D – Dads

I am very lucky. My partner is a “hands on” dad! A good’un. A grafter. A star.

I know women have the hardest of hard jobs; carrying the baby, giving birth, making the big decisions and then all of the “new baby” politics that take place afterwards. It helps if we can think that the Dads have got it easy, but if you stand back and think about what it’s like on the outside, it must be quite hard.

The dad will never feel a comforting kick from inside his tummy, never understand the ecstacy a mother feels at the end of childbirth, never comfort a baby with his own milk and he rarely gets to spend the first night with his new family. Sent off home. Alone.

A new dad will get two weeks off (if he’s lucky) with his new child and then he has to be the first to leave, the first to say goodbye, the first to return to work and step out of the bubble and back into reality.

But in this modern day society we expect them to do everything that we do. We expect everything to be equal ,to be shared. And if you’ve got a good one – it is!

The father of my sons goes to work everyday so I don’t have to. He comes home later than he ever did and works through his lunch hour, he sorts out all the bills and sometimes even does the weekly shop on his own, to save me a job. And in return fot this? He is still on the outside. He was working when they crawled for the first time. Not there when they took their first steps, tried their first food and babbled their first words. He misses out on taking them to school on their first day. He can’t get time off to watch them in their first nativity play. He won’t be there to cheer them on at their first sport’s day. He’s busy at work so I can do all of these  wonderful things.

DSCF4411

For all those Dads who are rolling up their sleeves up, making life easier for us Mums. -Well done and thank you.

Advertisements

K – Kicks

Three pregnancies later and I’m not at all blasé; it’s still the most incredible moment.

The first real kick.

Routinely followed by 10 minutes of incomprehension, whilst trying to picture another being living inside your tummy, a tear, a giggle, a shout to other half, a patient hand placed upon the belly, an awkward moment, a disheartened retreat, another kick, another squeal, another patient hand…

Never gets boring.

For me anyway.

G – Gina Ford

Gina Ford – the Nazi disguised as a nanny.

Image

Here she is – not at all scary right?

 

Gina Ford is a woman who has made a lot of money telling parents how to bring up baby. Not ‘their’ baby, not ‘a’ baby, not even ‘the’ baby. Just baby.

 

And right now my piss is boiling. Is there any way to patronise a mother more, or dehumanise a child, than a phrase like ‘put baby down and wash and sterilise pump and bottles’? 

 

Not only does she tell you the best time you should feed your baby, what time they should sleep, but also when you should do the washing up!

 

Gina Ford is the author of ‘The Contented Little Baby Book’ and more. This book “saved my life” I was told. 

 

When I was pregnant with my first, and had a lot more time on my hands, I decided to read widely in advance. I was bored with people telling me “you should read this” or ” you should follow this routine”, so I did a bit of wide reading to get a full picture. Gina Ford was on my hit list.

 

To be fair, I did find some of it useful, just to get an idea of how often your child should be sleeping, how many feeds they are expected to take, but then I came across phrases like “when giving baby your last feed avoid any eye contact’ and that was enough for me to give in to the desire to slam the book shut and toss it out of the bed.

 

People swear by Gina Ford’s books, for some Mums they are the parenting Bible, her word is law. But I struggle to take advice from anyone who hasn’t had children. Yes its objective. But is it realistic? Not for me. 

 

I have no doubt the routine does work – and after a week ‘baby’ will stop screaming its lungs out when ‘put down’. And if the amount of sleep you get is your number one priority after having a baby, by all means, go and buy the book. But, for me, bonding, attachment, pleasure and nourishment were all much higher on my list.

 

 

M – Maternity clothes

Before I had any children, and was trying to get pregnant, I would wistfully turn to the “Maternity” section of my NEXT catalogue and daydream about what I would wear if I were pregnant! Oh the irony! Because all I did when I was pregnant is flick through magazines daydreaming about the clothes I would be able to wear if I wasn’t pregnant.

