Monday, October 22, 2012

Seven Bags O' Sugar

Thank you all very much for your good advice, kind wishes and finger-crossing! I'll be in touch in person when my new boss decides to sleep for more than 10 minutes at a time ... xxx
(Don't be fooled. He's plotting something.)

Oh. Emm. Gee!
You are not going to believe this, but soon after publishing my last post on the 5th October, I went into labour! Clearly, the one method I had not tried actually worked: write miffed blog-post about resigning oneself to one's fate. And bing! The contractions start.

So: childbirth. Not a walk in the park. Not entirely pleasant. One becomes familiar with practically every bodily fluid one can produce - and that in a 24-hour period and in front of total strangers. And one is so physically overwhelmed, one resigns oneself to one's messy fate. Having said that, though, childbirth was no better or no worse than I'd expected and I managed to accidentally do it naturally, because by the time I'd decided that it really did jolly well hurt, goshdarnit, it was too late for an epidural. (Before I get applause and a rubber medal for my bravery, I would like to add that once the baby had been born and I'd enquired about his general good health and had been reassured that all of his appendages were in place and good working order, I turned to my husband and said, "If I ever do this again, I WANT AN EPIDURAL!" A martyr I am not.) And at 3.5 kg he was only seven bags of sugar after all.

In any case, four days later, Mr Gingerbread and I were sent home with a very small, black-eyed stranger that we named John. We both have blue eyes, but newborns - being pigmentally-challenged - often have darker eyes. Our young 'un has little black button eyes that swivel around the room, trying to follow us. It's quite disconcerting. I've also learned a lot about babies and thought I'd share - for the benefit of those of you who are thinking about a smidgen of reproduction.

(There are only three things because ... well, babies only do three things at the start.)
1. Sleep
It doesn't matter how nice the cot or bassinet is, it doesn't even matter if you've toiled for hours over his handmade blankie and coordinated his bed linen in a fashion otherwise unknown in your household, babies want to sleep ON you. Oh, and it doesn't even matter if you're grotty and unwashed, if your hair looks like a bird's nest and you're still wearing the same pyjamas you've been meaning to throw into the laundry hamper for the past two days but when night-time comes, you're too worn out to open the wardrobe and pull out a new one - no! Babies think there is  no better place to catch a few zzzzs. The uncurl their little claws hands with their teeny-tiny claws fingernails and clamp them into the delicate flesh of your chest, digging their tiny claws feet into your stomach for a good hold.

2. Poo
There will be a lot of it, and it will go from being something that's rarely discussed as a matter of delicacy, to something that you and your partner will openly speculate about at the dinner table. For there is a lot of it and it comes in a range of colours. More astonishingly, it gets everywhere. How a person (albeit a very small and wriggly one) can simultaneously have poo on his nipples and on the soles of his feet whilst encased in a brand-name diaper is beyond me. I wouldn't have thought it possible till yesterday - but now I know it's true. And small babies don't like being naked. Who'd have thought it? You see all of those Anne Geddes photos and presume that there's nothing a baby likes more than lounging about in the nude in a flower pot or whatnot - lies! All lies! They don't like it at all and they scream their fluffy little heads off in protest as soon as you undo a couple of buttons on their trousers.

3. Eat
Rather than being the beatific vision of Madonna-like contentment, suckling babe in arms and a halo of hazy sunlight around my head, my breastfeeding endeavours resemble something from the World Wrestling Federation: my baby is a very enthusiastic and greedy eater. And my boobess are delicate flowers. The combination is fatal. To start, I have to hold down baby's frantically waving arms while he tries to claw my delicate flowers and sideswipe the nipples. He roars in protest (because he does not like being restrained) while I pin down his flailing limbs and shove the nipple in his mouth. Everyone says you ought to bring the child to the nipple and not vice versa, but bringing the child to my bewb requires a level of foolhardy bravery that I do not have. When he finally latches on, he'll maul me contentedly for a while, detach himself and then after a couple of seconds of confusion, roar his head off at me for starving him so cruelly.

People, this is strenous. The child is a hard taskmaster. Just when we think we've got him figured out ("Aha! He likes to take long naps in the afternoons!"), he does the exact opposite, leaving us bewildered and confused.
"He's flippin' lucky he's so darned cute," I growled at my husband at 4.30 a.m. this morning, as I disposed of a reeking Pampers and wiped a dimply bottom (while my offspring screamed his head off because I exposed his buttocks to the fresh night air.) And therein lies the rub: babies are cute. It's hard to hold a grudge when they roll their little black eyes in your direction and slurp sloppy newborn kisses on your face.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Eight Bags O' Sugar

A card my sister made for me. And spookily
accurate, to boot. Except for the shoes - I
couldn't get my swollen feet into those.

You've probably noted the silence on my part and thought, "Oh, the Gingerbread Lady must be enjoying the delights of her newborn!" - cue Hallmark-esque visions of me snuggling a tiny infant wrapped in a carefully crocheted baby blanket, enveloped in the hirsute arms of my loving husband.

Not at all. Baby Gingerbread is quite happy inside, it would seem. He's in no hurry to exit the premises whatsoever - his due date has come and gone and he, if anything, is just getting comfortable. This has left me in a kind of limbo: I can't wander too far from home, just in case something happens. I can't make an awful lot of plans for the near future, because something will happen. So I've turned into a kind of crafting hermit. My biggest challenge this week has been to make a similar blanket to one I've done already - similar, but different, because the recipients are twins. In my other life (the one where I'm more organised), I would neatly record all the yarn I use for a particular project - and I try, I do, honest - but the original blanket was a scrapghan and when I tried to recreate it, I discovered that a couple of the yarns had been discontinued and one or two more were of unknown origin. So the second blanket is ... similar. But quite different.
As I planned all along.
(Shhh. That's what we're going to say.)

Expelling one would be a challenge - but eight!Eight!

I was getting a bit miffed about still being pregnant, mostly because my rotundity is the talk of the neighbourhood (all of our neighbours are senior citizens; this is exciting stuff). Whenever I leave the house, I am subject to a barrage of tired witticisms ("Don't worry - no baby's remained in there permanently yet!") or advice ("Have you tried eating a curry?" Yes, daily. Or: "I've heard a bit of wink-wink with the husband gets things going!" A very disturbing thing to hear from a geriatric neighbour with a zimmerframe) or plain old despair ("Oh no! Don't tell me you're still here!" Yes, I am. Thanks a million - now I know how Typhoid Mary felt.) But then something changed. A doctor at the maternity clinic told my husband and me that baby's estimated weight was 3.4 kg (8lbs 4oz, if you'd like it imperial.) Mr Gingerbread gasped aloud - gasped! - and clapped his hand over his mouth.
"An 8lb baby isn't that big!" I chided him. "That's in the normal range!"
The doctor confirmed it. Babies are sometimes 9lbs. Or 10lbs. Or more.
Husband sat down on the nearest chair.

But I didn't quite get what had bothered him - till we got home. Then we made a pyramid of foodstuffs on the kitchen counter - coffee, flour, sugar, oatflakes - and I realised that I have something as big as EIGHT BAGS OF SUGAR INSIDE ME! This was the point when I decided that I was going to cross my legs quite firmly and implore Baby Gingerbread to stay put. Like, forever. I've gotten used to him in there, and he's clearly quite happy. It sounds like an ideal solution for everyone.