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.