Parking

So I’ve driven round the car park three times trying to find a useful space. I’m seven months pregnant, which means bump is now Bump and arrives a few minutes before I do. It also means there are some basic logistical issues I need to negotiate. Parking is one of them.

So I find a space- its not great but if I wedge the passenger side up close to the pillar, then I think I’ll have enough space to get out of the driver side. Phew. Logistics sorted and off I toddle for a lifestyle coffee and a cruise round mothercare. Wild.

Of course, it’s never that easy. When I get back to the car after an hour and a half, the nice sensible VW Golf that I parked next to has gone. In its place is some wide-mouth Audi A7 which has clearly been parked by some ass clown with no concept of personal space. Its parked, nay, wedged in the space between me and another sensible vehicle like some beached whale shark with a personal number plate. Given that I am also the size of a whale shark there is no chance of getting in the drivers side. At least not via opening the door. And the passenger door isn’t going to work either not unless I remove the concrete pillar I parked so conveniently close too.

But you know, I’m a resourceful woman. This is not going to stop me getting in to my vehicle. I briefly contemplate whether I could open the driver’s door a crack, enough to get the window down and then do some Dukes of Hazzard style entry in to my car through the window from the roof of the Whale Shark. Hmmm. Think I might get done for criminal damage. And not sure I’ll fit.

Perhaps I could reach the hand brake from the window. Nope.

Oh, I know. If I could open the boot and somehow unlatch the rear seats, I could crawl through the boot into the… Oh my god, what am I thinking.

My final course of action is to crack open the rear passenger door. Initially I think this is futile too. But I realize if I step up on to the foot plate I can raise my bump to a slightly wider part of the open door, above the arm rest thing. And slowly, tenderly I squeeze me and my bump on to the back passenger seats. Step one. I then try to shimmy (ha! Pregnant and shimmying…!) in between the two front seats, negotiating the gear stick (oh my). I realize the traditional head first way of doing this does not work for me in my curvaceous state and end up sliding feet first, bump up in to the driver seat.

And I’m there. In the driver seat. Ready to go. And I haven’t even spilt my (decaf) coffee.

Then the Ass Clown shows up. He gives me a jaunty wave, gets in to the whale shark and buggers off. I consider throwing my coffee at him.

The Dad Bounce

Bored?

Conduct a small social experiment.

Give your baby to a male friend. Not permanently. Just a short term loan.
What does the chap do?

If he starts a gentle but rhythmical bounce (think Beyonce in ‘All the Single Ladies’ but perhaps with less twerking), he’s a dad.

If he freezes, looks slightly terrified and then grins at you as if to say ‘yes, I’m done now’, he’s not. Bless him. Smile beautifically, retrieve the baby and promise you’ll never do it to him again.

To know or not know

Between the 12 week scan and the 20 week scan, there is an inevitable conversation. Between you and your partner and, oh, everybody else in the world who knows you’re pregnant. The conversation starts with “ooooooh, you’re pregnant, how lovely” etc etc and inevitably leads on to “Are you going to find out the flavour?” or some other equally weird way of asking whether you’re going to find out at the 20 week scan whether bump is a boy or a girl.

Well, are you?

First things first, your hospital or clinic may not allow you to find out. This is a fallout from the tragedy that is male babies being more desirable than females in certain populations. Yes, even in the UK. So you simply may not be given the option to find out.

Assuming your clinic will tell you, do you want to know? Can you face calling bump “It” for the next twenty weeks? Would it be easier just coming up with one list of names rather than two? Are you planning on decorating the nursery before bump becomes bimp? Do you already have three boys? Or three girls? Are you just too excited and simply have to know? Can you keep a secret? Do you want to?

I don’t think there are right or wrong answers to this (perhaps apart from the Do you already have three boys? Or three girls? Questions). I don’t think there is a right thing to do and a wrong one. I think there is personal choice and neither finding out nor not finding out is wrong. All I can offer is my perspective and our answers to the questions above.

Do you want to know? Yeeeeeeessssssss! Yes, yes, yes. We have the technology to do it and on every level I feel it would allow me to start bonding with the wee man (as it turned out). And no, I don’t think just because we have the technology we HAVE to use it. But it does mean we have the choice. And therefore the right to exercise that choice.

