It's only 9 months... but it feels like Maternity...

Now Known As Postnatal Oppression

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Blimey. Where has the time gone? I can't believe how quickly Christmas whooshed past, and I'm pretty sure we skipped January altogether this year. Quick catch-up stuff first then.

Dunno about you but I spent the whole of Christmas feeling like crap, having managed to pick up what I suspected was diptheria but turned out to be merely "a bug." Mine was the one where you get a massive lump in your throat for days, followed by three weeks of trying to cough your lungs up. (Must be what it's like for a cat with hairballs). Fortunately Spawn and the Husband cleverly managed to avoid any kind of illness.

So, Spawn's first Christmas, which I'd really been looking forward to, was suddenly upon us. I was ill, both the Husband and I had worked right up to it (and including it, on the poor Husband's part) and the Friday before (Christmas being Tuesday), the Husband and I realised we hadn't actually bought him any presents. We hurried over to Mothercare World and guiltily made a couple of purchases - nothing much, just enough to ease our consciences.

I was most disappointed that Spawn hadn't gone bananas for the Christmas tree in the way I'd been hoping. It wasn't the spur to make him start crawling like the Health Visitor had told me it would be. He was pretty impressed that one afternoon he had gone up for a nap, and when he came down again the living room had new twinkly stuff all over it, but after the first half hour it was old news.

We spent Christmas day over at the Mum-in-law's, with my stepdad as well (I didn't want to leave him on his own). The Husband was working until around 3pm, in time for Christmas dinner, so we saved present-opening until then. Spawn was resplendent all day in his My First Christmas top (obligatory.. I think they've passed a law or something now) and heartily tucked into a blitzed-up turkey dinner. I think I rather horrified the Stepdad-in-law by shoving turkey, roast potatoes, sprouts, carrots, parsnips and a Yorkshire pudding (a staple of the Mum-in-law's Christmas dinner - I myself find it slightly odd, but as I wasn't having to cook it, who was going to complain?) into a plastic jug with a bit of gravy and some water and going at it with our £4 Value hand blender from Tesco's (absolute gem - don't bother buying anything more expensive, it does the lot). His face when he saw what it looked like suggested I was insane to contemplate giving it to his beloved grandson, however, Mum-in-law persuaded him to try a tiny bit and he was amazed that it tasted like a Christmas dinner. Dur.

Slightly embarrassing moment when we opened Spawn's presents from grandparents and both my stepdad and the Husband's mum and stepdad had bought him rocking animals - a ladybird and a horse. Still, he was far too young for either of them. What on earth made them think he'd be able to use them before next Christmas?

Boxing Day we had our own proper Christmas day, where we opened our presents. We needn't have worried about him not having enough toys - the living room looked like we'd opened a bloody creche, it was ridiculous. And a rather worrying trend seems to have been started: people had bought Spawn presents but not us. What the fuck?? When did we agree to that? No-one mentioned THAT little diamond in the stupid pregnancy books or magazines, so be warned. If our nearest and dearest had actually mentioned that this was going to be the score BEFORE we'd raced around trying to make sure we'd bought them presents, we would have damn well saved ourselves the time and money. We have Learned for next year. We have also Learned to ask for clothes for his birthday, as we had to take a week off work in the New Year to clear out and make room for all the stuff Spawn has now acquired. How on earth does everyone fit all this shit in? The charity shops have done very well out of us this past month.

The day after Boxing Day, Spawn decided to prove that see, he could crawl thank you very much, but he just didn't choose to do so right now. Over the next 2 weeks, he went from: moving from one sitting spot to another without us seeing how he'd done it, to full-speed crawling the length of the living room, shrieking with laughter and excitement the whole way. His initial style was not dissimilar to that cat on You Tube that walks like Hitler - every time he lifted a hand to move forward he waved it up in the air, but after we wet ourselves laughing at him he changed it to the more conventional style. I now cannot go anywhere without the slap-slap-slap-slap sound of him following right behind. If I go upstairs, he crawls to the door and sits banging on it to make me re-appear - however, he hasn't quite grasped that I can't actually get back in until he moves away from the door. We normally end up in a Mexican stand-off with him complaining that I'm hiding from him on purpose, and me peering at him through the crack trying to persuade him to move back, until the Husband finally realises what's going on and rescues us both.

Spawn also discovered clapping just after Christmas, and now claps whenever he is excited, and at the right parts of "If You're Happy And You Know It", although I suspect it is more to do with me nodding wildly and grimacing than him understanding the cause-and-effect theme of the song. Rather like the horse that could count.

