Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Mommy Conundrum

Truman Capote once wrote that there are more tears shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones. Truman Capote, being a sensationally egomaniacal twerp, not to mention notorious homosexual deeply entrenched in the party scene in 1960’s New York obviously never considered infertility. However, these words sprang to mind around 4.30 this morning when my daughter’s regular velociraptor noises became a full throated wail and I was forced to abandon all notion of getting back to sleep in order to bring her into the living room to rock her in the rocking chair. The blackbird in the tree in the neighbor’s garden began to sing just after I sat down. I wanted to throw something, but I didn’t have anything to hand.

I knew I’d be doing this post soon enough. It seems that most blogs, even ones dealing with life after infertility, contain at LEAST one post who’s gist is, “I know that I wanted this more than anything on the planet, BUT….” I’ll apologise up front for it; I know how ungrateful it sounds. I also know that in a few months, things will most likely be better and I’ll believe that The Prawn shits sunshine and roses, but at present, I’m spending a lot of the day wanting to hide under the bed.

Ms. Prufrock, of Barren Albion wrote once, when her newborn was in middle of the worst of her GERD, that she was sure that she LOVED her daughter, but wasn’t sure that she LIKED her all that much. I’ve seen this sentiment expressed in more and more mommy blogs, which makes me feel not quite so much like a jerk. These women’s experiences helped to prepare me to accept that I might not have that love-at-first-sight experience, so it wasn’t massively disappointing when I didn’t. In fact, due to my obscenely bad hospital experience, I felt more like I’d been ambushed by a baby rather than having given birth to one.

There are some moments when it is extremely easy to like the Prawn; when she coos and smiles (this is a new trick and it won’t be long before she realizes that she can use it as a potent weapon against us.) and naps with her tiny mouth open, but the thing that sleeps in the cot at the end of our bed is a totally different creature. I mean, if someone walked into your bedroom several times during the night and went, “AAARRGGBBBBLLLLPPFTTTAH!” for hours on end, after you’d done everything in your power to meet their needs, chances are, they wouldn’t be on the top of your favourite person list. Chances are, you’d phone the police. So, why does anyone expect you to feel differently about a baby?

To add to my feelings of mommy guilt, my breastmilk supply is really not all it should be. I can hear the rattlings of the La Leche League sabers and before any of them can tear the flesh from my bones, I will admit that I probably didn’t give breastfeeding the best shot I could have. Whether expressly expressing is the “easy option” I’m not sure, (I spend twice as long on the feeding process- first extracting the milk and THEN trying to get it down the Prawn’s gullet) but it doesn’t seem to be good in supply terms. I pump every time after we feed her, whether the feeding is a breastmilk one or a formula one. The health visitor gave me a disapproving look when I mentioned that we were supplementing with formula (by supplementing, I mean half and half, but I didn’t really want to tell her that.) and told me that it was just something that I’d have to accept since I didn’t choose to feed from the breast. Not the most helpful of statements, since, during the second week of her life, the Prawn spent a lot of time screaming because she was hungry and I was TOLD to supplement. I’ve ordered some fenugreek (which sounds like some weird continental cheese to me) online as I’ve heard that it can boost production. (So can oatmeal, apparently, but no one is going to be served if I spend the morning throwing up due to it’s absolutely vile consistency, so I’ll try the fenugreek.)

The Prawn is currently asleep in her father’s lap. Swaddled in her pink cellular blanket, gently snoring and smelling of lavender baby soap, she is easy to like. To love, even. When I can feel the same at 4.30 in the morning, I’ll know I’ve arrived.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Thank You Note

To the Black Hearted Son of a Prostitute Who Has Been Using My Debit Card to Buy Phone Top up Cards and Pornography;

So glad to have been able to facilitate your texting/filthy movie habit. Being a new mum on a budget definitely gives me the leisure time and money to call my bank, sort out fraudulent transactions and then have to reclaim money that’s actually been debited to my account. You know, between nappy changes, feedings and senseless screaming, that’s exactly how I’ve envisioned spending my afternoon.

