Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Piglet Goes to Church

Argh.  The trouble with Christmas is that every Tom, Dick and Harry that you may or may not be related to wants to spread the festive cheer by having their say about your parenting skills.  

Take yesterday, for example.  Mother and I had been out with Piglet, running errands, and on the way home passed the house of a friend of hers.  We went in, to find that my mother's friends were entertaining a friend of their own, one of the Older Generation.

My mother's friend kindly offered us a lift home and I wanted to walk home with Piglet in the sling, so declined the offer, citing the fact that we didn't have our car seat as a reason.  I could have told the truth, but saying, "actually as nice at it is for you to offer, I hate accepting lifts from people who are not members of my immediate family, as it makes me feel like a carless pleb reliant on the charity of others," but that might have been considered a weird answer, so the car seat was a handy excuse, and also factually correct so unlikely to offend.

Then Older Generation chipped in with the obviously well-thought out point, "well, what do you think people did in the days before car seats then?"

I don't know.  Die horribly in car crashes?

Sorry Fire Brigade, it was nice of you to offer to install one of those new-fangled smoke alarms, but I'm going to pass, thanks.  If there's a fire, it'll be OK.  I'll just burn to death, like in the olden days!

No Doctor, no need to use any of that modern medicine on me.  Just leave me to die in wretched agony.  It's what people did in the olden days!

And while you're at it, you can forget that anaesthetic too.  I love the pain, me!  Everyone knows things were better in the olden days!

I might add that Older Generation had already at this point come out with a few non-child-rearing related gems, including a denial of climate change ("I'm sure it's getting colder.  They just don't want to admit they were wrong!") and the astonishing possibility that the hole in the ozone layer may have been caused by spacecraft flying through it ("funny how there was never a hole until after they started going into space, isn't it?").

I shot back that it was the law to put your child in a car seat, thank you very much, which led to a few discussions about whether it actually is the law.  I can only assume that if seatbelts are mandatory then surely so are car seats.  Anyway not only am I not planning on testing it out, but surely they wouldn't pass a law against smoking in cars with children if it was still OK to be driving about with a baby sitting on your lap, even though I'm pretty sure that Britney Spears managed to do just that a few years back without being arrested.  Only in America.  Thinking about it, it's remarkable that the police over there didn't shoot her.

Anyway, if I had thought that being criticised for wanting to make sure my baby travelled in relative safety rather than on my lap, Spears-style, just like it was in those halcyon days of the 1970s when Britain's roads were so much safer, everybody left their doors unlocked and beer was 10p a pint, was the only critique of my parenting skills that I would have to put up with over the holiday, I was sadly mistaken.  On Christmas Eve, despite being a godless heathen, I suddenly developed a nostalgic urge to go to church.  Probably something to do with the pretty candles and nice, cosy Christmas carols, rather than any of the Word made flesh, Jesus came to earth to deliver us from our trespasses, God stuff.  And also I do have a bit of an affinity with the Virgin Mary, especially at Christmas with all that virgin birth stuff, what with Piglet being an immaculate conception, and all that.  And also I once saw her, in a Renaissance painting, spraying milk out of her breast literally across the room into the mouth of a kneeling saint, who looked absolutely ecstatic with joy at the privilege.  And I can now do that.  I sprayed Piglet right in the eye the other day.  He wasn't quite as happy about it as St Bernard of Clairvaux seemed to be, in fact he screamed, but the point is I have magical Virgin Mary-style breastfeeding SKILLS.

What was I saying?  Oh yes, so I decided we were going to church.  Me, Piglet and my mother, off to the church where my mother got married thousands of years ago, to sing Away in a Manger with the lights off whilst holding symbolic oranges.

I thought my mother would approve of my sudden religiosity.  She did not.

"IT'S TOO COLD OUTSIDE!" she thundered, as if I had just suggested taking Piglet to the South Pole in a re-enactment of Captain Scott's ill-fated voyage, complete with authentic equipment from 1912.  "HE'LL CATCH A COLD!"  

