A bumpy ride for the bump and I.

I feel like an old car that is falling apart bit by bit while the passengers sit unharmed inside. I’ve not been well at all for the last month or so, hence the radio silence. At first it was a bug that quite literally left me unable to stand or stay awake for a good couple of weeks. I just slept. Once the bug began to subside there was no rest. I feel as if I have lived in and out of St. Mary’s hospital for the last couple of weeks having endless tests and scans. It started when the glucose count in my urine got high. That meant I had to have another Glucose Tolerance Test, where you have to fast, have a blood test, drink a high glucose drink and then have another blood test. The first time I’d had it I passed out in the waiting room and I was very anxious about having it done again. This time I was out cold by the first blood test! I was unconscious long enough to have a little dream about being on a Carribbean beach with the lady taking my blood! I spent that morning in a zombie like state feeling utterly wretched being wheeled around in a wheelchair. I’ve been lucky in that my wonderful independent midwife Jo has been with me every step of the way. She wheeled me around and carried my bag and coat and sponged me down to bring me round when I passed out. The morning just got worse. As I lay on a hard examination couch feeling barely conscious I heard the obstetrician say that my most recent blood test results showed that the obstetric cholestasis had returned. It’s the liver condition I had with Jessy and the reason I had an induction and a hospital birth last time. I thought I’d escaped, but it was back. I was sent off for a liver scan, meaning I had to wait even longer until I could finally eat which I knew would make me feel better. My induction date was booked after the scan.

A couple of days later we had more bad news – the GTT test showed that I do have gestational diabetes. I knew that was the most likely outcome so I’d been pro active and researched what I should be eating and changed my diet which made me feel slightly better. I was shown how to monitor my blood sugars with finger prick tests which have to be done 7 times a day. My body seems very reluctant to give up the red stuff though and it takes me up to 4 goes each time to get a good drop which means I have very sore fingers! Despite my best attempts the blood sugars weren’t staying within the desired levels. Usually the next step is medication, but they were concerned the medication might interact badly with my liver problems so I was put on insulin. Injecting the insulin is nowhere near as unpleasant as the finger prick tests, but I do feel rather like a human pin cushion at the moment! My life seems to revolve around tests, medication and injections at the moment!

My new life!

My new life!

The scariest moment was the middle of last week when one of my liver counts went so high there was a bit of a panic. The normal range for ALTs is 5-40 and mine went up to 669!! Nobody seems to know why. They told me to come into the hospital and that I probably wouldn’t go home and they’d induce the baby early. Luckily my lovely doula Lisa had come to see me that morning and she helped with the sudden flurry of organising childcare, pet care, packing a hospital bag and alerting everyone who needed to know. Jessy was already at Dennis’s as I had a hospital appointment scheduled, so we went round there on the way so I could explain what was happening to him. It was all quite overhelming for him and his eyes filled with tears as I told him the baby would probably be here within a day or so. He’s coped so bravely with me being in and out of hospital, finding out about the various complications, but I know it’s been difficult for him. After all of the chaos, I ended up just being put on a monitor for a while which showed the baby was fine and they sent me home!

It probably isn’t surprising that I haven’t thought a great deal about Home Education over the past few weeks! Jessy has been away so much and we’ve really missed each other. Luckily though, through a combination of taxis and good friends he’s carried on doing all his usual activities. I know he’s done lots at Dennis and Phoebe’s house too. He’s learned to knit and has been enjoying detailed Role Playing Games with Phoebe and the other kids where they invent their own character profiles and deal with various situations. He’s also been going swimming which I haven’t done with him for a while. When he has been at home we’ve stuck to quieter activities. He’s continued looking after Bellatrix the hedgehog, although she’s definitely more grumpy since he’s been away and she hasn’t been out everyday.

Miss Huffy Pants as we often call her!

Miss Huffy Pants as we often call her!

I used to love playing Clock Patience as a child and I’ve got Jessy into it too. He hasn’t had one that’s worked out yet but he was a maddening one card away once!

Clock patience

Clock patience

It’s Jessy’s birthday tomorrow, but I planned his party a week early this year just in case I did have to go in to be induced which turned out to be for the best. In some ways it was an added thing to worry about, but in other ways the creating of Pass the Parcel and Treasure hunts and stuffing the pinata was a welcome distraction. I really wanted him to have his celebration in the midst of so much uncertainty and difficulty. The party was a big success with over 20 sugar filled children bouncing around – quite literally on the bouncy castle. My wonderful friends helped so much that they actually left the house tidier than it had been before the party which is no mean feat!

