Sunday, 18 December 2011

Week 15- Overpriced ties

We're going back home for Christmas this Wednesday, home being three homes now as we take Nancy to see all our parents. Hopefully this trip will be calm and uneventful, unlike last time. I've got nearly everyone's Christmas presents, thanks to the wonders of internet shopping. Well e-bay mainly. I went a bit nuts yesterday bidding for a tie for my dad and ended up spending nearly thirty quid on it even though my budget was a tenner. Who spends thirty quid on a tie? Dad doesn’t even wear ties as he spends most of his time underneath the bonnet of car.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Week 14- Christmas 24 channel and sniffing babies

Nancy was weighed again, she's now 14 pounds 15 ounces, so has put on 11 ounces in 2 weeks, which is apparently very good. She's feeding loads at the moment so my boobs are either massive like Jordon's or totally stringy like a deflated balloon, and I can stretch them out by pulling my nipples which I've never been able to do before. Apparently they don't go back to normal. Another thing no-one tells you until it's too late. This is why French women alledgedly don't breast feed and look so fantastic.

I went in for a meeting at work this week, it was like the two worlds colliding, and I realised how little I've used my brain over the last three months (unless you call the expanse of Lee Child crime thrillers a source of intellectual stimulation.) I'm not sure how you're meant to balance the two things, work and motherhood. I enjoy both in very different ways, but it's almost like being two different people. Maybe I've had the luxury of always having jobs I can be myself in that it's never been an issue before, but I don't think it's the done thing rocking up to work 2 hours late, being self congratulatory because you're dressed and have brushed your teeth, only to discover you have sick all down your back. The role of mum will be very much left at the door. Not that I have to worry about these things for a while but it's worth a ponder.

On the other side of that coin, I'm loving that Ulrika and Ebba are now free during their days. Last week, we spend an afternoon eating jam tarts and watching the Christmas 24 channel, and because we were doing it together it was totally guilt free. And when the guilt or listlessness does creep in on other days when I'm on my own, I have a look at a photo of Nancy from 8 or 9 weeks ago to remind myself of how small she was and how quickly the time goes by, so that I enjoy every moment with her.

I love the way she smells, I bury my nose into her neck and sniff her. And if she's been asleep for a long time I miss that smell, and have to resist from sniffing her in her sleep.

She's outgrown almost everything she started with, and we've moved onto her 3- 6 month clothes. I wept as I folded the clothes up and packed them up for Ben to give to one of his colleagues who's expecting a baby girl in February. How ridiculous, but I couldn't stop myself. God knows what I'm going to be like when she has to go to nursery.

Week 13- cooking curries, fat mums and falling out with the man in the shop

So there is now another shop that I intend avoiding in our area, and unfortunately it's the one just round the corner that sells milk and bread and all the useful day to day stuff. The man who works in there the most has already put me in a bit of a situation, as I went in there last week to buy an onion, and he said ‘are you making a curry?’ (which I thought was a bit of a stab in the dark from just an onion) to which I replied ‘no, but I’d like to.’ It turns out he is a chef every Wednesday in a curry house in Hove and asked if I wanted to come down and learn how to make a curry one Wednesday, I said I would even though a) there’s no way I can with Nancy and b) I don’t actually want to. Anyway, every time I go in there he makes a big thing of forgetting the menu and I act disappointed and then we both get a bit embarrassed.
So I went in there yesterday to buy either milk or bread, I forget which, and I had Nancy strapped to my front, and he says, ‘how is he?’ and I say ‘she’s fine’ and he says ‘he’ll be talking soon,’ and I say ‘Nancy’s only three months’ and he says ‘ahhh he’s big like his mum’ and I’m totally gobsmacked, and reply ‘yes he is.’ Cheeky shit. At least it got us off the curry convo but I thought I was doing pretty well with the old weight watchers, and now I’m back to big fat step one. On the plus side I’ll have to walk about half a mile to the next shop so that can’t do me any harm.

Christmas negotiations still under way. I am starting to realise I am a bit uncompromising and a bit selfish.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Week 12- Christmas planning with babies

The chaos of Christmas planning has begun. And I realise that everything changes when you have a child. Firstly, it's no longer about you (which I have to be honest, I wasn't prepared for), secondly, everyone wants to see Nancy, so we will be travelling the length and breadth of the country, and lastly, it's about compromise. Ouch.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Week 11- going out, pub quizes and fish graveyards

I think I'm going to have to stop going to the health food shop at the bottom of the road, or at least only go there when the woman is working and not her son.

