Saturday, 31 July 2010

Maternity must-haves

The marketing opportunities of the hormone-addled pregnant woman are seemingly endless. I spend many happy hours sniggering at the NCT catalogue - which is a bit like an Innovations catalogue for pregnant women. My favourite item is the Womana Birthing Wrap - 'because every woman deserves a little black dress to give birth in' which allows them to feel 'comfortable and feminine on your special day'. It's basically a wrap dress with an inspiring message screen-printed on the inside of the neckline. Which is useful. I imagine that when I'm flagging from the effort of pushing something the size of a melon through my cervix, it would really give me that extra boost to peer into the neckline of my dress to read some guff about the longest journey beginning with a single step. Oh, and it's £59.99. £59.99! for something that I'm almost guaranteed to throw up on.

Also on offer for £25, is a DVD titled Orgasmic Birth. I quote (because you really couldn't make this shit up): 'Joyous, sensuous and revolutionary, Orgasmic Birth brings the ultimate challenge to our cultural myths by inviting viewers to see the emotional, spiritual, and physical heights attainable through birth.' Holy mother of shit - are they actually trying to sexualise child birth? I imagine my only thought about sex will be to curse my poor husband for getting me into this state coupled with the niggling worry that my vagina will be forever turned into something resembling a wind sock.

Moving on. The mothercare catalogue has its own share of nonsense. I love the pregnancy toiletries, particularly the 'Perfect Delivery Perineal gel' which would make all the difference, I'm sure.

The thing is, I'm sure people buy this crap. I'm so tired and emotional I'm practically insane half the time, and I don't think I'm the only one. So my plan is to invent a pregnancy cash in product of my own which I can then market to other vulnerable women. My best idea so far is (drum roll) The Bump Bib! Fed up with dribbling toothpaste/cake/ice cream down the front of your bump? Had enough of looking like you're coated in vomit before you have even had the baby? Get The Bump Bib - a glorified apron with a jaunty jokey message about buns in the oven or some shit, yours for £19.99 (plus VAT).

Sunday, 25 July 2010

The bwown cashmere jumper

We're about to enter an whole other world. The world of kid logic.
We're at a party at our friend's place in norfolk. It's night, and the lawn is lit with burning torches. We're sitting around a table, shooting the breeze, sipping wine (and fizzy water). Suddenly a little voice pipes up. "Excuse me, have you seen my bwown cashmere jumper? It's very precious to me. My mother bought it for me." No. We haven't seen it. Where did he last have it? "In case we haven't grasped the enormity, he continues. "It's from Brora. It's very expensive." We take pity. I scan inside the house, and S takes a torch and accompanies the lad on a tour of the grounds.Eventually, they find a crumple garment in the undergrowth. The kid is overjoyed: "My bwown cashmere jumper!" he says, grasping it triumphantly. And then promptly loses it again - quite possibly on purpose.
I'm not the only one with innumerable questions. After spending the afternoon with friends and listening to yet more birth horror stories, S turned to me, palely, and asked, "So when people say that they were 3cm dilated, what bit exactly are they talking about?" I told him it was the cervix - the bit that effectively stops the baby from just falling out of the womb during the pregnancy. That struck me as a fairly basic bit of information so I started to worry - what else doesn't he know? Does he expect a special delivery via stork to just deposit the kid in our laps? A few quick questions established that he does know the basics: Birth will be grisly; babies shouldn't be left alone in the bath and it's probably not a good idea to let the cats sleep on it's face. Well that's something I guess.

Thursday, 22 July 2010


I feel like a kettle drum being played from the inside. The kids is using my rib cage as a glockenspiel. But I can't work out which bit of him is poking me where. It feels like he's got several extra limbs. Shit. Another thing to worry about...

