31 December 2008

Not nesting, but baking

Nesting is a phenomenon common to pregnancy, though it’s one I’ve yet to experience. Bruce and I were watching an episode of Gilmour Girls (restraints and the promise of fried egg sandwiches can accomplish just about anything) wherein the character Lane alludes to a ninth-month cleaning frenzy. Bruce turned to me and said YOU! GET NESTING ALREADY! Because oddly enough, I feel not even the slightest urge to pull out all our dishes and wipe down the insides of cupboards, or attack our baseboards with a toothbrush. I know, right?

I am, however, becoming more prolific in the kitchen, and find that meticulously following a recipe from beginning to end accomplishes a feeling similar to what I imagine nesting might engender. I know it’s not exactly the perk he envisioned, but given that I somehow managed to skip the honeymoon period, cravings and happy hormones altogether, I think this is probably a good (and tasty) compromise.

We’ve got a lovely New Years Eve lined up, with sparkling juice and cheese roulade and gourmet jelly beans and DVD thrillers – a veritable smorgasbord of non-alcoholic activity, which I think I’d prefer to the champagne nightmare of sub-zero London even if the pregnancy wasn’t an issue. For years I’d been unsuccessfully trying to fool myself into believing that putting on a nicer outfit and paying more money to spend the night in a bar you frequent anyway somehow constitutes an event.

Speaking of events – last night we were in bed, deciphering the erratic Braille of my belly with a note of panic because we were certain that the baby had somehow flipped right around and was now breeched. This is not a good scenario in pregnancy, because although it’s possible to deliver a breeched baby naturally, more often than not they will opt for a c-section, which is somehow safer for mother and baby overall. Luckily we had an appointment with the midwife today and so hadn’t long to wait on that verdict.

She spent a long time feeling the contours of my distended belly, frowning and not saying much, until she pinched my abdominal area, where the head usually sits. “There’s usually a head there,” I said uncertainly, and she said, “Yes, it’s still there, and it looks like . . . it’s fully engaged.” With first pregnancies, the baby will drop into the pelvis and engage within the last few weeks leading up to the birth. Really what it means is that all systems are go, and D-day could come at any time, which we knew already. But at least he’s made a firm decision about which way around he’d like to greet the world.

If I don’t talk to you beforehand, I hope you all enjoy the transition into 2009. Send me a note or an email if you want to be included on the list of people who receive a puffy, red-faced photo of me and the little grub. Otherwise, I’ll report back here once we’ve all recovered and give you the real skinny on labour and motherhood, as I see it anyway.


Friday Films

30 December 2008

Consider me converted

Mrs. Slocombe kindly sent us a baby-sized pair of Aussie essentials – Uggs! I’d been wondering how to get our little bundle of joy home with his extremities unfrozen and intact, and these nought to six month sized booties will work perfectly.

I must admit, I never joined in the Ugg boot craze which ten years ago saw legions of young girls compromising their length by cutting themselves off unflatteringly at mid-calf with what, at first glance, appeared to be misshapen loaves of bread.

But as you can see, the baby versions are far too cute to be believed, and I will be doing my fair share of obsessive feet-checking this winter to make sure he doesn’t kick one off when we’re out and about.

Thanks, Betty!

xx Friday (and Bruce)

29 December 2008

On my mind, or thereabouts

I’m nearing my 39th week of pregnancy, which means it won’t be long now. Sometimes I feel utterly heroic and wish that it would just happen already so that I can get this thing done. Others, the idea of leaving the security of my nest to do a 22-hour-long marathon push from an unfamiliar place in an unfamiliar room leaves me breathless, and I hope for just one more day of respite.

The last few weeks have been brilliant, with both of us off work and no obligations, and mostly we’ve been enjoying our time together as childless adults, which (provided all goes well in life) is a state we will never again revisit. Everything we do now feels like we’re doing it for the last time in this respect: our last Christmas together alone, our last mornings of sleeping in late, our last spontaneous outings into town, or even to the shops.

