Wednesday, 25 March 2015

More Unsolicited Advice from the Good People of Wembley

So I regale you with yet another tale of how when you have a baby, everyone considers it their God-given right to tell you how to parent.

I had, as usual, carefully considered how Piglet and I were presenting ourselves to the world, in order to deflect any unwanted comments.  Piglet was wearing his snowsuit, and despite the fact that it wasn't even that cold, I had also brought a blanket to cover him with, lest any well-intentioned individuals decide that I was a neglectful mother for not swaddling Piglet to within an inch of his life.  As we were travelling by bus, I considered taking him out in the sling, so that we wouldn't be taking up space that may be required by a wheelchair user, or a person with more children than me, whilst also winning bonus points by carrying my baby, which according to the doctrines of attachment parenting is better for the child than being pushed in a pram, because they can like, hear your heartbeat and stuff.  And also it's what people did in the olden times back on the savannah, innit.  Then I decided against it, as surely if babywearing is indeed better for the child, it wouldn't result in said child yelling all the way to Ealing because the way Mummy is sitting on the bus is uncomfortable for him, and then being knackered and unable to sleep the whole time we are out as there is nowhere for him to lie down.  So, like the selfish mother that I am, I took the pram.

This was all fine until the way home, when I was sitting contentedly on the bus with Piglet blissfully asleep, until a particularly loud party of schoolchildren walked past, and Piglet woke up.  Like he always does when there is any hint of noise.  After all, in the olden times back in the cave, he had to stay alert all the time just in case a sabre toothed tiger was hanging around, hoping for a bit of a nosh up.  For a while, he was content to sit quietly, looking around (there were surprisingly no sabre toothed tigers on the 83 bus, just a mad bloke who kept caressing the pole with the bell on it) but as time went on, the traffic got worse and he started to get bored, the whingeing started.

"Don't worry," I told him reassuringly, "we'll soon be home."

Judging by the state of the traffic, this was at best an optimistic estimate, and at worst an outright lie, but Piglet had not yet descended into actual shouting, so surely the other passengers on the bus could put up with the occasional whimper.

And then the elderly man next to me turned to me and explained everything.

"He wants milk."

Well, at least he had got Piglet's gender right.  This was an improvement from earlier in the day, when I had been in Boots buying mascara and the woman at the counter leaned over and said knowingly to Piglet, "you'll be wearing that before too long!"  Not wanting to conform to gender stereotypes by protesting that he was actually a boy, I had nodded enthusiastically in agreement.

I explained to the man on the bus that Piglet was going to be fed when he got home, but I didn't really want to breastfeed him on the bus, and anyway, hunger was not the cause of his discontent on this occasion.  Why I felt I had to justify myself to the entire cohort of the 83 bus I do not know, but I immediately assumed that the man thought that I must be starving my child.

Which he obviously did, as his next comment was, "he needs nipple.  Somebody give him nipple."


Emergency!  Emergency!  Piglet is showing a small amount of displeasure on public transport!  The logical conclusion to this is that I am officially such a terrible specimen of mother and general human being that I need someone else to feed my starving baby as I am incapable of doing it myself by means of breast, bottle or solid food.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Drowsy but Awake

Piglet is having a nap *KLAXON*

The flip side of this is that I am now scared to move.  I am backed into a corner of my own bed, based on the advice that "babies should nap in the place where they usually go to sleep" which, for Piglet, would be my bed.  This also means that I cannot leave the bed, since babies should "never be placed alone in an adult bed to sleep."  ARGH.

Still, the very fact that he is napping at all is a cause for celebration.  I had decided that instead of muddling along in a haphazard fashion, perhaps if I got him into a bit of a routine things might be easier, and so today I have been Gina Fording it up with the naps.  The results were as follows.

Piglet starts crying.  Argh.  This is not how it was supposed to happen.  The routine doesn't start until 7.  Must go back to sleep immediately.  Fortunately, after a quick feed, Piglet returns to his slumbers.

Crying again.  Nooooo, go back to sleep.  I open one eye and implore Piglet to let Mummy sleep a bit longer.  He ignores me, and continues crying.  I feed him again, but he stays awake.  How do other people get their babies up and fed by 7am?  This is just unacceptable.  At 8.30am I finally drag myself out of bed, and start making breakfast.  As for breakfast itself, I understand that most babies have porridge.  Not Piglet.  Piglet does not know how to eat porridge; nor does he allow you to feed him with a spoon, instead preferring to block your arm as the spoon hovers ever closer to his face, and turn away in disgust.  In lieu of porridge, I make a mushroom omelette and give some to Piglet.  He waves it around a bit and drops it on the floor, before pouring water all over it and himself when I offer him a cup to drink.  I am reminded of my mother's reaction to baby led weaning; "I still think it's a bit strange."  She had previously reserved this opinion for when I showed her pictures of Piglet's dozen or so half siblings on Facebook, and it basically means "O new-fangled folly. Things were better in my day when everyone ate rusks."

