The Big Scream

I have been going to the cinema with Doozer. It is something you can do at both cinemas in Brighton, the big one (which mainly shows new big releases and is nearer to my house) and the little independent one (which shows a more interesting selection of films but at a time the keeps clashing with other things in a way that means I havent been to any of them yet)(there is literally no reason for telling you this apart from to explain the selection of films Ive so far been to see)(And now Im double-explaining something that you probably werent even questioning anyway. Should I go back and delete this bit? Should I start all over again? Should I delete the whole post in case this dithering puts you off reading it? Delete the whole blog in case you realise it all to be endemic of everything thats ever been posted here? It is a quandary.)(Im going to start all over again)(Oh, no, I tell you what, I will change the focus of this post, and write the stuff I was going to write in this post in another post, Im in a typey mood this evening).

The cinema is good. They leave the lights up a little, and play the film not as loudly as they usually would, and the screening is open almost exclusively to parents and tiny babies, who therefore feel free to wail when they wish to (the babies) feed at will (same) change nappies (the parents) and fall asleep without judgement (both).

I have also done a baby massage class, which was very informative both in terms of how to do massage, AND how long exactly it takes between removing Doozers nappy and him weeing everywhere, so that was very good.

Next, I will go to another class. Some kind of singing and playing and goodness-knows-what class, but you know what? It doesnt really matter what the class is in. Im still too shy and too scared to meet and talk to people at coffee morning type things (I can picture myself at one: I would walk in with Doozer, head straight for the coffee table, pick up a drink, stand in a corner staring at it/some leaflets/posters/anything there was to stare at while the drink was too hot to drink, then panic when someone tried to start a conversation with me, make a joke that was completely inappropriate and almost certainly inaudible, and run out of the door, HOPEFULLY with the baby. Mine. That is precisely how it would go.)

Otherwise, we walk along the seafront, we sit in the living room staring at toys or in the bedroom making faces, or try and work out which cry means sleep and which cry means hungry, and how to turn a slightly sleepy face into a nap. I go out for coffee with people from our birth class, and we compare notes on how much sleep, and where sleep, we get, they get, everyone gets; how many feeds and how much everyone eats; the babies how long they are; how heavy; how maddening and how adorable our offspring can be, and whether its all normal, or whether we are, as we suspect, not doing as well at this as everyone else, like they got sent the manual and we didnt. And we come away feeling a little bit reassured, and always a little, tiny bit more paranoid about something else.

And now, in the evenings, I sit with two hands while the monitor beeps to let us know it is working, but hes not making any noise, upstairs. So, slowly, I learn to type two handed and fast again.

This is fun. Its not always fun, and its completely different to what I was expecting. But I think its going to be ok. I think.

Watch with Doozer: The Film Edition, part one.

I have been to see four films with Doozer at the cinema so far, at parent and baby screenings where the audience are free to scream, cry, go to the toilet in their pants, feed on things not from the cinema snack bar (like breastmilk) and fall asleep anytime they want to.

And the babies are allowed to do stuff too.

Im kidding. I was talking about the babies.

The parents are expected to mainly behave with normal adult cinema decorum, boo hiss.

Anyway, I have previously seen:

The Artist

A beautiful and brilliant film, silent and in black and white, containing many subtleties that it is easy to miss while sniffing the nether regions of a baby in an attempt to work out whether they have committed a poo or not.

There was a man, and a dog. And a lady. And another man. Or lady. There were several men, several ladies, and a dog. Some things happened, and there was a bit in the middle I particularly liked. There were also some sad bits, which I missed as I was being vomited on. But when I looked up, my friend was crying, and assured me that something sad had, indeed, just happened. She just couldnt remember what it was. I liked this film very much.

The Muppets

Apparently, a 10.45am screening of this film is what passes for a date night for new parents of around my age. There were a half dozen mothers with babies, a handful of fathers with babies, and a record number of both mother AND father with their babies. It was most touching.

I dont remember much about the film.

It had muppets in it, and I liked it.

Doozer, meanwhile watched the last five minutes intently.

(He mainly fed and slept through the rest)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Like relaxing in a bath filled with lukewarm ovaltine, while watching sunday night bbc television comedy drama. Not very good, but ever so relaxing.

