Thank you all very much for your good advice, kind wishes and finger-crossing! I'll be in touch in person when my new boss decides to sleep for more than 10 minutes at a time ... xxx
(Don't be fooled. He's plotting something.)
Oh. Emm. Gee!
You are not going to believe this, but soon after publishing my last post on the 5th October, I went into labour! Clearly, the one method I had not tried actually worked: write miffed blog-post about resigning oneself to one's fate. And bing! The contractions start.
So: childbirth. Not a walk in the park. Not entirely pleasant. One becomes familiar with practically every bodily fluid one can produce - and that in a 24-hour period and in front of total strangers. And one is so physically overwhelmed, one resigns oneself to one's messy fate. Having said that, though, childbirth was no better or no worse than I'd expected and I managed to accidentally do it naturally, because by the time I'd decided that it really did jolly well hurt, goshdarnit, it was too late for an epidural. (Before I get applause and a rubber medal for my bravery, I would like to add that once the baby had been born and I'd enquired about his general good health and had been reassured that all of his appendages were in place and good working order, I turned to my husband and said, "If I ever do this again, I WANT AN EPIDURAL!" A martyr I am not.) And at 3.5 kg he was only seven bags of sugar after all.
In any case, four days later, Mr Gingerbread and I were sent home with a very small, black-eyed stranger that we named John. We both have blue eyes, but newborns - being pigmentally-challenged - often have darker eyes. Our young 'un has little black button eyes that swivel around the room, trying to follow us. It's quite disconcerting. I've also learned a lot about babies and thought I'd share - for the benefit of those of you who are thinking about a smidgen of reproduction.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED ABOUT BABIES
(There are only three things because ... well, babies only do three things at the start.)
It doesn't matter how nice the cot or bassinet is, it doesn't even matter if you've toiled for hours over his handmade blankie and coordinated his bed linen in a fashion otherwise unknown in your household, babies want to sleep ON you. Oh, and it doesn't even matter if you're grotty and unwashed, if your hair looks like a bird's nest and you're still wearing the same pyjamas you've been meaning to throw into the laundry hamper for the past two days but when night-time comes, you're too worn out to open the wardrobe and pull out a new one - no! Babies think there is no better place to catch a few zzzzs. The uncurl their little
There will be a lot of it, and it will go from being something that's rarely discussed as a matter of delicacy, to something that you and your partner will openly speculate about at the dinner table. For there is a lot of it and it comes in a range of colours. More astonishingly, it gets everywhere. How a person (albeit a very small and wriggly one) can simultaneously have poo on his nipples and on the soles of his feet whilst encased in a brand-name diaper is beyond me. I wouldn't have thought it possible till yesterday - but now I know it's true. And small babies don't like being naked. Who'd have thought it? You see all of those Anne Geddes photos and presume that there's nothing a baby likes more than lounging about in the nude in a flower pot or whatnot - lies! All lies! They don't like it at all and they scream their fluffy little heads off in protest as soon as you undo a couple of buttons on their trousers.
Rather than being the beatific vision of Madonna-like contentment, suckling babe in arms and a halo of hazy sunlight around my head, my breastfeeding endeavours resemble something from the World Wrestling Federation: my baby is a very enthusiastic and greedy eater. And my boobess are delicate flowers. The combination is fatal. To start, I have to hold down baby's frantically waving arms while he tries to claw my delicate flowers and sideswipe the nipples. He roars in protest (because he does not like being restrained) while I pin down his flailing limbs and shove the nipple in his mouth. Everyone says you ought to bring the child to the nipple and not vice versa, but bringing the child to my bewb requires a level of foolhardy bravery that I do not have. When he finally latches on, he'll maul me contentedly for a while, detach himself and then after a couple of seconds of confusion, roar his head off at me for starving him so cruelly.
People, this is strenous. The child is a hard taskmaster. Just when we think we've got him figured out ("Aha! He likes to take long naps in the afternoons!"), he does the exact opposite, leaving us bewildered and confused.
"He's flippin' lucky he's so darned cute," I growled at my husband at 4.30 a.m. this morning, as I disposed of a reeking Pampers and wiped a dimply bottom (while my offspring screamed his head off because I exposed his buttocks to the fresh night air.) And therein lies the rub: babies are cute. It's hard to hold a grudge when they roll their little black eyes in your direction and slurp sloppy newborn kisses on your face.