4 articles Tag change

A Step Towards Independence (Or: A Shift in Our Relationship)

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Being pregnant has been infinitely more pleasant this time around. People keep telling me how well I look and I have to check to see if they’re talking to someone else, so used am I to being ill, pallid and drawn when up the duff. I never thought I’d be the sort of person who would wear pregnancy well, so to look in the mirror and see my skin and hair looking so healthy, colour in my cheeks (but not too much; my rosacea is better than its ever been) and none of my extremities resembling those of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters is a real treat.

However, pregnancy is already affecting both Sausage and I in other ways.

BP (Before Pregnancy), I loved nothing more than being able to pick my girl up and give her a cuddle. I can’t do that now – obviously, I shouldn’t be lifting heavy things, but my back and pelvis simply wouldn’t allow me to at the moment anyway. Sure, I can still snuggle with her on the sofa, or bend down for a hug, but it’s not the same.

In a similar vein, I’m no longer able to lift Sausage out of the shower anymore. Our shower is an over-the-bath one and BP, I’d wrap Sausage in a towel and lift her out. A recent trip to Ikea and one step-stool later, Sausage is now able to step in and out for herself and while I’m proud of her for being so willing to embrace independence, I feel sad that it’s something that she can no longer rely on me for.

We want Sausage to be fully involved with this pregnancy and everything else, which is one of the reasons that she’s attended all of my scans so far, and Husband and I have spent the last few months telling her all of the ways in which she’ll be able to help her little sister when she comes along, but I’ve become really conscious of the prospect of forcing her to grow up too much.

I’m also concerned that it will affect our relationship in a more general sense. She’s already started going to Husband for things that she’d normally come to me for (although, she’s very close to her Dad anyway and is lucky to have him working from home) and if I’m preoccupied with a baby, I can only see this getting worse. I cherish my relationship with Sausage, as any mother does, and the thought of it changing irreparably is a real concern.

All I know is, by the time the baby is born and I’ve recovered fully from my c-section, it will be almost a year since I’ve been able to pick her up and although I’m so happy about adding to our family, it does make me a little sad that I’ll have missed out on that interaction with her. I guess it’s normal to be having these thoughts and this is just one of many changes that are inevitable when you have more than one child, especially when there’s a five and a half year age gap, but I’m just so not ready for Sausage to no longer rely on me.

So, dear readers, any of your usual words of advice? As usual, it would be much appreciated.

Scared.

Last time I was pregnant, I had a sense of foreboding in me, something that told me that it wasn’t going to end well. As I went under the general anaesthetic for my emergency c-section, the last thing I remember was feeling an overwhelming sadness, convinced that I’d never wake up again and never get to meet the baby that I’d grown and felt kicking inside me. As it stands, I did wake up, but the feeling of foreboding had turned into one of extreme worry about my baby, who was unable to regulate her own breathing and she’d had the suck reflex traumatised right out of her.

It took 5 years to come to terms with those feelings and contemplate the thought of having another child, and ultimately, the want to add to our little family and give Sausage a sibling was stronger than my fears about ‘The Worst’ happening all over again. Of course, with new pregnancy comes new anxieties – will I make it to that ‘safe’ 12 week point? Will the scans be normal? Will I develop any pregnancy related illnesses along the way?

All in all, I’ve managed to get through the last 17 weeks without allowing too many of these fears to creep in. I’m acutely aware of how damaging stress can be, and despite bereavement, drama and everyday worries, I’ve done my best to maintain an aura of calm, a shell around the baby to protect it from stress at all cost.

But, as I sit here with the rest of the household fast asleep, I must admit, I’m scared.

I’m scared of what might go wrong over the next 20 weeks, I’m scared that the dynamic of our family life will change, that Sausage might feel left out and that it might damage our relationship. I’m scared that I’ll have forgotten how to do all of the practical things, or that at almost 30 I won’t have nearly the stamina for nighttime feeds and sleepless nights that I did at 24. I’m scared that I’ll have to start injecting insulin every day if my diabetes gets out of control, I’m scared of having a spinal to numb me for my elective c-section and I’m equally scared of being put under by general anaesthetic, having that same feeling that I might never wake up again.

And, do you know what? This is just the tiny tip of a very big iceberg.

But then, I think about how amazing Sausage is, and what an awesome person she’s grown up to be. I think about what an excellent big sister she’s going to be and how she’s already started putting toys and books aside that she wants her little brother or sister to have. I think about the nighttime feeds and not about how tiring they are, but how nice those times are, having sleepy snuggles whilst watching rubbish late night TV. I think about what a good Dad Husband is to Sausage and how great it is that another child will benefit from having him as a father. Most of all, I think about how happy Sausage has made, and continues to make, us and I realise that is this next child is even a fraction as wonderful as its big sister, I don’t have anything to be scared of.

Being Called The ‘C’ Word

On Sunday afternoon, after a lovely morning at the cinema watching Despicable Me 2, we drove to Waitrose to acquire some groceries for a late lunch. As we were pulling in, Husband and I were having a discussion about something or other, one of the usual things that we chunter on about in the car, you know, like how we feel about what’s going on in Israel, the price of baked beans and whether the dog needs his anal gland expressed. I can’t remember what it was in particular (probably because I’m in shock) but in the course of the conversation, my Husband called me The ‘C’ Word.

