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Archive for July, 2009

18/40 – Here comes the bride

There is not much that I am an expert on really. Mind you, I used to be able to lay claim to expertise on a few scores… Such as: restaurants that allow your long lunches to continue through well into the evening without anyone giving out; which pubs have spaces that can be used as impromptu dancefloors; the best place to get a taxi (back in the days when they were as rare and wonderful as an uninterrupted night’s sleep is to me now). Alas, no more! My specialised knowledge on all these fronts has been scuppered by pregnancy, motherhood, and pregnancy again. And by taxi deregulation, to be fair.

But there is one area where I can proudly stand up and declare myself an expert – and that’s attending weddings while pregnant. Over the course of my pregnancies (and please bear in mind that I am not even half way through this one) I have attended 9 weddings. 7 on my first and 2 so far on this. Incidentally, I have also attended 3 weddings while breast-feeding – which, while not exactly the same, has certain similarities – i.e. restrictions on what you can wear (with special attention to awful underwear requirements), inability to fully partake of the free bar etc. etc.
Now, I love weddings, all of ’em. But, there are certain differences in attending a wedding when you are expecting than attending when you amaternitydressre footloose and bellyfree….

First of all clothes; you can get great maternity gear, but it’s great maternity gear, not quite the same as your beautiful Coast or LK Bennett dresses. I had a purple one last time, and very nice it was too. But by God, I was sick of the sight of it by the end. When I discovered I was pregnant again my mother helpfully said “isn’t that great, you can wear that lovely purple dress to so and so’s wedding”. I nearly swiped her. So this time, I have a lovely blue dress. It has been to both weddings, and has done the job perfectly. But I could have cried with envy at all the gorgeous frocks that shimmied past me over the course of both days.

Then there is the booze – and not just the fact that I can’t have (much of) it while everyone else is swilling champagne / fruit punch / wine / gin at high speed. There is also only so much fizzy water a girl can drink. I tend to vary it with a soda and lime here, an orange juice and lemonade there, but there comes a point where I just can’t do any more fizz… (I don’t get that way with champagne / cava / prosecco – strange, eh?)

And as a side point to the booze, there is the fact that I’m often driving at these occasions. Which would be fine – I like driving (except for parallel parking and that doesn’t tend to feature much at weddings) – except that following is usually the sequence…. People announce that they are ready to go, I visit the ladies (for the 515th time) and return to find that they have;
a) ordered / been bought / found another drink
b) decided to get up and dance to YMCA / rock the boat / New York, New York or
c) gotten into deep conversation with someone who appears to be crying their eyes out.

When I do eventually get the renegades into the car, they all then helpfully give me “pointers” on how I should reverse, which turn to take, and other such useful tips. All the way home.

I could go on – about going to the hotel room early ‘cos I’m knackered, only to be woken up by people singing outside or my husband barrelling through the door… About the lack of loos in churches… About forgetting my gaviscon after eating a 7 course meal…

But you get the idea – I really am an expert. It’s nice to be good at something. Roll on the next one, I have the blue dress dry-cleaned, and the car-keys ready.

101 things other mothers never tell you

I have a secret to share with you. It’s about mothers. They are notorious liars. What? Nooooo, I hear you cry, I won’t hear of such a thing.

Oh yes – I am afraid so. They tell outrageous un-truths about their children and their parenting skills to friends, family and – most shocking of all – to other mothers!

 “So, what is childbirth really like”, nervous mums-to-be ask of us ‘experienced’ mummys. “Oh, it’s not that bad really,” we say, “of course it’s a bit painful, but you soon forget about it”.

 This is a LIE! It is excruciatingly painful and you never forget about it (your pelvic floor won’t let you!). And this is just the tip of the iceberg. We continue to bluff and fabricate our way through motherhood, refusing to admit to ourselves, or others, that at times we feel completely miserable, totally incompetent and utterly crushed because our favourite jeans still don’t fit, the baby won’t stop crying and the three-year-old has just thrown their shoes at us.

So, I plan to set the record straight and share a few home truths. One hundred and one of them, to be precise. Ambitious maybe, but I am on a mission to uncover the reality of motherhood. The truth is out there people, and the journey starts here.

Next week the countdown begins with Truth Number 1: Parents do not go on holidays.

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17/40 – Who’s that Girl?

pregnant_iconI am worried about the girl on the wine bottles… Have you seen her? It’s not a very clear picture – you can’t see her face – but she is clearly pregnant, and she is not supposed to drink wine. Or beer, or gin (just checked my bottle of Gordon’s). At all. People must be very concerned that she doesn’t realise she can’t have it; ordinarily you’d expect an adult woman to be able to make the decision herself, rather than needing a picture on a bottle to remind her and everyone around her. So the effect it has on her must be fairly awful, poor thing, because there is no picture or mention of children, or people with health problems, or people taking strong drugs which mean they can’t drink – just her. 