It’s gratifying to know that my maternity pay is going to a good cause.

You utter fucksock.

Love and kisses,


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Moot Point

Well, my marathon plans were scuppered by the changeable plans of my potential ride down to the city, so I suppose the Prawn and I will be watching on TV. I doubt we'll catch a glimpse of Mr. DD, but you never know. It's especially gutting because it's supposed to be an absolutely fabulous day and Mr. DD really wanted to see us at the finish line.

But now I have a new problem. I think the Prawn has a cold. (Just as well I DIDN'T go to London)

Do I own one of those baby nose sucker-outers? Of course not. Is anyone in my family around today? Nope. Are any of our friends around today? No. Am I allowed to drive yet after the c-section? Hell no. However, my baby has a bunged up schnozz, so I think I'll probably risk a trip into Aylesbury to try to find a de-snotting device.

I spent my first night alone with The Prawn last night, hence the early morning entry. To tell you the truth, I was completely wetting my pants.

I've never had a thing about wanting to be in charge. In any number of retail jobs I've had, I've always turned down further training to become a manager because I had absolutely 0 desire to be in charge of people. I don't like telling people what to do. Not only that, but if I'm pretty honest, I didn't really want the responsibility. ( I'm rubbish with numbers and don't like having to kiss the asses of random members of the public with mild personality disorders just to "keep the customer happy".)

Being left alone with a baby is like the ultimate managerial position. The customer is almost ALWAYS unhappy, needs constant supervision, will call you after hours for assistance and you can absolutely, positively NEVER lose your temper with them. Mr DD and I have successfully managed to tag team the Prawn since her arrival without either of us going spare, but after an evening spent trying to keep the screaming at bay solo,(a new phase of screaming! Awesome!) I'm feeling pretty frazzled and sleep deprived. The Prawn, of course, is sleeping happily on our bed making congested rhinoceros noises. Little bugger.

Right. I need a cup of tea.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

I Am Either Stupid or Batshit Crazy

Tomorrow, Mr. DD, unbelivably, after all of the sleep deprived nights, is going to run the London Marathon. It's his second time; he felt woefully unprepared for his first attempt and hit the metaphorical "wall" at around 16 miles. He still finished, though, and I know /I/ definitely couldn't have, so it wasn't so bad. This year, he's trained harder, is fitter and is determined to get a time beginning with a 4.

The atmosphere in the city on marathon day is hugely exciting and really positive. The sheer volume of people is amazing. Everybody cheers for everybody. Runners who aren't dressed up like Spiderman, giant rhinocerous or Cornish pasties have their names written on their shirts so that everyone can shout for them. A huge proportion of the runners are raising money for one worthy cause or another (Mr. DD is running for a local children's hospice-at-home charity that he's been involved with for about 6 years now) so there's a lot of good will sloshing around, knocking over spectators and BBC camera people. I went the last time and had planned to stay at home this year with the Prawn and watch on telly.

But I think we're going to go to cheer Daddy on in person. This is where batshit crazy comes in.

St. James Park, which leads to Buckingham Palace (at the finish line) is a large and lovely expanse of green in the city of London. While it will be full of people, there will undoubtedly be space under some shady trees for me to set up camp. I will be packed as if going on holiday, brimming over with all manner of baby equipment- buggy, carseat, ready made formula, breast pump (I've got my Hooter Hider, so no having to get my baps out in the middle of a royal park) extra clothes for her, diapers, wipes, the rain shield for the buggy and plenty of blankets. Oh yeah, and probably like a sandwich for myself or something. And then I'll stay put while the rest of the family traipses around the city, trying to catch glimpses of Mr. DD. We'll just be waiting for him at the finish line.

