Time to Grow Up…


Well, it’s been a while but what better reason is there to come back to blogging than the birth of a son?

On August 27th, 2014 at 0324am my son, Arthur Atticus Thompson, was born by emergency caesarean section. I remember the moment vividly.

My wife had been in labour for thirty-one hours and although she had her heart set on a natural birth, it was the consultant’s decision that enough was enough and our baby was to come out whether he wanted to or not.

The wife had struggled through every minute of those thirty-one hours. Contractions began at 2am on the Monday morning. By 2pm she was in so much pain we contacted the hospital to discuss coming in. Naturally, as contractions were only about eight minutes apart at this time, the hospital staff were not keen on having us turn up. Come, they said, but if you’re not ready then we’ll send you straight home.

We live an hour’s drive from the hospital so we were always planning to start travelling in the direction of the hospital early, although we had hoped to wait until contractions got down to about 6 minutes apart. An interesting thing about the timing of contractions – I didn’t know this but the apps that you can download for your phone, the ones (and we used several) that the wife and I were using, time your contractions from the beginning of one contraction until the beginning of the next. This is not how out hospital does it. Instead, they count from the end of one contraction to beginning of the next. The wife and I were twenty hours in to her labour and we never saw her contractions get closer than eight minute apart until we discovered that little gem. As it turns out, her contractions were actually four minutes apart and had been for some time.

The midwives knew I was recording the contractions and so took my word (or the apps word) for it every time I updated them as to our progress. It was only when a student midwife walked in and commented that she thought the contractions were closer to three minutes apart that things started to get a bit exciting.

Enter the Registrar – the senior doctor on shift. The wife was assessed again and found to be only two centimetres dilated. Ideally, they like for the mother to be ten centimetres dilated and to be having three to four contractions every ten minutes. It was suggested at this time that we should go home.

I took a short break at this point and telephoned my mother-in-law to update her on the wife’s progress. My ear grew hot as her threats to murder me should we be discharged blistered my eardrum. I actually had to hold the phone away and I could still hear her. Caesarean sections, it would appear, run in the family and both mother-in-law and sister-in-law had already been through exactly what I was now seeing with my wife.

I walked back in to see the Registrar begin her discharge speech, saying how it would be beneficial and promote more rest for mother if she was at home and not taking up a bed in hospital.

The wife became frantic at this point. Whilst under the care of the hospital staff she had been on Entonox (or gas and air) constantly and the thought of being discharged without any pain relief was terrifying for her.

Now I can understand both sides of this argument. The wife is not progressing; therefore the hospital staff can do nothing. Yet, we have no pain relief out side of hospital and we live an hour away. That’s a two hour round trip if we are ejected. I did the only thing I could do which was to look stern and say nothing. I did not want to get into an argument with the staff, as doing so would mark us as ‘difficult’ and likely improve the odds of being discharged. Instead, I said nothing, looked at the registrar with my sternest ‘I disagree yet won’t voice this,’ face, and allowed my wife to seal the deal with a well-timed howl of pain. The midwives attended at once and remarked that a two hour round trip with no pain relief might be a bit harsh. Credit due, the Registrar considered her underlings opinions and then offered an epidural. This, I knew, was good news. An epidural, once given, must be monitored; hence I knew we would be staying.

An epidural is a truly horrific thing to watch. I observed the kindly anaesthetist insert a foot of metal (okay, slight exaggeration) into my wife’s spine, with a smile. To say I felt light on my feet would not do that feeling justice. I definitely swayed, not because I am unfamiliar with the procedure (I am a paramedic and see some pretty gruesome stuff), but because the wife had no say in the matter. She was either so intoxicated on gas or blinded by pain that making a decision for herself was simply not possible. The anaesthetist explained the possible side effects and risks (one of which included spinal cord damage) and asked me to sign on the dotted line. A howl of pain from my wife produced the most frantic and unintelligible signatures I have ever produced.

My God, what a drug! The pain virtually vanished after about twenty minutes and my wife was returned to me once more as one who is able to hold a conversation and is, more over, recognisable one more as my wife. Watching her cling to an Entonox cylinder, half in half out of bed, dribbling and screaming is not something I ever want to see again.

