Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Urban smell

July's Glossybox arrived today, what a thrill! I'm not sure how much longer I'll keep up my subscription to be honest. What I once thought was the most exciting thing since I had my picture taken with Percy Pig at Disneyland is now a monthly disappointment.

There's only so many trial size toiletries one make up bag can handle.  And now the cut backs have really kicked in, I'm sure there is something far more interesting / calorific that I could spend £12.99 a month on.

But what really made me question the merits of the Glossybox arrived in this months delivery. Among the Eye Gel (life's too short) and the Dry Oil (Dry Oil? Eh?) I found a small tube of perfume.

As you can see it was called 'Londoner EC2 Urban Fragrance' made by a company called Bex. "Hmm", I thought to myself, "this looks new. I'll just read what the bumf says on the card". And that's when I nearly spat my Cadburys Dairy Milk all over the baby. The description reads like something off The Apprentice if there was a task in creating a new Eau de Toilette:

'Bex Londoner Fragrances are contemporary, urban and sought after by the discerning few. Each one captures a distinctly characterful part of town. Some are feminine, some are masculine. All are essentially androgynous. Inspired by the rejuvenated East End; now the creative heart of London; EC2 is addictive and unique.

The fragrance is an irresistable blend of traditional British accords: lemon, lime, grapefruit and juniper berry, combined with a spicy heart of bay, nutmeg, cedar, tonka, black pepper and amber'.

What a crock of shit.

A) what's a tonka?,  B) since when are lemons, limes and grapefruits British accords? and C) What does that even mean?

Anyway, trying not to be such a grumpy old cynic, I was interested to see if my East End could be an inspiration for something, so I hauled baby down to Hackney to see if I could tap into some of this inspiration that Bex described.

Sadly, my East End only smelt of the Feds, CCTV, Percy Ingles and old rubbish.

Bex, you're fired.

In case you can't tell, I'm not really in a very good mood today. I'm tired. I need to cut my toenails. My hair is awful. My back is killing me and I hate the following:

1. I have developed a Fat Coke and Cherry Coke addiction.
2. I have eaten a bar of Cadburys Dairy Milk (120g bar) every day for the last week.
3. I am eating Leerdammer slices fresh from the packet and calling it 'lunch'.
4. The fact that my flat is too small but there are no houses to buy.
5. I'm dressing like a day release person.
6. And I hate that it's so hot but I can't open my back door in case a fox comes in and gobbles up my delicious baby!

Hopefully, after a good nights sleep, I'll feel better. Oh yeh, I forgot, I'm not due a good nights sleep until 2030.


When I discovered I would not be able to work for a while, I had to accept that life would need to get serious. So I sat down one morning with my dear friend Excel and tried to work out how I was going to survive without working. Being a Freelance citizen it was not a particularly enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. However, its not impossible to get by, there would just have to be cut backs. So along with taxis, smelly candles and my deadly COS addiction, several regular treats have had to get binned. It's an expensive business being skint. One treat, that I refuse to give up easily, is fresh flowers. I don't know why, but I just like having them around particularly as I now spend so much time at home.  Why stare at the wall when you can stare at a flower I say. The cutbacks have meant I have had to make different choices with the flowers that's all. Whereas, I would regularly pick up a bunch of roses on the way home from work, or even Lillies if I was feeling particularly fruity, I am now displaying Gladioli's. Gladioli's have always reminded me of Dame Edna Everage, but in a recession, I'm looking at them in a whole new light ie they are very cheap.

These beauties cost £2.50 from M+S and have lasted 2 weeks.

And these were even cheaper, £2 from Tesco and also lasted 2 weeks. Don't forget, that's the same price as one egg at the Hackney Picture House. Bargain.

Anyway, apparently summer is here finally, which is great news. Or so one might think. However, if you are me, all the hot weather does is throw up one more thing to worry / obsess about. Body temperature. Or more specifically the body temperature of the baby. Yesterday I dared to climb down the mountain (my front steps) and venture out as I had 2 more parcels to collect at the Post Office, more presents for you know who. The Post Office is about a 40 minute walk away from home, a nice stroll in the sun I thought. However, at the first set of lights I stopped at White Van man shouted out of his window at me "It's too hot for the baby!" "Jesus Christ" I thought. He's right! It must be at least 150 degrees and although baby is in one of those body suits without legs, no socks, no blanket and a muslin clipped onto the buggy totally covering his delicate porcelain skin, White Van man is right! Baby is going to boil alive! What is the best temperature for a baby? I don't know! Should I go home and get a damp flannel to wipe over his fluffy head? What if he gets a sweaty back? How will I know? I'll just have to keep jiggling him around to feel it. Is that foam on his mouth or plain dribble? Oh my God, what was I thinking bringing him outside into the hotness! How irresponsible! I'll call Social Services myself!! (This is typical of me and my self confidence. I always think that no matter what the advice or from whom, the person spouting the advice is always right and I am always wrong). As you can see, this comment threw me into a total panic. What had started out as a nice summer jaunt had turned into a panic fueled race against time. I had to collect the parcel yesterday as it had already been there for 2 weeks and would be sent back to the sender the next day. So there was nothing for it, I had to continue my journey as quickly as possible. I somehow managed to get to the Post Office in just under 20 minutes, by walking so fast that I gave myself stitch in the process and scurrying only in the shadows like some sweaty, out of breath Batman Villain. I thought I was going to have a heart attack.

