My Funny Mummy
I absolutely hated it.
It must be me. But that first week of crusty, leaking, scabbed, shrivelled nipples did not the natural, maternal instinct in me uncover. Okay, okay...I'm not big on self harm, so maybe I missed the point, but I could not see how anyone could even tolerate breastfeeding, never mind find it enjoyable on any level.
Blood sodden, stretched, stitched gusset aside, I had been ready to rock out the super sexy nursing bra look. Ready to share the wealth of my lactation. I knew the drill. And that first, immediately post delivery 'skin to skin' feed was textbook: nose to nipple...aim...fire. Bob on.
Clearly, as feed numbers 2-106 revealed, the Syncotonin/Diamorphine/Epidural cocktail was still very much at large about my blissfully ignorant central nervous system.
Because feeds 2-106 were...erm...how to phrase it...a heinous, satanic journey of fear and dread, stopping off, comprehensively, at Jesus Christ What The Hell Is She Doing Junction, I Can't Do This Anymore Avenue, She's Bitten It She's Bitten It Parkway and concluding at No Wonder They've Inverted Central. Fortunately the sadomasochist in me won out, so I scraped each areola from the floor, taped them back on my chest and pressed on with the whole excruiating business.
Fast forward fifteen weeks. Breast feeding is now routinely calm and gentle, provided I am not trying to empty the dishwasher/sign for a parcel/single handedly lay a patio at the same time.
Last week, the Health Visitor recommended that my hungry Betty Poop's appetite could perhaps be supplemented by the addition of a daily formula bottle feed. Apparently, the bulky, less digestable nature of formula will make her feel fuller for longer.
"Great," I initially thought, "no problem". We priced up the options, picked the most nutritious and chucked it in the trolley. We arrived at the till, loaded up the belt, paid and returned home. Unpacking the bags and restocking our cupboards, Dave noted that the formula hadn't made it home.
"Oh? Weird. Must have fallen out of the trolley." I said, as my pants suddenly ignited.
Upon readying myself to add the container in question to our shopping bill, I suddenly realised I didn't want this to happen. I didn't want to give up those quiet, close opportunities to study that beautiful little face. A face that will soon enough tell me she is "too busy" or "off out" to regularly lie cuddling with Mum. Turns out breast feeding, after the initial, quite literal, teething problems, has become one of my ABSOLUTE MOST FAVOURITE THINGS TO DO. Need we really end our intimate suckling time because 'society' says we should?
I mean, what is so wrong with a mother, sat happily chatting in polite company, taking her twenty six year old daughter to her lap to dine out at her blissfully ample bosom? Surely the national obesity epidemic could be wiped out over night, if ageing mums united in offering to replace the Managing Director's Slim Fast with a Milk Duct? Packed lunches would create no waste, the transfer of maternal antibodies would deem healthcare unnecessary and world peace would be a lactose induced reality.
Okay, so my daughter becomes a social outcast. Yes, she'll have no mates, no boyfriends and no credibility. She will be shunned by employers and known as an out and out weirdo.
Still, she'll always have her doting Mum there, ready to give her a big, thoroughly inappropriate cuddle and wipe away the cold tears of shame.
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Betty's been on Calpol for her cold. This means a daily amble down a gauntlet which involves: juggling a baby, a bottle and a loaded syringe, getting to her when her mouth is open, tipping her head back, inserting the syringe far enough into her mouth so that she will have to swallow its contents, not scratching her mouth when she is writhing around resisting, encouraging her to close her mouth once the liquid is dispensed so it doesn't run out of the corners, all while squirting water out of a flower on my jacket and pulling 40ft of coloured hankerchieves from my pocket. Miraculously, I can actually pull all this off (well, provided I choose to ignore the large sticky medicine patches I throughout the day discover liberally dotted about my clothing).
Within twenty minutes of administering, Betty is usually much brighter and more content. However.
After twenty four hours on the stuff a side effect emerged. Having only ever consumed the bland, tasteless secretion of my bosom, the heavily processed concoction hit her digestive system with impressive force. A bitterly cloying, sticky, rancid, retchingly horrific stench tore through her nappy. Baulking violently at the putrid, festering, repugnant tang, we raced clumsily to the changing table, frantically scratching at the sticky tabs holding the horror together. Dave, dizzied by the noxious gases, foolishly released the staggeringly fetid, rotten pong of a linctus laced do-do, so it could set about its intended business of physically assaulting every innocent hooter within a three mile radius. Gagging uncontrollably, we retreated to another room to gather our strength. After composing ourselves enough to facilitate the collection of Betty's reeking bum bouquet, we set about managing the ensuing fall out. Smears, stains, soils and skids littered the change table, all of which were double bagged and uneasily disposed of.
In an outdoor bin. Which was promptly padlocked then wheeled to the end of our drive, in the hope some kids might steal it or set fire to it.
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Time to ship out.
After exactly three months (thirteen weeks to the day), Betty's moving out. She's not quite up to her own council tax yet, so after lengthy negotiations, we compromised and put her in her own room.
