Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Why I'm glad I'm not Kate Middleton....

So, if you know me, you'll know that in a previous existence I would never have written that title. You see I've always wanted to be a princess. I've wanted to be a princess since forever. When I was a very small girl I walked around the ruins of a Welsh castle telling anyone who would listen that "I am the princess, and this is my castle" and that they were all my doting subjects. I wanted to ride horses, because princesses rode horses. I wanted to be a bridesmaid because they wear dresses like princesses and get to marry the prince. I wanted to be a princess because they live in castles, have long hair and because their daddy is the King.

When I was a teenager I went through a rebellious stage (clearly I didn't because I pretty much always towed the line - but bear with me). I went through a rebellious phase when I wore sneakers, listened to Britpop and denounced the establishmnt (for about three months) and went about telling everyone that I thought the royal family were a waste of time and money and should put to death by firing squad (is that treasonous - can I get hanged for writing that these days??). This was during the period in Prince William's life when he was all teeth and ears. Before Princess Di was killed, before he went to university and before he became the object of all my royal lust.

Let me also point out that I know that it is completely not cool to have a crush on Prince William. In fact you get more points for having a crush on Harry and he has ginger hair and his "royalness" is still very much in question. But I hold my hands up. I have often dreamt of marrying Prince William and being a princess. (I might add that I always factored in Mr Jones as the illicit love interest in these dreams - princesses always get to have affairs - anyone who has read anything about the Tudor court knows that. Mr Jones would have been the Robert Dudley to my Elizabeth the first - before her teeth went black and fell out).

When he started going out with Kate Middleton I got a bit Daily Mail about it all. I liked to check out what she was up too in a slightly stalkerish manner. Not because I hated her - but because I was in awe. Fabulous figure, bit of a clothes horse, intelligent, good looking - and going out with Prince William - who wouldn't be a tiny bit jealous. After a while I got a bit bored - until the split when I thought there might again be hope. But alas it wasn't to be.

So you might expect me to be just a mite peeved with all this talk of weddings - but when it comes to it I'm really not. Aside from the life of duty in the public eye - which I'd hate because quite frankly I detest the general public - the very thought of having to plan a royal wedding fills me with dread.

Every family has their black sheep - the relatives who make you cringe, who you know will just disgrace themselves by getting drunk and abusing someone, or if not that there's the lairy friend who can't be trusted in a civilised situation. You ummm and ahhh about whether you can get away with not inviting them to your wedding and generally deem that for the sake of peace you'll just put up with them and forewarn anyone who might be offended. BUT what do you do if your wedding is to be attended by the Queen and representatives of every Royal family in the world? What if the prime minister is going to be there? What is Elton John is singing you up the aisle? What if you're selling the pictures to Hello for a banker's bonus? Do you say "sod my family - I've got a new Royal one" and be forever hailed as the sell outer who thinks they're too good for their past? Or do you hope that Prince Harry digs out that fancy dress outfit or pray that Prince Phillip is allowed to voice an opinion so that it's not your disgraceful acquaintance that ends up fodder for Quentin Letts and the rest of his cronies?

Then there's the dress. People still talk and cringe about Princess Di's crumpled, puffed sleeved monstrosity with bows on - it's such a responsibilty. I was nearly consumed with stress about my dress and it was only going to be judged by 120 people - half of whom were men and couldn't give a fig - but poor old Kate has the entire female population of the globe to please. (And don't deny that you aren't interested because you know you are).

What if she wants to get married somewhere other than Westminster Abbey? What if she's always dreamt of a beach wedding or wants (God forbid) carnations and babies breath in her bouquet? What if she rather have something a bit smaller and really doesn't want it on the BBC?

In the end she's just a girl, who fell in love with a boy - who just happened to be a royal. It might seem like a dream to marry a Prince - but when your wedding turns into a national event I think it takes away a bit of the excitement and the meaning. No I'm glad I'm not Kate Middleton - I don't think I could take the responsibility - not for all the castles and tiaras in the world.

Friday, 5 November 2010

19 weeks old - Rufus is a pumpkin and mummy gets poorly

It's cruel I know - but this will probably be the only year I get to dress him up without him wanting some kind of input. There was a halloween party - the babies got dressed up and the mummy's drank wine. By the time we got home I had almost lost my voice. By the time I went to bed it had completely gone.

Mr Jones went off to work in Kent, leaving me alone and snot filled to look after the small boy. It wasn't long before I had packed my stuff to head to my Mummy's. You're never too old to need your mummy.