Bouncy castle fun

Bouncy castle fun

Cake!

Cake!

Jessy got some lovely presents and spent the evening building one of them – a lego eagle:

Lego Eagle

Lego Eagle

Tomorrow, for his actual 9th birthday he wants to have a couple of friends and his cousin round to play on his new X-box which he has been absolutely bursting to get his hands on! After that I will have Thursday and Friday to get my head around the fact that I’m going in for induction on Friday evening. It really has been a complete whirlwind. My head is reeling and try as I might I’m still finding it hard to feel anything other than bitterly disappointed that the natural Home Birth I’d planned has turned into a high risk hospital induction. I know that if I dig down deep though I do have the power to make this birth experience positive and it is very exciting that the baby will be here so soon. Please keep me in your thoughts on Friday evening and Saturday. I very much believe in the power of positive thought and don’t believe that I can have enough of it!

To end on something that makes me smile, here’s a photo of Jessy the other night when he decided to go to sleep in my Santa sleepsuit!

Jessy in my sleep suit!

Jessy in my sleep suit!

Harry Potter Housewarming and 8th Birthday Party.

Jessy is like me. When he gets into something he really gets into it and it takes over his whole life. At the moment he’s into Harry Potter. Naturally, this had to be the theme for his upcoming 8th birthday party. Usually a ‘theme’ involves some paper plates and cups with the relevant pictures on and a home-made piñata. So, I typed ‘Harry Potter party supplies’ into Google and it all snowballed from there. I found amazing photos of houses transformed into Hogwarts. Broomsticks, snitches, potions and all sorts. I tried to look away and just buy some plates with a picture of Harry Potter on. I really did. The seed had been sown though.

One lazy morning Jessy and I started chatting about ideas. We could have a wand shop! And house banners, and the Hogwarts Express! I ordered some House banners from America because Jessy loved them so much. Jessy set to work whittling wands at Wood School. While he was whittling, I wandered the charity shops of Manchester finding interesting looking bottles, and cauldron-esque vases. I emptied the local discount store of little glass jars which inspired me to create Honeydukes sweet shop. It just seemed to keep on growing! We found some instructions for making wands out of paper and paint, and they turned out so well I made lots more. We didn’t have a dining table for days and I’m not sure we ate very well and I burned a blister on my hand, but the wands were lovely!

Not only did the party grow in terms of ideas, but also numbers. We decided to make it our housewarming party as well as Jessy’s birthday which meant I invited people from far and wide and they came! Some things are better said with pictures than words, so here is the story of our Harry Potter party from wistful beginning to exhausted happy end.

Students arrived into Diagon Alley where first years could acquire a wand from Ollivander’s Wand Shop. They do say that the wand chooses the wizard, and when the correct wand was chosen a loud crackling was heard when the young witch or wizard tried pointing it. (The trick here was bubble wrap covered with a black t-shirt which I twisted as they turned away and pointed the wand!) Students were then given their ticket for the Hogwarts Express and told to find Platform 9 and 3/4.

A selection of the paper wands we made.

A selection of the paper wands we made.

Ollivander's Wand Shop

Ollivander’s Wand Shop

Hogwarts Express Ticket

After a little encouragement to ‘take it at a run’ when heading straight through the wall to the platform, they emerged onto Platform 9 3/4 to discover the Hogwarts Express waiting for them.

Where is Platform 9 and 3/4?

Where is Platform 9 and 3/4?

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As it was a party, the chocolate frogs on the train were given out free!

Chocolate frogs! We had a platter piled 3 layers high in the end!

Chocolate frogs! We had a platter piled 3 layers high in the end!

After the journey the students arrived at Hogwarts and were taken through to the Great Hall for the feast! The ceiling of the Great Hall was, of course, bewitched to look like the night sky and the Hogwarts banner hung proudly.

The bewitched ceiling and my new funky chandleier!

The bewitched ceiling and my new funky chandleier!

Ready for a feast!

Ready for a feast!

Ferrero Rocher Snitch

Ferrero Rocher Snitch

Welcome to Hogwarts!

Welcome to Hogwarts!

The students then needed to be sorted into Houses. The Sorting Ceremony was conducted in the common room by Professor McGonagall. They had to get past the Fat Lady to enter! Once inside they found a tempting array of potions ingredients just out of reach! These were intended for decoration only. They were some of the first things we made when preparing for the party, along with the labels. Jessy insisted on Unicorn Blood! It’s difficult to see in the picture, but we had a Sorting Hat, a tall chair, and a small black bag containing house badges that students could pick without looking. I knew more people would want to be in Gryffindor than any other house so I had many more Gryffindor badges. We still had a fair number of Ravenclaws, Slytherins and Hufflepuffs though.

