Do I have to be sociable?

So, the tiny himage1uman is now nearly 11 weeks old and unsurprisingly, life has changed in many ways for me. I am a Mum.

Sometimes, this role is incredible – watching your little person grow and learn, seeing their face light up when you look at them and my favourite, endless baby cuddles.

But sometimes it’s shit. And I’ve learned that it is ok to say that it is shit.

Being a stay at home Mum is a huge responsibility and the days where the baby screams constantly for no apparent reason are the hardest. My liver cries for gin and my lungs for nicotine, but I cant. For I am ‘Mum’. And I will have to get on with it. And I do. And then, within no time at all, this small and loud being is laughing and giggling again. Talk about mood swings…

Since Leo has arrived, I have been determined to continue life as before. We have been abroad, shopping, out to dinner, taken him to Thorpe Park and I have even taught a dance class with him strapped to my chest – he slept through all of these! For the first 9 weeks I regularly found myself in town, at a friends, driving somewhere and generally not being at home for any significant amount of time. Apart from being exhausting for both myself and Leo, I felt like I wasn’t getting the most out of the time I have with him.

So, I made a change. I make sure that we have at least two days a week at home, where I can spend the whole time learning about my kid. Learning what makes him laugh, cry, giggle, jump and whinge, what his favourite part of the obnoxious playmat is, how long he can actually stay in a swingy chair (as opposed to how long he wants to) and so much more. I have just laughed my ass off at how disgusting my child is – it was a mega ‘poonami’ which took out a baby grow, leggings, towel and the majority of my nasal senses – all whilst vomiting (him, not me). But when he looks at me with his giant blue eyes, for one singular moment, we connect and I know that he understands that wiping shit off his balls is rancid and we get even closer.

Apart from seeing my lovely friends and venturing to the COOP for more ginger biscuits (my husband cant just eat a few; he demolishes the whole pack), the only thing we HAVE to venture out from ‘babyland base’ for is, Baby Massage.

I know what you are thinking – I thought the same. Why in the name of all that is good and pure does a baby need a massage? Feeding, sleeping and cute-ing isn’t stressful? I can honestly say that the class run by Isabelle at The Secret Garden in Hitchin is fantastic. And Leo loves it. Check out their Facebook page for classes, lunches and generally wonderful stuff for Mums, babies and toddlers: Secret Garden Pop-up

Along with other new Mums, we all gather and lay out little lads (an all boy class by coincidence!) on mats, in a lovely cosy room with relaxing music and the sweet aroma of zero judgement. The course is 6 weeks long and each week, we cover the different massage techniques for different parts of the body. Leo has been unfortunately blessed with my thighs, but adores the exercise where they are wiggled – basically, we jiggle his fat. Poor boy.

Isabelle guides us through the sessions brilliantly and as we avoid being peed or pooed on (babies are all naked), the babies get a lovely massage with baby safe oil. When the massaging part of the session is over, most of the babies are hungry (they have worked SO hard…) so we sit around, boobs and bottles out, sipping squash and politely only taking one biscuit. Talking with the other Mums, it becomes clear that everyone goes through the same stuff when a new baby arrives. Everyone has the same doubts, worries and fears, as well as the almighty highs that mum-hood brings. Leaving that baby massage class each week, I feel rejuvinated and confident that I can do this. Breast feeding a baby whilst on the loo is not embarrassing or shameful – it’s a damn skill and I’m proud of it!*

So, do i have to be sociable? No. Do i want to? Yes.

Because getting out and slagging off your kid with other new mums, as well as your partner, the cashier in the COOP for making a comment about the volume of ginger nut biscuits being consumed and anyone else that has inferred with a single look that you’re not perfect, is good for me. It reminds me that I am a human. Not a robot, super wife or anything equally as skilled.

I am a Mum. And sometimes, I am shit at ‘Mumming’. But sometimes, I am awesome.

 

*I’m not proud of it. But I had no choice**.