I pointed out-wisely, I thought-that one did not catch a cold as a result of being somewhere cold.  One caught chilblains and frostbite, yes, but not the common cold.  In fact, a cold is a virus that one catches from another infected person.  Reluctantly, Mother agreed to join me at church, but not before berating me throughout the entire journey for my fecklessness in taking Piglet in the sling instead of the ("much warmer") pram.  Once we got there, we took a seat right at the back, Mother reasoning that it would be easier to make a quick exit in the event of the relentless screaming that she obviously thought was going to be the outcome of forcing a five month old baby to sit through a church service.  Piglet, clearly his mother's son, did not seem to enjoy all the sermons and Jesus stuff, causing a small child who was sat in front of us to turn around and say to me knowledgeably, "I think he's tired."

Yes I know, I'm a terrible mother who has dragged my poor long-suffering baby to church against his will, when he's tired.  Which he always is, BECAUSE HE CAN'T SETTLE HIMSELF TO SLEEP GODDAMIT!  ARGH!

There was one moment when I thought I was going to be launched into the role of Pushy Stage Mother when one of the vicars (there were, like, three.  Times have changed since I was last in church) asked if there were any babies in the church and I waved Piglet enthusiastically above my head, thinking he was going to get to play the coveted role of the Baby Jesus in some sort of Christmas nativity play, but sadly all I got was to say his name and age into the microphone, while the vicar looked at me slightly puzzled, clearly thinking she had never heard of a baby called that before and why wasn't his name Alfie or Harry or some other sort of popular baby name, and was it a boy or a girl, one can never tell these days.

Anyway, despite my mother's best attempts to save the day by grabbing Piglet off me every time he whimpered and trying to exit the church in a dramatic fashion and prove that her silly daughter was a far inferior specimen of mother as she couldn't even keep the baby quiet in God's Holy House, we managed to last until the end of the service.  Long enough, in fact, for me to get to go to the front and collect a special candle stuck into an orange for Piglet, leading one of the vicars to remark sniffily, "He's a bit young!" as I did so, clearly thinking he hadn't spent the best part of Christmas Eve sticking jelly babies on the end of cocktail sticks so that inadequate specimens of motherhood such as myself could pretend to take them for their babies and then eat all the sweets themselves, and then never darken the door of the church again until next Christmas Eve, for the free sweets and nostalgic Away in a Manger singing.

He obviously didn't know about my immaculately conceived child and special Virgin Mary breast milk-squirting skills.  We would have been PERFECT for the nativity play.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Yet Again I Impress the NHS with my Great Knowledge of Medical Matters

Just taken Piglet for his BCG vaccination.

I don't think this was as entertaining for Piglet as it was for me, as he screamed blue murder throughout the experience.  However, it was necessary, warned the nurse, as TB is "everywhere."

"Ah," she said, leafing through Piglet's red book, "you have just moved here."

"Well, not moved exactly.  I stayed with my mum for the birth, so Piglet was born in Bristol."

"Hmmpphh" said the nurse, continuing to look through the red book, "anyone would think it was a different country.  These books are all different!  Everyone does their own thing, every borough, every county.  Even in East London the red books are different!"

"Are they?  Sorry."  Yet again I have inconvenienced the NHS with my rudeness as not remaining in the same village from cradle to grave like an eighteenth century peasant.

"So," the nurse continued.  "How old is he?  Why hasn't he had a BCG vaccination yet?"

"They don't do them in Bristol."

"Ah, it is because they are posh!  They think it doesn't affect them, but I tell you, TB is EVERYWHERE!"

I have visions of it chasing us down Wembley High Road.  It must be a miracle we haven't already got it.  We are probably literally surrounded by it every day, despite the fact that the NHS website says you have to be in "close contact" with a sufferer to be infected.

The nurse then launched into a potted history of vaccinations, taking in the discovery of penicillin, the pitfalls of international air travel and the Western colonisation of Africa.  She also reassures me that vaccinations are preventative medicines, not attempts to infect Piglet with anything.  I nod knowingly throughout this and assure her that I am aware of all this.

So there are people in the world who think the NHS vaccination programme is a huge government conspiracy to infect babies with once-prevalent terrible diseases??????