The only saving grace of the entire excursion was that the baby was merciful and actually didn't wake up throughout the whole journey. He slept all the way through my traumatic trip and even let me pick up a hot chocolate on the way home. This is the first time he has let me do this in 3 weeks. He usually lets me bundle him in the buggy, lug him down the mountain (stairs), get him across the treacherous junction onto the other side of the main road, into the coffee shop, waits for me to order then wakes up and screams so loud I have to cancel my order and leave.  I think I'll just stay in today.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Pricey Egg

Babies are amazing. I've never thought about it before but they are totally mind boggling. I only know this due to observing one now at close quarters for 8 weeks (Already! How time is zooming by). It seems that every day there is something new to see, be it a facial expression or some more hair or some extra milimetres. I'm convinced the other day that in the morning he fitted in the moses basket but by the afternoon he was too big. He grew significantly in one day right under my nose, I'm convinced of it. It feels like such a privilege to be watching this new human being developing new skills and becoming his own person. I think what I find most amazing is that you put food in one end and the baby turns the food into eyebrows or fingernails or a chubby roll. Completely boggling. The more time I spend with the baby the more amazing I think he is. I tell him a lot that I think he's awesome but I'm not sure he understands yet, although I swear he said "hello" to me the other day.

It also must be pretty weird to be a baby. Every time you wake up you're in a different room or a different outfit or have a different face peering down at you. Yesterday morning, after a short nap, baby woke up to find himself in the Hackney Picture House. We have spent a lot of time there since it opened at the end of last year. We've seen countless films there, had too many hot chocolates to mention and more fry up's than I care to remember, but we noticed something peculiar during this particular visit. Not only have the standards started to slip with presentation (although I would imagine its quite a skill actually to get the hot chocolate to run exactly down the handle of the mug and nowhere else) but they also now sell the borough's most pricey egg.

Two quid for an egg! Two quid! If I was going to pay that much for an egg I'd want it to be shit out by Foghorn Leghorn. Or at least Chicken Little. (I don't know any other famous chickens). If I had a bit more time on my hands I would definitely be writing to the manager to enquire how they can justify this new price increase or at least double check that it isn't a typo. So since I am currently unemployed and on benefits, and with this new increase in mind, its out with the fry up and in with the beans on toast. Slowly but surely all my little treats are slipping away from me . . .  The baby isn't the only one crying round here these days.

After the shock of the price of eggs, we skulked back home, baby dropped off then woke up in the afternoon in the garden for the first time in his life. I don't know if he liked it or not but it's in a far better state than when I moved in 5 years ago.

Garden before.

Garden after. 

It doesn't look quite as tidy as this now (this was last summer) as we haven't been in the garden since the day before I gave birth, but luckily things are still growing. That's one reason to be thankful for all the rain I suppose, things survived without us having to drag the hose out. Yay, Got to love the English 'summer'.


I planted these Hydrangeas last year with the foolish notion that I might use some of the blooms for my wedding. Oh well . . .

Some sort of rose.

Lovely Lavender.

No idea what this is. 

Don't think old Titschmarch has too much to worry about.

So, who knows what new place the baby will wake up in today or what new thing he has grown in his sleep. How exciting!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Russet, Hackney Downs Studios, Amhurst Terrace, London. E8 2BT

All in all, it's been a pretty good week. Not only did I discover that Graham Norton is not doing his Saturday morning Radio 2 show until September (not funny, just plain rude), I also got my complaint off to the hospital. Amazingly I received an email AND postal acknowledgment from them within 3 days. Very impressive.  Shame our Midwife wasn't so efficient. I'm not sure what good it will do but I'm glad I've done it. So, we'll just have to wait and see when they respond officially in 25 days as to what action, if any, will be taken.

There have also, however, been certain low points to the week. You may not believe this, and I'm not sure I would had I not seen it with my own eyes, but I saw yet another person urinating in public in broad daylight on Friday. That's 2 revolting beasts in one week. Unbelievable, but sadly true. This time, it was not a child, but a fully grown adult, relieving himself up against a fence while his female friend waited for him on the path in Hackney Downs park at 3pm in the afternoon. I was disgusted and the baby was not remotely amused. I was going to take a photo (I dont know why) but like most things these days, nothing seems to happen very quickly or spontaneously. By the time I had put the brake on the buggy, swatted a fly off the babies foot, untangled my hand from the safety strap of the buggy, rummaged around in my bag for the camera (underneath the muslins, to the left of the Infacol),  the man had finished his dirty business. Drat

So alas, I have no urinating man to show you but I did take some pictures of the park.

Hackney Downs Park sign. 
If you look closely you can see what appears to be a bullet hole at the bottom of the map on this sign. 

Tree with strange bulbous section. When you don't go out much, bulbous tree sections can appear quite fascinating.

Hackney Downs park is actually rather smart if you ignore the possible bullet hole in the sign. It has tennis courts, a bowling green, a children's play area, a children's only garden (thus no killer dogs allowed) and a basketball court. I think its just as nice as London Fields but a lot less busy / Nathan Barley-y.  The reason for my walk through the park was not, however, to go bowling or attempt a game of tennis with the baby, but to meet the NCT maidens at The Russet.

The Russet is a fairly new cafe that has opened up next to the park. I've only been once before but I noticed it was quite popular with ladies with babies as it has quite a lot of space inside and out, bum changing facilites (babies only) and an area with toys. Perfect for an NCT hot chocolate date. The only problem was, I forgot which unsavoury underpass to go through to access it. I of course initially chose the wrong one, foolishly taking this dodgy underpass...

...when the one I actually needed was this dodgy underpass. The one with the homeless person living in it. You can't see it too clearly in the picture, but there is someone in a sleeping bag in here. I really don't know why I was surprised. 

Unfortunately, I was so preoccupied with the baby that I forgot to take any pictures of The Russet but you can check out everything about them on their website here:

Also, this week, yesterday in fact, we continued our search for a new area to relocate to. We drove out of E8 and actually saw somewhere that ticks quite a few boxes for us. But probably the best and most exciting thing about the place we saw is that we can see my friends house from the bathroom window! We'll be able to pass bog rolls to each other via a crude bucket/pulley system if we so desired. If that's not reason enough for buying a house I don't know what is.  

