This time…..

Since our strategy of trying to unpack as little as possible at our last move actually seems to have worked, and the current packing job is consquently more manageable than I would ever have believed possible, and since Jamie’s always tenuous routine is so topsy-turvy from all this that he’s still sound asleep at a quarter to ten in the morning (something I suspect I will regret later, but the hell with it, later is later and can take care of itself), I find myself, unexpectedly, with some time on my hands. So I will spend it indulging in a little nostalgia, in honour of Jamie’s eleven-month-oldness.

This time last year, I was on maternity leave. (Well, technically I was on holiday, since I used accumulated holiday to push the official date of my maternity leave as late as possible and hence to keep getting full pay for as much of my time off as possible.) Wondering how much bigger I could get. Discovering that Gaviscon absolutely rocks as a heartburn treatment, even if it tastes funny, and that carpal tunnel syndrome is a flaming nuisance when you’re trying to sleep and are already out of comfortable positions. Trying to persuade the baby that he could find other comfortable places to lodge his left foot rather than my spleen. Trying to make myself do perineal massage every night even though, dear god, was it boring (and don’t click on that link if you’re squeamish about such things, by the way). Feeling hopelessly unready for parenthood in the practical as well as the psychological sense (but what about those forty-two reviews of different nappy types and seventy-eight articles on slings that I need to read before I can even decide what’s best to order??). Facing the paradox that, despite this hopeless unreadiness, I was nevertheless stuck with hoping that I’d go into labour in the next few weeks, since the alternative presented distinct disadvantages both in terms of eating away at my maternity leave and thus diminishing the amount of time I could afford to spend at home after birth, and in terms of facing a possible induction and the consequent medicalised labour that I really hoped to avoid. Facing the fact that I was never going to feel ready, that there was just never going to be a morning when I woke up and thought “Aha! I now feel 100% confident about dealing with whatever challenges parenthood may present me. Bring on labour!” and so really, probably the best thing was for me just to go ahead and go into labour and find out that, like millions of parents before and after me, when it came to the crunch [1] I’d actually deal with parenthood perfectly well.

This time two years ago, I was filling my system with folic acid, in the form of huge red pills containing a dozen other nutritional goodies into the bargain and looking like the kind of thing you might give to a sick horse rather than to a healthy woman who’s merely contemplating pregnancy. Waiting with bated breath to find out just how poor my fertility would be when finally put to the test. Feeling glad that at least I’d finally find out one way or the other, after all the am-I-leaving-it-too-late-and-what-if-I-can’t-at-all years of my twenties and thirties. Feeling so boggled at the idea of me, me, being a parent that the alternative scenario of months of negative tests, increasing anxiety, increasing investigations, increasing unsuccessful treatment, that I’d read about so often, seemed much easier to picture.

And this time now? Everything I do is fitted around decisions of whether it will be compatible with taking care of a baby, whether Barry is available to mind the baby while I do something else, what the effect will be on Jamie. Having a shower is an exercise in logistics. Putting dangerous or delicate things out of reach is such a part of our lives it no longer needs commenting on. We have a gorgeous, exhausting, active, exploring, wonderfully adorable eleven-month-old baby making his way round furniture and grabbing/banging/mouthing everything he can. And life, while it has previously been considerably simpler and less frustrating, has never been happier.

[1] For a minute there, I was giong to write ‘when push came to shove’. On balance, though, I decided against it.

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