"Ah," says the nurse, "you must work in NHS!"

This is not the first time in the course of my child-rearing experience that someone has said this.  I know what tuberculosis is.  I've read Victorian novels.  I know that when someone coughs and their cheeks look a bit rosy they'll be dead from consumption by the next chapter.  I also have a modicum of education.  I even did the History of Medicine paper in my GCSE History, it's not difficult.  Do people exist in the world who don't know these things?  Am I so unusual in having a minimal level of knowledge about infectious diseases that only people who are actual doctors and nurses can match my peerless expertise?

I fear for the future of the world if this is the case.  It is starting to make sense to me why all NHS leaflets appear to have been written for a five year old (although my all-time favourite is still one produced by the Miscarriage Association: "Miscarriage does not happen just because the baby is a boy."  Let's imagine that it did for a second.  Think of the logical conclusion here).

Anyway, Piglet is now comfortably sleeping off his traumatic experience at the hands of the nurse and I, so I am going to take this opportunity to cook myself some brunch, and maybe train as a doctor, since I am clearly more than qualified for the role.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Household Emergency: TV Not Working. How does one overcome this dilemma without making one look as though one is incapable of dealing with electrical malfunction?

Last night I made a decision.  I decided that I was spending too much time checking the internet on my phone instead of looking after baby, so I decided that from now on I would only check the internet on my phone if the baby was asleep.  Or if someone had texted me, as one needs to be able to check texts immediately, as may be very important (case in point, this very morning I received a text from a friend telling me that she had just got engaged).

This has all been going very well.

What has not been going so well, however, is that in celebration of my decision to spend less of my life looking at a screen and not at Piglet, the television has decided it is no longer working.

I got up this morning, laid Piglet down on his play mat, made myself a cup of tea and some toast with a nice bit of Nutella and sat down on the sofa to watch the Andrew Marr Show, Saturday Kitchen Best Bites, or whichever other Sunday morning television programme which I don't even like happened to be on, and nothing.  Nothing.  Just a message saying "weak or no signal."

Aha, I thought.  It's on ITV at the moment.  I switched it off last night after X Factor.  Clearly what has happened is that there has been a ferocious but very localised storm which has blown over the main ITV transmitter.  Let's try BBC.


Aha, I thought.  I know what's happened here.  There has been a huge solar storm and the Earth has been buffeted with electromagnetic waves from the Sun which have knocked out all the power lines and consequently there is currently no television across the whole of the UK.  This happened in Canada once.  I saw it on a documentary about the aurora borealis on BBC4.  BBC4 which has now been obliterated by cosmic rays.  Or perhaps there has been a terrorist attack and the TV stations have all been taken over by crazed fundamentalists who believe television is the work of the Devil and so have attacked all the transmitters.  Let's go to the BBC website and have a look.  Surely there will be a message like "TV transmitter problem causes widespread disruption" or "TV down across the nation after hostile takeover."

Hmm.  The main headline on BBC News is "Deal reached at UN climate talks," but then, they would say that wouldn't they?  The terrorists have cunningly taken over the website as well and replaced the real news with an innocuous headline about the UN and climate change to make us think there's not really been a hostile takeover and it's all business as usual.

Upon looking out of the window I then spotted that the television in a flat on the other side of the building was noticeably on, and appeared to be working normally.  Oh God, maybe there's something wrong with my TV, and it's JUST ME, and I will have to figure out what's wrong, and then fix it ALL BY MYSELF.  I am just going to have to step up to the plate and be a Capable Woman.

"Help!" I texted my brother, who lives 125 miles away, "my TV is not working.  And yes, it is plugged in."  It says this:

"There must be a problem with your building," came the reply.

Oh Christ, I'm going to have to climb onto the roof and start fiddling with the aerial, like Rod Hull and Emu.

There are two potential solutions here: 1.) assume there's a problem with the entire building and go and ask the concierge if anyone else is having problems with their TV, or 2.) assume that the problem is your TV and you've either unintentionally done something to cause the problem, like accidentally pull out the aerial despite the fact that after checking it multiple times, it definitely looks plugged in, or the TV/aerial is broken (the latter v. bad as have to purchase new one in time for X Factor final in four hours, with no money).