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Bumps and grinds

Great news! My unborn child is a Bowie fan! I’m sure of it. We have been attempting to cram in a bit of culture before B-day so went to the Barbican to see the Michael Clark Company’s Come, Been and Gone. It was tremendous, albeit exhausting to watch. I get puffed out hauling myself out of a chair these days. The final, brilliant act is choreographed entirely to Bowie tracks including Heroes, Future Legend, Aladdin Sane and The Jean Genie. And the kid, who had been pottering around aimlessly, suddenly kicked off, air punching the sides of my womb and (ouch) trampling on my bladder. A week or so later, I was watching a film which plays out to Under Pressure by Bowie and Queen. The same thing happened. I was so proud! Evidence of pre-natal good taste.

Of course, I might be completely misreading the baby activity. I’m aware that I have a tendency interpret his kicks in a way that suits me, for example:
Cannes: screening of a very dark and violent Ukrainian film, My Joy, which I absolutely loved. Baby kicks = Hooray! My kid likes difficult former Soviet cinema. He is bad ass!
Cannes 2: Screening of an interminably dull German film about joyless sex in a corporate world. Baby kicks = Hooray! He’s bored and wants me to leave, probably to buy cake. An excellent suggestion, I will do just that.

So the awful truth might be that far from appreciating Bowie, he’s actually registering his disapproval and demanding Poker Face by Lady Gaga.

Other music he has liked (or not)
I wanna Be Your Dog by The Stooges – on the soundtrack of The Runaways. One of the first times I felt him move.
Swagga, by Excision and Datsik, a track which my husband describes as like listening to someone trying to saw off their own leg with sound, and with which we’re both mildly obsessed.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Preg style

It has been HOT recently. Seriously, thigh-chafingly hot. So what's a 7 1/2 month pregnant woman to do? Answer: adopt Demis Roussos as a style icon and float around in a kaftan. Grudgingly, however, I realised that the Demis look is not entirely flattering. I resemble Hattie Jacques crossed with a cruise ship. Earlier this week, I had a reception to attend on the South Bank. It was a warm evening, but not too warm. So I decided to try out one of the maternity frocks kindly lent to me by my friend T. It's a black, knee length, figure skimming cotton jersey frock with long sleeves and a plunging neckline. I thought I looked the bees knees. My husband's response: You look like a fat mime! Cheers.That's exactly the look I was going for.

Big, big, bigger

So, yes, it's been a while since I have blogged anything. I blame this on the hot weather and the exhaustion that rolls in most afternoons like a sea fog, rendering me pretty much useless.I have found myself drooping, slack jawed and drooling slightly, in front of the fish monger's stall, unable to make a decision; it now takes me twice as long as it should to write a feature.

Other changes - I'm bulging all over the place like a badly tied balloon animal. My brain has yet to catch up with my new body shap however. I find myself trying to squeeze through gaps that I used to be able to fit through, only to get wedged between parked cars, in small toilet cubicles, and the like. Embarrassingly, it's not just the bump i misjudge. It's the boobs as well. I keep crashing into people with my knockers. It's like some bizarre compulsion and has resulted in a fair few very frightened-looking men sprinting away from me up train platforms.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Horror stories

While most friends who are already parents couldn’t be more supportive about our impending initiation into the world of sleeplessness and shit-filled nappies, there are a few who seem to take a sadistic pleasure in scaring the pee out of us. Our neighbour who, to be fair, has survived two years with the screamiest child I have ever encountered, cackled somewhat maniacally when we told him the news. Then he said something which I think reveals a little more about his relationship than it does about parenting in general – “You’ll find yourself biting your lip a lot,” he said sagely to S, casting me in the role of unreasonable harridan, and S as the heroically long-suffering spouse. Interesting. I had always had his wife down as the kind of unflappable, capable type and him as a slightly feckless twat who sucked down can after can of Tennants like it was some kind of surrogate nipple. Gosh, how wrong I must be.

