Sunday, 26 August 2012

Week 51- gastric bands, king size Mars bars and the last breastfeed

I have stopped breast feeding Nancy. And I feel disproportionally emotional about it.

Especially given that she's got six teeth now, so it's a bit like being attacked by a human version of one of the grabber machines on Brighton Pier. And that coupled with her pinching my other boob, and holding the skin tightly in her fist while feeding, was starting to make it an all round torturous experience.

I guess I feel sad because, really, she's no longer dependent on me. Anyone can give her milk from a bottle, or feed her cottage cheese.

But I was the only one to breastfeed her. Obviously. This isn't The Hand That Rocks The Cradle.

Saturday was the last feed. I tried to lock it memory, but it was 5.30am and she was doing some kind of downward dog move while clamped down on my boob, so to be honest I was quite relieved when she'd finished.

But then it was over. And I realised I will never feed her like that again.

I just need to remind myself that it's not like it was when she was tiny, and I used to feed her till she nodded off at the pictures. All warm with a milk drunk face.

Now she kind of takes aim and throws her head at me, often ending in tears if she misses and catches a rib instead.

And she's going to be one in two weeks. So it seems like the right time for her.

One of the consequences of not breastfeeding, is that I obviously don't need as many calories.

So I think I'm going to have to either crank up the number of minutes I sit off with the slendertone electrocuting me, buy some kind of horrendous fitness video where you watch a Z list celebrity who actually had a gastric band tell you how to do plunges, or resume the jog of shame in my pyjamas around the park.

While visiting the in-laws I had a bash on their WII fitness game. Well, I tried to. Nancy went mental every time I stood on the plastic white thing, so I ended up having to hold her while air hoola hooping. And standing on one leg was a bit tricky, while the computer worked out my fitness age.

Anyway. Turns out its in the region of 48. Which isn't ideal, seeing as I'm 34 in a couple of weeks.

I was also going to write a strongly worded email to Weight Watchers about how ineffective their website was, and how, I'm actually fatter, thanks to them, (and a bit thanks to the volume of cheese I eat and the 'glass' of red wine a night, that's out of a vase sized vessel so is more like 3/4 a bottle.)

I was kind of sticking to the points they'd recommended. But getting heavier and heavier each week.

And then I realised that it's because I'm eating as if I've got a new born baby. One that needs feeding every hour, instead of a token gesture in the morning. And I hadn't altered the settings on my profile.

So now it turns out I'm meant to be eating half what I have been doing.

Jeez.

It's almost worth having another baby just so I can eat a guilt free king size Mars bar a day.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Week 50- date cake, cheap birthdays and Emily from Coronation Street

Nancy will be one in three weeks time. I will have a one year old daughter. This, somehow, feels far more grown up than having a baby, even though we're talking about the same person.

Maybe it's because she feels like a proper little girl now, with her own take on life.

She chats to me. A high pitched 'ning ning ning' for when she's a bit pissed off, or I'm not doing something right, like feeding her yoghurt too slowly.

And 'yama yama yama' for when all's good with the world.

I realise that the excuses I used for buggering things up when she was a little baby, don't really apply any more. I should be able to get out the house with her in twenty minutes because, let's be honest, if we can't get it together now, we're never going to.

I think now it's not about finding ways to cope with lack of sleep and no social life anymore. Although I would like to go out for the odd pint now and then without it being such a long time in between that the cost of a beer has gone up by about a quid.

It's about learning how to function as a family. For the rest of our life.

And thinking about all of us. Instead of just me.

It's my birthday three days after Nancy's. And usually I make an absolutely massive deal about it. Telling people about it about eight weeks in advance. Gentle reminders to start with. And then just going on about it loads in the three weeks beforehand.

So this is kind of the beginning of my aggressive birthday marketing campaign, which ends with about four different events, going out for tea, to the pub, maybe the beach, and a picnic during the day.

But I haven't even thought about what to do this year. This isn't because I've become more selfless. It just seems that Nancy's birthday is a bigger reason to celebrate, as we've got through a whole year unscathed and still, on the whole, smiling.

