I’m being stalked

I’m being stalked. Someone is watching almost every aspect of my life and filming it…

Philadelphia

Volkswagon

And finally, every single tiny detail of this one…

SMA

I liked it so much I bought the song.

Thank you, Mr Advertising Man, every one of these is a little recognition that I’m not nuts.

The 12 week scan

There are moments in pregnancy you’ll remember forever; moments that you can recall in an instant – if you’ve read some of the rest of the blog you’ll know Waitrose and Finchley Road Station are two such personal moments.

But there is another moment. A dividing line between the ‘maybe’ and the ‘definite’. As you lie there in a darkened room holding your better half’s hand, there appears on the screen in front of you: a little movement; a small, coiled, human-like shape; the distinct outline of a head, a nose, perhaps a hand. There he is. 7cms of tiny human. Tucked safely, warmly away in your belly.

And right there, right then. It all changes. And you have the first picture of your baby.

OK, one other bit of advice

You may be one of those couples who never argue. You may be one of those couples who always do. You may not be in a functioning relationship with an Other Half.  Whatever, there will be someone or several people who you will interact with when you are tired, fed up or terrified you’re doing it all wrong.  The worst thing to do at this point is alienate those you need most.  But there will be a point when you think your Better Half is a staggering dipshit (warning, don’t actually use that word – it all goes very quiet when you do) and they think you are an overly emotional, hormonal cow dressed in your painting trackie bottoms and the same t-shirt as yesterday… I digress.

So Learn how to argue. Both of you. Properly. And by properly I don’t mean learn how to win. In fact if winning arguments is all you’re about, leave those relationships now because they’re not going to survive the first year of baby. You are going to get tired, hungry, upset, paranoid, terrified, jealous and angry and you’ll probably take it out on your spouse/mother/best friend and vice versa so you BOTH need to learn to argue healthily. Which is without accusation, bitterness, maliciousness or violence. You need to be able to be in an argument without taking it or giving it personally. Yes, get angry or frustrated but try and avoid blame or exaggerated accusations, the things you can’t take back.

And I don’t mean don’t argue at all – simmering resentment maybe the one thing even more destructive than a good humdinger of a shouting match.  So Vent; it’s helpful, but finger pointing hatred, whilst sometimes immediately satisfying, is damaging beyond belief.  Especially when you will almost immediately need to go to your child to calm or soothe or feed them. They pick up on every tiny emotion coarsing through your veins.

And above all learn when an apology, acceptance, understanding and joining yourselves back together is what you actually absolutely need to do.  Because if there’s one thing harder than forgiving dipshit, its doing this on your own.

But xxxx me it’s hard.

The best bits of advice I got

Having a baby is like buying a house. Anyone who’s ever had experience of it (and a good few who have no clue) has good, well-meaning advice to impart. Some people will suck their teeth at the mortgage you have, others won’t like the neighbourhood, others will want to change the decor. And guess what? Just like every house is different, so is every baby. So what worked for your mother in law or your best friend or your work colleague just might not quite work for you and yours. But don’t take that badly either. It doesn’t mean you’re wrong, it doesn’t mean they’re right and it doesn’t make any of you better or worse at motherhood. It’s just your own experience and your own child.

As Baz Luhrmann said “Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than its worth”.  So in the spirit of healthy advice giving…

The most important piece of advice you will ever receive.

Trust your instinct. No, I don’t mean you’re going to get it right every time but you’re not going to be wrong either. And that little niggle in your brain or the hairs on the back of your neck or the feeling in your gut. That right there is the best advice giver you will ever have. You may not be the most natural, maternal earth mother going but your instinct is far stronger than you thought possible. So trust it. Whether it’s listening to what the doctors are saying, to comforting a crying baby to looking after yourself. Take a step back, out of the chaos and noise of it all and find and listen to that tiny insistent voice that is your instinct. You and your baby won’t regret it.

The next best bit of advice. This too will pass. A wonderful phrase of sanity, one of my friends repeated like a mantra and I finally listened (Thank you, Julia!).  He’s waking up every hour on the hour every night.  He’s sleeping through til 745am.  He doesn’t like the bottle. He’s teething. He wakes an hour after we put him down.  He’s screaming for three hours from 5pm. He seems to be pretty happy. He seems to be pretty grisly. All of it. Will Pass. But dear god, when you’re in the middle of the bad bits, it feels like it will go on forever. Grit your teeth.

