The perils of pregnancy and the menaces of motherhood / maternity leave - An honest record of my first pregnancy and being a first time mum. Now blogging at www.upthespoutandroundabout.com about second pregnancy and life with a toddler.
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Friday, 14 December 2012
30 Weeks' pregnant - "Darling, I think we should have a Teenager" - An Introduction
Quite frankly - I blame Mothercare for a lot.
Babies have never really interested me. I am a typically spoilt only child with no inclination to share. I like my weekends being 'my' weekends. The only thing I like sole custody of is the remote control. I like alcohol and foreign holidays. I enjoy spending every scrap of my earnings in Accessorize and Pizza Express. I enjoy spending every scrap of my earnings on, well, me! I don't particularly enjoy looking after plants. I resent men who buy me flowers; they require a lot of work, present wise. I am that person on the plane who walks up the aisle silently chanting "Don't let me be near to a baby, don't let me be near to a baby". I purposely boycott restaurants with the tag line "A family Eatery".
I always expected I would have a child - but more as a logical 'next step' after marriage - and I was never really a 'rebel against society type'. I just don't have the piercings. It is what people do I suppose, at a certain age. Get married, have a baby, get a cafetiere, get display cushions and a cheque book and a display cabinet for your plates 'for best'.
But life isn't as straightforward as you always thought it would be and when I found out I was pregnant a week after my 30th birthday, to say it was following my perfectly constructed 'life plan' would be a lie. While my mother would say the age of 30 was practically 'Geriatric' when it comes to having children, 30 doesn't seem quite as ancient as I once thought it would be.
To someone who didn't plan on being pregnant, the news hits you in stages. In my case, the first stage was utter amazement that my body could do it. You are aware you are a girl with girl parts - but only in the vaguest sense. You are aware you can catch colds like other people, get hangovers, break bones etc. But you never really think that your body, the one you've had for 30 years - is 'capable' of doing what people you have only seen on TV or avoided at family parties can do.
If you are anything like me, your knowledge of pregnancy and what a pregnant woman 'is' comes from Kirsty Alley in 'Look Who's Talking' (in very much the same way, everything you know about fertilisation has derived from the same film - complete with Bruce Willis as a jolly sperm). You know that pregnant women have sickness in the morning, get quirky cravings like Gherkins and Ice Cream, get uncomfortably fat, do the pregnant waddle and lower themselves backwards into chairs (all over what seems to be a very short, easy period of time) and that one day their 'waters break' in a humourous location (on someone's shoes, or on the Tube, or in a Nativity play) and they will take to a private hospital bed, glow prettily with sweat, huff and puff whilst holding onto a handsome man's crippled hand and moments later a tiny clean baby will appear in their arms. They will look at the baby, they will look at each other, they will weep tears of joy. End scene. When the line appears on the Clear Blue test indicating that you are one of these women you just can't fathom that now it is your turn to take part in your own perfect adaptation of 'pregnancy' and that you have been admitted into the club.
The second stage, naturally, is to start to think of all the things you will be sacrificing by being 'pregnant'. I am not ashamed to say that 'alcohol' was perhaps the first forfeit that came to mind. Wine and cocktails will be off the menu - but that is just the beginning. Holidays abroad will be out for a good while. Clubbing! Of course I have never actually been clubbing - but suddenly it seems the most exciting activity imaginable and I can't believe I am not being allowed to do it. I won't be able to get a Motorbike - if I ever wanted to. I won't be able to eat shell fish or Dolphin or steak Tartar or unpasteurised cheese. I won't be able to go Skiing, if I ever wanted to take it up - in the next 9 months. I expected that adventerous love making and tank tops would be a thing of dreams. I wouldn't be able to start a drug habit or do the Atkins diet or go back packing around Vietnam. I wouldn't be able to go paintballing or eat Sushi or teach in South Korea. The world, all of a sudden, sounded like such a dreary place.
And the final stage is the realisation of what you will be getting at the end of your Gestation period. A baby. Now, who doesn't like a baby? Well, me actually. They scare me a lot. I always worry about their extremely delicate heads and 'not supporting the neck' which I heard Aunties yelling at children who expressed a wish to hold their newborns at family get-togethers.
"Do you want to hold the tiny precious new baby dear? Sit on the sofa then, in between these two cushions to steady you, SUPPORT THE HEAD, SUPPORT THE HEAD!!"(Five uncles, Five Aunties, mother, father, grandmother, family pet, eyeball you intently)
"No really thank you Auntie, I'll leave it. I'll just watch from afar"
I didn't want that responsibility at any age, especially ten, thank you.
And the thing that people really avoid thinking about is you are not "having a baby" - ok, you'll exclaim that piece of news to friends and family at twelve weeks - "We are having a BABY!" To replies of "Ooo, a baby? How precious!" But no one says "We are having a toddler!" Because they are less desirable aren't they? In fact, with each increment of age a child becomes less and less adorable. Everyone might like a newborn baby with their new car smell and their inability to talk back. But then they'll be a toddler and they aren't as magical. And then they'll be a small child - ok, I can just about cope with that. But before you know it they will be a teenager.
If there was one word that is synonymous with magical - teenager it is not. You turn on Jeremy Kyle (despite your better judgement)and a seventeen year old boy is sat on the stage talking about how he hates his Mother because "She aint never dun nuttin for me an I'd be better off in care an all she does is take me Weed off me an she aint never dun nuffin right" and you think, God forbid, I might have one of those. I can guarantee that all over the world, a woman never leans over to a man in bed, adorned in sexy lingerie, and whispers into their ear "Let's make a teenager". But that's what you will get in the end. A teenager - and then a fully fledged adult reminding you of your inevitable elderly doom. Not just a cute little baby. So what on Earth can we do? What do we do?
We unite, turn East and march towards a pregnant woman's Mecca - Mothercare. And there we are met with rows and rows of spotlessly clean white baby grows so small and tiny and sweet and soft, labelled with "Little Peanut" or "I wuv mummy". And we look at the tiny dainty booties and well up at the idea that a foot belonging to anything human could fit in there. And we peruse the trendy urban buggies and imagine how good we would look strutting down the high street with our perfectly formed version of ourselves. We start to think of a wardrobe revamp; 'Bohemian Homemaker', 'Modern mummy'. We start to put together neutral baby outfits, tiny rompers with baby chick print, paired with some soft Khaki dungarees, miniature fluffy booties, miniscule mittens and a dainty wooly hat in the style of a teddy bear - complete with adorable bear ears. And we see the expensive Moses Baskets draped in pretty white lace, with a Winnie the Pooh mobile that plays a little tune and we picture our perfect beige nursery with pink or blue statement features complete with matching cuddly animals and Cath Kidston changing mats and comfy rocking nursing chairs and we slowly melt and whisper to ourselves "I'm... having a baby".
That was many many many weeks ago and I now find myself here at 30 weeks pregnant with said baby in my ever expanding belly on a type of self prescribed maternity leave. Ten more weeks of being pregnant left and a good time I think to start detailing the events of my remaining pregnancy, birth, motherhood and my confinement.