We both slept extremely well (during the film).

Today, we saw a film about someone who bought a zoo. Usefully, for cinema-goers who cant remember anything about the thing theyve just seen just after theyve seen it or, in fact, about the thing that theyre watching while theyre watching it the film about some people who bought a zoo was called

We Bought a Zoo

It was about a man, who wait for it bought a zoo. He bought the zoo after the death of his wife, which had made him very sad. The dead wife, not the zoo. The dying of his wife had also made his children (who were both cute as buttons) very sad, like little sad buttons.

The zoo contained a lot of peacocks, a couple of monkeys, some snakes, a lion, and one sick tiger who was dying of either Poorly Tiger Syndrome, Tiger Cancer or Tiger Tiger Death Disease (it was never confirmed as any of them, though had symptoms of all), and Scarlett Johansson, who was trying very hard to look dowdy like a zookeeper and not stunning like a starlet, and mainly failing.

Eventually, the man learnt to let go of both his grief and the tiger, the son learned to love his father again, and everyone got off with Scarlett Johansson. No, thats not true. The man got off with Scarlett Johansson. No one else did, not even the tiger (because he was dead).

And the zoo became a very good zoo, and everyone went to it. And the film ended, after being unspeakably long, and concluded with a completely unworkable parking situation.

Basically, a lot of people arrived to visit the zoo on its opening day (which was good), but then a tree had fallen across the single-track tree-lined road leading to the zoo (which was bad). However, everyone was so keen to go to the newly opened zoo (trust me, these dont count as spoilers, its really quite obvious that nothing bad is going to happen in this film from the second it starts), that they got out of their cars, leaving them end to end in a single lane road, and clambered over the fallen tree to get into the zoo.

Seriously: how is anyone going to get out of that situation happily? Unless the people at the very back of the solid queue of cars are by coincidence the very first ones to want to leave to the zoo, and the people next-to-last the ones who happen to leave second, and so forth? Logistically, there is literally no way that this could end happily.

Honestly, I may be picking on it because it arrived at a point when the film had been going on for approximately 967 hours and I was concentrating very hard due to needing the toilet, but it has been annoying me for the rest of the day.

I mean, even if they happened to manage to move the tree, how would they get the driver of the first car in the queue back in order to move it forward into some kind of turning circle, let alone oh alright Ill leave it now.

It turns out that buying a zoo is a mainly positive thing to do, though quite longwinded and logistically unsound.

Next week: Some film about some people who do stuff until something bad happens and they have to find a way to continue doing the thing they were doing in the new circumstances that have arisen.

Ill let you know what its like.

Another month

And another month of not getting around to writing in my blog about all this amazingness.

Still, now were emerging into a different bit, with Doozer now eight weeks old, and finally getting the hang of napping in a crib (sometimes) rather than hotly and adorably curled on someones chest, I can now, in theory, use these magical two-handed hours to do exciting things like typing. And folding more laundry. But also typing.

So. What have I learnt in the last four weeks? Well… No one ever told me the hoover was going to come in so useful, for a start, and

Oh crap, hes waking up.

Im going to come back to this later.

Here is a very cute picture instead:


One month on

Exactly one month ago as I type these words, I was in the second stage of labour (thats the pushing bit, where you get the baby out). By the time I finish this paragraph, it will be exactly one month since the baby was born.

Oh no, wait, that paragraph was very short. Well, in theory, if that paragraph was longer, then by the time it finished, it would have been exactly one month, to the second, since Doozer was born. Perhaps the monthiversary will coincide with the end of THIS paragraph, instead. Its not quite so momentous, but heres hoping…

Nope. The end of that second paragraph came and went, and still no monthiversary. I mean, not that the end of that paragraph was anything particularly momentous or noteworthy, it wasnt even very celebratory of the event itself, more placemarkery and OH DAMNIT, I went to stir the dinner and didnt notice that the precise monthiversary of the birth of Doozer (7.21pm GMT on the 11th) happened at some point in the middle of THIS paragraph, which, frankly, was a very poor paragraph for it to fall in the middle of. Was that a split infinitive? Oh god, it just gets worse, doesnt it?

