Friday, November 21, 2008

Here's a thing about having a baby that's very annoying.

Everyone seems to have an opinion. My cleaner? Thinks I should only take Zaphod out with a nappy over his face (I think she means muslin - apparently it's a continental European thing). XXX thinks I should seek out cranial osteopathy for Z now: best to start young. Some believe in dummies, some not. Some only believe in breast feeding.

And also, because I was (a) quite busy before Zaphod arrived, and (b) like many first time mothers, couldn't actually think past the bit where you call up in labour and the midwife says "you're six centimetres dilated, best to come in now (although with a planned c-section, they're more likely to say how's a week Tuesday) - I hadn't thought any about what I would do once Zaphod arrived.

I'd spent all my time planning The Labour and packing The Bag, and D and I had gone to NCT classes, and practiced our massage techniques (which is never a bad thing) and worked out exactly what kind of whale music we wanted as the soundtrack to Zaphod's birth (kidding), and I'd even planned to bake in the early stages of labour (not kidding), I guess because I thought it signified that I'm some kind of wholesome earth mother and also because I had some bananas rotting in the fruit bowl because I'd almost entirely gone off food.

Here are the things I didn't think about at all:

  • routine or feed on demand?
  • breast or formula (I mean, I wanted to breast feed, but I hadn't actually thought about it. Turns out it's not as easy as everyone says
  • dummies
  • how does the damn buggy work?
  • when will I was my hair?
  • how did I ever fit all that other stuff in?

There's some x-rated stuff, also, which I want to check with D before I type (he's sleeping right now, as he's doing the 3am). How's that for making you want to come back and read more...

Never have I been so ill-prepared for any project in my life. I mean, I'd done all the administrative stuff: kitted out the room, and begged-borrowed-stolen all the right equipment. In fact, my nesting (let me say that I can't currently find a good link to nesting that isn't some kind of SEO / PR tool regurgitated the same-old same-old) took the form of obsessive filing and tidying of my office. I kid you not when I tell you that I actually sent a photo of my paper filing system to some colleagues so they could find everything if I lost my marbles.

But I hadn't read a book about being a mum. I hadn't even read past the labour chapters in the birth and first-years books. In fact, I hadn't read a lot of books, even though loads of people lent us great ones, because I had data overload and too much email. And I certainly didn't have the mental space to think about what kind of parent I was going to be.

Er, point is, er, I've forgotten. Ah yes: other people have strong views. You're letting him stay up? (Like at 4.3 weeks it makes a difference?) Or taking him out with you? Or letting him cry/not cry?

These things are very personal. Once, a long long time ago, a relationship I was in ended badly/sadly and what I realised was, everyone who asked me how I was doing, wanted to know "who's fault" it was, who had "done the deed", and the advice they gave me, on reflection, was always a way of validating their choices. Like one friend, who'd been with her partner for 25 years, but had never had kids (his choice) told me very clearly to get back to together with X and have make-up sex so I could have a baby.

So people aren't always so bothered about you. Or your situation. What they're saying when they tell you what they think, is: isn't what I think right? Just do what I do and everything will be ok for me.

And that can be very annoying.

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