On Friday the NCT class had a go at a post-class meet-up. Fiona couldn’t make it because she was off somewhere for the day, and Jo seems to be currently incommunicado – she doesn’t have a home e-mail address so can’t be contacted by e-mail now that she’s on leave, and when I tried ringing her number I just got mobile phone voicemail. I did leave a message, but haven’t heard back. However, Alex and Moira, both of who have now had their babies (Alex’s on 16th October by planned Caesarean, and Moira’s on 29th October, if I remember rightly, by a very quick spontaneous delivery a week ahead of due date), both sounded pleased at the chance to get out of the house for a bit.
The meet-up therefore consisted of me, Jamie, Barry (once he’d taken delivery of a large number of banisters and could leave the house), Alex with baby George, and Moira and Sean with baby Edward. We seem to be on quite a theme of boys with the names of English kings – this makes it three out of three, or four out of four if you count The One I Made Earlier. And, of course, there is currently still a 5% chance that I’m cooking up an Alfred William rather than the expected Katherine Abigail – if so, then that would fit in nicely. Jamie, of course, was more impressed with the fact that one of the babies had the same name as a Thomas the Tank Engine character. It’s a shame that Fiona couldn’t make it – he’d have been over the moon with having a Henry Thomas there as well. As it was, one baby with an engine name didn’t seem quite sufficient to him. "There was a lady with a baby called George," he commented to Barry that evening as he bounced up and down on the bed he was supposed to be settling down to sleep in, "and there was a baby called Edward. But I don’t know about Donald and Douglas. Or what happened to Gordon." Seems Jo’s got her shortlist drawn up for her.
Alex sympathised with me, and with Jo in absentia, over getting left to the end while everyone else had already got their labour out of the way – did it leave me feeling nervous? Not about the labour, no – having been through one which went straightforwardly, I’m feeling quite blasé about the prospect of a second. This may well be unwise and I’m trying to get myself mentally geared up to deal with all sorts of disasters, but, for the most part, I figure I’ll worry about it if it happens, whatever ‘it’ turns out to be. What does unnerve me is the prospect of dealing with a newborn again. I’ve just been sorting and washing all the baby clothes, and the main memory this brought back is that of just how utterly freaked out I was through the entire time Jamie was small enough to fit in them. Once I got past the initial wildly hormonal stage of being terrified for Jamie (how could we have brought such a small and fragile person into a world filled with meningitis germs and speeding cars and cot deaths? What had we been thinking of? How could we dare to hope that this tiny baby would survive to adulthood without anything ghastly happening to him and thus ripping out my still-beating heart by the arteries and leaving me a hollow shell?), I just felt terrified of him. Newborns are scary. They are hopelessly unpredictable, they don’t talk, they have no way of letting you know whether they’re seriously unwell or just have a bit of wind, and they don’t sleep. What I mind most about being last is the prospect of going through that terrifying newborn stage again when most of the rest have already been through it and are settling into life with a baby. Though, of course, it is possible that second time around everything will seem a bit less unnerving – after all, at least now I have the best possible evidence before my eyes every day that I am fully capable of raising a newborn into a human being of excellent quality.
After this, Barry and Jamie and I went on to get haircuts, so now I can cross that off my List Of Things To Do, and then we picked up a couple of bits and pieces from the shops and headed back home. While we were on our way back, I started getting more of the Braxton-Hicks and mild crampy pains that I’d been getting intermittently for the past several months, though without them seeming to be particularly different from any of the previous pains apart from their increased frequency. So Barry and I had a rather inconclusive discussion about the possible significance of this and whether we ought to be aborting Project Banister Replacement and/or putting grandparents on standby, but everything seemed to settle down after a bit so all I actually did was pack my bag for the hospital. Seeing it next to the door, all packed and ready with my maternity notes sitting on top, gives me rather a pleasant glow – it’s such a tradition of pregnancy, and one that I never actually got round to the first time around, since I went into labour while packing my bag and never got round to moving it out of the baby’s room before the time came to head to the birthing centre.
This weekend Oi ‘ave been mainly sorting children’s clothes (for both the born and the unborn). It seems that my method of storing baby clothes in the early months was simply to shove them all into the same bag until the bag got full, without regard to the likelihood that it might in future be useful to have the 0 – 3 month sizes separate from the 3 – 6 month sizes and even a few 6 – 9 month sizes that seemed to have got in there. So, when we finally got round to getting them down from the attic on Saturday, I had to sort them all out, which took quite some time as I have a lot of 3 – 6 month sizes. Not only was this a stage when the whole new baby thing was novel enough to people who knew us that we were still getting presents, but at the time I gave birth my sister was working on a television programme with teenage twin boys whose mother celebrated the happy news by sending along their 3 – 6 month baby clothes. I’m not quite sure why that was the particular age chosen, but probably that was just the nearest bag in her attic, or something. At any rate, I certainly appreciated them – it came as quite a rude shock when Jamie turned six months and I realised I’d actually need to start buying my child’s clothes – but stuffing them into the same bag with the 0 – 3 month sizes was not the best-thought-out of plans, since it left me with a lot of sorting. However, that is now done, and I’ve put them all through the wash, and then my mother came to visit on the Sunday and took care of Jamie while I sorted out the vests from the Babygros from the mittens, etc., and found some drawers to shove them into, not to mention sorting out all Jamie’s 2 – 3-year-old clothes and storing them for the attic so that he now has space in his drawers for the 3 – 4-year-old clothes we’ve bought. I also cleaned the sink in his room (I realise that sounds a bit excessively Flylady with all the other stuff that needs doing, but it just needed some cleaning stuff to be left on it for ten minutes to soak in and then wiped off and was one of those things that, despite not actually taking long, doesn’t ever get done because there’s never a time when I’m in the room for that long and Jamie isn’t, or isn’t needing me to go and check out what he’s up to in another room) and washed down the paintwork next to the stairs ready for Barry to paint it as part of the whole banister replacement thing. So, once again, warm glow of achievement.
Today, apart from writing this post, my main job has been to keep Jamie out of the way while Barry works on Day 1 of Project Banister Replacement, which all seems to have been achieved successfully – the bit next to the stairs has been painted brown to match the new banisters and the banisters themselves, plus handrails and spindles and whatever other assorted pieces of wood are involved in such a project (some of the technicalities escape me) have all been waxed. Tomorrow is the graining of the paintwork and the polishing of the waxed bits, and then Wednesday and Thursday are the actual changeover days for the banisters, with Friday to allow for any overrun of bits that have taken longer than expected. So, we’re still keeping fingers and legs crossed for the baby to hang on inside for at least that long. So far, so good.