Monday, 28 September 2009

Just sing already, fat chick

OK, so resembling Mr Greedy post-Haagen Dazs binge is starting to get a little old (rather like my placenta). Its got to the point where tapping someone on the shoulder in a shop to ask them to make way is a weary pastime - they glance, they move a fraction; I tap them again, they look down, their mouth slackens in disbelief; they swiftly shift as if to let Moby Dick and the participants of Celebrity Fit Club make passage, flattening themselves against the baked beans and just resisting a shout of "Thar she blows! To the boats, and may God protect ye!" as I pass.

I feel like a comedy prop (Tweedledee, back end of pantomime horse, Jo Brand) of the highest order: personally, if I was talking to me, I wouldn't be able to hold back a giggle or three, or restrain myself from pushing to see if I wobble like a Weeble (but don't fall down). I just look really, really funny, and am spending at least 20% of my time thinking about waists, hourglasses and belts cinched tight around ribless bodies, or pressing my size 8 high-waist Warehouse shorts caressingly against my cheek and murmuring "Soon, my pretties, you will be on me once again.....or will you? Will you??" And then I weep. Well, nearly.

So I grow weary of feeling like the punchline to a joke, and never was this more apparent than while encountering a traffic warden recently, accompanied by two equally preggers friends. Seeing him standing sinisterly by the car, we all started to uber-waddle across the road, waving our arms to make him desist from issuing the ticket...."But look...we're PREGNANT!" It was too late, but am sure he's had a few sleepless nights since, and dined out on it a few times: "So I look up right, and there's these three pregnant women running towards me...well trying to....I thought they were gonna drop right then and there...boom boom!" (Drum roll, appreciative laughter, more wine, cheese straw.)

Hey ho, it'll all be worth it I know. Am now half a week 'late' and showing no signs of incipient labour (apart from the gigantic gut). Baby is clearly very comfy in there, despite the lack of guest bedroom or incense. I am pretty comfy too, considering - my hands have stopped feeling like hams, my feet not too sore, my backache non-existent - really, its fine. But every encounter with a normal-sized friend reminds me that I am in fact a pot-bellied pig, and even J has started sighing wistfully in rememberance of abs past. "I just want my skinny baby back" he admitted bleakly the other day, when trying to lift me up and finding my feet stuck stubbornly to the floor. And I am pretty sure he wasn't referring to the svelte nature of our unborn child...

Oh and I made apple crumble the other morning. At 8.30am. I think that says it all.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Bulking up

I've noticed something about my shopping tendencies in late pregnancy; rather like my body, my purchases have tripled in size. I am no longer capable of buying a 2-pack toilet roll without serious misgivings - no, dammit, gimme an economy-sized, bumper 24-pack, and throw in a month's supply of kitchen roll while you're at it. 3-for-2 deals are the stuff my dreams are made of, and I actually purchased a 4-pinter of milk for the first time in ever the other day. Can I be - gasp - turning into a right old mum??

Anyhoo, only time will tell, as I am now officially a day past my EDD (that's estimated delivery date, baby virgins), and have 13 more before those paedos (that's paediatricians) in white coats lean on me to go down the road of induction (that's having labour artificially started, rather than a week of pints in the hospital staff room and being the recipient of multiple timetables) and all that it entails - namely increased pain, probable need for epidural, and being unable to try delivering in the purple disco birthing centre. Hopefully this scenario will be avoided, although all the walking, shagging, scoffing of curry and pineapple and quaffing champers (surely this last was made up for pure enjoyment's sake) will not change a thing if the baby really isn't up for coming out before the 42-week cutoff point.....come out, little dude/ess, the lack of water's lovely!

On the other hand, it could happen at any time, a knowledge simultaneously exciting and paranoia-sparking - I am now restricted to a 2-mile radius in my solo wanderings, less J gets worried, and was completely confused when a swine flu-afflicted friend called me in tears earlier and asked me to cover her shop for a few hours - hello, I can't be put into any position of responsibility, don't you know I am a TICKING BOMB? I could go off AT ANY MOMENT! In front of a customer! I think she was delirious....either way I declined, for the good of the neighbourhood (and my dignity).

So finally, le hospital bag is packed! I know you're meant to do it about 3 months before labour starts, but I've always been lame that way, so today it was finally done properly like. And I am really happy with the amount of stuff, the way I packed it, and the bag itself. I've been admiring it from all angles, esp the way the Decleor washing bag is perched so jauntily atop. Its a red tote, btw, with a charming drawstring fastener. Now you may think all this focus on the accoutrements of labour is a kind of denial re the visceral truth come baby-day, and you'd be right. A vajayjay is for life, not just for suffering hideous pain, thus I hope you'll forgive my reluctance to dwell on the seamier side. I'll be there soon enough.....tra, la, la *puts fingers in ears*...

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Avin' a geezer...

I was lucky enough to meet Ray Winstone a couple of months back, when he popped into my office to do a voiceover. As I had to speak to him regarding script, and was wearing a tight dress that day, he clearly felt obligated to mention my emergent unborn child: first by pointing knowingly, as if letting me know I was, in fact, knocked up; and then by asking if I'd found out the sex.

