Lessons in learning

Surprise surprise, talking is what Osian is best at.
Although I hate all that yummy-mummy make my child so freaking clever he pisses everyone off rubbish, I do enjoy teaching him new stuff. So today I thought we’d have a crack at colours.

ME: (Holding up a yellow ball) Yel-low, Yeahhhh-lowwwww.
HIM: (Frowning) No. Ball.

A fair point well made Osian bach.

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Sprog abroad

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Holidaying with a one and a bit year old, in no particular order…

1. It is BUSY. Even sitting down is busy. I have become a climbing frame. And it’s not in the least bit embarrassing that Osian uses the ‘squashier’ bits of me to gain purchase….

2. You are now that annoying person on the plane with the baby

3. An ice lolly will buy you time for one pint

4. The Scandinavian family in the apartment below will look at you in disgust as you bring your sleeping ratbag home at 11 p.m.

5. Food = surprises. Order them a spaghetti bolognese that they usually love and they’ll throw it on the floor and eat your calamares. Order them pulpo because they liked yours the other day and they’ll refuse to eat anything except chips

6. Shit shops for tourists full of shit are gooood

7. You will religiously, fanatically, hysterically put suntan lotion on them (factor 4000) yet still be convinced they will burn. You will forget to put your own on, and look a right twat come evening time

8. Something you think is going to be REALLY FUN will last three seconds because they think it’s REALLY SHIT (I think this probably spans the entire parent-child-on holiday relationship?)

9. Everything is a faff

10. You now have the opportunity to buy all the inflatable crap from the beach shops with impunity. Most importantly, you can get that child’s fishing net you always secretly wanted

11. Other parents will stare at your child. They are assessing if yours is cuter. Be safe in the biased knowledge that yours most definitely is the cutest

12. Some raisins will buy you enough time for one cocktail

13. Your child will become obsessed with something weird like a vending machine. This will be amusing at the start of the holiday, but will cause 3 mile detours by the end

14. Bread sticks will buy you time for one glass of cava

15. Get saving for the next one because it’s addictive going away with a busy, obsessive,   unpredictable lunatic

One

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Ok we did it, we’re here, Osian’s first birthday.

MASSIVE clichés but I cannot believe how quickly this year has gone, how much I’ve redefined my understanding of the word love, how different my outlook on life the universe and everything is and how happy, insane, focused, pragmatic, disorganised, ordered and chaotic I am now.

Obviously it’s a time of reflection (although that’s quite difficult as the baby-insanity erases your memory).

This year has been filled with, feeding, burping, bathing, walking, bouncing, teething, babbling, laughing (hysterically), crying (hysterically), despairing, arguing, rejoicing.

The bits I thought would be easy have been difficult, the bits I thought would be difficult have been easy. Just when I thought I’d cracked it, it changed. Just when I thought I loved it I hated it.
Just when I thought I hated it I was ready to give up work and get on these amazing benefits that seem to be so readily available according to a section of the press, have another 10 kids and get a horse.

I have to say I LIKE the baby stage, I mourn its passing, I wasn’t bored by it and will miss it. I think it’s become very fashionable / cool mummy to say,
‘Oh I don’t like the baby bit, booooooring! Give ’em to me when they’re about 18 months’.

However, of course, many parents do hate the baby bit and are glad when language and doing things come a bit more readily.

Me? I can see the future, and it’s red-faced and on the floor of Lidl beating it’s little fists and wailing, LOUDLY.

Going out……mark 2

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This week I have been mostly getting mad.

This country hates babies. Or new mums. Or both. Or, they like your cute little bundle enough as long as you don’t want to feed or change them anywhere near their establishment thank you very much.

We are so much better equipped to be out and about than we were (reminder from my mum!) BUT now there’s no excuse it’s beginning to wind me up when you’re treated like you’re being demanding if you want a baby change or (horror of horrors!) food heating up.
‘No sorry it’s company policy, we can’t heat it up’

Why the fuck not?????