I have written everything I remember about the birth elsewhere, where I can keep it, without making the squeamish squeam and the childfree scream.

But the main things I remember are these things:

1) I will never regret having a homebirth. It was lovely. Im lucky to live twenty minutes from the nearest hospital in an area that supports and has a lot of homebirths, and I was very fortunate to have a good, relatively easy labour. But it was extremely relaxed, and happy, and two hours after Doozer was born, the house was quiet and we were all tucked up in our bedroom (though this was also a little weird, as detailed below). I am glad to have made that decision.

2) There was a good hour in the middle there, however, where I was not pleased to have chosen a homebirth at all. I believe it is called transition, and is the point between contractions and the pushing where everything gets a little scary.

Regardless. I was not pleased at the fact I was having a homebirth. I was terrified at how much pain I was in, I was knackered, and I was angry. Angry with myself for deciding to do it, angry with My Beloved for being on board with it, and (particularly unreasonably) angry with my lovely doula for supporting me through it. The only person I wasnt angry with was the midwife who had just arrived from the hospital, taking over from the community midwife at the end of her day-shift.

I saw her the arriving hospital midwife as some kind of shining beacon of medical wonder and the glory of modern science. Katrina I remember hissing at her, convinced that if I called her by her first name it would be more likely to catch her attention and sound more authoritative and charming. Katrina: why are you letting this happen to me? Katrina, please lets be reasonable about this. Hospitals are brilliant. Come on, Katrina: Take me away from these fucking hippies.

By which I meant… I dont even know who. Im guessing anyone who thought this crazy homebirth thing was a good idea so thats, well, myself, mainly.

3) The moment they came to me and said Weve been talking, and weve decided, you know, perhaps it wouldnt be the worst idea to maybe arrange for a transfer to the hospital, and epidurals are extremely good if youre in this much pain, and if things arent progressing so much and youre very tired and… I probably could have been more gracious than to reply Oh well NOW you say that! Now its too late! NOW the babys coming out. I have to push. I HAVE TO PUSH.

It was not the most dignified and ladylike response. Then again, we were having this conversation while I was sitting on the toilet (its not unusual, honest, and please believe me, Doozer was not born there we would have called him Elvis if he had been) so dignity is clearly something that I wasnt overly concerned with at the time.

4) At some point before that, I think, someone told me that I should eat something, and brought me, at my request, a tub of peanut butter and a spoon. There was a bowl of fruit in the room wed set up to give birth in, and I apparently picked up a banana, peeled it, and proceeded to stick it straight into the peanut butter and eat it that way (another good argument for calling Doozer Elvis. He loved that combination, they say. Ah well. Too late now). This is not something I have ever eaten before, nor would eat again.

I have no idea how the banana even held up against the peanut butter.

It was crunchy, and everything.

The peanut butter. Not the banana.

5) I will never forget the night after he was born. Given that he was born at 7.21pm, and that everyone else left by about 9 or 10, we were tucked up in bed by our normal time. Sleeping in our normal bed. On our normal sides. And being knackered, at that. All I remember was being woken up every hour or so by little squawks and snuffles by Doozer, sleeping hard in the crib joined to the side of the bed (babies tend to sleep through that first night, too. They come out pretty exhausted from the whole birth thing) and thinking HOLY CRAP, SOMEONES LEFT A BABY IN MY HOUSE! WHERE DID *THAT* COME FR… Oh no, wait, its Doozer.

6) The midwife I had been looking to as some kind of shining medical angel was, I realised while thinking about the whole thing after the birth, slightly too fond of smalltalk than I cared for. I remember trying to make polite chit-chat about her holiday during a particularly painful contraction.