"Er no", I replied, going into my usual slight fluster when confronted by the prospect of conversation with a male celebrity, "I mean I can't decide which I think. Sometimes" I added, displaying spectacular stating of obviousness, "I think it's a boy...and sometimes a girl," (wisely refraining from mentioning that dream I had where it was a little of both, Jamie Lee Curtis stylee).

Ray nodded knowingly again, father of several to first time mum. "You're carryin' it all in front, init" he said sagely. "You're avin' a geezer".

Well, if Ray said it, it must be true, right? Instantly I was confronted with mental images of my son popping out, betting slip in hand, the only sound the crackling of his tracksuit as he stroked his pitbull and looked around for a burger. Not a comforting thought. The alternative, of course, was to doggedly assume the opposite of Mr Winstone's blithe assertion, but this simply meant avin' a bird - who would no doubt emerge St Tropez-fresh, smelling of biscuits and looking for her clip-in hair extensions. Way to get inordinately worried regarding issues of gender!

It is strange, though, how confidently people predict the sex of a baby based on the shape/size/position of the bump, and to be perfectly honest, over these last few months its rather got my farmyard animal. For a start, there's a 1 in 2 chance that every guess could prove to be the right one - who wouldn't fancy those odds - and for afters, we didn't find out the sex of our child for a reason - ie, we didn't want to know. Friends (and random folk on the street) have been scandalised to learn that we haven't performed the foolproof ring test (you know, the one where you hold a ring on a piece of twine/hair/intestine over the bump and determine the sex from the manner in which it rotates - yep, and then you can repeat the process and discover the sex of your dining table's child aswell), as if, should the NHS take this method on board, there would be no need for pesky peering at scans to look for something dangly, or not.

The other 'method' of telling me the sex of my baby tends to base itself on 'vibe' - as in, "I'm getting a boy vibe", and while I am not one to knock the powers of intuition, I am still sceptical regarding the effectiveness of this method - for example, a rather scuttered male friend, at a party (one of about 2 I've been to this summer, before I mislead you to think I've led a kicking preggers social life - kicking only in the literal sense, unfortunately), told me he got a strong girl vibe because "you're so feminine, I can't imagine anything male coming out". Flattering, yes - stupid, also yes. But there we go - everyone's an expert when it comes to babies, it seems, and if we had found out the sex, we'd have missed out on the speculating fun....because it is fun, in a faintly irritating way...and also, presumably, have a little less cream and beige in the baby's capsule wardrobe.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

A melon-choly feeling

I've been so busy recently wishing away the last days of my watermelon status that I didn't even stop to think that losing the bump could be a bittersweet feeling. It may even be the last time I experience this, my one and only preggers period to inform my life. And when you put it like that, its definitely a choke-making thought (to be fair, it doesn't take much right now). This could be the only time I can watch my stomach lurch around a la Alien, feel the vibration of tiny hiccups, or watch myself stretch and change daily in nature's time-honoured, mystical tradition.

I have been in the early stages of pregnancy before (twice in fact) when younger, and that knowledge has definitely tinged this experience with a little sadness for what might have been. If its been this easy as a 35-yr-old, would I have breezed through it aged 17/28? Also, the fierce protectiveness I feel over this little life, which of course will only grow when it bursts into the world, has made me prey to all kinds of random mental scenarios - I have dreamed about being stabbed in the stomach, of tiny lungs collapsing with the strain of breathing solo, of freak fires and floods and name the paranoid parental landscape, I've dreamed there. And over and over it confirms how much I already love this little person I don't yet know: how I, and things, will never be the same; and what a huge responsibility this is, and how dependant my future happiness will be on the happiness of my child.
From the second that cord is cut my baby will be an independent being, slowly forming his/her own desires and opinions, and no longer my own little belly prisoner, bringing out the maternal emotions whilst not spoiling any of the innocent, pre-reality fantasies of how I will raise and love my child. What's not to miss?

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The Fear, and not in a Lily Allen way

Its been creeping up on me (as these things tend to, the fuckers) for a few weeks now, but yesterday I got the bigtime fear. It started innocuously enough: I had popped to the deli for some delicious home-made pesto and a perfectly-ripe avocado, paying a mere £90 for the privilege (yes dahling, one lives in Kensal Green), and outside the deli and next door Gracelands cafe I suddenly realised that either I was living in Lilliput, or there were a hell of a lot of children around. Like, obscene amounts. A positive abundance of reproduction, even for here - several couples enjoying a coffee, avec pushchair, at the outside tables; several more wandering about, some accessorising with occupied carseats, others preferring the more relaxed format of sling across body, screaming toddler hanging casually from arm. Three little folk milling around solo, of unspecified ownership: one of these engaged in crawling up the steps of the cafe, ostensibly on its way to the counter to order a decaf mocha and a nappy change. Two of them, not including my own, temporarily residing within the body of an adult female. And that was before we got to pram-pushing stragglers further down the road, anyone in school uniform, or those actually within the shop and cafe. In short: you could rename this place the Baby Square Mile.