Speaking of songs, did I mention that I take him to a class now? It's called Baby Eureka, and it's described as 'heuristic play'. I know, I know - for fucksakes, you're thinking. But I have to admit, it's pretty good. The woman that runs it is a total organic-hippy-earth mother-type, but she's very sweet. She is all about no pressure, yeah - you just pay as you go, so you can drop in this week or not bother next week, which is handy. It's for babies up to a year or so old, so no rampaging toddlers stampeding over our non-mobile lumps. It starts off with just letting them play with whatever random toys she has put out for them at the beginning - egg shakers, small beach balls, musical instruments etc. I thought they were whatever was left over from the toddler group immediately before our one, but now I think she puts things out on purpose. Then we do a bit of singing and playing peekaboo with scarves, and then - then! It's time for the Treasure Baskets. They are wondrous things and I love them. They're shallow baskets filled with what can only be described as junk - but they're magical. All the babies suddenly go quiet as they're engrossed with rooting through all this stuff in them. All the mums suddenly go and get a cup of (organic) tea or (organic) coffee and (organic) biscuits and sit back for a natter. I'm telling you, it's amazing. They (the babies) will sit there for 15 - 20 minutes and amuse themselves completely, and when the lovely hippy lady packs them all away for the next bit there are howls of protest and they gang up to out-flank her - one will hang on to a basket she's trying to take, while another will pull as many bits out of the one behind her as fast as he can, and a third will take more out of the one in her other hand. Of course you just have to have your own Treasure Basket at home - Spawn's consists of a cardboard box that I got at work, filled with whatever random things I found in the kitchen utensil drawer and other odds and sods. Bearing in mind how many Christmas presents he got, the skanky old box with junk in is his favourite thing to play with. After the baskets comes Parachute Play, and Bubbles, and Spawn goes nuts for both of those too. When he gets excited he twirls both hands and both feet like he's conducting an orchestra and trying to shake off pins and needles at the same time and either shrieks eardrum-piercingly or goes "OOOH!" It is a source of much amusement for the other mums and the lovely hippy lady.

Well, I was so pleased with his reaction to Eureka that I got over-ambitious, and signed him up for a Sing and Sign course. Now, I only have 1 day a week off, and Baby Eureka is on that day. But so was Sing and Sign. I was rather sad about him not going to BE any more, seeing as how he loved it so much, but I reasoned that he'd like this just as much, and we'd be learning as well. Bonus. So off we went to our first class just after New Year. Oh dear.

For a start, the money-grabbing wench demands that you pay for the 10-week class up front. Hmm. Fine. Anyway, we arrived, and found ourselves in a big, modern but very echoey church hall. The class began with (naturally enough) some songs. ALL the other mums joined in lustily. I glanced around, and Spawn and I looked at each other doubtfully . How come we didn't know these songs? I sing a lot of nursery rhymes to him, and we pride ourselves on our wide and varied range. Then, ALL the other mums joined in perfectly with the signing. I began to smell a rat.

It turns out, not that the money-grabbing wench had mentioned it at all, that it's the Done Thing to do the course twice, and all the other people there had already done just that. I was really cross - I had assumed that we would all be learning together.

Spawn was looking frantically from person to person, wondering what the hell was going on. It was extremely loud in there, and to make sure she was being heard, the Sing and Sign woman was bellowing her songs out. It went on and on... Most of the signs in that first class Spawn and I already knew, so we were both starting to get a little bored. There was nothing for the babies to do really, and I could see that a few others were beginning to look bored too. None of them were doing the signs. The younger one next to us had howled the whole way through. The other mums were bored and chatting to each other. We couldn't follow what was going on over the row. The Sing and Sign woman was still being overly loud and cheerful. Spawn was unimpressed. I came out with a headache.

The following week, I reasoned that we would be learning new signs this time, and if we sat a bit closer to her we'd be able to hear her better. So, back we went. The class started. The Sing and Sign woman began Singing, very loudly. Spawn took one look at her and howled. The more she sang, the more he howled. I had to retreat back from the circle we were all sitting in and try and pacify him with a bottle. Eventually his sobs died down, but when she came over to see him he wasn't having any of it and howled even more loudly. There was something about her that just didn't do it for him. When he finally calmed down, once more I could tell that he was bored, and just waiting for me to take him away from all this.

The third week loomed. I had had enough. Why was I putting myself and Spawn through all this? Then a friend of mine said "I've got the DVD from Sing and Sign - do you want to borrow it?" I watched it. From the looks of it, it was the whole course on 1 DVD. Brilliant - we never had to go back - I just wish she'd mentioned it before I'd paid out for the course. Please take my advice, save yourself some money, and just get the DVD.

I took Spawn back to Baby Eureka where he was welcomed with open arms. The only down side is that Spawn seems to have been traumatised by the Sing and Sign woman, because as soon as we started singing back at Baby Eureka, he panicked and began howling. However, once he realised she was nowhere to be seen he calmed himself and settled in for a good Treasure Basket session. The same thing happened last week, but this time he only cried for a minute or two. I'm sure that with time, and some counselling, he'll make a full recovery.