Previous month:
August 2005
Next month:
October 2005


Nora for several months has been showing a LOT of interest in dinosaurs. First, there was a baby friendly, simple pictures with scratchy bits, then a book full of colour pictures of proper, named dinosaur models. What the hell is it about ddinosaurs? Is it because they look so different from all other animals except crocodiles? (Another children's favourite) Nora has no idea that they don't exist anymore. They are as real to her as lions, or bears. She knows the names of several. Wannanosaurus with the flat head; Triceratops with the collar; Ultrasaurus with the looooooong neck. (Can I just remind you at this point. Nora is 21 months old).

Then yesterday, the Natural History Museum.

I can't believe I wasn't there! Work got in the way (then I felt too sick all day to get much done anyway. Fat lot of bloody use). The second I got in the door, a small girl who had had a bit of a late sleep looked absolutely overjoyed.


-Did you see them?


-And what did they say?


Mackay prompts: "And what did big dinasaurs eat, Nora?

-Small dinosaurs!

Big, big smiles.

Apparently, when they went through to the life size Tyrannosaurus Rex she tensed for a second, as if she might get scared, then just, as Mackay put it, decided not to be.

Then they nipped in to see the mammal section for a few minutes and she ran from animal to animal telling Mackay what they all were. Giraffe! Monkey! Whaaaaaale! A big, big whale, Nora. "Yeah".

Mackay was exhausted but the happiest I've seen him in a while.

A necessary discussion

Given the last post. Also have amended this slightly to make my position a little clearer.

A long long time ago I had an abortion. I'm not going to talk about who the chap involved was, but I will say that the pregnancy happened bang on the start of what was a career defining moment in my life, and I'd only been seeing the other person for a very short time (it was trying out the pill and me feeling horrible on it, coming off it: my cycle got shot to pieces). I was in debt, we were renting, and for the first time, I was earning some wages, but I was not employed, I was only freelancing. If that child had come along then, then bang - everything would have screwed up. The job, the relationship. a single mother living in rented accomodation with her beginnings of an independent life in tatters. Dire awfulness all round. Neither of us were ready by a long, long chalk.

I felt a bit weird about it, but also practical. And remained in that state afterwards for several years. Having now had a child and have gone beyond the point in pregnancy with No.2 that the first child was terminated (7 weeks approx), I must force myself to reassess my feelings about abortion, as a mother. Because my position has changed.

A leading pro-choice group in the UK argues on its website several positions including:
-The foetus is not alive (in law) (update: ok, that's not what they're saying. they state that the foetus has no legal rights and is not seen as seperate from the mother. not the same thing, so either ignore the above point or take it as being a given opinion by pro-choicers which has oft been trotted out)
-Abortion does not cause lasting psychological damage

Both of these positions are frankly, bullshit. You don't *have* to have carried a child to know that that being is alive and kicking inside you, but I would say it certainly changes your perception of that idea. The 12 week scan sees a small but perfectly forming human being hop, skipping and jumping around inside its fleshy parcel as if it can't wait to stretch its limbs in the real world (not before it stretches its limbs inside you, natch - groan). ultimately, as the mother of a child, you are its custodian for its first 9 months of life. you do not give birth to an object, which miraculously at the point of expellation suddenly comes to life.

This does make me - an avowedly pro-choice person, question the date up until when an abortion is legal. I say question, but it's really obviously a personal point of view, and should in no way inform anyone else's opinion on the subject. At 24 weeks, the "quickening" took place a long time previously. That is, that small, live being, has been felt inside you kicking and squeaking its way around in an increasingly restricted living area. For me, 24 weeks seems awfully late. What reason would one have to be having an abortion that late, unless it were for the emergence of a severe abnormality, which would have killed the child soon after / at or before birth? I don't know the answer if you ask me what date do I think I should choose. My answer is that for me, personally, 24 weeks seems very late. Given my stated position though, and the current state of law, women *must* be allowed to have abortions up until that point.

