Monthly Archives: April 2012

All about Saskia…

Looking cute

So this post is going to be mainly about Saskia, for two reasons:

Firstly I know many people will be wondering how she is getting on – there are family and friends from far and wide who haven’t seen her for a long time, or in some cases are yet to meet her. So this blog seems like the perfect opportunity to share some of her news and a few photos.

And secondly, I don’t really have much news myself. Since my last post any noticeable chemo side effects have gone, leaving only my back to worry about. Even that has improved since the weekend – although I still have to rest it and avoid standing for long periods. Walking is ok, and sitting can be ok, depending upon the position. The problem is mainly standing still – I had to do a little hopping-from-foot-to-foot dance while standing in the queue at the pharmacy the other day. I made sure I pulled lots of grimacing faces, so that people knew I was in some kind of pain, and not just mental. Maybe they just thought I was desperate for the toilet.

So, back to Saskia then – well, she seems to have come on so much in the last month or so, she is developing so quickly. Whether her development has accelerated, or if it just seems like that to me as I have been spending more time with her, I don’t know. Either way, I do know that it has been lovely to have the opportunity to spend this time and bond with her (despite the circumstances).

Rolling in the park

Probably her biggest and funnest news is that just over a month ago she started ‘baby led weaning’. For those unfamiliar with this concept it basically eschews the traditional idea of purees, liquidising food, and spoon feeding your baby. Instead you put normal food in front of them, and let them discover the food and feed themselves. She still has breast or formula milk in addition to the solid food, so if she doesn’t fill up on solids it’s not the end of the world – at this early stage it’s as much about exploring and learning about food as it is about eating.

Obviously the food has to be healthy (no cheeseburgers!), and if necessary cut or crushed to avoid choking (grapes are either squashed or cut into quarters for example). But usually we find she can have all or at least some of what we are having, even if we are eating out.

“What’s that Saskia? You want Daddy’s side salad – oh ok then, Daddy will just have to make do with just the burger and chips. But I hope you appreciate it – Daddy was looking forward to that side salad most of all”.

Saskia - big fan of food (in this case cauliflower cheese and potato)

In just over a month she has racked up an impressive list of foods – at last count we think at least seventeen different types of vegetable; at least fifteen different types of fruit; chicken, roast beef, cod, bread and toast with various toppings, porridge, boiled and scrambled eggs, omelette, yoghurt, cheese, shepherds pie, risotto, pitta bread dipped in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and probably much more that I have forgotten.

Watching her try all these foods has been a lot of fun (and very messy) – she seems game for anything. Sometimes the first taste of a new food brings the funniest faces (see the ‘Saskia vs Broccoli’ picture below), but she never gives up – she goes straight back for more, and is yet to reject anything we have given her. She seems to have inherited her Mummy’s diverse taste in food, combined with her Daddy’s ability to shovel in vast quantities (not sure the latter is a good thing!).

Saskia vs Broccoli

This baby led weaning has also had several positive side effects, both for Saskia and for us:

Firstly, because we are now sharing our meals with Saskia, we are eating a lot more healthily ourselves. Sally has always been quite a healthy cook anyway, but with Saskia now sharing in our meals it has added an extra incentive. Which all coincides neatly with my need for a healthy, balanced diet, given my current situation (which has led to what Sally has termed ‘Daddy led weaning’ – where she puts a pile of fruit in front of me, and watches as I discover the food and feed myself – no photos to show I’m afraid).

Secondly, it keeps Saskia occupied while we eat our meals. Last Sunday we managed a full three course Sunday lunch in a pub, while she sat in a high chair happily making her way through a pile of vegetables.

And finally, the act of feeding herself, having to pick up the food and move it to her mouth, seems to have enhanced her development of hand eye coordination and fine motor skills (although you might not believe that when you look at the picture below!).

Saskia vs Porridge

Away from the dining table she has also been practising these skills – everything that comes within reach now needs to be grabbed, tasted, shaken violently, and then banged against anything and everything nearby. All as urgently as possible, before moving on to the next thing to come within range, and repeating the process.

Over the last month or two she has become far more responsive and proactive, observing and interacting with her surroundings. Changing her and getting her dressed is now more akin to wrestling, as she wriggles, rolls over, and attempts to launch herself off the changing table. Bath time is no longer a case of washing her as she passively lies there – it’s now a job just to keep her in the bath, as she tries her level best to escape, along with drinking the water, splashing around violently, playing with her bath toys (usually violently), etc.