There is a part of me that will miss her nappy rustles in the night. A part of me that will, in the wee small hours of the morning, regret the move when I have to run naked, shivering, boobs leaking, across the landing. A part of me will yearn for the days when we heard every restful sigh and dreaming whimper, every tiny parp and rip roaring man trump. I'll pine for her happy chattering when she wakes, and the cloying, acrid stench of faeces I rise and shine to every morning.
I won't miss various stains of bodily fluid on our bed - sick, wee, poo, drool, boob milk. An assortment of smears has been routinely and unflinchingly rubbed, sniffed and diagnosed over the last three months. The properties of bile vs the attributes of phlegm would be my speciality on Mastermind. In fact, so at ease are we with our bed blemishes, the discovery of a poo blob on Dave's pillow stirred in him nothing but a shrug and a pillow flip.
I won't miss thinking I've heard Betty stop breathing in the night. Her twilight respiration has been a source of constant torment for Dave and I, so much so that her deafening, boorish, grunting snore is infinitely preferable (albeit impossible to sleep through). Racing from the covers and staring hard at her through the darkness waiting to see her chest rise and fall has over time been updated by a rather more sophisticated system. Yet stethoscopes, monitors that beep and scribbly graph paper things do not a lullaby replace.
Finally, entering your bedroom, opening drawers, drawing curtains, undressing and hanging up clothes while not making a single sound is pretty difficult. Velcro is currently band. But when you are going to bed, the one thing you absolutely, under no circumstances, cannot avoid, is, well...getting into bed. Somehow, over the last three months, the act of inserting bodies into our divan has become an orchestral manouevere in the dark. Crunches, twangs, rustles and comedy spring sounds scream wildly from our memory foam. Surely some sort of Acme sound stage must be secretly housed within. If only a blacksmith's anvil hung precariously over our bed, I would swear we live in an actual Tom and Jerry cartoon.
So roll on tonight's bed time when we can bound noisily into our smear free duvet and find a brand new set of worries to faff about.
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First gym session in a year on Saturday. The crippling pain has multiplied by twenty five EVERY DAY since. It's Tuesday. That's seventy five times more pain today than when I was doing the workout (when I honestly considered dropping a weight on my foot in the hope that the agony would chart lower than the 'burn' on the Ohmygod-O-Mometer).
Surely I now class as actually disabled? I mean, I can't walk unaided, I clearly warrant a parking space near the door, and I am currently pricing up Stannah stairlifts.
Shopmobility was invented for MY LEGS on this VERY DAY. My thighs currently: weigh about 13 stone each, are so tight they can be strummed like a very high pitched banjo string, and are clearly just as flabby and dimpled as they were before I invited Wily Coyote to fire them out of a cannon.
My arms hang lifelessly from my pathetic body. So deadened are they, I am considering hiring them out as makeshift speed bumps. The Christmas pocket money would come in useful in a way the arms currently don't. Picking up a cup of tea is a perilous ordeal which involves teeth clenching, large stains and a mish-mash of scolds.
My abs have had a run in with an anvil. My hair hurts. My teeth are tired. My trainers are still sobbing quietly in the wardrobe and my sports bra is currently seeking legal advice. Why did I do this to myself?
Because I want to be slim; sexy; svelte. Lithe, lean and lovely.
Then, these happened.
£1.39 for the closest thing to heaven on this God's earth.
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Primary school Carol Concert.
A stage of black elasticated school pumps, school jumpers and wooden benches with nobbles on. Tiny voices, toothless grins and "It's me Nan!" waves.
An audience of proud parents, tearful grandparents and bored, nose-picking siblings. An audience meant only for smiles, applause and respectful silence.
Then, as always, someone introduces an 'out of her depth mother' nursing a tired, hungry, pooey three month old baby. I used to hate that mother. Today I was her.
Determined not be that woman; determined not to ruin the performance with distracting Betty wails, I went well armed. 407 sterilised dummies, 27 clean nappies, 13 muslin cloths, 9 blankets, 2 changes of clothing and 1 kayak. With physical, psychological and emotional tactics at my intimidatingly well armoured disposal, Angelina Jolie was right to poo her pants a bit. I would not be beaten. Spent the last two weeks honing my reaction times with some taut rounds of Buckeroo, Operation and Pop Up Pirate. Yes, the army fatigues were a bit overboard: the personalised numberplate said enough (D0N'7 CR1).
Focused, poised, alert to the slightest whimper, I was ready for any mode of attack Betty might throw at me.
I arrived. Set up camp. At the back, end of the aisle. Plenty of pacing space. Tracked down the nearest exit/baby change/fire alarm. Totally committed. Totally prepared. Totally terrified.
The children and staff of Barrow Hall Primary School, Warrington, worked as hard as ever to put together a humorous and harmonious version of the Nativity. And flying in the face of my meticulous preparation, Betty slept through all of it.
THANK GOD (I never quite got to grips with those carabenas).
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