The (true) Story of Millie Harriet Carter
Part 2 - at home

Read Part 1 - in hospital

Read Part 3 - things get back to "normal"

Read Part 4 - a year in the life

Read Part 5 - summer in the city

Read Part 6 - a second Christmas

Read Part 7 - a third year

Monday 5th September
OK, now I've noticed that this page was getting rather ludicrously big so I'm moving all the entries and photos of before Millie came home to its own page - here. I'm going to leave this up forever, once I've finished reformatting it and adding an introduction. Hopefully we'll be able to show it to young Millie, once she learns to read and appreciate great literature and high drama. ;-)
And just as a sort of epilogue to that part of our lives, I'd just like to say "thank you" once again to everyone who came to visit us, who gave us lifts, who bought us presents, sent us emails and just wished us well from a distance. Really, a thousand thanks to absolutely everybody; Millie and ourselves will always be grateful.

As for the young lady herself - she's very well and is settling in nicely at home. All the time we spent in hospital with her, watching and learning and being taught by the very patient (usually) nurses of Lewisham and St Thomas' helped us tremendously; I actually feel rather sorry for those poor parents who get sent home the day after their baby is born - that must be terrifying, being cast adrift knowing almost nothing about babies and what they can do.

Millie's going to Swindon to visit her grandparents for a few days tomorrow, as we've got Ron the excellent builder in, making sure that our new house works properly, as well as fitting our brand spanking-new kitchen for us, because the one we had before was, frankly, bollocks (these people plastered over wallpaper, couldn't be bothered to move the fridge when they varnished the floor, and painted shut every window in the house...!)

We also had Millie's other grandparents and auntie and uncle up over the weekend, which was ever so nice, even if Millie did vomit rather a lot - we think we were overfeeding her; anyway, she seems fine since we cut back on the amount of milk we give her. Learning all the time, eh? But Millie now has a v.v. smart pram from Granddad and Grandma Fisher that converts into all kinds of different shapes and should see her through till she no longer needs any sort of pushchair or pram. I'd love to show off and post a picture of it somewhere here, but I'm a bit tired and I haven't packed for tomorrow yet... Zzzzz...
Where was I? Oh, yes.
There may be some updates from Swindon, there may not. We think Millie's going to receive rather an unusual number of visitors while we're there, which will be nice, but will keep us busy; we won't be taking her out and about to see the "sights" of Swindon because we've been told she is still a little bit more susceptible to infections than most full-term babies, but it may rather stop me from updating this site. Still, it's another step for Millie - leaving London for the first time; in fact, leaving south London for the first time!

That address for the archive of the past few months again - it's here.

But don't despair, there'll be more Millie news on here soon enough. Maybe even a few fresh book reviews. Who knows, eh?


Saturday 10th September
Good grief, is it really five days since I last posted anything here? Time certainly flies when you're in Swindon at your parents with a small baby and your lovely wife, and everybody is being terrifically nice to you and buying you presents and asking how everything's going and taking loads of photos and stuff...
But thanks ever-so ever-so much to everyone who came to welcome Millie to Swindon - it was lovely to see you all, and especially nice to hear all the kind words and receive all the beautiful presents. Really, it was, and we came away feeling tired but very much loved, and hoping we didn't seem too ungrateful.

But yes, we're back now. doesn't quite feel like it yet, since the new kitchen is still not quite finished, due to some rotten floorboards having to be replaced (although it does look beautiful...) That and the fact that our new - and very nice - upstairs neighbours are having a BIG party tonight, which they warned us about, and have generously moved the sound system to the opposite end of their house to that which we sleep under, but still, the Lovely Melanie has taken Millie to stay the night with "Uncle" Local Businsessman Shash Khan and "Auntie" Megan. Yours truly is going for a quiet local drink with a couple of old friends and has elected to stay the night here and guard the campfire.

I have a whole bunch of pictures from Swindon to put up, but no time to put them up just now. I will say that in just the week since Millie came home I swear she's grown a noticeable amount. She's certainly grown out of some of her first clothes, something that amazes me, as she's been so small for so long that her getting "big" seems utterly impossible. Nevertheless, she's getting "big". ;-)

And remember, the "old" Millie page is safely archived away here, for when you get all nostalgic for the days of incubators and antibiotics.


Monday 12th September
Ahh, life at home without having to go to work - it's bloomin' great, isn't it? Just spending time with your lovely wife and daughter, free from cares and worries, nothing to do but read, change nappies and stare at a beautiful tiny baby...

Well, that's the theory. In reality I'm here updating websites while Mel and Millie sleep the sleep of the exhausted. The kitchen is still not quite finished, we have no food in the house, I've got two book reviews that I promised to write for various sites, a stack of books to be read for the Clarke Award, there's plenty of unpacking still waiting to be done - not to mention that I've yet to work out my DJ set for the Poodle Chaos night at the Canterbury Arms in Brixton on September 24th...

Still, never let it be said that I shirk my duties, for here is a page of photos taken from our very pleasant trip to Swindon last week.

What else? Well, we've noticed today that Millie no longer has blue eyes - she's followed her mother and gone hazel at the moment. I thought babies' eyes changed colour after they were born (so I wasn't expecting them to change yet - two weeks before her due date), but obviously it must be more to do with exposure to light or something, rather than developmental age... So, yes. Millie has hazel eyes (mine are a kind of blue-grey).
We're still getting the hang of taking care of a small baby; no disasters yet though, and that's after giving her a couple of baths, too! We have discovered that, like the proverb, you can lead a Millie to water but you can't make her drink...or she'll be sick all over you. Yep, we're supposed to feed Millie even if she's not hungry - she's still small (we're not sure how small - the Lovely Melanie will find out tomorrow at the doctor's) so she really needs to take all her food. Unfortunately no one has explained this to our girl. Being a Carter, however, she's stubborn but polite. She'll refuse to drink more milk but, if pushed, always gives in in the end and drinks some more. And then throws it up again.
So we're beginning to let her decide to some degree how much milk she drinks at a feed. Yes, she needs to take a certain amount, but we figure it's better if she takes most of her feed and keeps it than that she takes all of her feed and gives us a full refund on it a few minutes later.

