In a Spin

I took a deep breath. “You will be fine,” I told myself firmly. “This will not be like last time. You can do this.” My fingers trembled slightly, but other than that, I was proud of how calm I was, and so, I started my consult with the great and powerful Google.

I know, I know. Any pregnant woman who Googles anything deserves what she gets. If the baby books and magazines are the dire prophets of doom, the internet is one of the four horsemen of the pregnancy apocalypse (along with birthing horror stories, unsolicited advice and strangers touching your stomach).

In my defense, I needed help. I had been told time and time again, get everything sorted out as soon as possible. Start buying your baby stuff now. Get the nursery ready. Get everything done. Have you packed your hospital bag?

Now time is running out for me – I only have months left, and I still do not have a pram.

I envisioned many things I would freak out over when I fell pregnant, and to my credit, I’ve managed to panic over all of them, but the one thing I overlooked was the pram issue. After all, it’s a pram – what is there to it? It has wheels and carries a baby. But before I took Himself, and his credit card, to shops, I figured I’d better gather a bit of information first.

“Just buck up and do it,” I told myself firmly as I set out to research prams.

It’s difficult now to imagine those blissful days when the only things that I knew existed were basic prams and car seats. Now I find myself pouring over page after page of travel systems, strollers, prams, buggies, joggers, isofix bases, adjustable car seats. I frantically tried to find a foundation from which to start my search. “Safety. Yes, that’s most important,” I hissed at the computer, jabbing away at the keys. “Safety first,” screamed website after website. “Get the safest car seat. Get a safe pram!”

“But what makes it the safest?” I yelled back. The websites all fell silent; refusing to give up the secret of which one was actually safe, comfortable and didn’t cost the same as my car. My eyes glazed over as I pushed through page after page telling me that travel systems were wonderful, and the worst decision I could make. That a car seat that clipped into a pram would be amazing, and make my life hell. That this pram was worth every cent, and horrendously overpriced. That that travel system was the only thing to buy if you love your kid, and you’re a gullible fool for buying it. But no one would tell me which one was actually safe.

“We can do this,” I murmured as I led Himself into the baby store. “This time we’ll talk to an actual human being and get the right information.”

“What are you looking for?” asked the nice young salesman as we circled the pit of prams.

“Safety!” I knew the answer to that one.

“This is the one for you,” replied the salesman. “Everything you need and want in a pram.” I threw Himself a triumphant look; talking to real person had indeed solved our problems.

Then I looked at the price.

For that price I might as well renovate my house and Slytherin Baby and I could live in luxury, never leaving it.

“It’ll be ok,” I reassured Himself two hours later as we entered the second baby store. “We now know what we want; we’re just comparing prices.”

“What are you looking for?” asked the nice young salesman.

“That one,” I answered confidently, pointing.

“Really? Are you sure? Do you want these features? And if you don’t have isofix in your car, it’s not safe to attach with a seatbelt. And if you’re looking for the following list of things, then this is not a good car seat you. You want to look at this one instead…”

This article was written for and originally posted on the BabyYumYum website here


The Laundry Crisis

The laundry is causing a crisis in my life – but not in the usual way. After much thought and discussion (well, me walking into the spare room and then the laundry room/man-cave and looking around decisively), we have decided on the room that will become the nursery.

Himself knew that he was in for a rough week when I barged into the room while he was doing his pull-ups on the specially-installed bar in our unofficial laundry room and stared at him with wild eyes.

“It’ll have to go!”

Himself made a manful effort to not hear me.

One of the many manifestations of pregnancy crazy is “nesting”. Which before I got pregnant myself I always took to mean a wonderful thing that will turn undomesticated people (me) into the sort of person who will happily sort through her possessions and arrange them into a calm and ordered home that comforts all who enter into it.

Maybe for other woman.

I’ve always been what you might call “creative” (read slob). I mean, I have a system – slobbing around the house clothes on the bathroom floor, clothes with one more wear on the coat rack, papers that might have a use in the clutter drawer, papers that will have a use in the next year or so on my desk, and everything else on the dining room table. It’s just that there’s always something more interesting to do than clear up, like watching Game of Thrones again, or rereading Harry Potter, or staring at the press-up lizard in the garden.

That is until the best friend sent me a picture of her new “Konmarie-ed” wardrobe.

After two hours of suspicious silence in which he was left in peace, Himself decided to investigate. He walked into our bedroom to find me surrounded by a mountain of clothes, clutching old shorts and jeans and muttering somewhat manically, “Thank you. I release you. Thank you. You must go now…”  

 I was vaguely aware of the distant sound of my husband murmuring into his phone, “Yes, I know nesting is normal, but is THIS?”