Bath time is fun time!

She has also found her voice, and very much likes the sound of it – talking to herself, other people, her toys, etc. She has unfortunately inherited her Mum’s trait for occasional, inappropriate, excessive volume.

Mobility-wise, her main mode of travel is rolling sideways, although she is very close to crawling. She can get up on all fours – sometimes on her knees, and other times just her hands and feet (as if she were doing press ups). Once up on her knees she rocks herself forwards and backwards, but is yet to grasp the idea of putting one knee in front of the other. We don’t think it will be long though before she gets it, and we find her across the room eating out of the cat bowl.

So there you go, that’s most of her news for now. All in all, she is a good natured and contented little thing. Sure, she has her moments like any baby – but generally she gives us very few problems, and brings us an awful lot of laughs, so we consider ourselves very lucky (although I prefer to put it down to awesome parenting!).

Right… well if you made it this far through all the ‘doting Daddy’ writings then well done, and thanks for reading! Just one last photo for you…

Saskia and Mummy watching footballers in the park


Filed under Saskia News

That difficult third post…


(ok, so I know the phrase is supposed to be ‘that difficult second album’ – but I’ve already written my second post, so it’s too late for that. And under the circumstances, I think I will allow myself the small pleasure of misappropriating the odd phrase for my own purposes)

So it’s been just over a week since my treatment. In terms of side effects, a few more came on over the weekend. Started to feel a little grotty Friday evening, and felt dead tired Saturday (and a little ‘not with it’ – not dissimilar to being hungover).

I was worried for a while I was developing a chest infection / fever – which would have been bad. I have a little yellow ‘this patient is on chemotherapy’ card from the hospital, which lists the circumstances under which I immediately have to go to A&E, including high temperature, flu like symptoms, etc, etc. I didn’t really want to go to A&E, not on my first cycle at least! But fortunately with some early nights and resting, it didn’t materialise into anything significant.

My back has been giving me grief over the last few days – as mentioned in my first post the lesion on my spine is giving me sciatic pains down both legs. Not sure what’s made it worse the past few days – I think I slept awkwardly Friday night due to not feeling well; or maybe it just seems worse as a result of being a bit more sensitive to pain in general the last few days (a chemo side effect I assume).

Sally has been amazing (as ever), doing the vast majority of the Saskia work (entertaining, changing, bathing, feeding of porridge, removing of porridge from nose, ears, eyes, hair, etc) while I rest to help my back recover. Hopefully it will improve soon and we can share the load a little more evenly.

All that makes it sound like the last few days have been terrible – which I should stress isn’t the case. On Friday the three of us had a lovely sunny alfresco lunch at ASK (courtesy of our Tesco Clubcard vouchers – guilt free lunch tastes even better). And I’ve even begun venturing back into social situations – met with some NCT (ante-natal) friends Friday afternoon, and spent some very enjoyable time with friends Saturday and Sunday.

The last few days have also brought more acts of kindness and generosity. We’ve had a hamper full of goodies, offers of financial support, been treated to lunch, and plenty more messages of support and goodwill. I also received a collection of Daniel Kitson (stand up comedian) material to watch – which is good and very timely, as over the last month I have exhausted Stewart Lee’s (another stand up comedian) entire back catalogue. My recent routine has been something like this…

Go to hospital, get told you have cancer… go home, watch a Stewart Lee DVD to take your mind off it…

Go to hospital again, get told your cancer is worse… go home, watch another Stewart Lee DVD to take your mind off it…

And so on…

I wonder what will happen if (or thinking positively, ‘when‘) I go to hospital and get good news? Perhaps I’ll feel the need to come home and watch a documentary about cancer, just to keep myself on an even keel psychologically.

Right, I think I will leave it there for now – thanks to all those who have viewed the blog so far, and sent feedback and messages of support as a result – it’s been very encouraging.

I think I will try to make the next post about Saskia, for a bit of a change / light relief. Going swimming with her this morning – should be fun.

P.S. If any of you want to receive blog updates automatically, there is a button near the top right called ‘follow’. Click here, enter your e-mail address, and it should e-mail you whenever I make a new post, to save you checking back and finding nothing new.


Filed under Battle with Melanoma