Still, I am developing a complete immunity to baby sick. :-)


Tuesday 13th September

Putting photos up is so much easier than actually writing anything here, you know, and if left unchecked I could just keep sticking cute pictures up until my webspace allowance was completely used up.
But because some people have been so very complimentary about my writing :-) I shall add a few comments here, even though I'm really rather tired. What a goddamn hero I am.

Today saw the Lovely Melanie and Millie go outside for their first journey in the baby pram-carriage-buggy-thingie - the one bought for us by Grandma and Granddad Fisher. You can see Grandma Fisher in two of the photos above, looking very very happy with little Millie (and why not?) This is the same baby Millie who, out for her first ride in the new pram-carriage... today (as seen above - Millie's looking a bit sceptical about the whole business in the photo) was taken to a regular mother and baby clinic at our local doctor's - and was found to be a whopping great 4lb 14oz!
I mean, I remember the days when she was just 1lb 7oz, and now our little girl's nearly 5lb. She'll probably be into boys and make-up by the end of the week, I shouldn't wonder.

And so to bed.
Only...not to bed, because there's a feed due in an hour. Sigh. Let's hope it's one of the easy ones - Millie has a tendency to be either fast or slow with her feeds. Fast ones are great: you put the bottle in her mouth for 15-20 minutes, wind her and then go back about your business. Great. Slow ones involve putting the bottle in, wiping off the milk running down her chin, winding her, trying to put the bottle back in, waking her up, poking the bottle around her mouth in hope of getting a response, wiping up more spilled milk, winding again, and winding again whilst telling the Lovely Melanie that, no, actually, you don't need a hand, before finally just giving up, an hour or so after you started.
Late at night, when all you really want to be doing is sleeping, a slow feed can be most demoralising. And this is still before Millie has the requisite energy and tenacity for sustained, high-volume crying.
If she wasn't so cute and loveable I'd be getting quite nervous about now...


Monday 19th September
So many people congratulating me on doing such a good job with the website and what do I do? I stop writing for almost a week.
I have been meaning to write, you know, just as I've been meaning to do half a dozen DIY jobs, sort out the laundry, play with Millie more, write a book review, go to the shops, read some of ever-increasing the Clarke Award pile, etc etc etc.
And some of that stuff is actually getting done, but only some of it, and rather sporadically. I'll almost be glad to go back to work on Friday and relax a bit!

OK, where to begin? Firstly, thanks to all of our chums who came round on Saturday for a barbecue at ours - it was lovely to see so many people, especially those who we don't see that often. And thank you all once more for the presents for both Millie and ourselves. It was particularly nice to see so many people as I can't help feeling a bit paranoid that people are going to stop inviting us out or bothering to come round now that we're parents. Silly of me to think so, I know, but we're basically the first in my group of friends to have any kids - everyone else is still going out and having it large every weekend. However I was stunned at how much all of our party-loving, booze-hound, hedonistic, all-nighter friends took to Millie. They absolutely loved her to bits, something which I was really touched to see, and which made me love my friends all the more. :-)

Of course, Millie was pulling out all the stops when they were round - cute faces, wide eyes, gurgling noises and no nappy troubles whatsoever. She was sat outside with us, all wrapped up in blankets in her new bouncy pink chair and didn't make the slightest bit of fuss, bless her, not even when she was passed round the party to be cooed over by men and women alike.
Even cynical "Uncle" Spud couldn't help but smile at her.

And of course, Uncle Trev and Auntie Conny (my brother and his girlfriend) have been regular visitors, both making a tremendous fuss of their little niece, as have Auntie Kris and Uncle "Inspector" Tim, Mel's sister and her boyfriend. Fortunately we've just about managed (finally!) to get Millie's room in our new home cleared of boxes of junk, and Mel painted it a lovely yellow today. Just as well, because Millie's had so many presents from so many grand old folks that we need her room to store them all in!

No new updates on Millie's weight yet, although I think she's looking bigger and brighter with every day that passes. And not only that but she's looking remarkably like her old dad. Not like her old dad now, but like her old dad when he was just a baby, too. We saw some old pictures of me at my parents when we were over in Swindon, and every morning it strikes me anew how much Millie looks exactly the same as baby Stu. There's none of Mel in there at all - not a trace. I'm going to try to get hold of a scan of Baby Stu to post here so we can have a spot-the-difference.

Another thing that struck me was how like an old-fashioned video game changing a nappy is.
Firstly, it's because baby clothes are not very much like yours or mine; not simply because they're all pink or blue and almost always have some kind of soppy design on them. Oh, no. The way you put them on a baby is totally different as well. And baby clothes all have poppers on them instead of zips or buttons. Bibs have velcro, but everything else has poppers. Everything else.
The last time I saw poppers was on some old Action Man clothes back in the '70s! Luckily, I was a big Action Man fan so all that training and practice has come in handy.
But I was saying that changing a nappy is very much like an old-style video game.
First of all you have to solve the puzzle of the clothing - and the puzzle of the clothing is slightly different every time. Babygrows are generally easy to deal with, especially if short-sleeved, but even then you've got to make that decision whether to put it on over the head or the feet (you can do either with baby clothes - something I never knew before), and which way is going to cause the least amount of tears (clue: it's never the same end twice). Then you've got hats to put on and keep on (sounds easy, but a baby's head is very smooth and round - they shrug off hats like a duck shrugs off water).
Knitted cardigans are up a another level of difficuly - even more so if you've got a long-sleeved babygrow underneath a cardigan (two sets of long sleeves on a baby is asking for trouble - one will always ruck up and make her look particularly muscly). Then you've got your, as we call them, dunga-***king-rees, which have sleeves and straps and poppers, and the worst combination of all is the dunga-***king-rees over a long-sleeved babygrow with a knitted cardigan on top. And a hat.
You come across that combination in the baby clothing lottery and you may as well give up before you even open the nappy - especially if at the same time you have to deal with that big boss/end-of-level bad guy that is...a poo-filled nappy.
At least the end-of-level poo, like the big boss, only comes along occasionally, and if you manage to defeat it (I've had a couple of close calls) then you're always rewarded with a much much happier baby, not to mention a much healthier atmosphere in the room (I was telling my brother at the weekend: before we brought Millie home I saw these scented nappy sacks in the shops, for disposing of used nappies, and I laughed at them. "Tsk!", I thought. "Just put the nappy in the bin and spray some air freshener nearby, you big girls!" I thought - wrongly!! For scented nappy sacks are one of god's finest ever creations and I'm down on my knees praying at the altar of the scented nappy sack even as we speak. Mock ye not the scented nappy sack, oh, non-baby possessors!)


