Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Boobmas!

Christmas in Canada. Snow on the pines, the river part-frozen, the hot-tub steaming in the night air, Grandparents fussing over babies, babies fussing over why it's daytime when it should be night... ah, Christmas in Canada. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A view from the inside

I’ve just been sent a link to some images which I’m not sure I can accurately classify. One of my very closest friends is pregnant and has had a 3D scan of her baby, resulting in a series of images which, while are very cute, are also somewhat disturbing on several levels. Firstly, the scan doesn’t catch everything and so one image shows a view of the child’s face with a cut-out in the skull which appears to show the inside of it’s head. The images are startling in their clarity and look like the wax sculpture designed to melt away when casting bronze – a little lumpy, a little featureless but none-the-less clearly a baby with distinct features.

One part of me wants to coo over this premature sighting of the baby’s face, another part of me wants to marvel at the technology and these cool, arty images - however another part of me rebels slightly – I mean, we thought we were pretty good by getting photographs of Charlie out on email 5 hours after he was born but we’ve been pipped to the post by this – pictures from inside the womb. What’s next? Pictures from inside the testicles? “ And here you are descending the fallopian tube to meet Daddy’s sperm.”

I’m not sure I’d like to send pictures of the inside of my womb around to everyone. Although, come to think of it, I did do just that – but it was a fuzzy, hard-to-distinguish image of something that could be a cloud or perhaps a potato - while this is in pretty raw detail, placenta and all. And let’s face it (or rather, let’s avoid it at all costs), the placenta is a pretty disturbing piece of human anatomy. Oh yes, perfectly natural, after all we were all attached to one at some point in our lives. But still. Anyone who has come face to face with an actual placenta can back me up here… It’s distinctly meaty. And it may be just me but I’m not that keen to think I’ve produced something that would sit happily on a plate next to some onions. Oh, I know. They’re perfectly healthy. Absolutely guilt-free. Nothing died in the production of this placenta. No little placenta had their leaves torn off but… well I didn’t fancy looking at mine let alone eating it and I don’t think I much want to find myself face to face with the 3D image of someone else’s.

The baby however is very cute and has increased my terrible broodiness. I don’t know if broodiness is the correct term… it’s like someone who wants another cigarette before the first one is done, or has to order another drink while the first is still a quarter full… Charlie is only 3 months old but it’s clear that before long he will no longer be a baby and here I am, the world’s most reluctant mother having never wanted a baby in my entire life, trying to work out how to con D into timing another pregnancy so that just as this baby is finishing and becoming a toddler, I can have another one. Chain-babying. I must have an addictive personality. Who knew?

I can see why my friend has sent the images however. There is definitely something insipid about motherhood, it slowly perverts, diverts and subverts one’s sanity and pulls down the walls of common sense. One finds oneself indulging in peacock displays of all things baby on an increasing scale. As this is my friend’s third child, I can only imagine that she’s very far gone and take a sort of fond pity on her, knowing full well I will never sink to such depths simply because D is unlikely to allow me to have a second child, let alone a third. I can imagine that the walls come down on an exponential basis with each additional child and I have no idea how my friends with more than two children cope with the simple daily encroachment of insanity let alone the day today logistics.

In the meantime, back on the slippery slope, however many images I have of my son it seems there are never enough. While I have no images from inside the womb, I have become one of those parents who will have ten thousand images of their baby before the age of one and who will force everyone in her immediate circle to look at them. In fact, everyone in the general vicinity. I may have t-shirts and posters made up. Coming soon to a wall near you.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Bored in the nursery

Disappointingly I created the last post over the week gone by and it managed to disappear somewhere other... somewhat like the last 3 months of my life.

I couldn't really tell you very much about the two weeks since my last post - in fact, without this blog and the contents of my 'sent items' folder in my emails I couldn't tell you anything about the last 3 months at all.

What I do recall is basically a flicker book of repeated moments, most of which involve breastfeeding. However, since I put my back out and have started feeding Charlie lying down, even those memories are fading as about 20 seconds after I lie down beside him and latch him on to a boob, I fall asleep. In fact, I am getting more sleep than is publically acceptable for a new mother. The downside to this is that so is Charlie which means we are staying up progressively later and later every night, 'we' being Charlie because all mothers refer to their offspring as 'we', I've noticed. 'We had a good feed this morning didn't we?' 'Didn't we do a good poo?' 'We love our bouncy chair' 'Aren't we going slowly around the bend?'.

Tonight we were awake until 10pm (with a few catnaps thrown in) and we are now having nightmares about something. Not sure what a baby has nightmares about. Being left alone in the cot for five minutes while Mum sneaks in a crafty trip to the loo? The boob falling out before we're finished? Perhaps it's the shark attack we let him watch on TV tonight. Charlie isn't allowed to watch TV because of the reported link between children watching fast-moving images on TV and hyperactivism, however while he was feeding I let him watch a very slow-moving and beautifully filmed nature documentary, in the middle of which a shark ate a seal in slow motion. I somehow doubt his baby mind is dreaming up sharks however and so I'm quite concerned about this early predisposition to nightmares.

I do try to make Charlie's days interesting, however as he is not so easily amused these days and he is also not yet fully able to amuse himself due to lack of motor skills, making his day interesting means paying him a lot of attention, which means that I don't get anything done. So, between getting up, feeding him, dressing him, changing him, amusing him and getting him to bed there's not much time to formulate day-specific memories. Some afternoons he can happily sit playing with his hands and cooing to himself but some days, any attempt on my part to have anything resembling a moment to myself results in swift revenge - shouting, yelling, screaming and, if I am so bold as to stay in the kitchen buttering my toast through all three of these stages, inconsolable sobbing, as though he had been left alone at the end of time. Interestingly, (and appropriately) inconsolable sobbing can be consoled by in-action. After I finally can't stand it any more and rush to the side of my offspring over-flowing with motherly love (amongst other things) I usually find him happily playing with his fingers, or fast asleep.

Actually, Charlie's occasional fits of rage are becoming more and more well-timed. He can sense an important phone call before the phone ever rings and can time his once-a-day poo for the precise moment we are leaving the house 10 minutes late. I suspect I may have a budding Machiavelli sobbing quietly to himself in that cradle. At least he'll give me something to remember at some point.

Soon, I hope.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

The winds of change...

Well here we are, 10 weeks in and still alive. It's actually quite difficult to remember life without Charlie. It's as if I've had the mental builders in ripping out old memories and putting up new ones. Not that I forget what it was like to be free to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted... I just... forget what it was like. Or rather, I remember, but in my memory Charlie is somehow there, like having a dream in which you are talking to Ghengis Khan and it's perfectly normal. In other words, I suppose, it feels as if Charlie has always been around. This must be another one of those sneaky Motherly Love tricks designed to obliterate the blissful memories of going brightly off to the spa with friends, doing a spot of shoe-shopping on the way home to ones immaculate appartment where one puts on a gay little dress and trips merrily out of the house to dance all night with some young swain. I must have memories like that, surely?

Perhaps this is why you see couples arguing about events that happened 20 years ago before they had their children - in fact neither of them can remember a damn thing and the argument is the process by which they invent memories that suit them. 'You wore that brown suit that I liked' 'No I didn't, I wore my old chinos' 'No you didn't, I never let you go out in those' 'Really? Oh well I guess I must have worn the suit'. 'Remember the night I had too much to drink and threw up on your shoes?' 'No' 'Oh good, neither do I' And so on as the past becomes rosy and soft and full of champagne.

Meanwhile there is a baby in the spare room. In fact, it's difficult to even think of him as a baby anymore. 10 weeks in and he's practically fully grown. He is a very opinionated child and, just like his father, has absolutely no patience. The gratifying look of joy on his little mush when I start to take out a boob is swiftly replaced by a red mug of rage if I fumble about for a few seconds too long and god help me if I make him hang about in a damp nappy. He's speaking a lot at the moment - in general I think he's saying 'Golly do my vocal chords do THAT? Look what happens when I move my tongue' and then 'Damn, I can't do it twice'. What I hear of course is 'ghuuh, aaa, aaOOOaa, earugh and brrrrrr' but I think I know what he's getting at most of the time. I live in dread of the 'aauwaah aauwaah aauwaah' that is levelled at me on serious repeat and top volume for making him do something he doesn't want to do, like lie down for 10 seconds while I get him a new sleep suit.

My mother once informed me that when I was very young, if she could hear me, she wasn't worried. If she couldn't hear me, it meant I was either dead, passed out, or doing something I didn't want her to know about like feeding my baby brother something poisonous. I make the same assumptions about Charlie. In general, when he's quiet it means he's asleep rather than anything terminal - otherwise he's quite a noisy child. Even when he's lying peacefully looking at his mobile and playing with his hands he is making little gooey noises these days. So, when I lay him on his changing table (from whence it is impossible for him to roll) and turn my back, I normally hear him kicking his feet and making noise. As soon as that stops I have about 4 seconds to turn around and throw a towel at him as invariably he is concentrating very hard on how far he can pee and what clean, dry or perishable items he can pee on before I get there. Every time I think I have moved these things out of pee-shot, he proves he has a bigger bladder and better muscles than last time by increasing his range.

One would hope, therefore, that by night-time when he is peacefully sleeping beside our bed in his moses basket, that quiet would reign and all we could hear would be the gentle sound of his ickle breaths.

Can we, bollocks.

While there are times when the only noise he makes is one of breathing, in general, sleeping with a baby is like sleeping with an old dog, an old man, an alien, or all three. Firstly, he snores. Little baby snores, agreed, but snores. Secondly, he grunts. A lot. Grunts, snuffles, groans, a whole orchestra of strange and wonderful sounds - and finally, he farts. Man, can this baby fart. All babies, apparently, can fart for England and this one is definitely on the first team.