As to the apparent lack of psychological damage, I won't harp on about it, but it does. If I were to question women who had had children since having an abortion, my hypothesis is that many of those women would suffer increased levels of anxiety / stress or guilt. I do. Granted, it's not shoot-myself-in-the-head time, but it's a level of background noise I could really have done without in my life. To suggest it is purely a medical procedure somewhat akin to pulling teeth is a farce.

So the question that was debated several months ago with friends is this - will the abortion law in this country be changed, and what changes will it undergo? given that we have a Christian / catholic in control of the country, when those 3D scan pictures first emerged, showing small persons kicking and punching away in the womb, a great deal of public disquiet was in evidence about the 24 weeks rule. Disquiet and concern which was echoed by the PM. Here's my argument, which is what informs my position*, and makes my unease about dates irrelevant. Whether or not individual politicians actively believe that abortion is wrong is not the question that will vex health ministers. There will be somewhere a statistical correlation between the number of women's deaths increasing, and the weeks that the abortion laws have gradually chopped off the allowed limit. What the govt will be afraid of is this question: how many deaths of women a year at the hands of backstreet abortionists carrying out late abortions, do they think that readers of the Daily Mail will put up with before there's a revolt. 200? 400? 1000? It has to be the case that for every week they shave from the limit end, more women will die. There will eventually be a "tipping point" (I apologise for the use of the phrase ;) at which suddenly, the number of young women being slaughtered annually because of the desire to be rid of unwanted pregnancies just doesn't really come over too well.

So the answer to the abortion debate does not come in either the position of being for choice, or against it. The answer comes in how stupid / brave / state your chosen adjective any particular govt is in further reducing the limit.

Please note that this discussion relates purely to the UK, and not the US, where the religious right holds such a powerful sway over central govt and the judiciary that I don't think the deaths of countless women every year would be of much interest to them.

To return to my own position. I'm not 'proud' of having had an abortion, by which I mean I don't wear that responsibility lightly. However, given that it was in the past, I was then childless and had no idea what having a child actually meant, it is entirely pointless to express extreme regret, and beat myself about the back daily with sticks. It happened. I can't avoid it. I don't. To an extent, I shrug my shoulders about it. There you go. If you ask me if I would have another? The answer is: not if it were at gunpoint.

I would strongly, *strongly* recommend John Irving's amazing novel, "Cider House Rules" at this point, if you haven't read it. It's an exceptional moral dialogue and explanation of his position on abortion, based on a mass of research, some of which fills one with dread and heartache. I haven't seen the film and don't really feel the need to, so whatever you do, don't substitute that for the novel. It's just an acutely brilliant piece of work.

*There is also a strong feminist political position which I take on the issue. Again, it is entirely seperate to my personal feelings on abortion from an entirely "me"-centric p.o.v. One must, MUST remove one's emotional reaction from the argument in order to see the political impliactions of changes in abortion law. Take for example, changing the law to make abortion illegal. a) I would argue that it is difficult and dangerous for any man to be involved in that final decision making, given that it will entail a political curtailment in human rights for women and b) Regardless of the deaths of these potential children, by removing the right to abort, the human rights of women are taken back 50, 100 years. To state that women must be forced to give birth, regardless of the circumstances, is a shocking curtailment of rights, which necessarily involves a level of physical discrimination which is entirely unsatisfactory in a civilsed society. Not only is it discriminatory from a sexual position (and therefore, a masculine power related reasoning point which cannot be countenanced), but it is blatantly discriminatory against the poor. Rich women can and will *always* find safe ways to abort, whether a law bannign such exists in this country or not. The poor will be forced either in to motherhood regardless of the circumstances, or potential death, as discussed. Such a position, again, I maintain, regardless of the rights of the unborn child *cannot be countenanced*.

That abortion by definition results in the death of an unborn child is a non-negotiable point. My argumernt is that regardless of one's own position on the viability of that "choice" on a personal level, we as a nation must learn to accept that unwanted foetuses will, and always will be removed, either illegally or not. Therefore given the above points, we cannot possibily allow ourselves to accept a position where abortion rights are curtailed.