The Fat Lady

The Fat Lady

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Potions

Potions

Home made potions ingredients

Home made potions ingredients

The Sorting Ceremony

The Sorting Ceremony

We then played a game well known in the Muggle world – Pass the Parcel. The contents were suited to wizards and witches with every layer housing a snake or lizard. The centre of our pass the parcels are always for sharing and as a nod to Slytherin house there were large tubs of yellow belly jelly snakes which they held up triumphantly before scoffing them! Being model students they even shared with the teachers.

Slytherin' snakes!

Slytherin’ snakes!

Everybody was very excited about the next event – Flying Lessons! They were held in the Tall Tower (the attic for Muggles) by two Witch teachers. It was a chaotic class with so many brooms and so many new flyers! The teachers handled it admirably!

First Flying Lesson!

First Flying Lesson!

A student takes flying advice from the teacher.

A student takes flying advice from the teacher.

After such a physical lesson it was time for the students to settle down and concentrate. Charms Class was sensibly held in the kitchen where there is no carpet. Professor McAlister (my good self!) explained that we would be making a confidence potion by adding a charm spell to a clear drink. She explained the importance of keeping the potion cold and taught them the spell. (I had intended to look up the Latin for confidence but didn’t get time so I made it up on the spot!) “Confidus Instatus!” I said, flicking my wand, and the class followed. The students then chose from cream soda, lemonade or water and were each handed a cup of ice. They were told to cast their spell over the cup and then pour their drink over the ice. Miraculously all the potions turned different colours before their eyes! An added sprinkle of ‘pure gold dust’ (edible gold glitter in golden sugar) and their potions were complete. As one 8 year old boy said with a look of awe: “It isn’t real – but it works!”

Confidus Instatus!

Confidus Instatus!

All the charms worked!

All the charms worked! (click on the photo for a larger version and you can see the different coloured drinks.)

After Charms Class I was pestered constantly about when they were going to the sweet shop! Ravenclaw dormitory had been kept out of bounds for good reason! Eventually it was time to gather in the Hall to be escorted to Honeydukes Confections. All the students had been given a little spending pouch containing 14 gold coins.

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Banners

Eagerly clutching their spending pouches, the students were escorted upstairs to Honeydukes Confections. I had priced everything carefully so that everyone could buy one of everything. I pre-prepared several bags and made an exciting offer of a free spooky skull with any pre-prepared bag. Most students went for the deal but a few chose their own and some wanted to keep a few coins to take home so they bought fewer sweets. There was also a challenge to the brave! Having recently been to Harry Potter Studios, I had acquired some genuine Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and extracted the most disgusting flavours to put on offer.

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Honeydukes Confections

Handing out the special offer bags

Handing out the special offer bags

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Some students chose their own.

A challenge to the brave

A challenge to the brave

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Super sour exploding Fizz Bombs!

Super sour exploding Fizz Bombs! Or was it the Vomit flavoured bean?

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Poor Moaning Myrtle missed out on all the fun as usual and continued haunting the downstairs toilet.

Moaning Myrtle

Moaning Myrtle

In between all the activities, the students practiced their levitation skills on the bouncy castle which had been provided as compensation for outdoor Quidditch being disallowed. There were a couple of incidences of Trolls on the bouncy castle, but the students pooled their magical knowledge and handled the situation brilliantly!

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Meanwhile, my friend Charlotte, who looked every bit the part of a Hogwarts teacher, had transformed the living room into a school photograph studio! She took some amazing photographs, here are just a few:

Jessy&Dutch

Rosie

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The school day was almost at an end. It was just time to celebrate the birthday student’s big day with some cake. We’ve learned over the years that whilst birthday cakes look pretty, Jessy doesn’t actually like them. He does, however, love the toffee, lemon and carrot cakes form M&S so that is what we get. A few snitches and a couple of scars kept them on theme.

Snitch and Scar cakes

Snitch and Scar cakes

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Candle blowing

After that the school day was officially over and people gradually began to weave their way back into the Muggle world. We all had such a wonderful time. This party truly made me understand the purpose of a housewarming party. My house really did feel thoroughly warmed. I have so many memories of fun and laughter and children’s excited happy sugar-filled faces. I’ve never done a party like this before, and perhaps I never will again, but it’s been a great experience from start to finish.