Part of having an epidural is that the patient must be monitored, or more specifically, the baby must be monitored. The wife was hooked up to a machine called a CTG, or Cardiotocogram, which allowed the staff to monitor both foetal heart rate and also the length, duration and frequency of the wife’s contractions.

It quickly became apparent that something was not quite right. The duration of my wife’s contractions were lasting up to ten minutes and rolling straight from one into another. A normal contraction might last up to a minute, sometimes two and you would normally have a little gap in between which would allow both mother and baby and chance to recover before the next assault. Small wonder then that my wife had been in so much pain for so long.

Once more the registrar was called and once more it was discovered that, despite the intense contraction activity, the wife had not dilated further than 4cm. It was some improvement but the Registrar was not happy and made the obvious decision to pass the case up the chain of brains.

Enter the Consultant, who as I said, was not messing around. Baby will be delivered tonight, she said, by c-section. Enough is enough, she said with finality and that was that. She scribbled some notes on our care record and handed over to the registrar. I go now to prep theatre, she said as she left.

It was something of a relief to be honest. We could have struggled on in the hope that my wife would dilate a little more but I think it would have been in vain and potentially dangerous for both wife and child.

Furthermore, Arthur is a big boy. I cannot imagine that my wife would have pushed him out without causing some serious undercarriage damage. Sometimes I wonder if she would have survived at all. My wife is quite petite. Perhaps then, this is nature’s way of saying that children should not have been an option for us. Arthur is an IVF baby. I wonder if the reason we were not blessed with a natural conception is because my wife would not have survived to deliver without the intervention of modern medicine. I guess we’ll never know.

To say I’m proud of my wife is not enough. I was by her side every minute and although I can never understand what she really went through, she will never understand what I went through either. To see someone you love in so much pain, to worry if they will even live, is a most sobering and terrifying experience. I may be over playing things a bit but at the time, during those long hours of listening to her cry, I can only say how it felt to me.

The wife and I have discussed our time in hospital and agree that although it was hard, we received excellent care and there will be more than a few thank you cards leaving here in the morning. The bottom line however is that we are pleased with the end result.

Arthur is worth it.

For her he is worth the three days of pain. For me he is worth the intense feelings of uncertainty and fear as she laboured so hard, struggled for so long for a natural birth that ultimately did not happen.

We love our boy very much. I may well remember every detail of the struggle to bring him into this world, from the initial IVF consultation to wanking in a cupboard, the anxiety of waiting for the test to show positive, the initial three months of hormonal imbalance, the labour, the birth, and now sleepless nights, shitty nappies and dodging projectile bowel movements but I would not change a thing.

He’s here and it’s great.

Perspective


April! That was the last time I posted about anything and you know what? I’m really not surprised.

I hold a full time job as a paramedic (Although I work as an on-call police medic), I live on a working farm and my wife is thirty weeks pregnant with our first born. Oh, and we have a fourteen week old puppy.

That’s a lot isn’t it? I read that all back to myself and I think it’s bloody loads. Too much maybe for one person to deal with but you just have to suck it up and soldier on. My wife and I always busy. Always. It never used to be this way. It used to be that she was always busy. I was never busy. My free time used to involve playing xbox or PC games. I may have watched the odd movie or perhaps even had an odd afternoon to spend doing nothing more than abusing myself in which ever way I saw fit. Not now. I don’t blame the wife. She’s just a worker, a hard worker… and she she makes me feel lazy if I’m not working too.

Oh, one more thing. Being as I live on a working farm, there is one more little thing I forgot that may actually take up a little of my time…

Harvest is coming.

 

Image

 

I small disclaimer. I don’t grow pumpkins, but I thought this was funny and illustrated my point nicely.

Okay, so we’ve established that life is busy. That’s fine. I’m not miserable. No bloody time to be! So what do I actually do with my spare time? Well, I write. I have a few pieces I’m working on that I hope will impress a few editors but you know what, that’s no easy task. Neither is typing while drinking whiskey. I do hope you’ll forgive my grammar and any other mistakes. If not, have a whiskey and you’ll understand my drivel fine.

You know what? I digress a lot. I meant to explain something insightful and in truth, I’ve completely forgotten what I meant to say. It was probably something unimportant like how things change when a baby is on the way. Something about how before I’d waste my days playing games and abusing myself but now… well things have changed. I have to prepare for First Born’s arrival. I must work, set an example, provide.