Ah, Heir Hunters is on.  Love a bit of Heir Hunters.  I always feel a bit sorry for the people in it; the dead ones.  Not because they are dead, but because they usually lived on their own and never married and their neighbours are on there talking about how they were a bit weird.  Then I start to think that I might be a bit weird because I'm not married either.  Then Piglet starts yelling and rubbing his eyes and I realise it's time for his nap.

I put Piglet in his sleeping bag and feed him again.  Miraculously, he falls asleep on the boob.  This routine thing is like MAGIC.  By 10.25, he's in his cot, sleeping peacefully.

ARGH NO THE PHONE'S RINGING. It better not be one of those electronic voices going on about mis-sold PPI.  Ah, it's my auntie asking if I'd like her to knit Piglet a jumper.  As soon as I start speaking, Piglet opens his eyes and blinks at me, wide awake, from the cot.  I feed him again, but to no avail.  He's not going back to sleep.

Right, let's go out and hope he sleeps in the pram.  Oh hang on, just need to do the washing first.  And clear up from breakfast.  And get dressed.

Finally leave house.  Catch glimpse of self in the mirror and realise I look haggard.

We walk to Wembley High Road and go to Wilkinson's, then to Primark.  This is exciting, as despite having lived in Wembley for three years, I have never set foot in the Primark before, but merely viewed it from afar with disdain.  However, I have now realised that I need some pyjamas, and the only thing I can find online is a set of Topshop loungewear for £47, which I'm not sure that I can justify.  I hold my head high, enter Primark, and purchase two sets of pyjamas for about 20p.  Piglet starts yelling while we are in the checkout queue (note to self, why are the queues in Primark always so massive?  It was a Monday morning, for Christ's sake!) and I implore him to sleep.  On the way home, he finally falls asleep.  It's now 12.45 and I pop into Wenzel's for a congratulatory Danish pastry.

Pour myself a cup of tea and sit down to enjoy the Danish pastry.  Maybe Gina was right about this routine thing after all.  It really is easy.  I have, like, totes got my life back.

Piglet is screaming.  But he's only been asleep for half an hour!  HOW CAN THIS BE?  I run to the pram, pick him up and feed him again while he kicks the Danish pastry off the side of the sofa.  He does not return to sleep.  Instead, I decide to start cooking lunch, and put him in the baby gym while I spend what turns out to be hours cooking lentils.  I can't even give Piglet any lentils, as the recipe contains vegetable stock, which is too salty.  Instead, he has pieces of cheese, avocado and red pepper, all of which end up on the floor.

Finally lunch is over and Piglet has also had a breastfeed and has fallen asleep on me, just in time for Escape to the Country, which I cannot watch as I can't move from the bed because Piglet is asleep in it.  He sleeps for 50 minutes, which is a marked improvement on yesterday, when I walked him round Wembley for an hour and his eyes remained resolutely open the whole time.

So, total amount of time spent napping today=one hour.  Not quite the three hours recommended for Piglet's age group, but I'll take what I can get.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Haters Gonna Hate

Ladies and gentlemen, I have been well and truly JUDGED.

And I say to thee, Ye Olde Judgey McJudgeys of Wembley, if you are thinking that someone has made a terrible parenting faux pas, unless it is quite clear that the parenting in question constitutes actual child abuse, please keep your thoughts to yourself.

Yesterday Piglet had his latest settling in session with the childminder, and we had to get up at the ungodly hour of 7.30am to ensure that we had two hours to get out of bed and present ourselves in some sort of reasonable condition at the station in time for the 9.34 train.  Gone are the days when I could roll out of bed and spend twenty minutes slowly waking myself up with a cup of tea in front of BBC Breakfast.  Nowadays, those precious twenty minutes are spent watching Piglet fling a spoon around, sending gloopy porridge spurting over the cowhide rug, and furiously pumping milk like a frustrated dairy cow after realising that I failed to defrost today's expressed milk from the freezer the previous night and it is still rock solid.  The knock-on effect of having to spend breakfast pumping milk is that unnecessary activities like having a shower and putting on make up go out of the window, meaning I basically had to go out looking like this.

It was a good look.

Piglet, for his part, was in the sling following the Stair Based Pram Disaster which led to my beloved Bugaboo being bent to one side after being lugged up some steps in a tube station which shall not be named (thank you, South Ruislip).