Yep. My Husband, the man for whom I carried a child, the man whose pants I wash and meals I cook, called me the worst word he could ever have uttered. I was genuinely shocked at first because I had no idea he felt that way about me. After seven and a half years of sharing your life with a person, you get to a point where you know each other well and you feel like you know exactly how they feel about you, how they view you as a person. But to drop the ‘C’ bomb on your wife? Well, I was beside myself.

Before I go on, I should probably clarify which ‘C’ word it is that I actually mean. Are you ready? Brace yourself…

He called me…*looks around to make sure no kids are listening*…a CONFORMIST!

ShockA close approximation of the look on my face, after the dropping of the C Bomb

How dare he call me a conformist? I’m the girl who, when my friends went through their ‘Goth’ phase, would go out with them dressed head to toe in pink. I’m the girl who has argued vociferously against The Beatles, simply because I hate being told  that they’re the greatest band ever and that I should love them. I’m the girl who wore Dr. Martens to primary school when all of my friends were wearing Mary Janes. I’m the girl who answered back, the naughty kid in class, the one who got kicked out of sixth form for frequent bunking.

I have opinions, ones that I’ll voice whenever the hell I want and usually as forcefully as I can. I’ll talk about anything, religion, politics, current affairs. I’m passionate about feminism, human rights, the demonisation of youth. I’m not just a ‘shut up and do nothing’ type.

But, as I look down at my safe Mummy uniform (beige cardi, muted green vest, sensible John Rocha jeans and a pair of loafers), my Cath Kidston bag and my long, highlighted bob, I begin to wonder. 

Yes, I have opinions, opinions which aren’t shared by everyone. But am I hiding?

As we were walking out of Waitrose, I saw a girl with hair that was that most beautiful shades of pink and purple, a teenager with her Dad, and I thought “I used to have pink hair…I’m probably too old for pink hair now”. And that thought saddened me a bit. I’m not saying that I actually want pink hair, what I’m saying is that there is still a non-conformist inside of me, but I’ve hidden her under a bushel of ‘appropriate’ grown up clothes and outward conformity.

I don’t want to be the same as everyone else. So why do I feel, suddenly, like I am?

I’m not giving up my Cath Kidston bag though.

Stuck in my ways?

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that Husband has some sleep issues which mean that often, he is awake while the rest of the household is asleep. We’re both avid users of StumbleUpon, which means that I often wake up with a dozen emails from him, little things that he’s read that he thinks I’ll find interesting. And I love it, it’s one of my favourite things as I know that he’s been thinking of me, plus it gives us lots to talk about and debate upon. He’ll send me things which are so random, so totally me that it gives me a warm feeling to think that he really gets me, you know?

Until yesterday.

I woke up to a bunch of Stumbles, one of which was a suggestion for the Christmas tree we should buy this year. He’d sent me a link to a page from the B&Q website, where they were selling a *urgh* fibre-optic tree. I mean, really? Who wants a Christmas tree with no fairy lights, and light literally shooting out of the ends of the branches?! And then he explained, very reasonably and rationally that a fibre-optic tree is a far more sensible option as it means we don’t have to have wires tangled around the tree, it’ll save time, we don’t have to have the saga of finding out which dead bulb is causing the whole chain to die, it’ll be easier to store, not to mention the fact that Sausage has a fibre optic lamp, which she is absolutely obsessed with, ergo she’ll probably adore a giant fibre-optic tree!

And you know what? He’s totally right, it’s the best option all round. But why is it that I still feel sad that we won’t have the same awkward, difficult to put together, mess of a tree that we do every year? I think it stems from when I was younger and staying with my grandparents. I think I’ve mentioned my maternal grandparents before, whom I love dearly, but who don’t like each other very much. Well, when I was a kid, I’d remember them arguing, every bloody year, my Nan asking my Grandad when he was going to get the Christmas decorations out of the loft, and my Grandad moaning and saying he’d get round to it. Every year, without fail, this would start in early December and usually go on up to Christmas Eve, when the nagging would get too much and my Grandad would get off of his arse and get the decorations.

They’d let me put the decorations up, assembling their minute and ancient artificial tree (seriously, it’s like 2 ft tall and they’ve had it my whole life) and hanging the baubles, some of which were older than my Mum. And once it was all done, this peace, this sense of calm would finally descend on the whole house, my Nan glad that she’d got her way and my Grandad content that the nagging would let up, for at least a while (I’m not making my Nan out to be a bad guy here, she really does have to poke my Grandad with a stick, just to get him to move). It was like the spirit of Christmas had done its work, and we could start to feel festive.

I think the process of putting the tree together, stringing the lights around it, adorning it with tinsel has become a reminder of that time, and I suppose I go through it, waiting for the feeling at the end. But my Husband has made me realise, I don’t need this to put me in the Christmas spirit. I have an amazing Daughter who, this year, will be looking at the tree with the light shooting out of its branches and her face, and the thought of how happy it will make her, is all the Christmas spirit I could ever wish for.

So here’s to change, a step away from the negative and towards a Merrier Christmas.