It was meant to be a bit of a treat, make myself feel like I'm doing something for the environment when I refil the Ecover washing up liquid and at the same time have a peruse round an ethical shop that smells really nice. It's just that the woman's son ruins it everytime by asking me at the checkout what I'm up to tonight, not in a I'd like to go on a date with you way, but more a young person's enquiry as to whether I'll be going clubbing or something. (Already outgrown the young person's catagory now.) I shrug my shoulders at him as is to say, I've got a small daughter, why would you ask me?

But today was the pits when, as I shrugged at him he suggested 'are you just being a mum tonight?' Just. JUST? WHAT A COCK! I wanted to drag him over the counter and stick the organic bread sticks where the sun doesn't shine. Does his mum know he's being so unheathfoodshoplike? I want to be celebrated for being a mother, that's why I go in there and spend double the price on cottage cheese and oatcakes, not asked if I'm just being a mum.

And what's he going to do tonight that's so brilliant, hey?

I have had a night out mind. Ben and I went on our date. It was silly of me to put so much pressure on myself, it was, afterall, just Ben and I going to the pub round the corner for a bit of food.

Firstly the slendertone has not been performing to scratch (or more likely I'm eating too many jam tarts) but the dress I'd bought off E-bay didn't fit. Not even close. The zip was gaping wide at the top, and the bit I had got done up was cripplingly tight. So I settled for a maternity dress that didn't look too maternity. Mum came down to babysit. Nancy still wasn't taking the bottle so the idea was that I'd feed her up until the very last moment to give us as much time as possible out the house.

Nancy had a bit of a thirst on so fed until gone nine, and I started getting snappy with mum who said I was fretting, which I probably was, but more likely just absolutely starving. And at the crack of 9.15 we went to the pub.

It turned out to be quiz night, so the romantic evening was puncuated with general knowledge questions over the PA system, and they didn't serve wine by the glass other than the shite stuff, and finally, I ordered whitebait, as Ben had said it's a bit like scampi.

Wel,l when my dinner came it was a vegetarian whose nervous about eating fish's worst nightmare. It was like a fish morgue, just loads of little dead fish with their eyes looking at you. And they tasted really fishy too. I couldn't get past the gag reflex to eat them.

And to make matters worse, I couldn't think of one thing to say. It was like I'd lost the art of conversation the moment we left the house, and I missed Nancy, which was stupid as she was only up the road and we'd been gone for less than 30 minutes.

So I started to cry. Not big tears, weeping maybe, into my fish grave yard. And as Ben made me laugh, went to get us another drink, and it looked like the evening was turning around, mum rang to say Nancy was getting upset and we should probably come home. Not the most successful night out, but it was a start.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Week 10- human milking, Bet Lynch and allotment shoes

The bottle feeding has been a disaster. There is no other way to describe it. Firstly the actual expressing looks like something out of a beastiality porno. I sit on the sofa with an electric pump attached to my boob, which in turn is attached to a baby bottle, and watch it fill up as the machine makes a kind of  'mooo mooo' noise, almost to emphasis you're being milked. I read on a forum that babies can smell their mother and their milk up to 20 feet away, which I find astounding.

Anyway, the idea was that I would leave the house while Ben attempted to feed her, for, as a friend explained 'why would you eat an apple when you know you've got a chocolate mousse in the fridge?' So I left the room they were both in and then realised that my shoes were still in there, so had to wear my allotmenting shoes along with the Bet Lynch leopard print coat, which, under normal circs I think looks quite cool, but teamed up with my footwear made me look a bit like I should have a shopping trolley filled with all my worldly possessions. And off down London Road I went to lurk for an hour.

