Sunday, 25 March 2012

Week 29- lying to weight watchers, mardy lifeguards and waterproof pants

These lovely warm days are a bit of a double edged sword. On one hand it's so brilliant being able to sit outside with Nancy, go for walks without taking a coat, and hang the washing out outside (oh my God, I'm totally turning into my own mum.)

The flip side is getting out your white, mottled, flabby skin that hasn't seen the light of day since this time last year. I'd just announced I was pregnant last March, so, let's be honest, no one was going to notice all the lumps and bumps then, as its difficult to tell where the fat stops and the baby starts.

It was bad enough that I got a fringe cut too soon after having Nancy without shifting enough of the baby weight , looking more Dawn French than Jessie J. But a photograph of me on the beach taken recently made me realise that I can't use Nancy as an excuse anymore.

She's 6 months old now. That's 6 months of 4 rounds of toast with nutella. Of getting the bus to the stop I can see from my house. That's 3 rubbish runs in 6 months, and 11 goes on the Slendertone before convincing myself I didn't have the time, even though all you need to do is strap it to yourself and press the on button.

So I'm taking the power back. I'm going to fess up to online weight watchers about my true weight, and cut back on the peanut trackers, because even if my dad used to eat them to be healthy, he was about to walk up Snowdon, not settle down to Murder on The Nile.

And Nancy and I are taking up swimming.

I also think she could probably do with a bit more stimulation. Watching Sherlock Holmes 2 at the pictures is definitely more for me than her. She doesn't care how hot Robert Downy Jnr is. And being jiggled up and down for two hours in semi darkness is probably not that much of a laugh for her anymore. Or ever if I'm totally honest with myself.


Our first attempt at swimming was less than successful. Well it went OK in so far as Nancy didn't freak out when submerged in the water. But Ben and I were so anxious by the time we got to the baby pool that it was all we could do to dunk her in and get out again.

The woman on the desk as we came in told us the little pool would shut in 20 minutes, so it was up to us if we wanted to go in. Which we did as we'd been building up to it all day.

So we lurked around in the changing room noisily complaining about people without babies hogging the family changing facilities. One eventually became free, a family of five- two parents, two toddlers and a baby, emerged.

We squeezed Nancy into the tiniest pair of waterproof pants, and me into the tiny Asda swimsuit, only to be stopped on our way in by a member of staff telling us that the pool was just about to shut for swimming lessons, even though there was still 5 minutes before the 20 minute curfew. So Ben distracted her, pointing this out at great length, whilst  Nancy and I darted into the water.

If it was a film, this would have been the slow motion crescendo with a 'Chariots of Fire' soundtrack, as we entered the baby pool, step by step, for the first time, followed closely by Ben, who'd shaken off the woman.

But once there, we had about 5 seconds of splashing around before the lifeguard blew his whistle. In the film version of this, his voice would be totally slowed down, distorted, and full of panic...'everyooooooone ooooooout the pooooool,' (we were the only people in there) 'eeeeempty the pooooool, it's swiiiiiiming lessons nooooooooow. Geeeet oooooooout.'

I think the whistle was a bit over the top to be honest, seeing as he could just have squatted down and asked us.

And then it was the whole thing in reverse. Moaning about the family changing facilities. Getting out of tiny costumes/ pants. (Turns out you just rip off the waterproof nappies, not carefully pull them down and save them, even if they're full of wee, for the next time.)


I'm not convinced this is going to make me into the next Duncan Goodhew, but at least it saves Nancy from watching Final Destination 8.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Week 28- trance music in 2027, wierdo parents and bowl haircuts

Nancy is six months old. She's no longer a little baby. She's now a baby who before long will be crawling, and not long after that, walking. Then talking. Then fast forward not that long to school. Picking out her own clothes to wear. Friends she confides in instead of me. Then boyfriends. Then a whole massive world of trouble with hormones and arguments and me being the most embarrassing thing in her life.

I can't bear it.

At the moment Nancy looks at me like there's no one else in her world. I can make her smile just by wiggling her around, and she laughs without fail if I blow a raspberry on her tummy. Its all so uncomplicated. I've got a tiny best friend who thinks I'm the acest. And I don't want that to change. For her to be hurt by anyone, or upset, or let down. I want her to always look at me like I'm the centre of her world, because I want always to protect her. From everything.