Tuesday 20th September
Sorry, was that a bit rambling and incoherent yesterday? It might not be much better today as I've been feeling rather headache-y and unwell all day - although, that didn't stop me getting out there and digging most of our new front garden this morning. I was only planning to dig up all the weeds with a little hand-fork, but it turns out that our front garden hasn't been dug since...well, ever, really, and our front garden is basically made of clay, so I had to get the big guns out - my full-size garden fork - and start digging up the whole damn thing with that. It was kind of fun for a bit: some genuine, honest, sweaty toil, and people walking by would say "Hello," or "Get in there," but after about 90 minutes I started to get blisters, so I've got to try and finish the rest tomorrow.
Still, it gives a nice sense of achievement, and the chance to get the smell of the earth in your nostrils, and just generally get a bit dirty, like a true horny-handed son of the soil! Much better than the accursed, never-ending DIY...

And Granny and Granddad Fisher came to visit today, as well - bearing gifts, too, as you'll see in the photos below. A remarkable (I think that's definitely the best word) outfit for Millie, which she looks outrageously cute in.
She's not actually been very cute otherwise today, what with throwing up copious amounts of milk all over my (hairy) chest this morning, and just generally being quite unhappy about something. Possibly the fact that she's getting more porky by the second - she was weighed today at 5lb 4oz. Quite a respectable amount, I think, considering she's still two weeks away from her due date...

I think, in that last picture with me especially, you can really get a sense of quite how much bigger 5lb 4oz is than 1lb 7oz...


Monday 26th September
My DJing slot went slightly better than I'd expected, you'll be glad to hear - I even had a couple of people come up to me and say they loved what I was playing! However, I think that's probably the last you'll hear from R2-DJ for a while; there's not much call for ex-indie kids with a taste for Japanese psych-rock and (apparently) "future-retro funk", as somebody called it. Not yet, anyway... Still, I'm told we made the Guardian's "Recommended Clubs" list in their Guide.
I'm afraid I got very drunk afterwards - that's the trouble with having an early slot, you've then got all night to drink and celebrate in! But we did discover, when I was rudely (and most foolishly in my opinion) awoken next morning, that I can change a nappy whilst still drunk. Common sense prevailed, however, when it came to doing the feed. Nobody wants a big, naked, hairy man breathing alcoholic fumes all over them when they're trying to eat.

Not the best week we've ever had with Millie (although, obviously, not the worst either). She's been a bit unhappy - doing some real proper crying, and even the occasional wail, sometimes for up to 15 seconds at a stretch! Plus, not sleeping as well as usual and tending towards vomituousness, particularly after feeds. Expert medical opinion is divided as to what's causing it - Dr Lovely Melanie is utterly utterly convinced it's "acid reflux", while Dr Stu is tending towards a diagnosis of "Just general baby gripes, maybe with some colic - it's hardly an exact science!"
Anyway, we've had a less happy baby at home with us these past few days. Whch is not to say we haven't been out having fun - we took Millie to Blythe Hill Fields, 10 minutes walk from our new home, this weekend, and as well as getting some very nice photos of all involved we introduced Millie to "Nature" and to "grass", as well as to "flowers".

Millie cried a bit, squinted against the light and fell asleep, much as her dad might do if taken to see an Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical.
Still, one thing guaranteed to put a Millie to sleep is taking her out in her buggy - you can bounce it up and down across uneven pavements as much as you like and she'll just snooze right on through, which is good to know (although I had a nightmare premonition of the Lovely Melanie and I in a few months time walking with Millie in buggy through the streets of a darkened Forest Hill at 2am...)

Much nicer was getting some lunch in a local cafe - it was a nice day so we sat outside with Millie in her pram and had a delicious lunch. We looked just like a normal family having a normal seafood salad (yum!) on a normal Saturday afternoon (I had entertained some dreams of going on the "anti-Iraq war" march that day with Millie, but, well, you's a long way into town with a pram, and as much as I think the invasion of Iraq was a stupid and evil thing, driven entirely by greed...I couldn't quite face marching against it - it won't be too long before goes on her first march though, I can promise you that!)

I must confess, I felt a bit silly pushing Millie's pram along at first (shockingly it was the first time I'd been out with her in it), I don't know why, and I certainly didn't expect to feel slightly embarrassed like that, perhaps I was just a bit self-conscious about the lack of "cool" that pushing a pram entails; who knows? Anyway, after we'd been out for about 15 minutes I felt fine with it - and I didn't do that stupid thing I've seen other dads do, whereby you push the pram to one side of you with just one hand, seemingly trying to pretend it isn't yours and isn't with you. I was proudly keeping two hands on the handle and pushing it directly in front of me!