It was so nice getting out of London for the day that I was almost sad to go home, particularly as when we pulled into our street at the end of the day there were hundreds of Joe Publics milling around. My heart sank.  "What's going on?" I thought. Where did all these people come from? Had they been evacuated from their homes due to a bomb scare? Was there rioting at the end of the road again? A flood? A plague of frogs? What were they all doing?? And why on earth were they all carrying union jack flags?! . . .Oh yes, the Olympic Flame. It had been to Hackney. And we had missed this momentous moment as we had been contemplating how long the rope would need to be between my friends bathroom window and our potential new one. Yay.

Yesterday - We missed this, and I'm not sure who this bloke is but hooray! 
The flame comes to Hackney!

This morning - Hackney back to normal.

Actually, despite it being a great day for the wondrous (...) Hackney, I'm not that fussed by the flame to be honest, for I have touched it. Well one of the 8000 of them anyway. Before I stopped working we pitched on a job for Coca Cola and went to see it/one of them. I thought I might explode when I learnt I was going to see it, but then I discovered how many there are of them. Those new BoJo number 38 buses are rarer. Coincidentally, we also know 2 people who have carried it (my friends niece in Southend and a blind Hot Air Balloonist the Wig knows called 'Mike the Balloon' in Sussex). So, I don't know what the fuss was all about.  Olympic Flame? Whatev's...

Friday, 20 July 2012

Audley End, Saffron Walden, Essex

I still haven't quite worked out how to go to the toilet regularly with this here baby. Its fine if he's asleep in the moses basket but more often lately he only tends to sleep during the day indoors if he is draped over my shoulder like a sort of hot, snuffling parrot or strapped onto me in the BabyBjorn. Both of these positions are excellent for his sleep and my hearing since he doesn't tend to scream while asleep, but not terribly practical for (my) bodily functions. Mind you with my current diet my bodily excretions have virtually ceased to exist. His on the other hand are a constant point of interest and intrigue. Is he doing too many? Is he doing too little? Is the colour ok? And how about the texture? (gag) It's happened, I have become obsessed with nappy contents. To be fair though, there's not a lot else going on round here at the moment. When we first brought the baby home we were keeping a log (no pun intended) of all feed times and amounts and all movements. I don't know why. I don't know who would be remotely interested but I think as new parents its probably quite normal to do this kind of thing isn't it? Oh it isn't...oh...

7:20am - Wake up, nappy change, number 1.
7:45am - Snooze.
9:30am - Wake up, feed.
9:40am - Massive blow off, nappy change, medium number 2, snooze.
11am - Wake up, nappy change, number 1, snooze
12:46pm - Wake up, medium sized number 2, wee'd on me, feed, snooze.
1:20pm - Wake up, dry nappy, hands in mouth, crying, feed, snooze.
4:30pm - Wake up, tiny number 2, feed, snooze.

Repeat to fade. Or for 3 days after which we abandoned our log. At least it will be something else to stick in his baby book.

Luckily however, I have a few people that I can discuss such matters with. The less Googling the better in my opinion. This week some of the NCT girls came round for a hot drink and biscuit which was very nice and a great way to compare and contrast baby movements in all senses of the word. My other friend also popped round with her baby who is 2 weeks older than mine. They were exactly the same size, she said mine was heavy and had a big head (rude) and now I have something else to obsess about. Is he too big? Am I feeding him too much? Has he got giantism? I fear that life as a parent will continue along this theme forever. I really didn't think I would be this kind of mother, I actually thought I was quite a laid back character! Ha! That's a joke. But not a funny one.

Just because we have a new member of our household, doesn't mean we can't retain some sort of normality though. A life beyond nappies and paranoia. Whereas I am still in shock about how I have been plucked out of my normal existence and placed in a completely alien world, the Wig is far more relaxed about things. This may be as his day to day life hasn't changed as much as mine. He still goes to work, can pop out for lunch with ease, can go out after work for a "quick" drink with friends, he can at least have a crap whenever he wants. Luxury!! Anyway, I digress. The Wig is relaxed, so much so that when baby was 3 weeks old, we took a trip out on Fathers Day to Audley End, Saffron Walden. (He was their youngest ever visitor apparently. I was very proud. I've no idea why).

Audley End is a beautiful stately home in the motherland ie Essex and really is worth a visit. It's not cheap to get in if you aren't a member of English Heritage (we are not and it was £13 per adult) but there's quite a lot of house to see and loads of grounds and gardens to roam around in. If its a nice day I would suggest taking a picnic rather than paying to go to the cafe which was very busy and had a very limited menu. The day we went, there was the added bonus of a vintage car show and surprisingly enough, my Pao was there! Not the actual one but another one. It got me old choked up. It really doesn't take much.

I love day trips like these and think its because when I was little my Dad used to take us all over the place to museums, castles, stately homes, gardens etc and I hope that we will be the same with our little one. Probably like me, he wont appreciate it at the time and whinge about it (when he has learnt to whinge) but one day he will realise it was a nice thing to do and be grateful.

With this in mind, I really want to re-visit Bekonscot Model Village in Buckinghamshire. Our Grandparents used to take us there when we were kids and I am hoping to re-create this photo with our baby when he gets a bit bigger. I think it would be AWESOME. Yes, I just said awesome.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

"London is really only for the young or the rich".

Todays food/liquid consumption = 1.5 small bottles of Coke (Full Fat, not even Diet), 1 x Nescafe, 1 x Crunchie, 1/2 a Dominos Vegetarian Pizza with Ham. One may find this hard to believe but I did actually eat quite well at the weekend for the first time in a long time. On Sunday, we met our friend Mole for breakfast (hot chocolate and pancakes with maple syrup) then went to our friend Daniels for dinner who cooked us a delicious homemade lasagne with home grown salad and brownies (not served on the same plate obviously). The baby has received lots of wonderful presents but I think my favourite present of all was the homemade lasagne. Don't judge me. Its lovely for the baby to receive gifts of course but one must never underestimate the value to new parents of a delicious dinner cooked by an old friend at times like these. Such a thoughtful thing to do and I think, when my pregnant friends give birth I shall endeavour to do the same thing. Although the other half of my pizza with an instant coffee chaser might not have the same effect.