What they don't tell you (Those Who Have Gone Before) is that baby farts are not sweet little puffs of daisy-scented air, but rather startlingly robust reports of adult proportions with the vague hint of nappy about them. In fact, sometimes little C farts so loudly that, if he is sleeping, he wakes himself up and has a little 'wah' afterwards. If awake then he just chunters gaily on with whatever little scheme he's working on at the moment - trying to hit that rattle, trying to stick out his tongue, or, most likely, trying to get out another fart.

It's amazing how much wind one small baby body can actually trap, and how much effort it takes to get it out. He thrashes around with his knees to his chest making his collection of unhuman noises and still it can take fifteen minutes for gas to escape bottom.

The result is something out of a really bad 'B' movie. His moses basket is on a rocker and as he thrashes about, it rocks erratically as if possessed. Lying in bed it is not possible to see baby flesh and, since one is relying only on dodgy parental memory to identify the contents of the basket, anything could be in it - and by the sounds emitting from said basket, anything is. It rocks, it shifts, the beast within grunts and groans, the basket thrashes and shifts and then... just as it reaches a frenzied peak... a fart rings out.

Ah yes, mean old Mum, finding humour in the pain of baby's trapped wind. But you see, Mum has spent a significant amount of time studying baby yoga moves designed to help relieve baby wind and then practised them on said baby - and sometimes Mum can even help the little darling to express some of said wind... imagine her poised solicitously over the changing mat, circling baby's legs and making encouraging noises while little gusts are emitted and baby smiles happily. It's not all thrashing baskets and alien wind monsters - it's just that sometimes, there is nothing one can do but watch.

And sometimes... laugh.


Monday, October 30, 2006

My baby can lick your baby

I have recently noticed a pointed and competitive edge amongst certain mothers, something I thought was reserved for middle class women at boarding schools and grandmothers outside Sunday schools. I have quickly to add that none of my close friends or my ante-natal friends are included in this because the display of this edge immediately eliminates the offender from my circle.

I am talking about improbable mothers who are endlessly blurting about how much their baby sleeps, how early it smiled, how it's laughing already and is only 3 weeks old, how much hair it has, how it grasps it's little rattle when the midwives say it shouldn't have any control over it's hands (rather like it's mother and her mouth)... and these boasts are always couched as worried questions 'I don't know if this is normal ha ha but little Fluffypootykins is already spelling four syllable words. Should I take her to the doctor?' My Ass. Normally little Fluffypootykins is a doughy blob with a dummy shoved into it's wet little mouth and too many frills on it's socks.

A few scant months ago I had no idea that that this was a competition - and apart from the inevitable 'I'm so glad Charlie doesn't look like THAT' I had nothing to say on the very private matter of how ugly most babies truly are... but I realise now I was sadly deluded. In fact, I've noticed some Mums being competitive about everything from the birth to the length of their baby's toes.

Having had what is universally accepted by everyone except me as an easy birth it would be terribly bad form for me to go on about it and those of my friends who've had genuinely awful births speak about them in hushed tones if at all - however there are those out there for whom every contraction was The Worst Ever and every stitch was Ten At Least and every pound of baby was doubled because I'm So Small. It's inevitably those same women who go on to talk about how their three-week-old snookums is smiling and nearly potty trained and oh dear is Charlie really not rolling over yet? Little Wonder is sleeping 20 hours at a go and eating a three course meal and he's half Charlie's age, Have You Spoken To The Health Visitor About It?

In fact it seems to me that those Mums are the same ones still receiving visits from the Health Visitor which always makes me think of nits and rats and babies at risk. I have to swallow my tongue to stop myself from saying 'If Snookums is so perfect, why is there a civil servant still coming to your house to check on it's progress?' because... well er... because perhaps secretly I am worried that they are right and there is something wrong with Charlie not being able to hold a toy at 8 weeks old or not sleeping through the night or not having all his hair.

It's really pernicious this competition and even though I genuinely do not care if Charlie is sitting up before or after any other baby in the world, I do find myself being glad he doesn't have a big fat head, or being narked that his hair fell out - or looking at babies in massive bourgeouis strollers and feeling superior about Charlie's sling.

In fact, I can't see the point in being competitive about anything, I mean, Charlie is doing fine. He was holding his head up from the day he was born, you know. He's taller then any baby the midwife ever saw, we had the fastest birth, he's stopped pooing in the night and he's already trying to stand up.

To be honest in fact I think he's already trying to say 'Mama'... but you can't be sure, you know, it may just be 'my mama's mad'.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Swiss Army baby

Luckily for my sanity I have discovered that babies are not just all about eating, sleeping and dirty nappies. They're not just for cooing over and worrying about, they actually have a few alternate uses which make them rather more practical units to have about the house.

The first and (sadly for me) most often utilised function I've noticed recently is their ability to normalise. 'Well Charlie' I say as I walk through the crowds 'They didn't have ink in that store did they, but then they didn't look like the sort of place that stocked ink did they? Oh, I know, Mummy wants a coffee, shall we go for a coffee? Should I buy these shoes? Where's that shopping list? What do you think we should do next, should we have lunch? Did we leave the coffee pot on?' etc. etc. All people see is a nice lady talking to her baby. They have no idea that an insane muttering person has just passed them by.

Next, and very usefully is their ability to launch one to the head of selected queues and make people be nice to one, not unlike being pregnant - airlines, for example, although we have yet to try that one out. Bus queues. People still stand up for me on the tube. In fact, while being pregnant is a 'get out of jail free' card for many things in life, it is after all, temporary. All those women you see being pregnant in commercials and on magazine covers and in the bus queue - they're not professional pregnant people, it's temporary for all of them. I used to think I was merely a usurper to the pregnant throne but in fact I was a fully crowned queen... hence the current status as 'mother of baby' which is a much more long-lived state than pregnancy. As a member of the Least Exclusive Club in the world (see previous posts) there's a lot of sympathy out there from other members... and crucially, unlike members of the 'pregnancy' club, members of the 'parenthood' club are normally in a much better position to actually help one out by virtue of the fact that they are not completely incapacitated. So, doors open (literally), crowds part, queues shorten.

Next, having a baby is a ticket to one of those handy 'close to the door' bays in supermarket and shopping mall parking lots. Yes, those extra-wide bays where nobody can reach your car's fender with their door are reserved for the handicapped and parents (clearly indicating society's opinion of parents). All one needs is the business, in the form of said baby. Yes folks, no more carting heavy bags of shopping across an acre of lot while hunting for one's car - it's wham-bam-in-front-of-the-door-ma'am for me.

Next, and this is one for all you shut-ins out there, having a baby is a guaranteed way to get people talking to you. Particularly Grandmothers and other Mothers. 'How old is he'. 'I remember when mine were that age'. 'Isn't he cute'. 'Look, pumpkin, it's a baybee!!!' 'What's his name?'. What's his name? What freaking use is that snippet of information? Have you any idea how many perfect strangers are out there prowling the streets and asking baby's names? Is this some sort of hunter-gatherer poll system whereby information about the decline of society is accumulated by the examination of random baby names? What? I mean, I go to some sort of baby-related event on a weekly basis now and I have no inclination to find out the names of any of them.

And, having a baby is a freebie ticket to all sorts of goodies. The parent-and-baby market is cash-rich and exploited ruthlessly by all sorts of big and small businesses. By this I mean all The Stuff we are convinced that we need. You know, baby baths, baby wipes, top and tail bowls (no, I don't know what they are either). Washes, oils, creams, organic cotton squares for £10 a shot, muslins for £2 a shot (do you know how many muslin squares one can get out of a £5.99 yard of muslin? Plenty, that's how many), baskets, buckets, brushes, plastic doohickeys, protective nets, mirrors, seats that bounce, seats that vibrate... all The Stuff. Well, all the people who make The Stuff want you to buy THEIR stuff and not anybody else's Stuff and so they give you free samples. If you know where to go, there's quite a haul to be had. 'Parenting Clubs' everywhere (clearly even the club itself is not exclusive). Join the club for store 'A' and get a whole box of freebies. Join the club for store 'B' and get another one. Sign up for a baby bank account at Bank 'A' and get free money. Free money!

If you're on the ball there's hardly anything you need to pay for in the first few weeks - companies are lining up to give bags of the stuff away to you before you even leave hospital. Of course, it's all crap, but at least it's free crap. In the last week I've got free nappies (disposable unfortunately) free wipes by the ton (which you can wash and re-use) a free teething gum massager, free baby food, a free baby spoon, a free nappy bag with changing mat, free creams and lotions for me, free baby wash, free lotion for the baby and free breast pads by the score. OK, so without Charlie there would be no need for all these particular freebies and thus the joy is rather tempered with the knowledge that one is rather a captive market but it does levy the experience with an amusing competitive edge and I can happily play 'Hunt the Freebie' with other mothers for hours.

Finally, there are all the 'Mother and Baby' amusements such as, oh bliss of bliss, the 'Watch With Baby' film screenings at our local art house cinema - matinees for half price! And, you can't get in without a baby. So, while you have to tune out the odd squawk, there are no irritating youths shouting at the screen and crucially, no 8 foot fat blokes in hats blocking the view. Any bloke who does venture into the cinema with his baby however is treated to a stunning array of naked breasts so this is a treat the boys can enjoy as well, provided they don't mind seeing their favourite toys put to other, less frivolous uses.