It’s a lot to get your head around, so best not to even try, I think. We ordered the cot - that final, essential piece of furniture - and it was delivered on Christmas Eve. I spent the morning cleaning and reorganising the kitchen while Bruce put it together, and then we basked in the strangeness of it all before heading out to our appointment with the midwife.

The head midwife of our team takes her cues from me, we now realise, and will go to great lengths to locate them if these aren't on offer, I guess because she feels she’s not doing her job if she can’t give reassurance or a scolding or uncomfortably long hugs, or mixed nuts (she gave me half a banana once, too, after she unsuccessfully stabbed me twice with a needle, missing the vein and causing vertigo).

This time we went in with the confidence of a storm, and still she eyed me critically, as though a single tear would at any moment dissolve the shoddy mask of my inimitable okay-ness. Finally, she conceded that I was looking better than she’s ever seen me and then dug around in her handbag for some miracle Australian lip balm which she then put in a specimen jar and ordered me to take home and use. Because by God, if she can’t accurately predict and stave off impending postpartum depression, she will at least cure me of chapped lips.

That’s something I’ve been trying not to think about too much, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my long ago stint with poor mental health, it’s that you can indeed break your mind if you’re determined enough. It would be churlish of me to imply that anyone who ends up on a psych ward could have done something to prevent it. But all the same, I can still recall how I stood by and watched the last vestiges of perspective ebb away with a kind of morbid fascination, still not really believing that it could get any worse. Though it did, it got much worse.

For all her melodramatic fussing, the midwife is spot on about something: hormones tend to upset the delicate balance of good mental health, and if you’ve ever blundered into a psychotic or depressive episode, it can take even less to send you spiralling into another one day. I know this from the many conversations I had around my release date with nurses, psychiatrists and other patients, all of whom calmly assured me that, however fine I felt now, I would in all likelihood be back.

So as self-destructive as the ensuing years might have become (at least until I met Bruce) I’ve taken silent but concerted measures to ensure that – at the very least - this does not become a self-fulfilling prophesy. And yet you can’t live out your life under the assumption that the Big Bad Breakdown is lurking around every corner just waiting for you to make a decision that will knock your physiology a bit off kilter (though having two or three drinks a night for years was probably not the best course of action, now I think of it).

I don’t know how the leap and fall of hormones will affect me in those weeks following the birth, but I do know that I’m prepared to deal with any eventualities that could arise, and that includes being mindful (but not too mindful) of at least a few.

19 December 2008

Last looks

I’m not inspired to do much these days, and whereas at one time I would have at least tried to excuse my reclusiveness, I’ve come to realise that there is actually nothing wrong with wanting to check out once in a while. And if you can’t live in your pyjamas, ignore the phone, nap all day and watch bad television during your ninth month of pregnancy, when can you? Hmmm?

The common misconception seems to be that pregnancy loves company, however, and the more I try and recede into the experience, the more phone calls, emails and visitation threats I receive from friends, family and colleagues. Most people assume that because I’m off work now, I must be lonely or bored; that I must want to talk to someone about what I’m going through, or that I need someone to help me take my mind off it. Though the intention is both kind and considerate, the underlying assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.

For the first time in my life, I’m more content to spend quiet time alone in my own company than I am interested or willing to break out of that introspection and engage with others (Bruce being the obvious exception, as I think our co-dependence might constitute Siamese status by now). Whatever the reason, I seem to be on a different wavelength from the rest of the world, and I’m perfectly okay with that.

I’ve certainly done a lot of reading over the last few weeks, and it vaguely reminds me of those long, luxurious afternoons of University, when my only real commitment was a three-hour-long evening class on film theory and aesthetics or post-colonial literature. Except that in those days, I did not appear to be concealing a giant Kinder Surprise egg beneath my jumper (though I did have a pathological need for acknowledgement - one that has been mercifully snuffed out by time and maturity).

In any case, I don’t have long to revel in my deserted island experience before this journey becomes completely unrecognisable again.