Finally, my dad has been learning how to make and edit videos using his very smart video camera, plus some software I pirated for him, and we finally got to see the first tentative results last night - some video of Millie way back when she was still in an incubator, plus some of the bath-time sequence I took (which is on the Millie archive page somewhere, I think) overdubbed with some commentary, Stevie Wonder's Isn't She Lovely and some nice comedy touches, too. Both my parents were in tears after watching it (!), and even Mel and I had to agree that it was very very good - we're looking forward to a longer, more polished, finished effort now.


Wednesday 28th September
Millie now weighs 5lb 12oz.
And on the Saturday 8th of October (I think it is) she'll be 100 days old.
I'm going to try and remember that so when she's 100 months old (eight years and four months...?) I can say to her, "I remember when you were 100 minutes old. And I remember when you were 100 days old..."


Monday 3rd October
Termday Party!
Dad bought home a cake for Millie. Millie cried. Dad ate the cake. So did mum. Yum.

Today's the day that Millie was due to be born.
Somewhere in a parallel universe a very large and tired Melanie is at this moment huffing and puffing and doing all the usual woman-in-labour type stuff, and a little baby girl is waiting to emerge and see the world for the first time.
Of course, we don't live in that universe, we live in one that's been lucky enough to have had her on its' books for over three months now. I find it completely astonishing that it's still only now that she's "term". It feels like we've had her forever, and that traumatic time in June, rather than a great rend in the fabric of our memories, is already becoming just an exceptional kink in them. A bump in the road instead of the 12-car pile-up it could so easily have been.

Millie and I had a busy weekend. Saturday Mel went out to see some friends for the day so I took my little girl up to Forest Hill to meet her "Uncle" Spud in a vegetarian cafe place. It was the first time I'd been out alone with her in the buggy, and probably the first time "Uncle" Spud had spent more than 20 minutes in the company of a baby that he (a), wasn't related to, and (b) didn't actually dislike. So we had some tea and some organic cake and passed a very pleasant couple of hours. And I bought a broom, so it looked like Millie and I were taking part in a medieval joust on the way home.

Sadly, the evening was not to be so pleasant as not only did I make an utterly inexplicable hash of something as idiotically simple as trying to put some shelves up (I'm embarrassed to look at the one that has remained in place), but Millie had a very bad attack of acid reflux (all you non-parents, think of it as baby indigestion, but very painful) and screamed the place down for an hour until her mum got home. I could see in the Lovely Melanie's eyes that she obviously thought I was doing something wrong and that she could fix it, so I took a little bit of (very) guilty pleasure in Millie continuing to cry for another 45 minutes in her mother's arms.
That experience had it's good and bad aspects - bad in that Millie was obviously in real pain and there was nothing at all we could do about it, except to try and comfort her and hope it wouldn't last much longer; the upside was that Millie is now clearly capable of crying for well over an hour at a time, if she wants to.

Not only that but our boiler, that gives us all our hot water, broke, and so did the vacuum cleaner and so did my digital camera. If you'd wanted something demolishing this weekend you could have hired me to just walk past and whatever it was would've just fallen over. :-(

Still, never mind, eh? Millie and I, both recovered somewhat from Saturday's misadventures (and having Polyfilla'd the apparent bullet-holes left in the wall by my attempts at DIY) went to Peckham Farmer's Market. This was doubly exciting because not only did the Lovely Melanie not come but we had to catch the bus there, something we've never done before! I thought I'd do it early on a Sunday morning as the buses were likely to be quiet and getting a pushchair on board wouldn't be a problem.
Millie had what we call her "Doris" hat on (because it looks like the sort of hat an old lady named Doris might wear) and this kept falling over her eyes, but otherwise the whole trip was pretty uneventful. Millie was ogled by a few old ladies, I was asked for directions by a pretty young lady in Peckham (I could obviously be trusted as I was pushing a baby!) and we bought loads of veg, bread and cheese at the farmer's market. It was quite expensive bread, cheese and veg, but very tasty.
Whilst queuing, however, I couldn't help noticing how many other people there were with babies. In fact, there were two distinct types of people at the market: there were the hippy types, all very thin, with big woven shopping bags, and there were the posh types - again, very thin, all with those three-wheeled baby buggies that cost a grand and fold up to the size of postage stamp. The hippies were obviously there because, well, that's what hippies do, whilst the posh parents were there because they have babies (therefore they're not hungover after a Saturday night out on the town) and because they're posh and can afford expensive produce.
My "excuse" was maybe somewhere inbetween the two.

I really liked Peckham Farmer's Market, though, and I'll definitely be going again. Millie seemed somewhat ambivalent about the whole experience - definitely enjoying the bus ride, but not so sure about the market. Maybe she just doesn't like queuing with posh folk and hippies. That's babies for you - can't decide whether to eat and then sleep, or to sleep first and eat afterwards, let alone whether they're proletariat or bourgeoisie."Perhaps I'll just have a quick cry," they say...

Oh, and we got a Freeview hard-disc recorder this weekend, too. It's very nice indeed. And it hasn't broken like everything else in the house, either. :-)


Thursday 6th October
6lbs 4oz. That's what she weighs now.
Also, I've just bought a remarkably nice new camera, with a "Super Macro" mode (very very close-up pictures) and even a decent video mode - so expect some extreme close-up footage of Millie's chubby cheeks on here as soon as I've read the manual (well, glanced at the manual and played around with the camera long enough to make it work, anyway).

A busy weekend for us, too. My very old friend Richie May, his beautiful girlfriend Helen, and their new baby, Jack (who was supposed to be about three months older than Millie, but, as it turned out, is now a couple of weeks younger, are coming up from my old home town of Swindon to stay with us on Friday and Saturday - so we'll be having an evening of baby-related entertainment on Friday, which should be very nice and civilised.
Then on Saturday night Michael, another old friend, and his lovely girlfriend, Inge (she's Dutch) are coming round - due to them being skint (he's studying for his PhD) and us not really being able to go out much. So that's two birds killed with one stone right there!