Then there’s my brother and his wife who, to be fair, had no intention of scaring us. It’s just that as veterans of a tag team of twin girls who never, in the first 18 months of their lives, managed more than about 90 minutes both asleep at the same time, my brother and sister-in-law have done parenthood in a way most people can’t fully conceive. Their reminiscences are like the scene from Jaws in which everyone compares their horrific shark attack injuries. The way my brother describes it, juggling twins is like grappling with some kind of human Catherine wheel which is spraying projectile vomit and liquefied poo everywhere. Then he gets started on the snot stories and his wife cracks her knuckles, ready to step in with the tale of ‘the tummy bug that took out the entire family, twice.’ Fortunately, they are both so exhausted that they fall asleep by about 9.30 so we are spared the part of the conversation that deals with kids, and the horrendous freak accidents that can befall them.

Scan number two

I know I wanted to know the sex of the baby, but I’m not entirely sure I was happy to hear my unborn child’s genitals referred to as ‘his third leg’. It seems wrong somehow. It’s a term you expect to hear in third-rate erotic fiction, not coming from the mouth of your highly trained obstetrician. Even if he is from the Ukraine. Fortunately, I soon had other things to fret about. Everything is progressing well – all the baby’s vital bits and piece seem to be in the correct places and he’s growing very well. Perhaps a little too well. While they didn’t actually use the phrase ‘freakishly large’ the subtext was, ‘you know those pelvic floor muscles you have been exercising so diligently? Well, don’t get too attached to them…’

Monday, 10 May 2010

This morning.

I climb out of the shower, towel myself dry and try not to let the news that I seem to have put on 4 pounds over the weekend get me down. I smile brightly at S as I pull on the super-comfy stretchy trousers I borrowed from a friend. S smiles back and says, "You look like an egg cup!" Crushing. But funny.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Pregnancy nose

One of the most interesting side-affects I have noticed from being up the duff is the heightened sense of smell. In the first trimester I was convinced that I could even smell inanimate substances like plastic and sellotape. It’s settled down a little since then. Now the everyday smells of the world are just magnified by a factor of about 20 or so. As I live in Holloway, this can get interesting. I was on a bus the other day with S when an obviously mad person got on and sat directly in front of us. That sharp, sour smell assailed me like a slap to the face. It was a combination of the yellowish, ammonia tang of ripe fish and the damp spongy, sickly stench of old mushrooms. It was so strong I could practically hear it – a kind of insistent high-pitched discordant shriek. It was immersive, the only thing I could focus on. When we got off the bus, S turned to me with an expression of horror. “I know! He smelt like the bins outside Whittington hospital.” I said. S looked surprised. “It was more the fact that he was shouting the words, ‘East London white people! DEAD DEAD DEAD!’ which bothered me.”

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Antenatal anxiety

I think I have been pretty fortunate so far. My pregnancy has been relatively stress-free, particularly since I stopped reading any books by Gina Ford – or indeed any books at all (They’re so badly written! They make me irate!). But there are, of course, a few niggling worries you just can’t shake.

You know the kind of thing: Will the baby be healthy and happy? Will I be able to love it as much as I love my husband? Is my unborn child demonically possessed? The usual stuff.

You may scoff but the demonic possession thing was a bit of a concern for a week or so. We arrived in New York, settled into our ridiculously small rented apartment in the Lower East Side and, bright and early the next morning, we went out for a stroll. A few blocks from where we were staying, a massive fire had broken out the previous night. It was a ‘7 alarm’ fire, we learned from the TV news coverage. Which is pretty damn big. We took some photos, thought no more of it. Then, the following week, stranded by the volcanic dust, we moved to a friend’s lovely house in Woodstock in upstate NY. Bright and early the next morning, we went out for a stroll. Just down the road, another fire had broken out during the night. What a weird coincidence, we thought.
And then – but what if it isn’t a coincidence? What if my foetus is a firestarter? The rest of our holiday became a little like one of the Final Destination movies. Everywhere I looked, there was the potential for a devastating inferno. A seven-year-old playing with lit tealights? Check. Electric cooker plates which don't light up, even when they reach skin melting temperatures? Check. We became extra vigilant about turning off gas and extinguishing candles for at least a week afterwards. Fortunately no other conflagrations have occurred. Probably just as well – I was dreading having to raise the subject in my next meeting with the midwife.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Battle of the bulge

