Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Kindness of Strangers.

Why is it that every time I go out, no matter how many times I have fed Piglet (and no matter how many times he has tried to escape from the Hide-the-Boob Tent), and even if I have fed him immediately before leaving wherever I am, by the time he gets on the train home he is hungry again and screaming blue murder as if to alert every passer by within a fifty mile radius that I am a useless and neglectful mother who doesn't feed her baby and who will doubtless end up with a child with a shrunken brain from all the cortisol released during the frantic screaming.

And why is it that as I run from station to home with the pram, reassuring Piglet repeatedly that we are almost home as he shrieks inconsolably, and pointing out every local landmark that he won't recognise to support my point, that EVERY ONE of those passers by feels the need to give me the Look of Death which communicates in no uncertain terms that not only do they-Mr and Mrs Judgey McJudge, the Great British Public-wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment outlined above, but they are also on the verge of calling social services.

And why is it that every time I pass another baby, they are sitting there serenely in their mother's arms, cooing and gurgling into their swaddling bands whilst looking up at their parents with a look of blissful adoration as if they have never shed a tear in their young life.  WHY, WHY, WHY?

And lastly, why are all these people always full of useless suggestions to stop the crying, such as (I kid thee not) blowing on the baby's face?


Surely the one time in the history of the world that this worked was when the reason for the crying was a hair or bit of dust or fluff happened to have fallen on the baby's face and was really annoying it until a knowledgeable stranger walked by and blew the offending article away.

It has been mooted (on the Internets, obvs.) that one possible reason for a baby's crying is that a hair has become tightly wound around the baby's finger, toe or (eek!) penis, annoying said baby and potentially cutting off the circulation to the area.  I now live in fear of this happening (particularly the penis situation, especially since today I found one of my own ludicrously long hairs lurking in Piglet's nappy).  However, so far every time Piglet has started to cry on the train, the only thing that can satisfy him is the boob.  And it's hardly practical to whip one out whilst walking down the street, however successful a multi-tasker I consider myself to be.

Yet why have I never seen anyone else in this predicament?

Friday, 26 September 2014

The Desperate State of Shopping with No Money

So today I was so desperate to get out of the house that I sat in Starbucks for an hour sipping a latte.

A LATTE.  This is very bad on the money-saving front.  That £2.25 would have bought three days worth of food in the halal shop.  At least I didn't buy any cake.  This was mainly because now that I am an Uber-Mother and Domestic Goddess, I have been trying my hand at baking, and yesterday made pineapple upside down cake, which I am now in the process of polishing off, on my own, before it goes off.  Let's just say that three weeks after giving birth (or, as I prefer to think of it, having Piglet wrenched out of me, since I played a pathetically small role in the whole process) I had lost most of the baby weight, and since then it has been steadily creeping back on.  I then spent the next half an hour wandering idly round the "London Designer Outlet" (compulsory inverted commas, like allegedly that's what it is.  Most exciting brands therein are Kurt Geiger and er, North Face.  We're not talking Roland Mouret here), glancing in shop windows and sighing dramatically at the sight of my not-very-thin midsection, wondering if taking up baking as a hobby was such a good idea.

I also had a little wander into Kurt Geiger.  Because obviously shoe shopping is the sensible thing to do whilst berating yourself for having the extravagance to purchase a latte.  To my delight, they had the perfect Mum shoes in there-flat heeled knee high brown riding boots, which I had been considering buying for some time, due to their practicality whilst pushing a pram, and country-chic, preppy look with a tweed jacket.  And they were reduced.  To £140.  All I can say is, thank God the "London Designer Outlet" is not a real designer outlet.  I then spotted a pair of cheaper black suede over-the-knee boots which I also wanted and still couldn't afford, despite their being less than half the price of the riding boots.  If it's any consolation, I already have both a pair of brown knee high boots, and black over the knee ones, but the devil is in the details (the brown boots have a heel and laces, and were purchased in 2006, when knee high boots were already starting to look dated, and the over the knee boots have a pointed toe in the style last seen on Caprice circa 1999).