So, there are some useful advantages to be had out of little Charlie of which he is blissfully unaware. And, while he's hardly paying his own way, fixing my back or giving me a tummy tuck and a boob lift, it does make life a little simpler. Now all I need to do is to have him cast in rubber so that when he's older and doesn't want to be seen with me I can carry around a fake Charlie and I will never look like a mad person again.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Friday, October 20, 2006

rockets in the night

It is amazing what crosses one's mind in the tiny hours. Bearing in mind that I've not slept for more than 4 hours in a row for the last 7 weeks and that I spend a lot of time awake in a darkened room at 4am with nothing to do but make sure Charlie has a good mouthful of boob it's frankly a wonder that I can think at all. Needless to say there's only one subject of any note drifting through my diminished brain-pan and it’s hardly rocket science. There must be thousands of us out there, all sitting alone in the dark, falling asleep in our chairs, lurching awake, waiting for the baby to eat and sleep, starship Mum, sailing through the night. My marketing brain screams 'untapped market' very sadly - one does start to think all sorts of strange things when there's one's own personal baby in the vicinity.

All your cliches come true at once, particularly that old chestnut about how 'nobody will ever love you as much as your mother'. This is not, in fact, a sentence designed to make you feel guilt about leaving home and it’s not romantic love we’re talking about here - motherly love, it turns out, is something different altogether, something that hits on a more instinctive level. She's watched you breathe your first breath, she grew your bones, she's given you life and then spent it's length worrying about it. It's a tremendously protective thing. It creeps up on a mother quite unsuspectingly. One day there’s a wriggly baby who’s rather cute but perhaps nothing to do with you after all and then the next day you’d rent the fabric of time to prevent any harm drifting its little, damp, squirmy way.

Time, however, isn’t really on the side of us Mums. At the start all they want to do is to be sweet and content and curled up on a parent and it turns out that in fact parents feel exactly the same - tremendously content when he's curled up on a shoulder. This is short lived however and despite having spent the best part of a year as one unit, soon he will be able and willing to crawl away, and then walk, then run and eventually, take the car keys and drive. And if it wasn’t bad enough that the child itself will depart, economics force the ultimate betrayal by sending him off into the arms of a carer in order for Mum to waltz back to work before he can even talk.

Meanwhile, back at 4am I hold onto him while he snores into my ear and hope that one day his shoulders will be big enough for my head - and then I hope again that he won't be too averse to giving his old mother a hug. It's hard to hold onto something who you know is potentially going to cause you more pain, more trouble and more worry than anyone else and still love it but that, I suppose, is another function of this motherly love thing.

It's at these times, in the gloaming, when one starts thinking about all the possibilities, all the futures, all the lights and all the darks.

Having a baby is a bit like sending a rocket off into time. For a while you can hold it, light the fuse and watch it while it goes but in the end, if you're lucky, it goes on into the un-imaginable future and leaves you behind. Time, however, has no final destination. Everything on its rocket gets off at some point, gets left behind, gets further away. Eventually, we get off ourselves. Sometimes when Charlie is fretting I can lull him to sleep while stroking his little bald head and I hope that at the other end of time for him there is someone else stroking his head, loving him and lulling him to rest. I have hope of him or her for when I'm not there - I send messages to them across the years.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Poppin' fresh

You would think that centuries of experience dressing babies would have provided the human race, or at least the manufacturing industry of the West with enough knowledge to create clothing which was not only well made and good-looking, but which was easy to get on and off of a flailing infant. You would think. You would think that we could even get two out of three.

The truth is that even with hundreds of thousands of shops selling the stuff, millions of mothers every year buy it and don't complain. One assumes therefore that civilisation has achieved the acme of baby clothing design and there is nowhere further to go on our ascent to garment excellence. This is mind-boggling however as clearly, there are three gaping flaws in this argument.

One: Most baby clothes pull over the head.

Two: All baby clothes for boys are blue and covered in bears.

Three: Pop studs.

Firstly. Babies have soft bits on their heads that one normally steers clear of and that are largely in the way during the descent of bear-covered cloth over body. Babies' heads are ungainly lolly things which are difficult to stuff through an 'envelope' neckline no matter how large the opening. Babies don't actually like having cloth dragged across their face, bunched around their necks and then tugged down their bodies even if ever so gently. A sleepy baby who has dozed quietly through a nappy change can be instantly rendered a flailing red ball of rage if he happens to open his eyes just as the 'vest' is being pulled over his head and a quiet wakey baby instantly goes all quivery-bottom-lippy. Interstingly, all the clothes we bought in France wrap around the body, so what's up with the rest of the world?

Secondly. Why can't we have stylish fabrics? What's with the bears? What's with rainbow bears? He's 5 weeks old for crying out loud, he can't even focus on a bear let alone actually want one printed on the trousers he's just peed on again. And what's with all the blue? The other choice is white - a brave choice to put on an individual whose main occupation is the production of bodily fluids. Other pattern choices stretch to stripes or trains and to have a simple, plain, non-blue-or-white (or pink or yellow for girls) colour is clearly a taboo-breaker, likewise any patterns unless, crucially, they have a bear in them. Or a train. Or both. If you're very lucky, you may get a tractor. Again, the French have it right with back-fastening khaki, beige and some good browns.

Finally and most puzzlingly... pop studs. Everwhere, pop studs. Down the legs. Down the front. Down the side. Pop studs, pop studs, pop studs. Have you ever tried to fasten pop-studs down the length of a baby's legs when he's kicking like a bronco? Well have you?

With up to a dozen poppers per outfit it must be an absolutely massive industry. Pop-stud pressure groups lobbying the garment factories, bribing key baby-design officials, carpet-baggers slinking around the warehouses pushing money into maw of the developers while the crippled and prematurely-aged hands of a miilion seamstresses work overtime attaching pop-studs to cotton. OK so they probably have a machine for that now.

Meanwhile, millions of mothers bend tearfully over changing tables begging their enraged offspring to 'just hold still a moment' while trying to guide a bucking foot into the end of an open 'leg' and attempting to not only fasten a dozen poppers up the inside leg but to not pop-stud a fold of baby-skin in the process. They certainly don't have a machine for that. It's possible to turn a footed sleep-suit into one long tube with a baby inside it and there's always one left over once the baby has been popped into submission. There he is, lying angelically in his little blue suit with one leg shorter then the other and a gaping hole somewhere in the region of his belly where one half of a pop-stud blinks seductively at you and you realise there's been a pop-stud wife-swap and the ugly one has ended up on its own. Even getting him undressed is difficult - some of these studs are like super-glue and take forever to get apart. Even the French haven't gotten this one right, the pop-stud lobby group is clearly international.

The mystery bit is that there are plenty of other fasteners on the market. Why not short ribbons that can tie at his sides? Why not velcro for crying out loud? He's got a little wrist-rattle which secures with the softest, most delicate velcro you've ever seen (which doesn't seem to catch on other fabrics). Why can't we have that sewn into his clothes? Just run your finger up the gap and hey presto - clothes fastened.

In fact, why have fasteners at all? Anyway 'fasten' is a bit of a mis-nomer as it's actually quicker to pull a pair of elasticated trousers over his legs then it is to pop all those studs. And since we're pulling things over his head anyway... t-shirts will do just fine thank you, I just need some first-class bears on that envelope neck.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

A day in the life

Posting on this blog has become more and more difficult as Charlie becomes more and more people and less and less like something that landed in Area 52 and has been stored in a bunker by the US government (see photo, above). I recently read a column written by a new dad saying that newborns are like aliens and there's something to be said for this point of view.

Charlie arrived on the scene complete with a Thousand Yard Stare that seemed to see everything and nothing. You can imagine anything going through his mind - wide eyed and silent, solemn and somehow aged looking he seems to hold all the answers to life and to sit in judgment of everything. Until, of course, he wails in rage because he has a dirty nappy.

He's been like that for the last month and because the periods of time in which he's awake have been relatively short, that's the only way we've known him - the alien buddha baby. Now, however, he's awake a lot more and is becoming a little less alien and a little more like somebody's baby. Not like my baby, not yet, I don't think, although perhaps... but definitely like a baby.

I never actually had a picture in my head of what my baby may look like, if I ever were to have a baby (which clearly I have) however that doesn't stop me from thinking, sometimes, that he doesn't quite look like what I expected. Not that I was expecting anything, you know. Anyway, some days Charlie looks like my baby but some days he still looks like a bit of an alien. The best way for me to deal with this is to love him even when he's an alien because I just can't be certain when he's going to morph back into my baby. So I take it day by day and day by day he returns my efforts by focusing a little more on things, by looking around more, by nearly smiling when he's pleased, by showing some enthusiasm for his favourite things - the left one, the right one and whatever surprise is in that bottle.

Day by day it goes a little like this: Assuming the day starts at midnight, normally Charlie begins it by sleeping but swiftly wakens demanding food. It's a good idea to give it to him as if he's lulled back to sleep he merely wakes at 1 or 2am and is impossible to get back to sleep. So, I feed him in the nursery on the sofa with the lights fairly low. He then plops back to sleep often without the pleasure of a burp and is soundo until between 3am and 4am. This heralds the Battle of the Boob in which the distraction of a filthy nappy means that while his head is diving towards the boob at warp speed, his arms and legs are protesting the nappy situation. And so, being half alien with no control over his human arms, they beat against the boob and push him off it and his little legs thrash and his neck arches and after a few tries he bursts into tears of rage and frustration and so I change him - and, as a good feed loosens the bowels (surely you all know that by now) I end up changing him again.