It’s Bruce’s last day of work, and then we have a very small window of opportunity to pull everything together before the holiday draws us to its eggnog-scented bosom and smothers us in festivity; there’s just no way to predict when the newborn invasion will take place. Realistically, by the time we’re settled in at home again, we’ll probably have just over a week to turn the page on that short, intimate chapter of our lives when it was just the two of us and we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Part of me feels very sad about this. But on the other hand, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

17 December 2008

For meme

A personalised meme, just for me - devised by The Lass! If you want your own, leave me a note and I'll email you five questions. None as good as these, though, I'm afraid.

1. Of all the things you learned from your parents, what do you think was the most valuable?

If you don't regularly challenge your own beliefs - about the world, about others and about yourself - you risk closing yourself off to a wealth of experience. That lesson was inadvertent.

2. What is your most indispensable possession and why?

Our cats, quite literally. No matter how hard we try, or how logical it might seem at this point in our lives (and given the small amount of space we have to share), we can't seem to get rid of them. Yes, they are antisocial, ungrateful, petulant little things that flee from us 99% of the time and have nothing to offer except vet bills and the occasional whiff of used litter, but they're ours and we love them (at a respectful distance). Because we are suckers of the bleeding heart variety.

3. How has impending motherhood changed you? (Besides the obvious physical changes, of course.)

I'm less shy about saying what it is I want and need from others, because you can't afford to be timid when you're responsible for the well-being of something so vulnerable and so completely reliant on you. That meant saying 'no' to people at work more often, leaving the office on time instead of staying late, unapologetically taking someone else's seat on the tube if they offered, and eventually giving work an ultimatum (I can have the doctor sign me off now or you can let me work from home for the next six weeks). I will have to become even more assertive once this kid is out in the world, but it's definitely becoming a trend.

4. It's time to throw a dinner party for your favorite deceased authors. Who is in attendance? Why? What are you feeding them?

Most of my favorite authors are contemporary, but short of killing Martin Amis (who I'm not sure I'd actually want at a dinner party) and Zadie Smith, I guess I'd have to say Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath and David Foster Wallace, because I like to imagine we share a similar perspective on life and writing, and I reckon that after a few bottles of wine, we'd have several hours of incredible dialogue. Or the two women would huddle together in a corner whispering venomously into into their cupped hands while I tried to wrest a bottle of corrosive toilet cleaner from David. I think we're having take out from La Porceta, because Italian is timeless and classic and therefore inoffensive to diverse palates, and I'd be far too nervous to cook for them myself.

5. Would you rather be famous or infamous?

The two aren't always mutually exclusive in these here parts, but if I had to pick one, I guess I'd say famous. Your tenure in the history books is probably far shorter than if you were infamous, but if I'm going to be remembered for something, I'd rather that something conjured up fond feelings in others, over impassioned rage or ridicule. Or am I missing a trick?

15 December 2008

I'm beginning to look like Father Christmas

Just a regular old update then - mainly because it’s easier to farm the thought-scum that gathers at the top of my brain than dangle a tasty line in the deeper waters of the subconscious mind in the hopes of snagging a bigger fish. What? Yes, exactly.

So I’m 36 weeks + along, which means that by Friday, I could go into labour and come out with a baby that has reached full-term. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Every day I gingerly maneuver the great hull of my midsection – towards the toilet, into the shower, between the desk chair and cabinet, the bed and the wall – and carry on with life in spite of the discomfort.

A few weeks ago we had our antenatal classes with the NCT – not quite the hippy love-fest I’d been warned about, though certainly not a clinical hell, as was evidenced by our instructor’s dominatrix-like boots and stripy underpants, which she found far too many occasions to flash.

We spent two full days and one evening with eight other very nice first-time parents-to-be and were ushered through the terror (of which there is plenty) and joy (uh...) of what it will mean to birth a dirty plastic doll through the mouth of a soiled pink toque. Oh those were just the metaphorical teaching tools, but rest assured it’s the visual I will henceforth associate with my upcoming trials in hospital.