Just to give you an idea of the probable level of the conversation (particularly on Friday) here are some "baby jokes" that the Lovely Melanie and I made up - and laughed hysterically over - one evening this week...

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
A baby.
A baby who?

An English baby, a Scots baby and an Irish baby walk into a pub.
The English baby says WAHHHHH! The Scots baby poos his nappy and the Irish baby demands some milk.

How many babies does it take to change a light bulb?
Three. One to poo his nappy, one to scream loudly and another to drink some milk.

Why did the baby say WAHHHHH! as he crossed the road?
Because he'd pooed his nappy and could see some milk on the other side of the road.

You had to be there really...


Friday 7th October (morning)
Oh. My. God.
The new camera is astonishing! We tried it out last night, straight from the box, just point-and-shoot, and the results were so far beyond the kind of thing I used to get from the "old" digital camera that it's hard to believe! The new camera's a doddle to use, starts up quickly and takes beautiful pictures almost by default. I checked as many reviews as I could find of it on the internet before I bought it, and they all said "Nice camera!" but it's better than nice.

I've stuck up some examples of these quickly-taken-pictures from last night below - a couple of them are slightly blurred, but that's because I was holding Millie on my lap with one hand and taking pictures with the other. And remember, these are from the first 20-odd pictures I've ever taken with the new camera, so give me a chance, eh? Even so, they're still better than all but the very best pics I took with the old camera!
Another thing I got excited about was the camera's night mode. Looking out into our garden last night I couldn't see a thing. Not a thing. It was pitch-black out there. But I took a couple of photos to try out the camera (both with and without the zoom on) and they came out beautifully: well-lit, colourful and in focus.
The Minolta Z1 is, as those noisy young people allegedly say these days, da bomb.


Friday 7th October (late afternoon)
Blair warns Iran - "There is no justification for Iran or any other country interfering in Iraq."
But, er... You see... Wait a minute, um, it's just that... Doesn't...? But he...they...erm...I... Does no one else...?


Thursday 13th October
People have been nagging me to put some more pictures up, so here are some more pictures.

Honestly, I may as well just change the name of the site to (not to be confused with) Millie.

Strange developments this week as I get the return of the "waking up in the middle of the night and, still half-asleep, being convinced we accidentally left Millie in the bed with us when we fell asleep" feeling. I had this when we first brought Millie home; I've no idea why. We do sometimes bring Millie into bed with us, but it's usually in the morning, practically never at night, so it's not as though it's likely to happen, or has ever even come close to happening. However, I've started waking up in the middle of the night again and searching through the pillows and blankets for Millie.
Any amateur psychiatrists out there with any suggestions? (not Freudian ones, please - I had quite enough of Freud's nonsense when I was doing my Master's in LitCrit).

Oh, and thanks to Rich and Helen and Jack for coming up to see us last weekend - we had a lovely time, and it wasn't the baby overdose I'd feared it might be, rather, it was good to be able to compare them both and swap notes. And of course, it's always good to see you both!
Thanks also to my brother Rich and Carla for the presents for Millie - she says, "Bleh-a-gub. Hip-ip. Ahhh..." Make of that what you will...


Friday 14th October
Don't be fooled by the cute pictures below (yes, even the sickie one), even as I was writing this page and adding the photos last night I could hear Millie screaming and howling in our bedroom - which, given the length of our flat, is some achievement! And she didn't really stop until about 3am.
Yep, 3am. Wailing, howling, screaming, crying, hollering, yelling and more. God knows why. She'd been fed (and regurgitated it again - that's our Millie, always sharing...), she'd been winded, she'd been played with, carried around and finally left to her own devices, to wear herself out and go to sleep.
But she never did.

Now, I remember the Lovely Melanie saying, just a few weeks back, "I'll never complain about her crying - we're so lucky to have her, I'll never complain." Which I kind of nodded vaguely at; but last night even the Lovely Melanie was getting fed up with it.

As somebody pointed out to us - this is what proper parenting is like. :-(


Tuesday 18th October
Two things, neither of them Millie-related (wait! come back...!)
I am very disappointed with the standard of satsumas around the Holborn area of London - so much so that I've just decided that plums are the new satsumas, this season. Holborn satsumas are lacking in juice and lacking in taste; they're not lacking in pips though, since they frequently have more than 20 pips in them (I kid you not - 3-4 pips per segment is perfectly usual!). That and the fact that they take an age to peel because the stupid skin breaks off in teeny-tiny little pieces, not the traditional broad swathes of yesteryear, have convinced me to abandon my traditional lunchtime satsuma...
The plums on the other hand...ah, the plums. Sweet, moist, not requiring a peel and guaranteed to have only the one pip in them - and that always in the same place!
Yes, plums are the new fruit of choice for me.

The other thing is my current status as a cyborg! Oh, yes! Terribly exciting - I've leapt forward out of the 21st century and into...well, into a slightly later part of the 21st century, really.
I'm not talking about my new phone (ahhh, my beautiful new phone...) or a particularly exotic mp3 player, I'm talking about the Continual Blood Glucose Monitor that I'm hooked up to for the next few days. A marvel of miniaturisation, (about the size of three Digestives stacked on top of one another) this is, as the name suggests, continually monitoring my blood glucose levels. I've got a tiny probe stuck under my skin on the right-hand side next to my stomach and connected to the monitor by a bit of wire.
Gosh, these are exciting times to be a diabetic, I can tell you. They'd be more exciting if the monitor would continually tell me what my blood glucose levels were...but it doesn't; it just records them for later downloading at King's Hospital. < br>I'm hoping to set off a few alarms going in and out of shops, so I can show off my new hotline to cyberspace at some point, but more likely, I think, is me getting the wire tangled round my genitals at some point while I'm trying to sleep. :-(
Brr, everytime I reread that sentence it makes me shiver...

