The prelude to this post is that I have recently ruined my life by introducing my nearly 2 year old to a “big girl bed”. In non public forums I am referring to it by a slightly longer, less family-friendly name involving all the swear words.
Sheer physical enormity…
Breasts rest on belly, belly rests on thighs, thighs spread to fill any flat surface unfortunate enough to be bearing my considerable heft.
I now walk with the gait of The Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters.
Weirdly mobile joints make standing up more of an exercise in trying not to look like a weeble.
Due to the unfamiliarly large volume I now take up, my belly bumps into everything and everyone, gets spilled on, wet from standing too close to sinks, grazed regularly by things like toilet cubicle doors (manoeuvring into those has now become a fifteen-time-a-day chore) and gesticulated into by colleagues.
For about 2 years or so now it seems that every waking moment was about my daughter. “I must eat more grains so the baby develops properly”; “I must eat the right food so my milk is nutritious”; “I must make sure she eats her 5 a day” and so on and so forth, not counting all the other things like cuddling and clothes washing and bathing and putting to sleep. My life, probably quite rightly, is centred around her. So I feel entirely justified in being pleased that her world is all about me. When she tripped, she wanted me, when she wanted to play, she wanted me, when she wanted to sleep, she wanted me. As exhausting and sometimes irritating that was, I was secretly pleased. But note the use of the past tense here, for things have changed.
A few weeks ago my parents came to look after Hannah while I went to work, and my mum stayed on so that we could go to an exhibition together the next day. While we were at the exhibition Hannah and her daddy went to see her other grandparents. Since then, it’s been all about other people- Grandad, Grandma, Daddy, Nanny, the nursery assistant, the bloked over the road- anyone but Mummy. She stepped up this anti-mummy sentiment a week ago when she had a minor trip to hospital because I was the evil satanist who kept her awake and let the men in the white coats prod at her.
This has, unfortunately, coincided with a renewed passion for the word “no”, which she uses with such feeling and convincing that you know she wants you to feel how totally she means it. This has mostly been directed at me. I ask her if she wants a cuddle “No!”. And then promptly wanders over to her Daddy for one. I ask her for a kiss. “No”. I ask her if she wants to play “No”. What really took the biscuit for me was when my parents were baby sitting again; I had a really tough day at work and was so looking forward to my cuddle with her, and when she saw me she turned her head away and buried herself in Grandma. I felt rubbish, and irrationally upset that my daughter “hated” me. I had no idea what I had done wrong and felt really, really hurt. Where was my little girl whose face lights up every time she sees her Mumma????
So there I was, for two weeks, feeling miserable, unloved and wondering what I had done wrong, when she did a little stumble and bumped her head. I was back in the room. The cuddles, the kisses, they were back! Mummy was number one again! “No” became a random word again (sort of )! Hurrah! And then I made the cruel mistake of clipping her nails. I mean what kind of horrible person would want to stop their child from scratching their arms to pieces? I guess I’ll just have to wait until she trips over again to see how long this phase lasts…..
Last night, Saturday night, I was walking round my newly installed and decorated kitchen, getting ready to make our dinner. Thanks to my (genius) subscription to one of those companies for lazy, uninspired people who still want a nice non ready meal of an evening, it came ready measured with a handy recipe card. Basically I was feeling pretty smug. Nice new (tidy for once) house, husband I fancy, cute kid. Life was good. I told my husband and he said “watch it, you know our luck, it can’t last long”. Pessimist.
This morning, I got up at 4.30am. Not because my baby was crying, but because I had to go abroad for work (when I say abroad I mean Brussels, but “abroad” sounds more glamorous). I felt like I did going to work on a Monday when I was 25 – way too tired, not rested, and looking like a zombie. Meanwhile, my girl was fast asleep dreaming of Iggle Piggle and Peppa Pig, having spent the evening before tearing around the living room as if it was some kind of baby/toddler/army training course. A real baby, doing real things, just as she is supposed to. “Mumma”, meanwhile, like many other working mothers, just had to get on with it!
I digress. About a month ago I read the furore about synthetic babies and Dolce and Gabanna and how Dolce (not that there is anything “dolce” about him) thought that babies born through IVF were synthetic and how homosexual couples shouldn’t have children. I was on holiday and had had a wonderful day with my family, but it made me cry. Now I know that’s a bit of a paraphrasing frenzy and that I am “prone to emotion” but if he doesn’t feel the need to be careful about his choice of words then neither do I. So I say, the man is an *rsehole. I know that his main point was about same-sex couples but, though I think that point was in itself ridiculous, he also belittled the love and purity that all IVF families share. The broader point I want to make is that babies who are born through IVF or whatever means are still babies, and that parents are still parents, in whatever form they take – 2 Dads, 1 Mum, an older brother, an Auntie, a step mum and a Dad, a Grandma (obviously not all IVF – it would be a bit odd if your IVF Mum was actually your sister)…. who cares what the formulation is as long as the child is loved and cared for?