It's a good job I have embraced the outside world as there always seems to be some chore or other these days that involves me leaving the flat. I have no idea how my career as a hermit lasted as long as it did. Yesterday, I had the unenviable task of renewing our residents parking permit. I had tried to do it online which apparently would have saved me a whole £10 (a lot of money when you have no job) but good old Hackney buggered up the on line option. So I bundled baby in his buggy and took a trip in the rain to the most depressing place in the galaxy - the Hackney Parking "Services" Office. I have never had the luxury of a job with official lunch breaks, but the staff at the Council don't have to suffer such hardships. Naturally, at the moment of my arrival 6 of the 10 cashiers, pulled down their blinds and chipped off for lunch. Hackney, home of the Olympics. Good luck when the world arrives next week to witness the chaos for themselves.

My permit expired the following day so I had no choice but to take a number from the ticket machine and wait in line. The counter was at 4997 when I arrived and my ticket was 5132. This would have been a painful trip had I been on my own but with baby in tow, the wait became like a heart racing game of Baby Roulette. Would I manage to get my new permit before he woke up for his next feed? The tension was almost unbearable! The wait was not helped by a Quaver scoffing toddler in a pram next to me who decided to scream his face off at around number 5087 but luckily my frantic pushing backwards and forwards of the buggy fooled baby into thinking he was somewhere far more exciting than the parking office. And he stayed asleep. And 2 hours later I left with my permit and baby was still asleep. Yay! Adult 1 Baby 0. And I felt happy at this tiny triumph but as I turned the corner I saw a woman letting her kid piss up the tree outside my front door. And felt tense again. So tense in fact the search for a place to live outside of London has been ramped up to top speed on the 'Place-to-live-outside-of-London-Ometer'. I've had it with London. It's officially official. Who lets their kid piss up a tree in a busy street in broad daylight and doesn't even acknowledge the person who lives by the tree? London stinks. Literally.

I was so happy when the tree was planted in 2009 I left a thank you note to whoever planted it. Manners. Don't cost a thing.

My friend remarked the other day that London is only really for the young or the rich and since I am neither I should take the hint, pack up my troubles in my old kit bag and buzz off out of the capital. I've been here for 16 years now (christ!) which is quite long enough thank you very much. Pretty much everything in London stresses me out these days. The wee-ing children, the Quaver scoffing purple faced toddlers, the inefficient council, people that let their dogs poo on my road and don't clean it up, the pot hole riddled pavements, noise, the ratty foxes that have moved back into the garden. I could go on.

During the last 16 years, I have lived in the following places:

1. Stoke Newington -  I lived here with my best friend when I first moved to London. The house was usually full of Goth's (my friend wore a lot of black a the time) and the weird /perverted next door neighbour used to listen to our conversations, among other things, through the air vents on the walls and then comment to us the next day about what he had heard. Creepy.

2. Hackney - The same road I live on now. I lived here in a rented flat with my ex-boyfriend, Disco. The flat was a dump then he dumped me to go to Australia and broke my heart. It's ok, it was 13 years ago I'm over it now.

3. Stoke Newington (again) - After the heartbreak I soon realised I was not only a boyfriend down but also had to find somewhere else to live. I 'temporarily' moved into my friends cousins fancy house in N16. He was rarely there, he had a cleaner once a week, I loved it and stayed there far too long. So long in fact he got married, had a baby and I could still be found shuffling about in the spare room.

4. Hackney (again) - I rented a room in a huge house with a total stranger. I would not recommend this. On the first morning the bailiffs turned up on the doorstep regarding her 'alleged' unpaid council tax. I lasted 3 months.

5. Shoreditch - Brilliant. It was very different to how it is now, not at all touristy and actually very quiet. I lived here with another ex-boyfriend, the Baboon. There was no bath but it was a great party flat. You win some, you lose some.

6. Clapton - My first property purchase with the Baboon. Total disaster. Lovely property, awful Russian neighbours. They attacked us, my boyfriend and I split up, Clapton will always be a grot hole in my eyes no matter how many coffee shops open along the Chatsworth Road. Sorry, but some memories will never fade.

7. London Fields - I stayed with my friend in her flat for 3 months. The summer of '06, a great summer. The single life, sunny evenings, vats of white wine, I bought my first car after not having driven since I was 17 and then I bought my flat. Two words summed me up that summer:Bridget Jones.


Me any my beautiful Nissan Pao. God, I loved that car.

It was also the year I met the Wig.

8. Hackney (again) - My flat, where I am now. But not still in the box.

So, I've definitely done my time, although to be fair I have only been East side. It's certainly changed a lot over the years but not enough for me to want to stay here any longer. Life is not just about me anymore and I think the responsible thing to do is move somewhere a bit less hectic/rude/smelly/TB riddled. Also I don't think the baby will appreciate sharing his parents bedroom for too much longer. Who wants bunk beds with their parents?

Friday, 13 July 2012

Be good to yourself.

It's a peculiar sort of existence living with a newborn. You live in a strange bubble of fear of them waking up but also a longing for them to be awake. It's weird. When they are asleep you want them to be awake partly so that you know they are ok and partly so you can jiggle them around, but also you know that once they are awake there is no guarantee when they will go back to sleep.  It has created a sort of terror that hovers over me. Luckily, I have developed a few weapons in my arsenal in the war of Baby V Sleep which seem to be working out pretty well. They don't always work, which is the fun / frustrating thing about a newborn, no consistency, but if they even work once in a while that's good enough for me.

1. eBay rocking chair. A bit hit and miss but there's definitely been more hits than misses. You just have to be careful when exiting the chair that you don't tip too far forward thus losing balance and startling baby. Nightmare.