Because we have evolved into a vile litigious society that will sue at the drop of a hat, and therefore companies are so terrified of being held liable for you burning your baby’s mouth that they have become hysterical about heating food up.
‘Hot spots’ they tell you, with a sort of ‘do you really want to risk that, or are you a GOOD mum?’ smile. 

Well I’d just like to be able to feed this boy who is teetering on the edge of the hunger abyss some warm food before he becomes hysterical and won’t eat a thing. I’d like it if you might be so bold as to guess that I check every spoonful against my lips so I know it’s not lava-hot. I’d like to be trusted enough to know to stir food that has been heated in a microwave so that there are no hot as the sun spots. I’d like to be presumed to be not such an absolute arsehole that I would sue somewhere for MY mistake. ……too much to ask? Apparently so.

I’ve flounced out of countless places muttering, ‘ridiculous’ knowing that because they’re working for a faceless chain they really don’t give a fuck.

How about a nappy change then? Basic you’d think but no, again too much to ask. I get it if places don’t want to encourage the noise and mess-making mob into their establishment, but haven’t quite got the balls to say ‘no children’. That’s their perogative. But I do expect a council-run community venue to be not only well equipped but positively ecstatic that you and your baby want to utilise their service. The library for instance.

Now books are close to my heart. My mum loves books (my own personal librarian) I love books, I want Osian to love books. I’m looking forward to visiting the library with him so we can choose a book, excited about taking it home and reading it.
(This may, however hark back to my last blog and be a corkingly ridiculous preconception. He’ll hate books and whinge all round the library until I let him go to the park and eat mud)
HOWEVER, I expect to have that option open to me. For it to be an easy place to take a not-yet potty trained little human.

What I found instead was a scruffy, probably dirty, foam bursting out change mat stuffed behind a bin in the disabled toilet. I was also asked if I could, ‘take the dirty nappy with me’ and when I said no told that she’d have to, ‘let the caretaker know’ with a very disgruntled and disgusted wrinkling of the nose.

Perhaps they should have done that the previous day because it stank of dirty nappies in there already anyway. I feel sorry (and angry on their behalf) for any disabled visitors to the library.

So i got mad, now to get even.

I will now be expecting any food outlet to heat baby food up on their hob. If they don’t have a hob, what was I doing eating in there in the first place? No hot spots, no problem surely?
As for inexcusable changing facilities, on advice from a trusted friend I will be changing Osian’s nappy on the library table, or even better the counter. Cheers Kim!

All sorted, great.
Now who wants to come out for lunch and a trip to the library?

Priceless Preconceptions

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Ah the things we believe when we’re pregnant. The beautiful or horrendous premonitions that fill our hormone-packed minds as we waddle about and observe the world filled with children and parents around us.

Whether we think we’re carrying the devil incarnate or a beautiful little angel baby, we ain’t got a clue.

‘I thought I’d be wandering around the garden sniffing flowers and reading poetry, while my baby lay contentedly…. ‘

Priceless. The mum in question did of course spend most of her time doing just that, honest.

As I write this (and rewrite this, and edit this, and no doubt as I publish this) my little bundle of snot is sleeping on my chest, about to be gingerly laid down next to me whilst I pray he doesn’t wake up.
Co-sleeping as it’s called. EVIL! I hear you cry! How COULD you let your baby sleep in bed with you?? Yep, I used to think it was a stupid thing to do too. I wondered why you would risk it. I thought it was ridiculous to set up such a bad habit that would be a nightmare to break.
I hadn’t had a baby who wouldn’t sleep anywhere else yet.

There are times when, for everyone’s sanity the best place for the wriggling, wowling wonder is in my bed. I am still harbouring ‘not me’ thoughts about this happening when he’s older (as in 2, not 14, don’t panic) but I am definitely prepared for a U-turn as fast as a Tory twonk close to an election.

Then there’s the – ‘NO dummy for MY child’ brigade. I didn’t suffer from this one as I’d witnessed enough spinning top parents to know that I may very well need one. That and the fact I have no problem whatsoever with them.