Thing is, I'm not too sure what you're meant to do for a one year olds birthday. And what you buy for a little person, who really, isn't going to remember.

I'm not very good at cooking, we have a flat the size of a generous doctors waiting room, and we're on a crippling budget.

Hen dos. No problem. I've organised two brill ones and another in the pipeline. Surprise birthdays as well, I'm rocking at that.

But is inviting a load of your mates with kids to the park, which you'd probably normally do anyway, considered an OK birthday do, or is it just a bit tight and unimaginative?

There's so much more to organise as well. Sending out proper invites instead of just inviting people via Facebook. Making a cake that doesn't taste gross but is made up mainly of dates and dried apricots, and other disappointing stuff for a birthday cake. And bagsying a good spot in the park before all the other univited parents and kids turn up for a play.

I know she won't remember it. But I will.

Normally, birthdays come and it's a bit difficult to remember what you've done in the last year, unless you've moved, or got a new job, or had a lovely holiday. But even then, there's sometimes a bit of  'was that this year or last year, I can't remember...'

But I know EXACTLY what I've done over the last year. I know how many times I've seen my mum, how many trips we've taken to London. I remember the number of times I've been swimming, with and without Nancy. I know exactly how much weight I've lost. And put back on again. I know the plays I've seen, the clothes I've bought, the books I've read.

But mainly, I know that I've spent everyday with a brand new person. One that we made. The thought of which still makes my brain feel like its going to explode if I think about it too much.

I know how her face has changed from a scrunched up mewing baby, with wrinkly fingers that flex and unfurl like fern leaves. To a little girl who head butts me affectionately, laughs when you tickle her, and has six gappy teeth and a hairdo that looks a bit like its been blowdryed and set, like Emily's from Coronation Street.

I've gone from having no structure and no real plans past the weekend. To not leaving the house without the changing bag, two bottles of formula, an emergency bag of raisins, the rain cover and factor 50+ sun cream.

I've got a new boss who's less than a year old. Whose birthday will be more important than mine for the rest of my life.

And she doesn't even know it yet.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Week 49- family camping, disposable BBQs and boxes of wine

So, our first trip camping with Nancy.

Ben and I are quite hardy campers. By that I mean it's always been the cheap holiday option. Not that we know what we're doing.

Our style was more a case of pitch your tent up anywhere as quickly as you can, so you can crack open the beers. Don't bother with a sleeping bag, just take your duvet off the bed, and use your coat rolled up as a pillow.

Get too drunk to care that it's not pegged in properly and the canvas is only about four inches above your head.

Wake up in the baking heat, totally dehydrated, in the clothes from the previous night, smelling a bit of stale booze, fags and bonfires, and see if a shower can make you feel normal again.

Before realising that you haven't brought any food and the disposable BBQ was used the previous night.

Family camping is a whole new planning experience.

Firstly, we had to buy about two hundred quids worth of stuff before we'd even left Brighton. A stove. Sleeping bags. A cool box. Those canvas chairs you can put your drinks it the arm of. And a tent. Cos a travel cot won't fit into a self erecting two man dome tent it turns out.

And you have to think about what to eat. Plan meals. Buy boxes of wine instead of bottles as they last longer. Put the ice packs in the freezer for the cool box. The kind of practical stuff that I have vague recollections of my own parents doing before the annual two week camping holidays in France.

The car looked like we were moving house instead of going away for two nights, with Nancy packed in with stuff piled high around her.

We were camping with family, who have children a couple of years older than Nancy, so it meant we could see how the experts do it. And work out how we make the transition from piss head campers to family camping.

Turns out that the principles are still the same, except you wash up everything you've used that night, and brush your teeth before bed.

I wish I hadn't shown off that I only now breastfeed Nancy a bit in the morning, as experience has proved that I'm asking for it to go tits up. And at 2am, as Nancy screamed the campsite down, the only thing I could think it do was feed her to sleep.

As she nodded off on my arm, I couldn't do the sleeping bag up again without waking her. So, half frozen, dead armed, bursting for a wee, with Ben contentedly snoring beside me, the thought did cross my mind that we had a perfectly good flat with a roof and a comfy bed.