An hour after the birth, when I was lying on the spare room bed, staring at my new son, trying to work out the whole feeding thing, I remember having this conversation:

Midwife: Did you want to keep the placenta?
Me: No.
Midwife: Because some people do.
Me: No, thanks.
Midwife: They have it encapsulated. Boiled down and turned into tablets.
Me: Yes. I know. But, well, no, Im alright, thanks.
Midwife: So you dont want to keep it?
Me: No.
Midwife:…You sure?
Me: Yup. Thanks. But…
Midwife: (Spots cat sneaking a look into the room, again) You could feed it to the cats.
Me: Sorry?
Midwife: Well, as a treat, I mean. Its very nutritious. You could keep it, and feed it to the cats.
Me: (Tries to imagine cooking up a part of my own body, chopping it and feeding it to my pets, allowing them to get a taste for not only human flesh, but MY human flesh, then awaking one morning, only to find them sitting by the side of my pillow, licking their lips and looking decidedly un-petlike. It would be the last thing I ever saw.)
No. Thank you. But no.

A passable level of stain

The amount of laundry currently being done in this house has to be seen to be believed. Things hang from every surface, drying as fast as they can in a house chilled by the chilliest winds of the chilliest February I can remember.*

[*This is not saying very much. My current build-up of broken sleeps and short nights and long days mean that I can barely remember what happened half an hour ago, so not being able to remember any other February is hardly surprising. I do not remember what I left this room for ten minutes ago, although I’ll probably remember in a bit now I’ve come back empty handed. Today I managed to pay at one of those self-checkout things at the tiny supermarket at the end of the road, and then walked out without my shopping, only realising two hours later. Still: I remembered the baby, so I’m counting the outing as a success.]

It is not just the baby clothes that are making up the laundry motherlode. They are very small. Baby sized, in fact (and he is quite a small baby, at that), so dont take much room in the washing machine or the hanging space. What take up more room is the adult sized things that have been covered in baby-matter.

Babies, I have learnt these last few weeks, are prodigious creators of matter, from either end. Doozers main business appears to be in the transfer of milk-matter from my breasts to cotton muslin squares, via a short visit to his stomach. Sometimes, however* (*around 479 times a day) he misses the muslin, and hits me. Or his father. And whatever were wearing at the time.

Laundry volume, therefore, is quite high. It would be higher, but my standards are currently quite low.

And getting lower with tiredness.

Usually, the biggest splattering of sick comes just before we have to go out somewhere for an appointment, or social engagement, such as they are. Usually, this will mean Ill have time to change Doozer, but not both of us.

I now find myself looking at the thing Im wearing and thinking Has this got sick on it? How much sick? Oh. Some sick. Is that too much sick, I wonder? I mean, how much sick IS too much sick, really? This can barely be seen. In fact, if I put this cardigan on, it cant be seen at all. Oh, this cardigan has sick on it as well. But not MUCH sick, right? No, this is barely any sick at all! This is definitely a passable level of sick…

It is surely only a matter of time before we start wearing clothes printed with a tasteful baby-sick-splatter pattern (there is a market for this. Surely someone is making these already) or just forego clothes altogether.

To be honest its more likely to be the first.

Oh who am I kidding: to be honest, its more likely to continue exactly as we are now, but Ill start trying to convince people its the first in order to try and persuade them that Im not a posset-splattered slattern after all.

(Which, of course, I am.)

Three weeks (almost)


It has been almost three weeks since I posted. Please forgive my unintentional hiatus, I have been a bit preoccupied. Also, I have been learning to type one handed. This has been going well. I have also mastered the use of a baby sling, meaning that occasionally I can type TWO-handed, and actually employ pleasant things like capital letters and punctuation.

Some things I have learnt in the last three weeks include

1) How to change a nappy. I had never changed a nappy before this point. I have now changed eleventy-billion. I am pretty good at it. Baby poo looks like pesto. Its going to be a while before I can eat pesto again.

2) How to feed a baby with my very own breasticles. It is harder than I thought. We went to many hours of classes, which, I have realised in retrospect, were very high on nice and well-meaning propaganda about the health benefits and ethical correctness of breastfeeding etc etc (had I not already been convinced that breastfeeding was a good choice, perhaps this would have been helpful, but five hours of being told how brilliant something is isnt, it turns out, very helpful in *doing* that thing), and very low on practical advice. If it had been said, even once: It might be hard. It might feel very uncomfortable and you might be miserable, and it doesnt mean youre doing it wrong, its natural to have different feelings about it, but persevering will be worth it. that first week would have been a lot easier to cope with. It is going ok now, but I still feel like were making it up as we go along, Doozer and I.