Can you face calling the bump “It”? No. I wanted to start bonding with bump, having conversations with him. I wanted to relate to him as a person and I wouldn’t call a person “It”. Actually that leads on to the next question, names (a whole post in itself!) but because we found out the sex, instead of just referring to bump as “he”, we started trying out names – a week per name to see if it was even allowed on the short list! It didn’t mean we’d selected the name before bump became bimp but it meant our short list became significantly shorter – Horatio and Methusalah were out. Especially with our last name.

Are you planning on decorating the nursery? Ha, we didn’t even have a house at that point but even so… I didn’t want swathes of beige or magnolia for the bimp. I didn’t necessarily want socially acceptable pink or blue either but knowing it was a boy allowed us to focus on what we did want (and the pressies other people bought us!). As it turned out the wee man got a jungle themed nursery which I would have happily given to a little lady as well. Perhaps that counters my argument for knowing. Hmmm. Next!

And finally, yes, you know what- we were too excited! We wanted to know because we wanted to start imagining our future with bimp and wanted to know the gender. Why should planning bumps future, our future, only start when he (or she) is born? They start changing your life the minute you realize you’re pregnant – you could argue, even before then. Has it changed what we’ve done? I expect so. Socially accepted mores are difficult to change, even in those who are super conscious of gender biases and want to avoid them. And what we plan for our wee man is probably subtly different to what we would be planning if bimp were a girl. But its not better or worse or less hopeful, just subtly different. Is that wrong?

Whichever gender bump had been we would have been over the moon. And we will be for the next one too. And you will all know then too- because, No, we can’t keep a secret.

The Cow

I already know we have less than nothing in common. Despite our children being the same age.

Her child is immaculate. Beautiful, pressed dress. Lovely pretty shoes (shoes!). Smooth, straight hair.

My child appears to be drooling. A lot. I know he can’t help his teeth coming through. But now? And is that… Mashed potato? In his eyebrow? He hasn’t eaten mashed potato today. Oh. Hmmm. Yesterday’s dinner. Sigh. And where is his left sock?

And if it wasn’t bad enough, the mother is immaculate too. Knee high brown boots, tanned bare legs, lovely cotton sun dress and smooth groomed hair. I hate her. How does she do that? I realise though that I’m not alone in this, thank god. Across the room, I can see a knackered mum looking at her in disgust too. This mum looks, well, tired and old – baggy eyes, unbrushed hair, shirt with (oh bless her) baby vomit on the shoulder, still wearing preggie jeans. Thank god, I’m not the only one I think and get up to get a wipe. Then I realise. That’s not another mum. That’s me. In a mirror. Unrecognisable me. Dishevelled, exhausted, old. How did that happen? And How come the tanned cow in the corner has got it so bloody together? I make a pact right then that I can’t, for my own sanity, ever talk to her. Yes, I know that makes me the cow. But that’s just the way it has to be. I can’t spend week in, week out at mums and tots group, going quietly mad with envy. Imagining how beautific her life is. How together she has it all. I will just have to accept that some women can do it better and with more style and less baby vomit. Eeeeeurgh.

The next week she walks in a pink velour track suit with some sort of reflective shiny writing on her bum. Karma is restored.

Still not talking to her though.

And the not so glorious

I’d heard the myth of your senses being heightened when you’re pregnant but I was pretty convinced that it wasn’t going to happen to me. For no other reason than my sense of smell is abominable and I figured it wasn’t about to improve. In fact I would be rather glad if it didn’t as I could use it (and have) as a convenient excuse not to change junior’s nappy- “Oh, does it, dear? My bad, you know how poor my sense of smell is. Thanks, darling!” etc

So walking up the stairs to our flat one night at about week 18, I was quite surprised to find myself gagging at the god awful smell that was wafting out from the kitchen. I couldn’t go near the room (and no, it was not an excuse to avoid cooking). It was awful for weeks- the kitchen door had to be shut and the window open if we (he!) was cooking. If I was in the lounge, the door had to be shut and I kept spray near my bedside so I didn’t have to smell it at night.

At my wits end, I finally got Better Half to empty the entire fridge. Every last iota of food. And scrub the shelves clean. I could still smell it. This festering, putrid, overwhelming smell… of garlic. Hideous, disgusting, vomit inducing. I would spend evening after evening begging Better Half not to buy anything with garlic in it, not to cook with garlic, and please, oh please, search the kitchen high and low and remove any last tiny flake, crumb, slice or drop of the stuff.