Okay, enough’s enough. I’ve often found that long posts discourage readers. Something about attention span I think, I can’t really remember because I wasn’t paying attention that day at school.

Right then, cheerio!

M 🙂

Fat Count


Another 4500 words today which would normally be cause for celebration. However there will be no such thing today. 

One of the problems with being glued to a desk all day in an effort to hit targets is that you snack. You get the munchies all the bloody time. Get a bored and there’s a bag of Smarties that will cure that. Stuck for something to say? No problem, why not have a few bags of crisps while you think about it. Celebrating because you’ve hit your word count for the day? Why not have a bottle of wine?

I’ve been steadily expanding for some time now, particularly since I broke my collarbone. Being unable to drive has meant I can’t go to the gym which as kind of bigger excuse for me to be able to say I can’t do any exercise whatsoever. 

This is not good. I can feel my lack of energy dragging me down everyday now. I’m constantly lethargic. Everything is too much effort unless it involves sitting on my fat arse and typing into a keyboard.

This will change. Starting tomorrow I’m going to try and go for a run. I’ll start small again, like I did last time and start off with a 2 kilometre run. A few months ago I had built up to 5km. I could run that every night and you know what? It felt great. 

So, tomorrow this emphasis switches from Word Count, to Fat Count. 

Wish me luck.

M 🙂

Word Count (Part 2)


Word Count, hmm, I like that. I should have called my blog that. Short, straight to the point. Like me.

Anyway this is just a very brief update. I said yesterday that i was hoping to have a 7000 word day. Well I managed 3000 which is not too bad. I’m on target anyway. Total word count now stands a little over 20K which is just lovely to look at. Lovely? I mean awesome. Come on Mark, man up. 

Right, as I said, quick update and that was it. Lets see if I can get another 3000 out today.

M.

The Sphincter of Pain


I’ve had a truly awful few days. The wife caught a sickness bug thats been doing the rounds and brought it home to share.

The problem with my wife is that when she gets ill, she really gets ill. A normal blood pressure for her, when she’s healthy, is something like 95/50 so anything that lowers that makes her hit the deck faster than a footballer in the penalty box. Something like diahorrea that literally turns your arse hole into a fountain and smells, well evil, will drop that blood pressure five points in no time. Add in vomiting and I soon have a wife who faints every time she takes a shit.

Oh you think thats bad? As it progresses she no longer has to be standing or sitting upright for her to faint. She’s the only person I’ve met who will pass out laying down. Don’t think thats bad? Well what if she’s vomiting when she passes out?

I stayed up the entire night with her, catching her when she fainted, turning her when she vomited and swapping buckets and bowls where needed.

All this with a broken arm!

I know, I know I’m a hero. But now I’ve got the bug and my ring is as raw as if I’d rolled up a sheet of sand paper and… well you get the picture.

So as Im unlikely to get anything else done, today will be another writing day. I wonder if I can have a 7000 word day?

The challenge is set. I’ll report back later with an update.

M.

A Good Day’s Work


Just a quick one to say I reached today’s target quite comfortably. I put down 4000 words which might not sound terribly much but it is. I find any distraction difficult to deal with when I’m writing and today I had the nieces over for tea and my wife was in all day. Breaks are important though and so we entertained the children with a BBQ, then went on a walk around the local area and even managed to fit in an episode of Game of Thrones. So, 4000 words is really pretty good.

Tomorrow I’ll be hoping to achieve even more. The wife will be at work leaving me on my own so there will be no excuse. Hmmm, except perhaps that I re-discovered Civilisation this morning. If you’ve never played that game then I advise you not to start. There is not better way to lose countless hours than by playing that game. If only it wasn’t so damn awesome.

Right then, a glass of wine to finish and then bed.

M 🙂

 

Word Count


3,500 words per day.

That is the bare minimum I have to lay down to stay on target. 

In my previous post I described how my beloved Bonneville met its end and how I broke my collarbone. As a result of this I have six weeks off work to recover. There is much you can do with six weeks but I have decided to use the time to complete my novel.

You should note that I spent my first week outlining and planning but I’m confident that will end up being time well spent in the long run. I like the idea of sitting down and just writing with no plan but from experience I know that this will result in thousands of words going no where. I know some people who wok this way and good luck to them. I can only think that they must already have a deep understanding of where they want their story to go before they begin.

