Sunday 29 July 2012

Week 47- the Olympic Torch, singing with your eyes shut and local heroes

The Olympics seems to have been coming up for what seems like forever, so I was a bit surprised when it was suddenly here.

The torch was passing the bottom of our road and I had big plans to take Nancy. Thinking I could tell her in years to come about how we cheered as a local hero jogged passed us. Get a picture of her with crowds behind us, that kind of thing.

Unfortunately it didn't quite work out. What with the 4.30am start, I thought we'd be well in time.

But it's funny how the first two hours, when it's eye pricklingly early, can take about a week to creep by. When I can't think of anything to do to occupy Nancy, other than sing badly at her with my eyes shut. Hoping that she'll drop off instead of sticking one finger up my nostril and and another in my mouth, which is her latest trick.

And then 6.30am comes along, and I realise there's only an hour until we have to be out the house.

Nancy does a massive poo after I've just got her dressed.

And I realise there's no food to give to the childminder. Which in itself is becoming a bit embarrassing, as I don't want to keep giving her jars, as it looks like I never make Nancy anything. But when I have given the childminder home cooked food, she said Nancy spat it out. Not refused it. But spat it out. I know I'm no Delia, but come on.

So we do an emergency change. Go to the shop round the corner for an over priced jar of baby cottage pie.

And then it turns out the torch has already gone by.

But the total Olympics blunder had to be going to visit an old friend who has just had a baby in London. North East London. Or more specifically two stops on from Stratford. On the day of the Opening Ceremony.

How have I become so far removed from what's going on that I had no idea where the Olympic village is, or when everything was kicking off?

The journey there was fine.

But coming back I started panicking my face off. Imagining getting stuck with 80,000 people.

The only way, it seems, to tackle large crowd on the underground is to take the baby sling and have Nancy strapped to me, while pushing the pram along with all Nancy's stuff in it, pretending it's a baby.

That way people move out the way a bit, but I'm not shitting myself that someone's going to drop a can of Coke on Nancy's head.

So we saw the stadium. Ish. While being shepherded along by hundreds of stewards.

I felt like a bit of a prat, to be honest. Getting that close to the Olympics and not having a clue it was going on.

Well at least I can tell Nancy that she might have missed the torch, but she was at the Olympic village for the Opening Ceremony.

Kind of.

Sunday 22 July 2012

Week 46- skinny jeans, Kit Kats and going back to work

Nancy has started going to the childminder this week. And I fluctuate between being really happy that they're getting on, to feeling a bit wounded and half hoping that Nancy will reject her and only ever love me.

The weird thing is, she's only been with her for three days, but Nancy seems bigger. Physically. I think. But definitely more grown up.

And her face seems to have changed. She looks more and more like a little girl, like I can imagine what she'll look like when she's 4. Or 12.

It might be because it's the longest we've been apart from each other, and I'm starting to see her as other people might, instead of a mini extension of me.

So. Day one was doable. As we've had lots of days apart from each other.

Day two felt like a little bit of a strain. And I kept wondering what she was doing every other minute.

But by the end of day three, I was definitely ready for the working week to end and to get some hanging out with her. I hugged her too tightly when I picked her up from the childminder and made her cry a little bit which was a tad embarassing. And then without thinking I gave her an almighty, eye closing sniff.

The actual going back go work bit has been a suprisingly easy adjustment. In fact more than easy. Enjoyable. It's amazing how much you can get done in three days, when you're not with a little person.

I think your brain is reprogrammed with children to get things done really quickly, as normally you only have about a window of opportunity of about 45 minutes to do stuff when they're asleep.

So, given straight 8 hours is almost like a pre-Nancy full working week.

Unfortunately, I dont look really like I'd envisaged I would heading back to work. I had visions of being all kind of like city girlesque.

Saying goodbye to my daughter, then swanning off in my skinny jeans and tailored jacket with a cool hair do to go and embrace the working day.