Before long I am going to look like Caprice in 1999.  But fatter.  Either that or I'm just going to have to wait for all these things to come back into fashion.  Because, like the recent resurgence of the crop top, this is likely to happen just as I have got too old and fat to enjoy it.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

How to avoid using dangerous substances such as Calpol

So I am trying to write this while Piglet naps on my chest (look at me!  Multi-tasking uber-mother!)

He had his first set of immunisations this morning.  This was relatively stress free.  Apparently some women are so distressed by the sight of a huge (relative to size of baby) needle being stuck in their baby's thigh that they cannot do the required job of holding baby down while the pain is inflicted and have to get their husbands to do it.

Not so with me.  Not that I have a husband anyway so I didn't have much choice.  To be honest, I did feel a bit sorry for Piglet as he screamed, looking at me with imploring eyes, as if pleading with Mummy to make it all better, which I obviously had no intention of doing.  Poor Piglet.  He doesn't know that now, because of Mummy's cruelty, he will probably not die of whooping cough, diphtheria or any of the other Victorian ailments he is now inoculated against.

He might get TB though.  At least that was what the nurse implied when she asked if he had had his BCG vaccination and I innocently said I was under the impression he didn't need one.  Apparently we are in a "high risk area."  I'd better not take him to any public places just in case someone breathes TB onto him.  Can you even get TB by being breathed on?  I don't know.  How did that nun in Call the Midwife get it?  I guess it was just floating around in the air in the 1950s.

Another reason I was practically drummed out of the surgery was that I admitted that I hadn't brought any spare nappies so Piglet would have to be weighed in his.  I wasn't sure which would make me look less of a neglectful mother; Piglet remaining in his nappy throughout, or taking off said wet nappy and then putting it back on.  I decided that the latter was just too cruel, which did not go down at all well with the nurse, who practically accused me of deliberately hiding my baby's lack of weight gain.  I mean, how much does a wet nappy weigh?  Quite a lot, admittedly, but certainly not enough to have Piglet slipping off the percentile scale entirely.  I mean, there wasn't even any poo in it.

Anyway, I am now trying to ward off the need for Calpol (recommended by every mother, ever, and indeed everyone who has ever even spoken to a mother, for preventing babies getting a fever after their vaccinations) by cuddling Piglet constantly and trying to keep him asleep for as long as possible, as the nurse also admonished me rather sternly when I, again in my innocence, asked if it would be OK to give Piglet Calpol if he developed any signs of a fever, saying that Calpol was not suitable for babies of his youth.  God, parenting is a minefield.

Hopefully I was able to ward off a call to social services by breastfeeding Piglet immediately after the jabs.  Surely that will win me some points the amount everyone bangs on about how great it is and how it should be done exclusively until the child is at least sixteen.

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Single Mother's Guide to Saving Money

Today Piglet and I decided to brave a trip to Westfield.

Well, I decided to brave it.  Piglet didn't have much choice.  I'm sure that had he been given a choice, he would have chosen not to be whizzed around in the pram looking for the family room (where there were apparently some fabled pods specifically for breastfeeding-no need to fumble around in Costa Coffee hiding an angry Piglet under a specially designed apron trying to avoid revealing one's nipples to the whole of London), whilst screaming blue murder.  Once we got there, Mummy managed to successfully spill coffee all over the bouncy seating, and then had to change Piglet twice (including a change of babygro), after some exquisite poo moments (Piglet's, not mine).

After all of this palaver, we returned from Westfield with nothing more exciting than a job lot of nappies and baby wipes.  The days of popping into Topshop to casually spend £200 on shoes are long gone.  In fact, I found myself actually wondering whether it might be worth the extra walk to Wembley High Road to trade in shopping in Tesco for the halal shop (food items) and Wilko (non-food items.  Did you know you can get bleach in there for 80p?  And today I purchased a washing up bowl for £1 for the express purpose of cleaning Piglet in it.

And there we have it, item one in the Single Mother's Guide to Saving Money: Shop in Wilko.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Many Babies Look Like Piglet: Is This More Than Just Coincidence?


