Showing posts tagged with: 'children'


Whistling up the fairies

Sun 9th Sep 2007 by Ben Palmer.

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For those who follow the story, this is a Tooth Hurty update.

This morning's early wake up call was, "Daddy, I can whistle through my teeth and do you know why? DADDY, I said do you know why?"

"No idea, Harry. What time is it?" It was way early, but we agreed that whistling was good, and that the tooth should go in a safe place for bed time, and I went back to sleep.

When we were all properly awake and eating breakfast at a sensible Sunday hour, the subject came up again. I don't know who was the most excited - Harry and all his money the tooth fairy would bring ("But Harry, the tooth fairy is only small, so may not be able to carry very much money") or Emily, because she's got fairys on her new nightie, and a real fairy was going to come - in true life, Daddy?

We like believing in fairies. It means there is some good and some magic in this world.

I just hoped there was something suitable in my trouser pocket or there's going to be hell to pay.

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Only a child

Wed 29th Aug 2007 by Ben Palmer.

Harry looked green even after he'd been sick this afternoon. Skipping supper, he had a bath at the usual time and got ready for bed.

Suddenly he found new strength while watching CBeebies - all signs of being unwell have vanished and he began playing merry hell. I had to stop reading half way through the penultimate chapter of Prince Caspian (as I warned I would) and say goodnight.

Now he is dancing around in his bedroom, shaking the lights in the kitchen ceiling. He has broken the landing nightlight and is winding Emily up as well.

I've been up twice, read the riot act, then explained calmly that naughty behaviour is not acceptable. So far I have said goodnight three times. In return I've had Bear thrown at me, his photographs of Mummy have hit the deck and he's hurrumphed until I lost my temper. Only a child can recover from sickness so quickly.

He's angry. He's angry with me for telling him off, for playing the bad cop and for not giving him any tea or bedtime milk. All I can do is explain why and tell him I love him. "No you don't and anyway, I hate you, you silly man." I do and you don't.

What he won't be aware of for another hour (going on past experience) is that he's really angry because he doesn't have his mother, and he'll be sad that he discarded her photographs from his bedside chair. The only thing I don't know is whether he'll fall asleep before realising all of this or whether he'll come down the stairs, sobbing.

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It is strange

Wed 22nd Aug 2007 by Ben Palmer.

"Does it feel strange, having people read about your life?" I was asked today by a Mum. "I feel it's a bit voyeuristic reading your blog."

I hadn't really thought about it that way. I know my parents, siblings, friends and some of the Mums and teachers at both Harry's and Emily's school read my blog - sometimes that's the only way people know what I'm up to, because I'm totally useless with a telephone and can be fairly forgetful about email as well sometimes. My web stats page tells me others read it too, but I often think of it as a number, not real people.

Every blogger has their own reason, and mine is two-fold. I want people to know about, and remember, puerperal sepsis: there is no reason or need for a mother in Britain (or any developed nation) to die from it, so fore-warned is fore-armed.

I also like writing about my children - they mean everything to me - and I like writing about the highs and lows of being a single parent and about coping, every day, with children who say things like, "I don't have a Mummy, 'cos she died and went to live in heaven."

It's not meant to be a sob story, though people do. It's meant to be a taste of a strange life that, God forbid, most will never know. Next time your other half has a go at you for forgetting to do something, for doing the wrong thing or just generally stuffing up; relish it - it keeps your feet on the ground, and proves that you're loved. Well it did for me, and it's one of the things I miss most.

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Tooth hurty

Mon 13th Aug 2007 by Ben Palmer.

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We just spent a fabulous weekend in sunny Hampshire, staying with some friends. Just before we left Harry was playing with some of their neighbours outside with remote controlled car and a couple of bikes. One of the boys had a wobbly tooth, so thus ensued a parental conversation about how Harry still had all of his milk teeth, and about the Tooth Fairy's going rate.

I was informed that in the countryside it's a pound a tooth - yikes. I was then told that in London it's two pounds a tooth - bloody hell, that almost makes it worth selling mine.

This morning, bright and early, Harry came into my bedroom saying, "Look, Daddy, my tooth is wobbly."

I'll start saving hard now.

P.S. While there's still time; Londoners, please leave comments on the going rate for a tooth!

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Early warning kiss

Thu 9th Aug 2007 by Ben Palmer.

nose.jpgDay in day out, I wake up too early to the pitter patter of tiny and not so tiny feet on the stairs up to the loft conversion that is my sanctuary. It's soon followed by a face in mine, and an eskimo kiss.

"Daddy, I watch telleee?"
"Climb in the other side, Emily. Come on, in you come too, Harry."

I love it really, but at six o'clock on a Sunday morning? Well, you know.

The last two mornings I've woken just to sunlight, with no little ones, because they've been with my parents, probably rubbing their sticky noses into the dogs'. That's my Summer Holiday treat and I look forward to it, but the house has been eerily quiet.

Even though I've meant to work solidly on my Project 'X', the silence is more distracting than the sound of pencil on colouring book, lego brick on brick or, "Daddy, I'm bored, what can I do?" and I've spent as much time reading other blogs, realising that I should read more. I'm going to start adding some to my blogroll so I don't forget, but in the meantime;

"Can I have them back, now?"

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Missing Mummy

Thu 2nd Aug 2007 by Ben Palmer.

jessica.jpgFor the first time in her little life, Emily just came up to me and said, "Daddy, I want my Mummy."

'Mummy' is just a concept and a photograph on the bedroom wall to Emily. She has grown up not knowing what it is to have a mother, just that she was once loved by a beautiful woman.