Millie is fine, by the way. Under a harsh new regime that her mum has come up with, but fine. I'll tell you more about it in a few days, when we see if the cold showers and 5am reveille are having the desired effect...


Tuesday 18th October (post-bathtime)

Miss Millie's wardrobe is courtesy of Roger, Lynne, Nikki and Christopher.
Her father's is by...well, certainly no one's taking responsibility for that beard!


Thursday 20th October
I'm getting a bit tired of being a cyborg now, to be honest (see post below for what the hell I'm on about). I think I want to be just a regular, unaugmented human again. :-(

Millie had a very unhappy day yesterday - according to the Lovely Melanie she was crying all day and sicked up almost all of her food. Still, I thought the Lovely Melanie took it very well, only panicking a little bit and not losing her temper at all (I would have been the other way round). Of course, when it came time for robo-daddy to feed Millie in the evening she soon quietened down (True!)
I am suspecting the Lovely Melanie is too soft on her, despite the so-called "new regime", which mostly consists of Millie sleeping in her own room and having more baths. Not exactly the Spanish Inquisition...


Monday 24th October
Things I have learnt in the past 24 hours:
Millie can cry for a very long time at very high volume when she wants to. We got her home from Hatfield (full review and pictures to follow, er, soon) and she was utterly inconsolable. She cried all the way through Gremlins on TV (which I had been looking forward to seeing again - it was the first "15" certificate film I ever saw at the cinema - for my 13th birthday, no less; although, I had to try and get in twice as when the ticket lady asked me if I was actually 15 years old the first time I had a crisis of conscience and answered "No," so she wouldn't let me in - we had to try again 10 minutes later when she'd gone for her break, and this time I said "Yes," in a deep voice).
Er, where was I?
Ah, yes. Millie cried all the way through Gremlins, wailed all the time we were eating our tea, howled while I downloaded all the Hatfield photos, screamed while I unloaded the washing machine and screeched whilst on her own in her basket, till even the normally unflappable Lovely Melanie had to say to me, "You'd better take her - it's really starting to get me now."
At which point Millie suddenly gave up and went to sleep.
Stopped, like turning off a big, bright-red-faced, screaming tap.
And the Lovely Melanie and I both giggled slightly hysterically.
It was a nerve-jangling end to a lovely weekend spent with her grandparents and relatives in Hatfield (yes, yes; full review and pictures to follow when I have the time to sort the pictures out and check the spellings of some names).

Another thing I have learnt in the past 24 hours is that Paperback Writer by the Beatles is a very good song. It was one that had always kind of slipped by me previously, but I heard it this morning whilst on my way to work in the rain, and it's a great song.
Now, let's see if we can't learn something else nice today as well.

Oh, and I'd just like to mention little Josh, who was at Lewisham Hospital while Millie was there, who sadly died over the weekend. After Millie came home he'd had to stay in hospital with a seemingly never-ending run of bad luck, and even though he fought and fought and fought and fought, he eventually ran out of luck. Just to say to his parents, we're thinking of you both. We know it could so easily have gone the other way for all of us...


Friday 28th October
Nope, the Lovely Melanie has still yet to sort out the wheat from the chaff with the Hatfield pictures, but doubtless they'll turn up here one day when you least expect it (and hopefully before Millie starts school).

We do have to thank lots and lots of people though, which we can't really leave any longer, so I'll do my best here...
Special executive thanks to: Cathy and Carrie for organising Millie's "baby shower" on Saturday - it was a lovely afternoon, and we were quite touched by the amount of effort you'd put into it all. And just goes to show you can have a nice time at a party without getting drunk (I never really believed my parents before when they told me that...)

And for more presents (yay!) and just generally making the three of us feel a bit special, the award goes to...Cathie (again) and "Mr Incredible", Carrie (again), Tim and Jasper, Rob, Tori and Tori's mum (I feel dreadful putting "Tori's mum" but I'm at work at moment (supposedly subtitling Are You Being Served, heh heh heh) and can't remember your bloomin' name, my dear - but it was lovely to meet you, and please accept my apologies for being a bit useless!).
Back to the thanks: Steve and Kathryn, Carol, Sue, Kayleigh, Jean, Don, lovely Mel (not "The Lovely" - a different lovely Mel) and...and just everyone who came to see us in Hatfield. Well, came to see Millie, anyway. Thanks very much. Indeed. Thank you. Thanks. Cheers.

In Millie news this week...the girl had another vaccination on Wednesday, this time for, (COUGH) disease. You know the one. And I'm reliably informed that she cried so much that it was a miracle her liver didn't pop out. She now weighs 7lb 4oz, which isn't as much weight gain as usual, but a very respectable figure nonetheless.

And the big news this week is that she almost has eyebrows now! After all this time with a perfectly featureless forehead our little girl now has the merest trace of some eyebrows. Don't get carried away though, they're so faint that a determined old lady could probably wipe them away with a handkerchief and a dab of saliva. However, bathtime has failed to remove them so we must conclude that they're here to stay.

A busy weekend for all of us, as my parents are coming up early on Saturday. They haven't seen Millie for almost a month (I have no idea how my mum has managed this extraordinary feat of self-denial) and are going to be surprised how much bigger and louder she is, I think.
For our part, it means the Lovely Melanie and I get to go on a f***ed-up drunken bender on Saturday night! Whoo-hoo! Although, actually, we might just go to the cinema in Brixton, actually.
Anyway, I can't afford to be hungover at the moment - quite apart from being a dad, I've got a stack of books that comes up to my knees to be read for the Sir Arthur C. Clarke Award! judging in the next two months. I had thought I was doing so well, and then yesterday all the entries from Gollancz arrived. Sob.


Monday 31st October
Indeed they are - very slippery customers. Take Millie, for instance, our brown-eyed girl - or so we thought! Now it would appear that the last vestiges of her mother's DNA have been overcome and her eyes are turning the same colour as those of her dad: a grey-blue colour.

