Another look – Sonny Jim when I was 28 weeks pregnant
When did you first see your baby?
At the 12-week scan? When they were born?
I first saw Sonny Jim before he was even a baby. Before I was even pregnant.
He was a blastocyst – an embryo of about 200 cells. And it was six days after I’d been sedated to have my eggs collected. Doctors had managed to get 14. Of which 11 survived to the next day. By day five we were left with six still growing in a petri dish at Barts Hospital. Two of them were deemed “A grade.” One of them was Sonny Jim.
When I went back to have the “best looking” of blastocysts implanted – two years ago this month – the specialist spun a screen round to face me. See all that blackness she asked, that’s your uterus. Now see that tiny white speck? That’s the embryo.
My little Speckles. Continue reading
From printmaking and classic cars to afternoon tea and outdoor cinema, here’s my pick of the best events in Essex this July.
Castaway… Northey Island
1 THE FLING FESTIVAL
Saturday, July 1. 12pm-11pm. £27.50
Hylands House, Hylands Park, London Road, Chelmsford
The annual Fling Festival is one of Essex’s top events exclusively for adults. The festival includes music, cabaret, theatre, comedy, immersive crafts, a silent disco, a fire garden, a punk poet, bars and plenty of food! This year the afternoon-into-night event, in the fabulous Hylands House and Estate surrounds, promises to be bigger and bolder than ever before.
For more information: www.flingfestival.com Continue reading
Dream job: Phil Gallagher as Mister Maker
Recognise this fella?
The mummies and daddies among you probably will.
Phil Gallagher has been on our children’s TV screens for almost 20 years. The past decade has seen him bringing arts and crafts to life, in his wonky waistcoat and bowtie, as CBeebies’ Mister Maker.
And Mister Maker – plus the Shapes – will be at the Towngate on Sunday, as part of a 44-theatre tour.
But as I chat to ever-enthusiastic presenter at his home in Kent, I have to ask, just where does Phil end and Mister Maker start? Continue reading
Growing up happy and healthy: And that’s all that matters
This time a year ago I finally admitted defeat. I stopped expressing for Sonny Jim.
He was three months old and had been pump-fed from birth – after refusing to breastfeed.
Looking back, I should have stopped sooner.
Before his birth I had been adamant I was going to breastfeed. I was prepared for it to be painful, for cracked nipples, for leaking boobs, to deal with any tuts in public.
I was prepared for everything…except a baby that refused to be breastfed.
My little boy was a reluctant feeder. He mastered latching on, but then totally refused to do anything. Continue reading
Father’s Day fun: Playing through the puking
What did Sonny Jim get his dada for Father’s Day? Norovirus. That’s what.
After having spent two nights puking, the little pickle (now thankfully on the mend) thought it only fair to share with his daddy – and me!
So, it hasn’t quite been the Father’s Day I wanted for Gary, though it’s probably not one he’ll forget and am sure he will remind Sonny Jim of when he’s bigger.
But anyway. Here’s what I wrote before projectile vomit hit my little family. And it’s even more true now. There’s nothing that will make you feel more like a daddy than cleaning sick off the cot. And the sofa. And the floor. While your puke-covered missus gives your child his third bath of the night. It’s not glam. It’s not fun. But it is love. Continue reading
What is your earliest memory?
When we lived in Basildon, sitting in the laundry bucket which was filled with water, which was our take on a swimming pool, in the back garden. I must have been about two or something.
Funnily enough when my parents were thinking about their wills and we were asked what we wanted from the home, the one thing that I said was I want the laundry bucket.
I still have it indoors, this big yellow laundry bucket.
Where is your favourite place in Essex, and why?
It’s going to be Basildon because it’s where I grew and and because it’s where all my hopeful years were, those times where anything is possible. Continue reading
Papas of the past: How Father’s Day cards used to look
Archive analysis of Father’s Day cards by Clintons ahead of Sunday has shown how dads’ roles have shifted in the past 50 years.
Depictions of dads as aloof, pipe-smoking, newspaper-reading, besuited men “enthroned” by the fireplace have disappeared from all cards (with the exception of parody cards!) and have been replaced by casually-dressed, soft-in-the-middle, sofa-dwelling figures, often likened to Darth Vader.
Clintons looked at thousands of depictions of dads on Father’s Day cards since the Fifties and found:
• Dads appear to have put on 10-15 kilos
• Dads have dressed down
• Dads’ leisure time preferences have shifted from reading the paper in slippers to barbecuing or watching the football on the sofa with a drink
• Dads have a much stronger emotional connection with their kids are often the subject of affectionate jokes Continue reading