Frankie - my acclaimed middle chid - turns four today. Four! To celebrate, I'm reposting a blog I wrote for his third birthday. I know, kid doesn't know he's born. It's still pretty spot on, apart from the bit about him being three, which hasn't dated that well. Also, I'm pleased to announce that he now poos in the toilet (and the park, but primarily the toilet) and sleeps in a bed (our bed, mainly, but a bed nonetheless). You down with all that? Yeah? Cool, then here's my happy birthday to Frankie story.
There’s this kid, right, with a crazy mane of white-blonde hair and blue eyes to wade in, who’s three today. Three! Like all my children, his entry into the world wasn’t straightforward – on this occasion, quite literally.
I went for the usual check-up at 36 weeks, a good month before his scheduled due date of ‘Straya Day 2012, and the midwife poked and prodded, and the doctor poked and prodded, and an ultrasound was quickly done, and the doctor turned to me and said: “How far away do you live?” And I was confused, obviously, and she went on to explain that (the as-yet-unnamed) Frankie was transverse, lying sideways in my belly, and I was all, like, yeah, no big deal. And she was, like, actually VERY big deal, go home, pack a bag and I’ll see you back here in 20 minutes. Twenty minutes! I tried to explain that I had a six year old, and a husband, and work, and tickets for the Arctic Monkeys at Belvoir Amphitheatre, and a dog with a massive tumour on his head, and anyway I hadn’t cleaned the windows in readiness for my new baby’s arrival and couldn’t possibly consider a lengthy stay in hospital, as kind as the offer was, so thank you but no thank you. “Twenty minutes,” she said. “Not a second longer.”
Turns out, transverse babies ARE a big deal. If you were to go into labour with a baby in that position, the umbilical cord could pop out first (technical term), with dramatic consequences. So that was that. I went home, packed a bag, handed Ben (the child) and Barry (the dog) to my mum (turns out that would be the last time I saw one of them. The hairy one with the tumour. After a week with mum and dad, he was sent to a “better place”. Please see an earlier blog post to clarify the meaning of “better place”) and checked in. By that evening, Frankie was head down and vertical, and I thought I might be sent home to clean my windows. By the next morning he’d flipped 180 degrees and was tap dancing. Then by lunchtime he was back lying across my belly. He was quite the timekeeper.
After a week in hospital, as Frankie continued to move with meal times, the decision was made to deliver him, by c-section, that afternoon. I was devo. After my ridiculously long labour with Ben and subsequent caesarean, I was determined to do things as nature intended with Frankie, but hey ho, the only thing that mattered now was whether or not he was ginger. He was, as the deliveryman (obstetrician?) announced proudly as he produced Frankie from behind the sheet of shame. But oh, what a gorgeous little ranga he was, the very double of his pappa, all button nosed, bow lipped and perfect eared. I fell in love, as you tend to do with your own children, even if they’re a bit ginger. I can’t remember what he weighed, but he was teeny tiny, the real runt of the litter, although my super-powered breast milk soon put paid to that, and within a couple of weeks he was morbidly obese – so fat, in fact, that he popped his own bellybutton.
Oh, Frankie was HORRIFIC from weeks 6 to 12 (approx). I didn’t see it at the time, but there’s a reason we only have a few photos of him between two and three months old. He had acne, and a hernia, a massive head, and no neck to speak of. There WAS no flattering angle for this kid. Then, at about the time we took him to England, he kind of blossomed – some might say he grew into his own head – and his acne cleared, and the sellotaping of a 20c coin on to his massive bulbous bellybutton seemed to work (thanks Nanny Ivy), and we were able to take him out in public again.
My goodness he’s beautiful now. And smart. And wickedly funny. We all think that about our children, don’t we – even the mums with the kids like Ralph Wigan (Ben had one of those in his class last year, a real “I glued my head to my shoulder” kind of fellow, who spent his kindy year pretending to be a pterodactyl, to the point that Paul still calls him Terry) – but with Frankie, it’s true. He’s properly tuned into people’s feelings, and facial expressions; he wouldn’t go to Ben’s school for months after an “orange boy looked at me funny". When Paul and I had gastro, and were taking it in turns to spew, Frankie couldn’t cope; he stood at the bathroom door crying “no mummy, no daddy, no more coughing,” and if you’re ever a bit sad, or a bit teary, he just KNOWS, and he’ll come up and stroke your arm and give you a worried Frankie look.
Oh yeah, he can be a proper pain in the arse at times, as all toddlers can; he forced me to wash the sauce off the pasta last night because it was “bleurgh for me”, and he STILL refuses to sleep in a bed, or poo in the toilet, or eat from a plate that’s not blue, but he’s so funny that it’s impossible to stay cross at him for long. The other day he asked Paul what he’d just said. “Did you say, Frankie, do you want a Kinder?” “Err, no.” “DID you say Frankie do you want a Kinder.” “Definitely not.” “CAN you say Frankie do you want a Kinder?” “Frankie, do you want a Kinder?” “Yes please!”
He’s debilitatingly shy, to the point where he’ll physically wither (and scream, loudly) if faced with people he doesn’t know – or does know, but who aren’t immediate family members – but once he’s warmed up he’ll slay you with his intelligence, humour and uncanny knack for remembering hip-hop lyrics, especially the sweary drug-reference ones. So if you spot a crazy-haired naked kid swaying and murmuring, “Rollin’ down the street, smokin’ indo, sippin’ on gin and juice, laid back, with my mind on my money and my money on my mind,” wish him a happy birthday, ‘cos he’s three today.