When I landed in New York last week, I had a slight bump. If I sucked my stomach in and attempted to tense my muscles, I could pass for un-preg. But Ingeborg has truly taken to American food – in a big way. Not only do I now look unmistakably knocked up, I can actually feel a little dance of anticipatory excitement in my stomach when I’m about to eat something tasty. The kid was practically turning somersaults when I was waiting in the queue for Katz’s deli in the Lower East Side – it told me to order extra pickles. It elbowed me in the spleen while I was having a facial to remind me to buy a carrot muffin on the way home. It also made me eat half of a knish the size of a small planet, from Yonah Schimmel’s Knish bakery on East Houston St. What worries me is how long we are likely to be stranded here because of the volcanic ash over Europe. I could end up with a gigantic, American-sized baby, with big blubbery jowls and an inbuilt sense of entitlement. I’ll have to put us both on a lentil and raw food diet when we finally get home and just hope the kid doesn’t start punching me in the liver as punishment.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Boobs postscript

S complimented my ever more impressive rack the other day. Well, I’m choosing to take it as a compliment. He said they look like the tits of a really good Brazilian transsexual. Hmmm.

Encounter with an authentic Nu Yoik character.

We wander into a Greenwich village vintage store and almost immediately get caught up in the onslaught of the proprietor’s relentless anecdotes. He’s regaling a disinterested employee about his days in Vegas, rubbing shoulders with gambler extraordinaire Kerry Packer or, as this garrulous dickhead prefers to call him, Carey Packard. His stories go nowhere, at high volume. Inevitably we get sucked in. I try on a skirt – it’s a loose wrap type thing with adjustable ties which looks like it might be forgiving of my imminent pregnancy heft. I make the mistake of mentioning this to Mr Crap Anecdote. He lurches towards me. “Ya know how I know you’re pregnant?” Er because I just told you, genius? “It’s all HERE” he says, pointing vigorously at the bridge of my nose. Apparently, it gets broader in pregnant women. And he should know, he has three daughters, all of whom, I imagine, are overjoyed that he's such an expert on the physiological changes during pregnancy. Interestingly, he didn’t explain how he could tell that the bridge of my nose was broader, having never met me before. But I suppose being a pathological bullshit artist means never having to explain yourself. Then, with a theatrical flourish of the hand that makes him look like some kind of Brooklyn Gandalf, he declares, “It’s a boy!” Great. If he’s wrong, he says, I should call him up and he’ll buy me lunch. We both know that I would be more likely to stuff live cockroaches into my ears than to claim my lunch, so he’s pretty safe in making the offer.

Friday, 9 April 2010


And still they grow. It’s starting to get comical. I hauled off my t-shirt last night to get into bed and S broke into a spontaneous round of applause. “It’s like you’ve had a really good boob job!” he said, appreciatively. This from the man who puts plastic surgery somewhere between genocide and child trafficking in his list of the world’s evils. This morning, as I took a shower after an attempt at a run, S came into the bathroom on the pretence of handing me a towel, but really motivated, he admitted, by the urge to take another look at my alien knockers. Enjoy them while you can. I rather imagine the effect will be somewhat spoiled when they have a mewling infant dangling from them for twenty hours a day.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Cheese brain

I read fairly recently that a scientist claims to have disproved the phenomenon of pregnancy related amnesia. 'Egg head negs preg head' should have been the headline, but wasn't, unfortunately. This man - it would have to be a man - claims that there is no proof that pregnant women are more likely to leave their keys in the fridge or the dog in the supermarket than anyone else. The subtext being, 'get it together lardy and stop blaming your foetus for your own stupidity'.