The first one is easier, but is clearly going to result in me looking like a total idiot, bumbling down to the reception desk, explaining to the concierge that my TV isn't working, and him giving me a withering look before asking if it is plugged in, before telling me that I am an idiot woman who doesn't understand how to operate the most basic of electrical appliances.  This is what always happens when trying to explain any kind of technical malfunction to a man.

The second one is of course terrifying but, given previous experience with technicals, most likely correct.  However, I must be Capable Woman and Resourceful Mother and not let any man know about this, as must prove to Piglet that women are just as capable as men when it comes to operating television, so that he grows up to be liberal, progressive, feminist man, and Mummy does not need to go running to her nearest male relative whenever there is TV problem, lost internet connection, dishwasher malfunction, broken lightbulb or any other type of household emergency.  I decide to start exploring the many buttons on the TV remote to see what they all do and whether any of them will solve the problem.

Aha!  There is TV button called "troubleshooting."  This is what I need.  Thank you, O holy TV remote.  Ah, aerial is set to "air."  Clearly this is not the problem as it was working yesterday with identical settings, but maybe it needs to be changed to "cable" now, even though I do not have cable TV, as TV is, like, digital now.  Maybe BBC website has something to say about this.  Maybe there has been whole-country changeover to cable television and all aerials need to be reset.

Go to BBC website.  Headline is still "Deal reached at UN climate talks."  Perhaps this cable TV changeover is so universally known by everyone except me, that it does not even merit a mention in national news.  But I read the Guardian Online every day, and nothing has ever been mentioned.  Perhaps the Guardian is too interested in worthy news stories about social issues and feminism and why I should be able to work my own TV, as a Capable Woman who does not need the help of men, to mention small thing like entire country cable TV changeover.

Right, let's reset all channels by tuning television again.  I know how to do this.  This is easy.

Argh have lost all TV channels, possibly permanently.

OK let's see if there is whole-building TV aerial malfunction.  Definitely not going to climb onto the roof like Rod Hull, so will just have to bite my lip and ask concierge.  Will need to go to Cafe Nero first, and purchase latte to steady nerves.

After peering through door into reception area, it turns out that it is Nice Concierge on duty, and not Smug Concierge, who once previously gave me withering look in relation to not knowing how to read the electricity meter.  Breathe sigh of relief.

"Er, you wouldn't happen to know if anyone has reported a problem with their..."

"TV signal?  Yes.  The whole building's down.  Everyone's annoyed because it's the X Factor final tonight."

THANK THE LORD.  Am Capable Woman.  TV is not broken, and I have not unintentionally forgotten how to plug it in.  Compared to this, not being able to watch X Factor final is minor inconvenience.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Who is even allowed to use the birth centre?

Just returned from a quick excursion to the toilet to find Piglet slumped in his bouncy chair, hanging off the end.  Perhaps the time has come to start strapping him in (what's that sound?  The sound of social services being called at the fact that I have so far failed to do this).  Either that or I am going to have to start taking him with me to the toilet.  Last night he cried when I left him in his cot in the bedroom while I went to clean my teeth, and I had to take him into the bathroom with me and lie him on a towel on the floor to keep him quiet.  I may never have a moment to myself again.

Anyway, today we have been to the library, so that Piglet got to have an excursion in the pram so that he could go to sleep; and we went swimming.  There was a nap required before the latter as well, and as Piglet did not seem to want to nap in the bouncy chair, or go anywhere near the bouncy chair, crying every time I tried to put him in, and thinks his cot is a receptacle for bicycling his legs around and giggling, we had to leave half an hour early for swimming, and sit in the "London Designer Outlet" (sorry, that still cannot be written without the use of inverted commas) for ages so that we could get a good nap in beforehand.  Luckily, it paid off and Piglet was surprisingly cheerful throughout swimming, managing to crack no less than three smiles.  As usual he behaved impeccably, which made me feel better about having to sit through the following poolside Competitive Mother conversation that took place beforehand.

"My labour was really quick-just six hours."

