Each week I'll post a new chapter of a little online parenting book. Hopefully it will keep you smiling and remembering all the good things and the scary things about this journey called parenting...
Ladies and gents, I’m going to tell you about my journey of discovery and it’s going to be Warts ‘n All. No sugar coating, just honesty and my real feelings and emotions around this strange and wonderful little thing called parenting. When I started to plan this journey journey, I am not ashamed to admit that I was a parenting book junkie – anything and everything that I could lay my little grubby paws on, was proudly placed in my bookshelf to add to my ever increasing pile of ‘to read’ lists. In my mind, I had this idealistic picture of a family – happy healthy pregnancy, baby coming out looking like the picture of calm and serenity, me breastfeeding happily and so that lovely picture continues. STOP – back up! This isn’t what it’s really like – trust me there are moments, good and bad, but I don’t think I went into this whole thing with a realistic viewpoint. The moment you conceive, and before for some of us, who become slaves to the ovaries, it’s full of ups and downs. Elation followed by fear, then worry, then extreme happiness, then anxiety, then calm and then elation again. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the whole journey from start to end – although arguably parenting NEVER ends – is an emotional rollercoaster and like the title of the book, long, winding, bumpy, dusty, pothole and scenic. In my quest to describe parenting I’ve come across the idea that it’s a bit like an obstacle course, and you need to have some gusto and tenacity as well as a calm and positive attitude to navigate this obstacle course. It can be rewarding and challenging, and the more you’re prepared for it the better. To those of you, who are my nearest and dearest, please forgive me for explaining parenting like an obstacle course, I love it, but there should at least be a hazard and danger sign for the uninitiated.
The reason I decided to write my ‘memoirs’ about parenting, is that we’ve had quite a journey, both good and bad. Being a first time mom I had no idea what to expect. I had also never held a baby in my life and had not been around babies, so the journey was even more of a discovery of me and the people around me. I’m hoping that you’ll find this funny, warming, entertaining and most of all enlightening. This is how it goes...
My journey starts in New Zealand, where my hubby and I, after 6 years of marriage, decide that perhaps now is the time to start adding to our little family unit. So being the eternal party animals we smoke and drink as much as we can in absolute fear that this is all going to end soon. No responsibility, selfishly just living our lives for each other, and having a really good time with it. We get back to London, geared and ready for action, when a strange little moment happens between hubby and me – that eye contact where both know each others thoughts. In unison we cry out together – ‘PUB – NOW’. So over a good couple of drinks we look at the pros and cons and examine ourselves as to whether we are really ready for this. I mean, I can’t even keep a plant alive, I don’t know how I’ll fare with a baby. I mean watering once a week is just too much for me!!! In the end we decide ok, we think we can do this, whilst nervously hanging onto our cigarettes and pints like they were our child. By the way, this methodical approach is very normal in our household. They don’t call my husband ‘Corporal’ for nothing! Everything, I mean everything, needs to be well thought out and planned, so why should parenting be any different. I mean we even work to spreadsheets for goodness sakes – yes, you read that correctly. I somehow suspect these control freaks of people might get a bit of a shock!!!!
TIMING: 6 MONTHS
PHASE 1 OF 3
Right, so the spreadsheet with the timing plan is drawn up and printed out, part 1 needs to be implemented. I need to get a permanent job with all the bells and whistles. I had been contracting for quite some time, and I needed to con them into making me a permanent employee –maternity leave, paid annual leave and sick leave, need I say anymore. As always everything is planned out and hubby and I sit over very many drinks and cigarettes, AGAIN, to plan our attack and wax lyrical about how wonderful I really am and a big international conglomerate could in no way do without me! Into the boss ladies office with a wonderful appraisal of myself and vast explanations of how valuable I am and the unbelievable contribution I make to the team. Not that I really think all of this stuff, but if I don’t say it nobody else will. Hey, it seems that the beer worked wonders for our brains as a neat little contract lands on my desk. I can’t sign quickly enough and harass them to get all in order. So part 1 complete – well done me! Already I can see that I’m so ready for parenthood – I mean look at the lengths I will go to, to protect my child! Hmmmm, I can see the ‘Mother Teresa’ of moms emerging. Nice happy thought!
In our well thought out plans, we have exactly 6 months to fall pregnant – if it happens before I will look like a complete lecher trying to squeeze everything out of my company. OK, well it is partly true, however I need to make it look good. More importantly, my mind needs a bit of adaptation time – this is a really big thing for me. I am the least maternal person you will ever meet, have never held a baby, run for the hills when I see one, and glaze over when my friends talk about having babies! Honestly, I’m really excited, just need some time getting used to the idea and picturing myself as a mother – mmmmm having some very big difficulties with this one, and have bad mental block (a bit like writers block). So 6 months I have and here we go with our well laid out plan.