Right, I best get back to it. This post was intended solely to get me off my arse and typing and its done that. 

I’ll update in future with a brief synopsis of what my story is about. 

M 🙂

Bye-bye Bonneville


I was having a blast. The engine growled with every twist of the throttle as I negotiated the twists and bends of Suffolk’s back roads. It roared as I gunned it into the straights, blasting a crap day into the depths of memory and leaving it rotting in a place called ‘the past’. The wind carried a chill now that the sun had dipped low behind the trees. It whipped through my jacket’s lining suffused with all the smells of the countryside and brought both a pleasant chill and remembrance that I lived somewhere truly beautiful. I passed crumbling farm buildings that have stood for generations and wide open fields lined with hedgerows and mighty trees, all of it in Springs full bloom. The odd cow or sheep cast a curious gaze as I rumbled past, perhaps wondering, I like to think, what it would be like to be so free on a Triumph Bonneville.

Time moves on and I’ve slowed her down. It’s dark now and although my bike’s single headlamp cuts through the gloom and casts a nice yellow cone of light ahead, I know my limitations. I do not see well in the dark. I always carry my glasses with me towards the end of the day because there’s always that chance the light will fade before I make it home. I had them with me on this day, in my bag, strapped to my back. I doubt they would have made much of a difference in the coming situation though had they been on my face, where they should have been. I’d already slowed, and what was about to happen was beyond anyone’s ability to predict.

I let her purr around the first corner and noting the long straight ahead was empty of traffic I moved into a more central line to tackle the second upcoming corner. I slowed again and began to bank to my left when from my right a shadow emerged. In a car I might not have paid much attention to this strange apparition but on a bike, well, I shit my pants. I had no idea what it was other than it was big, moving fast and closing on me. I remember having enough time to grip tight to the handlebars and brace myself.

A deer, certainly the largest I have ever seen (though this could be some odd post-event perspective) leapt from my right where it had stood upon the bank within a line of trees. It leapt straight up and over me. Not in front, but over me. I watched its front legs sail over my arms which were rigidly holding on tight to the bars. It’s body followed. I smelled its warm muskiness and had an odd sensation of running my hand through a horses fur – a recent memory linked in all probability to me living on a farm where we have horses. I’ve often wondered what it would actually be like to watch your life flash before your eyes. If this was it then I’m not impressed. A smell and watching my own hand grope at a horse? How exciting.

The deer leapt over me. Out of my peripheral vision I watch its hooves sail away in slow motion. I wonder what it would be like to be kicked by them and then suddenly, I’m wondering if I am have been kicked by them because my bikes smooth course has changed. I experience an odd and very frightening change of perspective as I realise I’m looking down at the front of my bike. I shouldn’t be able to visualize the front mud guard in a normal riding position only now I clearly can and it’s moving rapidly away from me. Or rather, I’m moving rapidly away from it. My eyes roll away and upward as my brain realizes I’ve taken flight and it tries to orientate me toward the ground again. I watch as that ground comes crashing toward me and two thoughts immediately come to mind. Firstly, I note the ground is grassy and therefore likely to be soft. This, I recall thinking, is good. I’ve seen more than enough gravel rash injuries to known that skin parts from bone very easily. Secondly, I note that this is still going to hurt.

I think my head hit first followed by my right shoulder. I can remember the tiniest fragment of time, almost as though it has been placed on permanent pause in my mind wherein I’m pointed straight at the ground at a 45 degree angle. My legs are arrow straight behind me. My head is in contact with the grass and I think, just for that tiny moment of time, that I’m stuck like an arrow in the ground. Then, like the Titanic, reality comes crashing back, gravity takes over and the rest of me comes crashing over. I paint a nice picture of a man leaving his bike as though he’s been shot from a bow, arching into the sky like a graceful ballerina before landing in a clean if not comedic fashion. I imagine reality saw a leather clad gorilla flailing as though, well, as though it had just crashed a motorbike.

I lay in a heap on the ground. This is perhaps the oddest moment that my wife has ever tried to ring me but honest to God, no sooner had my body stopped moving and I lay there still, my mobile chirped into life in my pocket. I might have answered if it were not for the fact that my arm was suddenly very painful and also that I hadn’t a clue what I would say. I knew it would be my wife too. Don’t ask me how, I guess you just know who its most likely to be given the time of day.