But the clothes I bought from eBay to wear are now straining at the seams. It turns out the weight you lose when breastfeeding just piles back on when you cut right back or stop. I guess part of it is changing your diet. I probably don't needs a four finger Kit Kat to keep me going at 10am in the same way I did when feeding Nancy 10 times a day.

So the anchor breastfeeding top is still very much a wardrobe staple, and is probably the best eight pounds I ever spent.

And the 5.30am starts are beginning to take their toll.

It's not possible to attempt to lead a pre-Nancy life in the evenings it turns out- drinking half a bottle or wine, or staying up to watch Line of Duty, and function properly ther next day.

Something's got to give.

To start with it was having to go to bed earlier. Instead of staying up, deliriously tired under the premise that we were having a bit of grown up time.

Which grow ups lie on the sofa, not finishing sentences because they're so tired they can't remember how they started, and watching the first 20 minutes of any TV programme , falling asleep only to catch the end credits? Fine with something like Eastenders. Not so great with Lewis.

So we decided a happy compromise is if we take it turns to get up with her at the weekend. Giving the other person a 'lie in.'

8.30am as a lie in.


If my now self could meet my 20 year old self and explain that getting up at 8.30am was a luxury I think we'd have problems.

Sunday 15 July 2012

Week 45- posh hotels, Chanel foundation and Geoff Capes

I know it's massively boring listening to a mother of a small child go on about lack of sleep. In fact it has to be up there with people giving you an in depth account of their dreams.

But seriously. At what point do you start to feel like a human being again? Someone told me it isn't until they turn 18 and leave home.

I'll be 51 by then.

Nancy and I were both bridesmaids this weekend. Her, the mini version of me, in lots of net and satin fabric. She looked ace. In fact, better than ace. She looked beautiful.

So, could get away with holding her dress up as I carried her down the aisle in a way that would have been inappropriate for the other bridesmaids.

We stayed in a posh hotel. Which felt very grown up, and a bit glamorous.

Nancy point blank refused to sleep in her travel cot, which was a bit of a shame, as it weighs about 7 stone, and you had to be Geoff Capes in his prime to get it across London with the wedding suit, dresses, pram and overnight bag.

So she slept in with us, starfish style in the middle of the massive double bed, while Ben and I hung off either side of it.

I think that having a little person means constantly checking where you're at. What 'phase' you're currently in, as it seems you just get your head around one thing, and then it all changes. And as Ju says, 'don't assume anything, as it makes an ass out of you and me.'

So to assume that Nancy now sleeps through the night as she has been doing for the past month, was definitely ass worthy on my part.

5am is a lie in for her as of Thursday, and as this is day four of early starts, it doesn't look to be changing anytime soon.

Less than perfect timing as I start work properly on Monday, and don't think that I can factor a power nap into the day.

I used to be able to feed her then she'd doze back off, but the calories are like Red Bull to her now it seems, and she starts crawling all over us. Her latest trick at the hotel being to grab the headboard with both hands and shake it, banging it against the wall, which probably gave the neighbouring rooms the impression that we were having a very different kind of weekend away.

Everything's exciting to her, especially in a new room. The plug sockets, the bin, the sliding door to the bathroom which she can open when someone's sat on the loo.

Thank god that all the bridesmaids were booked in for hair and make up. If I was rich, I'd get someone to cover up my bags and give me an impressive up do everyday. But looking at the pictures on Ben's phone that he took outside the church, I realised that, now Nancy's so much bigger, I compensate for her weight by standing at a jaunty angle with her on my hip, clinging on like a monkey. And no amount of Chanel foundation is going to correct that dodgy posture.

But it's the morning after the wedding that brings having a baby into a whole new realm. We're no longer the couple who are last into the dining room, still wearing last nights clothes and shamefully having to 'fess up that it was us that took one of the tiers of the wedding cheese wheel back with us, but on the bright side it's virtually still in tact if anyone fancies some Stilton with their fry up.

