Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Pregnancy

It's a bit like stopping a car to pick up a hitchhiker. At first, he's pleasant company, making chitchat and smiling politely at your witty remarks. As time goes by, the hitchhiker gets a bit demanding - he wants to change the radio channel and turn on the air-conditioning. At some point, he just becomes stroppy and starts bossing you around in your own car, insisting that you stop for breaks or making you take detours or change routes. Finally, you realise that you're basically just the chauffeur and the hitchiker has completely taken over. You're the driver but the passenger's the boss.
This is what it's like to be eight months pregnant.

My hitchhiker doesn't like it when it's quiet: he likes a bit of action and steady movement. I have to jiggle my legs constantly to create a rocking motion: as soon as I stop, I get punched and kicked. As the hitchhiker has not yet grasped the concept of night and day, he spends most of the night punching me awake. And woe betide me if I roll over into a position that he doesn't like: I'll get a kick in the ribs to remind me that my comfort is secondary and don't forget it. The hitchhiker also likes walks: lots of movement and fresh air - except that it's at least 30°C (86°F), which is about ten degrees warmer than any pregnant woman would like, so my walks are short and shady. When I sit down to admire the trees in the park and give my feet a rest, I get a few kicks of protest to remind me that it's not all about me and five minutes' rest are long enough: get your pregnant bottom moving again, woman!

Well, at least I know my place in this relationship.

This week, my husband and I assembled the baby's crib - which means that I fetched my toolbox (an empty ice-cream carton with my 99c screwdriver and one of those wrench-thingies that come with IKEA furniture) and my husband fetched his (three-tier toolbox with multiples of everything, its crowning glory the Black and Decker electric screwdriver.) It was quickly decided (by him) that I should leave my toolbox-slash-ice cream carton closed and hold up the instruction sheet instead. I did so - and very well, if I must say so myself. We decked the cot out in the enclosed draperies, but it looks like a vat of custard exploded inside it. Besides, I'm not sure about the health benefits of swathes of material and netting around an infant, so we'll strip it once it has served its purpose as a photographic prop:

This one was made to use up odd skeins of yarn. I'm still working on my daisy afghan but needed a change from white and yellow - so I grabbed all the bits and pieces that I had, and started making a random collection of squares. Now all I need is a recipient!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mrs Gingerbread, Football Expert

Yesterday, our next-door neighbour finally took down the German flag from above his front door. Last Sunday was the final of the UEFA European Soccer Championship, with Italy and Spain fighting for the title. Germany had come in third place, and only now are the disappointed football fans slowly putting away their black, red and yellow German flags.

Soccer brings out the worst in me. For a start, I know nothing about it and only watch matches of major significance, and even then, seldom sit through the entire thing. However, when plonked in front of the telly, I suddenly undergo a metamorphosis, from Hater of All Sports to Self-Appointed Football Expert. My blood pressure sky-rockets and I find myself shouting at the box, engorged with know-it-allism.
"Look at their defence! Rubbish! A granny with a zimmerframe could get through that!"
"Move! MOVE!!! For crying out loud! I'm seven months pregnant and I could run faster!"
"Off side! OFF SIDE!! Is the ref blind? That was off side!"
(I have no idea what off side is, but it seems to be the done thing to shout this at regular intervals).

Worst still is my misguided sense of loyalty, which actually manifests itself in extreme pettiness. I mean, I always support the Irish team, no matter how badly they play (sadly: badly). Failing that, I support the Northern Irish team (but they're even worse than the Republic of Ireland's team, so my support is not needed there very often.) Then, of course, I support Germany - though when it comes to the crunch and Ireland plays Germany, I have to support Ireland and deal with the almost inevitable defeat. I hold a grudge against any team that beats one of "my" teams, and watch subsequent matches with these teams under a cloud of ill-will and resentment. Case in point: Ireland exited early and ignobly following a defeat by Spain and then by Italy. Germany was kicked out in a match against Italy. When it came to the final, I couldn't decided which team I wanted to win, because both Spain and Italy had beaten Ireland, but Italy had also beaten Germany, whereas Spain had beaten Ireland more thoroughly and humiliatingly than Italy had. It was a quandary of begrudgery.

And, I hasten to remind you, I don't even like football! I happen to believe that the players are all vastly over-paid and the tournament a sponsorship bonanza. Why on earth do I get so worked up? Luckily, though, the European Cup only takes places every four years, as does the World Cup - in two years' time, I'll be able to smart-aleck my way through another half-dozen matches and get inexplicably upset at other countries' football players. On some level, I can't wait.

Oh, and by the way, in case you're interested: Spain won.
The cheek of them.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ms Gingerbread Goes to the Dogs

The Pack Master in my parents' house
I have an admirable collection of books on pregnancy and child-rearing. I bought one - What To Expect When You're Expecting - but after a brief flick through it, I decided I'd rather not expect anything at all. But one cannot be properly prepared by not reading one book - oh no, I've not read half-a-dozen! I've been given a selection of books from other mothers, all of which are in unread and pristine condition (the book I got from my sister-in-law is as-new, but flops open on the chapter entitled 'How to recognise if you're in labour'. This was the first and only chapter she read.) The only books that are well-thumbed are two ancient tomes from the Seventies, featuring lots of groovy pictures of hairy women with enormous nipples, stark nekkid, with legs akimbo in various stages of labour, surrounded by brown and orange granny square blankets and even hairier husbands. This has caused me Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder and I can only emphasise that these books are not well-thumbed by me, but the previous owner must have found them very helpful.

In any case, I have found a more pleasant role model for child-rearing: César Millán, the Dog Whisperer. Mr Gingerbread and I found some of his videos on YouTube and we're enjoying them a lot. Mr G is enthralled by the dogs - he loves dogs - and I'm secretly taking notes. Yesterday, we watched an episode that featured a Dalmatian puppy and my husband nearly cried.
"He's so beautiful! He's so cute!" he said. "I love him!"
This is the very reaction I would've hoped for when he saw his unborn child's face on the 3D scan. Instead, he's gaga about a slipper-chewing Dalmatian puppy on the telly. Whatever.

What have I learned? Well, as I'll be in the minority among males, I'll have to establish dominance as the Pack Master, something Mr Millan emphasises again and again. The practicalities have yet to be sorted out, because I don't think I can use a choke-chain on my husband or wrestle a newborn to the ground.  Much as I love my husband, he's a sucker and, as we all know, babies are fiendishly manipulative  little creatures. So one of us is really going to have to take charge here or our already-chaotic lives will rapidly descend into madness.

P.S.: Cathy asked me how big the daisy hexagons are -  they're 12 inches / 30 cm in diameter. I think this one is going to be a paid pattern, though, and not a freebie (just giving you advanced notice so you can start saving your pennies if you liked it) because it's too complicated to write as a blog post and will need a lot of photos and diagrams.