Now tell me, is this a truly awful idea? We've taken her out a LOT over the past few weeks- even down to the Excel Centre in London for Mr. DD to register. She's a good traveller. If I spent the day at home, chances are she'll spend the day shouting. If I take her to London, chances are, she'll spend the day sleeping and I'll get the fresh air I so richly deserve. (I've not been out of the flat in 2 days.) It's not going to be cold, (23 C. Rather too warm for the runners!) so I'm not worried about her freezing and I can always take clothes off of her if it's too hot. (Under the trees, it shouldn't be.) There are public loos in St. James Park, too, so that's me taken care of.

So, ladies, am I making a big fuckoff mistake or do you think this could work?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Whole Month of Prawn

While I often have location envy when it comes to where we live, at this time of year, we have some pretty spectacular scenery in the local woods in the form of Bluebells. They aren't what would be called Bluebells Stateside- we have those over here too, and they're known as Grape Hyacinths. These little flowers grow wild on forest floors, making for a spectacular display yearly in late April or early May.

Mr. DD and I took the Prawn up to the local bluebell woods to celebrate her 1 month birthday. The popularity of the bluebells often means large crowds despite the relative seclusion of the location, but since we went on a weekday afternoon, we almost had the whole place to ourselves. It was lovely and quiet, despite the incongrous presence of a lone ice cream man in the parking area across the street. Did we get ice cream? Hell yes, we did. Never look a gift ice cream van in the mouth.

We celebrated this evening with a chocolate cake in honor of the Prawn, who spent most of the time asleep on my mother-in-law's lap. Milestones for the first few years are more of an excuse for grown ups to have a party than anything else. I imagine that around about the age of 2 or 3, one has to start actually start having parties FOR the children and grown-ups regretably have to stop drinking to make sure that no one gets hurt or sets fire to anything.

So, a whole month of the Prawn. Long may she reign.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Thoughts in the Early Morning

So, it's just past 6 am.

Everyone warns you about the sleepless nights. However, it's hard to fully wrap your brain around the fact that it doesn't matter how badly YOU need something, because now there is something else that needs something MORE. (Or, in some cases, doesn't need anything, but will still make Tyrannosaurus noises at 3 am nonetheless.)

It's funny that things that seem cute and endearing during daylight hours take on a sinister angle once it gets dark. You can't help but think, "You're doing this on purpose, aren't you?" Of course, my daughter hasn't yet developed the cognitive capacity to thwart my authority, but after the 15th time she's kicked the covers off her feet, woken herself up and started grizzling, I get a sinking feeling regarding her potential for evil during toddler and teenage years.

Mr. DD shares nighttime duties. (Although this week, he's trying to get as much sleep as possible due to the fact that he's running the London Marathon next Sunday. I'll be surprised if he wakes up in his hotel room on time to make it to the start line.) Due to my obviously black heart and inadequate breast milk supply we supplement with formula, making it easy for him to join in the feeding fun. He, however, escapes moo-cow duties with the super sucker, which I believe is rapidly giving me a bad case of RSI. ( I do have an electric pump as well, but at night, the noise is too jarring.) Pumping is a drag, but when you have a baby who is as contrary when it comes to breastfeeding as the Prawn, it's the only way to go. After a few weeks of her gleefully destroying my nipples at every opportunity, I gave up and started expressing, which I found easier at any rate, because I could be sure that a) my supply was adequate and b) how much she was eating in one sitting. (125 ml. Little oinker.) Supplementing was something that made me feel guilty for about 15 minutes, but after her last health visit when we discovered she'd put on 2 pounds, the guilt rapidly diminished. She's still getting the good stuff 3 or 4 times a day and she's not yelling any more just due to her being hungry. I can't feel guilty for feeding my child.