We're now up first. Showered, clean clothes and having already caught up on the previous nights Coronation Street in the hotel room, while Nancy has her milk.

And No. 7 makeup doesn't seem to have the same effect as the industrial strength stuff the make up artists use.

Disappointingly, lack of sleep and a couple of glasses of bubbly feels virtually the same as a massive hangover. The fug. Disorientation. Feeling a bit irritable. Everything minus the mega headache, really.

So hurry up the next phase. Let it involve epic sleeps for everyone.

Saturday 7 July 2012

Week 44- emergency vest tops, Danny De Vito and climbing up stairs

I don't know whether multi-tasking is an instinct that women are born with, or something that's developed through trial and error, and a series of things ballsing up, so realising certain combinations of 'multi tasks' don't work.

Putting on mascara and straightening your hair, for example. That doesn't work. I came to this conclusion when I dropped the straighteners, caught them with my boobs, and now have a perfectly straight burn across my chest and nipple.

This isn't the best of timings, as both Nancy and I are bridesmaids next week, and I'm wearing a low v neck dress. Well, it might be a distraction from the deflated boobs, which I intend to hoist up with the help of an expensive bra I can't afford.

I'm carrying Nancy down the aisle as well, which to be honest will be the ultimate distraction, as she's wearing a similar dress minus the low neck, and looks totally ace now her hair has grown and is all curly.

I imagine her as Danny de Vito and me as Arnie. A kind of modern day Twins of the wedding world.

The deflated boobs are partly to do with cutting back so much on the feeds. Since she started taking the bottle, I don't give her breastmilk at all in the day. Just sometimes first thing in the morning, and before bedtime. The days of sporadically having a chest like Jordan are well and truly over.

Although on the whole, Nancy has finally embraced the idea of being weaned, and doesn't clamp her mouth shut when confronted with a spoon.

This doesn't stop her from pulling up my top in search of milk when she's tired.

Which isn't great when I'm holding her on my hip and chatting to someone I haven't seen for yonks in a cafe in town.

Especially as I've stopped wearing the emergency concealing vest tops under all my clothes, so anyone who's bothered to look, gets an eye full of post baby belly and stretch marks.

I don't know whether it's the move to grown up food, the holiday in the lakes, or just the age she is, but daily she seems to be accomplishing new things. Or trying stuff out, not quite getting it, then trying the next day and nailing it.

Like crawling up the three stairs to the bathroom. I watched in wondered and horror as she got her knee up on the first step, slipped back down, and then attempted it again without getting upset. This time successfully.

She's also mastered standing up in her cot and leaning over to bang the door, when she wakes at 5.30am. I was impressed the first day, but by day three this development was getting a bit annoying.

But my favourite new thing that she's started doing is watching the washing machine like the telly.

She crawls over, sits up on her knees, puts both of her hands on the glass, and watches, mesmerised. Regularly coming back in stages for the whole cycle.

So much so that I've changed the programme from the 30 minute fast one, which to be honest, might be better for the environment, but was just wetting and making our clothes smell clean instead of getting any of the grub out, to the full 1 hour 45, so she can get maximum enjoyment.

Maybe that's the secret.

At 10 months, Nancy has cracked what I haven't worked out in 33 years.

Don't multi-task.

It just results in frizzy hair and burnt boobs.

Just do one thing at a time and keep going at it till you get it right.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Week 43- family holidays, total gridlock and The Railway Children

We've had our first family holiday in the Lake District. With record breaking amounts of rain. I know that the lakes is infamous for being wet. But this was taking the piss.

The drive up was bad enough. With traffic jams on most of the motorway, it was taking the best part of an hour to get 10 miles. And then the sheet rain started. And Nancy did a poo. And the exhaust pipe was making a kind of farty noise. And it turned out the AA membership had lapsed the previous month.

Ulrika, Ju and Ebba had set off before us and were planning to warm up the ping pong table in the games room of the cottage, which we were, to be honest, more excited about than the epic scenery of the lakes.