TIMING: 6 MONTHS
PHASE 2 OF 3
Right, so we’re ready! The second part of the plan needs to be implemented. I need to give up my most favourite thing in the whole world (besides my husband) – smoking! I know, I know, I know it’s bad for me, but all I can see is that little white stick in front of me, torturing me day and night. I become ‘The Wicked Witch of South West London’ and am an absolute nightmare to anyone who dares cross my path. I dream of a cigarette in my mouth, I plan all sorts of devious things in order to get a cigarette in my mouth, and resent this whole pregnancy malarkey for taking away my crutch. Yes it is a crutch, I know that too, but I still crave it. Somehow, sometime, I actually get over this and in the greatest of shocks and horrors to myself, I have given up smoking. It’s not that bad, I am now a pure healthy goddess that is going to have a baby and can take on the world. Those people, who came across me in the last couple of weeks, visibly relax in my company again. The world is good according to me. Part 2 of the plan is now also complete. WOW, we really are cut out for this. It’s amazing. We’re screaming through the timing plan way ahead of schedule!
TIMING: 6 MONTHS
PHASE 3 OF 3
Next part of the plan... we need to actually start the physical act of trying for a baby. Again of course, I’ve read all the books, and really try not to make this too clinical, but somehow it becomes that! The husband is called upon to perform his duties, and the most dignified part of this whole thing is lying on the bed afterwards with my legs pointing to heaven, and literally just waiting! I mean, seriously, how dignified can you get?
I’ve now abstained from cigarettes and alcohol for a couple of weeks and nerves and excitement are running through my veins. Will it happen or won’t it happen? I feel like I have no control over this, and I always have to feel control in my life to manage. Again, a strange feeling crosses over me, like I think I might have to change a little bit. Hmmmm... not sure about this one. To add to the out of control feeling, I literally have no idea when my monthly cycle is due to start (never have, probably never will) – doctors ask and people ask me sometimes and I stare back at them with a very blank expression on my face as if to say ‘do people really know this stuff?’ Apparently they do. So I go through this up and down see-saw of not knowing when or what, but eventually I just relax and leave the rest up to the powers that be! For once, I’m not talking about myself here!!!!
One Friday afternoon I’m at work, feeling like a bloated pig, ankles swollen, stomach sticking out like a big blob, and get the feeling that something is just a bit different in my body. Off I go, only to discover that the monthly cycle has come. I can’t describe my disappointment – I didn’t think I would feel this way, but somehow I feel really cheated even though we are only in month 1.
That night we hit the town, and through my haze of disappointment, I pour every bit of alcohol down my throat that I can find, and become tearfully quite sloshed. Slurring to my husband how sad I am and behaving in a way that I didn’t know was possible for me. Needless to say I didn’t feel so hot the next morning...100 little men banging in my head and riding the waves in my tummy. Through this haze, I still have this unnerving feeling that something is different in my body, despite the bleeding and the enormous hangover, I can’t explain it I just feel different. Right, we should go and get a pregnancy test. Hey, he says ‘what happened to the 6 month thing?’ Oh...um, well I’m not really sure that we are even pregnant, but all of a sudden there is a real feeling of, this is all happening way too fast. Put the brakes on, I’m not sure I can do this.
So, in true hubby style, he goes off to the pharmacy, he buys not one but two pregnancy tests. Just in case. I remember the day as if it was yesterday, it was the 14th August, our wedding anniversary incidentally, and in a very undignified manner I kind of ‘peed on the stick’. Those 2 minutes that you have to wait are the longest 2 minutes of your life. We are both standing round like idiots, and not looking at the stick. 2 minutes passes and we literally stalk it... I mean if you think about it, the rest of our life is in the hands of this little stick. Well, what do we find, a positive! The only problem was, it that it was so faint that you couldn’t even see it – you needed a magnifying glass to see that little plus sign. So true to ourselves, we take the next test, same thing, but there is definitely a plus sign. A kind of quiet takes over both of us, and we are really unsure what to do next. The problem is that I’m still bleeding, however, I have a positive on the pregnancy test. We decide to sleep on it, and deal with it in the morning.
Wow, what a difference some sleep makes, and not to mention the fact that I don’t have the 100 little men pounding in my head and an ocean moving around in my stomach. I’ve made a decision; we need to consult a doctor so that we can find out what is going on. So our only option is to go to the nearest hospital and wait (really wait...) to see a doctor so they can give us some idea of phase 3 of the plan. So off we go, in trepidation, to discover our path.
At the hospital, we wait for 3 hours to see a doctor. Eventually a very pleasant gentleman does a blood test, checks the urine sample and checks the uterus. Yes, we are definitely pregnant! Well well, I’m going to need a little time to digest this information. However, as I’m still bleeding we have to have a scan urgently just to make sure that everything is ok. He books one for the next day, on Monday. Ok, so next challenge, what in the world am I going to say to my boss to get out of work. I’m really not a very good liar – I get all squeaky and high-pitched so don’t know how I’m going to deal with this. Phew – just remembered thank goodness for text messages!!! I think up some excuse and ping it over on Sunday so that she is well prepared for Monday morning. I don’t get any reply – I think I might be in trouble! The guilt lasts all of 2 minutes and I’ve already moved on to my next adventure in life!
Check out Chapter 2 of my story next week.