If anything were to happen in this country to curtail the right to abortion, I would be on the streets, fighting. Bit of a long home made placard though. "Though I personally woudn't have one (anymore), I defend the rights of any woman to have an abortion". If things start going the way I think they will in the US, then I can forsee quite a lot of donations to charities enabling poor young women to take interesting international holidays to Canada.

Nuchal scans...

...aren't quite so nuchal when you're 14 weeks pregnant.

To the point where the lass who was doing the scan (we both remembered that she did me last time, and spent a long time chatting, which was cool) couldn't tell me whether No2's neck skin fold was within happy range or not so happy range.

So they gave us a bunch of leaflets about a possible blood test which checks for Down's, Spina Bifida and another physical disability so awful that the poor baby is born with massive holes in the head, and barely any brain. Needless to say, they expire within a couple of days at most. The child of course would be in no pain, but imagine the appalling horror of being in love with this small being, desperate for it to feel or sense the physical sensation of being held to its parents' skin and loved before it died, after having been held safe inside for so long. Awful.

Anyway. So the blood test has a success rate, in as much as - get this - 10% of those children who show as "Positive" (ie: with Down's) actually have it. So, ok. That makes 90% who don't. If you test positive then the recommendation is for amniosentesis. Now, I knew that success rates in the past for amnio were... well in to the majority but it was all a bit dodgy but I wasn't sure how much by.

I'm going to quote you one specific question from a leaflet they gave us about the blood tests:

"Is it safe to have an amniosentesis?
Amniosentesis is a procedure that has been offered for many years and over 25,000 are carried out in Britain each year. Its safety has been carefully studied and it is estimated that 1 in 100 women who have amniosentesis will have a miscarriage as a result of the procedure

So. They do not say it's safe, and they also do not spell out that 250 children are miscarried every year, of which 90% probably didn't have Down's syndrome. 225 perfectly healthy children are miscarried every year through this test.

Elsewhere in the exhaustive leaflet it suggests that in the age group 35-39, there is a 1 in 9 change of testing screen-positive for Down's.

Suppose I have this blood test. There's a relatively high chance compared to younger women (eg: it's 1 in 20 probability of testing positive in 30-34 year olds) that I will test positive. Within that positive result, there is a 90% chance that my child does not have Down's Syndrome, aand yet there is a 1/100 chance that it will die.

When she told us that the scan couldn't be done because the baby was too old, the scan-lady also reassuringly suggested that s/he looked well within the normal range to her. I'm not sure if that is really relevant, but my point is that it didn't even occur to me that I should have the blood test, since it would inevitably lead to amniosentesis, which everything in my body rejects, utterly. Mackay felt the need to be reassured and so we read everything up, which is fine. I mean if it was safe, why not have the test?

How could I possibly justify having that test given the risk? *225 kids* every year die needlessly, not even to mention the 25 children who might have led healthy, and happy lives. It would be supremely arrogant of me to somehow confidently assume that I would not be one of those 225 mothers, would you not say? Not only that, how could I justify taking away a small person's life simply because it would make our lives easier? If this child (unlikely as it is) is born with Down's Syndrome... So What? So we adapt, we change our lives - this person has every right to be here. As much as I do, Mackay does - any of us do. We had sex; we conceived. It has a bloody life. We have a responsibility. No scan will tell you how severe the Down's is, or indeed if Spina Bifida would be severe either. Do you terminate the life of a child simply because there's a possibility that they might be severely disabled, despite the fact that in all likelihood, they may lead rich and fulfilling lives, and indeed, not have the full range of available symptoms?

The answer to that question is an emphatic No. I have to point out though that it's an emphatic No from the Cait camp of ethics. I don't plant my ethics flag in anyone else's back yard and say you must be governed by my rules.

I wonder if my reaction would be as definite if this was the first time around. I don't know. No point in speculating, I suppose.

In any case, it is unlikely there's anything disabled with No.2, and even if there is then there's no point worrying about it is there. What will be will be. We will wish to spew our golden light of love all over the poor little bastard whether it has 4 legs, 6 heads or indeed, a trunk. So I'm just going to forget about it. Things may show up in the 20 week scan which may show up any disabilities clearer, apparently. as well as knowing what the little blighter's gender is.