Before I could escape I had to see the breast feeding woman. She was an hour and 15 minutes late - and she was lucky that Rufus decided to have an extra long nap because other wise I'd have been long gone by the time she rocked up. No apology, no nothing - rude I call it. I hate people being late.

Anyway. She came and asked me how the two hourly feeding had been going. I said I hadn't done it because the extra feeds coincided with his nap times and he was just falling asleep anyway so it was pointless. This was a lie because I hadn't actually tried it. I hate liars - but sometimes a little white lie is necessary - and being a mummy makes you do things that you usually wouldn't. She looked at me slightly sternly and I suddenly felt a bit guilty and started jibbering on about how my instinct had told me that he didn't need feeding that often - rah, rah, rah! Then I said I had a cold and was off to my mum's in a bit because Mr Jones was away and I thought it'd be nice to have a bit of a hand.

Luckily Rufus decided to wake up at this point so we could get on with it. She weighed him - he screamed and flailed about - he'd gained three ounces. Poo! I'd hoped it would have been more. In the past week he's developed some of those lovely chubby wrist bracelets - I thought they'd weigh at least an ounce each. Plus a couple of ounces for each thigh and maybe half an ounce on his chin. But no - just three. She tutted a bit and then said - "So explain again why you didn't feed him two hourly." So I started with the lies again and then said - "actually I think he's fine - he's sleeping well and feeding well and he has six feeds a day - he never cries for food and he seems perfectly happy."

"Well yes - he does seem fine. So I think it's probably best if you stop panicking about his weight gain - because it's really not that important as long as he seems fine. It's good that you're going to your mum's for support. Being a mum is hard work, you're doing a great job, so don't get worked up and try and relax. When is your husband back? Are you going to be on your own at all? Make sure you have someone to look after you and to help you because it's good to have support......"

She went on like this for about five minutes. Speaking to me as if I was on the verge of some kind of mental break down. I felt like stopping her and saying - "hang on a minute - I never asked to see you, I was told to see you. I'm not concerned about his weight, it's you lot who have been making a fuss about it. As soon as I was told that he was within the healthy range of the thrive line thingys I was fine. Yes I'm going to my mum's because I'm feeling just a tad rough and I can't really sing and play with what is left of my voice - but ordinarily I am quite able to cope - and I most certainly don't need to be patronised by you."

But of course I just smiled meekly and listened to her cringeworthy attempt at being sympathetic and supportive. I probably should have offered her a cup of tea or asked if she wanted to use the loo - but I just wanted to get rid of her. In the end I started to feed Rufus and said "Are you ok to see yourself out so I don't have to disturb him?" And off she went. Then we went to stay with Granny Sue and Pops and were thoroughly looked after and spoilt. I'm sure I gained several pounds even if Rufus didn't.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

18 weeks old - one, two, three like a bird I sing

Mr Jones thinks we should move to the Southern States of America so that Rufus grows up with an accent that will enable him to sing this song (you have to listen right to the end if you want to hear the kids singing - this will be enjoyable if you like country music - as I do - if you don't like country music you'll have to just grin and bear it. If like me you also have a thing for men in cowboy hats you may like to watch the video!). Mr Jones would probably like it noted that he isn't - in general - a country fan - he just thinks the kids at the end sound cute. I love country. I'd love to move to a Ranch and ride horses all day in a cowboy hat like I did in my previous life. I think about it a lot when all I can hear is a small boy grizzling. I could be the next Pioneer Woman and homeschool my kids and cook beef on a skillet and eat corn bread and cookies.....

Alternatively Mr Jones thinks we should move to Bristol so that Rufus will speak like the kids from Skins. Somehow I find this less appealing. Anyway I digress.

So you will remember how the Health Visitor wasn't concerned, no not concerned at all, about Rufus' weight. Well I took him back to be weighed again and he had put on a measly three ounces. "Hmmm - I'll just measure his head and length and get my thrive lines out to be sure, but I'm not concerned."

"Ok" says I not believing a word of it.

She measures his head - which is still big enough for me to be very thankful that I didn't have to push him out - and his length which is above average - something I could have told her because his three to six month babygros are all too short in the leg and he's only four and a bit months old.

She gets out her thrive lines (a piece of acetate covered in lines which apparently when laid over your baby's weight chart tells you whether or not he is thriving for his weight?!). All the while she is muttering about not being concerned, about how he is a gorgeous little boy and very alert and active and sleeping well......