I beg to differ. I realise that my sample group (me before pregnancy vs me during pregnancy)is less than ideal. But i can categorically state that I never forgot the word potato in my pre-pregnant state. Nor did i find myself staring vacantly into cubboards, fridges and the like, vainly trying to remember what it was that I needed. I rarely lost the ability to add up. I, who until recently could list all of Angelina Jolie's ludicrously named offspring, in order of stupidity (the names, not the kids) actually blanked on their mother's name for a good minute. My memory has become a treacherous place, riddled with black holes and quicksand that suck away the words I'm looking for. I have to navigate a precarious, circuitous route in order to get where I need to go. Say, for example, I blanked on the name of an actor, for the sake of argument let's say Robin Williams. I can see his stupid gurning face in my mind vividly, mocking me, but the name eludes me. So I rack my brains to remember his film titles. And draw a blank (the panic is setting in). There was that fuck awful thing where he was a lovable android. And that piece of shit set in the afterlife. And that thing with Matt Damon. Matt Damon! Now I'm getting somewhere. So now I have to check Matt Damon's IMBD listing, until I find the film - Good Will Hunting - then scan down the cast list until I find the name - Robin Bastard Williams.

So forgive me for being blunt, science guy, but prenancy-related cheese brain most definitely does exist. So whay don't you go and stick that up your whatchamacallit... you know, thingy.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

The attack of Twat Dad

So, you know that rush of hormone-based goodwill that is meant to cushion the sharp edges of the world and send pregnant ladies floating around on a cloud of happy thoughts? Seems to have passed me by. So far, my pregnancy has simmered along in my usual default state of low level irritation and occasional blinding rage. But can you blame me, when there are people like Twat Dad bouncing around?

I had to have a meeting with an obstetrician this week. Not actually sure why – she asked me why she was seeing me and I was lost for words. Um, because I’m old? Anyway. As usual, the hospital was running late. Several hours late, for some people. The mums were dealing with it stoically and silently, flicking through magazines and muttering to each other. Then in gambols Twat Dad. He’s the most showily, noisily attentive father I have ever seen. It’s like the world is one giant fucking CBeebies audition. His heavily pregnant wife looks like she would rather rip her own ears off than listen to him for a moment longer – and I can imagine the entire waiting room of mellow pregnant ladies rising up and tearing him limb from limb, rather like the climactic moment in Suddenly Last Summer.

Long-suffering mum is tied up at the reception desk trying to straighten out a mistake with her appointment, meanwhile Twat Dad is working his toddler into a state of shrieking, pant-wetting excitement by hurling him around the waiting room. Next he decided to read the kid a story. At full volume. It’s the book of In The Night Garden, so for the next five minutes we’re treated to a shrieked commentary on the activities of the Ninky Nonk. Even the kid gets a little bored and tries to persuade Twat Dad to read something else. “Not Bob The Builder,” Says Twat Dad, “I think Bob The Builder is a bit of a loser, don’t you?” The kid looks nonplussed. He clearly loves Bob The Builder. I’m tempted to step in at this point and ascertain why, exactly, Bob The Builder is a ‘loser’. Is it because Bob makes his living from manual labour? Come the apocalypse you’ll be wishing little Milo had some practical skills rather than a career in middle management or teaching method acting workshops in West Hampstead or whatever the fuck it is YOU do.

Long-suffering mum has had enough. She whispers a few sharp words to Twat Dad. He huffs a little and says, in an annoying sing song voice loud enough for the entire waiting room to hear, “Out with anger, in with love.” I glance around the waiting room. Come on ladies, who’s with me? Let’s take this fucker out of the gene pool once and for all.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

fashion schmashion

Today I bought my first smock, and thus ventured into the terrifying world of ‘maternity fashion’. Which, if you think about it, is a ludicrous concept. What it boils down to, surely, is just voluminous, egg-shaped tents in various colours. So adding the idea of fashion into the mix is one head-fuck too far for hormone addled mums-to-be. This year’s fashionable colours are, according to some witless drivel I read on the internet, pale lilacs and pastel pinks. Christ. Isn’t pregnancy tough enough already? Another trend is the all-in-one pregnancy boiler suit, an abomination which is clearly designed by someone who didn’t feel the need to pee roughly every 12 minutes.