Fearsome stuff, the Carter DNA - it assimilates everything it touches...just by reading this website you're probably becoming more like me without even realising it! But don't be scared - join us...

A lovely (if busy) weekend was had by all. Except Millie, who cried through a lot of it, just to show her grandparents that she could.
Much work was also done on the house and garden, and Mel and I went to the cinema and saw Jim Jarmusch's new film, Broken Flowers which, even though it had Bill Murray in it, was slow and only sporadically entertaining. I would say that if you've managed to struggle through the first turgid 30 minutes then stick with it - it gets a bit better after that. We actually wanted to see Cronenburg's A History of Violence but it being half-term every cinema in London was only showing Wallace & Gromit and The Legend of Zorro. Sigh. Typical, isn't it - the one night Mel and I have to go out together to the cinema and there's almost nothing at all on! Still, it was nice to go out together for a change, and we had a nice time.


Monday 31st October (continued)
We had another photographic "jamming session" tonight.


Tuesday 1st November
You know you live in a "nicer" area...when you get four trick or treaters call at your house on Halloween.
I've never had them come round in my previous enclaves of domestic bliss. Last night we had four groups (although, one was a single young lad - about 10? - all on his lonesome. The fool! Has he never read the Daily Mail?? Doesn't he know that Rohypnol-doping, asylum seeking, NHS-scrounging lower-class paedophile druggies could cause his mortgage rate to slip down the school league tables in the EU if he's out on the street on his own?! Or something.)


Monday 7th November
Millie currently has a cold.
It's officially not bird flu, and she's taking it remarkably well, considering how badly she ordinarily takes things that you or I wouldn't bat an eyelid at (e.g. being laid on her back, having dinner brought late or early, not having her chair rocked for more than seven seconds, baths, being dried after a bath, having her nappy changed, not having her nappy changed, being carried around against anyone's chest, being put in her buggy, mirrors, sunlight, hats, et cetera et cetera).

But, no, a cold is not among these things. We who are in permanent danger of getting a faceful of snot from a sudden sneeze or a slug-trail of the same substance across our clothes from a snuffling nose are also finding it highly amusing for the most part. We'll probably never be quick enough to catch Millie's expression of surprise on camera (which is a shame because I could probably retire on the royalties from that photo) but it's a sight; second only to the expression of horror on her face the other day when a particular violent burp caught her by surprise in the middle of a feed.
How we laughed! Having a baby is great sometimes, like having the world's best slapstick comic performing in your home all the time.
Sorry, did I say "sometimes"? Of course, I meant all the time, of course!

Good grief, we've got a new (wireless!) keyboard, too, but it's a special anti-RSI one, which is good, I suppose, but does mean that I'm almost having to learn to type again from scratch, trying to get used to the layout of the damned thing. So forgive me if I sign off now - it's not merely from alphanumeric frustration but also because I'm on a First Aid refresher course over the next few days and have to revise for the exam thing tomorrow. To compensate for the potentially poor typography and shortness of this entry I leave you with two photos of Millie taken at bathtime on Bonfire Night (Nov.5th for any overseas readers...)


Wednesday 9th November
More exciting news about the Sir Arthur C. Clarke Award (which, you may recall, I'm one of the 2006 judges for).
I should probably put some kind of read-o-meter on this site to show how much reading still remains to be done before the 28th January (when we meet to pick a shortlist). Currently there's about two-thirds of a meter of bookage still to be read.
Two-thirds of a meter. And I've got two and a half months to read it all in. Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ho ho ho! Ho ho. Mm. Ahem. Hm.... Oh, dear.

Also, we thought we'd try and be a bit greener regarding Millie's nappies, and ordered some washable cloth nappies, ones shaped like disposables, but made of cloth.
I had to change my clothes twice yesterday after piss leaked all over them. Bloody hippies have got a lot to answer for, I can tell you!
It's back to the eco-disposables for us, I think. Still a lot of waste, but no harmful lingering chemicals.
And no baby urine over my trousers either.


Monday 14th November
We had to go back to the hospital with Millie on Friday evening, which was very strange. The same dreadfully familiar train journey from work, the same short walk to Lewisham Hospital, just a different ward this time.
First of all, Millie's fine.
I'll just repeat that: Millie's perfectly all right. We were told to go to A&E by our GP but only as a sensible precaution and because it was the quickest way to see a pediatrician.

Now, as many of you will know, Millie has a pretty frightening-looking lump on the back of her head; it's called a strawberry nevus (amongst other names) but it's basically a scary-looking bumpy red birthmark that, given a few years, will almost certainly disappear (and even if it doesn't it'll be hidden by Millie's hair). This, we noticed, had scabbed over partly, and had also been a bit of a sensitive spot for Millie for a few days - which isn't unusual - but then we noticed there was a little bit of a smell around it.
Not an awful smell but a slightly unpleasant metallic sort of smell. Millie was otherwise absolutely fine but since babies aren't supposed to smell like this the Lovely Melanie took her to the doctor's on Friday, and they recommended Millie be checked out at the hospital.
Lewisham Hospital were very helpful, as always, and two doctors both agreed that there wasn't anything to worry about at the moment, but that we should keep an eye on the lump anyway, and they gave us some cream to put on it (more to give us something positive to do to help than for any real practical reason, I suspect).

Still, come Sunday the smell was still there - detectable from about a foot away from Millie by now - and we were still worrying about it. There was still no change in Millie, she was still fine, but in the afternoon during a feed I suddenly noticed that where the scab had been was now a small empty round hole in the middle of it and some pus (or something) visible inside.
I confess, even I was a bit shocked by this - the hole was wide enough to fit a headphone plug and maybe a third of a centimetre deep, which doesn't sound like much but on a small baby like Millie it looked more.