But, as I said, her picture isn’t very clear. So you may have ordinary pregnant women, most of whom don’t drink very much at all when pregnant, but who have an occasional glass of wine – which they look forward to and enjoy very much (even if it does give them atrocious heartburn)- feeling like they can’t have it any more, or even have people shouting at them when they do have it (as people are known to do when they see a pregnant woman smoke). And they’ll feel this way even though there is no medical evidence to suggest that the occasional glass of wine causes the slightest bit of a problem.

There is no denying that drinking significant amounts when pregnant is dangerous – it can have terrible and permanent effects on your unborn child. But, and I may be missing something vital here, but I can’t see this picture stopping the tiny percentage of women who do drink to dangerous levels when they are expecting a baby.

Surely this picture of the pregnant girl can’t be directed at all pregnant women? Surely we’re not at a stage where all pregnant women are being treated as mentally deficient, unable to control their impulses to binge drink…. Surely we’re not going that way, are we?

Swap Shops

Hands up anyone who has recently swapped their supermarket? Good, hands down.

Hands up anyone who is now over the honeymoon period of the ‘no frills’ shopping and is secretly popping back to their old haunts? Hmmm, thought so. Me too.

Image courtesy of Rock Cake (Copyrighted)

Image courtesy of Rock Cake (Copyrighted)

You see, although the discount supermarkets (we’re talking Lidl and Aldi here) are clearly cheaper, they are just not family friendly. Despite the fact that the small pancakes are the first thing you come to (guaranteed to keep the small people quiet until the tinned goods aisle), it will still be a mad trolley dash to finish the shop before everyone has a melt-down (yourself included).

There are no toilets, no café, no real treats to make it all worthwhile and I am reduced to a quivering wreck every time I get to the checkout because they go so damned fast, I just cannot keep up. Last week, my three-and-a-half year old actually disappeared for a few minutes under a mountain of groceries which I was flinging madly into the trolley to try and stop it all falling off the miniscule packing area provided.

Admittedly, by discount shopping, I am saving a few euros. The problem is that I end up spending any savings on power drills, gazebos, fishing rods and any number of other things I don’t need, but end up buying because they’re on special, special offer.

Financially, ‘no frills’ shopping may be better for you. But be warned. If you are in any way prone to fainting, or are of a slightly nervous disposition, approach with caution.

That said, I’m off to buy a log splitter. I hear they are flying off the shelves.

Happiness is… a little boy reunited with his cuddly toy

**Warning – warm fuzzy feelings ahead!**

If you are a parent you will surely understand the agony of 5 yr old little Adam who left behind his favourite cuddly toy (called Lamby Noodles) in a Dublin airport shuttle back in May 2009. The family were just back from their holidays and were devastated when they realised Lamby was gone.  

Lamby Noodles

Lamby Noodles

Little Adam was heartbroken. His parents decided to launch an online search party. They posted on Eumom, created a group on Facebook with pictures of Lamby Noodles. For weeks, we chatted on Eumom,  twittered, suggested replacement toys/lambs, without much success…

Then 2 days ago: a glimmer of hope!
Another Eumomer remembered her son having a similar cuddly Lamb, and looked in her attic to see if she could locate it. After comparing photos, Adam’s mom confirmed that a replacement for Lamby had been found!

The Eumom community eagerly awaited news and photos of the reunion, and here is the post Adam’s mom made on the site to update us all, after a 5 hour drive to pick up the toy: (note DP means dear partner, DS dear son etc)

We drove a 5hr return trip yesterday to pick up Mr Noodles, (the things you do for your kids eh??!!) and it was so worth it, theres a bit of a story first, you see, Lamby was a big part of our family, DP was the storyteller each night and the bedtime story was always centered around the mischievous Lamb! DP would put on a high pitched voice when talking as ‘Lamby’! so on the way home last night, dp rang the landline and left a voicemail as Lamby saying ”Its ME! Lamby Noodles!!! I’m coming home!!!! I missed you SOOOOOO much, open the door!! QUICK QUICK!!! so after we collected ds from our neighbours house, we got him settled, put the lamb on the welcome mat outside the door and called him to the hall to play the msg, I never saw the child move so fast in all his 5yrs! he swung the door open and was yelling LAMBY LAMBY your home!!!!, picked him up and hasn’t left him out of his arms since!, We looked in last night before going to bed and he still had his arms around him, God it was so worth driving up to collect him after seeing his face and reaction. After a few mins of cuddles on the couch he turned to me and said, Mom, I think its a different Lamb! My heart sank, you see, his Lamb was weather beaten, no matter how many times he was washed, he looked matted and scruffy, Lamby’s body double was almost new n fluffy, so I told him he went to the hairdressers to get his fur fixed before he came home, and today I showed him pics of when he was a baby with Lamby when he was new and fluffy and he whispered to me, thanks Mom, I knew it was him all along.

