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.