"Really?  Mine was three hours."

"Mine too."

I HATE YOU.  I HATE YOU ALL.  Perhaps I should just dive into the very shallow pool head first and kill myself now as I am obviously a failure as a mother and as a woman in general.  One of the women even said she gave birth in the birth centre.  The BIRTH CENTRE.  I thought giving birth in there was banned.  Isn't it just there to make women feel better and make sure that the species doesn't die out by making us all think that maybe there's a remote possibility that giving birth is just going to be a matter of bouncing on a beach ball a couple of times, playing some whalesong and sitting in a paddling pool grunting?  One of the women from my antenatal class was banned from using the birth centre just because she'd visited the hospital a few times during her pregnancy worried that she wasn't feeling the baby move enough, even though there was nothing wrong, and even though the birth centre is like, in an actual hospital.  WHO IS EVEN ALLOWED TO USE THE BIRTH CENTRE?

Piglet is gazing at me forlornly from his baby gym, sucking his thumb.  The look on his face says "yes you are a rubbish mother.  You are not even fit to call yourself a woman.  Because of that caesarean, I am now traumatised for life like it says in your hypnobirthing book.  And it's ALL YOUR FAULT."

And if that wasn't bad enough, due to my rubbishness as mothering, he then banged his head on the lockers in the changing rooms, mercifully not enough to do himself an injury, but enough to make him howl for long enough that all the other mothers considered calling social services.  And then I accidentally poked him in the eye whilst trying to soothe him.  ARGH.

He later did a projectile wee into that very same eye while I was changing his nappy later in the day, which I imagine must sting a bit, but as we were at home and minus an audience, that didn't even register a whimper.

The Public Badge of Good Motherhood has now been confiscated.

Monday, 8 December 2014

The Curse of the Mummy Clothes

Not a terribly productive day.  Currently procrastinating cleaning the flat and using Piglet's current slumbers as an excuse.  We cannot have him being woken up by the vacuum cleaner after all.

In fact, today's activities consisted of: going downstairs to check my mailbox, baking chocolate cookies and going to the bank.  As I am currently desperately trying to reclaim my Public Badge of Good Motherhood and also as the first of these necessitated going outside briefly, Piglet was trussed up in a snowsuit for a walk of several metres across the courtyard, whilst I was wearing leggings and a T-shirt.  Granted we were only actually outdoors for a matter of seconds, but what would people think if they saw a wee bairn like Piglet snowsuitless and wearing just a hat and indoor clothes in December?  I also had to put him in the sling for the journey, as what would people think if they saw me carrying around a baby in my arms?  I mean, it's just not safe.

Later on we went to the bank and Piglet finally managed to have a nap in the pram, and we went into a charity shop for a look around, only for Piglet to be woken up by a screaming child who wasn't him, and who in my opinion was a bit too old to be sitting in a pushchair, but then I'm no expert in toddlers and I can envision a day when someone thinks that about Piglet, so I will try not to judge.

Anyway, by far the most important thing about the visit to the charity shop was not Piglet's rude awakening, but the fact that I found a dress for one pound.  Yes, ONE POUND.  It wasn't exactly a masterpiece, but ONE POUND!  I found myself explaining the style of the dress to my mother thus:

Mum: "So, what's it like then, this dress?"
Me: "Er, it's kind of like, a dress."
Mum: "What colour?"
Me (realising this makes it sound like a primary school summer uniform circa 1989) "Pink and white checked."
Mum: "What size?"
Me: Noting that the size had not even occurred to me when I bought it "Well, it fits.  Sort of.  It's long.  It looks OK with a belt.  It would have cost, like twenty pounds in a vintage shop."

I stopped just short of describing it for what it was; a tent-like object which which was probably previously worn as an overall for cleaning the house, but still, ONE POUND.  And yet I still feel guilty for buying it, even more guilty, randomly, than I do when I spend £2.50 on a latte, even though that is more than twice what I paid for the dress.  There's just something about clothes, sitting there in the wardrobe, that invites guilt.  Perhaps it's the fact that the only things I wear these days are those in the list below.