Harry's pain is lessening as he adjusts to life without her, and I've always feared that Emily had yet to feel her pain. Perhaps she's just starting to, at almost the exact age that Harry did.

"I know you want Mummy," I said as Emily sat on my knee, "Harry and Daddy want Mummy too. We all want Mummy, but you know where Mummy is, don't you?"

"Mummy's upstairs," Emily told me brightly and knowingly.

Upstairs in heaven with the angels; Mummy is an angel. Or did Emily just mean the photograph?

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Like a Diamond

Sat 28th Jul 2007 by Ben Palmer.

twinkletwinkle.jpgWhen I stand out in our garden, like just a moment ago, and I can hear Emily sitting in the bathroom, gently singing a word - and almost tune - perfect rendition of 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' my heart bleeds for her, and for Harry.

I ask myself, 'What can I do to make their lives better?' I know where my weaknesses as a parent are, and I know where my strengths are. I need to work on some things, but I think I'm doing an OK job, and they are, essentially, happy.

I can't, though, fix what is really broken, but I can try and stop the same breaking for other children, and I'm always trying to think of new ways of achieving it. However, I can't do it alone. I need help, so please; pass on an email to all your family and friends about my website and ask them to spare a minute to sign the petition, because the more people that know, the less likely a repeat of Jessica's death is, and because the more people who sign, the more likely that the government and the NHS will take notice of our need for our mothers.

If you're on Facebook, you can help spread the message by joining the group, Petition to end Childbed Fever. Then, please, invite all your friends to join and encourage them to sign the petition too. It'll only take a second, but it could delay one other Diamond in the Sky.

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Deliver us from this disaster

Mon 23rd Jul 2007 by Ben Palmer.

cot-hospital.jpgSo far I've always said that Maternity care in this country is excellent for babies and sub standard for mothers. The reasons for this are obvious, but it goes wider than Jessica and our family. So many of Jessica's friends have said that they were not adequately looked after post-natally, both in hospital and at home afterwards although, luckily, no permanent damage was done.

I've just watched Channel 4's Dispatches programme, 'Undercover Mother', and I'm not so sure any more. It showed that babies are also suffering from inadequately resourced Maternity services.

A few months ago BBC1 showed a Panorama programme, 'Midwives Undercover', which ended with the covertly recorded line from a midwife that said that nobody would sit up until they lost a mother. Well wake up and sit up: healthy mothers like Jessica are dying as well as babies. Neither baby nor mother is expendable, neither's loss should be budgeted for nor tolerated.

Why is this government ignoring the danger that we all; rich/poor, black/white, educated/uneducated, northern/southern, married/unmarried face. Childbirth is a traumatic and dangerous event for mother and baby, and it must be provided for. To Gold Standard.

This country is not going to stop having babies, and nobody's going to limit procreation to fit a government budget. The NHS must look at the number of babies being born, look at the level of care required to ensure the safety and health of its patients and plan accordingly. Now. Not in nine months time.

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Too many happy returns

Mon 23rd Jul 2007 by Ben Palmer.

three candlesLast Friday was my birthday. Having had much excitement with the childrens', particularly for Emily who still insists "it's my birthday today," it was a welcome low-key day, even if Harry and Emily were both churning out birthday cards for most of the time.

Everyone seems to think I should "have a wonderful day" on my birthday. Yes, I suppose I should, and I do try for the children's sakes, but it's still one of - if not the - hardest days of the year.

I'm not really a grumpy old man, but every birthday that passes widens the age gap between Jessica and I, and underlines how left behind she is. Of course she'll never be forgotten, but we've almost reached the point where Harry has been motherless for longer than he had one, and Emily - well, she reached that point before she was two weeks old.

There's a limit to how hard we can try to hold on to her, and every birthday underlines the current of time. All we have are our - mainly my - memories to return to, and there ain't no-one gonna take them away.

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Everlasting love

Tue 17th Jul 2007 by Ben Palmer.

I've been reading 'Danny the Champion of the World' to Harry and Emily at bedtime for the last week or so; sometimes one, sometimes two chapters - depending on our combined excitement.

It's a book I loved reading as a child, but I probably haven't picked it up in over twenty years. The images and memories are as strong as ever but every now and then, this time around, it leaves me with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.

Danny never knew his mother and, when his father speaks strongly and fondly of her, I can't help but cast a sideways glance at Harry and then Emily.

Harry's excitement at the next chapter is overriding, but I've had to explain a few things. Firstly, that I'm not a poacher, and secondly, that I would never, ever leave him (or Emily) alone in the house at night, nor with a babysitter that they didn't already know.

I feel that some things don't need explaining to Harry. He understands that love is enduring and can be felt even when unspoken. I hope that the same sense is growing inside Emily.

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What is childbed fever?

Childbed fever is an infection of the womb in new mothers which can lead to septicaemia. If left untreated infection will cause organ failure and death - even in young, fit mothers.
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What are the symptoms? »
Childbed fever: the facts »

What's the aim?

We would like every parent and every midwife and doctor to know that childbed fever is still a very real threat to a mother's life.
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Can I help? »

Who is Jessica?

Jessica Palmer was a Mum. She died in June 2004, at 34 years old, of childbed fever caused by Group A streptococcus.
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This website contains general information about childbed fever. The information is not complete or comprehensive. You should not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about childbed fever (or any other medical condition) you should consult your doctor or other healthcare provider; and if you think you may be suffering from childbed fever (or any other medical condition) you should seek immediately medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.
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