2. BabyBjorn Carrier combined with pacing up and down. Not for the faint hearted. Works well in principle but can be problematic when trying to transfer sleeping baby from carrier to moses. Sometimes baby wakes up in a worse mood. This is a risky option basically but gives a good adrenalin rush.

3. White noise app on iPad. (Or even an actual real life hoover which I discovered yesterday when I hoovered the carpet for the first time in weeks) Works 9 times out of 10. My weapon of choice.

4. Swaddling. Has a very high success rate but you have to get past a minute or so of extreme baby anger whilst in the process of swaddling before baby realises you are not trying to do anything horrid to it.

So, rather predictably I seem now only able to write / talk about baby related things. I'm hoping that as I am getting out and about a bit more, I'll have other things to discuss soon but I understand now why people that have kids very often have little else to talk about. Although I'm trying hard not to look at Google too much, even my google searches have become baby-fied. The search history on the iPad currently reads:

* Do all babies wake up crying?
* Gripe Water
* Why is my Baby grunting?
* When do babies sleep through the night?
* Baby kicks blankets off, what does this mean?
* How much food should a baby have?
* How many times a week should you wash a baby?
* When does a baby get hair?
* Daily Mail (A guilty pleasure. How else would I keep abreast of the cast of TOWIE?)

I'm ure I used to have a more varied search history once, but cant for the life of me think when that was.

As well as (sort of) sussing out some sleep weapons I also seem to have succeeded somewhat in eating food other than chocolate in the last day. This was only possible because of the BabyBjorn which enabled me to make a ham and cheese sandwich yesterday. The only minor hiccup was when some ham fell out of the sandwich onto the baby's head (cue Google search "Will ham on a baby's head make a rash???) but apart from that it was a triumph. And tonight I have sampled the delights of a Sainsbury's Be Good to Yourself Chilli. I'm not quite sure why it meant I was being good to myself but perhaps by eating actual food tonight I have staved off the onset of Scurvy for another day, which is definitely a good thing.  

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


As I was eating my lunch of a fun size Crunchie today, I wondered something; instead of (trying) to write these blogs, maybe I should be asleep. If I have the time to write then I have the time for a nap which is probably what most sensible people would do. My friend said to me the other day “Your’e not one of those twats that tries to stay awake and do things while the baby is asleep are you?”. Yes, I think I am. However, I'm finding it good for me to try and write something whenever I can. I obviously have very limited time for myself at the moment and this blog is one thing that I can just about still do. Also, I’ve had some very nice messages from friends (and people I don’t know) in response to my recent posts which I’ve found incredibly supportive at such a strange time. So, thanks to anyone that’s sent me a note via text, facebook or email, I really appreciate it and its made me feel far less lonely/insane.

I also appreciate all the cards and gifts that we have received during the last few weeks. We really are very lucky to have such thoughtful friends and relations.  The problem continues to be lack of space at home so I have had to try and find some nice storage for all the baby clothes that we were bought which are still to big to be worn.  After a sniff around the internet I found this lovely metal trunk  which is perfect for storing things, and very useful amongst all the chaos to know where the next size of clothes can be found.

Trunk from Toast, tiny Ugg boots sent from Auntie Pam in Sydney. Thanks Auntie Pam! xx

As well as a new metal trunk, I also have a new nickname. They call me ‘The Sow. And when I say 'they', I mean me. It’s not particularly flattering but that pretty much sums me up at the moment. God knows how I’m producing anything worth consuming at the moment considering my current diet. I appear to be surviving on burnt pizzas, Nescafe and Fun Size Cadbury Favorites. But it just goes to show how amazing a 37 year old body can be. It also transpires that tiny babies bodies are pretty amazing too. Apparently we have been experiencing a 6 week growth spurt over the last few days. So while I was concerned that perhaps I didn’t know the baby as well as I thought I did since his behaviour changed significantly over the last day or so, he was actually going though a spurt! Apparently they only last a day or so which is good as the insatiable appetite and unwillingness to sleep during the day was a bit intense. During these spurts they can apparently grow 1cm overnight!  If a baby continued to grow at the rate he does in his first year, by the time he reached adulthood, he would be as tall as Nelson’s Column. But what I think is more amazing is that today, the spurt seems to have subsided just as good old "What to Expect . . . " said it would. Yay! A 2 day spurt is about as much as I could handle.

Progress was also made today in the battle against grubbiness. I realised I was less Yummy Mummy and more Scummy Mummy due to the minimal time I have been spending on my personal appearance of late. I think I've been washing my hair with Johnson's Baby wash for the last 2 weeks (not even the baby shampoo) so today I could stand no more. I managed to successfully have a shower without the Wig being here and without it being cut short due to wimpering emitting from the moses basket. I devised a plan using a decoy (one of the baby's new toys) lodged on the shelf outside the bathroom door which seemed to keep baby amused for a good 10 minutes while he sat in the bouncer at the bathroom doorway. Hopefully he will not recall the trauma of seeing me in the shower but at least I could keep my beady eye on him. I think I'm slowly getting the hang of things, bright items placed around the flat are my ticket to a quiet life and clean hair. 