(No.2, hey, by the way, I already love you quite alot. Even though you're not even causing me heartburn yet. xxx. )

A walk on the common

Nora has a trike. She's had it for nearly a year. It has a handy pole what you can push her about with. Trouble is, she rarely ever actually goes in it. Meantime, it sits in the back garden, being rained on given our lack of shed. She still doesn't really understand the whole pedals / movement deal, but it's difficult to see how she will without a combination of stirrups and seeing other children using them.

So today I decided to remedy the situation slightly by taking her in the trike for a walk on the common. She wasn't to keen at first but relaxed in to it and when we got on the common, what a plethora of autumnal riches we found:

-Acorns. I am now in possession of 3, which may or may not grow but I'm determined to give it a go (one of my first memories was receiving an acorn at nursery, in Slough's "Plant a tree in '73" campaign. That oak tree is growing here (well, you see where the bend is in the unnamed road just to the left of Warner Close - the blank space left of that is the local park. The oak is on the edge of the park at that bend. Unless it's been destroyed by cunting vandals, which in that area is always a possibility).

(Worth noting on that map by the way that Warner Close, where I lived from the age of 5, had a magnificent load of farm fields next door - along the bottom of the 'U' where the name of the road is, right along to where the M4 starts, and it pushed off right along to the right. There were cows, many wheat fields, and more importantly, loads of ancient farm equipment staked up including old tractors and astoundingly, an old Spitfire, which either crashed there or was dragged there. It was lying in the middle of a wrecked shed made out of asbestos sheets, but I try not to think about that bit. All of that *joyous* childhood wreckage has been replaced by cheap housing. Even worse for the poor bastards who live there, the sewage works is bang on the other side of the M4, and on hot summer days when the wind was wrong... well. Lets just say I'm glad I didn't live any nearer. We had that, a pig farm relatively locally and the Mars factory making sickly milk chocolate stink, so that was 3 winds out of a possible 4 covered).

Anyway. So the point is growing a tree, nurturing it in a pot and then handing it over or better still, going and secretly planting it on the common somewhere local kids won't destroy it sounds like a damned good idea to me.

Having done the acorns episode, we then found two feathers, lots of lovely leaves, and even mushrooms growing in one particularly damp patch of grass. And Nora sort of almost, nearly got the whole pedals deal.

What with that, *and* practicing walking along the pavement holding Mummy's hand, all in all a jam packed hour and a half.

Quick pregnancy update

I'm somewhat bemused by the whole thing second time around. Around week 13 in 2003, I was freaking out because no midwives could see me until week 18. And by freaking out, I'm saying Really Freakin' Out in a Graham Coxon stylee.

This time around, we're having the first scan in week 14 instead of week 12; my first hospital appointment is in week 19 and I haven't picked up a book or a diagram. I put this down to a pretty obvious point: been there, done that.

It is fascinating though that I'm barely mentioning the daily horrors which are making me want to force fruit and seeds down my gullet in the hope of forcing things to leave my intestinal system; I don't *seem* to have any blue evil lines behind my knees yet but no doubt I will but like, *shrug* - what are you going to do about it? It will pass, like all these things.

Amazing what confident knowledge will do, even if that confident knowledge points at an event truly magnificent, even glorious in its vision of pain, shock, astonishment and ultimately, complete amazement - the inevitable end to a healthy (cross fingers) pregnancy.

Makes me almost sound like I'm looking forward to it doesn't it - well, I am. I've realised more than ever, second time round. I love Nora more than I love my life , but being pregnant is ugh... tiresome, and I do not want to do it again, thank you.

No go Tanzania

I was just reminded looking at a friend's jab set he has to do to go to Uganda (ouch ouch OUCH) that I won't, despite my sterling efforts, be taking part in the winners jaunt in a work sponsored "please make money with your applications" competition.

If we make x amount we go to Bognor Regis (or something); if we make Z amount, it's a Safari to Tanzania.