It should probably also be mentioned that there was an eclipse happening at the time, although it was impossible to see as the sky was completely overcast.  It did, however, mean that it was slightly chillier than I had assumed, it not having occurred to me that with 80-odd per cent of the sun being blocked out, it might get a bit cold.  As I had been expecting a balmy spring day, I had dressed Piglet in his (very warm) jacket, instead of his snowsuit.  He also had a felted cardigan underneath, and a woolly hat on, and he was snuggled close to me in his sling, so he would have been perfectly warm.  I was a bit worried about his feet as he just had trousers and socks on his bottom half, so I was rubbing them periodically to make sure he was warm.  He was perfectly content however, so I assumed-not unreasonably-that he was fine.

And then some random woman approached me and asked if Piglet was "OK in there, or do you need to pull your coat round him a bit?"

Like I was actually Jimmy Savile or something.  This woman, in her infinite wisdom, thought I was some sort of monstrous neglectful child abuser.  In years to come, Piglet will probably end up writing a harrowing book called A Child Called Piglet, where he describes how his neglectful mother used to parade him around the train station during eclipses in just his socks.  Well, and his nappy.  And his trousers.  And garters to keep his socks on.  And a vest.  And a felted cardigan.  And a frigging COAT.  And a very cosy sling.

Wembley Stadium Station: the scene of the crime

Of course, with some people you just can't win.  I spent the rest of the day in abject fear of what people might be thinking about my parenting skills, especially when I picked Piglet up from the childminder and he CRIED.  Like he was thinking, "please don't let me go back to that horrible, mean Mummy who took me out this morning without a snowsuit like I was Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol."

And then the weather changed.  The weather changed so dramatically that on the way home, as we basked in the spring sunshine on the sun-baked train platform where we waited for AN HOUR for the train, I actually thought Piglet was going to get sunburnt.  The poor mite had to wear his woolly hat and coat to protect against the sun's blistering rays.  I debated taking him into the shelter of the concrete steps leading up to the train platform, but WHAT IF HE FELL DOWN THE STEPS?  The same steps, I might add, which had the audacity to bend a pram out of shape.  Goodness knows what horrors they could inflict on a baby.  And am I allowed to put the baby on the seat next to me, even if I hold him there?  He might bang his head, for God's sake, and the seat is made of metal!

Parenting.  A minefield, eh?

No, not an actual minefield.  I didn't take Piglet to Cambodia to look at landmines!  Put your phones down, people!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Piglet Commences Destruction of Entire House

Piglet had his second settling in session with the childminder today.  This went well, right up until the point where we were on the way home and Piglet, who has never been one for eating and drinking anything other than breast milk, decided that he was now hungry.  Hungry enough to start licking the zip of my leather jacket whilst he sat in the sling.  I fervently prayed that there would be a train due when we got to the station.  Luckily there was.

It was due in 46 minutes, to be precise.

Now apparently, it is possible to breastfeed in my sling, at least according to the instructions.  Once, whilst carrying Piglet in it, I came across a heavily pregnant woman in the sling section at John Lewis.  She was thinking about which sling to buy, and wanted one she could use for feeding, as clearly we all do with the best intentions and plans that for most of us start to go awry right around the time of the first contraction when it starts to become clear that there is not going to be any whalesong involved in the whole birth thing, nor is it likely to take place in a bathtub strewn with rose petals and surrounded by fragrant Jo Malone candles while you practise your deep meditation techniques and allow yourself to open like a lotus flower to expel the baby gracefully and gently from the depths of your womanhood.   Like the wizened old sage that I am, I said that in theory yes you could breastfeed in this sling, but I personally had not quite managed it.

This is because it is IMPOSSIBLE.  Without even going into the nightmare that is breastfeeding in the early weeks, when you can't even wear a bra because your nipples are too sore and you end up walking around Tesco with big wet patches on your dress from the leaking milk, and where the baby regularly remains attached to the breast for up to an hour and a half (each side), leaving you with basically no time to do anything else; even now, as a relatively advanced breastfeeder, breastfeeding in a sling involves skills I simply do not have.

The trouble was, I was now at a station, waiting 46 minutes for a train and with a baby who was so hungry he was licking my jacket.  Remarkably, I managed to hoist up my top and discreetly proffer a nipple from within the sling without too much difficulty.  And would Piglet take said nipple?  No he would not.  He did not even appear to be able to see it.  After all, why would he be eating in an upright position, whilst being carried around, when on every other occasion he is reclining and being cradled in Mummy's arms?  This then led to twenty minutes of standing around trying to wave a nipple in Piglet's face while he, able to smell the milk, got excited and rooted around, completely unable to find the breast, before I gave up, took him out of the sling and sat on the seat and fed him normally, which is what I would have done from the outset had I not been worried about the location of the station being near to my school, and the possibility of truanting teenagers popping up and filming the whole thing and posting it on Youtube.