A bit of an anti-climax really, but we put some more cream on, checked Millie was OK and have since kept the area even nicer and cleaner than before.
The good news is that since the scab/wound/whatever has "burst" the smell has definitely gone, and Millie has still yet to even notice anything wrong. She's going for a regular hospital checkup tomorrow anyway, so the Lovely Melanie's going to point out the problem again to the doctors and may well ask to be referred to a dermatologist, as quite apart from this whole thing not being good for Millie it's rather disconcerting for us, her parents, too!
The lump has always made it slightly awkward to hold her (particularly during feeds and bath time) but if there are going to be problems with infection then I think perhaps we need to look seriously at getting something done about it - despite the fact that most doctors prefer to leave such things alone and let them sort themselves out. But we'll see.

In the meantime, shortly after all this, I was getting more worried about something entirely different.
Millie's technically six weeks old now, and although she's putting on weight and feeding and everything else physical we've yet to see her properly smile. Not only that but according to some experts by now she should be making regular eye contact with us, responding to our presence and engaging in other such little rewarding activities for the parents.
And the fact is that Millie doesn't really make much eye contact - in fact, she often seems to deliberately avoid eye contact, preferring to stare at walls, bookcases, windows, lights, the TV, etc.
I hadn't been bothered by this until I suddenly read something about baby development yesterday, and was suddenly seized by The Fear.
If you're not a parent then you probably don't really get it, although you might understand what I mean: that your child might have something wrong with her. I don't want to even write the words particularly, but, yes, autism or something.

So I can't tell you what an astonishing relief it was to all of a sudden, out of the blue, for the first time Millie smiled at me after her feed last night.

We'd had a particularly dispiriting feed, what with the lump on the back of her head, Millie spraying milky sick everywhere, and with me - suffering from The Fear - constantly trying to get Millie to meet my eyes or acknowledge my presence somehow. She absolutely hadn't been doing it - not matter how much I smiled at her, bobbed my head about or chatted endlessly away to her, she'd rather look at the wall than at me.
It was a bit of a low point, I have to be honest.
Which only made it all the more amazing that suddenly, out of nowhere, right then, just when I needed it the most, her eyes met mine and she gave me a huge smile! I shouted out to Mel, and she ran in and told me it was just wind or coincidence, as usual. So we did it again: I sat Millie in front of me, looked her right in the eyes, smiled and told her how clever she was...and she looked me in the eyes right back and beamed!

Her mum cried, her dad almost cried, and we were so happy.
Then for her feed this morning, she wouldn't look me in the eyes again, and I thought, did I imagine it last night? Are we building nothing up to be something...? But no, again after her feed she looked at me and smiled like a goddamn bona fide angel, and all our fears were allayed.
Until the next time, I guess. It's a roller-coaster ride. And if it's not one thing it's another. I keep thinking, surely after all we've been through we must be due a nice, quiet, easy couple of years...?

And apologies to any grandparents whom I may have just accidentally scared the Bejesus out of with this post. We didn't tell you any of this over the weekend because we didn't want to worry you (and no, there isn't anything else we're keeping from you!)


Tuesday 15th November
No Millie news today - I had to do the "socialising with work" thing last night so I've barely seen her for 24 hours. :-(
Still, the Lovely Melanie's off out on the piss on Wednesday so it's just me and the girl in that night, and we can do a bit of father-daughter bonding. I'll let you know how that goes. The thing is, you can never really predict whether it's going to end up with beautiful smiles on both sides, or if it'll be one of those nights where I end up saying though gritted teeth, "Yes, I think it might be time to SHUT UP now, Millie," as has once or twice happened in the past.

One entirely unrelated thing to add here... Actually, TWO entirely unrelated things: this weekend me and the fambly (not a mispelling, that's what we're calling ourselves these days) are going to Brighton for the Brighton Comics Expo. Well, I'm going for the Comics Expo (I've got a press pass! My first ever press pass! I'm reporting on it for Emerald City) - the Lovely Melanie and Millie are just going because I'm going, really. Although, since we're staying in the Hilton on the seafront it should be a nice weekend for everyone. And we get to show Millie the sea for the first time, too; even if it is the sea in Brighton in the middle of November...

The second thing is of no interest to anyone unless you're a bit of a geek and you have a Java-enabled mobile phone (that'd be one of them there fancy ones what has a colour screen), because the makers of my most favourite (and now free!) web browser - Opera - have released a version for the aforementioned Java-enabled mobile phones. If your phone can access the internet then you really really really want to download the new (free!) Opera Mini.
It's basically a web browser for your phone, but - like it's big brother, the full Opera, it's waaaaaay better than any other internet browser. The big thing in it's favour, however, is the fact that it trims and streamlines webpages before they're downloaded to your mobile, thus saving you money (because viewing webpages on mobiles isn't the cheapest way to do it, sadly)


Tuesday 15th November (evening)

A bit blurred, yes, but I think you get the general idea...


Friday 18th November
Generally, as a rule, I dislike using the term "miraculous" to describe something; mainly because of the religious connotations surrounding the word, and particularly when talking about Millie, where people are already inclined to cast their reason out the window (me included) to describe her entry into the world, her subsequent survival and, well, just when talking at all about how wonderful she is.
It is nothing short of miraculous, but as a hardcore atheist I see it as a mixture of "luck" and the skill and professionalism of the doctors and nurses of the NHS - a remarkable event more than any kind of divine intervention. That kind of miraculous.

But, as usual, I digress.

I was just going to mention that this week we've have had two doctors make the point that Millie's survival and subsequent progress have been nothing short of "miraculous". Both of them, upon looking at Millie's notes, have commented that it's extremely rare for a baby born three months premature to make it this far with no setbacks at all.
One of them even asked the Lovely Melanie, "Which infections has she had?"
Not "Has she had any infections?" but which ones, because premature babies "always" get at least one.
When the Lovely Melanie told her that Millie had been - ahem - hale and hearty since birth the doctor couldn't help reiterating just how unusual that was.
Almost miraculous, you might say. If you were that way inclined.