There is other advice out there. And you might get it from all quarters. But if you go back to these two, well, you might find a little bit of sanity restored.

Or you might think whoever gave you that advice needs their fricking head read.

The final bit of the list

The final bit of the list

The list as written by my sister in law saved us from spending the wrong money on the wrong things but we still managed to wander into mothercare with that clueless look that pregnant new parents have. The look that is a combination of fear of the unknown combined with the realisation that there is now a new shopping Mecca in your life. The immortal phrases ‘but we don’t have to buy it all now’ and ‘what does one of those do?’. Weebling up and down the aisles of stuff, we knew our bank manager was about to start weeping.

The last part of the List -clothes, toys and yummy mummy goodness.

Clothes and toys- when baby arrives, very generally people buy you stuff. And very generally that stuff is either clothes (usually in a socially dictated gender based colour scheme) or toys. That’s not to say don’t buy your own but perhaps don’t go too mental; although the sleep suits with ears are very cute… And the baby grow is soooo soft. Hmmmmm, sorry, mr bank manager.
Actually the first thing you need to do is to figure out what the hell sleep suits, baby grows, all in ones etc are. And then figure out whether you’ll need long or short sleeved, long or no legs and what size to get. It’s all dependent on when your munchkin is born in the year. Ours was due in march and I made the mistake of thinking that would make him a spring baby so bought appropriately. The coldest march in fifty years descended and we did the day three dash to the nearest baby shop to buy anything that had a significant tog rating.

The yummy mummy stuff is in my personal view essential (of course!). Toward the end of pregnancy you’ll start developing the fear (another post in itself!) of what birth will be like. Give yourself a reward for getting to where you are and read up on what’s about to happen and how you can make it a good experience (another post too!). Also consider investing in; a birthing ball (like the balls for core work at the gym) for comfort, baby repositioning and taking the edge off contractions; a TENS machine for those contractions too; old towels if you’re having a home birth (and, sorry if you’re eating, if your hospital birth was difficult); bio oil for scarring, which will happen regardless of which type of birth you have; and badedas bath bubbles, for soothing lovely healing bath times (which you’ll never have again…). All that and decaf tea bags because caffeine is now one of your sworn enemies…

Anything else?

The best toy ever…

Clearly junior is the most precious thing on the planet. So, we spend money on beautiful toys, big and small- the Jumparoo, the Door Bouncer, the play gym, the entire collection of Lamaze toys….

 

And in the finest tradition of what toys baby likes, his favourite is…. the Rastafarian Potato Masher bought as a comedy Christmas gift three years ago by hubby. Yes, thats what I said, Rastafarian potato masher

That and my car keys.

The List: Part Four

So those of you who’ve been paying attention will know that ‘the list’ is a wonderous gift bestowed on the Better Half and I by my Sis in Law. A gift of enlightenment. And no small amount of foreboding.  We were clueless.

The List: Part Four.  The All Important Safety and Travel Essentials.

When junior bounds in to the world you go from being a young carefree pair of happy go lucky socialites (or thereabouts) to paranoid worrywarts faster than you can say Epidural.  He sleeps in the moses basket next to your bed – why wont he stop crying? Is he too hot? Is he too cold? Is that a cough? Has it gone to his chest? Oh my god, is he developing pneumonia? … Hang on, he’s stopped crying. Can you see him breathing? Its so dark in here, is he breathing? Put small night light on, IS HE BREATHING? Poke him. Wakes up. Starts crying. Repeat.

He then moves to his own room. Down the hall from you. Which feels like it could possibly be on a different continent. At least for the first night. So you need a Baby Monitor. Or you can buy an app (3G Baby Monitor) if you’re smartphoned.  And so continue your worrying from slightly further away.  He’s quiet. Is the Monitor broken? Is it turned down? Is it turned off (said in an accusatory way to your Better Half)?  Its not broken. Oh my god, is he not breathing? Is his face covered and he can’t breathe? I shouldn’t have put the soft rabbit comforter in there. I’m a bad parent. Check on baby. He’s fine. It turns out to be you who isn’t breathing.

