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...