The only pregnancy fashion statement that would actually make sense to me would be a gigantic, attention-grabbing hat. Something that screams, I AM MORE THAN JUST A BUMP! Something to remind people where my head is, when it looks like little more than a peanut floating on a vast mound of walrussy blubber. But for the time being, I’ll make do with my smock.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Words of comfort

From lovely L, when I confessed to feeling a bit on the panicky side:

"My parents had my brother sleep in the bottom drawer of a chest of drawers for the first 18 months of his life – then he upgraded to a cupboard… No joke. If those idiot hippies can make it work, you guys have got no problems."

Saturday, 13 March 2010

The cutest thing EVER

S and I are staying with our friends L&T in the country for the weekend. I’ve met their gorgeous little boy quite a few times before but I last saw their daughter E when she was just a few months old. She’s now eighteen months and utterly, utterly adorable.

We’re all gathered in the kitchen in the morning, talking about what to eat for supper. We encourage little E to pick recipe books, which she does, enthusiastically grabbing a Thai cookbook and thumbing through it on the floor with an expression of deep concentration. We chat about Thai food and somebody mentions the word ‘lemon grass.’ From under the table, a little voice pipes up, echoing what we’re saying ‘Lemon grass!’ We cheer. Her mum gets her to name other Thai ingredients. She makes a decent attempt at ‘galangal’ and ‘fish sauce’ but star anise comes out as ‘ ta neeeese’. I’m SO impressed. I can’t wait to hothouse little Ingeborg with the names of obscure ingredients. Perhaps I’ll teach her to name wines: ‘Riesling! Sancerre! Amarone! Valpolicella!’ And for a finale, I’ll teach her to say ‘Gewürztraminer!’ Perhaps she’ll even be able to tell me how to pronounce it.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Questions, questions and more questions

I guess this is the point in my pregnancy that I realise just how little I know.

“When are you meeting your obstetrician?” demanded my mother-in-law. Er, I don’t know. Do I even get an obstetrician? What do they do? Should I know this?
“Will they keep you in for about six days?” Another question from my mother-in-law. I’m fairly sure the answer is no to this. Times have changed since the days when going private was a relatively affordable thing. Now I expect I’ll be kicked out into the street in a matter of minutes with a newborn in one hand and load of psychotically cheerful informative leaflets in the other, to free up the bed.
“Have you thought about your birth plan?” Er no. What’s a birth plan? Apparently its where you decide things like whether you want to suffer unimaginable agony or whether you want pain relief. Well that’s an easy one.

I have questions of my own though – pressing ones. Like, for example, will my tits continue to grow at their current rate? Pretty soon we’re going to need a third bedroom just to accommodate them. I tried on something I always remember as a loose and flowing sundress last night, thinking, well, I can float around Cannes looking like a purple jellyfish wearing this. The seams positively groaned. It looked practically obscene.

Words of comfort last night from L who had his first child with P twelve years ago, when we all knew considerably more about clubbing than childrearing. They took their newborn baby home, sat down and stared at him. Then both simultaneously burst into tears. Fortunately, both their kids are gorgeous and happy, so they did something right.

Sunday, 7 March 2010


I was expecting a certain amount of drama when we broke the news to S’s parents. But I didn’t realise quite how close we would come to killing his mum. Perhaps, in retrospect, S’s chosen technique wasn’t the gentlest of methods. He simply handed an envelope containing the pictures from our scan across to her and smirked as she opened it and, to put it frankly, completely lost her shit. ‘OHMYGOD! OHMYGOD I’m hyperventilating!’ she wailed, looking genuinely ill and clutching at her chest. I glanced around the restaurant, trying to calculate the likelihood of a cardiologist eating at one of the other tables. No dice. The average age of the punters was about 80, and most looked as if they had been bussed in from 1974. S’s dad looked at the pictures in complete bemusement. ‘What is it? I can’t see what it is’ he said plaintively. S’s mum let out this kind of primal howl. ‘ITSABAYBEE!ITSABAYBEE!ITSABAYBEE!’ which didn’t really leave much room for doubt in the matter. ‘Oh’, said his dad. ‘I thought it was something you had run over.’ Yes, my father-in-law actually compared my unborn child to road-kill.

