Coke too

So we get to the pub. Even before we sit at the table, we have both checked our mobile phones. Of course, we have no reception. Either of us. Of course, we don’t because we’re not paranoid enough already. No reception on the phone guarantees one thing – that we will check our phones incessantly for the next two hours… because that will improve the amount of reception we have.

But its fine because they have the phone number for the pub too. And the phone apparently works as the landlady is just using it. Excellent, we can relax. WHat shall we have to eat? Hmmm, three courses seems like it might take a while to arrive- the pubs busy and the food is freshly cooked so, you know, lets just go for starters and main course. We agree and the waitress takes our order. I glance around the pub and take a sip of coke. Hmmm, landlady still on the phone but you know, hey, she’s working tonight so how long is she going to be. I check my mobile phone again – still no messages, and no reception.

We chat … about our son. I’m sure we used to talk about other stuff but he seems like the natural point of conversation. And the first course arrives after what feels like an age. Hmmm, delicious. I appear to have finished mine in a nanosecond.

And the landlady is still on the phone. Jesus, sweetheart, this better be some sick relative or a long lost cousin. You’re supposed to be working.

The main course seems to be taking a while. Tap tap tap. Hmmm, has time slowed down? 8:24pm. Have we really only been here an hour- it feels like… oh…. forever. Tap tap tap. I wonder how he’s doing? If he wakes up, it usually about now. I hope he’s not screaming or upset. Perhaps we should phone and check. Hmmm, perhaps. Still no reception though. And the stupid, lazy landlady is still talking incessantly on the phone. What if they’re trying to get through and can’t? What if they tried and couldn’t and are now on our way to A&E? They would have stopped off here… unless it was an emergency.

Oh my god.

What have I become?

Better half talks rational sense into me. We finish and pay. And leave. And I only drive slightly over the speed limit to get home.

Turns out, he’s fine. Hasn’t stirred. She checked on him (again) ten minutes ago and he’s sleeping… like a baby.

I feel ridiculous. And I have indigestion. And as it turns out, a great babysitter.

Coke

SO, we’ve decided to go out. It was Better Half’s idea and we’re not going far. But we are going – just the two of us, for the first time… without the wee man. Even writing that sentence, my heart is pounding slightly and I feel a bit nervous. My brain goes in to over drive. What if he wakes up and screams and the babysitter can’t comfort him? What if the babysitter is deaf and can’t hear him screaming and he gets so agitated he hurts himself? What if the babysitter falls asleep? or has the tv on too loud? What if he needs to go to hospital and the babysitter can’t drive? WHat if the babysitter can drive but doesn’t have a car seat in the car? What if she drives like a loonie? What if A&E is overcrowded and there are no doctors who can see him? What if its meningitis? Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.

I can’t go.

I can go. I need to stop being ridiculous. It’s only the pub in the next village. It’s less than a mile. We’re driving so we can get home if we need to. I’m not drinking. This is probably a mistake because I’ll mainline Coke (the drink, not the drug) all night and end up bouncing off the walls AND paranoid. Awesome combination.

So we put the wee man to bed and then wait 45 minutes in case he wakes up again. He doesn’t. We write down our mobile phone numbers in big simple numbers, as well as the pub phone number, and the name of it’s landlord and leave them one of the pubs business cards so they know the address and what it looks like if they have to drive there in the dark. And we tell the baby sitter how to work the sterilising machine, the bottle warmer, the dvd player, the sky box, the kettle, the baby monitor; how to lock the back and front doors; how to unlock the back and front doors; where the teabags, milk, sugar are kept; who our neighbours are; and on and on until she looks at us with cross eyes.

And then we leave the house. And leave our darling tiny bundle with the first aid qualified, non deaf, insomniac babysitter with the clean driving license and the baby seat. To be continued….

Attachment Theory

Attachment Theory is a psychological theory about parenting styles and how small children react and adapt to them. The child’s behaviour as a response to the caregiver’s parenting style. This is an awesome website that explains it in basic terms Attachment Theory.

This explains the behaviour of the child to the primary caregiver. It explains perhaps why young babies get separation anxiety when the mother or father or whoever is not nearby.

It doesn’t however explain why I behave like an idiot when I’m away from him. Abandoning him at nursery or going back to work. Just traumatic. For me. He, well, he barely notices my absence, especially at nursery- look at these new exciting friends to play with, look at all these toys, look at this lovely person who is going to feed me new food and let me wade elbow deep through flour and water and sand pits, look at how tired and how deeply I sleep, look at how covered in crap my clothes are by the end of the day.

And I know this is good and I know this is healthy for him – to socialise, to play with other children. And he is obviously happy when he goes there and when I pick him up. But it is the hardest thing I’ve done and all I can think of is every generation of women before me looking at me and saying- how can you outsource rearing your child in that way? Why would you pay someone else to look after him?