 

Some shops used to do a “maternity” section – a lonely, forgotten rack of clothes, so inappropriately placed in the shop, if you blinked you’d miss them. Or so forgotten that when asking a shop assistant if they had a maternity section she’d look puzzled and shout over her shoulder “Marie, where’d you stck them maternity clothes?” And if you were lucky enough to find it, you would have the choice of a pack of two T-shirts – (one black, one white),a pair of black work wear trousers, an attempt at an “evening top”, one very unflattering dress and a pair of boot cut jeans. If you’re lucky there may be a nightie as well.

 

Now most high street shops, have opted to remove this rail, to make more room for mini skirts and skinny jeans and when you ask where the maternity section is they’ll say “we do it online”.

 

So, you shop online, guessing about what these unusual items with extra elastic and no fastenings will look like. You buy them, over the bump, under the bump, they’re all bloody uncomfortable. The only thing to wear whilst pregnant are floaty dresses and maternity leggings – in fact I think after discovering maternity leggings last time round I’m never going to buy a pair of normal leggings again. They are the most comfortable (and probably unflattering) piece of clothing ever! I recommend them to all you pregnant ladies… And non-pregnant ladies too – Go on treat yourself!

Image

O – Operations

I’ve been very lucky; I have  very healthy boys. As parents we have manged to avoid the painful drama of visiting A&E at daft-a-clock and as health goes the children have had a fairly smooth run (meanwhile us parents continue to fall apart as our immune system plummets under the pressure).

Image

However, my middle, adorable boy has suffered with chronic nose infections since he was born and we finally got forwarded on to a specialist who,without hesitation, booked him him for an op.

I was so focused with him getting better, I didn’t absorb the whole “operation” procedure and what, emotionally, this entailed.

So the day we took him it hit me like a wrecking ball in the chest.

The Childrens’ Ward is full of heartbreak. No matter how clean or colourful or how many toys, DVDs and smiling nurses, they can’t plaster over the fact that children don’t belong there. And every colourful wall is darkened by the broken look upon a parent’s face.

We had to wait 5 hours on this ward before he went down to theatre, then an agonising hour and a half till he came back. Because I’m breast feeding the baby I had the perfect excuse to opt out of the hard bits; like carrying him down, watching him go under, leaving him there.

But I have three images I’m struggling to shake: his tiny teddy-bear-patterned gown folded on the overbed table; his dad carrying him down, a heavy eyed bewildered expression upon his face; him returning, sleeping silently with a tiny cannula bandaged against his little foot.

That night his dad stayed with him in hospital, I went home and slept with both his brothers in the bed with me. I kept waking in the night finding myself looking for a third child in the bed feeling like “I’d lost something”.

Those images, that feeling, remind me how lucky I am. For us it was just two days.

The doors to Childrens’ Wards are never still. Tiny veins have seen a life time of needles, beds are changed but rarely empty, some children go in and they don’t come back out. I have the up-most respect for parents who have poorly children, parents who are on first name terms with doctors, who have to spend hours, days, weeks, in waiting rooms, waiting for appointments, waiting in children’s wards.

Two days was enough for us to feel the strain.

C – Calpol

 Image

I have three children, one would walk over hot coals for a spoonful of Calpol, the others need to be held down, have their mouths forced open and syringe fed the stuff – seriously you would think I was trying to force feed them disinfectant!Clearly a “parent’s best friend” is Marmite for kids. They either love it or they hate it!

But we have got to the point now where we think are thinking is it worth it? IS the relief from their illness going to be worth the trauma of giving them a spoonful a Calpol? Sometimes the answer is yes (chicken pox), sometimes no (teething).

But surely they need to offer some alternative methods now. The spoon and syringe don’t cut it our household.

I talked with some other Mums who have they also spawned “Calpol Haters” and we thought of “the patch” like a nicorette patch but with Calpol, not nicotine, obviously. A Calporette?

Well, we think it would work, the only question is do I apply for Dragon’s Den or The Apprentice?