Piglet has twenty-one brothers and sisters.

Or something like that.

Obvs. this is not my doing.  I barely have Piglet, let alone twenty-one other hidden children squirrelled away somewhere.

The reason I know this is because I registered Piglet's birth with the sperm bank, and although they have so far not managed to send me the photo of the donor that I requested (Piglet might want to see his father one day, right?  Plus all my extended family want to have a good look at him so they can make a more informed decision about who he looks like.  When he was born, my all my aunt could manage was "hasn't he got a lovely shaped head?") they have added me to their social media thingy where you can "connect" with all the other people who have children with the same donor.  There are twenty-one of them.  Which is actually a fairly modest figure considering that the limit for the number of families a donor can, er, donate to, is fifty in the United States and ten in Britain.  And that's not including all the other countries a donor's emissions could potentially be sent to.

Anyway, some of the other lucky recipients have set up a Facebook group for those who have received sperm from my donor or another donor who is apparently my donor's brother (quite the family business!) so they can all talk to each other.  I have sneakily Facebook-stalked some of these people and looked at their children and some of them LOOK JUST LIKE PIGLET.  It is UNCANNY.  Anyone would think they were related or something.  This is notwithstanding the fact that there are a great many babies that look like Piglet, including a baby sat on the next table to us in Grupo Lounge in Bristol when we were in there having brunch a few weeks ago, and several of the babies whose pictures are used to illustrate The Essential First Year by Penelope Leach.  Even Dermot O'Leary of X Factor fame has been mooted as a potential lookalike.  Perhaps these too are all members of Piglet's extensive worldwide family.  Anyway, I am now in the position of checking Facebook frantically every five minutes to see if the moderators of the Facebook group have accepted my request to join yet, so that I can have a proper look at these children that are apparently Piglet's genuine relations, and maybe find out some interesting titbits from their parents, such as, have any of your children so far grown up to be an axe murderer?  No?  Oh well that's great then.  The genes are obviously OK.

Could this man be related to Piglet?

Hang on.  What if their children are all awful?  And the parents are not?  Perhaps I am going to find out more than I actually want to know here.  After all, as that great sage of the nineties, Dr Alban, once proclaimed in his classic hit It's My Life, a little knowledge is dangerous.  And that song was used to advertise tampons.  I rest my case.

Friday, 19 September 2014

One of the Few Ways My Life is (Still) Similar to Sex and the City

What does one do with a seven week old baby?

In Piglet's case, the answer is sit him in his bouncy chair with a comforter and a mobile for company (not a mobile as in phone, obviously.  Not letting him loose on that just yet.  Or like, ever.  Watch me eat my words on that one in a few years).

I'm sure I should be talking to him, but I'm knackered and not entirely sure what we can talk about when we're just sitting in the flat.  I guess I could explain the plot of the two episodes of Sex and the City that we just watched, but not entirely sure someone of Piglet's extreme youth should even be watching it.  As everything in life can be compared to a scene in Sex and the City, I think that one is pretty much akin to the scene in season six when Charlotte and Harry babysit Brady and he wakes up and catches them having sex.  As Miranda is completely unbothered by the situation and points out that Brady (older than Piglet in that scene) doesn't know what's going on, I'm going to assume that Sex and the City is safe for Piglet to watch for at least long enough for us to get into a bedtime routine and for Mummy to not have to watch old episodes of it to kill time whilst feeding/bouncing him on her knee for hours on end before he finally goes to sleep.

Anyway, as soon as Piglet noticed I was paying attention to the computer and not him, he started howling.  It is now the next day and the same thing is happening.....

And it's now many, many hours later and he is finally snoozing, after a manic half an hour of incessant screaming that had the staff in Tesco waving me to the front of the queue just to get us out of the shop.

ARGH he's now stirring again.  This blog is the Kiss of Death for any kind of peace and quiet.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Piglet, Seven Weeks, Shows Obscene Lack of Interest in Becoming Serious Intellectual

Piglet is asleep and I am seizing a moment to write.

