Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Expedition: Brent Cross

Many new mums have told me that they spent their fourth trimester in Brent Cross - especially if it was winter, as it's guaranteed to be warm.

Aside: Brent Cross is the Westfield of North West London
And look - Westfield have done some rather interesting paid search - google on Brent Cross and you get Westfield - like you live in Hendon but you'd google and go to Shepherds Bush? I think not.

So I decided to take Zaphod to Brent Cross, specifically John Lewis and Mothercare because (a) I had something to take back to John Lewis, (b) I'd heard tell of their mother and baby room, and (c) Mothercare is about as much sophistication as I can handle, right now.

First, parking is a pain. No space, apart from a disabled one, is wide enough to let me open the passenger door far enough to get into the back seat and extract Zaphod's Maxi-Cosi-fan-Tutte car seat from its clip-in seat base. So if you parked next to me and have an imperceptible dent in your drivers' side door, sorry, don't park next to me again.

Second, it's not that easy to (1) extract the child, (2) leave the child in the car seat on the wet tarmac while you get all the other kit, (3) remember the changing bag, (4) get the pram out of the boot, (5) open the pram with a deft foot movement which is nothing at all as easy as the annoying woman on the Bugaboo DVD makes it look, (6) add the adaptors to the car seat so they fit on the pram, (7) do it all quite quickly. And if it's raining, there's like 14 other things to remember/do.

Third, people - The Public - are annoying. So after all the stress of getting out of the car, Zaphod was a little unrelaxed, as was I, and people give you dirty looks if your baby's crying and one women - a stranger - even came up to me and put his dummy in his mouth before I'd even had a chance to say to her "excuse me, who are you, and when did you last wash your hands".

Before I'd even done any shopping/unshopping, Zaphod was hungry, and I thought cool, I'll go to the parent/feeding/changing room in John Lewis and we can breastfeed there. Breastfeeding in public, I still find a little tricky and I thought this would be perfect. The room is the size of my dead-small ensuite bathroom. It has three chairs and two changing tables and is next door to all the loos (there is a parent with child toilet, which is great, because I queued for ages in the child-free women's toilet only to discover the buggy doesn't fit in).

But once I'd got into the parent room and squahsed the buggy in, and taken my coat off and balanced him on my lap and unhooked my bazookas, it just wasn't that easy, and I tried and tried and just got really stressed. After a short while, I gave him a bottle (we're mixed feeding) but I don't know what the answer is, because if it means he doesn't get breast milk every time we go out, then I feel like we shouldn't really go out.


The parent room had about six buggies in it and loads of mums and it was a bit like that puzzle where you have to move the letters around but each time you move one letter, it affects all the others; I needed to change his nappy, and it required three other women to reverse out.

By now, two hours was up, and we hadn't actually done anything.

Coming out of the parent room, people got annoyed with me because I couldn't manouvere fast/well enough and I ended up sitting in the sofa department in tears with Zaphod crying/shouting and feeling like, sheesh, is this what it'll be like for the rest of my life?

Clearly not. After a certain age, and certainly for adults, you don't have to wear a full-lenght snow suit to go out, and you definitely don't have to lie on your back to put it on. Although I got pretty close when I was pregnant. Weebles wobble but they don't fall down. Apart from in my case.

Next - will I ever be able to exercise again?

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