She puts the acetate over Rufus' weight chart and traces a line with her finger up to where he should be on the chart for his age. The black dot on the weight chart is glaring at me in the bottom third of the page - her finger is resting in the top third. I suddenly feel a bit hot. It's cold out and I'm wearing layers and have a baby sling pinning them all to me. I feel the sweat start to trickle down my back as I watch her stare (now looking very concerned) at the chart.

Unnecessarily she points out the dots to me. "hhhhmmm I think I'll just call the doctor in to check him over, I'm not concerned because he looks well and his head is measuring fine and that's the next thing we check after slow weight gain, but just to be sure I'd like to call the doctor in - do you mind?"

Do I mind? What a ridiculous question - this woman is telling me that my baby may well be malnourished and she's asking me if I mind seeing the doctor? I reassure her that this is all quite fine - trying to ignore the sweat that is pouring down the backs of my knees while at the same time trying to wrestle Rufus back into his trousers.

The doctor appears, takes one look at him and says - "he looks fine to me." Meanwhile the health visitor has been ferreting about in her folder and pulls out another piece of acetate. "Oh" she says - "I've just realised that I'm using the wrong sheet - that's the one for babies who are gaining too much weight - see look he's fine!" She spends the next five minutes apologising to me while I begin to recover from what was possibly the beginnings of a mild cardiac episode - or less dramtically a few dark days believing that I am clearly a terrible mother who has been starving her child by feeding him from malfunctioning bosoms.

Further discussions ensue about the fact that Rufus clearly isn't actively feeding during these lovely 45 minute feeds we've been having. I am sent away with instructions to massage my boobs when I feed (delightful) and to start expressing in the evenings to make sure my milk supply is good enough. She also recommends that I see the breastfeeding counsellor for a bit more advice.

So off I go feel just slightly rattled and ever so much relieved. I begin the massaging (not easy) and I listen out to make sure he's swallowing all the time. We get fewer green poos which must have been caused by the fact that he was crashing out after he'd quenched his thirst with the foremilk. I start to feel encouraged.

I get out old Gina Ford's missives because I remember a section on increasing your milk supply. It appears that I need to express about five times a day - at specific times - while eating a small snack and drinking a glass of water. I am reminded of the panic I felt when I first read this book and it's routines - "your baby must be up and fully awake by 7am, offer 20 minutes from the first breast and 10 to 15 minutes from the second. Do not feed about 8am because you'll put him off his next feed. Eat a piece of toast and drink a pint of water no later than 8.30am......" When Mr Jones read it he sent me a text saying "errr can we send the baby back please - this sounds like a nightmare" - I was about 20 weeks pregnant at the time.

I duly start expressing per the timetable. This didn't last long. As I sat there in a roomful of other mums at 11am with my nipple being sucked in and out of a pump we all laughed at how our lives had changed. When would I ever have thought it was acceptable to get my boobs out in front of a room full of other women? And worse, when would I have ever sat there doing my best impression of a cow hooked up to an industrial strength milking machine - never! So I decided that my life was far too short. That Rufus could up my supply himself by taking more - because he clearly isn't starving because he is still gaining weight - just not as fast as he could.

On Tuesday I saw the breastfeeding counsellor. I didn't warm to her - she very kindly announced to a group of some 15 mums that she would speak to me after the weaning talk that we were all attending because she'd been informed that I was "having problems with breastfeeding" (see a mixture of sympathetic/smug looks fired in my direction from the various mothers in the room). She hardly listened to the problems I was having before barking "Feed him every two hours - that will make him gain weight and stop him biting you. I'll come and see you next Tuesday."

I leave, feeling flustered, trying to calculate in my mind how I'll get anything done if I feed him every two hours. Within about an hour I decide to ignore her. As far as I'm concerned he's fine, he's happy and alert, he's developing well, sleeping and napping well and seems to be perfectly jolly on his routine. He's never fed two hourly, not even when he was first born - so why would I go backwards? I've been keeping him awake during his feeds and the biting has lessened, we've had no green poos since I started with all the massaging and he's started to go through until 4.30/5ish at night again - so I think he's fine. It's not as if he's losing weight. Having made this decision I spend the next few days feeling very naughty. In the end I give myself a good talking to - I'm his mother and I know best. We shall see what she says next Tuesday.

PS - he's wearing his pjs in the pics because we had been through four outfits in one day - the first two were puked on and the second two were pooped on and I hadn't had chance to do anymore washing - pjs were all we had left.
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