4 December 2015


You'd have loved my Gran.  Everybody did.  She was tall, elegant, extremely sociable and as mad as a box of frogs.  She used to embarrass the living daylights out of me when I was a child but I adored her and, as I got older, I delighted in her eccentric ways.  She was diagnosed with cancer in December 1998 and died shortly after.  My Grandpa, her husband, died exactly one week later.  She was the love of his life.  It wasn't reciprocated.  Gran would have been livid; I rather think she was looking forward to a high old time up in Heaven without having him cramping her style!

Also in December 1998, after a 25 hour labour and a lungful of gas and air, I gave birth to my son.  My perfect 7lbs 1oz baby boy.  Only he wasn't quite perfect.  When he was ten days old, I called the emergency doctor out to him.  My brand new mothers' instinct just knew there was something very wrong.  He was vomiting after every feed.  The doctor didn't seem to think there was a problem and left.

Over the next week or so, he continued to be very sick.  At three weeks old, he weighed less than 6lbs.  D and I plagued the health visitor and doctor every single day with our worries and finally, out of sheer desperation, I marched into the doctor's surgery and emptied a carrier bag full of sick-sodden clothes out on to his desk.  It had the desired effect and, cutting a long and traumatic story short, my increasingly frail baby was admitted to hospital where he underwent an emergency operation to correct a pyloric stenosis.  Pyloric stenosis is when the sphincter (or muscle) at the bottom of the stomach overdevelops and prevents food passing through; it acts almost like a trampoline and forcibly projects anything straight back out.  Thankfully it is a condition that is 100% correctable, provided it is caught in time.  Which it was.  Eventually.

The photograph above is my most precious in the world.  It was taken before digital cameras and I have no other copies.  I keep it in my bedside drawer.  My son looks so tiny and fragile.  I don't look at it very often but when I do, it makes my heart ache a little.

My baby turned 17 on Wednesday.  He now towers above me and is in rude health.  The only physical reminder of his difficult start is a scar on his tummy.  He has a certain reserve which must be from D's side of the family.  He loathes any sort of attention or confrontation and would have been mortified by some of my Gran's eccentricities!  He can solve the most mind-boggling of quadratic equations in seconds but hasn't a clue where the kettle is!  He is fiercely loyal and, provided nobody is looking, heart-meltingly affectionate.  He can also eat for England.  Seriously, I have no idea where he puts it all.  When he is eating something particularly delicious, he closes his eyes.  This is something he has done since he was a little boy and it's always a moment that overwhelms me with love.

On Tuesday we completed on the sale of our house.  D and I are now mortgage-free and tenants in the home we have owned for fourteen years.  It's a very strange feeling.  Liberating.  I think I must have held my breath for most of November.  It was only yesterday that my shoulders finally dropped and I felt a wave of relief wash over me.  In fact, do you know what I did?  I went out and bought myself a big bunch of flowers to celebrate.  So there!  ;-)

Next year heralds quite a few changes for us and that's good.  Bring it on.

I'm not a great one for raking over the past in too much detail.  I don't think it achieves anything.  It is what it is and we can't change it.  No, I'm definitely an onwards and upwards, all-about-tomorrow kind of girl.  That said, I've been feeling quite reflective over the last couple of weeks.  Not maudlin, just reflective.  A lot of the most difficult times of my life have occurred around Christmas, so the beginning of December affects me like this most years.

Sadly, our extended family, like a lot of people's, is badly fractured in places so this time of year can be a little complicated and intense.  However, we've decided to take the 'opt out' option this year and have booked a cottage in Cornwall for the festive week.  I cannot wait!

Anyway, it's my birthday in a couple of days.  D and I are going to London and I'm promised I can have a verrrry leisurely browse around and then select a pressie from here.  I'm so excited!  I'm hoping to take my camera so you'll be able to vicariously enjoy it too.

When my birthday is over, and only then, will we start doing the Christmas thing in earnest.



  1. I never write comments usually but sharing your story of your lovely son and how with a mothers intstinct and courage he was at last helped, and has now grown into a fine young man.Enjoy your birthday and Christmas with your loved ones.