My list of mummy clothes, a.k.a. the only things I am allowed to wear now that I am of the maternal persuasion.
Leggings-some of which are from Primark-ugh.  A total waste of £3 as they don't even fit properly.  Thanks Primark.  Thanks for making your size eight leggings more like AGE EIGHT.
Orange T-shirt from American Apparel which slides off easily, therefore good for breastfeeding.  Also good for accidentally revealing entirety of bra to Wembley High Road.  Speaking of bras....
Two M&S nursing bras (all other bras currently in storage until they can be worn/fit again).
Multipack of M&S Giant Mummy Pants.  I'm not sure that's the name they were advertised by on the website, but it is implicitly understood that this is what they are.  And my Caesarean scar is still a bit too tender to wear anything that isn't a Giant Mummy Pant.  The jury's out on whether I will ever wear acceptable underwear again.  Once you've worn a Giant Mummy Pant, nothing else is ever comfortable enough.
Sensible shoes.  I grant that what is sensible for me isn't necessarily sensible for everyone else, but put it this way, they are not Jeffrey Campbells.
Parka coat.  No more spectacular furry creations.  Everything has to be waterproof and have a hood.
Pyjamas.  In fact, I basically just live in these.

So in other words, that pound might have been better put towards the cost of a latte.  I probably would have got more wear out of it.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

New Sport of Ostentatious Breastfeeding Makes Wembley Debut

And so for a bit of ostentatious breastfeeding.

Well not at the moment.  At the moment I am watching X Factor on mute so as not to wake Piglet from his slumbers.  Michael Buble is either singing or talking to someone who may or may not be Nelly Furtado.  Without the benefit of sound, they both look like they're hosting the Eurovision Song Contest and are having a faux-hilarious conversation about the merits of Azerbaijan whilst pretending to look excited about the prospect of someone from Bosnia-Herzigovina singing a heartfelt ballad in Serbo-Croat.

Anyway, today Piglet again behaved impeccably throughout swimming, and another comment was made about how relaxed he seemed to be in the water (another star on my Public Badge of Good Motherhood).  One poor child was screaming so much his parents took him out of the water, which would not have even merited a comment here were it not for the fact that I caught Piglet watching him with interest as his parents tried to take him to the other side of the pool to test to see if he could go in again without crying, and I am pretty sure that he was taking notes.

Piglet's impeccable behaviour continued throughout the afternoon as I went to meet friends for coffee, but then sadly decided to deteriorate right at the point when Mummy and friends decided that they wanted a mulled wine at the Christmas market.  The following farcical events then ensued.

1.) Piglet starts screaming.  This is worrisome.  Previous attempts to feed him in Costa Coffee have been unsuccessful; partly because my eyes are constantly scanning the room for any signs of Nigel Farage or Katie Hopkins come to chase me into the corner, where I will sit behind a taped-off police cordon marked with the sign "Danger!  Breastfeeding woman ahead!" with a napkin draped over me; and partly because I am wearing an enormous fluffy jumper which gets in the way.

2.) Piglet is briefly distracted by some fairy lights.  Thank the Lord for fairy lights!  And for being born at Christmas, allowing us all to have fairy lights!  This gives Mummy enough time to chug down the greater part of of a cup of mulled wine, keeping it well away from Piglet of course (remembering the health visitor's dire warning about a baby they saw recently who had been scarred for life by a hot drink).

3.) The fairy lights are forgotten, and the crying resumes.  Mummy attempts a fair bit of ostentatious breastfeeding, standing on the table yelling "Look everybody!  I'm breastfeeding!" squirting jets of milk at the two other people in the open air Christmas market bar, and the five bouncers they have inexplicably needed to employ to keep those two people under control.

4.) OK that last one was inaccurate.  What actually happened was that Mummy had to take off Piglet's hat and unbutton his coat while the Public Badge of Good Motherhood fell from its privileged position on Mummy's lapel in the cold December air, and attempt to latch Piglet onto the breast while the fluffy jumper and Piglet's fluffy coat conspire to render such a feat impossible.  Well, I couldn't take the coat off as IT'S DECEMBER GODDAMIT AND THE BABY MIGHT FREEZE, and I couldn't remove the fluffy jumper either in case Nigel Farage happened to be promenading past arm in arm with Katie Hopkins and THERE WAS NO CORNER IN THIS EDIFICE.  I mean, it was like, in the open air! It was just a roof with some tables!  And it was sort of a bar as well, which serves ALCOHOL, so what was I even doing in there with a baby?  Off with my head!