Between 4am and 5:30am he falls asleep for the third time (the first two times he falls asleep until I put him in his moses basket which wakes him up instantly - and because waking up in the night means that he's hungry, he thinks he's hungry and we go through the whole scenario again, only shorter. Eventually I put him back on the boob with a sigh and he falls asleep with the same sigh... only smaller. Once he no longer wakes up in his basket, I carry it back into the bedroom, slither back into bed and, after checking his breathing once or twice, I too fall asleep.

Sometime between 6am and 8am he wakes up and if I'm lucky, D feeds him a bottle of expressed milk and I snore on until 9am or 10am when he wakes up again. This time he wakes me up and I sit up, reach into the basket by the bed and pick him up and feed him in bed. If I'm lucky, his Dad has padded him properly and he doesn't pee down his leg onto the pillow. Then, if there's nothing to do and nowhere to go, I change him, lay him on his blanket on my mattress and lie down beside him and we sleep for an hour or more, absolutely soundly. Once in a while I wake up and peer at him and sometimes he's staring back and sometimes he's sleeping. Whatever the situation is, he always hates it when I get him up, he wails and wails.

Following this it becomes like an episode of the keystone cops in the flat. Firstly, he normally need a major change of everything and secondly, he's slept longer than he should hae done and he's absolutely starving so he's particularly fractious during the change period which makes it nearly impossible. At this point I have also to get dressed, put in my lenses, do the laundry, have breakfast, drink a glass of milk for my mother, fill in a passport application or my income tax or pick a number of things I haven't done yet and because it's the afternoon, changing him and feeding him make him particularly wakey and he needs company so I have to have him with me on my travels around the apartment or listen to him wail in frustration and loneliness while I sneak into the loo to comb my hair - so I do nearly everything one-handed.

Once I've approached completion on 75% of my tasks (the final 25% normally being my taxes) I give up and sit down with him and we do something like listen to music while I make his hands dance (he seems to like this) - by doing this we've discovered that he likes Johnny Cash but he doesn't much care for Abba. So far. Yesterday I walked him around the apartment looking at things. He stared for ages at the bookshelf, particularly when I took books out and put them back again, he couldn't quite figure that one out. Today he stared for ages at himself in the bedroom mirror.

Sometimes he decides he's sleepy after all and I lie him in his cot where, if he wakes up, he can watch one of his mobiles go around for a while. So we go until we land up around 5:30pm (or if we're really bad and have let things slip, 6pm) where he either wakes up starving or I wake him up to tell him he's starving and we repeat the 4am experience including the boob battle. At this time of day however he's normally more awake and therefore makes much funnier faces as he prepares to latch on to the boob. My favourite is the one where he screws up his little face, furrows his eyebrows in concentration and dives for the boob with his mouth open like an angry little politician - sometimes so quickly that the hand I use to support his head can't keep up and he gets there without my help. Sometimes he misses and reaches his head back again making several different open and shut cross-eyed faces while he rearranges his expression which normally makes me laugh so hard that he can't latch on because I'm moving.

After that I run about 4 inches of warm water into the bath and put him in it for a float. He loves this more than nearly anything. I have one hand under his head and the other under his chest or his bum and I swoosh him through the water while he looks around with his eyes wide and his mouth slightly open making little 'ooh' noises with his breath. He hates being taken out and by the time the towel is wrapped around him he's had one good wail, at which point he realises he's actually warm and dry and shuts up. And we feed again until he gets sleepy, or gets full and stops eating.

At that point it's either a nap or a sit in the livingroom with Mum and Dad while he stares at everything. Normally he falls asleep at some point and we put him in his basket in the cot. This frees us up for our own dinner until he gets a bottle of formula at around 10 or 10:30 while I express a bottle full for D to give him in the morning. He then falls asleep for the rest of the day and the cycle starts again.

Every day he's awake a little longer, every day he eats a little more, every day he looks around a little more, reacts a little more, nearly smiles a little more and needs changing a little more. Every day his clothes get a little tighter and his head a little stronger. Every day he's a little more human and that alien stare is a little further away. Every day he's more like my baby. I think.


What it takes to keep a baby's bum dry for 2 days...

The Poo Chronicles

I have been asked not to include any more poo stories in this blog. This is a blog about a new baby. Excluding all mentions of poo is going to be like writing about Nixon without mentioning Watergate - after all, what are new babies other than factories for processing breast-milk and turning it into by-products - 50% of which are poo?

The fact that there is nothing one can do with these by-products other than add them to the general bulk of the city's effluvient is, I think, more of a indictment of the general human imagination rather than any failing on the part of new babies. After all, they do what they do very efficiently...

I will, however, endeavour to keep poo references to a minimum... after this post...

My Mother is here, has been for the past two weeks and has the best part of another week to go and it's been lovely. She's cooked, cleaned, babysat and force-fed me fluids throughout the day. Once she leaves, the whole place is going to hell in a handbasket. The upside of her leaving is that I will no longer be regaled with stories of what a truly horrible infant I was, how I wouldn't sleep, wailed all the time and generally escaped Sudden Infant Death At The Hands Of my Parents by otherwise being 'a darling little fat cuddly thing'. She's also changed a few nappies. I wish they had had more poo in them.

While Mum adores Charlie, she is a little disgusted with him as he is not the hell-raiser I deserve after my own behaviour at his age - or D's at the same age for that matter according to his Ma. In fact, both our Mothers visibly rubbed their hands together with glee at the thought of us getting our come-uppance and much to their disappointment we've landed Mr. Cool Bird who only really grizzles when he's hungry or has a full nappy.

The downside of little Charlie is that he's inherited the worst of both my brother's and D's combined cleanliness obsessions and cannot stand the slightest mess in his nappy - he won't feed or be calmed until he's got a dry one on. The bad side of this is that he starts complaining the instant poo hits bottom and so is often not finished when the new nappy is on, resulting in either projectile-pooing during the change (and the resulting question 'how did I get poo there?) or a long, noisily satisfying second-stage poo moments after a clean nappy is attached.

At the moment it's all a dream as breast-milk poo does not smell - the baby just gets a little more milky-scented. Once he starts eating real food and having real poos however the situation will change but at the moment clearly I cannot think about that. It's a great trick by old Motherhood, this business of non-stinky poo, it's obviously designed to makes one imagine that nappies for the next 2 years won't be that bad and therefore prevent one from putting the baby into the washing machine with all his nappies in a moment of madness - and the story from my friend L about how she vomited and had to leave the house for five hours after changing her daughter's first baked-bean poo nappy seems a million miles away.

In fact, while the idea of changing pooey nappies for two years may have seemed inconceivable prior to the arrival of little C, it's amazing how much it actually doesn't bother you when a) it's your own baby and b) it doesn't actually smell. You see, Motherhood is completely suspect.

The downside of all this poo ('what' I hear you say, 'there's a DOWNside?') is the incredible number of nappies one has to change... 7 to 9 in a 24 hour period. The magazines I've read estimate that every baby goes through around 7000 nappies in their life. If you imagine standing beside a pile of 7000 dirty nappies and then multiply that by the number of babies on your street and the number of streets in your city, suddenly it's a fairly alarming picture. Add to that the thought of carrying that many nappies home from the shops plus the cost - around £2000 - and suddenly all my cloth-nappy laundry doesn't seem so bad.

Washing them at 40 degrees every three days does put somewhat of a strain on the environment but use the right detergent and dry them on the line and it's not that bad. In terms of cost, we paid £150 for enough to get him through the first six months. Add incremental detergent and electricity and we reckon it'll be well under £1000 to get him through to toilet training - possibly £750 or less. This is a saving of £1000 to £1250, or enough money to keep his parents in vodka for the duration... something which I'm sure is going to come in handy once we hit the baked bean poos.

A final note on poo. Some parents seem determined to spell it 'pooh' as if one's baby is ejecting lovely little fuzzy bears into his nappy instead of the reality of liquid yellow turds (this last sentence specifically dedicated to Hoto). I feel I must rebel against this spelling but I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps it's something to do with the Disnification of the world and the appearance of Pooh bear on everything from mobiles to wet wipes.

Anyway, while I cannot promise to refrain from inflicting more poo upon you during the course of this blog, I will do my very best to give you only the more inciteful and humourous instances of what, it has to be said, is the main focus of my every day.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Well, little Charlie is going to be three weeks old on Friday 22nd, which means three weeks since I had a good night's sleep. This is ok really. I mean, sleep is a relative thing in a way. If you take 4 two-hour naps in a day that's 8 hours sleep, yes? The 4 two-hour bits of activity in between each nap is a mere trifle, don't you agree? A trifle containing a lengthy breast-feed and at least one nappy-change - often two and on one particularly marathon occasion, three. This was my fault clearly for changing the nappy in the middle of a poo rather than politely waiting for it to be all over... anyway, I digress.

It's also three weeks since I had my own boobs. I mean, ok, this is a bit of an exaggeration considering that for the last nine months they have been gearing up for just this moment however up until the actual birth they had the common decency to pretend that they were just a normal, if grossly enlarged, pair of breasts. However, a few moments following the birth, the midwife put Charlie onto one boob and it swifly became apparent that my ladies had a higher purpose in life and that all along they haven't in fact been mine, they've been merely hanging around (ahem) waiting to fulfil their duties as the givers of the milk of human kindness... or at least, Charlie's own personal dairy bar and life-support system.

Three weeks will have also passed since I lost my 'bump'. One of the more bizarre of the questions I've been asked since Charlie appeared on the scene is 'don't you miss your bump?'. Hello? Apparently some women do miss having their bump... 'to rest your hands on' was one reason given, as though for the first forty years of my life I was flapping about wondering what the hell to do with those hands of mine and pregnancy provided a magical solution... so THAT's why women keep having babies... clearly they should take up smoking and they'd never lack for something to do with their hands again... I mean really... anyway, I digress.

