Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: July 2018

Saturday, 21 July 2018

You Win Again: The Battle for the Third Baby

I appear to be surrounded. I am not exactly sure when it started but I am aware of it now. Everywhere I turn, there they lurk. I cannot seem to escape them. I am talking about pregnant women but not just any pregnant women, I am talking about the ones who are “going again”. 

I see them absent mindedly rubbing their swollen midriffs whilst gazing lovingly at the animated toddler who pulls excitedly at their hand while they wait for the lights to change at the crossing. I hear them chatting to the other mothers about how they don’t know what came over them; about how they just don’t know what they were thinking; about how their families had just not felt complete before laughing about how they are planning to march their other halves straight to the vasectomy clinic after this one comes along.

I don’t believe them. I mean I wouldn’t feel confident enough in their deceit to suggest that any male reader should put his knapsack on the line by playing the double bluff but I believe that they are sticking to “the plan”. "The plan" would have been formulated in their childhood, likely long before they ever met their significant others and probably influenced by their own number of siblings, whether positively or negatively and potentially by the number of siblings whom they actually like.* Sometimes another one is just one too far.

I myself was one of 3.
"Best till last" sort of situation.

It's no secret that, were the circumstances different, I would go again in a heartbeat. Husband, on the other hand, believes that I recall the entire pregnancy business through rose tinted glasses and am merely a slave the basic human instinct to want what I cannot have but then he is always fun like that. We see the prospect of another child entirely differently and on further probing (of the questioning variety) here is where I think we differ:

Me: If I were to be pregnant again I would know that this would be the last time so I would cherish every single moment. I would delight in the warm fuzzy glow that I would undoubtedly feel on seeing the glimmer of a blue line on the first positive pregnancy test, incredulous that it has actually happened to me. I would be reassured by the waves of nausea overwhelming me in the first trimester, safe in the knowledge that this is just a sign that the pregnancy was progressing as it should. I would wonder at my body's transformation as my tummy swells and my flat chest blooms in answer to its call to action; one final time into the fray dear friends. I would lovingly caress the bump; charting its movements and marvelling at how it manages to express its personality from within the confines of my womb.

I would not miss the things that I could not have or could not do. The soft cheeses, rare meat, wine and exercise would merely be things to look forward to in nine months’ time. They would wait. After all, it’s not forever. Just this one last time.

"That" feeling comes second only to meeting the baby.

Him: If you were to be pregnant again it would be a bloody nightmare. Sure, we would be delighted at the prospect of another child to add to the brood and that feeling would last approximately 24 seconds before you started reeling off the number of things that could possibly go wrong. Your face would go that green way whenever I suggested anything beyond toast for dinner and you would have to instigate “lying down games” with the other two who would politely ignore your requests not to be used as a climbing frame. When the activity and nausea took their combined effect the current offspring would then follow you to the toilet, refusing to allow you to hurl your guts up in the privacy of a locked bathroom, viewing it to be something of a spectators sport.

Then the “thickening” would start. You remember don’t you? Just before you actually look pregnant but you just lose the definition around the waist and you feel bloated and spotty. You'll tell me how "fat" you feel and remind me about the lecturer who described a human foetus as "the most efficient parasite known to man". You will shoot daggers at me when I mention exercise in which I may have partaken and want to discuss, at length, the statistical chance of actually infecting the unborn with Listeria from ingesting any of the foods on the NHS naughty list before deciding that you would never forgive yourself if you did and would therefore go without. You will then get annoyed with me for eating or imbibing anything on the pregnancy blacklist before muttering something about “solidarity” under your breath.

You will blossom, that is for sure and you will look great but you will not believe me when I tell you. You will, however, believe every non-medically trained stranger who tells you that your bump is “big” or “small” setting off a cascade of worry about how there is something wrong with the baby and demand that I check the size of your bump with a measuring tape from our non-existent sewing kit. But yes, "magical" is how I would describe it too.

So he may have a point(s) but they are still really cute.

Who wouldn't be tempted?!

*I do realise that not everyone bases their number of children on their own family and some base their decisions on far more practical things like cars, holidays, risk of multiples, houses, ability to cope with vTech for another 3years etc.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Come Together: Selling the Idea of Group Parenting

Now I don't want to make anyone nervous or fear that I am trying to indoctrinate you into some sort of cult which requires the sacrifice of a first born at every new moon but I have recently been thinking about the advantages of communal living. Bear with me.

We have been staying at my in law's house with my sister-in-law, her husband and their newborn daughter. Now, a hyperactive 4 year old, a somewhat impassioned 2 year old and an infant who is trying to come to terms with not being physically cocooned within her mother being couped up in the one house may seem, from the outside, chaotic or perhaps even a tad stressful. Honestly though, it wasn't. In this situation the adults far outnumbered the children and there were six pairs of hands to three demanding bodies which meant that adult ablutions could be done in private, hot drinks could be consumed whilst still above room temperature and role play could be evenly distributed thereby reducing any one person's suffering to tolerable levels. 

Many hands make less role play

Communal living meant that my husband and I could run together for an hour everyday. Now I realise that this might not be everyone's chosen activity when given a hour to one's self so replace "run" with "soak in the bath", "reading a book" or "catching up on the side bar of shame" if that's your bag, but it gave us the chance to chat, shoot the breeze, wax lyrically about our amazing children like we actually loved them and not through gritted teeth. Living with other people gives you the ability to do these things. Every single day! 