5.) As things get even more fraught, I decide we may have to vacate the area, and knock back the remaining mulled wine.  As I do so, some of the mulled wine spills onto Piglet's fluffy white coat.  It looks like blood.  AARGH!  I am terrible mother!  I have done something terrible to baby!*

6.) That's it.  We're going home.  I look around.  The five bouncers are looking at me in a judgemental way which says, "you are a disgrace to motherhood.  Get Nigel Farage on the phone IMMEDIATELY."

And that, my friend, is ostentatious breastfeeding.

* I must add here, before you all call social services, that the mulled wine was, by this point, cold.  Piglet was never in any danger from the mulled wine spillage.  Put down your phones, people.

Friday, 5 December 2014


It is 9pm and Piglet is asleep in his bouncy chair.

I am pretty sure that this is VERY BAD, as apparently babies are not supposed to sleep in their bouncy chairs.  Especially without the little seat belt attached to strap them in; the little seatbelt that Piglet has recently discovered and now regularly tries to eat.  However, for the last few nights, Piglet has (finally!) been going to sleep at the very reasonable time of 8.30pm (HALLELUJAH), with the result that Mummy is now in a quandary.  Do I join him in the bedroom at 8.30pm so I can keep an eye on him, or do I put him in his bouncy chair in the living room for a bit, so that if he wakes up I can immediately rock him back to sleep?  I have cautiously chosen the latter for now, on the assumption that should this happy routine continue, I will start putting him in his cot earlier.  Trouble is, I cannot now move Piglet to the cot while he is asleep, as then when he wakes he will freak out and start screaming, as he will not know how he got there, so now I have to wait for him to wake naturally so that I can move him into the cot while he's awake.  This is according to the oft-quoted Golden Rule of Baby Sleep: put them down in their cots drowsy but awake. Only then will they learn to go to sleep on their own in their cot, and only then will you be liberated from the potential future scenario of a child who wants to be rocked to sleep, preferably in your arms, and then sleep in your bed for ever and ever until they finally leave home at the age of forty five.

AHA!  He has just woken up and I have placed him in his cot.  I am no longer the cruel, neglectful mother making her child sleep in a bouncy chair instead of a proper bed like a properly cared for child.

Anyway, went to see the health visitor today.  I was given the usual large-print leaflets about what the local children's centre is for (special groups for fathers and male carers; how to live a healthy lifestyle).  I was disappointed, having settled Piglet to sleep and sat down with a nice cup of tea to read these rather hefty tomes, that they took mere seconds to read, as consisted of mostly pictures and a few massive words.  I know the NHS means well and is to be commended for trying to help people out, but not sure why it is automatically assumed that all men are feckless, irresponsible and unable or unwilling to spend any time with any children who may be related to them, and that as I have had a baby, I must have never heard of fruit or vegetables and be buying my groceries at Chicken Cottage.  Not to mention the fact that most of this literature seems to be written for someone with a reading age of five.  Then the health visitor (who also meant well) remarked about how happy Piglet must be to see his father every day and I had to say he didn't have one, thus unintentionally perpetuating the unfortunate stereotype of feckless babyfathers.  Also had to fill in a questionnaire which asked me how I felt about being a parent ('fantastic") and whether I was experiencing domestic violence ("no").  I'm not sure that many people with answers that varied greatly from those I gave would be willing to say so on a questionnaire, but as I said, they mean well.  And after all I don't particularly want them coming round to my house to check for domestic violence because they might notice that I haven't cleaned the kitchen.