He is asleep in his baby bouncer.  I am not convinced that this is the best place for me to implement my new bedtime routine, but I am frankly too scared to put him in his cot in the bedroom in case Something Terrible happens.

Something Terrible is bound to happen because
a) there is an actual WALL between the bedroom and the living room.  This means that I may not hear whatever terrible atrocity befalls him if I am not right there, in the bedroom with him.  Preferably standing over him, peering into the co-sleeper.
b) There is a warning on the co-sleeper which states that "children must not be left unattended when the side is down."  The side is down.  And I do not know how to put it up so that there is a barrier between the relative safety of the co-sleeper and the Pit of Danger that is my bed.

Therefore Piglet is in the baby bouncer, where I can keep a close eye on him whilst writing this blog and watching Hotel India (look at me, uber-mother, multi-tasking!)

As well as trying to get him into the routine of sleeping from 8.30pm until as late as possible in the morning, albeit in the baby bouncer, I have been trying to get Piglet interested in books.  This is obviously so that when he grows up he will be regarded as one of the world's foremost intellectuals.  The book I have chosen is called "Baby Sees Just Spots."  It goes without saying that I sincerely hope that Piglet sees more than just spots, but apparently babies are interested in somewhat spotty-and preferably black and white-patterns.  With that in mind, I have thrust the book in his face at every available opportunity today, proffering it like a tasty morsel of mother's milk whilst exclaiming enthusiastically "Look Piglet!  PATTERNS!  You LIKE patterns, don't you?  All babies like patterns!"
Piglet has proven to be completely uninterested in this book.  Hopefully this is not a foretaste of a future rejection of all things academic.

In order to introduce Piglet to the range of experiences that all seven week old babies should have, I also took him to the residents' social event for the block of flats where I live.  This was not in any way a ruse for Mummy to get out of the flat and see some actual adults, and at no point did the (infinitely small) possibility that any of the other residents might be attractive young men cross Mummy's mind.  In the event, my prediction that any attractive young men present would show absolutely zero interest in a thirty-four year old single mother with a baby strapped to her front proved to be correct anyway, so this is essentially a moot point.  Anyway, Piglet behaved impeccably in his sling, dropping off to sleep almost instantaneously.  He is, however, making up for it now.  It is 11.32pm (yes, some time has passed since I started writing this.  See previous entry for what may have been happening during this time).

So much for my 8.30pm sleep routine.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Multiple Attempts to Write This Blog All End in Abject Failure

Almost seven weeks in, and I think I'm doing a pretty good job.

Piglet is wearing a vest personally designed by one of my friends (i.e. drawn on) at my baby shower, and having a "kick about" on the floor, something that my mother, a.k.a. the "Wind Whisperer," recommends so that he can "get his wind out."

He is now screaming.

I have launched a rescue mission and am now typing with one finger while he wails on my lap.

OK it's now two hours later and I have finally returned to this blog post having finally settled Piglet and got him to sleep.  How long for is anyone's guess.

Aargh he's stirring.  I also read yet another article today about the dangers of spending too much time on ipads, phones, laptops etc in front of babies and children and how it is basically child neglect.  This can only mean that I am a terrible mother.

OK so it is now the next day....I'm not winning at this game.  The parenting bit might be getting done but there is virtually no opportunity to write this blog.  Piglet is now having a kick about on the mat again and I haven't even had time to change the TV channel so am stuck watching Rip-Off Britain.  Also I am ridden with guilt about the fact that I have spent the last half an hour eating breakfast, reading the NCT newsletter, sorting out the washing and putting the dishwasher on (I know, I did ALL THAT in half an hour!  I can't believe it either!) , rather than playing with Piglet, who is looking at my forlornly across the room and trying to talk to me in baby language.  Probably saying "You are a horrible mummy.  You ignore me when I am trying to talk to you and when I get into my teenage years I will pay you back handsomely by becoming a tearaway and never wanting to speak to you ever again."

Right he's starting to whimper.  I'd better go.