I haven't ever felt alone.

My thoughts are never fully mine, for a part of my mind is always with her.

I see dangers and mistakes all around her and I want to make her world a perfect place.

I see hopes and dreams dangling just out of reach and I want to lift her up so she can grasp them all.

For a while I wondered if I had lost a part of my old self, but I have come to realise I have gained a new side that has changed me forever.

A year ago today I learned how it feels to love your child - a love so powerful you would do anything to protect them, anything to make them happy, anything to put their life before your own.

A year ago today I stopped being the centre of my own universe.

A year ago today I became a mother. And I know I won't ever be able to completely let go.

Happy Birthday M.
The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback