I was not looking forward to yesterday afternoon/early evening.  E received an invitation to her classmate’s birthday party last week and as soon as I saw the timing of it (5pm – 7pm) I knew it was going to be tough.  M was away, so there was no chance of dropping her off and getting the others to bed at a reasonable time.  We all had to stay.  The location?  A fast-food joint.  Oh joy.

Well, the children thought it was great (to begin with, at least).  A sound-proofed soft play area for the kiddies and loud music and attempted conversation for the parents.  (Who’s got the better deal?!)  After a while, it began to dawn on them that it’s sound-proofed and the adults aren’t actually watching…  Of course, it dawned on the boisterous boys before my younger daughter realised, but with a ball-dealt bruise just below her eye (hang on, I thought it was soft play?), she got a little upset.  Poor girl, she wanted to tell the boys off for playing too roughly and was quite aggrieved that they wouldn’t listen.  Then she was quite confident that I could tell them off instead.  I hate to disappoint such trust in me to right the world’s wrongs, but I told her it wasn’t my place.  Was I unreasonable?  I didn’t think I really had a case to report it to the birthday girl’s parents, given that R was riding on the back of her older sister’s invitation.

Well, that was the party, really.  Time passed.  Children emerged for water and popcorn (there were also nougat-like sweets, but I cast doubt on the child-appeal of the taste and they were not touched!  I’m not sure if it was my suggestion of the look of them) and went back for more energetic play.  R appeared with a nose bleed, sat with a tissue and popcorn, and went back.  G noticed my camera and had fun taking lots of photos so that the battery went dead just after the cake and singing (shame, as I was just about to take a photo of birthday girl wandering around with sharp knife in hand – it was removed by a more responsible mother as I put my camera away).

And time passed…

At half past six, one girl had to leave.  Others mentioned hunger to me, very quietly.

At ten to seven, food appeared.  Chicken nuggets, chips, bread rolls. And the cake, of course.  Plenty of food – it’s the thing here to provide more than can possibly be eaten.  It’s a sign of generosity, but it does lead to overeating and a lot of waste.  I shared a kids’ meal out between R and G, only to be thwarted by our hosts who distributed extra portions of chips to each child!

And at five past seven, the face painting started.  Cue fights and tantrums about the unfairness of a mean mum who wouldn’t let her children have their faces painted at the end of a party so that they could go home in the dark and have it cleaned off straight away at home.  Washable paints not even common here, so plenty of good ol’ scrubbing.  To give them their due, they settled down fairly quickly once in the car, munched on the leftovers of the food and started thinking about E’s party next month.

And L?  She went to sleep very quickly once we were in the car, no doubt dreaming of friendly scarf-adorned faces, hennaed hands and Coke bottles with straws – how do I get the drink out of there?

As for me, I made it through.  And I did have an interesting conversation with the father of the birthday girl.  He was telling me of his sadness about the likely future of the country.  He loves the fact that his country is so diverse.  I have not heard that quality appreciated, but then I don’t often speak to people who live here permanently, still less about such things.  Wish I did now…

The party was still in full swing when I left and BG’s dad said that most children here don’t go to bed till midnight.  Wonder how long it all went on for – and if there were more tears in the soft play area…


I’ve had a good day today. Given that this seems to be unnaturally cheerful these days, I thought I’d tell you about it.

Woke up to the sound of “Do you want to play with the plasticine?” Leapt out of bed, stumbled bleary-eyed into the kitchen, confiscated said item, returned it to its cupboard which should’ve been locked, locked it, looked in horror at the mess already in the house and returned to bed. Feeding L five minutes later, I heard whispered tidying up and sure enough when I emerged bravely from my room again twenty minutes later, all was vastly improved. Bless them…

I have discovered that Friday mornings are a good time to take the children out into the garden and watch them play. So we had a nice hour or so with them on the climbing frame and the trampoline before it got too hot and we came inside again. Our garden is a great place to spend time: it has enough big plants to provide plenty of shade and keep the temperature down, but it’s all rather overgrown and left to its own devices – so there’s really not much that can be spoilt. It’s therefore the most relaxing place to be with three year old G… The girls are getting more adventurous on the climbing frame (thanks, I think, to the example of their mother who surprised them – and herself – by doing a roll over one of the bars last week). It makes me feel less bad about not being able to take them to playgrounds.

Inside again, and we spent most of the morning with varying amounts of popping corn on the kitchen floor (spilling out into the main living area – or rather, swept out there by an enthusiastic small boy wielding a brush). I opted for the “smile serenely and think of all the enjoyment it’s giving them” approach, as they all mucked in to help clear it up, only to be thwarted when one of them decided it had been so much fun they should do it all again… We did wash some to cook for a snack – but the rest had to be binned in the end (it was coated with oil, dust, glitter and more). I was certainly naive when I walked out of the room without hiding the corn that had already been picked up (and the more so for doing it more than once – d’oh!), but on the plus side, they had lots of fun and nobody got cross.

We also had fun doing a little photo shoot with all four children, the results of which I am off to look at now. One more day to go – and by next weekend, M will be here and all will hopefully be easier…

I have been wondering recently whether it’s time to start this blog up again…

Two reasons why I haven’t so far: firstly, life with 4 children and an oft-absent husband and getting the house the way I want it now I finally live here with the rest of the family! Secondly, have been feeling a little negatively toward this place – the heat, the little everyday difficulties, the lack of things to do and people to do them with…

Really, the final problem should not be a problem at all. There are so many expats here for a few months or years, looking for friends to while away the time with. They tend to fall into one of two categories, though. First there is the development group. They are busy, up-to-date with current affairs in the country and their lives are wrapped up in their work: the frustrations, the concerns, the people, the meetings… I have sat in so many conversations recently which I have no hope of understanding. The second group is the missionaries. They are here because they have always wanted to come here; they get to know their neighbours, have local friends, use the market and public transport, speak a little of the language. It’s not really me…

So here I am, and it’s Thursday again and I’m dreading the weekend. Again. Two days to fill. Would love to take the children swimming, but with just me to look after them it’s just about possible but not much fun for them. And if I ask someone to join me they end up helping out and I feel guilty!

Wondering about inviting people round and worrying that no-one will come…

A gorgeous little girl, born six weeks early on 25th February, by emergency caesarean, weighing 2.03kg (4lb 7oz).

I’m off the hideously awful drug – yippee!

She’s gaining weight steadily – hooray!

And we’re out of hospital and back in the real world – which takes a little getting used to after over eight weeks “inside”.

Oh, and she’s getting a lot more sleep than I am…  Just as well this is our last baby.  🙂

Hello all!

Just popping in while I’m home from hospital – on day release as it were – for a few hours to let you know how I’m doing.  I was admitted to hospital (for the third time this pregnancy, second time in the UK) four weeks ago today with high blood pressure.  Putting my already considerable medication up by 50% seemed to fix that eventually and after ten days in I was allowed home.  Well, I managed four days before I got sent back!

This time my blood pressure has been misbehaving quite dramatically – enough one evening for me to be moved up to Labour Ward – not for labour but to be monitored more closely.  Seeing the midwives worrying and calling the doctors, who then worried and called my consultant, was a little unnerving.  The arrival of a senior doctor who wanted to look deep into my eyes (to examine the blood vessels at the back for damage) did little to make me feel in less danger, until he pronounced there to be no damage and said this was probably a big fuss about not much.  Soon after, my consultant arrived, grumbling happily about missing dessert and coffee at the restaurant he’s been in when he got the call, and calm was restored.  (He also said it had made him look important, a martyr to the call of duty in front of some colleagues, so I wasn’t to worry at all!)

The problem is that high blood pressure in pregnancy is a symptom of pre-eclampsia, which can be horrible and very dangerous, so they have to respond urgently.  So far my body has been stubbornly pre-eclampsia free, although it could develop at any time.  The baby seems completely unaffected, and at this stage would probably not have serious problems if I developed pre-eclampsia tomorrow.

My other consultant (I have two!  Actually, at one stage I had three – one for weekends so that the first one could get some rest!) came to see me the following morning and prescribed another hike in medication and I returned downstairs just before lunch.  The next three evenings brought enough further worries for the doctors to be called, who asked lots of silly questions about awful symptoms that I might just have but not have thought to mention – as if to say, “Well, things could be a lot worse, you know” and then prescribed one-off doses of familiar and unfamiliar drugs to make sure I still rattled every time I moved.

Fortunately, a tweak in medication and banning of the machines that were reading inaccurately high has helped a bit and I can now go three or four days before my BP misbehaves, but this is not quite good enough to send me home.  So I am in until delivery, not many more weeks now …

The days are falling into some sort of pattern:

0800   –  wake, take tablets, go back to sleep

0900   –  eat cereal, go back to bed

1000   –  eat toast, read paper

1200   –  tablets, round 2

1230   –  lunch

1400   –  tablets, round 3 and visiting time

1500   –  snack, puzzles, read, maybe CTG (listens to baby’s heartbeat for ½ an hour, done every day)

1730   –  supper

1800   –  more tablets, then TV, book, maybe worry a few doctors

2000   –  tablets again

2200   –  last tablets and bed.  One BP check in the night and plenty of trips to the loo as I’m currently drinking 2 litres of water a night, thanks to the tablets.

It will all be worth it in the end!

A number of you have been asking how I’m getting on, which reminded me that I haven’t written here for a while.  Actually, I couldn’t write for a week, because they wouldn’t let me out of hospital!

On Wednesday 16th, I woke up early morning (perfectly normal behaviour at the mo) and in the short period before I went back to sleep, noticed a circle in my vision, as if I’d looked at a light and was now seeing the after-image.  Assumed the backlight on my mobile screen was round (always look at my phone during nocturnal excursions for a time check) and went back to sleep.  Thing is, when I finally woke after a good eleven hours’ sleep (perfectly normal behaviour, too), the circle was still there.  Visual disturbances are not a good thing in pregnancy, although the flashing light or blurred vision sorts are the more-quoted types.  Decided after breakfast that it should probably be checked out.  Phoned the hospital, who agreed and asked me to come in…

Turned out my blood pressure was not quite where it should be and they kept me in for observation.  It then turned out that my blood pressure was not at all where it should be during nights, so after a few days of watching this pattern my consultant put me on a new drug timetable.  Same three drugs, new amounts and timings.  Guess which one he doubled in quantity?

That’s right – the horrible one!  I told my consultant that I didn’t like the tablets and I wasn’t that keen on him, either, but he wasn’t to be intimidated.  🙂  Actually, he comes across as knowledgeable and the sort of person to inspire confidence – but I, as you’d expect given the subject, was in no mood to be inspired…  So, on the Saturday evening, (with Christmas six days ago and no sign of my being let out of hospital) the new regime began.  That Drug, four times a day, smaller doses at 8am and 12pm and bigger doses at 6pm and 10pm.

For those of you who don’t feel as strongly about the awful stuff as I do, and therefore may have forgotten the reason I hate it: it goes back to the beginning of this pregnancy, when the side-effects I experienced on it were many in number and horror!  I was somehow virtually unable to walk, found sitting unpleasant and preferred to be lying down (was unable to get lunch on one memorably bad (and non-nanny) day and E had to make some cheese spread sandwiches to feed herself and little G), slept all night and most of the morning, had a very dry mouth so had to drink constantly, shuffled when I walked, and had a few problems in the bathroom direction.

So, returning to last week, there was one advantage to an increased dose:  I had my first decent night’s sleep since arriving in the hospital!  Felt awful through breakfast and tablet-taking, blood-pressure-taking, blood-sample-taking and doctor-visiting and slept the rest of the morning away.  Woke an hour before lunch, didn’t feel like starting a new book, did a sudoku or two instead, struggled to get lunch down me and found it difficult to hold a conversation when Mum and Dad came to visit.

And through all of this was wondering how I was going to make it through the next 16 weeks, not to mention the actual giving birth bit!

Sort of woke up around 4pm and read my new book on and off till 10pm and time for bed again, by which time my wrists were causing me quite a bit of unexpected pain, which had been coming on all day.  Slept for a couple of hours, and then was woken up by the pain and could only sleep again after taking painkillers.  Apparently, this was carpal tunnel syndrome, a common thing in pregnancy – and I was assured that it would disappear once I’d given birth.  Oh, thanks, that’s all right then.  Meanwhile, I’ll add soluble paracetamol to my daily intake of drugs, shall I?

By this stage, clearly, I was feeling as though I was falling apart and I was never going to find the energy to get out of hospital and I wasn’t looking forward to Christmas in any case…

Fortunately, as you’ll have guessed by the fact I have energy enough to write all this, things are not now as bad.  In fact, things are hugely better.  The side-effects decreased in intensity over the next few days and by the time I was allowed out of hospital on the eve of Christmas Eve, I was able to feel quite differently about my consultant who had worked the miracle of stabilising my blood pressure, somehow without wrecking my entire life in the process!

That lovely consultant of mine said that he was hopeful that things would now continue on a fairly even keel for a good few weeks.  Hooray!  And home I went for Christmas…

PS:  The circle’s still there.  Faint and unchanging, ignoreable in the light, but definitely still there…

Last Thursday, on a trip to see the midwife, I was surprised by another fainting thing coming over me.  Surprised, because this time I hadn’t been on my feet at all, really – in fact, I was given a lift to the surgery, which is only ten minutes’ walk away.  Still, I felt worse, probably, than last time – although at least this time I was in the best place for it!  Appointment with the midwife was conducted almost entirely with me lying down!  I kept trying to sit up so that she could take my blood pressure, but it was a while before I could sit up long enough!  And when she did, no surprise I was feeling so weird – the numbers were both about 40 lower than they’d been the day before!

Oh dear, I have succumbed to an attack of the exclamation marks again.  A mark of poor writing, I always thing – and one I frequently succumb to – although perhaps there are just days which seem to be full of them.  If so, this was certainly one of them!

The suggestion by the doctor, seconded by my consultant, was that I should spread out my tablet-taking, so as not to give too much of a ‘pow!’ to my system at the start of the day.  So… I am now taking medicines at:

8:30-10am (depending on when I get up)





and I do feel a little as though they are taking over my day…

The first day I tried this, all it did was give me a faint patch later in the day (97/55 for those of you who understand such things – just ridiculous – I’ve never seen such numbers!), but since then, I’ve had the excitement of my children’s company – and that’s raised my blood pressure just enough to prevent any more faints!  🙂