And then there is the room temperature which should be 18-20 degrees c or thereabouts so you need a room thermometer (some baby monitors have them). And it doesn’t matter because the central heating in your new house will switch off in the middle of the night during the coldest March on record and the room temperature will plummet. You won’t realise because you’re under a duvet but believe me baby will tell you he’s not happy.

And then the munchkin has the discourtesy to start moving about! Just as you get into one routine and assuage all those fears, he’s crawling. And discovering whole new adventures of stairs and electric sockets and the gallons of household poison that you keep under the sink.  So you’ll need stairgates, fireguards, plug socket covers, table corner bumpers, and childproof cupboard locks. Or a play pen to keep him in til he’s say eighteen and financially independent. Try this excellent website for more information and a great (very long) checklist.

Babyproofing your house – Baby Centre

So once  you’ve figured out living in the house, you’ll want to get out of it. Baby induced cabin fever is tough so get out even if its only to get a pint of milk.  But you’ll probably need some travel stuff.

We’ve discussed the travel system and car seat. As part of this, you might want to consider an “isofix base” to more securely hold the car seat in the car (your car may not be equipped for them- look for two small vertical slashes in the base of the rear passenger seats).  And for the first few months he’ll be in a rear facing car seat (its safer) so you might want a mirror which you can attach to the seat headrest and thereby keep an eye on the baby rather than the traffic.

If you prefer to walk, slings (as mentioned in one of the comments to a previous post) are excellent and cover the spectrum from hippy earth mother ones to more engineered ones. We had one called a Manduca which was excellent and bimp would drift off to sleep in it while I did the morning chores – although it did hinder movement slightly- emptying the dishwasher took 45 minutes at one stage!

Finally if you’re away over night, a travel cot is a useful must. It gives bimp his own space and keeps him cosy, especially with the fifty layers of blankets and the sleep bag he’s wrapped in because the hotels ‘a bit drafty’. We have a nifty one that springs open like one of those Glastonbury tents, but there are others more substantial. Have a think about whether you’re planning on taking it on a plane as weight will be important if you are.

So there you are. Get out of the house. Don’t fear travelling. Don’t poke the baby. He’ll tell you when he’s unhappy.  Long live slightly paranoid parenting.

Anything else?

The last bit of the list is coming soon: clothes, play and yummy mummy stuff.

10 things you will find yourself doing…

In no particular order, you will one day find that you:

 

1) are inadvertently sucking on a dummy. And have been for sometime. Possibly in public.

2) go out knowingly wearing clothing that has either baby vomit, baby snot, formula, breast milk or possibly baby poo on it.

3) have started having normal grown up conversations with your baby, about what’s on tv, the news, celebrity gossip, political machinations over the middle east crisis etc. These conversations will start occurring in your kitchen. But will subsequently occur in the car. In the supermarket. On the high street. In front of people you don’t know.

4) think 9pm is a late night.

5) have started turning the tv down in case you can’t hear the baby crying. The baby who could possibly raise the dead from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. But nonetheless, you have the bedroom door slightly ajar and the baby monitor on. Full volume.

6) begin wondering when the spare room and the hallway and the kitchen became a Chinese laundry. How does one small child create so much washing?

7) …. Now what was that thing I was thinking about again?…

8) pretend to be asleep for the first few cries. Either baby may go back to sleep or better half may feel more guilty.

9) now realise every other driver on the planet is a total moron.

10) will never ever over pack for yourself again. Because you don’t have any luggage allowance or car boot space left after all the crap you take for him.

11) are so tired you lose track of what you’re doing.  So you put the mobile phone in the dishwasher, the dirty nappy in the washing machine and the empty bottle and teat in the bin. God knows where you put the used bib.

 

The List: Part Three

So my lovely Sis-in-law (BB) produced ‘the list’ and it was our focus as I, blissfully ignorant, weebled around the various shops starring wide eyed at rows and rows of ‘stuff’.  Which bottle type to get?  Why do I need a muslin (ha! one???)?  Who are Lasinoh? What’s a bumbo?  Oh bless our naivety.

Feeding and Changing…

This part of the list will no doubt inspire debate, disagreement, argument and downright name calling. I am not making judgements on anyones parental techniques. So I don’t plan to get in to the dummy vs no dummy, breast vs bottle or any other debate- at least not on this blog entry! I leave you to make your own intelligent, instinctive judgement.