Later in the evening, S’s dad turned to me and informed me that I was carrying a boy. Apparently the fact that he has been doing yoga for forty years has imbued him with a kind of sixth sense about these things. There are probably other things he could have said which would have irritated me more, but off hand I can’t think of what they might be. This from the man who can’t tell a foetus from a squashed squirrel.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

The first of the useful suggestions:

Mom: You will look after yourself won’t you? Really look after yourself?
(What does she think I actually get up to? crystal meth with a brandy chaser for breakfast?)

Amelie and Olivia, age 3 ½ : I think you should call the baby Tinkerbell!
(Yeah. I'll be filing that along with Tiara Sparkles and Fresno Suicide in my list of names to wind my relatives up)

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Does my foetus look fat in this?

The day of reckoning. The day when I learn whether I’m carrying a two-headed freak child or something approaching normal. I kick off the day by watching Case 39 starring Renee Zellweger as a well-meaning social worker and Jodelle Ferland as a demon-child who has slaughtered most of her family and sent her parents to the loony bin. Nice choice.

The clinic is in the basement of a townhouse on Harley Street. The entrance hall is decorated with faux-naïve paintings of women presumably meant to signify fecundity, tranquillity and auspiciously complication-free pregancies. There’s a tense silence in the waiting room. Thin, rich women pretend to read copies of Grazia. Couples converse in strained whispers. Performing my scan is Dr Violeta Stratieva, a steely Russian woman who punches me repeatedly in the stomach in order to ‘wake baby up’. ‘This hurts?’ she says – it’s more a statement than a question – before telling me, accusingly, that my bladder is very full. I guiltily shuffle off to the loo, with lubricant jelly still damp and clammy on my stomach. It’s kind of like the walk of shame but without the sexual indiscretion.

We get a better look at the foetus. It has a brain. ‘Good brain’, says Dr Violeta approvingly. It has the full complement of limbs and kidneys. It has a fat little pot belly. The heart is beating. My heart, I realise, is beating almost as fast. I’m far more nervous than I thought I would be. Dr Violeta gives us the full run down. Everything is normal. The risk of Downs is downgraded from 1 in 75 to just under 1 in 1500. The baby is towards the top end of normal in terms of its size. I have a fat foetus.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

£201,000 to raise a child?

Get the fuck out of here.

I refuse to believe it. I’m sure that at least 50% of that goes on the toxic plastic shit that I am already planning to ban from my home, and the other 50% goes on Pokemon stickers. Little Ignatz will have a wooden clog to play with and will have to make his own entertainment out of empty carrier bags and used toothbrushes. If he’s good, he might get the other clog the following Christmas. Probably.

The big disappointment

I should probably be grateful that I haven’t had the urge to start licking the creosote from fences or munching handfuls of cat litter. But I can’t help but feel a little let down that I haven’t had the slightest sniff of a weird food craving. Since I have been approaching this pregnancy a little like a science project (it’s the best way I can think of to stop myself screaming with fear on a daily basis), I was rather looking forward to observing myself from a detached distance as I binged on raw potato or wood shavings or whatever it is that pregnant women find themselves scoffing. But so far, nothing. What’s particularly galling is that my mother-in-law craved good, solid Eastern European peasant food throughout her first pregnancy and McDonalds all through her second. And I am sure, once the news breaks, she will tell me all about this and every other detail of her pregnancy, on a daily basis, until the end of time. I’m planning to tell her I’m craving Sauvignon Blanc. Which is true, as a matter of fact.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The ups and the downs