That has, so far, been the only ever time that someone in society has ever tried to make Hannah different because of the way that she came into the world. The only time. When I was pregnant I was worried what the Church would think. All the Church cared about was how wonderful it was that a baby was about to be welcomed into the world. I was worried about what my friends would think. All my friends thought was how wonderful it was that I was finally carrying a baby to term. I was worried about what my family would think. All they cared about was that it would actually work. Noone cares now about how Hannah came in to the world because it isn’t relevant. So Dolce and Gabbana will never be relevant to me.
Let me be clear. IVF is hard. It’s hard and it’s hard for anyone doing it. You don’t choose IVF to be fashionable – you generally choose it because you are desperate and because you have a primal urge to be a parent and to love a child that is your own. For the lucky ones, you get a baby at the end of it. And that baby will puke. It will wee, it will poo, it will eat, it will sometimes sleep. It will make you feel like a crushed snail one moment and like you are on top of the world the next. It is a real baby and it will have real parents who will sort all of that stuff out because they love it.
Hannah might be our only child. I hope we have more but for us and thousands of other people “natural conception” isn’t an option. That doesn’t mean we and they shouldn’t be parents and it certainly doesn’t mean that IVF babies are lesser people in some way. Thank Goodness – thank God (and I don’t say that lightly) – for IVF. Thank God that there are parents in the world who will bring children up with love and care irrespective of their gender preferences. I will never be able to afford Dolce and Gabbana and though it sounds cliche to say it I don’t care because I have all the riches in the world already. And, for the record, I know that I have probably spelled Dolce and Gabbana incorrectly, but since they don’t care about me, out of spite I didn’t check the spelling of Gabbana. We’re blessed. My perfect little little girl, fast asleep in her bed. She’ll be awake at 6.30am, smiling and wanting some banana and a cuddle. Nothing synthetic about that. Nothing synthetic at all.
The “fittest guy in the office” discussion left me cold when I realised the person they were referring to was a teenage looking boy I had actual maternal feelings towards.
Yes you’re past the 12 week mark and you can tell people you’re expecting – but there’s this awkward period around 14-18 weeks when you have what, to you, is a “mini bump” but if you’re like me, you also have a layer of “storage” everywhere else, thus making the “bump” less obvious. Now, this is annoying for 2 reasons. Firstly, you have probably grown out of all your pre pregnancy clothes (if not, get the hell outta here!) but you are not yet big enough for your uber preggers gear. You’re definitely not yet at the stage of “Im so enormous I don’t give a Buxton what I wear as long as it covers me” and you’re possibly still at the grasping at straws “I can probably still wear these bigger jeans in the back of my wardrobe…I’m pulling…I’m pulling…I’m…doing…up…the…button. I’m in! I’M IN! Er…they’re ripping…aaaaand I’m crying. Again.” stage.
Last Thursday I had my performance review, and earlier in the week I did those for the people I manage. It occurred to me that I also manage my baby, and that she should not be excluded from the process, so here’s her review.
Hannah has had a successful year at being a baby, having met or exceeded the majority of her objectives. These have included being cute, walking, eating solids and growing teeth. She has also met the objective concerning sleep however there is room for improvement in this area. She has also given added value to her job by being a highly competent entertainer. Feedback from stakeholders has been overwhelmingly positive; Nanny and Grandad have been impressed by her cuteness and trampoline bouncing, Grandma and Grandad agree that she is cute and funny (although Grandma did note a number of smelly nappies), and the nursery staff have all noted the strength of her eating capabilities. The nurse, however, did note that she is under confident when it comes to injections and Daddy has recommended sleep at weekends as an area for improvement. Mummy also noted her disappointment at a recent milk vomiting incident although it must be underlined that this arose because of Hannah’s attempt to make Mummy laugh instead of going to sleep.
Specific deliverables have included walking early – a significant achievement- growing 8 teeth on time and managing the complex milk to solids project. She has also successfully negotiated the stairs and has knocked down a number of towers made with stacking cups. At the mid year review stage I noted a lack of confidence with her toy frog however she has overcome this and I am pleased to say that she now tries to feed him milk in the mornings.
Hannah should be proud of her achievements this year and I believe she will attain a high position in the performance/achievement ladder of her peers.
I vowed that the next time I was pregnant I wasn’t going to stuff my face like I did the first time. I guess I lied.