We also went out again this afternoon. I've got a real taste for freedom now! We only went as far as the post box and the coffee shop but its the thought that counts. And as an extra bonus we only encountered one unsavoury on our travels. Luckily this one was not an aggressive / threatening type but just a bit drunk and dirty. He was a young lager can swilling chap in a wheelchair, clearly down on his luck (I think this is the PC way to say possibly alcoholic with no fixed abode / tramp) I knew as I walked up the pavement and he stopped that there was going to be some sort of exchange of words between us. I seem to attract these sort of people unfortunately. He very kindly offered to help me up my stairs with the pram although how he thought he was going to do this whilst in his chair was beyond me and then he told me he was a knitter of baby clothes if I was interested. Why me. . . ? Tomorrow if I go out, baby wears his TB Protective cover and I wear my invisibility cloak.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Conquering Mount Everest

Baby is 6 weeks old and something occurred to me yesterday.  I have no idea what sort of things a 6 week old under house arrest  (due to bad weather and my fear of the front steps) likes to do.  Luckily for both of us we had a selection of items indoors for entertainment purposes so we spent the day bouncing in a bouncer, staring at toys, walking around with the Moby Wrap, laying on a mat looking up at things, tummy time, changing outfits (him not me obviously), having a rub down with baby oil and jiggling around listening to CD’s. I had been pretty impressed with my baby entertaining skills until later that afternoon when I was exhausted (not just from the days activities but also from the last few weeks’ sleep deprivation) but baby had not slept at all. All day. And he would not sleep until 11:30pm last night. Apparently it’s possible to over stimulate a baby and then you have a real struggle on your hands. Since at this stage of life they only have a small brain (I know how they feel) it takes them ages to process all the information they take in during their waking hours. So woe betide the fool that spends all day bouncing them around showing them stuff. Turns out there’s a very fine line between fun and pain. I also learnt today that you can’t reason with a baby. It’s a fruitless task that wastes precious energy and just makes them go purple in the face. Apparently between 6-8 weeks, you start to get smiles but this also coincides with a crying peak. Thanks nature.

To be frank, it’s a pretty hard job dealing with a newborn. It’s like working for the meanest boss ever. Nothing you do feels like its right or good enough. And just when you think you’ve cracked the nut and made some progress, the rules change again. No one thought to mention this to me before I had a baby but now my friends are revealing their pearls of wisdom to me:

“Just when you are completely broken and can’t take anymore, they’ll smile at you”

“For the first year I’d look at my son and think “F**K! That’s my son!”.

“The over powering emotion comes, and gets stronger and stronger, and then they get annoying again”.

“My mum always says ‘no one goes to hospital for a good time’”

So today, to avoid all risk of over stimulation, I faced Mount Everest (or the 10 steps from the front door down into the street) and took the baby outside. Liberty. Amazing.  I used to be a reasonably confident person before I had the baby but currently feel like a ghost of my former self. I think its partly because of the birth, partly because of the shock that I am now a mum and partly because 2 days before the baby was born I was accosted in my street by a woman / nutter who threatened to do something horrible to me because I would not give her any money. I've totally had it with London. Also, I've developed an irrational fear of falling over. I haven't fallen over since the noughties when I was wearing a rather ridiculous pair of shoe's from Buffalo down Great Marlborough Street, but for some reason I think I am going to fall over outside with the baby. Basically, everything is terrifying me but I knew that sooner or later I would have to conquer my fear of the outside world.  Release the fear and the fear will release you or something.  So, I covered the baby with his TB Protection Shield / Pram rain Cover, completed the assault course otherwise known as the Hackney pavements and made it to the shops. I felt so proud of myself I actually cried when I popped into the local Children’s Centre round the corner.  In my 3 hour outing I managed to post some cards, pay a cheque into the bank (£100 from the Premium Bonds!) check the lottery ticket (not a sausage. You win some you lose some), buy some lovely flowers from M+S, go to Boots (and I didn’t even need anything in Boots! Ha!) and meet the NCT ladies for a hot chocolate.  Baby slept the whole time, progress I thought. But then he cried all afternoon when we got home just in case I’d forgotten who was in charge.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Things I know now but didn't know before.

Copyright Super Stock.

Contrary to what I believed / hoped, babies are not born like Stewie from "Family Guy". If they were life would be a lot less tiring. Since they can't tell you what they want / like, no matter how many Google searches you do, it mostly seems to be a matter of trial and error. Having not held a newborn since my little brother was born in the 80's to say I was maybe a bit unprepared for a baby would possibly be a fair comment. One good thing to come from the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at the hospital was that we picked up a few tips from the nurses there so at least we weren't totally clueless when we got home:

1. Change the babies nappy when he wakes up but before you feed him. He might cry a bit but if you change his bum after you have fed him, all the jiggling around is likely to make him sick. (I am now terrified of any sick even though babies often do a small sick after feeding, called 'posset'). That way once he has been changed and fed he can go straight to bed (in theory).

2. Pampers nappies are better than Huggies. As the hospital could not provide anything for either me or the baby, we had to take nappies in for him while he was in hospital. We kept taking in Huggies but everytime we saw him, he was in Pampers. My distrust of everyone at the hospital made me think that some sort of dodgy dealing was going on. Maybe they were selling our Huggies as they were a superior brand or something. I convinced myself they were doing a boot sale in the car park with our Huggies. However, when we finally got home I soon realised it was because Huggies are an extremely complicated type of pant. It took 4 days of constant wet babygros and bedding changes before an exasperated phonecall to my friend revealed you have to pull 'frills' down on Huggies to stop them leaking. I stopped using Huggies after that. Far too technical.

3. Put Sudocrem on every time before you put the nappy on. It prevents any kind of rashes before they can develop and should there be any kind of baby dropping in the nappy, it just slides of the bottom. Yay.

4. Winding a baby while holding them under the armpit and chin and balancing them on your knee may look precarious but produces very good results.

5. Feed on demand, basically when the baby wants feeding. Don't try to tell a newborn when to eat, its a  newborn! It doesn't care what you think / want. If it wants food, feed it.

6. If trying to express milk and you are not physically with your baby, look at a picture of him/her, this gets the milk going. Its an odd phenomenon but seemed to be true. While I was in Hades aka the Maternity Ward and baby in another ward. I took expressed milk over to him every few hours. It made me feel like I was doing something good for him, so I would take it over to SCBU label it and put it in their fridge for when they needed it. I was worried that since we were not together this might scupper the milk supply so while sitting in my grotty bed I would look at a picture of him on my phone, put my headphones on to block out the noise of the other babies on the ward and express. It seemed to work although I can never listen to "El Camino" by The Black Keys ever again.