There are few reasons I would miss my bump unless I consider seriously the amount of sleep I was getting prior to little C's birth however amoung these few, the most compelling is that one is no longer in the pregnancy club and people are no longer as nice as they were whilst one was the size of a small tractor. One does rather get used to the special treatment, it's true... it's just not so much fun walking around and knowing that nobody is paying any attention at all... and if they are they're thinking 'she could lose a few pounds' and not 'aw, look at that pregnant lady, maybe I can help her out.'. The real answer to the question is, of course, 'No I bloody don't miss my bump'. What's there to miss? Swollen ankles, only one sleeping position, trouble walking, trouble standing, trouble sitting, trouble lying down, trouble sleeping, a tiny bladder, wind, acid reflux and general indigestion, a ban on eating brie and blue cheese, terrible clothes, only one pair of shoes that fit, being too hot all the time and the feeling that something is lurking both inside one and metaphorically speaking, beneath one... the mystery of the impending birth, the fear of parenthood... this is not a condition to be missed in the slightest. I can categorically state that parenthood is a breeze compared to the fear of it when it is an unknown.

It's been three weeks since the house became a nursery, three weeks since people stopped asking how I am and started asking about Charlie instead, 3 weeks since D and I started on the long journey to get C a passport and 3 weeks since life as I knew it came to an abrupt end, along with what passed for my stomach muscles and the entirety of my pelvic floor.

Three weeks is not a long time in the great scheme of things but it's long enough to get used to the idea that there's a third person living in the house, that one's body is still not one's own and that every three hours one turns into dinner... and as three hours have passed since the last feed, I must now end this blog and hustle to deck myself out on the nursery sofa in spit-up rags and comfy pillows, the baby equivalent of table mats, napkins and a good set of cutlery.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Guilty Pleasures...

Amidst all the chaos wrought by a new baby there are some pleasures to be had, apart from the obvious ones of looking into the cradle and thinking 'I can't believe I made that!' and 'doesn't he look cute?' which, to be fair, shouldn't be riddled with guilt at all.

No, there are guiltier pleasures than these, pleasures which are red rags to the bulls of alarmism and caution, pleasures which, if you read the wrong books, are downright dangerous for the overall physical and mental health of ones offspring.

The first of these pleasures is the Sleep Which Dare Not Speak It's Name, by which I mean the pleasure of sleeping with one's baby either on one's chest or nestled on the mattress of the parent's bed. This guilty pleasure splits the baby world down the middle across a bottomless chasm. I have taken home leaflets from different classes which state respectively that one should never fall asleep with the baby in the bed and conversely, that having the baby sleep in one's bed leads to happy, healthy and contented little babies. The first leaflet cites the increased risks of SIDS, the second cites statistics showing that in general, parents will only roll onto and/or suffocate their own babies in bed when under the influence of drugs, alcohol or obesity. So, being a clean and sober person these days and not carrying around too much extra weight I have found it a wonderful thing to lie down in the afternoon with the baby next to me on the bed. We both sleep very well indeed and the opportunity to be able to crack open half an eyelid and see little C's face six inches away is a pleasure indeed. Equally, quieting him down after an energetic feed (you have no idea how much squirming excitement a good feeding can engender in a newborn) by having him curl up on my chest with his head to one side is something guaranteed to put us both to sleep, only to be woken by the sure hands of Dad lifting him up and putting him back in his bassinet.

Yes, Dad is on one side of the chasm on this while I am on the other, meaning that whenever his father is in the house, little C sleeps firmly in his basket. When it's just me, however, there may be a teensy bit of movement in this as having him lie on the mattress outside of rolling distance, outside of pillow or duvet distance but within arms length is one of the very nicest things about little C at the moment.

The next guilty pleasure on the list is that of the bottle feed. The gap between the two halves of the debate seems to be rather closer on this issue however there are those who would deny a tired parent the opportunity to have the other parent feed their offspring a little expressed milk from a bottle due to something referred to as 'nipple confusion'.

Now, 'nipple confusion' does not refer to man-boobs, third 'wolf nipples', outsized chest-moles or the look on the face of a soon-to-be transexual looking at a breast catalogue. No, 'nipple confusion' is the supposed inability of a baby to tell the difference between a rubber bottle teat and the real thing resulting in the rejection of one for the other.

I can safely report that Charlie has no confusion over this, he likes them both equally and I get a great deal of pleasure over being able to stuff his little face from a bottle before the long sleep of night time, topping up the breast feed and guaranteeing a good extra hour of sleep.

The downside of this of course is that to get the milk into the bottle requires one to hook oneself up to a variety of contraptions all of which conspire to make one feel like a dairy cow while not actually being very effective. Sitting in one's nursery with an electric pump attached to one boob and a baby attached to the other is a sure-fire way to bring one closer to Darwin and further from the sex-pot one is certain one was when one met the father of said baby.

This leads to my final guilty pleasure which is handing over a crying or poopy baby to it's father to deal with - a true pleasure indeed.

From guilty pleasures to ridiculous thoughts: here are a few of the more ridiculous things I have thought recently about my son:

1. He has a spine! Look at his spine! When did I grow THAT? Where did all that bone COME from???

2. He has ribs! Wow, I can feel his ribs! Who knew?

3. He's going blond. Nobody is blond in our family... he's not really my baby.

4. Is he breathing? Maybe I should touch him. Shit, I've woken him up.

5. He's breathing too hard! Does he have asthma? Maybe I should move the blanket. Shit, I've woken him up.

6. He hates my right boob.

...and so on...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

the least exclusive club...

Today we ventured out into the wonderful world of car seats and baby buggies and I can officially announce that the first time you put your baby into your car and pull away from the curb you become a certified Careful Driver. So careful in fact that I had a hard time convincing myself to put my foot down and actually accelerate into a state of movement.

In order to achieve this state of course one first has to work out the intricacies of the car seat and the collapsible baby buggy. No matter how many times one reads the instructions and practices putting the buggy up and down it doesn't quite work the first time and one is left pulling straps and clicking buttons and raising and lowering various contraptions until one's husband steps in clucking like a brood hen and does something reasonably magical with his wrist and it all falls into place. The upshot is that one is then late for whatever was on the schedule, the baby has had time to manufacture a truly stupendous poo and one has to work out the buttons and straps again to get him out and changed and then back in, by which point all there is left to do is to collapse into a heap by the vodka bottle and put paid to schedules, breast feeding and responsible parenthood... 'go on, take a trip from your troubles', says uncle vodka 'the baby is already strapped in'.

The object of all this trauma was to get to have coffee with my ante-natal class so they could coo over little Charlie and I could regale them with the story of the birth. If you've been reading this blog since the start you will see this as your cue to pull out a convenient weapon and put me out of my misery. I promise however not to tell it again. Except, perhaps, to another ante-natal class friend who is coming for lunch tomorrow. But only if she asks.

Finally we pulled away from the curb, Charlie fast asleep in his car seat, firmly buckled in, and me feeling as though I was setting out for the North Pole. Getting there was easy. Parking was easy. Putting together the buggy was easy. Getting him out of the car-seat was easy. Watching him being passed around the group however was surprisingly difficult.

Not that I was worried any of them would drop him, I just had this amazing sense of jealousy that someone else was holding him in public, as if this is my divine right, or as if being associated with such a tiny baby somehow confers on one a special glow... and then it hit me that somehow, somewhere, some part of me misses being pregnant. Not the actual pregnant part, no... but the special treatment. The knowing looks between myself and other pregnant women, the sense of being in the club. The pregnancy club, as opposed to the parenthood club which, as we all know, is apparently the least exclusive club in the world. People see you coming with a baby and they just want you out of the way/out of earshot/out of sight/out of mind. Drive around in a family car with a baby seat and you get shoved into a big box with every other yuppie family in town. Derision, condescension, you name it, the baby seat confers it upon you. Doesn't matter what little miracle is strapped into that seat, you are now one of the faceless millions.

So, there I sat, eyeing my own baby hungrily, somewhat confused and clutching my latte.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

bebe con leche

Vital lesson learned the day before yesterday - don't let him sleep too much in the afternoon or he's up all night... so yesterday was 'activity day'. For a 3 day old baby this means lying on one's back staring at the ceiling, lying on one's back staring at the lilac tree, lying one's back staring at some dangly toys or lying on ones back wailing and looking at Mum leak tears of frustration, not to mention quantities of breast milk.

Yes, the boobs are back... but not as we know them, Jim. For the very first time in my life, the playground term 'over the shoulder boulder holder' is an accurate description of my lingerie. Yesterday I went for a nap in the afternoon and in my sleep someone quarried all the soft tissue out of my breasts and replaced it with some sort of rock-like material which continued to be forced into my skin until bursting point was reached. Bursting point apparently comes when the baby cries and breast milk starts soaking out and through my clothing into whatever it can find, baby-shaped or otherwise.

This would be great if little Charlie would wake up and actually feed, however he's decided that boobs are wonderful comfy things and ideal for falling asleep on. The textbooks all say 'at a few days old your baby will feed for between 20 and 40 minutes'. Bollocks. He wakes up making sucky noises at which point I wait to see if he's just tetchy or if he's really hungry. If he doesn't go back to sleep and starts making noise, I swoop him up and put him to the boob at which point he latches on, gulps frantically for about 30 seconds and then falls fast asleep. The only way to wake him up is to put him back into his cot at which point the whole travesty starts again. The result is that it takes at least an hour and a half to get a full feed into him, not to mention some pretty severe vocal chord abuse. And he wails as well.

