Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Bore off, Mama!

I see that Denise van Outen (UK TV/stage personality) has released a new pregnancy book. I mean, come on, what real advice does she have to offer on the subject. Fair enough, she wants to wring every last penny out of her experience but by all accounts her pregnancy & birth was plain sailing from start to finish, so that begs the question, what's filling the chapters that you can't get from a real pregnancy book like 'What To Expect...'?

I'll tell you what's filling it's dusty pages - a load of sanctimonious, patronising garbage, made to make normal people think Denise is a Goddess (can you tell I don't really like her?).

Since becoming a mother myself, I have become ever more aware of a strange breed of woman, the patronising first-time Mum. I am aware of it because I have felt myself slip into it on more than one occasion and am now trying consciously to stop myself.

Once your pregnancy is well-established and you are clear on your way to 40 weeks, women change. From the fresh-faced, eager pupils of the first trimesters, they become awful, world-weary know-it-alls by the end.

A typical conversation: 'How many weeks are you? 17? Well, just you WAIT until the end. You think your nightime bathroom visits are bad now. You have NO idea. I can't get off the toilet at all anymore. Have you had any pelvic pain yet? Oh, it's awful, just awful. You wait.' etc etc nauseam.

Post-partum pomposity is, if possible, even worse; the woman now even more smug having actually given birth and achieved the supposed pinnacle of her feminine capabilities. Having gone through pregnancy & childbirth and come out the other side, women now feel even better-qualified to preach to the newbie Mums who haven't reached this Promised Land.

It is also at this point where you get the Competitive Mum. We all know at least one and THEY. ARE. DREADFUL. Sometimes you get a Competitive Mum who is also a Patronising Mum. Double urgh!

After the garlic haze lifted yesterday, I decided to drag Mo baby & I to Bouncing Babies down at the library. I thought about putting it off until Thursday, but I would probably want to go even less by then, so I bit the bullet & went.

I go because I know it's good for Imogen to have a variety of experiences, to challenge her senses and social skills. Plus, she needs to see more than just my ugly mug seven days a week. But she doesn't really give a s**t, she just sits on the floor playing with her own toys and she could do this at home, without me having to bother getting showered & dressed etc...

Also, this kind of place is an absolute hotbed for C & P mums; sitting round in a circle on the floor, you can see everybody eyeing each others children up, double-guessing their age & subsequent development. The second thing anybody says to you at these places after Hello is 'How old's your baby?' for the simple purpose of being able to compare their own bundle of love to yours in terms of developmental achievement. Of course, once you've been asked the million dollar question, you have to return the favour and ask them about their child, even though you couldn't give a damn how old Jackson is and whether he had 12 teeth at 6 months or whether he can recite the Russian alphabet backwards yet.

I am pretty sure that this affliction of smugness only occurs in first-time Mums; maybe second time Mums are just too busy, less self-absorbed than the virgin mothers. Whatever it is, I am in the thick of it and am guilty of all the above. Now, when I speak to friends who are expecting, I try to only give 'advice' if it's asked for and try really, really hard not to draw comparisons to my own experiences at every opportunity. After all, every pregnancy & birth is different and the woman going through it should be made to feel special & unique and not inferior because she happens to be a few months behind you in her gestation.


Continuing the baby theme, I happened across a website this week that I found very interesting. When I was pregnant, I had a lot of spare time on my hands and I felt that I researched everything well (at least well for me) and was well-prepared for baby's arrival. However, after reading this website, I wondered what exactly I had been doing with my time as I hadn't heard of or bought hardly any of these things listed that would have improved my life a hundred-fold.

My favourites were the silicone nursing pads, so you can avoid VBPL (visible breast pad lines, of course) and the Adiri bottles which look beautiful. The nursing pillow is a given, EVERY woman should have one, but those stupid nursing aprons are ridiculous. Far from shielding you from people seeing you nurse, you might as well attach a neon sign to your head saying 'I AM BREASTFEEDING! Look at my stupid fake blanket'.

I nursed exclusively for 6 months and only once felt the need to actually feed in public (and it was at the social security office of all places, with no free bathroom). If you're not comfortable feeding in public, go to the bathrooms or in your car or do it at home before you leave. If you are happy to nurse al fresco, just save yourself the precious pennies and use a normal blanket. Simples.

But look, here I am preaching my useless advice like I said I wouldn't, so now I will stop.


Just one more thing to tie up the baby theme of today: I want to send BIG LOVE to our friends B & L who are in the middle of having their baby induced today. I hope it is a fast & straightforward labour and I just can't wait to meet their first child. XXX

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