Everyone has a funny antenatal class story I’m sure, so here’s mine:

We were asked to visualise what a gorilla giving birth in the wild would be likely to do, in terms of finding a spot, getting comfortable and even asking her gorilla pals for help. It was the perfect allegorical blend of science and fantasy. As sentient beings, we humans tend to forget that the birth-giving process is, above all, completely natural. Huzzah! We were finally thinking outside the box of modern medicine!

Well, most of us anyway. Our instructor asked, “So what are some of the predators we might encounter in a labour ward?” and before the rest of us could conjure up that intrusive orderly or unwanted mother-in-law, an overzealous incubator piped up with “PEDOPHILES?” And because this is England, nobody batted an eyelash while the instructor attempted to address this unlikely scenario.

Okay, I thought it was funny.

So here it is, weeks later, and even though we’ve bought the newborn essentials and written up the birth plan and gathered the elements of an overnight bag (in theory), I am still having trouble believing that what we’ve been talking about and preparing for since April could feasibly happen any day...no...any second now. Fortunately, belief doesn’t enter into the equation, and this kid is going to come whether I’m ready for him or not.

And I am not, so please, kid: try to hold off on the grand entrance for your poor, frazzled mother? At least until she can erase the memory of The Constant Gardiner, Snow White: A Tale of Terror and The Changeling, which, you must admit, were some pretty poor choices for weekend entertainment.

Also, the more times I hear Oh you’ll want the epidural, trust me, the more I want to shout Enough with the scare tactics, you insensitive twat! and prove otherwise. I know I have a low pain threshold, and anyone who knows me could tell you the same. I can’t even get on the kiddy spaceship ride thingy at the fair without wanting to vomit. But I will not be talked into having someone else’s experience before I’ve even had a chance to register that first strong contraction. So fuck off, you epidural-pushing veteran baby-labourers!

And, erm, thanks anyway!

I'm also meant to tell you how deleriously happy I'm feeling about this important and exciting time in my life, which I'm going through with the most amazing man I've ever met. And I am! I really am.

11 December 2008

Another cop out

Lovingly lifted from The Lass, who tags you as well!

Where is your cell phone? Mobile phone - Missing, again.

Where is your significant other? On his way home from work.

Your hair color? Auburn.

Your mother? Crazy, controlling.

Your father? Emasculated, controlling.

Your favorite thing? A day/night out/in with Bruce.

Your dream last night? Oral sex.

Your goal? A natural childbirth experience in the New Year.

The room you’re in? Is finally organised, clean and exactly how a bedroom should be.

Your hobby? Take a stab.

Your fear? That I will go into labour whilst visiting relatives in Hertfordshire.

Where do you want to be in six years? A more spacious home with a happy, healthy child, a happy, healthy husband, happy and healthy, and preferably in a job I love (I don't want much).

Where were you last night? In front of the television.

What you’re not? Smaller than a breadbox.

One of your wish-list items? Record player

Where you grew up? Canadia

The last thing you did? Plugged in the trees.

What are you wearing? Pajamas

Your TV? Is not communicating properly with the broadband box, hence no recorded shows - we are back in the dark ages of surfing and commercial-watching until we can fix this.

Your pet(s)? Are finally starting to come around (sort of).

Your computer? Has no tension in its screen so is propped against a small pillow as I type this.

Your mood? Content

Missing someone? Yes, but he'll be back soon.

Your car? Ha.

Something you’re not wearing? A hair shirt.

Favorite store? Orla Kiely

Your summer? Revolved around strategic eating so that I would not vomit.

Love someone? More than he knows.

Your favorite colour? I'm not bothered.

When is the last time you laughed? Yesterday.

Last time you cried? Last week sometime.

Tagging: Bruce, even though he has nowhere to put this. I need him to give me one item on his wish list now because I'm running out of time and ideas.

No ice cream before bed


This is by far the worst thing my esophagus has ever done to me.

06 December 2008


MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

(Mixwit is now kaput and have replaced all songs with this one)