Adam finally reunited with Lamby

Adam finally reunited with Lamby

So it was a success, after many hours online posting here, on various boards, facebook, people posting it on twitter for me, Gumtree, I even contacted Ray D’arcy by email (who ignored me by the way!) I eventually found him through Eumom, just goes to show what a nice bunch of people are on here and what a great website this is, it has restored my faith in humanity so thanks to all!! but of course, a very special thanks to Biyee and her litte ds who was willing to give up his lamb to make another little boy happy!”

16/40 – Not that I am counting… or moaning

So, 16 weeks down, 24-ish to go. And about 20 more weeks of work. And 8 weeks till I go on my holliers. And another 8 weeks of work left when I come back from holidays. (I was going to work out the days but reckoned that I would only put myself in a bad mood). For a woman who hated maths in school I do an awful lot of counting when I am pregnant.

counting down my pregnancy

It’s funny, but while I talk the good talk about enjoying the moment – carpe diem and all that, I spend most of my time waiting for the next phase. I’m the same with my little girl… I know some mothers regret each passing stage, and hate the thought of time passing. Not me – bring it on I say. When she was a baby I couldn’t wait for her to roll, then sit, then walk, then talk. So in effect, I am waiting for her to get a decent job and maybe marry and have her own family. If she wants of course. No pressure. (Did I mention that she is 18 months?)

With this rather impatient approach to life, I have my poor husband driven mad. No sooner was I pregnant than I was talking about the birth – of the next baby that is, not the one I am currently pregnant on. “So I think we should have a gap of at least 2 years between number 2 and number 3” says I. “Errr can we just focus on this pregnancy for now love” says he. “Of course” says I, “But I am just thinking that it would be the ideal gap”… And while I do shut up, my mind is whirring away thinking about when we would need to start trying if we were to have a gap of 2 years again, what car we would need, whether the buggy will last that long….

Anyway, to move away from the planned 3rd child, and to focus on the current one – which after all, is why I am here writing this – happily all is well. I made a solemn vow that I would not moan through this pregnancy, and I intend to stick to it. So even if I do have heartburn, and I think my sciatica is making an appearance, and I am still knackered, not a word of complaint will you read from me. I may mention these things in passing, and discuss certain aspects in an objective manner but I certainly won’t malinger.

Speaking of heartburn (in a detached and non-moany way), I must say gaviscon is an amazing substance – albeit one with a disgusting taste. I have bottles of it in strategic spots all over the place (home, office, car, handbag) – kind of like an alcoholic but without the secrecy. The only problem is that the effect doesn’t last so you have to keep drinking it – again like alcohol (strange but oddly appropriate as a comparison). So it is crucial to have a bottle or two about your person at all times. I got badly caught on my first pregnancy in town without it. Oh the burn! I made an emergency call to my mother who came up trumps and met me in Marks and Spencer with a jumbo bottle. She says that the memory of a very pregnant me, standing in the main gangway of M&S, slugging gaviscon directly from the bottle, will stay with her forever. I thought that that was my lowest ebb in terms of indignity… Little did I know!

Anyway, I will sign off for now… I’ll be back again when I am 17 weeks gone, with 19 weeks of work left, and 7 to my holiday…

No pain, no gain

There was a lot in the press over the weekend about coping with the pain of labour. The Sunday Tribune considers the advantages of natural births and home births while a similar piece in the Observer, encouraging women to endure the pain of childbirth without the epidural, has sparked a huge response.

I had two hospital births – home birth was never mentioned to me as an option. I planned to do things naturally, stay at home as long as possible, soak in the bath, listen to whale song etc etc. Of course, none of this happened as I was admitted to hospital 24 hours before my official due date and that was where I stayed for the duration. No whale song, no bath, lots of tubes in my arms, an epidural and 16 hours later a beautiful baby boy.

Second time around, everything happened much faster, and without any pain relief (other than my husband’s hand!). This was, by far, the better experience. But then, I think it will always be – in theory – easier to handle labour second time around as you know what to expect and that goes a long way towards helping you cope.

The articles ask interesting questions of the maternity hospitals and their ‘targets’ to manage labours within 12 hours. Who is really in control here? Surely, it should be the mother, being allowed to do what she feels happiest doing, and not having to fit in with a pre-determined schedule. Then again, when we are in the middle of this incredibly intense experience, exhausted and emotional, are we really the ones best placed to make decisions? I know I certainly wasn’t; I wanted the experts to take control.

One thing’s for sure, childbirth will never be easy, but will always be worth it. The debate about hospital or home, managed or natural, will continue for a long time yet.

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