I also wonder why it is, when it is automatically assumed in the literature that your first language is not English and that you may even be an asylum seeker, that when it comes to getting anything done or having a conversation with an actual human, everything is so impossibly complicated that if you were an asylum seeker who didn't speak a word of English, you would probably end up sitting in the waiting room all day wondering what was going on; that is if you could even find the entrance to the clinic.  When I got there the entrance was deserted and the door didn't appear to be working, so I had to wait for someone to come out so that I could actually get in, and when I managed to find the receptionist and ask where we needed to go for our appointment with the health visitor, she looked at me as though I was Oliver Twist proffering an empty bowl of gruel at the workhouse master, asking for some more, and gave me what turned out to be completely inaccurate directions.  When I finally asked another receptionist where I needed to go (shortly after the same receptionist had shouted across the crowded waiting room "DOES THIS CHILD HAVE A PARENT?" at the top of her voice because a small boy-mercifully not Piglet, who was sleeping peacefully in his perambulator-was fiddling with the blood pressure machine) she too seemed to assume by her tone that I was incapable any kind of rational thought, rather than was just someone who happened not to have visited the health centre before and so could hardly be expected to be on familiar terms with the layout, and told me that I had to go to a completely different waiting area.

Once we managed to get inside and actually see the health visitor, fortunately Piglet was on his best behaviour and seemed to enjoy basking naked in the bowl of the baby weighing scales.  In fact he is loving being naked in general at the moment, and it is getting to be quite a struggle to change his nappy, as he cannot stop kicking his legs around at a ridiculous pace every time they have a modicum of freedom.  I do hope he's not going to start taking his clothes off and running around naked in public.  I don't think I could stand the humiliation of the receptionist at the health centre hollering "DOES THIS CHILD HAVE A PARENT?' at me.

I'd have to blame the proverbial feckless and irresponsible babyfather.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

And the winner of the Best Dressed Baby Award is....

It sounds like something out of the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party circa 1993, but it's official, I have the best dressed baby in Wembley.  Winner of the Elle Style Awards, Special Commendation from Anna Wintour, Vogue Baby of the Year.  Move over Blue Ivy, Prince George and North West.  Yes, the play worker at Baby Club (n.b. this is not a nightclub.  That would bring a whole new meaning to the phrase "nappy night") complimented Piglet on his outfit today with the words, "another lovely outfit this week!"  Yes ANOTHER.  See, Piglet is known throughout North West London for his baby chic.  Let us gloss over that incident with the poo in the dungarees. That was, like, MONTHS AGO.

As for myself, I have not been faring quite so well in the sartorial stakes.  For the second time in a row, we got up too late for me to have time to apply any make up before we left the house, so not only was I slap free-something that has become alarmingly commonplace in recent weeks-but the waistband of my maternity jeans (yes I am still wearing them) sits sufficiently low on the hips for me to have to continually hoist them up to avoid displaying my giant M&S mummy pants to the world.  Not that this was the biggest fashion faux pas at baby club today, as just as we were leaving there was a woman bending down to put her shoes on who was showing her entire bottom.  Imagine the furore if THAT happened in Claridges.

Speaking of which, I have been trying to express milk again, to no avail.  My euphoria upon discovery of the fact that hand expressing is a) possible and b) not the excruciatingly painful debacle I had expected it to be was tempered by the fact that the couple of drips I managed to squeeze out did not, as I had hoped, make much of an impact on the bottle.  One of my antenatal class said her sister had "only" been able to get out 70mls, which compared with my measly few drips, which didn't even register on the millilitre scale, must have been like Niagara Falls.  It now looks increasingly unlikely that I will ever be able to leave Piglet with anybody for longer than half an hour as I have read in baby books that if babies don't learn to take a bottle early on, they never will, and Piglet has never even seen a bottle.  He's going to be the breastfeeding equivalent of those old men in pubs who complain about the yoof of today drinking lager out of bottles instead of real ale from a hearty tankard hung above the bar with their name on it.

In other news, Piglet has discovered that if he flaps his arms about a bit whilst sitting in the washing up bowl (still currently too scared to put him in the giant baby bath, so he is having his baths in the washing up bowl.  The washing up, you will be relieved to hear, goes in the dishwasher) an interesting effect, commonly known as a splash, is created.  Mummy is now soaked to the skin.