It's hard to believe that she's been with us for nearly a month now. Although I feel my brain leaking out of my ears as I speak, I know our experience with her so far could have been much worse. She DOES sleep, although not when we want her to just yet. She's not overly fretful. She travels well. (One of my big fears was being cooped up in the house for months on end, but she happily sleeps in her buggy or car seat while we take advantage of the brilliant weather and have lunch al fresco in a pub garden or visit friends.) And she smiles. (No, it's totally not just wind.) All in all, not to bad. But I certainly have a huge amount of respect for SAHMs who's partners AREN'T home during the day. How you ladies get anything accomplished is beyond me.

The Prawn is draped over me on the living room couch at the moment. Come 7.30, I may wake Marathon Man so that I can have a quick snooze before the day begins in earnest.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Living with Muppets

My parents, who left yesterday to go back home, (to a great weeping and gnashing of teeth on this side of the ocean) brought with them a recording of a Sesame Street album that I spent many, many hours listening to as a child. I bought it on ebay last year with the idea that the Prawn could also benefit from it’s wholesome goodness. Although the Prawn slept through it’s first playing, I’m sure that she will also spend many happy hours enjoying songs like Old MacDonald, On Top of Old Smoky and John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmitt. It's strange to think the recording was made the year that I was born and now my daughter will be listening to it too.

The album opens with the long suffering and dreadfully anal retentive Bert taking a leisurely bath when his perpetually orange, hetero life-mate Ernie bursts through the door of the bathroom with his piano and the entire population of the Sesame Street ‘hood in order to have a singalong. Along the way, the shindig aquires any number of monsters, a motorcycle, a big bird and finally, in the coup de gras, the University of Michigan marching band. Rather a tall order to cope with when you’re sitting naked in a tub of rapidly cooling water. (in so far as muppets are capable of being naked, at any rate.)

Am I right in thinking that if Ernie was anyone’s real life roommate, it’d be only about a week before they started to seriously consider putting rat poison in his breakfast cereal?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

After the Storm



It’s obviously taken me some time to getting around to blogging again. Mainly because typing one handed is somewhat laborious. The Prawn is not so amenable to being put down unless in a deep state of unconsciousness. When I have visions of never again being able to get anything accomplished, I must remind myself that she is only two weeks old and does not grasp complex concepts like laundry, paying bills and other people eating. I miss eating.

But unconscious is just the way we like her at the moment. Awake generally means shouting, but at the moment, as her American grandparents are here, there are two extra sets of arms to hold her every minute of the day, so it means lots more peace and quiet. It’s strange how quickly you can forget what things were like WITHOUT a baby once one moves into your house- our flat is really rather peaceful.

It’s obviously taken some adjusting. Mr. DD and I are having to learn to take turns doing everything. “Here, hold this,” has become the most uttered phrase in the house over the past two weeks. We miss eachother, to be honest- after almost 12 year together as constant companions, getting used to life as a threesome is a little bit of a rude awakening. The sleeplessness, I expected. The crying, the diapers, none of it a surprise. But missing my husband when he’s sitting in the same room…that was a bit of a shock.

I was expecting to have something eminently profound to say about the state of parenthood after infertility, but I’ve been struggling to find any profundity in my everyday life at the moment. My daughter is beautiful. I love her extremely long toes at the end of her tiny feet. I love the way her head smells after we shampoo her hair. I wake up in the night whenever she makes one of those alarming baby noises that makes it sound like they’re choking on half a club sandwich. (Damn those noises. They suck.) But I think that my feelings right now are pretty basic and fairly common. Fear of screwing up, especially when left on my own. Joy that she’s finally arrived and that she’s safe and healthy. Sorrow for the life that we had before. And just the general dose of screwed-uppedness that most new mothers find themselves facing. I’d feel vaguely silly trying to shed any new light on early motherhood. The best I can manage in the way of insight is to say, “Yeah. Me too.”

It’s going to get easier. I suspect this because everyone tells me so. And, like 70 different people with children under the age of 2 aren’t all likely to be wrong. It’s just hard to believe that all will be well while we are currently doing our best walking dead impression and the colicky Prawn is squealing bloody murder in my earhole.

To be continued.