It wasn't so much that I realised we were dealing with a major coals to Newcastle scenario here, or even that soon, Jack and I will be similarly unable to leave the house without several appendages of the flailing-limbed creature/pushchair/carseat/mini diary-room chair variety (as one who is accustomed to winging it with a clutch bag and single front door key, its clear that I will shortly be having a rather major wake-up call). Its more than that: I have gone from underbelly to overbelly, I am on course to become one of those people who orders lunch at 11.30 because they've been up since 5am. Worse, I will become a baby bore, indulging in socially sanctioned pastimes rather than stumbling in at 6am with my false eyelashes stuck to my chin. I may even take up religion as a means to getting my little darling into the school of choice, like my friend Annie who combined all nighters with afternoon tea with vicars, and managed to control her shaking hands long enough to pour his Rooibos and proffer a french fancy. And its not like I wasn't aware of this before, its just that yesterday it hit me slap bang in the face like an errant football.

Excuse me, I'm going down the garden to expel a primeval yowl.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Disco birthing and baby shower!

So my lovely friends in Sarf London threw me a baby shower on Friday, hurrah. It was lots of fun and proved I can actually drink alcohol without weeping, as I consumed 3x small glasses of prosecco (over a 7-hour period, but still) and thought I was very hard indeed. Apart from the amazing cakes (strawberry pavlova, pictured *drools*) and cucumber n watercress sarnies, I was lucky enough to get some gorgeous presents too - uber-trendy unisex baby clothes, bunny-eared towels, a brightly-coloured cuddly centipede (which makes noises!!) and lots more - as well as being the recipient of many compliments re my fecund state. Weirdly though, I found it really hard to hold actual 1-2-1 conversations along the lines of 'so what are you up to at the moment, how's the job/man/house/kids?' Either inescapable proof that Mr Brain has long since departed, or due to the prosecco and the arduous journey (Bakerloo/Victoria lines, no fun in my condition)....either way, I guess I got away with it....although I am still clueless as to most updates in certain friends' lives! Is there anything more self-centred than a preggers chick? Its all me me me with me....may explain why I am currently loving the name Mimi...
Saturday saw a trip to the birthing centre at St Mary's hospital, complete with flat screen TVs, slings to swing off mid-contraction and swanky-looking birthing pools which just needed fillng with Bollinger to complete the Las Vegas vibe. However, my personal favourite gadget was definitely the purple glitter birthing chair....more disco than Donna Summer, and more proof, if were needed, that the extended porn mix of 'Love to Love You Baby' will be No1 on our i-Pod playlist (yes, they have docking stations too). Of course, there is a payoff for these beauteous surroundings courtesy of the embattled NHS - in this case, that would be the lack of anything stronger than gas n air to get you through contractions, and should you wish otherwise then its off to the 70's-inspired labour ward with you, milady (am sure, on my last visit there, I saw a small boy with page boy hair on a tricycle being terrified by a semi-decomposed, bath-dwelling ghost but that may well have been a paranoid hallucination), so if I do end up yelling, in true yummy mummy style, 'JUST GIVE ME THE DRUGS YOU BASTARDS', I will hopefully be too far gone to be on the lookout for Mr Nicholson and his axe ("Heeeere's Caesarian!")
Well, I'm off to order my Tens machine and think positive. Our zany Canadian midwife has urged me, every time I receive a text (does she KNOW how often that is right now?) to practise a little light perineal massage, but I am sadly coming up with every excuse in the book not to comply. And hey, its not always appropriate. Sometimes it's hard to be a woman.....and sometimes, its a genuine trip into the unknown. Eeeek!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Bob, the lonely penguin - but a perfect wannabe house-husband

Am nesting like crazy (more on that later: too damn tired) and for some reason can't stop thinking about our trip to Birdland the other week (we had Jack's daughter with us, it wasn't a gratuitous trip), in particular about Bob the king penguin, all on his lonesome as his peers frolicked in couples around him. Doggedly he perched through feeding time, looking away into the middle distance, almost as if he were sulking, or looking out for more flightful birds; it turned out he'd been like that for 5 days - you see, male penguins take shifts keeping the egg warm, and Bob was in the full throes of a phantom eggnancy.
Apparently, when it had come to mating time that year, no-one had wanted poor old Bob, despite him giving his "helloooo, ladies" call loud and clear - the females were either taken, or on the lookout for more exciting prospects, such as Feckless Frank, who had already fathered 2 of the penguins at Birdland, although had no idea they were his children - proof that the lady birds love a bad boy? - and solid dependable Bob, who wanted nothing more than to be a fahmily man, was left on the sidelines as the rest paired up.
Well, in my hormonal state it was a bit too much, and I had to leave swiftly to the owl enclosure (where I encountered a rotund northern family staring agape at the dead baby chicks left for the owl's nosh, convinced they were other exhibits who had carked it - I didn't want to burst their bubble). The moral of the story? Envy the lucky penguins who take shifts with the foetus-minding (apart from those knocked up by old Frankie-boy), and be glad that my own fellow egg-sitter combines the best qualities of both.
Here's to hoping that Bob finds a good woman next year.....