P – Pregnancy brain

Something stops working when you’re pregnant. Something disconnects. I think it may have always been a faulty wire in my brain, but when I’m pregnant there is no doubt it is fully disconnected. It’s the last step of thinking, the final thought; it’s missing. This is often referred to as ‘Preganancy Brain’. It’s when you walk into a room and forget completely why you went in there, you stand looking vacantly for clues, until you leave the room defeated. It’s like that – all the time! But it appears there are no medical answers to this condition. But it is one. Oh yes it is definitely one. I have the proof.

 

Unfortunately, my pregnant brain has stayed with me post pregnancy, and had permanently hindered my memory, consequently I am struggling to recount all the wonderful pregnancy brain stories I have been told.

 

Fortunately with Facebook and Twitter at your fingertips (literally) who needs a memory – I can just pinch other people’s stories – here’s the best of them (including some of my own):

  • “I cried a lot, especially about the dog”. I love how she left this open. I immediately conjured images of  a heavily pregnant woman turning to her other half, sobbing, “The dog needs a walk”, he looks bemused “Why are you crying?”. Still sobbing “because he’s just so demanding”. Or later, on said walk, picking up poo, sobbing through breathless tears “Could you not have done it in the long grass, when no one was looking?”

 

  • “Had a shower at 8 months. Applied shower gel to my ‘flannel’ – starting washing and then realised I had brought my piece of toast into the shower.” This is my personal favourite and always stays with me when i need an emergency chuckle

 

  • “After two consecutive days of forgetting my purse, then on a evening discovering at supermarket checkout I had purse but it was devoid of cash and cards, my exasperated other half insisted on doing a check of my bag contents before we descended to the car (house is on 1st and 2nd floor). We stood at the top of the stairs doing this: “Mobile? Check. “Purse? Check. Diary? Check.” Satisfied, we descended, as as I followed him out the front door, I paused on the outside step. “What?” he said “What can you have possibly forgotten?” he demanded, whilst turning to see me looking down at my feet…  My uncovered, bare feet. “Shoes? For Fuck’s sake!” Exactly. For Fuck’s Sake.

 

  • “I got some money exchanged at the travel agents. She was lovely. I explained it was a wedding gift, I told her about the wedding, how I should have been bridesmaid but I was pregnant, we talked about the baby, my pregnancy and my woes and at the end, I took the money, she said ” Have a lovely time” and I said ” I love you.”. I think I meant thank you. I hope I did.”

 

  • “My colleague found out she was pregnant after she had just taken over a new desk at work, where the previous occupants were all on maternity leave,  she announced, to a full meeting, “I’m pregnant… Must be something I sat on.” Apparently she’s never lived it down, only fair really, when you give colleagues that much ammunition.

 

  • “I left the house, two children scampering full speed down the street, and thought ‘these flip flops have stretched’, looked down and I was wearing my boyfriend’s size 10 Adidas pair, instead of my size 6 Reeboks. I then had to run after two small children, like Steven Tomkinson wearing clown shoes in ‘Brassed off’.

 

  • “When we couldn’t find things -car keys, wallets, diaries etc – we usually found them in the fridge.”

 

  • “When teaching I would continually miss the last letter of words off, when writing on the whiteboard e.g. ‘Rome and Julie is the mos romantic love story of our tim’ The kids loved it.”

 

  • “Half way through a lesson, I realised my top was on inside out. I had to go in the cupboard to change it. The pupils hadn’t noticed – a testament to how much attention they were paying me.”

 

  • “By the end of the pregnancy I was carrying around underwear, deodorant and a tooth brush in my handbag, as I’d regularly discover these were things I’d forgotten to do.” Underwear? Brilliant!

 

  • “I was on the phone to the tax office and they asked my current employer. I couldn’t answer them. I had no idea. I had to hang up and ring back later.”

If this is not proof enough, then I would suggest typing in #pregnancybrain on Twitter – some great examples on there too!

 

Some people say it never leaves, but I think that’s just called “tiredness”, especially when looking after a baby, toddler… husband. I did leave the house in my slippers, when pushing my week old first born round the block, only noticed when stood talking to a neighbour and then had a very awkward 5 minutes where I wondered if they had noticed too.

 

Please share any of your own, I love hearing them!