But, seeing Nancy playing with her three year old twin cousins in a field, made it all worth it. Her cousins call her 'babycousinNancy,' (one word) and dote on her. And in return she laughs with them and let's them try to pick her up.

They also kindly fed her their M and M's, but I managed to retrieve most of them from her mouth, sans the colouring.

I realise now that the reason I was brought up on a strict diet of thrice yearly camping trips during school holidays, is not because my parents necessarily enjoyed being in such close proximity to me and my sister. Squatting down and cooking from a calor gas stove every evening.

But because at a tenner a night for a family of four, you can't afford not to.

So now it's going to be camptastic from now on.

And Nancy will grow to love it, as I did. Because. Let's face it, we're not going to be able to afford a holiday abroad for the next eighteen years any other way.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Week 48- old school dance offs, baby zumba and 87 year old pals

We've started a baby zumba class. They're two words you don't often hear in the same sentence. Baby. Zumba.

Unless it's, 'I was thinking about doing a class, as I haven't done any exercise in the best part of two years, and I was toying with zumba. Mind you, I don't know if I can stand shaking all the wobbly bits I've developed since having a baby.'

The' baby' bit of the class was that you brought one along, and they sat on the floor while you had a dance.

I don't think we'd thought this part through, as Ulrika and I hadn't brought anything for Nancy and Ebba to play with, so ended up giving them our water bottles to push round the floor.

There were about ten mums, and we all stood around apprehensively, split into two aesthetic camps- those who'd gone out and bought a whole new sports outfit, Lyra top, leggings, headband. The works.

And those of us that were wearing what we usually sleep in.

But as the dance coach cranked up Beyonce's Crazy in Love, we were suddenly a team, training for the dance off of our lives, in a kind of Step Up, back street gym style.

And it was brilliant. Like being at a disco, except it was in the middle of the day in a church hall, and I had Nancy with me.

Nancy was the first to start crying, as one of the other babies hit her in the face with a rattle. And like dominoes, one by one they all started. Mums stopped mid routine to pick up their child, and attempted to shake their shoulders provocatively, while an 11 month old pulled their top up and stuck a finger up their nose.

The best bit though had to be when the class was split in two, and we had an old school dance off.

I totally got into the zone. Imagining steam coming from drains, flickering street lights and distant sounds of police cars, as we battled it out to see who was top dog of the St Michael's Church Hall.

One half of the mums were instructed to give it some attitude, and threaten the other 'dancers' space, accompanied by Dizzy Rascal's Bonkers. Only for the other mums to then reciprocate by ass dancing in response.

In reality, it looked more like a Jeremy Kyle esque chav fight, than a Jets and Sharks scene. As if all the mums had come out to have a row in the street, bouncing a baby on one hip, while giving the talk to the hand.

Ben wondered if we should be going at all. If it wouldn't have been more appropriate to don a white outfit, get the roller blades out, and take a dog for a walk on the sea front while holding a balloon.

Because after nearly 20 months, my periods have started again.

Now, that's a part of your body going back to normal I could do without. Actually, it's more the emotional stuff that goes with it.

The days leading up to it, I thought I was going mental. I couldn't stop crying. About anything. And I couldn't understand why. Everything just felt out of control.

Now, some things were justifiable.

Who didn't have a bit of a blub when Britain won the women's rowing? And you'd have to be made of stone not to get a bit teary to some of Steve Wright's dedications on Love Hour.

But forgetting to empty tissues out of a pair of jeans when they went through the wash had me literally inconsolable.

And I found a letter from an old lady I'd met on a train. We write to each other as pen pals, in fact she's the only person I really write to. Which is a bit weird, I guess, as she's 87, and I only met her for two hours between Kings Cross and Peterborough.

Anyway, I realised it'd been months since she'd written. And I started panicking she was dead.

And then I couldn't stop crying.

Then two days later the old periodicals start again and it all made sense.

Mind, I hope this is just a back log of 20 months of hormone related blubbing, and not a sign of things to come.

Or it's going to a right laugh in our house every four weeks.