Last night we reached breaking point with this as he decided that both breasts are in fact possessed and he wasn't having either of them. In total frustration I sat mooing quietly to myself while attached to a breast pump and we gave him the bottle which he took immediately and without question as if to let us know that was what he was really after all along.

He woke again at 2:30 and was up refusing boobs until 4:30 when I repeated the process and D bottle-fed a very happy little boy. Thinking I was now doomed to the barnyard for the rest of his babyhood I woke this morning prepared to start again however today the devil has left and boobs are back, just as 'Marie Claire' magazine promises every few years.


Monday, September 04, 2006

Day two...

...or is it day three? Second full day with a baby in tow now on it's way to completion.

Day one was a dream - he was a little sleepy angel. After spending all night crouched over the cot either abusing the snot-sucker because he was sniffling or sitting very quietly trying to hear him breathe, we woke him at 9am to feed him, took him for a stroll in the park and the whole day seems to have a lovely golden glow around it. To be honest, I don't remember much of it already - telephone calls, emails, one friend visiting and Charlie being angelic.

I stil haven't had that big rush of motherly love although I would call myself 'quite a lot' obsessed with him on one of those five-point scales ("How obsessed with your child are you? 1. Not at all, 2. not very much, 3. somewhat, 4. quite a lot, or 5. totally"). He's certainly the best new gadget we've had in this house considering that he doesn't actually DO anything but pee all over the walls, floor and nearest parent when being changed. He's certainly endlessly entertaining (see '4' on the above scale of obsession) in terms of watching him move and he's certainly quite lovely to have around for no particular reason but... well perhaps this is what it's about.

How is he? He's sleeping a lot, feeding a lot and being quite alert. He opens his eyes and tries to look around, he lifts his head up a little bit, he's managed not to crack a nipple and he's having advanced poos about which the midwife has been very encouraging (how is it that someone praising your son's new poo is suddenly really satisfying?? What is this motherhood thing anyway? It's suspect, I tell you that much).

How am I? Up until today I felt great. Well, you would do really. Considering that there was no opportunity to ask for any drugs at all during what is laughingly referred to as the 'delivery' (as if one has just dialed up a pizza), I popped him out on a home-made cocktail of adrenalin and endorphins followed by a massive serotonin chaser. I felt fantastic afterwards. No stinging, no aching, no pain - I felt flexible, un-stressed and very, very relaxed. Charlie was sleeping, feeding well and generally being the model of the perfect newborn. Best of all, I am no longer pregnant, a fact about which I cannot find sufficient words to stress my joy.

This fantasy lasted until this afternoon, when after entertaining the neighbours, the midwife and two sets of friends and having a nice glass of champagne I fell asleep in the livingroom. I woke an hour later with the imprint of the coffee-table engraved in my ankles into an entirely different world. Here, I seem to have done my back in, my nether regions have been in a fight with a baseball bat, my hands and my jaw ache, I'm losing my voice and I have lost the ability to sit upright or hold the baby without worrying about dropping him. Charlie for his part has now picked a favourite boob and spends ages fighting off the other one as if it was possessed by the devil and he has decided that sleeping alone is a bad thing.

In this new world I really, really need to get some sleep. So perhaps that's what I should do.


Friday, September 01, 2006

What the F*** was THAT???


Less than four hours after I posted that last post... Charlie was born. Seriously - from being a relatively care-free TENS abuser through squawling the house down like a steer being butchered to popping out a baby in the birthing pool... under 4 hours.

About half an hour after posting, pains were close enough together and I was in enough real pain that we decided to ring the midwife. She arrived and at about 12:45 did a very painful internal inspection, pronounced me 3cm dilated, told me it was going to be ages before anything happened and said she'd be back in 4 hours.

Twenty minutes later I was an irrational, shouting, wild animal in a pen. She dropped back in to pick up something she'd forgotten and advised me to get into a bath and left. Twenty minutes after that we were begging her to come back, I was in the pool and I could feel his head... by the time she arrived there was just time enough for the other midwife to get here and settle me in before he came out.

My maths has gone down the tube as well, I've been telling everyone it was an hour forty five between being 3cm dilated and Charlie popping out but actually it was 2 hours forty five...

Anyway, here he is, like an alien in the livingroom. The cat is disgusted.

Now... all together to the tune of 'Sheena is a Punk Rocker'...

Charlie is... a thumb-sucker
Chaaarliee is... a thumb-sucker
Charlie is... a thumb-sucker no-o-o-o-ow.

16 hours on and the IRS gets it...

16 hours since the first killer pain and not much progress... Managed to sleep from 5:30 to about 9am, waking only to breathe heavily and abuse the TENS machine which we cunningly put on my back before retiring.

This piece of kit is great once you get used to it. It's quite a bit like the electronic muscle development machines they use in physiotherapy but it has a much faster, lighter pulse. Basically, it feels liks a whole Nurenberg rally of jumping spiders bouncing in unison on ones skin. The rhythm is also very quick and military and you have to leave it turned on all the time for it to work properly.

The result is that at first I swear to you I drifted off to sleep dreaming of uniformed spiders jumping up and down and singing 'Give Me Some Men Who Are Stout-Hearted Men' in gruff voices to the rhythm of the machine. And then of course, like an alarm clock on 'sleep' mode, every 15 minutes I woke up to breath heavily and press the 'constant' button which does this heavenly thing where it not only massages the muscles but also scratches ones back. You can see why it's been getting some abuse.

It does actually help. It's not as though you can't feel the pain of the contractions, it's just that they are more bearable. The problem however is that you can't use it in water, and the birth pool is now inflated in the living room and a quarter full of water which means at some point, me and my little electronic marvel are going to have to be separated. I forsee tears.

Contractions, if that's what they are, are coming between 5 and 10 minutes apart and lasting 1 to 3 minutes... it's reasonably random but this is down from every 8-13 minutes so progressing in the right direction.

Considering that it's been at least 16 hours since the first pain and 24 hours since my waters broke, it's really not been too awful - I mean, I've managed to type this (with a few painful pauses) and even call the IRS to abuse them about a letter they sent today asking me to fill in a tax form, when I have been waiting for them to send one for the past three weeks. I even got an apology without having to resort to the old 'and I'm in labour' chestnut which I'm sure you've all used yourselves.

I tell you, abusing the IRS on the telephone through a light contraction is one way to release one's pain...


on and off and on and bugger it

Up since 4:15 or so with very hard pains - but very, very far apart. Far apart enough, in fact, to fool one into thinking that sleep may be possible and then just when one is drifting off - they attack.

The cat is most put out by this... he tried half-heartedly to sleep on my pillow but has given up and gone back outside.

Given that we've been mainly awake for the last hour we got up and the livingroom is now half prepared with the pool collapsed in place on a sheet of plastic. Back to bed with hot chocolate to wait it out.

...and here comes another one...


Carrying off...

Well, it's all slowed down... stopped in fact. Which means I'm going to bed now.

Several of the women I have met recently who have had their babies have had this happen - you get all worked up and start timing contractions and then like cockroaches in the light they scuttle away... and you know they're just waiting for you to stop paying attention before they scuttle back and surprise you over breakfast...



Thursday, August 31, 2006

Carrying on

Everything is sort of slowing down a little now which is good - but the cramps are getting much stronger. Further apart than they were but very much stronger.

I've managed to eat something, had two paracetamols (step one on the tiny pain-relief ladder allowed at home) and only had to swear once.

So far the pains when they come are lasting as long as a minute but are varying between five and ten minutes apart and ultimately aren't that bad so this is a non-post really... progression but not much...


Boss boss, da pains da pains...

Sorry about the title of this, I can't stop myself, truly...

I have come down with some manic energy. It's like drugs, I tell you. Good drugs. I am very speedy at the moment - in the last half an hour I've sewn the last blackout blind, repaired a jumper that's needed sewing for over a year, appealed a parking ticket, tidied the house, prepared a pile of notes for Dominique, left myself a reminder to register the birth and I am seriously about to take the duster to the shelves.

The latest development is the onset of regular cramps. I hesitate to call them contractions although they do cause me to shut the hell up and double over for a moment or two, something about which I am certain D is going to be very glad of shortly as otherwise I cannot stop talking.

I sort of think I should be timing them as they seem to be getting closer together. My guess is 10 minutes apart and lasting for about 30 seconds. The midwife begged me to eat something, however at the moment, just like being on drugs, I am not in the slightest bit hungry, in fact my belly is saying 'nooooo'... wish I had some ice cream. Maybe I can send D out for ice cream!! Maybe he'll even go!! Now there's a thought. Ice cream...

Now that's shut me up.


The waters of denial...

...have officially broken.

Obviously my whingeing last night did the trick... or perhaps it was that curry?

Am getting a few 'tightening' type pains and the odd distant-relation to a contraction but nothing earth-shattering yet. Am about to sew the last black-out blind and then go for a walk in the park with D to try to hurry things up.

Will keep posting as things develop.

Due Date

I thought it worth posting today, the day the baby is officially due. According to the midwife I'm not 'ripe' yet, a sentence which makes me feel more like a watermelon then I felt previously... and I feel quite a bit watermelony on a regular basis these days.

I understand my friend who emailed me when she was a few days overdue saying that she felt as if it was all a trick and that there was no baby after all. This is an easy thing to think if one has been in denial all along and hence I am now beginning to doubt there will ever be a birth to go through - a seductive thought. A foolish thought, but a seductive thought.

All the women I now know who are due at this time are gradually disappearing through the door of motherhood and coming out the other side saying 'it's the hardest thing I've ever done oh, but it's so worth it'. 'Oh', say others, 'you're about to join the least exclusive club in the world'.