I'll end up one of those weirdo parents who never lets their child do anything without them. Try and become mates with Nancy's friends. Go to gigs with them and pretend I'm well into trance or whatever the music of choice will be in 2027. Be the first to volunteer to go on school trips as the extra helper. I'll try anything to be the house that all the kids want to come to hang out in after school. Bribe them with sweets when they're young and booze when they're older. And the other mums won't get it. They wont understand what secret I have to making our home so cool. The secret of sheer desperation.

It will start with small pushes for independence. Like pulling out the hair clip I've put in her hair. And end up with not wanting to go on holiday with us in favour of going to Malaga with her mates.

The first time I remember thinking I wish someone had asked my opinion was when dad took me and my sister to get our hair cut when I was 6 and she was 3. He instructed the hairdresser on a style without consultation, and we both came out with bowlies. Must have been pretty awful for the hairdresser as these two little girls burst into tears at the sight of their own hairdos. But must have been even worse for dad as he realised that his babies weren't babies anymore.

Nancy's outgrown her crib. In fairness in comes as no surprise. The other morning I found her asleep with her arms and legs poking out through all of the slats like one of The Twits. Her big cot is in her own room which is the next step, but I can't stand the thought of her moving out of our room. I love listening to her breathing when she's asleep. Or sneaking a quick peep at her if I nip to the loo in the middle of the night.

So we bought her a travel cot as a buffer as its big enough that she can sleep starfish style, but small enough that it'll squeeze into our bedroom. The woman in Mothercare said babies can't stay in them for any length of time. That 2 weeks is the max.

So I've got 14 days to get my head around her growing up.

Or buy a bigger house.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Week 27- becoming a local at the health food shop and creeping out strangers

Being baby tired is brand new heights of knackered. Its not like 'I've been out till 2 drinking then had to get up for work' tired or 'I drove from Leeds to Cornwall and only stopped once' tired. It's more of a slow burner, low impact to start with, then creeps up on you and makes you feel like you're going mental when you least expect it.

And if someone shows you the smallest kindness when you're in the throws of feeling a bit wobbly, they quickly become prompted to saint status.

It was after a particularly sleepless night that I decided I loved the woman at the health food shop at the bottom of the road a little bit.

I went in for a smell more than anything else. And to listen to her as she chats about childcare for her great granddaughter. I ended up picking up some Fairtrade bananas, some brown pasta and some carob. None of these things we needed, in fact we've now got more bananas than her at home, and carob tastes like guinea pig treats. But when I got to the counter I realised I had no money, and she said she couldn't accept cards as it was less than a fiver.

I didn't want to get anything else, cos I didn't really want what I'd got in the first place. So she just said come back and pay for it tomorrow. Asked me to write my name on the top of the receipt as a prompt for her, and that was it. I'm finally a local at a health food shop! She trusts me enough to walk out with pretend chocolate I haven't paid for. And she knows me well enough to know I'll be back tomorrow.

This is a new level of being a local. I used to hate the fact that everyone knew everything you were doing in our village when I was growing up. That you couldn't get away with anything. The neighbours would phone your mum when she was away for the weekend to let her know you'd got boys round. The woman in the post office would dob you in for spending your dinner money on sweets there. And you just knew the man in the paper shop would tell your dad you were buying fags, if he could ever remember which one your dad was.

But this was brilliant. Like being part of a community. Having a local shop. An organic, seasonal vegtabled, smells like you're healthy the moment you walk through the door, weird honey for 17 quid, more seeds that you can shake a stick at, local shop.

I don't know whether she'll do it again, mind, because when giving back her pen after writing my name I held her hand for a little bit too long and said thank you almost in a whisper, not intentionally, but it probably sounded a bit too emotionally charged. Possibly even a bit creepy.

And I think I might have also looked like I might cry. Which didn't help the situation much as far as playing it cool goes.

Anyway I mulled the situation over on the walk to Boots on London Road. Is it too soon to drop the £3.36 off when we pass the shop on the way home? Should I give it a day to show that I am actually much more chilled out than the hand holding fiasco led her to believe? Would it be best to go in there just with the right amount, or buy more stuff and complicate the matter further?