Muslins (with an N!) – Lovely absorbant pieces of cloth. It doesn’t matter how many you buy, it won’t be enough and when you want them they will (inevitably) not be where you are.

Dummy and Dummy Clips – ohhhh and there starts the first mummy argument – to dummy or not to dummy?  We tried and bimp wasn’t interested until he started teething – then he was less suckling, more biting on it.  Arguments against – damage to teeth, looks awful, develops a dependency on it. Arguments for – can help to settle baby without feeding (its called a pacifier for a reason); if its not a dummy, it might be their thumb which is definitely less removable.

Breast vs Bottle. Again, this will be a matter of personal choice, taste and in some cases physical ability – there should never be any judgement on parents one way or another as long as the child is well fed and looked after.  But you will need different bits of kit dependant on which you opt for so pick and choose from the following.

Feeding cushion- helps to support baby when feeding.  Bliss for tired arms and backs. However, normal cushions can work just as well as long as you don’t mind them being covered in posseted (see glossary) milk.

Nipple cream (or cold cabbage leaves- yes, really!)/Nipple protectors – because it just isn’t funny.

Breast pads – you may not suffer from leaky boobs when you’re breast feeding… or you might look like the New York Harbour fire boats on parade day…

Breast pump/storage bags – Should you be keen to give baby breast milk but get Better Half to share in the 2 am feeding experience! So the sound of the motorised pump at 5 am will become one of the soundtracks to your life (the other soundtrack is provided by Fisher Price).  Warning, our wee man was totally freaked out by breast milk not being given to him from a boob – so languishes in the freezer several unused fl oz of breast milk.

Bottles – There are lots on the market and bimp may not like all of them- we tried several types with different types of teats (different levels of milk flow).

Bottle Bag – Like an insulated picnic bag to keep milk warm (or cool).

Bottle Warmer – An express bottle warmer for the middle of the night feeds when the weather gets colder.  Whichever you buy, it will still seem to take an age to get the milk warm when junior is having a screaming fit in your ear at 3 am.

Some form of Sterilising equipment – you can get the swept up fandango electronic ones, microwaveable ones, cold water tablets or use the good old boil in a saucepan technique. Dishwashers are also hot enough to sterilise.  Your child will still end up eating dirt and worms though so, at some point, sterilisation becomes futile but to begin with it’s an essential.

A bumbo – or equivalent. An awesome little baby seat, not just designed for feeding but a great little asset when you start weaning. And wipe clean.

Weaning spoons – not needed immediately. But these flatter, more rubberised spoons make it easier for junior to get the food off the spoon and hence spread it round the kitchen with greater ease.

And for changing…

A changing bag – A big bag with lots of pockets. Ones specifically designed for the job often come with a changing mat which is really useful.  Fill with nappies, wipes, nappy bags, muslins, change of clothes for junior, change of top for you, barrier cream, hand sanitiser, hair band (for you), calpol, teething gel, teething toy or comforter, bottle of milk (and teat) and your baby’s medical notes.

Nappies/Wipes/Nappy bags – these are definitely personal preference and cause of the third mummy argument, disposable vs recyclable. Whichever, it may take a few goes to find which type of nappy fits your baby best – those that don’t will demonstrate their failings by leaking over you.

Barrier cream – for nappy rash/teething blisters (on his bum not his face!) and any other sores.

A dirty linen bag for the nursery – because the sleep bag, pyjamas, changing mat, muslins will all need a wash at some point; probably daily.

Any other ideas?

The List Part Four will be out soon –  Safety and Travel essentials!

 

The Lincolnshire Daily Bugle

The Lincolnshire hazardous material team were deployed today as emergency services worked hard to control the leak of what has been described by some as “some of the most horrific type of nerve agent known to man”.  The mother of the child involved, clearly shocked and visibly shaken, said “I was taken a back. I had no idea what was in there. It was everywhere, and seemed to be spreading faster than we could clean it up”.  The HazMat team battled for several minutes to bring the offending substance under control; in the process damage was done to all the child’s items of clothing, the changing mat, changing unit, several items of both parents’ clothing, the surrounding floor area and some witnesses have speculated that those marks on the ceiling weren’t there before.  The child, who had to be completely showered down, was unharmed during the incident and maintained a bouyant mood despite the obvious distress the material was causing others.   His parents may be in deep therapy for some time.