Our own cottage. Our own games room. Our own babies. This was like being our own parents.

As we were in yet more stationary traffic somewhere outside of Birmingham, Ulrika rang up to say they were nearly there.

Half an hour later as we had moved approximately 20 metres, she phoned to say the road to the cottage had flooded, and even the Tesco delivery man had literally jumped ship, having left his van marooned in the middle of the road/ river, and got his mate to pick him up.

As they drove round the neighbouring villages looking for an alternative place to stay for the night, it started to feel like an atheist version of the nativity play.

Meanwhile, having given Nancy her dinner at yet another service station, we decided to throw in the towel and stay at a Travelodge, and get back on the road the next day.

But it turned out even they were fully booked. Who stays at a Travelodge off the M6 on a Friday night? Loads of people, as it happens.

Having stopped at a third service station, to be told there was no room at the inn, I started to despair. Wedging Nancy back into a slightly too small car seat after each disappointment was proving a bit tricky too.

So I did what I am best at.

I burst into tears at the receptionist at Kendal Travelodge, and told her we'd travelled all the way from Brighton. That it was our first family holiday. That our cottage was flooded and our best friends were aimlessly driving round the Lake District trying to find somewhere to stay. That I had a 9 month old baby. That it was already 2 hours past her bedtime. And that, after the best part of 11 hours in the car, I was losing the will to live.

So she said she'd phone her friend, Mary, in the next town, who had a B and B, and see if she had any room.

Which she did.

And Ulrika, Ju and Ebba had, by this point, found a hotel not far from the cottage, so it was all looking up.

We drank the wine we'd bought to cheers our first night on hols, out of the china tea cups in the hotel room, eating Dairylea Dunkers from Spar for tea, while Nancy slept in the travel cot at the end of the bed, and I thought how good she is to us. How little she complains. Unless something is genuinely up. And how I wish I could be a bit more like her, really.

The next morning, Mary, the proprietor of the B and B claimed the bad traffic was due to The Great North Swim, which was to take place over the weekend and had been cancelled due to the weather. Ben quietly disputed that that was the reason for total gridlock outside Dudley.

 But that's B and B breakfast chat.

At least we didn't have to pretend that we were about to walk up Scafell Pike while tucking into a full English, which is what we used to do pre-Nancy when having a night away in the lakes.

So. 24 hours later than expected, and collectively 200 quid down, we eventually got to our cottage. And to our delight, so had the Tesco delivery man, so with a metric shit load of food and wine, we were ready to start our holidays.

And what an ace place to stay. Open fires. Magnificent views of rolling hills. A selection of rogue DVDs, ranging from the obvious, (Shawshank Redemption,) to the nostalgic, (The Railway Children,) to the obscure, (Dune.)

And Nancy and Ebba had their first taste of the great outdoors. Strapped to their Dads, and immersed under several layers of waterproofs, we explored the gentle side of the Lake District.

The rain got worse, despite the weather forecast's predictions of sun. We kind of half expected it to be a bit crap weather, but this was apocalyptic. You'd be royally pissed off with 7 days of continuous rain in Malaga, but a soaking wet walk with Nancy and Ebba snug in baby anoraks, on the way to a pub, isn't the end of the world.

I think we all comfortably slipped into being grown ups on holiday.

Unselfconsciously wearing walking boots. Planning what you're going to be eating for dinner while having breakfast, and drinking your body weight in wine in the evening.

And Nancy seemed to come on no end.

She started chatting. A lot. Mainly saying 'baabum baabum baabum.'

And we finally had to admit she'd outgrown the car seat we'd brought her home from the hospital in and cough up for one that faces forward.

Looking at her as we drove along, (because I was the passenger the entire journey apart from a 45 minute stint on the equally rediculous drive home of 12 hours,) I thought how much she looks like a little girl now.

With two front teeth and a full head of hair, she is definetely no longer a baby.

And that excites me and breaks my heart in equal measures.