Showing posts tagged with: 'parent'


Hot off the press

Thu 5th Jun 2008 by Ben Palmer.

Publication day is here. This time a year ago I was discussing what would make a suitable title for my book with my agent, prior to submitting a 30,000 word proposal to a handful of publishing editors.

Twelve months and 60,000 words later, it is in stock, on the shelves and on sale. Tomorrow there's a 3,000 word extract in a national newspaper and on Saturday another is printing an interview I did with them a couple of weeks ago. I can barely believe it's true.

Last night I went out for an extremely nice dinner with friends, stopping at their house for glass of champagne.

'Look children, it's Ben's book,' Sally said.
'Wow. You're famous,' was her son's response, before climbing over the fence to play in the neighbour's garden.

It'd be easy to enjoy the 'fame' but that's not why I wrote Friday's Child.

I emailed some friends earlier, to remind them that they could buy a copy if they felt inclined, and got a response back from someone I met directly because of Jessica's death.

His email read, 'Would you believe this morning I have been out for our first scan at 12 weeks – thanks so much for raising awareness of childbed fever on behalf of this prospective Dad!'

The book is dedicated to Harry and Emily, but it is on the shelves and in the press for all prospective Mums and Dads. That's why I did it and I hope it saves lives.

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World's greatest son

Mon 17th Dec 2007 by Ben Palmer.

Christmas can be so fraught with problems and worries.

The children went shopping today, and I was brightly told that they'd bought me a Christmas present together.

"Do we have any wrapping paper, Daddy?" Harry asked at bedtime.

"Yes, snuggle down now and sleep tight - you can wrap it up tomorrow."

Half an hour later, there were tears and foot stampings. It transpired that the present, previously hidden from me in the wardrobe was missing a part and it didn't flash so it was 'no use'.

"For goodness sake, Harry, you can sort it out tomorrow when Carly (our nanny) is here. Snuggle down and sleep tight."

Twenty minutes later and the bathroom door slammed to much wailing; "It's no use it's broken and we don't need it now anyway."

When I had finally persuaded him that we could sort it out tomorrow and take it back to the shop if necessary, he unlocked the door, wiped his tears on his sleeve and sniffed. Then the little package slipped from under his foot and fell through the floor boards.

"GET IT OUT DADDY."

Mercifully, I could get a coat hanger through the floor boards and hook it into the rail slot at the top of the tiny plastic bag. I promised I wouldn't look, but it was hard not to see what it was as I was retreiving it from the floor, and before I handed it back to a tucked up Harry who'd already found the part that had fallen out.

"Do we have any present labels, Daddy?"

"Yes, Harry, tomorrow. Goodnight."

Now I can't wait to unwrap my flashing badge that says 'World's Greatest Daddy'. I feel all the excitement that I did when I was a six year old, and I'm hoping that's this Christmas' high drama point over and done with.

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Fairy magic

Sat 3rd Nov 2007 by Ben Palmer.

firework.jpgDamp air, fog, golden trees, falling leaves, dark evenings, smoke. It's Autumn.

A boy stands in boots, his coat buttoned up to the neck with matching gloves and scarf wrapped tightly, eating a hot dog, eyes wide. His Daddy holds his hand as they watch in wonder. Fireworks in a blazing volley. Bright flashes lighting up their cold red cheeks.

The boy's small sister was too frightened, she doesn't like loud bangs, so she stays at home, baking with her Mummy. Together they wait in the warm with the lights on and the fire crackling against the cold and the dark, waiting for their boys to come home, full of excitement.

I don't know who the boy and his sister are and it's strange to imagine their life. Harry, Emily and I watch the distant fireworks from our top windows. "I reelly reelly don't like loud noises, Daddy. They're scary, but their are pretty. They look like fairy dusts," says Emily.

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Come on, Daddy

Wed 24th Oct 2007 by Ben Palmer.

I've been so focussed recently on finishing a project that I have let many things slip when I hadn't meant to.

I read a bed time story tonight to two very over excited and giggly people and was given cause to reflect. Mr Messy, because he's all pink, is Emily's current favourite book. At the end of the book, when the story warns of a visit from two people, Mr Neat and Mr Tidy, Harry giggled again and gave me a knowing look.

Yes, Harry we could do with a visit from them - I need to have a very good sort out, but so do you with your toys!

It wasn't his only word of advice to me today. Just before bedtime, while we watched Macca Pacca, Upsy Daisy and the Ninky Nonk (I don't get it, but they love it) Harry handed me a present from the supermarket: 'Simple tips to help you give up smoking for good'.

"Daddy this is for you." Giggle. "You need to stop buying your smokers."

I don't always like it when the flow of good advice from parent to child is reversed, but how can I argue? I gave up for him once before, so I can do it again, but I'm not quite ready to stop procrastinating. Bad Daddy.

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I like Mondays

Sat 15th Sep 2007 by Ben Palmer.

"Don't fight. Wash your hands. Sit down. Eat up. Stop fighting. Put that down. Listen to me. Stop chasing each other in the house. Clear up some of these toys. Stop whining. Stop banging toys. Go outside and play. Don't argue with each other. Play nicely. LISTEN TO ME."

I love my children and I love being a parent, but sometimes I hate parenting.

The weekend is not yet half way through and already I am longing for Monday morning when both children will be at school.

'Oh, my love it makes me sad.
Why did things turn out so bad?
Was it just a dream, everything we
did, everything we had?'

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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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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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No dancing

Thu 2nd Aug 2007 by Ben Palmer.

I'm writing at my computer and Emily is sitting at the kitchen table colouring next to me. Harry periodically comes in and looks at the screen to see what I'm writing, but what he really wants is to push me off and get the CBeebies website up.

I thought it would be nice to have something for us all to work along to, but Emily refused most of my suggestions - going instead for the Lazytown CD that Father Christmas gave her.

Playing up to her gleeful bouncing, I started to sing and dance along with the theme tune. "Daddy, don't dance," she frowned at me.

Oh hell. I dance like a Dad.

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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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Cards

Sun 10th Jun 2007 by Ben Palmer.

Last Thursday was Harry's birthday which means I've been a Dad for 6 years and 3 days, and I now know what it really means to be a parent. For the first 3 years and 3 weeks I could have been a much better one. Since then, though, I've been a Mum as well, and I have to take my hat off to all mothers for their patience and hard work. All of us Dads should.

Admittedly, I have a fantastic Nanny to help with the children during the day five days a week, but she's been on holiday and honeymoon for the last two weeks and won't be back for another three days (and counting), and our cleaner's away as well - so things have been fairly fraught around the house recently.

Car crashes, TV interviews, campaigning, Harry's 6th birthday and his party aside, when I haven't been working I've been cooking, cleaning, shopping, bathing, dressing, clearing up 'puddles', reassuring and loving for my children, and I'm exhausted. The house is a total mess, but our clothes, although not ironed, are clean. Harry has done his homework and he and Emily are bathed with clean hair and tucked up in bed.

At the children's party we went to at Battersea Zoo this afternoon, the birthday boy's Mum, Nicky, said to me, "I don't know how you do it, Ben. I really don't."

To me, the answer is obvious. I do it because I have no choice and because I love my children. I don't like the hand we've been dealt, but I'm sure as hell going to play it to the best of my ability.

I wish I hadn't waited until Jessica's death to take the opportunity.

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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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