I felt so lost without Nancy, I didn't know what to do with myself, and the thought of her feeding from anyone other than me made my boobs double lactate, so the only sensible thing to do seemsed to be to burst into tears. And when I spoke to Ben on the phone I could hear her crying in the background, she sounded so distressed I just couldn't cope. It seemed like such a good idea, but the reality is that if it's going to be this awful for everyone then maybe it's best if we just don't go out in te evenings. Until she's older. Much older. Possibly when she's feeding herself.

week 9- Nancy's new best friend arrives, and mine- the slendertone

Nancy's best friend has arrived! Well the daughter of our best friend's, so by default they will be best friends too. We went round to Ju and Ulrika's to meet Ebba the day after she was born, she was an ounce heavier than Nancy's birth weight, but felt so tiny. I still think of Nancy as a little baby, but next to Ebba, she looks like she's on her way to university. I can't wait for them to get to know each other. I have romantic day dreams of our holidays abroad, the girls sharing a tent on half term camping trips in Cornwall, them playing round each other's house after school, but the reality is they will probably feel a bit resentful of how much we shove them together and become friends in spite of us instead of because, or worse still, just don't like each other at all.

We went for Nancy's first set of injections this week. This has to be the worse thing I've done to her since she's been born. This includes not realising she's pooed all up her back and putting her in a pram for an hour long walk, force feeding her Intracol and making her wear a baby grow which turned out to be far too small and wouldn't enable her to stretch out any limbs for an entire day. Nancy trusts me, and I let a total stranger (the nurse) stab her leg with the needle. She went purple from howling and gave me a look of utter dismay as if to say how could you let this happen. And as I soothed her, the nurse then stabbed her in the other thigh and the look of hurt was absolutely heartbreaking. I have four weeks to build up that trust again before I shatter it with the next set of vaccines.

The e-bay buying has reached a new level. Most of the stuff I win is far to small for me as I seem to have a massive dose of body dismorphia, and not only think I'm as slim as I was pre Nancy, but thinner. A size 12 maybe, but a 10? Who am I kidding. And at the moment I'd be pushing it a bit to squeeze into a size 14. So these itsy things come through the post, I get excited for about a second as I sign for the package, and am instantly disapointed when I open it- there's no point in even trying most of the stuff on, so I put it back on e-bay, where no-one buys it and I end up giving it to a charity shop. And it's got so bad that I'm not only selling stuff I want to get rid of, but also stuff I like to fund my addiction. The idea was to upgrade my wardrobe while I'm too fat for all my old clothes, not bankrupt myself on expensive, inconcievably tiny load of clothes I will not physically be able to fit into, EVER. 

Which brings me back to my most treasured buy. The slendertone. As I write this I'm zapping myself with god knows how many eletric pulses. I've got so hardcore and intolerant to pain since having Nancy that I don't even feel it. Either that or it's faulty. I don't see any actual physical differences but it has counteracted the packet of honey wafers I've just eaten (which were also from the health food shop so must be good for me.) I have a dress I'd like to wear for when Ben and I go on our date in a couple of weeks time so I'm hoping it will start to work miracles in the next few days. Which reminds me, we need to start bottle feeding Nancy some expressed milk so mum can babysit her. God, it's a busy and complicated life looking after a little person.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Week 8- love handles and getting your bits checked

I can fit into my old jeans! Well, when I say fit into, I mean squeeze into. And when I say squeeze I mean my love handles are spilling over the top, and I’ve got angry red marks around my waist where I’ve forced the fly up. But they’re on and that’s all that matters. And more to the point I’ve started to do exercises thanks to the power of the slendertone. As Nancy played on her baby gym, I cranked the belt up to 30 for half an hour (which I believe is the same as doing somewhere in the region on 150 sit ups thank you very much.) My tummy is still so massively wobbly, that it was like watching myself do the shuffle truffle without moving once I’d turned it on but who cares? If I can get a six pack without having to move off the sofa then that’s good enough for me.
Nancy and I are having a slow week after her being poorly. I don’t want to be a panicky mum, but I’m still putting by finger under her nose every time she goes to sleep to check she’s still breathing. And when she does that weird panty thing then holds her breath for a second, I find myself giving her a little nudge to wake her up so normal breathing can commence, which must be lovely for her.
It’s strange not having a house full of visitors, or tearing around the countryside seeing relatives. It’s peaceful, but also a bit unnerving. I think I’m so used to being with people that hanging out me and Nancy is quite a shock to the system. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, and it’s great just watching her smiling at me, or finding her other hand and the look of shock on her face when it wiggles, but I think it would be fair to say that she doesn’t give much back in terms of conversation.

And I don’t think I’m very good in my own company. And I don’t think Nancy is either. When she’s left in the front room in her bouncy chair while I go to do something elsewhere she starts to grizzle, and when I come back all she wants is a cuddle or a tummy rub. Isn’t that strange that we may have the same characteristics and she’s only 8 weeks on Saturday? Or maybe it’s more that I’m forcing traits on her, that’s probably more like it. I guess this is the first time I’ve really considered where I fit into all this.