It also allowed me to take the edge off my ever present craving to "go again" by inhaling the newborn's scent and stroking their tiny, hairy limbs whilst they slept in a frog like position on my chest. I had all the joys of an infant without the torturous sleep deprivation, swampy feeling around the chesticles, drenching night sweats and tender undercarriage of days gone by. The new parents also got the opportunity to savour naps during the day, safe in the knowledge that, should their beloved progeny stir, there would be a number of loving bodies vying for the position of Chief Cuddler until they awoke from their slumber.

Just taking a big whiff...

The children seemed to thrive too. They soaked up the various sources of attention as efficiently as my socks soak up the errant urine around the toilet bowl whilst my son potty trains. In other circumstances when we have lived with other parents whose children are of similar ages and temperaments there have even been brief periods where we have been left to, hold on to your hats people, chat. 

The negatives (and we always knew there had to be some) would be rather vigorous selection process that would be involved. Your parenting prowess would need to be on par as you couldn't have Nigel and Bev from NCT consistently showing you up with their prodigy who has slept 10 hours a night since conception, gifts his finest cuddly toys to the local dog shelter as a matter of principle and is a self taught concert pianist by the age of 4. You need to find yourselves some parenting kindred spirits. 

In our case we are looking for a couple who rate fun and kindness over etiquette and tidiness. We need a couple who can appease an irate toddler while teaching a preschooler about evolution, gravity and breast feeding (she has some questions.) In return we can offer some strong voices during story time, a relaxed approach to feeding time and methods and a love of an early night, thereby freeing our alternates up for some nanights on the tiles whilst we hold down the communal fort.

We have even kept an eye out
for nearby properties

Nigel and Bev need not apply.
Mum Muddling Through
Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

Friday, 6 July 2018

Summer In The City: A Mini-Break to London

This week we are on holiday. Now, all burglars take note. Please, have a rummage and help yourselves to as many luridly coloured plastic toys as you can fit into your swag bag. I would personally recommend anything by vtech: they seem to have set their volume levels at that of a Slipknot concert but with less musical content. A must in every house.

Anyway, I digress, going back to the holiday with having been to France only a month ago in the company of a heavily expectant member of the family (who thankfully made it back to British soil with baby still in situ), we had booked a week off after the due date in order to make the pilgrimage south and welcome the newest member of the family. We had planned to spend the majority of the week with the grandparents in rural Shropshire, introducing our city children to the concept of country walks, wildlife and village fetes but with a brief foray into the big smoke to visit cousins new and old(er).

Country chic...

The first leg of country living was a success with unprecedented good weather and access to a garden sprinkler. Minutes of entertainment. The second leg involved an arduous journey into the bustling metropolis of London town where success was brief, intermittent and cruelly interspersed with prolonged periods in a car with no air conditioning that reached temperatures hotter than the sun.

The audience with the new babe as she wriggled, sighed and mewled to perfection (as only those days into their lives can do) captivated the toddlers' attention for at least 45 seconds before they were back to rough housing their, somewhat fatigued, uncle who had been weakened by the nocturnal demands of his progeny.

Minutes of entertainment...

Our next "adventure" took us across town to the Natural History Museum where the Big One was desperate to introduce the Little One to her "best friend" Butterfly- The T- Rex. There was much anticipation as we boarded novel mode of transport after novel form of transport; there was an actual Big Red Bus followed by a "Choo Choo" that went under the ground before boarding another that travelled above the houses. They were living their best lives.
When we finally arrived they ran straight in pointing to all the signs adorned with pictorial representations of the giant reptiles with cries from the Little One of "Mummy! Mummy! Dine-e-saw!" He trotted after his beloved big sister with complete trust that she was leading him to see something that would change his life forever. "Mummy! Mummy! Come! Come!" As we entered the darkened enclosure where "Butterfly" lived and she emitted a deep, prolonged roar he hurled himself between my legs gripping so tightly that I feared the sensation would never return. With pleading eyes raised he muttered "I a bit scared. No like dine-e-saw". We tried and failed to reassure him explaining that she was no more real than his toy Dog Dog, perhaps delivering two cruels blows in one day so we admitted defeat and went to buy ice cream.

Just terrified

Next on the agenda was a visit to the Queen's house, an absolute must in the book of the pre-schooler who has made the decision that an actor's life is for her, being that she hears this is the way to become a Princess. The toddler was easily swayed with images of Julia Donaldson's Ladybird on Holiday so back on the various forms of transport we went.

Four flights of stairs, three toddler tantrums, two cramped trains and one busy change later we were there. As I pointed in the direction of the gold embellished palace with the flourish of a magician's assistant I was greeted with a look of disdain: "Urgh, can we go home yet?"

So over it...

So back into our mobile oven we went just in time to sit in gridlock traffic before extending our journey by several miles in an attempt to rock the raging toddler into sleep, all to the musical accompaniment of "It's a Small World" on repeat, for 3 hours. 

Oh, if only it was.

Everything Changes: Working Out the "Working Mother" Bit

It's been a big week this week and, no, we haven't sold our house. In fact, it is no longer even on the market which was both a hea...