Now I’ve, had, the fright of my life . . .

When I began writing this, it was pouring with rain and when it’s pouring with rain it is perfectly acceptable to be in your pyjamas at 2pm on a Tuesday, and that is a scientific fact. It rained on Sunday too, and because Zee was suffering with a runny nose and general cold lurgy, I wrote him a sick note and we watched the overcast skies and tumbling rain from the warmth of our lounge, as he continued his quest to eat wooden farmyard animals in between trying to crawl but reversing backwards, much to my amusement and his bemusement.

At one point, Zee fell asleep in my arms, and I covered us in his gorgeous, cashmere-wool-with-a-fleece-lining blanket, one of his most treasured possessions handmade by a great friend, which I dread him ever being sick or worse on. I pondered all the things I should be doing instead, but dismissed them because as far as I’m concerned, when my baby is asleep in my arms everything else can go hang. It was just lovely.

So it’s amazing the difference 24 hours can make, because yesterday was pretty much the worst day I’ve had with Zee so far. His cold kept us awake again for most of the night, so in the morning I was more dismayed at his 6am wake-up call than usual. It was also the day of his TB vaccination, which I had mostly been Trying Not To Think About. And because I was tired and my brain was fuzzy and we had to leave quite early and I am just no good at doing anything early, I lost concentration as I tidied our room and felt a sickening jolt and a burst of terror when an almighty scream pierced the air. I turned to see my little boy on the floor, not in the middle of the bed where he had been a moment ago. It happened so fast and I scooped him up as he cried and cried, and then I was crying too and trying so hard to comfort him whilst saying ‘I’m sorryI’msorryI’msorry’ over and over again. He fell and was frightened and it was my fault. Horrid. I rang H who was so calm and reassuring; now he is mobile, falls will happen, it’s inevitable. But I felt wretched.

All the way to Clapham for his vaccination I felt shaken up. What if he’d landed on the extension lead by the bed? Or worse, a plug? As I tried to banish these images I thought about what was going to happen next. Poor Zee. Things were about to go from bad to worse and he didn’t even know.

I remember having our TB vaccinations at secondary school; it was a really big deal, I have a vague idea it was in the fourth year – going into the fourth year meant TB injection time, and at the time it was just about the worst thing ever. We heard horror stories from older kids of swellings and puss and pain, the biggest needle you’ve EVER seen, etc etc etc. So I guess it’s a good thing to have it done as a baby, when you’re none the wiser and can’t spend weeks worrying about it beforehand, because what you don’t know can’t hurt you. Until, in Zee’s case yesterday, it does. The nurse was kind and I held him as his little arm was pierced; he screamed, I held him tighter, it felt like it went on forever but then it was done and he was trying to smile through his tears.

StuckSo much crying in such a short space of time can really fray a person’s nerves, especially on no sleep, so for the rest of the morning I felt like I was a walking stereotype of a tired new (ish) mum; hair scraped back, bleary eyed and slowly pushing a buggy with a tearful baby. We sought solace in the local bookshop where I headed straight for the children’s books section, for some peace and so I could see what’s new and take in all the beautiful cover art and colours (and *yes she says sheepishly* look at books with blurbs I’ve written, which even six years later is no less of a thrill). Still feeling guilty for Zee’s earlier bounce, I bought him a present, a picture book by Oliver Jeffers, recommended by a friend, which I imagined reading to him later all curled up at home.

Except that by the time we got home, his cold was worse, his infected eye was red and swollen and so the afternoon was spent going to the doctors and the pharmacy, by which point Zee had clearly had enough because he screamed and screamed to the point the pharmacist was wincing and I didn’t know what to do. So I took him from his pushchair and cuddled him as a few customers looked at me in pity. And when Zee cried (but still managed to eat – he is his father’s son) all the way through his dinner, and in the bath, I knew that he too was done with today. We both went to bed at 7pm, because sometimes after a day like that bed is the only place to go, with the promise of tomorrow awaiting.

Today we read Stuck, he played, he pursued his chewing of jigsaw animals, he tried to eat his Timberlands but I explained those boots are made for walking. Yesterday was rare and I feel lucky for that and glad. I think he has forgiven and forgotten his fall. I haven’t, and I know it is a part of him becoming more mobile and fast, but I don’t want it to happen again any time soon, thank you very much. Not on my watch.


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