When I’m seeing people, there’s always things to chat about, even if it’s just what other people are up to, but after a day of me and Nancy, I don’t really have much to bring to the table when Ben gets back from work. I assume he won’t be interested in the fact that I cranked the slendertone up to 40 instead of the more comfortable 30 setting. Or that Karl and Susan Kennedy have split up after over 30 years of marriage, in fact I’m unsure as to whether it’s even acceptable to be watching Neighbours at 33, even if it is while I’m breastfeeding.
When I was at work, I had a job title, I managed people, people asked my opinion on things and I made things happen. Now I clean the house, I wash our clothes, we meet friends for coffee but mainly I look after Nancy, making sure she’s happy, warm, clean and well fed. I made bold sweeping generalisations pre Nancy that I wasn’t going to be one of those mums who just talk about their children, but what did I know? Before Nancy I didn’t have a child to talk about!
I also made rash pledges to not get involved in classes or groups that were aimed at mums I didn’t know, as I didn’t have time to see my proper friends so why would I want to hang out with women just because we had sex at roughly the same time? But truth is a lot of my friends work, and those who have children who are a bit older have already got into their routine, and to be rung up by another mum to ask if I wanted to go to the park wouldn’t be the end of the world! So maybe I’ll have a look into joining some stuff next week. Or better still Ulrika will have her baby and then I won’t have to as I’ll have a best mate with her little one.
So we had our 6 week check up a bit late this week, as well as a visit from the health visitor. I think Ben might have made more of an impact on the health visitor that I have- she had brought along a student nurse, and although she kept having to ask questions about me (it is Hannah isn’t it?) she certainly remembered Ben from her one meeting (Nancy’s 60 centimetres long, well that is tall, not surprising really Jonathan (the student nurse) as her dad’s very tall isn’t he Hannah?) At the doctors he pushed her legs around to check her joints, looked in her ears and checked her eyes, and everything’s fine. I really wanted him to have a check of my stitches and ask about tips for getting rid of stretch marks, as well as discuss weight loss to see if I can shift the extra two stone I have loose to get back to my ‘fighting weight’, but our doctor is a bit dishy, and the moment he mentioned contraception I got a bit silly and then forgot to ask all my questions at the opportune moment, and it seemed a bit late to ask if I could get my bits out for inspection when I had my coat on and Nancy strapped in the papoose.

Week 7- pease pudding and scary trips to the hospital

So. The big trip up north to parade Nancy around the relatives. The actual journey wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I think I was more panicky about food than Nancy, so we had to stop 10 miles out of Brighton to buy 2 packet sandwiches, a twirl, 2 packets of crisps, a family size bag of maltesters, a big bottle of coke, and whatever Ben wanted.
First stop was Ben’s parents for the night, where Ben’s Nana was introduced to her great grand child, having only been told that morning that she existed. I don’t think she really knew what to make of Nancy, and asked several times who the little boy was, but thanks to a big print out of her face which Ben had written her name on, she had a reference point when she looked at her. On the return journey via Ben’s folks, I introduced Nancy to Nana again, to which she said ‘oh no not Nancy, I like Elizabeth but not Nancy.’ And when Ben introduced her again an hour later she exclaimed ‘no he’s not’ so it might take a little while.
Next was the trip to Newcastle, were Nancy met her other Great Grandma and a great auntie and uncle. Grandma put on a massive spread of sandwiches, baps, chips, pease pudding, roast potatoes, crisps and ├ęclairs for the four of us (Grandma had eaten before we’d arrived.) We then took Nancy for a walk in her pram down to the cliff edge to see the boats, where she had her first blast of North Sea air. From there we went to Ben and B’s house, where Alex and Eloise were introduced to their cousin for the first time and both showered her in snotty kisses. Aged 2 they were intrigued and in love with Nancy, it was also an insight into toddlers for Ben and me.
We then drove down to Lincolnshire to stay firstly at dads, and then mum’s house. Their friends came round to have a squeeze with their grandchild and the look on both mum and dad’s face when they held Nancy made the journey more than worthwhile. It was while in Lincolnshire though that Nancy started to get off colour. It started with not being able to go for a poo, and then it was projectile vomit in the morning. When you picked her up she screamed, and it was a new scream, one that sounded filled with pain and discomfort, and when she fed, she pulled off wincing. On top of this she had a cold, and kept sneezing. Looking at a little person whose feeling unwell but can’t tell you what’s wrong is heart breaking. As well as makes you feel like a rubbish mum. I was told how breastfed babies don’t get poorly, which didn’t help matters as she’s breastfed and clearly ill. By Friday night, when back at Ben’s parents house, I was getting really worried. She didn’t seem to be getting any better, and was looking pale. As we drove back to Brighton on Saturday, Nancy woke from a fitful sleep screaming, and as we pulled off the motorway and took her out her car seat, she was drenched in sweat and bright red in the face from crying. We spoke to NHS direct who advised us to take her to the hospital, and a sense of relief washed over me. At last someone else can share the responsibility, and tell me what’s wrong with her instead of me making half arsed guesses.
The moment we walked into the children’s ward, Nancy calmed down and started smiling and gurgling at the nurses and doctors. As we explained how upset she had been, Nancy kicked her arms and legs playfully, and as we explained about her hard stomach and constipation, Nancy did the mother of all poos. Ben and my explanation of her condition was followed up with, ‘I know it doesn’t look like it now.’ The doctor was lovely though, and tested her for all manner of things, then Nancy and I stayed in the hospital for the night. The following day a new doctor started his shift, and looking at her blood tests, it showed she had a slight virus which would explain her discomfort and stomach ache. At last there was a reason. And although I hated seeing Nancy ill, it was such a relief to know that something was wrong, that it wasn’t life threatening, that she’d get better soon, and that we weren’t doing anything wrong. At last, after a bloody long week, we could go home again.