And there are lots of reasons why you could and perhaps should and lots of reasons why you shouldn’t or won’t. Some of it is necessity – earning an income being one rather important one. Some of it is psychological – a short mental break for me, a chance to socialise and adapt to being around others for him. But whatever the logical arguments are, I feel like I have a chasm in my chest when I walk away and leave him there. And the further I go away from him, the more I notice it and the bigger it gets.

Pre-Parenting

I don’t mean massive life changing events or global travel, although a great many of those are probably worth doing before you become responsible for another life. But I mean the small everyday things that will quietly disappear almost without you noticing. The little things that you took for granted and that now, post pregnancy, require a logistical plan akin to an Everest expedition to achieve.

Go to the Cinema. And see a film that is no good for kiddies. The next one you see will involve cartoons and may not be for some time.

Go to the Theatre. I kicked merry hell out of this one- 4 plays in a month – sometimes with friends, sometimes on my own – nothing like a big pregnant lady elbowing her way along the aisle to the middle of the row (and back again when she needs a wee halfway through act one). Heavenly.

Have a pedicure. You can’t see your feet now but when they return to view, it would be nice if they were pretty.

Manicure. Because your nails are about to dry out and flake so spoil yourself now.

Get some sleep. At anytime of the day. In bed, on the sofa, in the car (not when driving). Wherever. Just pass out, snooze, snore and pad round in your PJs. Yes, you’ll do the latter when baby arrives but that won’t be out of choice. And the first three will never happen again.

Phone your friends. Chat and catch up. Lord knows we don’t do it enough anyway but time will pass in a way you hadn’t realized it could and it’ll be eight months later and you won’t have talked to them so do it now. And try to remember to do it later too.

Go for a posh meal in the evening. Look, no babysitters, expressing or worrying required. In six months, this level of freedom and spontaneity will all seem completely surreal.

Take a picture of you at bump maximus. You’ll look at you in that picture in six months time and it will seem a lifetime a way.

The Cliff Edge

The Cliff Edge

Probably like a lot of ladies out there, the better part of my life has been spent in training or education to do a job and then actually doing that job. My job is part of who I am. In many ways, it’s the main part of who I am – I define myself by what I do, how well I do it, whether other people respect how I do it, how much I enjoy it and yes, the status I gain from doing a job, this job, my job.

So as I pass 30 weeks of pregnancy there is a looming cliff edge coming up that I am becoming horribly aware of. The cliff edge that is maternity leave. And what that will mean to me, and my definition of me.

I’m lucky, my employers will pay me for a full six months of maternity leave and they’ll hold my job open for me. And I’m fully aware that maternity leave isn’t about putting your feet up and having a cup of tea while watching shocking daytime telly, it’s going to be pretty tough at times and pretty amazing at others. But the notion of six months (or longer) of not ‘going to work’ is fundamentally different to the my current definition of me.

So this definition of me is going to have to change, or adapt or be ripped up and started again. I will have to take off the mask of me as worker, career lady even simply paid employee to a degree. And wear different, unfamiliar masks – mother, dependant, housewife, homemaker. All of which appear to be true but are not quite the me I thought I knew.

Dr Google

Paranoid parenting strikes again… I started typing in to Google this morning as Bimp has a wheezy cough. And google did that thing where your previous searches come up. I realised with some horror, I have come to rely on Google to raise and at times diagnose my child… Previous searches include:

The Baby Whisperer
Tracy Hogg
Baby Ear Infection
Baby screaming on back
How long can I keep baby in a car seat
Apple and Banana Cake
Feeding Baby Evaporated Milk
Medical Advice Baby Cold
Rand Farm
Baby Activities Lincolnshire
Ball Pit
SIDS
Toddle Truck
Rockabye Baby
Capybara
Fluffy Spiderman Pyjamas
Mother and Baby Magazine
What Should I Buy a One Year Old
Controlled Crying
Gina Ford
Katie Hopkins and Peaches Geldof
Meningitis Symptoms
Puddle Ducks Swimming
Baby on Board Badge
Calpol

And thats just the last six weeks…

How does it go again?

Bimp seems to like lullabies while he drifts off to sleep. So I begin to quietly sing to him in the evening. It’s not really going to plan though. To be honest its been a while since I last heard a lullaby so I’m a little rusty. Oh well, give it a go….

“Hush little baby don’t you cry,
Daddy’s going to buy you a…”

What rhymes with cry? Am I even sure about the first bit of that sentence? To be honest, I’m a little hazy on it but the last version of that song I remember was as a sound track to a rather poor eighties movie called the Fly II with Jeff Goldblum which went “Hush little baby, don’t you cry, Just because your dad is the Fly” But I’m pretty sure thats not the original. And it’ll freak the baby out. Right, try a different one…

“Old King Cole was a merry old sole and a merry old sole was he.
He called for his…errr….. what did he call for?…errr”

Hmmm, this is not going well.

“Rock a bye baby on the tree top,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bow breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.” Down will come baby? Fall? That definitely cannot be right. Did they sing that in The Goonies?