Anyway, somehow I got the bike up and was able to ride it home. I was in agony but I made it the ten or so miles through the dark with my headlamp pointing straight up into the sky and my mirrors more bent than Gary Barlow.

This was my second crash and so with a heavy heart I’m hanging up the leathers and selling the bike. I know, I’ll miss it but I can’t help thinking that had a car been coming from the other direction or if there was a tree on that bank, I’d be dead.

I’ll always remember that last ride though, at least up until the crash, as one of the best I ever had.

Bye-bye Bonneville. It’s been a blast.

 

M 😦

Coming out…


… of hiding.

No, no, no. Not in that sense. Happily married ta very much.

It struck me yesterday that I’ve pretty much hidden my web presence from a great many people for too long. Yes I have a blog, a Twitter account and a Goodreads profile, but I don’t really make it very easy for people to find me. Furthermore, I don’t think I’ve really wanted to be found anyway.

You see, when I decided to embark upon this perilous writer’s journey, I did so behind closed doors. I was very much afraid that anything I wrote would be laughed at. Yet, with time, I have come to realise that I’m not half bad and in fact, I’ve had a few things published. Coincidently, if you’re interested you can find links to those pieces above. Why then should I hide?

Precisely the question I found myself wondering last night and so this morning I have linked everything to my blog. Now if I write anything at all, it will be cast far and wide for all to see. Doesn’t mean any bugger will read it but still, its a rite of passage for those who choose to tread the path of the writer. It’s an awakening, a beginning of the next chapter – a mother f*!king “Level-Up”.

So, here I sit. Level 2 – apprentice – still wannabe – writer.

Best I get to work penning something interesting then.

M 🙂

Happy Days


Well. I’m going to be a dad. That sounds so unbelievable when I say it. It’s no easier writing it either. What the hell does this mean for the rest of my life?

I’d like to think that I had loads of things planned that I wanted to do before I die. Not that I think becoming a parent is akin to the end of my life in the literal sense but, it kind of is in some ways isn’t it? Come to think of it, I had loads of things I wanted to do before I was thirty and I don’t think I managed any of them so I can’t really complain. Things are going to change though. That’s for damn sure. Baby is in the post, on its way, it’s a done deal.

Boy or girl? Don’t care. Whenever I considered this in the past the result was always that I wanted a girl but that was before the years of trying. There comes a point where you couldn’t give a monkey what gender it is so long as it’s got two arms, two legs a head and a hole in its arse. In fact, scrap the hole in the arse. Perhaps I can have the world’s first non-shitting baby? So no I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl. It’ll be a happy day regardless.

With all good news there is also bad news though. My desk has to go. I love my desk. My massive computer and dual monitors sit on it. I love these things too. Oh, and my Captain’s chair, and my lamp. These things make up the little world I sit in when I’m writing the stories I’ll one day send off for rejection. Alas, they have to go. The room I’m sitting in now is to become a nursery and one day a bedroom again. I can no longer call it my office. Well, I’ve got a few months left to enjoy it. Well, no I haven’t. I’ve got a few months left to get used to the idea of it all going. I’m hoping to keep up with the writing and will be certainly be spending the next few months upping the output but, well, I think I’m more likely to become adept at changing nappies than publishing stories aren’t I? Still, I have plans. Contingency plans. After all, it can’t stay awake forever can it? As soon as it nods off I’ll be off to my computer… oh, no I won’t because that’ll be gone. Hmm, okay I’ll open up the laptop and get writing again. It’s a superb plan and will obviously work.

What other news? Ah yes, I finished a story today and spanked it off in the direction of Alternative Realities for consideration by Top Bloke, Matt Sylvester. Let’s hope he enjoys reading it as much I did writing it.

What’s next? Well for my next act I’ll be creating another work of fiction, this time for Emby Press in an effort to get into the Occult Detective anthology. This one’s edited by one Josh Reynolds no less so I’m super excited to be having a crack at this one.

Right then, that’ll have to do for the time being. There’s a mountain of dishes waiting for me downstairs that I just know the Mrs will go ape-hit over if I don’t get it done pronto.

M J