“Don’t be a baby.” These words come to mind all too easily when speaking to my three year old daughter or when I’m feeling the baby blues. I’m not proud of it, but occasionally she is throwing a tantrum and I’m tired and I forget to empathise with her. Don’t be a bloody baby is what I’m really thinking when I’m crying because I can’t meet my outrageously high motherhood expectations.
I thought that acting like a baby was a bad thing until I had my baby boy five weeks ago. The birth was going well, quick and manageable until the waters broke, meconium was spotted and his heart beat stopped. My blood pressure dropped and we were off for an emergency cesarean section. Ten minutes later he was born and immediately taken to resuscitation and intensive care.
Don’t be a baby was what I was thinking as I was cried my eyes out on the maternity ward; everyone else had their babies. Grow up and think positive is what I felt when I saw him 12 hours later tubed and wired in an incubator. You are the adult was my mantra when I tried not to sob when Teagan came to hospital to see me and her baby brother, but as the week progressed my thoughts changed.
At just one day old he was fighting to breathe. Day three his infection levels were dropping. Day four I held and fed him as he was moved to special care. Day five he had no tubes, wires, monitors or nebuliser. Day six we took him home. He had been a baby. Totally focused on fighting for his life, to get better. No whinging about how bad his lot in life was, no guilt or self pitty just getting on with it.
Now I’ve slipped a disc and can’t breastfeed him. I felt like a crap mum and was full of self pity until I realised that I’m going to have to be a baby. Forget trying to be supermum and crying about what i can’t do and just focus on my recovery. Occasionally we all just need to be a baby.
This second pregnancy has hit me hard. Two stone of hard and I still have three months to go. I naturally decided to consult the oracle of professional research that is Google and see why some women are stick thin when pregnant whilst others get a fatter bottom.
There are the usual Mumsnet posts where sensible, supportive women talk logically about breastfeeding and enjoying your pregnancy body whatever shape it may be. These are not the kind of answers I am looking for, they are too well thought out and comforting. I want internet hokum. Then I saw it. A “scientific study” quoted in a Daily Mail science article. Pseudo science jackpot baby.
This is normally the point at which I give a snort of derision. Not only is it an article in the middle minded sensation rag that is the Daily Mail, it uses the term “many scientific studies”. These articles usually send me off on a rant about how proper science is being undermined by vacuous science interest stories tagged onto the end of the evening news; like the waterskiing parrot or skateboarding dog trotted out on the local news as a last laugh but this is my convenient science answer and it made me laugh more than the mumsnet posts.
It is obviously a pointlessly rubbish news interest story. Women with fatter bottoms produce more intelligent kids. There you have it. The Daily Mail says so so it must be true. This kid is going to be a genius! I’m going to quote this on mumsnet and see how many women take the bait and have a massive rant. I know I would.
You’re told never to live through your children but I can’t snowboard at the moment and Teagan’s just learning so I’m getting my mountain fix through her. Back in the early 2000s, when I was learning to snowboard, there was no chance of being upstaged by a mini grom pulling a 360 whilst I was failing to link my turns.
None of us had kids and even if we did would we be teaching them how to board? The only children you saw on the slopes were there snakes of ski school kids cutting you up and forcing you back into the falling leaf. The percieved wisdom was that children needed to ski first and couldn’t learn to snowboard until they were at least eight.
I’m not really sure why people thought you needed to be older than eight years old. Some said it was bad for the child’s developing bones, that their muscles weren’t strong enough or that they didn’t have the balance. Now things have moved on. Snowboarders have children and boarding brands needed a new market to explore so what’s more profitable than children?
My husband Alex learnt to ski as a child and found learning to snowboard incredibly easy. I didn’t. We were both in our mid 20s and fairly fit but I struggled with edges, balance, turning, fear and confidence. He didn’t and it really annoyed me. I do wonder if we should teach Teagan to ski though. She finds it difficult to do controlled stops and often falls over laughing. On skis she could learn the pizza and chips method to control her speed (skis in a triangle to slow and stop, skis straight to go fast). This might give her snowboarding skills depth and allow her to choose her own path.
At the moment we both snowboard though so it makes sense that Teagan does too. With the advancements in boards, boots bindings and clothing for children it’s safe, warm and fun for her as well as hugely heartening and entertaining for me. I can’t wait to get back out on the board with her next year and I’ll happily be upstaged by a 3 year old with a grom pack.
Teagan is two as she likes to inform everyone. Ask her how she is and she will say “I’m two”. I know that how are you? and how old are you? can be easily confused but maybe she is on to something. She is two. This means that someone wipes her bottom, makes her food, provides her with an abundance of cuddles, kisses and bedtime stories. She gets to spend her days playing with other toddlers; casing around, having fun, playing with toys and learning new things. She gets carried home after a long day and her bath is prepared for her. When she finds it difficult to manage her emotions she gets someone to talk her down from a massive tantrum and she’s over it in a few minutes. She finds endless joy in parks; roundabouts, slides and swings, chasing butterflies and jumping into puddles, snow drifts and piles of soft leaves are sources of immense pleasure. So maybe her reply to the question “how are you?” is all that needs to be said. I am two.
I am unemployed for the first time in 20 years. It’s my own fault (decision) as I had handed my letter of resignation to the head teacher in August knowing that I had no intention of having another job for at least a year. We (my husband Alex and I) had decided to sell our house in London and buy in Kent, therefore saving enough money to go to the French Alps for a winter season of snowboarding and general unemployment. Then I found out I was pregnant with our a second child and the decision was cemented. Throw caution to the wind and take a chance. No snowboarding for me but at least I could make a good effort at being jobless in the snow and consume a lot of cheese. Good for me, good for the French economy. I’m sure that there’s a positive in there somewhere.
Alex and I had both been teachers for 13 years. We used to love the profession; we were passionate about our subjects, our students and our careers. Slowly over the last few years we’d seen some of that passion ebb away like the puckering and eventual sinking of a once boyant birthday baloon. For me it was having out first child. It made me realise that I was bringing too much home. Too many hours spent in the evening planning, marking and worrying about policy changes and whether I was doing enough. I still felt the love for my subject and the commitment to my students but not the profession. That was being chipped away by workload, beaurocracy, continual governmental policy changes, new buzz words, incentives to get more money, performance related pay, acadamisation. Who on earth gives a shit about resilience if the word is mentioned 28 times in our first staff meeting of the year? I’d laugh it off if it wasn’t so soul crushingly stupid. Every year a new focus from the people above. Raining shit psychobabble down on us through uninspired use of PowerPoint. Arrgh! PowetPoint, the killer of inset day enthusiasm. Just sit there whilst I read to you what you can obviously read for yourselves. You are teachers? You can read can’t you? All of it was starting to make me feel bitter about my career. Nobody likes a bitter teacher. We’ve all had one. For whatever reason they hate their job and they make sure that the students feel it. My acid test for bitterness is Mr Edmunds. He was my D&T teacher for GCSE. I’m surprised that I became a D&T teacher myself because he was singularly the most bitter and resentful person I have had the misfortune to call Sir. He told my friend Karen that Graphics wasn’t her strong point, she’s now a successful Graphic Designer. That aside, he was mean, boring, resentful of talent in others and an all round git. I did not want to become somebody’s Mr Edmunds. So I quit. Maybe I’ll go back to it in a few years time as I probably can’t do anything else ( those that can, do) and all that. Pay was OK, holidays good but the other stuff? Not worth it.
So it’s 2016. I’m 5 months pregnant, unemployed and living in France