I give up, at least on me singing to him. We have a CD of lullabies – wonderful! The first song is “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”. What?!?! If you’d told me that was a lullaby, I’d have been fine*. As long as “Bread of Heaven” and “Flower of Scotland” are next, we’ll be happy as Larry. Not that either of us will be asleep.

*for those of you unfamiliar, it is the England Rugby Team’s Unofficial Anthem.

The Cardinal Rule

Oh seriously, child, go to sleep. You didn’t want your milk so lets go back to sleep.

Yes, I appreciate the shadow on the wall is fascinating. But its two am and we both need to sleep.

I know that doesn’t make you happy. Please stop wailing. There is no one in this time zone who wants to hear it. Perhaps if I rock you for a few minutes.

Yes, I love you dearly but sleep my child, sleep. You don’t like the rocking, do you like the bouncing? Apparently not. If you don’t like either of those, how about upright against my shoulder? No don’t bite, sweetheart. Perhaps sort of seated against me as we walk around the darkened room and I break my neck on the play gym. No, apparently not. Back to rocking. No, sweetheart, don’t arch your back. Because eventually this will cause me to abandon you in your room and go back to my own. Whatever it is I’m doing wrong, its not deliberate. Oh child… seeeeeeeeeriously.

Please close your eyes. Please, please, please. No, don’t grab mummy’s face. Or hair. Or pyjama top. No, gentle hands, darling, gentle hands. No. Not. The. Face. Child.

Sssssssshhhhhhhh, sweet pie, sssssssssshhhhhhh.

Nothing, oh nothing is working. He’s just awake. Horribly horribly awake.

Are you sure you don’t want your milk, sweetie? Are you not hungry? Lets just try it (a little more forcefully). No, don’t play with the bottle, child. Hands out the way. No, child, honestly – if you squeeze the bottle teat like that you cover mummy in milk. Seriously, darling, I will strap your hands down if I have to.

Oh, at last, bless you child, thats it, drink the milk… keep drinking. Yes, I know mummy is breaking the cardinal rule of ‘don’t feed the child to sleep’ but its now half two and I am falling asleep on my feet. Drink, my child, to sleepy drunk and happy dreams.

Night night baby. Night Night. And please please stay asleep when I move you from my arms to your cot. Please.

The Story

It’s 2am. The wind outside has been whipping up a storm and the rain is clattering the window. It’s a dark dark night, the kind that feels cold when you stick your foot out from under the duvet.

Baby can’t sleep. He’s been crying and agitated all night, sleeping fitfully but then waking with a pained and broken scream. Each time I go in to comfort him, it seems to take an age and all the child care gurus in the world probably can’t help me on this one. Patting and soothing; shushing; pick up put down. They work for a little while but forty minutes later he wakes with that painful scream again. This is not a well baby. He’s pulling (yanking) at his ear but turns his head away quickly if you go anywhere near it. Ear infection. My poor little man. And every time I lay him on his back it’s agony for him.

I pick him up, wrap him under my dressing gown with me and sit down in the big comfy chair in his nursery. I keep him upright but leant against me and he seems to slowly slowly settle. He’s exhausted. And as I stroke his head and rock him slowly to sleep, I start whispering to him. Telling him a story. The story of him- of his great grandads and grandmas- what they did in the war and how I remember them. Of his grandparents and their marvelous adventures around the globes. Of myself and his Dad, what we have done and our story up til now. Of his uncles and aunts and cousins. And of him and what we hope of for the future. That we hope we give him a childhood of magic and dreams and puddle jumping and fishing with sticks and pretending to be superheroes. That we want him to be happy and live a life of positive purpose but to do it in the way he wants. That we will be here for him when things go horribly wrong and wonderfully right. And we will love him, no matter what.

And as I sit with my son, who smells of formula and baby bath, and we both gradually fall asleep, I have never been happier.

The Mummy Bus

My beloved car. My nice, little, sporty, cabriolet, “young, free & single” girl toy (silver with a black roof) will simply have to go. It’s a logistics issue. It may look lovely, drive nicely and make me feel as close to the “wind in your hair, sunglasses on, California beach girl” as I am ever likely to get in Lincolnshire but…

The baby seat and the baby aren’t going to get on with it. Imagine fitting said baby seat and darling baby and then going for a waltz round the countryside with the roof down. The child would either come back frozen cold or sunburnt and with one of those looks on his face that skydivers have when they are in freefall – all teeth, gums and a smile that looks like a cross between the Joker and wobbly jelly.

So it has to go. And in its place? A mummy bus. A derivative of the Chelsea Tractor for those of you who are familiar. Designed solely for the protection of the paranoid parent and their darling offspring. To all intents and purposes a civilian tank. 4 wheel drive – natch. More security devices than the front entrance to Mi6. And so many airbags, if they all went off at once you’d be in danger of floating off. Oh, and zero cool

So bye bye California girl. I look forward to your reincarnation in 25 years time once the beloved children have flown the coop. Til then I will simply dream of my Aston Martin Vantage while I do the school/guitar lesson/swimming run and curse the audacity and stupidity of every other driver (especially the ones with the nice convertibles).