7. If you don't have a moses basket, which we didn't for the first few days (we had a small cot at first, its not like we made him sleep in a shoe box or a drawer) you can make the baby more cosy by placing a rolled up towel around the baby under the sheet. It makes a sort of nest and stops the baby flailing around and waking themselves up with a start. They've been squashed up in the womb for months so having the security of feeling snug when you put them to bed is more familiar to them and less frightening I should imagine.

Other things we were told by friends that ended up being invaluable :

1. I soon discovered boy babies like to wee just at the moment you have removed their nappy. Placing a flannel over the offending area will prevent the wee spraying all over the changing mat / bed / clean clothes / baby. Cotton wool balls get blown off by the stream and muslin is not heavy enough to hold the wee. A great tip during the night time nappy changes.

2. A foam wedge (from Amazon) under the mattress in the moses basket will help a windy baby to get more comfortable, although you should only use it when they are being supervised ie don't them sleep on it at night.

3. Infacol. Great for helping wind a baby. Its an orange flavoured liquid which you give to baby before each feed via a dropper. It helps collect together all the air bubbles in baby's tummy to make one massive bubble which comes out as one huge orange smelling burp rather than loads of little annoying ones. It costs about three quid and seems to be sold everywhere.

4. Most babies have a 'Witching Hour' each day, or 'Whinging Hour' as we like to call it. This seems to occur around 5pm in the evening. Often they don't need food / changing / winding, they just like to have a good old whinge, and who can blame them!

Things we worked out for ourselves:

1. Babies love white noise. We discovered quite by chance that the hairdryer stops a crying baby and now we have downloaded an app on the iPad called the 'White Noise Machine' which is specifically for babies. It has various noises on from hairdryers to hoovers to lawn mowers.

2. Babies prefer a warm bed. Pre-moses, we warmed up the cot with a hot water bottle (not too hot obviously) to warm the sheets. The Health Visitor said in all her years she had never heard of anyone doing that before. This made me feel a bit sad, imagine all those babies on chilly sheets. Poor things.

3. Babies really do calm down if they are swaddled. It's a lifesaver. Some people call the 1st 3 months of a babys life, the 4th trimester as they still think they are in the womb and are still a bit like another species. So swaddling gives the feeling of being in the womb I guess and calms them down.

4. Magic FM has an incredibly limited playlist. I now have Magic on in every room as its a nice and calming radio  station but after listening it to it now for 6 weeks almost 24 hours a day I have noticed they only play the following 8 songs:

1. Rule the World - Take That
2. Torn - Natalie Imbruglia
3. Islands in the stream - Dolly Parton + Kenny Rogers
4. Get Here - Oleta Adams
5. Promise Me - Beverley Craven
6. Sexual Healing - Marvin Gaye
7. Hero - Enrique Inglasias
8. Leona Lewis and her Bleeding Love.

5. Trust your instincts, no one knows your baby better than you even if you don't think you know him/her that well at first, which you don't. Disregard most of what the 'experts' tell you.

6. Don't Google search every tiny thing. A copy of 'What to expect when expecting' will be enough.

7. We couldnt have done without the following items: Angelcare Nappy Bin, Puj Tub bath, Baby Bjorn Carrier (thanks again Emma) and I think my new Moby wrap will come in very handy.

Things we learnt from the Health Visitor:

1. Hackney has the 2nd highest rate of TB in the country after Newham. Babies in Hackney are offered their BCG jab from birth. Shocking. Now I really really can't wait to move.

So, the days are, even now, in this short time, getting a little easier. At least I know how to put a nappy on properly so don't have to change the baby's clothes every hour and a half, I would say that's progress. Next giant leap, attempting the outside world. I think I've seen every TV programme ever made at least 3 times in the last few weeks, so going out is looking more and more appealing. I'll just have to make baby wear a space suit so he doesn't catch any germs.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

My beautiful boy.

* Its taken me almost 2 weeks to write this post but I got there in the end*

Exactly 4 weeks ago today the newest member of our family made his entrance. He was only 1 day over his due date which is not bad timing for a first baby I don't think. But this is why I have been a bit quiet lately, I've been rather preoccupied with getting to grips with my new role as someone's mummy. Needless to say both the Wig and I are totally in love with the baby and I was over the moon to have a little boy. Not only because I find boys less confusing than girls, but also because it proved I was right and that was a little winkle on the 20 week scan and not the umbilical cord as some people tried to tell me.

Babies have long nails when they are born.

Thank you to all our friends for the lovely cards and gifts.

To say that the last month has been a roller coaster would be a huge understatement and sadly the birth and my experience at the hospital was not at all what I was imagining. I think sometimes events can happen to you in life that mean you are not quite the same person as you were before, and this was definitely one of those events. Not just because we had a baby.

Saturday 26th May started off pretty uneventfully. The Wig and I went for breakfast at The Elk in The Woods in Islington. Little did we know this would be our last breakfast out for some time.

It was a glorious day so we decided that later that evening we would have a BBQ in the garden.

On reflection, I think some of my waters had broken in Waitrose while we were buying food for the BBQ at around 1pm, but we went home and I started having contractions. They were quite irregular but bearable, however we phoned the hospital anyway who told us not to come in until the contractions were 3 in 10 minutes. So the Wig suckered the TENS machine onto me and we had our BBQ.

At 1am, 12 hours later, the contractions were still going but were very irregular. Again we phoned the hospital to see if we could come in and were told again not to until I was having them every 3 minutes or the waters had definitely broken. Half an hour later my waters definitely broke so we finally went to hospital. I dont know if it was because it was a Saturday night and there less staff working or what, but I really wish we had been told we could have come in earlier. It felt like they didn't want us to come in.