I was still half thinking about it on the return walk home while flicking through the pictures I'd picked up of Nancy, when I smacked straight into her with the pram as she was changing the notices outside her shop.

In a fluster I pressed £4.50 into her hand, told her to keep the change like I was some kind of city banker in a swish cocktail bar, and then bolted home.

Thinking about it, she probably will give me a tab. What with those kind of profits.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Week 26- first aid with fat men and poo in your face

The only thing worse than being poorly with a baby, is being poorly with a poorly baby. I didn't used to mind being ill, obviously not if it was the proper full on shitting, puking kind of ill, but a worse than a household cold so you can legitimately be off work, but not so bad that it was actual prickly skin flu, wasn't the end of the world. It meant you could justifiably lie off on the sofa watching Jezzer Kyle followed by This Morning, Loose Women, Neighbours, Home and Away, have a snooze and wake up for Diagnosis Murder. Then it's the home stretch to TV you'd watch when you get in from work, a bath, change of pyjamas, an early night, and you're usually back to full health the next day.

But both of you being poorly is more of an Anika Rice challenge. In our case, an upset tummy with the greenest poos I have ever seen for poor Nancy, and for me, a headache, earache, and puking, which hasn't happened since New Years Day 2011.

But possibly the lowest point had to be when changing a particularly runny nappy, Nancy put her foot in it, then quick as lightning, kicked me in the face, or 'shit kicked' me as my friend called it. It was strangely reassuring  that there was a phrase for it, that I wasn't the only person who'd had to wet wipe diarrhoea from their top lip.

I go to the shop at the top of the road and buy paracetamol for me.'Headache is it?' asks the man, looking at the tablets. 'Yes.' 'And a cup of tea?' looking at the milk. 'Yes.' I'm pleased to not be doing a big shop or this could take all day.

But Nancy can't tell me what's going on with her, and this is where I guess I'm starting to develop the 'mum instinct.' Going through a checklist of stuff I vaguely remember from my own mum, combined with bits I half remember the midwife telling me when my stitches were so sore that that was all I could think about, and only small bits of information seeped through the pain barrier.

Is she dehydrated? What's the fontanelle like? ( I still feel so nervous it makes me feel a bit sick every time I touch it.) Is she doing lots of wees? Has she got a temperature? In the end I normally ring NHS direct, who's number I now know off by heart, even though I can't even memorise Ben's mobile.

So I'm going to go on a first aid course at the hospital, because it dawned on me that actually I don't have a clue if things ever, God forbid, got serious. I'm in charge of the life of a tiny little person, and I wouldn't know what to do if something happened. I can give her all my love, cuddle her when she cries, sing 'Shake Your Ass' at her while jiggling her about to make her laugh, but don't know if I would go into total panic mode if something was properly wrong.

I did a first aid course when I lived in Leeds but it was more an excuse to get out of work for 4 days. I spend the majority of the time being partnered up with this really overweight landlord from Dewsbury, who sweated loads, even though it was December and the course was being run in a portacabin with no central heating. I had to move his arms and legs to get him into the recovery position about a hundred times, while he pretended to have had a heart attack, which was quite convincing given how wheezy he'd get when I attempted to roll him onto his side.

But all the first aid to do with babies was totally off my radar. I lived with my best friend up north, our idea of a refrained Friday night was only three bottles of wine to share before tea, smoking a pouch of rollies each, sitting outside the pub next to our house on the walk home from work. I lived on a diet of fried eggs on crumpets with tomato ketchup for one of my five a day. Did my weekly shop at Budgens and tried to make it through the month with enough money left over to buy yet another must have dress from New Look to go out in.

In my mid 20's, I looked at mums my age with a slight air of pity, as they couldn't go and get smashed like me all weekend. So being presented with a plastic baby doll and giving it CPR, you might as well have given me an aeroplane and asked me to fly it.

But now, as I change Nancy's nappy for the tenth time that day, check her forehead and have a play with her before trying to get her to go to sleep, I think, OK, Im not exactly  Dr Quinn Medicine Woman, but we're doing OK, and although I'm only catching half of what Karl Kennedy is saying on telly, I wouldn't change this for anything. (Well, apart from perhaps being covered with my daughter's green poo, could probably live without that.)