**There was some choice. But I only realised this afterwards.

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Going On Holiday With A Newborn

Taking a child of any age on holiday can be, shall we say, challenging. Even when someone announces they’re taking their 6 month old abroad they’re often met with exaggerated looks of shock and unsolicited judgemental comments. That’s why when we decided to book our holiday before our baby had even been born, potentially facing the prospect of taking a 3 week old away, it came as no surprise when a sizeable number of people had no qualms in telling us to our faces that they thought we were completely fucking insane.

1. Get The Timing Right

Our due date was the end of July and we were determined to have a holiday before the summer ended, so we hoped for the best, booked it in and fortunately it all worked out. It was a big gamble though. If anything had gone wrong and we weren’t able to make it, we would have lost a lot of money on flights and accommodation on top of any other complications. If the baby had been delivered late by caesarian, we simply wouldn’t have been able to fly. This is something we knew from the get go but the reality didn’t really sink in until our due date came and went. This is when we made a solemn pact: one way or another, this baby was coming out in the customary way. Via nature’s doorway to the world. The good old fashioned vagina. It was a pact we realistically had absolutely no control over, but what can we say? We’re optimists.

This level of risk is not necessarily something we’d recommend though. Although you’ll end up spending more money, there are loads of last minute deals online meaning you can book at short notice once the baby has been born instead of trying to lure your offspring out by playing nursery rhymes and making intriguing animal noises next to your wife’s crotch.

2. Book Seats with Extra Leg Room

This is by no means essential, but it will make your flight that little bit more tolerable. Most airlines have a few rows of seats where you’re not constantly peeling your face off the back of someone else’s chair. It also means you’re not continuously asking another passenger to get up or having to let them squeeze past when you need to go to the changing room. Nothing is more embarrassing than carrying a screaming baby to the toilet when their overflowing nappy decides to rupture all over a stranger’s lap.

3. Get Air Conditioning!

What good fortune that everyone we told about our holiday to Spain reminded us that it’s likely to be quite hot there. Thank God you mentioned it, I’ll put our fucking Arctic windbeaters away at once. Yes, of course Spain is going to be hot. But last time I checked people had babies in Spain too. And Italy, and Greece, and Saudi Arabia, and Australia and Africa. The baby isn’t going to start sizzling like a pork loin the second we leave the aeroplane.

That said, reasonable precautions do need to be taken to make sure your baby doesn’t overheat and break on you. They struggle to maintain body temperature in the same way adults do and the recommended level for them is a surprisingly low 18-20 degrees. By far the easiest and most stress free way of making sure your baby doesn’t melt like a cheap tarmac driveway, is getting a place with air conditioning. It not only gives you peace of mind that your baby is safe at night, but it also gives you a place to cool off and de-stress when it’s all getting a bit too much and you find yourself in serious danger of suffering a heat-stroke-induced episode of wanting to fucking murder someone. Which brings us to our next handy titbit.

4. Drink!

This is a piece of advice that applies to pretty much all areas of life aside from driving heavy vehicles and performing major heart surgery. Your holiday should be no exception. Obviously it’s not advisable to get completely shit-hammered when you’re in charge of a child, but this is your holiday, it is going to stressful, and your own natural positive mental attitude may just not cut it. So unless your religion specifically forbids it (and if it does I suggest you thoroughly re-read the small print) make sure to have a cocktail or two……….or seven……..teen.

5. Prepare to Spend Less Time With Your Partner

Unless you both want to spend your entire holiday in the shade, you’re going to have to split up a lot of the time. For some reason nature decided to bestow our babies with pasty, useless subterranean mole-rat skin, not at all suited to life on beautiful sun-kissed beaches. Even just a minute in the afternoon sun risks scorching your baby’s lovely new face. And nothing would prove all those newborn holiday doubters right quite like taking home a 4-week old with oozing, blistery 3rd degree sunburn.

So if there is any point whatsoever in going on holiday, splitting up is absolutely essential, especially if you have older kids who want to be off swimming, fishing, snorkelling and recklessly launching themselves off 30 foot rocks. You’re just going to have to accept that at times you’ll have to take it in turns doing a bit of solitary shift work in the shade with the baby. Oh, but be careful. Turns out babies can burn in the shade too.