All power to you if you hate the sight of them and don’t want to use them, but I’d maaaaaybe keep quiet until that little bundle of fury who just wants to be comforted has arrived.
I haven’t got enough hands or fingers on which to count the amount of friends who were determined to go dummy commando, but who now have children happily chomping on a dummy aged 5, with the parents handily suffering from baby-selective memory.

On the flip side though, the presumption that all babies love dummies. Horror of horrors, some don’t want one! What?! I thought they were all itching to get their pudgy little mits on one? Apparently not so. Some spit it out and then fix you with a, ‘so what do you think about that then?’ baby stare. Cue thumbsucking for the next 18 years.

Next, The sling or as it’s now called, ‘baby wearing’. Yes your baby is an accessory, didn’t you realise? A little like a brooch, or a hand bag…..
Now I quite like a sling, but that’s because Osian happens to be happy in it. This is not the case with all babies. Some fucking hate it and will let their feelings be known. Loudly.
So ‘baby wearing’ may not work out as you expected it.
A friend, whilst pregnant excitedly told me that the best thing to do is to have your baby in a sling, next to you all the time, earth mother stylee. This means, they’re content, you can get on with jobs etc etc.
One baby later. The sling lay dormant and the house looked like she’d been burgled. Fabulous, love it, tidying up at the bottom of the list where it should be.

I had preconceptions of the ‘type’ of mum I would be, cool, chilled out, not precious or panicky. A mum who was happy to pass her baby to anyone who fancied a cuddle. Enter baby eczema meaning that my wiley little bundle can rub his head on any unsuspecting individual in a matter of seconds causing a flare up. So I stand nearby as people, ‘have a cuddle’ desperate to immediately grab him and demand to know whether the kindly friend or relative is wearing perfume/aftershave.
I annoy myself as I flap around like a huge protective and slightly hysterical bat, so I must be extremely irritating to anyone else in the vicinity.

Next preconception to be busted? Very possibly the naughty step. I really hate the whole concept but am willing to bet you will hear me say, ‘Do that one more time Osian Howard and it’s time out!!’

Hypocrite parents rule.

Going out…..in a bit…

IMG_20131129_143355As each month of Osian’s life passes I look back on the previous one and think, ‘Ooh Christ, I was still off my head then’. Which is a bit scary because I think that this means I’ll never be sane again?

I’m guessing (hoping) I’ll never reach the levels of tear-spilling, eye-revolving insanity experienced in the first few weeks, although there is a part of me that kind of enjoyed the utter chaotic loss of any kind of control over my emotions….. e.g…..
Weeping because my mum sent me a soppy text; turning Holby City off because there was too much shouting (Holby City!); foolishly trying to watch a documentary about a labour ward and seriously freaking out (I don’t know what I was thinking, it’s a bit like watching a video of a car crash a few days after being involved in one and thinking it would be interesting….. )

But ‘going out’ has to be the epitome of new parent craziness. We were loopy, absolutely frigging LOOPY…. the whole experience of leaving the house with a baby in the early days is enough to persuade you to be a stay at home family, where no one has to leave the house… ever… again.

It took 3 hours the first time. 3 HOURS!! Then several bouts of hysteria resulting in tears in Lidl car park because Scott wanted to take Osian in there in the car seat (I now have no idea what was so traumatic about this concept but at the time it tipped me right over the edge).

I was comforted (and amused) to hear about friends’ similar experiences. My favourite being the mum who thought, on their first outing, her son (who was peacefully asleep) had stopped breathing and so shrieked, ‘STOP THE CAR!!!’ down her husband’s ear hole, leapt into the back, wrenched the child out of the car seat and promptly woke him up. Loud screams and new mummy (Oops.. ‘mummy’… what a hypocrite sorry!) left weeping in the back seat clutching the bewildered boy.

Another favourite was, ‘I thought that normal life could just continue, so we went shopping for garden furniture.’ Ha haaaaaaa!….. more crying in a car park.

This desperation for ‘normal life’ is what sends you doolally. There is no such thing available yet and the pursuit of it should be discouraged in order to avoid disappointment.

Perhaps there is something to be said for 30 days confinement like lots of women in China and Malaysia (and probably countless other countries) do?