Week 6- arty films and hugging strangers

This week felt like a bit of a landmark with getting out and about with Nancy. Firstly, we went to the pictures. The arty cinema down the bottom of the road opens its door to mums with babies under 1 on a Wednesday morning.

I made a friend there, as I had two for one tickets with Orange so asked the woman behind me in the queue if she’d like to go in with me, she was also waiting for her friend and looked like she was a bit worried she wasn’t going to be able to shake me off to start with, but I only wanted to sit next to her, not go for dinner. Anyway, this was my first meeting a mum encounter. We talked about how brilliant Infacol was for wind, how her baby had a high pallet so breastfeeding was very uncomfortable and left her nipple looking like a lipstick, the benefits of baby massage, and how quickly you forgot about going to work. When I asked her what her job was she said she worked in a bank, and I told her I worked in arts education, and we looked at each other uncomfortably scrabbling about for things to say. And then she asked me if I’d considered baby sign language, and we were chatting away like old friends again. She said she’s sit in the same seat next time, I told her I’d be away for a week would look out for her the following week, then I ruined it a bit by giving her a hug.

Week 5- ace smiles and fabulous time wasting

Nancy’s started smiling. It’s amazing. I know every mum must think this but it truly is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever seen. We not only created a baby. But a happy baby. And on top of that she’s started snoring! Somehow both of these things make her more of a little person than a baby. I could sit and watch her for hours. A friend said that she’d been told that watching a sleeping baby is the most glorious waste of time. And I completely know what she means.

Week 4- E-bay addiction and body dismorphia

I’ve started bidding for stuff I don’t really want off e-bay in the middle of the night. And don’t remember what I’ve bid for until I receive an e-mail in the morning telling me I’ve won. It started off as something to do to pass the time while Nancy fed, having it on my phone made it really easy to have a quick peruse. But at some point, the weights tipped from looking to bidding. And now the stuff has started to arrive I realise that taste and common sense isn’t at it’s peak at 4am when the last bit of energy you might have is being sucked out of you.