3) Sleeping in two-hour chunks is not all its made out to be. If anyone has ever made it out to be anything other than rubbish. Because it is. Rubbish, I mean. However, it does make other things seem very non-rubbish, by contrast. Like sleeping in three-hour chunks. Suddenly, sleeping in three-hour chunks seems like an enormous treat. I get very excited about a three-hour sleep right now.

4) People are lovely. And very generous. Things have been arriving, since the baby. Boxes of hand-me-down clothes and random useful stuff and toys and things. People are lovely. You, in fact, if youre reading this YOU are lovely.

5) You do not need to take a baby to the registry office in order to register a birth. Because, by the magic of modern science, they just believe you when you say youve got one, even if you havent got him WITH you. Either that, or they just trust you. Whatever. We registered our son. He is now an official person. Let the oppression by The Man commence. Or something.
(Please note, we did note register him as Doozer. Much as I might have argued the case for it)

6) Muslin squares are the greatest invention in the history of the world. Simple white squares used for wiping up baby sick, impromptu baby-sheets, swaddling, catching baby sick, protecting the one corner of your clothing not already covered in baby sick from baby sick (though frankly, whats the point anymore?)

7) Daytime television is TERRIBLE. But Im still working out what to do while pinned under a feeding baby and when out of reach of my computer, so Im watching a LOT of it. I am becoming an expert. I should very much write about that.

8) Babies are alright. Or, in fact, quite good, really. Whatever the case, they are not as terrifying as I previously thought. Theyre only about half as terrifying. But then, Im pretty easily terrified, so thats not a very accurate measure.

9) Im not going to be able to write long blog posts for a while. Much as I very much want to. This ones been sitting here staring at me ever time I open my computer for a couple of weeks now. And I cant even remember half the stuff that was meant to be in it (and there was a LOT of stuff). So Im just going to have to do shorter posts for a bit while I get used to this. But I have to write *something*, because Im going a bit mad otherwise.

10) I am really enjoying this. I am very tired. I am constantly confused by the tiny dictator who has taken over my house, and why he might be shouting in my face this time. But I am very, very happy. We have somehow created a very good baby.

Doozer, realised

After a long time of testing the baby in closed laboratory conditions in an undisclosed location (or a uterus)(or rather my uterus), it suddenly came to light that the baby was ready to be released from its alpha testing phase. So we launched it.

Doozer was born, at home, at 7.21 on the 11th of January. He weighed, at birth, something around 7lb. Maybe 7lb2ish. We dont know for sure, because the last bit of Doozer-launching happened a bit too unexpectedly and quickly for them to send the second midwife out. The second midwife, apparently, is the one in charge of bringing the scales.

This is him about an hour after he was born: [photo]

And this is him the day after by which I mean today with me: [photo]

about 18 hours after he was born.

According to both the midwife and the gp, I do not look like someone who gave birth yesterday. Im not entirely sure what they were expecting: an unwashed panicking harridan dripping blood, but if they were, I at least managed to look, for the duration of those visits, not like that.

This is, I admit, a better picture of me (who youve met before) than Doozer (who you havent), but it does at least show a little of how proud I am of him right now.

Ah yes. And he hasnt quite got a name yet. Not that we were expecting him to fly out of my mimsy with a name badge saying HELLO MY NAME IS …[NAME]… HOW CAN I HELP? (though that would have been useful), just that we have been sitting and calling him by the remaining names on the shortlist trying to decide what suits him best. Maybe tomorrow.

Also tomorrow I may write down what the labour/birth was like. People often write these things down to be helpful and informative to other people. I just want to remember it. I do not think my story will be particularly helpful or informative. It might be rather more sweary and undignified, but frankly, theres only so much you can do with the raw material of persuading a fully formed human being to emerge from a place somewhat smaller than itself.


Doozer arrived.

We are, as should be expected, completely and utterly in love with him.

The midwife and the gp did their home visits today. They in turn said that he was a model of perfection and, whats more, had the most adorable nose ever recorded in medical history.

Or maybe they didnt say that. Whatever, thats certainly what I heard them say, even if they didnt actually say it.

(Im almost 100% they probably did, though)