I think you may have found me halfway up the chimney, or in the cat basket, or at the very least gibbering in the shed.

Going out gets quicker…. but never that quick I’m guessing?

Did I give birth to my brain as well as a baby boy?

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A couple of things have twanged my already pretty taut nerves since becoming pregnant and giving birth to my son, Osian.

Number one has to be ‘The Shush Club’ of slushy mothers who refuse, no who LOVE to refuse to tell you any details about labour and childbirth.
‘Ooh no we won’t go there’ (nod, nod, wink, wink at a fellow baby pusher-outer and a little patronising pat of your big, bulging belly).
‘No really, I’d like to know. I don’t mind.’
I’d say (knowing it was futile) No chance. Instead, more extremely irritating, knowing looks and no information imparted at all.

Now childbirth is a deliciously difficult thing to describe from the inside out. I fully appreciate that and I’m currently contemplating how you can possibly write something that shares in some way what an intense, trippy, mental, hysterical, terrifying, exhilarating, wonderful experience it is.
But come on ladies! At least give it a go. Tell us how much it did / didn’t hurt, what went right / wrong, if you ordered everyone out of the room because, ‘I’m not fucking having this baby, I’m just going to die instead….’
(my best pal and work-wife, Jo)
Knowledge is power after all, and you certainly need a bit of that for childbirth.

For example slow labour.

S-l-o-w….l-a-b-o-u-r… heard of it? Me neither really. I’d read a couple of things on the internet but had NO IDEA it could be so intense (i.e. strong contractions every 5 – 15 minutes for five days, no sleep, apart from in 10 minute slots between excruciating contractions and excitedly telling my husband when asked if I’d eaten anything that I’d had a fruit pastille).
Had I known about the true horrors of slow labour I certainly would have had a tens machine ready and waiting instead of having to have an emergency drive-by drop off from my life-saving sister-in-law.

But it’s once you have given birth to your little bundle of loveliness that joy really and truly enters your life.
Number two is the joy of changing your name! Oh, you didn’t know it was changing? You quite like your name? Well tough…..

You are no longer Janys, Rose or Elizabeth….or Josephine, Kirsty or Laura..You are now ‘Mummy’ and will remain so forever. You are a generic being without your own individual personality.
Some health visitors (not all, so don’t feel the need to point out how wonderful most are, I KNOW…and I worship the ground that midwives walk on and kiss their feet)
But some health visitors seem to fully believe that you pushed your brain out through the birth canal shortly after the placenta.
Perhaps there is a fourth stage of labour of which I’m unaware?

On one visit to the clinic recently I had to check behind me in case a small child had entered the room without me noticing, but no it was me she was talking to.
This woman had the skill that only the very shittest of bosses have, that of telling you what to do just 10 seconds before you were about to do it.
Let me set the scene –
The appointment fell at an awkward time, I should have fed Osian before I went but was trying to squeeze the appointment in before his feed…. So he was cranky, pissed off and stripping his clothes off to weigh him was not going down brilliantly. Luckily throughout this ordeal I was spoken to like I’d had a brain injury or as though if conversed with like an adult I would be unable to cope and crumble to dust.
‘Why don’t you give him a cuddle mummy? Ooh mummy why don’t you take your coat off? You look a bit hot. Mummy, why don’t you go and feed him mummy? Mummy, have you got everything you need for a feed mummy?
Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh! Yes I do because I’m not a completely useless tit of a mum! (Some of the time anyway).

I have, however discovered the ultimate in the ‘passive aggressive fuck off’…..speak your mind, but through your baby!

Example:
(To Osian, in a ‘mummy’ voice)
‘Of course mummy’s got everything she needs for a feed, because mummy’s not an idiot is she?’

Translation:
Fuck off you patronising twat…

It’s highly satisfying, works a treat and I aim to use it more. Be warned, if I insult you through my baby you’ve really pissed me off.

Anyway, back to chatting with my son. I get more sense out of him than most, and speech development is fascinating!
Now where were we, ah yes; m-m-m-m-mu-mu-mum-um-mum-mum-mummy!
Oh…