When we arrived at the hospital, it was confirmed my waters had broken and that also there was meconim in the waters (the baby had been to the toilet in the womb, usually as its in some distress I think and then there is the risk that the baby will swallow some of its own waste. Not good). However, the midwife decided it was not "bad" so rather than just get the baby out asap via caesarian, I was sent to the delivery suite. How they decide if its bad meconium or not bad meconium is beyond me. From my NCT class I know how many more staff are involved in performing a C-section and the cost of performing one so in hindsight can not think this decision was based on anything other than financial/staffing factors. It certainly wasn't based on the well being of the baby.

After a few hours in the suite, the contractions were still irregular so the decison was made to induce me. I was given a tiny pill which brought the contractions on so hard and fast that I was crawling around on the floor. I knew that giving birth would be painful but being induced with no pain relief was horrendous. The gas and air did nothing and a pethadine injection didn't even touch the sides. In an hour I had dilated 3cm but the contractions were still irregular so I was given an epidural. Then the midwife shifts changed which is where the problems really started. The new midwife didn't seem able to put a drip in my hand which started me worrying that she didn't really know what she was doing. The anesthetist arrived to give me an epidural and the midwife hadn't got any of the equipment ready that he needed which created an extremely awkward and tense atmosphere. He was basically bollocking her in front of us. After this she kept disappearing. Once the epidural finally kicked in I felt that lots of liquid was coming out of me and mentioned it to the midwife when we saw her. "Its just your waters" she kept telling me. I later learned she could have given me a catharter and I was actually sitting in my own wee for hours.

After a few more hours Wig noticed on a monitor that the baby's heart rate was dropping. The midwife did not spot this. But after he brought it to her attention she told him to pull the emergency cord and all hell broke loose. The room suddenly filled with around 10/12 people, I'm not sure exactly how many there were, and they put an oxygen mask on me. They then said they would do an emergency C-section but this idea was quickly abandoned as there was no time. They then dropped the end of the bed away, put me in stirrups and I was told to push. I remember this being incredibly frightening as I couldn't feel if I was pushing hard enough or not because of the epidural. They attempted the ventouse 3 times but 3 times it failed so baby was eventually delivered via forceps with an episiotomy at 10:30am. Thinking about it now it still upsets me. It was the scariest moment of my life and such a shame that things turned out the way they did when I had been so calm and relaxed about the birth. I know that you have no idea how a birth will turn out but this was nothing like I could have imagined.

As there had been meconium in the waters we were told that baby would be monitored for 8 hours. Monitered by whom I'm not sure as no one came to see him all day and the appalling midwife left us on our own almost all day. We had to pull the emergency alarm for a 2nd time during the afternoon as baby was being sick and she was no where to be found. At around 7pm I was taken to the ward (still asking when a Dr could come and check he was ok and still being told by the midwife that someone would come soon), Wig was kicked out due to visiting hours and I was left with our baby who had not been checked all day, had not eaten anything and was still vomitting all colours of the rainbow. By 10:30pm that night I was extremely distressed. We had been waiting for the Dr for 12 hours. So again I asked/begged, please can someone come and look at the baby. The baby Dr finally showed up and took the baby straight to the Special Care unit where he ended up spending the first 5 days of his life. I believe that if we had been given a different/competant midwife this wouldn't have happened. The more time that passes I feel more and more angry about things but am trying not to get bogged down by it. I ended up staying in hospital for 4 days on a ward without my baby but surrounded by new mums and their babies. This despite the fact that we had told the midwife we would pay so I could stay in a separate room off of the ward. We also completed the form to be able to do this and she assured us I would be put into a room by 9pm that night. Needless to say it didn't happen despite there being empty rooms available.  So I ended up staying in blood stained sheets for my entire stay from where my drip had got knocked out of my hand on the first night while I was trying to stop baby from choking. On my 3rd day on the ward I finally got to see a Dr to discuss why the birth had gone the way it did. I needed to talk to someone about it to confirm it had been a bad experience basically as I had sat on my own for 2 days in a daze about everything and also not being told what was wrong with the baby or when we could go home. The Dr told me "it was a catalogue of things really, but you were basically unlucky". And that was that. So the baby's first week of life was spent wired up in Special Care with me dragging my stitches and hemorrhoid over to see him at all hours but too scared to pick him up. Not what I would have wanted at all.

But now we are home and getting used to our new lives. The experience of the birth turned me into a bit of a nervous wreck actually, distrusting of all medical staff and very anxious. When we got home things with the local NHS did not improve. We had a midwife supposed to visit us at home who didn't turn up for 3 days, a midwife telling us the baby wasn't putting on weight, another midwife telling us he was putting on too much weight, an appalling GP who needed to refer us for something who did not want to then when he finally did he wrote the referral to the wrong place.  Every step has been a struggle but hopefully we wont be needing their services again for a long time.

I understand now that nothing can prepare you for having a baby but we are doing our best to make him as happy as possible. I think he may be in danger of being a little bit spoilt but I don't mind, I feel so sorry that he had such a horrid entrance to the world that I feel like I want to make it up to him every day. We took him to a cranial osteopath as a little treat the other week and the lady told us he didn't need to come back for anymore sessions as he seemed so content and relaxed so hopefully he will stay like that. I on the other hand don't feel at all relaxed. The sleep deprivation is brutal and I have taken to dressing like a mad person but I feel very lucky to have such a beautiful baby. I also thought I had started to smell of cheese but this ended up being some Philadelphia that had got trapped down the back of the fridge (true). As long as he is ok, then I am ok even though my standards at home have dropped severely since his arrival...

A plant has grown through our front window.

Tonight's dinner.

Ironing pile.

So, I'm not sure how often I'll be able to write on here, the days seem to just disappear, but hopefully now things are settling down I'll be able to write more regularly than I have been. I can't guarantee what I'll be waffling about since my horizons have reduced considerably but I'm sure I'll find something to say.