So far I have ‘won’ (although I don’t feel like much of a winner at the moment) a stripey hooded top that looks like that kind of thing the posh girls used to wear mucking out stables, a stripey dress which makes me look larger than when I was nine months pregnant, and a stripey ‘cropped’ vest top, which is described as this season, but I’m assuming it is intended for someone with a toned stomach, as it sits comfortably above my stretch marks which is very fetching. And what’s with all the stripes? But even though my taste is questionable, there is something really exciting about receiving a package now that the gifts for Nancy have stopped.
The problem is I’ve had to start selling some of my own stuff to finance the e-bay habit. Which would be fine, except my descriptions have been less than accurate, according to my buyers, and so I’m making a loss at the moment as I’ve had to make three refunds so far, so I haven’t, as yet, covered the postage of all the things I’ve sent out. Feedback has included stating a dress was the wrong colour (blue instead of green), that the condition of the dress wasn’t as described (I’d said it was VGC- Very Good Condition- where as tinytim67 told me it had pulls and ladders all over it) and the best, was a girl who said the top was so dirty and dusty, than her mother who was staying and has an allergy to dust, literally had to leave the house until the offensive item was back in the envelope and sent back to me as her throat had started to close up. So think I might resume the Jack Reacher military cop books as a late night distraction instead.

Week 3- swearing at grannies and fabulous knitters

First week without Ben and we’ve had visitors every day. I’ve been overwhelmed by how thoughtful and generous everyone has been. From 10am on Monday morning, I’ve been looked after. Two friends came over (tellingly both mothers themselves) with breakfast. They knew I’d be feeling a bit lost so, on arrival, did the washing up, picked up Nancy so I could go to the loo and sort myself out, and on leaving, left me some soup for lunch. And from then on there were visitors every day. And she’s had over 100 cards, and now has more disposable cash than both Ben and me combined, comforters for everyday of the week and a selection of beautifully knitted shoes- who knew there were so many young people who could knit so well?

We took our first trip into town, which resulted in me giving a shop assistant in Boots the finger, and telling a pensioner to fuck off. Sounds a bit worse than it was. Actually it was as bad as it sounds, but I feel it was justified. It had been a painfully slow walk into town, both actually and metaphorically. I went into Boots to get the pictures of Nancy developed to make the thank you cards, and to get some stuff for her and me. We were also meeting Lucinda and her daughter Daisy to go for a cup of tea. To cut a long story short- a reluctant shop assistant showed me eventually where the maternity pads were (which are nowhere near the sanitary pads which would have made more sense) just as Lucinda came into the shop. I was showing off and gave the woman the finger as she turned away as she had been massively unhelpful, but she turned back at the last moment so I was stood facing her, one hand on my pram with my new born daughter, the other giving her the bird. Nice.
And as we walked along London Road a couple of old women were walking towards us. Both Lucinda and I stopped to let them get past our prams. One granny started to talk to Lucinda, I assumed asking about Daisy, but seeing the look on Lu’s face, I saw she was getting told off. As the woman walked past me, she hissed, ‘you’re not disabled, you’re just a mum’ to which I retorted ‘fuck off!’ without out even thinking about it. Now I know that’s a bit of a rough response, what with her being an old lady and everything, but it seemed like an outrageously unfair thing to say. I had, only two weeks prior, had my labia, vagina and vaginal wall cut through and stitched up, and it was still very painful. I know that isn’t comparable with a wheelchair user, but it fucking hurts. And why would she think to compare the two anyway? And more to the point she was walking faster than me, so there was nothing wrong with her or her friend. So. Trip into town. Done.

Week 2- laxatives, baby boom and Prisioner Cell Block H

A friend solved the wee issue and it was so easy. Lean forward. Of course. It makes such sense when you know it, but wish someone in the hospital had let me know as it was like pouring acid over an open wound for a week.
While we’re on the subject of going to the loo, doing a wee is nothing compared to the fear of having a poo. Your body goes into default mode, scared half to death that if you push, your entire innards are going to come out and you’ll spend the rest of your life with a womb strategically strapped to your inner thigh as they can’t get it back in. The fear became so overwhelming that I was getting a massive sweat on just walking passed the bathroom.
Nancy seemed to be suffering as well, but the other extreme, as the hospital had given me mild laxatives which were having absolutely no effect on me but working a treat on poor Nancy, who must have been getting it through my breast milk. Poor thing seems to be doing such explosive poos that you can hear it in the other room, and you feel the impact if holding her. The midwives at the hospital were lovely and had said that if I had any problems at all to give them a ring or pop in. But I thought I’d wait it out as I didn’t think there was anything they could really do. On top of this we had Nancy in the hospital an hour away as there was a rush on babies and our local hospital was completely fully booked, so it’s not just round the corner.
It’s strange to think that there was a ‘rush’ on babies. Was there a power cut 9 months ago? Or the announcement of Prince William and Kate’s wedding caused all the anti-royalists to throw their clothes off in some kind of dirty protest? If we had another baby (can’t believe I’m considering that when I’m still passing bits of womb from this labour), but if we did, I would like to have it closer to home, even though we were so well looked after, Ben had to drive home and return both days and it would have been much simpler if he was round the corner. And the hour drive to the hospital was interesting to say the least, as it turned out I was fully dilated once we arrived. I feel I know every bump and dip in that road.