  2. What a gorgeous photo. Thank goodness you kept on at them until they diagnosed his problem. He sounds like an incredible young man now. I hope you have a lovely birthday. I guessed which shop it was before I clicked the link, I have a dream to go there one day too! CJ xx

  3. Thank-you for sharing your story. We all have things it seems. Sometimes it is just nice to know you are not alone. God bless you and your family. Enjoy your cottage time. <3

  4. I would have loved a Gran like yours. Even though mine introduced me into the world of knitting and crochet, she was a rather austere person, not very warm and affectionate. She died the day after my youngest was born – kind of waited till she knew all was fine. So she definitely had a soft heart somewhere, but it was buried deep inside of her. It makes me sad I never had a chance to get to know this real, hidden person. Do have a whale of a time in London and in Cornwall as well!

  5. Oh Heather thank you for sharing your story with us. I always read your blog and find it really touching. Your son sounds like a lovely young man, you must be very proud of him. I am going through a bad patch at the moment, and reading your blog always cheers me up. I wish you and your family peace, health and happiness for 2016 xxx

  6. A wonderful post! Thank you
    Have a fab time in London and a lovely birthday. . And do enjoy your Christmas holiday! Pat x

  7. A wonderful post! Thank you
    Have a fab time in London and a lovely birthday. . And do enjoy your Christmas holiday! Pat x

  8. Life is such a roller-coaster sometimes! Your Gran sounds like a hoot! Hope you have a very Happy Birthday and a fabulous Christmas in Cornwall! x

  9. What a beautiful story about Gran and son. That picture of you and your boy sure is precious. I understand your heartache. I have a picture like that as well. The one tat makes my heart ache. Of love and relief that things worked out fine.
    Enjoy your London trip and happy birthday in advance! I wish you all a Merry Christmas cause we are also heading off for the holidays. To a beach and exotic palm trees in a very hot Caribbean... It is an opportunity and we couldn't really say no... Although for me Christmas is holy and very much tradition. The time of the year when I let my Swedish self rake over in full swing.
    Take care my lovely. And yes, take pics from that shop. Looks divine.

  10. I hope that perhaps the change in circumstances will mean that in future Decembers will bring reminders of good things in your life, a new start and new memories perhaps. Enjoy your opt out Christmas and try not to think too much! Love and hugs to you! xx

  11. I hope the two of you have a super time away.
    Precious memories of a stressful start to your parenting journey. Your young man must make you extra proud.
    Youngest had a nasty bout of brochiolitis that I could not get anybody to take seriously when he was 6 months old. Finally I took him to A and E in desperation. They put him on oxygen and he slept for 24 hours solid. he must have been totally exhausted by the effort to breath bless him.
    Parenting is a roller coaster sometimes, but we wouldn't be without them would we.
    Happy Birthday in advance.
    Jacquie x

  12. Your boy and my girl were born a day apart. I cannot imagine how difficult that start must have been, but that picture is beautiful. Sometimes it feels like yesterday that I was holding that tiny girl feeling overwhelmed with fear and love.
    I am in a new phase of life, no longer working five days after almost thirty years has been unexpectedly wonderful. I am definitely looking forward to next year and look forward to hearing your adventures xx

  13. Thank goodness for your persistence Heather! Your Gran sounds fab, and it sounds like you've got some interesting things planned too. I hope it all means good things for you. Have a wonderful Christmas and a great get away too. Look forward to seeing you in the New Year lovely!

    S x

  14. I'd love to hear more about your grandmother's eccentricities - what did she do to make you cringe so? It sounds hilarious reading (sorry!)

  15. What a moving post. My oldest son, who is now 24, had the same condition as your son. He didn't have an operation but projectile vomited all day everyday until he was one years old. Not good for him or anyone around him! He is also very clever but wouldn't know where the chopping board etc is. Again another similarity! And just like you, his mum loves Loop �� X

  16. What a beautiful post Heather, brought a tear to my eye. A mother always knows when something isn't right with their children! Xxx


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