Such enticements, such blandishments, I just don't know if I can stop myself. Sign me up, please. All that hard work simply to join some tatty old club. Perhaps it's just that they're too overwhelmed by hormones to wax majestic about the experience.

Realistically of course there's nothing I can do at this point to stop myself - and yes, I know that Paradise is at the feet of Mothers and all that and naturally, after nine months of being undeniably pregnant I realise that there is no way out... but all these 'realistically's and 'of course's and 'undeniably's fade to nothing beneath the sheer capacity of the human mind to indulge in mind-numbing displays of irrationality. We could hold our own Guy Fawkes night under these delusions.

What baby?....peeeow....What birth?.....boooom....crackle..... the sky explodes with pleasant visions while deep inside the baby puts a knee in my side and his head on my bladder... reality strikes... are all pregnant women this schizophrenic?

What is it going to take for me to believe in this baby enough to get him out into the real world? Do I need a pair of red shoes and a little dog? Do I have to clap my hands and repeat 'I do believe in babies... I DO believe in babies' until he pops out? What? Tell me... what??


Thursday, August 24, 2006

the truth

OK, this is what it's really like being nine months pregnant. I think.

I say 'I think' because it seems it's different for everyone. I met a girl on the tube today who is 8 months pregnant and can barely move. I have a good friend who is 8.5 months pregnant and she's exhausted (but she does have a toddler).

I do however have 3 new friends, one from NHS ante-natal, one from the NCT class and one from my online site who are all due within 3 days of me and we're all pretty much the same - a little slower, a little more tired, but really, just bored. Some of us want some extra time in which to get things done before the arrival, some of us are itching for the baby to come. Mainly however, we're just bored.

We all feel perfectly capable of driving, although we don't 'just in case'. We're all getting practice contractions in varying levels of severity. One of us has low platelets, one has terrible back-ache, we all get up two or three times in the night to pee. We're all having trouble sleeping. We all stagger if we get up too quickly because the babies are big enough to throw us off balance if they slosh about suddenly. Two of us have swollen ankles. We've all gained different amounts of weight from one who claims 20 pounds to one who claims 44 pounds with two of us in the middle. None of us are admitting to haemorrhoids or constipation, one has admitted she wees when she laughs. Two of us sleep in the afternoons. Two of us have nurseries completely set up, one of us has one partly set up and muggins here hasn't even got her curtains up yet and everything is still in the basement.

One of us is admitting to having had Lady Gardening done by a professional. Three of us are planning home births, one is planning a hospital birth but is pissed off because her hospital never gave her the home option. Two have stretchmarks, two haven't had any. One had to rush to hospital with dizziness recently but was fine. We've all painted our toenails recently. We're all planning on breastfeeding but none of us are shy of bottles of formula if necessary. Two of us are planning on setting a routine, one is going to go with 'on demand' feeding and one hasn't decided. One of us is thinking about staying home for good with the baby, three of us have to go back to work and are looking at day care.

All of us are glad the pregnancy thing is coming to an end, all of us are more worried about the first two weeks after the baby comes than we are about the birth.

I think we've all been lucky. Unlike several women I know or have met, none of us has thrown up all through pregnancy. None of us is so terrified of the birth that we are scheduling a caesarian. None of us have had high blood-pressure or placenta provera. None of us has pre-eclampsia or any other complications as yet. None of us have had bleeding and bed rest forced upon us at this end of pregnancy. All of us have loving partners. We're all lucky.

And, we're all waiting, now. Just waiting.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Lady Gardening...

Well here we go. To use yet another metaphor, we have at least entered the airport on our way to lift off, by which I mean that the baby is 'engaged'. Or rather, his head is engaged in the process of sinking into my pelvis. Only 2/5 so far with what I am assured is 3/5 to go before he is thoroughly wedged-in and ready for the boarding lounge (because I am going to abuse this metaphor for a while... the sense of queasy anticipation and aimless boredom one experiences in airports fits this particular scenario reasonably well).

What this means is that when I stand up he sways dangerously into various muscle groups and organs which here-to-fore have remained relatively unscathed by the experience to date. I have, for example, connected quite well with my pelvic floor. I think I know where it begins and ends as these bits feel the strain whenever blodgy-boy has a particularly nasty bounce. Nasty bounces also pin-point exactly how mobile my pelvis has become. In the past, having not particularly thought about my pelvis I would possibly have described it as a bone and perhaps have gone on to finish by presenting it as something reasonably solid. Now, however, I may be inclined to describe it as somewhat of a more flexible object which can change shape and turn walking into an alarmingly new exercise in balance and movement. Rather than putting one foot in front of the other it is more like swinging one foot in front of the other. And, since I can't see the feet in question, the term 'in front of' is rather more optimistic than I would like and walking in a straight line after, for example, getting out of bed, is in fact a matter of pure chance.

This simple question of movement and the accompanying issue of 'what comes next' ought to be my main focus about now. 'Can I get up', 'can I walk' and 'when will my waters break?' should be fore-front in my mind. These have, however, been usurped by what appears to be the main concern of many of the other Mums-to-be in my aquaintance. From hippies to nice yuppy mums from Clapham's Nappy Valley there is only one topic of conversation once the question 'when are you due' has been answered - and that, my friends, is what I have heard referred to delicately as 'Lady Gardening'.

I have to admit that there is something strangely compelling about this subject, particularly after looking at various birthing videos and photographs. It does rather creep into one's mind that perhaps 'she could use a trim'. Now, this may be complete diversionary tactics, along the lines of buying too many all-in-ones because they're on sale, or discussing the engineering specs of various buggies rather than focusing on the birth of an impending baby - however there it sits, forefront in ones mind. To prune, or not to prune.

In the olden days, apparently, they whipped you into hospital and out came the safety razor to lop off the shrubbery. These days however they are much more enlightened by all accounts and deliver the baby whatever the state of your allotment (I am sorry about this, metaphoritis apparently comes with this blog). This leaves the choice in the hands of the expectant Mum - who, it must be said, can no more reach the scenery than she can see it without an array of mirrors and a safety net.

This is something that I must confess had not crossed my mind until it started raising it's ugly head in the online forums and then again in our nice NCT class... multiple times. Some ladies have either bought or been given a device to do the job for them. I italicise the above as several have been given this present by others Who Have Gone Before and passed this obsession down the line and it is always these women who open the first conversation. Now, how one is expected to use such a device without help is beyond many of us and has sparked several debates about how one goes about doing this and what sort of topiary one leaves behind. I'll refrain from offering you the preferred choices, however needless to say number one on the list is not 'do nothing'.

Once asked, this question cannot be put back in it's box (as it were). One begins to imagine oneself naked in a room full of strangers plus one's husband who, it has to be said, one would still like to have see oneself as a potential object of desire at some point. You can probably see where this is leading ('down the garden path' a voice whispers).

The choices, once one has come to the conclusion that suddenly this is in fact something with which one is very concerned are whether to try do to this oneself, or to hire someone else to do it. On this point the hippies and yummy yuppies are divided equally down the middle between those who can't bear the thought of subjecting someone else to the act and are determined to do some DIY and those who can't bear the thought of subjecting themselves to it and would rather pay a professional.

With the professional route discarded due to taste considerations, one has then to decide between subjecting oneself to the rigours of sharp objects, ripping motions or burning potions (or, to continue the metaphor to it's logical conclusion, shearing, ploughing or weed-killer) around what is an area of, shall we say, significant sensitivity at this time...

The reason why this is so all-consuming is, of course, that none of us particularly want to consider what is really happening to our bodies, to our muscles and bones and to our pelvic floors. None of us really want to focus on the impending venture onto the runway and take-off into parenthood, concerning as it does a considerable amount of pain, mess and general life-changing inconvenience. Therefore any excuse to focus on something more familiar is, like the 3-for-2 sales in airport bookshops, a welcome opportunity for distraction, eagerly seized.

And this is where I leave off, contemplating the arsenal of weapons in my bathroom tool-shed. I hope I have a hand-mirror.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Entering the limbo

Tonight is Sunday. Tomorrow is Monday. More importantly, tomorrow is the first day of what I am referring to rather simplistically as my 'maternity leave'.

Breaking this term down I find it normally refers to a defined period of leave from work however I think in this case it's perfectly clear that this is more like a completely undefined leave from, well, from everything. Frankly.

While there is a nominal date for my putative return to normality it's one defined by the prosaic, by bank accounts, work and received wisdom rather than one defined by any closely examined reality. This date says to the world that come the end of February, I will gaily trip off to work leaving the blob in the hands of a paid carer and life will resume. Leave will be over. This is presuming that the blob is a living breathing baby and that there is work to return to and that I have managed to exist on what I have for this period of time and most importantly, that I can face it all. It's a date chosen from this side of time, from the side where there is no baby, where there is money and time and freedom, not a date chosen with any of the realities of the moment in place. Further, the start date for this leave of absence was also chosen relatively at random and it isn't actually the start of anything. In fact, there could easily be another month like this, a month of nothing happening, a month of not being able to do anything but wait.

It feels very random, this period of time which government agencies, employers and other mothers-to-be have conspired to fix. Neat and tidy, viewed in increments - three months, six months, a year... nice defined pieces of time that say 'I'm a work-a-holic', 'I'm middle-class', 'I've got a good benefits package', increments that box up an experience as if it could be controlled by ascribing a beginning and an end, as if there would be an end, as if by calling this 'leave' there will have to be a 'return', where-as nowhere did I read that this was a return trip.