And then he found it. THe last fragment of garlic that had repulsed me so much I had to sit behind two closed doors every evening. “Look what I”ve found!” he proudly proclaimed coming out of the kitchen and wafting it under my nose. I threw up instantly. It was as I fled to put my head down the loo for the 181st time that he realised I hadn’t been making it up. And he finally threw it in the (neighbour’s) bin.

Food glorious food

I didn’t get cravings. I didn’t want to drink guiness. Or eat coal. Or order a banana and tunafish pizza. Nope, I was absolutely fine. Nothing changed. Hmmmm.

It was when the waiter asked if everything was ok with our meal while I was face first in a bathtub of carbonara that I realized that perhaps I did have pregnancy cravings after all. Carbonara. Flipping tons of it. I could have eaten it for breakfast. Made in a vat. Enough to serve six full grown men.

But that particular craving only lasted about five weeks. I guess it must have been the carbohydrates in the pasta and the fat in the cream that my body was craving. Or just the taste. And that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

After the carbonara phase I went on to peaches – fresh or tinned. Whole or segments. By hand or with a fork. On the train home (nothing like loud slurping noises and peach juice running down your chin to clear a space round you – even on London Underground… at rush hour) or in front of the telly. To be honest, peaches could have formed the entirety of my diet but my better half insisted on normal food as well. So traditional.

And then it stopped and I went on to Jacket Potatoes. With Baked beans. And Cheese. And Coleslaw. All at the same time. It was like a Vesuvius of food bursting from atop a potato. I think about it now and I feel faintly sick. The Irony.

You said what?

In the UK Community Midwives and later Health Visitors visit new mothers to make sure you and the baby are developing normally. They will give you a list of symptoms that might indicate your tiny baby is not well. One of these is a bulging Fontanelle .

It is NOT the same as a bulging frenulum. Which is how I described it to the doctor.

Fail.

I think the doctor may still be laughing now.

Preg-a-mama

It’s no good. Quite simply, it’s not going to do up anymore. Whether its your favourite jeans, your work skirt or your lovely summer dress, failure to zip the zip is a sign of one thing – time to shop for maternity clothing.

And if the last thing you remember of maternity clothing was the flouncy, floaty high-necked horrors that Princess Diana wore or the outrageous, belly-busting-out clothing (or lack thereof) of the heavily pregnant All Saints, time and style has thankfully moved on. Pregnancy can now be celebrated in your own style rather than covered up in swathes of billowing flora or exposed to the elements in bra top and combat trouser combo. You may not be quite up to the Duchess of Cambridge ’s designer style but her more relaxed pregnancy outfits are distinctly on pregnancy trend. And if even that isn’t quite your style, the revolution that has occurred in pregnancy jeans means you can get any style (skinny, boot cut, flare etc) in pregnancy form (that is, with the vital expanding soft waist line) or alternatively go to work looking stylish not stumpy. Every type of clothing you may want to wear when pregnant (including work clothes, wedding dresses and fancy dress outfits!) are out there and the links below give you an idea of where to shop, whatever your budget.

Isabella Oliver

Seraphine

Mamas and Papas

Topshop

Tiffany Rose

Oh and almost every high street and online shop worth visiting has a mat section!
Thank god someone somewhere figured out there was a market out there gagging for stylish maternity clothing.

Today its just not happening

Just about awake after my second cup of builders this morning. Child has so far played on the play gym, bashed the plastic teether repeatedly on the plastic drum for half an hour, bounced himself silly in the jumparoo, drunk his milk, regurgitated his milk, eaten his breakfast or at least most of the ella’s kitchen baby banana brekkie that didn’t end up on the floor, himself or me, and is now beginning to whine for sleep. In the five minutes I now have before whining becomes a tantie, I need to wash my hair (to remove banana, if nothing else), dress (in whatever I reach for first in the wardrobe while simultaneously trying to ensure child doesn’t roll off bed), pack the Go Pack with nappies, wipes, muslins, milk, food, spoon, more wipes, nappie bags, teething gel, calpol, dummy, sudocream, antibacterial hand stuff, more wipes and a toy. And a blanket. And possibly a Mack because it looks like it may rain. And a woolly hat, shoes, mittens and a hoodie because the temperature dropped over night. And a teat for the bottle of milk. And more wipes.

And then leave the house.
And then go back to the house to pick up your wallet.
And phone.
And car keys.

Sir Ken Robinson