Anyway, things are now OK again, as I have just produced this.  Yes folks, this is what it actually looks like when not in the breast.  Like milk, to be precise.

O the wonders of new-fangled breast pumps.  I feel like a dairy cow.  I'm sure they have a similar sense of achievement when they see the vats of milk going off to Tesco and Asda.   Finally the mystery of how Piglet keeps getting bigger and bigger is solved.  It certainly isn't through solids, as most of them end up on the floor.  Piglet takes great delight in pulling the tray off the Bumbo seat and waving it around in a way that makes me wonder if he is going to grow up to be some sort of delinquent n'er do well.

Speaking of which, on Tuesday I was reminded during a particularly uncomfortable ride on the number 83 bus of a scene I once witnessed on a National Express coach, where a woman was trying to get her toddler to sit down on the seat, and said toddler refused and continued to stand up on the chair, even when the coach started moving.  I remember thinking that if it was my toddler I would have marched stridently off the coach, with the little urchin in my arms, saying they could kick and scream all they wanted but they would not be spending a two and a half hour coach journey refusing to sit nicely in their seat and we were not going anywhere until they did as they were told thank you very much.

That was until Piglet decided to re-enact this entire scene on a packed bus during rush hour.  I basically had to hold him aloft like the baby Simba in the Lion King for the entire gridlocked journey so that he had a panoramic view out of the window, lord and master of all he surveyed on Wembley High Road.

He is now exploring the living room and looming dangerously close to the DVD player, which he is examining thoroughly as though he is about to start taking it apart and destroying it slowly, piece by piece.

Oh, he has now moved on to trying to smash up the television with one of my bangles.  Time for an intervention, methinks.

Right, I've given him a ball.  That should keep him happy for a couple of seconds until it rolls away.  Already there is a lamp in the living room which no longer works after Piglet decided to pull on the wires attached to it for a few seconds before I rushed over, shouting "don't touch anything ELECTRICAL!  NOT THE PLUG SOCKETS!"

And he isn't even crawling yet.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

What is this nap time of which you speak?

I haven't written on here recently as I have been spending most of my life wandering around Wembley in a dead-eyed haze, pushing a pram containing a wide-eyed and alert Piglet, who sits staring at me blankly as I plead with him to take a nap.

He does actually need a nap.  He has all the signs.  All the signs that every baby book and website says are there to tell you that the baby has gone past his window of normal drowsiness, and has passed into the realm of the wired clubber at 6am getting second wind after fifteen vodka Red Bulls.  The yawning, the eye-rubbing, the screeching; even the frantic crying when put into the pram and forced to wait for an inordinately long period of time for Mummy to rush around the flat taking such obscene liberties as grabbing the keys and putting shoes on before we can actually leave.

And every time I tell myself, through the persistent and ear-splitting screams, he will be asleep as soon as we leave this flat and start moving.  Please God, don't let the neighbours think I'm some sort of heinous child abuser.

The thing is, back in Ye Olden Days (a few weeks ago), Piglet did fall asleep as soon as we started moving, but now he is far too excited at the prospect of having a little wander round Baby Gap, or  watching Mummy drink a latte in Cafe Nero, that he simply Will.  Not.  Sleep.

Today we walked the entire perimeter of Wembley Stadium (which is a surprisingly long walk, let me tell you), being buffeted by gales (it's randomly very windy up there.  Sort of like being in the middle of the sea), with Piglet wide awake and wired, eyeing me from his car seat with the slightly insane look of the sleep-deprived.  We walked so far that we encountered a whole new Sainsbury's which I didn't know existed (forgive me my excitement.  I live a simple life).  We saw people dressed as actual real monks and nuns.  One was in a full-on authentic Mother Teresa outfit.  I thought it was her until I remembered that she was dead.  I thought I might be hallucinating through lack of sleep but it turns out that there was a Catholic event at Wembley Arena.  Actual monks and nuns in the genuine uniforms people!  Who knew?  It was a bit like that moment in my first term of university when two people in the E block kitchen started talking about their boarding schools and I started guffawing with laughter as those things died out in the 1950s and only lived on in the Mallory Towers books, right?

And through all this, Piglet continued to sit in his pram, wide awake, taking it all in.  We went into Cafe Nero and he behaved impeccably, sitting bolt upright in his car seat like one of those black and white pictures of bonnet-clad 1930s babies in their humungous prams, fixing their gaze on the camera in a steely stare while children in rags play hopscotch around them.  We then went home and all hell broke loose, with persistent shouting interspersed with a few brief periods of quiet where Piglet was pulling his Bumbo seat apart while I tried to get him to eat his dinner, followed by an hour and a half of constant breastfeeding.

He is now asleep, but for how long?