So, I have taken my leave and find myself here in the netherworld, post-normal, pre-unknown. I have a list of things to do to fill the time, to divert my experience of the passing of this time and tomorrow I begin. Something has ended, something else is beginning.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The weighting...


6 more pounds in a week and a half. Proof that the less you move, the more you gain. I'm still eating the same amount of food but due to this embarrassing waddle I seem to have acquired which disqualifies me from the world of people who can run, jog, skip, power-walk and, oh, stroll, stand up quickly, stand up for more than 5 minutes... anyway, due to the waddle I can't expend more energy than I am eating at the moment and boy is that a mistake.

Short of going on an all-cucumber diet, this fast-tracking to post-partum obesity can only be ended by the birth of the blob - something which is now astonishingly within 3 weeks of becoming a reality. Or five, if he hangs around.

Both my friends who are due within 3 days of me have had their baby's head engage. My new friend from the ante-natal class who is due 4 days after me has had her baby's head engage. My friend in Canada who was due last week had her baby last week. Just me standing around getting fatter and being plain old pregnant...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I'm not sure what is filling me up the most... the baby or my dinner. There's hardly room for the both of them in there. Baldrick the blob is now wedged firmly between my pelvis and my ribs with little room for shifting. This doesn't stop him from trying, however and the constant parade of elbows, knees, feet and fingers pushing their way around my anatomy feels like my innards are participating in their very own aerobics class. Of particular delight is the feeling of little fingers tickling the inside of my back. According to the pregnancy books, he now has finger nails and I wonder what the odds are of those little tickly fingers clawing their way out... clearly I read too many horror books when I was young...

The upside of this is that for the first time in my life I have excellent posture as I cannot slouch in any way, shape or form without getting a small bony backside lodged firmy in my sternum. The downside of course is that if he is this big already, how on earth am I going to cope with his growth over the next 4 weeks - the weeks in which (according to all those books) he is going to put on the most weight?

Gone are my ideals of hitting the gym until 9 months pregnant - the victim of a foot injury incurred on a faulty pedal strap on a stationary bicycle. Gone are my goals of 'no empty calories' as the last two weeks has seen an 'oh fuck it' attitude sneak in and ice-cream and pizza have re-entered my diet. Gone, therefore is my goal of putting on no more than 24 pounds this pregnancy as I have now hit 28 and rising. The final victim in this campaign is my desire to push out a nice, compact baby of no more than 7 pounds as I am certain that I am about to push out a 10 pound fatty arbuckle of a child.

I mean, I am no dwarf. There's quite a long space between my pelvis and my rib cage. Quite a lot of room in there. If he's butting up against the limits already (with the emphasis on 'butt') then I reckon we're in for a hefty surprise. I reckon he's going to be straight into the 6 month romper suits and bouncing on Daddy's knee demanding kebabs by the time he's 8 weeks old.

Clearly, I have 4 weeks to divert this catastrophe, 4 weeks of alfalfa sprouts and brisk walks, 4 weeks of swimming and lean protein... 4 weeks of water and fresh fruit...

Or I could have 4 weeks of sitting on my fat backside slurping down ice-cream.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Pool

If music be the food of love...

4 weeks left and it’s time to start focusing on all the important things – such as what music to play the baby in the womb so that we can calm him down with it later and, more importantly, so that he comes out with the right history of contemporary music embedded in his subconscious. In fact, I’d like him to come out of the womb humming something from the Velvet Underground (perhaps ‘Stephanie Says’ which would get him going in the right direction from day one).

I’ve been selecting a few choice albums for him to become accustomed to now, among them the new Nina Simone collection, Bob Dylan (‘Blood on the Tracks’) and behind D’s back, John Martyn’s ‘Solid Air’ (D hates John Martyn). Next I think will have to be something from Leonard Cohen, some Doors, some Kate Bush or The Clash (here’s a party trick: putting one’s baby to sleep to the strains of ‘Guns of Brixton’.)

Here’s the problem though – where does it end? The Velvets, Nick Cave, Hendrix, Blondie, Nick Drake, Syd Barrett, Billy Holiday, Chet Baker, Massive Attack, Radiohead, Janis Joplin, Nirvana, Johnny Cash, Bird, Bowie, Tom Waits, Townes van Zandt, Patsy Cline… the list is too long, how can you leave any of them out?

And, what about Mozart? Vivaldi? Elgar? Rodrigo? Beethoven? What about Allegri’s Miserere? How can I face my brother if he’s not a Steely Dan fan by the time he’s 4? How can I face my father if he can’t whistle the Goldberg variations?

Worst of all is knowing that the music he's REALLY going to be most familiar with is the opening theme tunes to 'CSI' and 'House' and besides which, by the time he's two all he'll want to listen to is 'The Wheels on the Bus' and 'The Cat Came Back' 100 times a day and that all this careful planning will be for nought.

Still, while it's not on a par with attaching speakers to my belly and playing him taped readings of Plato's Republic, somehow it seems important...

Suggestions on the back of an envelope please.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

volte face...

There has been a gap in this blog. A gap filled with heat, humidity, cravings and regrets. A gap one might almost call a crevasse. Posting while lodged in the cracks of this crevasse would probably have had the men in white suits coming around for me and a note permanently incised on my file that my child may be at risk due to maternal madness.

Having scrambled out of this gap I feel somewhat numbly ready for what is about to happen. The birth part I feel fairly ready for in that I don't think anyone can really be ready. The after-birth part I am slowly coming to grips with.

We have been buying The Stuff and are reasonably ready for most events. Baldrick has turned butt-forward and head-down and seems to be reasonably content where he is, so long as he can put a foot into my stomach a few times a day and make me feel sick.

All in all, we're pretty much facing the right way.

The weather, however, even though it has broken and rain has come is still sticky and humid and awful and wit-stompingly hot. I have 3 more weeks of work left until I can relax and 5 and a half more weeks to go before Blob is officially 'due'. This may be enough time to finish my taxes. That would be a good thing.

We have bought the cot part of the buggy and stared mutely at it in fear of the unknown occupant. The cot-bed is standing in the cellar in it's box, the moses basket is sat on it's rocker and stuffed with bedding and my bag is packed in the event of an early hospital visit.

All we do now is wait. Anyone have any recommendations for good, non-baby books I can read to take my mind off it all?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

ickle winky binky tinky fuck off

Something strange is definitely going on in my little pregnant brain. In the spirit of ‘We Really Ought To Have At Least One Day’s Worth of Outfits In Case We Really Have This Baby Next Month (as well as the spirit of ‘Would You Look At How CHEAP Everything Is Over Here!’) we have been purchasing baby clothes in France and this is doing something very screwy to my head.

While shopping for shoes (Oh come on. My feet have grown.) I found these little itsy bitsy baby socks. Light-weight white cotton socks with little bears on them. Tiny little cotton socks for tiny little wrinkly baby feet.

You can see where this is heading. What Is Happening To Me?? Little wrinkly baby feet which are currently Actually Growing Inside Me. I mean, I can practically grab them and count their toes. Little tiny kicking baby feet with little itsy baby toe-nails…

Argh! Get it off me!! Get it off, this, this, this Sentiment! This terrible, terrible oozing maternal feeling. It’s like there’s an octopus of lurve in my brain sneaking it’s grabby little tendrils into every thought that I have.

Baby socks. Baby fucking socks. And baby shirts and all-in-ones and they’re SO TINY!!! And he has hiccups all the time and it’s SO CUTE I could just throw teddy out the fucking window.

Argh!! And we went out today with one of D’s friends and his lovely wife and their two perfect boys who were all cute on their new bicycles zooming around and doing tricks and pretending D was a bear and he was actually GROWLING at them and pretending to EAT THEIR FINGERS which means, which means, god I can’t believe I’m going to type this – it’s happening to him too!! Oh god what’s happening to us?


make it stop.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

arse backwards

Into the last two months and preparations are sneaking slowly. Very slowly. Almost, in fact, un-recognisable as preparations. Seeing that the blob is now a viable baby and that lifting bags of cement when 7 1/2 months pregnant is one way to bring on early labour, you'd think that we'd at least have a few basics on hand 'just in case' but no. Why do things the right way around when you could have the baby first?

We have, however, cemented the cellar which is now sweating into itself without actually curing. The contents of said cellar are in the room which will eventually be the nursery leaving no room for fripperies such as cots and nappies.

To be fair, the cellar is much nicer. The walls are white, the floor is solid (if a few inches higher) and it will be dry one day. We've found a nasty leak at the back though so there's some drain work to be done but once we're back from France we should be able to lay the flooring and start carting things back downstairs. Which means... we can start buying stuff. The cot, the car-seat, the birth pool, the baby-grows the nappies, the stuff. You know. Stuff. All that stuff.

Our planning isn't the only thing heading arse-first into the last two months - the mid-wife tells me that blobbsie baby is back to front. Head down, which is good, but back to front, which isn't so hot. So, I get to spend the last two months on my hands and knees trying to convince him that he'd be much more comfortable if he turned around.

So, a challenge. Refit the cellar, buy The Stuff and turn the blob around. 8 1/2 weeks and counting.

Monday, June 26, 2006


Things are slowing down, which is probably the wrong way around. I feel as though there's not enough time left in my life. Not enough space. Not enough of me left to last - and I'm slowing down, wasting what I have left, watching the days drip by, thing after thing.

All the things that have to be done are so relentlessly unappealing but all the things I want to do seem impossible, every demand on my time is like bamboo under the fingernails. I need to drift and be rudderless for a while but it's impossible, the course is unremittingly set. There's not enough time and there may never again be enough time.

and there's so much more to say.