Which when it first started appearing on the radar I laughed my cynical head off at and thought,how crass, etc. Well it *is* crass obviously but as the months have worn on, the thought of going to Africa *for free* even with a bunch of work people instead of the beloved (who has a long love affair with the whole continent) was pretty damn cool. Here are the problems:

1) The competition ends at the end of the year
2) I'll be... er... 27 weeks pregnant at the end of December.

Now. In theory, I can travel on planes after 30 weeks with a Docs letter. However, I will at that stage also be radiating enough heat to warm a small village and will if Nora was anything to go by, have started to resemble a bungalow. Something tells me that a 6-10 hour flight *without the help of travel aspirins* isn't really on the cards, even if the flights were leaving on January 1st.

Now that we're this late in the year, you know what I say to my cynical, sneering self? Piss off, you glass-half-empty git, I WANNA GO TO TANZANIA. Waaaaah!

I wonder if they'll allow me to postpone my trip and have it exactly 1 year later, on my own? I'm sure we can arrange childcare?

By the way, does the word "Tanzania" when it's written down look like it should be pronounced Tanzaynia instead of Tanzaneea? Like Albania?

Ok... back to work. Earn those € foreveryone else to go onthe trip and NOT YOU. Grrrr.


We were standing, bathed in blue light in front of the giant sized London Aquarium window, Nora saying "Hello sharks!"

Two women were sitting on a ledge and one of them said "Cait!". It took me a while to work out how I knew this woman but she was a designer at Virgin Net (horendously, I still can't rmember her name). she went to work with a friend, Gavin, for a while then went to UpMyStreet apparently (I thought only Maggie went there?). But anyway, she's due in December.

And she said "I didn't see you, we kept getting distracted by how cuet your little girl is".

She was very cute in the aquarium. She now knows all about sharks, lobsters, clams and jellyfish. All fish however remain "fish" rather than having any differentiation. We watched an eel slip-sliding out of a tube and in to another, silently somehow turning around 180 degrees inside it so the top of his formidable looking jaws could be seen reaching from the shadows within.

And we saw piranhas which of course are ultimately rather boring looking, so the green fronds of Amazonian pond weed were far more interesting.

As are sea snails.

Fish! A success!


Grump. Been sick for no reason at all I can fathom other than exhaustion. Bloody morning sickness *still* hanging around too - had to pour some milk down the drain yesterday that had become yoghurty and heaved heavily but *nothing came*, then later brushing my teeth, heaved again - why? Because my mouth was too full of toothpaste!

Plus I now can't sleep on my stomach comfortably which means I now can't sleep. In the last week or so, bump has become definable pregnancy bump as opposed to "Has Cait put on a bit of weight again?". Both of the above beeing undoubtedly true.



On the floor

I'm not really sure if the word "Sorry" is either understood or having any effect. In the last 2 to 3 days, Nora has really, and I mean *really* taken to throwing things on the floor. Luckily we seem to have moved on from the food phase, but books are the major victims, despite their elevated status as preferred leisure activity.

You can't simply say "No", so what does it become: Nora, that's the kind of thing a bad baby would do. Is Nora a bad baby? No, Nora is not a bad baby is she, so can you pick up that book please and give it to Mummy?

No real point saying "...and say sorry" during that conversation, since she was saying the word continuously, the hope it would get me off her back. Like I say, I don't think she really knows what it means, or she'd show a marked bit more reluctance to say it, I'd hazard a guess.


Meanwhile joy of joys, the beginning of a cold has appeared this morning. Damn.

Update to New Orleans 3

Hello all New Orleans related visitors.

As you'll see, this diary is beginning to revert to its normal intention - to relate to various family members and friends the trials / tribulations and genius moments of being a mother to a nutty 21 month old baby. All very boring, I'm sure you'll agree. However, just to let you know that i've reposted, again thanks to Josh who passed it on, a reply that Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky have made to the various queries / crits and supporting stuff they've received regarding their original article. It's at the bottom of the original. I thought I'd post it in that piece since that, presumably, is the one that people have been passing around.

Meanwhile, please enjoy thhe latest adventures in toddlerdom.