One of the reasons we took such a long time to get ourselves together to get there was because we had no idea what levels of pain to expect. If women on telly were anything to go by, I should be on all fours wailing like a banshee while sweating cobs. As it was I’d recently bought the Best of Prisoner Cell Block H DVD, and Ben and I were whiling away the early stages of labour with a couple of shows. We did miss quite a chunk of the infamous hostage episode as the contractions were coming on quite strong by that point, but even then it felt we took it in our stride. I’m not making light of it, it hurt like hell, but the other thing that got me through it was Ben remembering the yogic breathing techniques from the course we did in Thailand. Breath in for four, hold for four, breath out for eight. So - simple. Prisoner and breathing.
I know life at the moment isn’t how it will always be but it has been totally ace with Ben on paternity leave. It’s given us a chance to find out what it’s like to work as a family. A family. Our family. Ben’s had to do most things as my stitches are murder, but every time I look at Nancy it’s all worth it. A friend had said of her first child ‘I wake up in the morning and remember he’s here and it’s like that feeling you get when it’s Christmas when you’re little’ and I now know exactly what she means.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Week 1- baby books, sore sitches and taking her home

She’s home. We’ve brought our baby home. Pootle, as we’ve been calling her for the last 9 months is Nancy. It was a bit of a surprise, her being a girl. What with every shopkeeper, waitress, and sales assistant telling me, ‘it’s definitely a boy, look at the way it’s sitting’, I had become convinced that we were having an Alfred or an Arthur, so Ben had to ask the anaesthetist twice to check that she’d got it right.
After two days in hospital we’re finally here. And I don’t have a clue what to do now. I’m regretting my decision to only half read lots of baby books and discard them in favour of a series of rubbish detective novels. One of them had suggested showing Nancy round the house as if she was moving in, so true to the letter, Ben carries her as I give a guided tour, pointing out the quirky features of the house (‘take note of the large garden Nancy, which you will be able to play in when you’re older, it’s west facing so you’ll be able to get the sunshine all day’) as well as the pit falls (‘ there’s damp in the bathroom, and a colgate toothpaste box stuck behind the radiator, but your daddy’s sorting both of those things out.) And then we take stock of the situation.
We’ve got a baby. WE’VE GOT A BABY. I keep repeating it in my head like some kind of mantra to convince myself its true. She’s got loads of dark hair, and deep blue eyes which she only reveals on the odd occasion as she’s mainly slept since arriving. I know I should have been prepared for this moment after 9 months of carrying her around, but somehow it feels like a total surprise that I’m sat in my front room with a baby, and we created her. And that’s she’s perfect. And that she’ll be in our life everyday for the rest of our lives.
We place the car seat with our sleeping, beautiful baby inside in the middle of the carpet and just stare at her. We sit down on the sofa, and here comes issue number one, which no-one warned me about. My bits are so sore that I can only sit on one bum cheek, balancing precariously and clinging onto the sofa while wincing through the pain, I look at my daughter and wonder how I’ll even be able to lean forward to pick her up. It’s not like ‘ouch this hurts a bit’ kind of pain, it’s more in the region of ‘has someone just punched me in the fanny and made me sit on a bed of nails before squirting lemon juice all over the perforated bits.’

This is not the mother earth image I had in mind. Why hadn't anyone told me about ‘after care’? There’s more literature out there than you can shake a big stick at about pregnancy, I have a shelf full of partly read books about it. And the baby, what should be happening when, there’s loads about that. But what about me? I don’t want to become a selfish mum before I’ve even cut her hospital band off, but from where I’m uncomfortably sitting, Nancy looks completely serene, while I don’t know how I’ll ever go to the toilet again.

And now I’m looking at her, I can understand why it hurts so much. It seems almost impossible that my beautiful girl was only 48 hours ago squeezed out of me. She’s tiny compared to me and Ben, but massive compared to that.

And then she makes a snuffling noise and I forget all about the hurty bits and fall massively in love with her.