To say I’m a little up and down would be an understatement. One day I’m perky and full of beans, the next I’m brooding and weeping over magazine articles and – weird this one – an estate agent’s website. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and other convenient clichés. Current status? Not great – I made the injudicious mistake of watching a documentary set in the maternity ward of Southampton hospital last night and found myself wailing at the screen in anguish. Followed that with a film about mothers whose sons hate them and attack them with knives and furniture and stuff. So, let’s get this straight – it’s going to hurt like buggery and them the little fuck will hate your guts? Where do I sign up? Oh, that's right. I already did.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Why I am dreading telling people: part 1

I know, it’s only 7 and a bit weeks so I don’t have to worry about breaking the big news just yet. And yet, obviously, I am fretting. Predominantly, I am worried about how to phrase it. Pregnancy seems to surrounded by such noxiously coy euphemisms that even announcing the fact is a potential minefield of clichés. The phrase I hate above all others is “I fell pregnant”, with its archaic connotations of fallen women and the unfortunately image of tripping headlong into parenthood – although I guess that’s exactly what we have done. I also loath ‘knocked up’ because the term will be forever linked with Seth Rogen’s smug, sweaty face in my mind. I hate ‘bun in the oven’ because it’s so twee – a Hallmark greeting card announcement, likewise ‘in the pudding club.’ There are few phrases more sickeningly precious than ‘the patter of tiny feet.’ ‘Eating for two’ just seems like a complacent justification for being a lard arse (no doubt I’ll be rethinking my aversion to that one once I am a lard arse.) I don’t mind ‘up the duff’ because it’s the kind of you can imagine Rita Tushingham saying in some quirky 1960s British comedy movie. That said, I can’t imagine the words actually coming out of my mouth. Probably best to stick to the basic ‘I’m pregnant’.

Then, the next problem is how to refer to the infant-to-be? I don’t even particularly like the word ‘baby’. I’m screwed.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Ill-advised things that I did when I didn’t realise I was pregnant:

1Took half a valium
2 Drank a double vodka
3 Ate sushi
4 Ate street food from a fly-blown, filth-strewn gutter in South East Asia
5 Ate more sushi, this time from a street stall in a fly-blown, filth-strewn gutter in South East Asia
6 Drank wine that tasted like a combination of lighter fluid and jam (not much of this to be honest – even the most dedicated drinker must drawn the line somewhere).
7 Ate braised liver and grilled chicken’s hearts (yum)
8 Shellfish – let’s not even go there.
9 Bungy jumping
10 Paragliding
11 Rode on a Hello Kitty Ferris wheel perched precariously on top of a giant Asian super-mall – this might not sound scary but in fact it was – you feel that all the effort had gone into the cute! factor and very little into the engineering and maintenance.
12 Took an extremely long haul flight

Ok, so a couple of these aren’t true but you get the picture. I’m like the poster girl for irresponsible early pregnancy behaviour. I might as well have been snacking on used petri-dishes. Subsequently I have done my utmost to stick to the rules but every time I think I have it covered, I discover there is some other innocuous thing that puts my pregnancy in peril. Parma ham? Seriously? Ooops…

Sunday, 24 January 2010

January 8th, 2010

The first indication that Something Is Up is not so much the elusive period (chalked up as a body clock anomaly or, more likely, a consequence of my complete inability to add up), as the fact that I keep falling over. Suddenly, I’m eating the pavement on a regular basis. I trip over plant pots, kerb stones and – several times a day – my own feet. We even get a discount from a guest house after I plough through their floral display and end up with my clogs waving in the breeze and my bum in the gutter. This makes some of our tougher mountain walks something of a challenge.

My theory is that my swollen boobs have disrupted my centre of gravity. I ask the husband – “Do they look bigger?” He gets that glazed, rabbit in the headlights look. This kind of a question is a minefield of potential wrong answers. “No” means he clearly doesn’t pay enough attention to my bangers to notice the difference. “Yes” and there’s always the risk that I’ll counter with something mad like “…so you think I’ve put on weight? Is that it? Is it?” In the end he says, very reasonably, that they maybe a little bigger, but of course, he’s not the one wearing them. I’ll say. If he was sporting these throbbing pillows of agony, you can bet we wouldn’t be anywhere near a mountain.