I haven’t actually gotten as far as reading Marie Kondo’s book, but I have read an article on it and I’ve listened to my friend extoll her virtues. “Does it bring me joy?” I mutter half-crazed as I wonder around the house, picking up and holding everything I can get my hands on – socks, old t-shirts, mugs, pots, my husband.

I now turned my feverish eyes to the laundry room. “It’s got to go!”


“All of it!” In my defence, the room is rather crowded. I’m not sure it’s possible to fit a baby in there at the moment, even a rather small one. The room is overflowing with electronics and ironing board and Himself’s clothes (he refuses to share a closet with me) and exercise equipment and large, exercising husband.

“We’ve got plenty of time,” muttered Himself.

I’m sure that he was talking through gritted teeth was because he was doing pull-ups.

“Plenty of time?! I’m in my second trimester, I only have a few weeks where I can move around, by the time I get to my third trimester, I won’t be able to do anything. It’ll be awful! Everyone keeps telling me how awful it’ll be! Everything has to be done now! Right now!

Babe, maybe you should take a break from the exercising if it’s causing you to groan so loudly.”

Gender What?

I’ve always loathed the way we encase childhood in rigid gendered roles. Whenever Himself and I find ourselves in a toy store Himself is treated to a tirade of feminist rage.
“Look at this! It’s a little pink iron and a little pink stove and a little pink broom, all in an aisle that is actually labelled ‘Girls’. We are brainwashing our little girls to think that girls are the ones who do the housework before they can even read!”
Himself idly picked up a little iron. “You never played with these things, did you?”
“Of course not, – why do you ask?!”
“No reason. No reason at all.”

So, in a breath-taking sweep of hypocrisy that you can only ever get away with when you’re pregnant, I’m desperate to know the gender of my child.
(In my defence, I will never allow a little pink iron to cross my threshold, no matter what the gender.)

I know (now) that you’re not supposed to have a gender preference, so my excuse is that I need to know the gender in order to choose a name. Not that I’m freaking out about choosing a name. Not at all. After all, there are baby name books, all 900 pages of them. I just need to find a name that my child will have to live with for the rest of its life. A name that will always be suitable, that’s easy to pronounce and spell, that’s unique but not weird. I just need to find a name that I love, not just like. Like “life-long-commitment love” not “we’re good friends love”. No problem. I’m pretty calm about it.

Then there’s also the fact that I would quite like to dress my child in something other than grey. I think the same people who design women’s clothing design baby clothes. I can just see a bunch of men sitting around a massive boardroom scratching their heads, “What is it that women want from clothing?”
Women around the world: “Pockets!”
Men around the boardroom table: “They’re such a mystery.”
Women around the world: “Jeans that fit adult, human women!”
Men around the boardroom: “So subtle.”
Women around the world: “Baby clothes that aren’t aggressively pink, blue or grey!”
Men around the boardroom: “I guess we’ll never know.”
And so, baby clothes continue to be sold only in pretty princess pink, superhero blue or I’m-in-the-middle-of-a-pronoun-crisis grey.
And women’s pockets remain resolutely sewn shut.

“Are you going to have a gender reveal party?” asked the best friend over tea, one week before the big scan; the scan when everyone else I’ve spoken to has gotten to see the gender.
“A gender what?” spluttered my mother.
“It’s a party where you reveal the gender of the baby to the guests.”
“Oooh…” My mother looked very relieved.
“You can bake cupcakes and put the icing in the middle,” suggested the best friend.
“I can do what now?”
“Oh yeah. Maybe your husband could bake cupcakes…?”

So it was with great excitement that we walked into the doctor’s room. At least I was excited. Himself, who has in fact read some of the parenting literature, refused to say that he had a preference. I knew when I married him that I was marrying a smart man.

And, of course, the baby was sitting with his/her/its legs folded.

“That’s your kid,” muttered Himself.
“The way it’s sitting – you always sit with your legs folded like that!”
“Well,” murmured the doctor, “will you look at that?”
“Is that?”
It really was. The little blighter waved at the camera and gave mom and dad a big thumbs up.

“Do you know what you’re having?”
“Oh yes. It’s definitely a Slytherin.”

On Purpose?!

I will admit, I’m not the world’s most mumsy mom. When I told people that I was pregnant (after five years of marriage) more than one person’s first reaction was, “You? On purpose?!”

And honestly, I think that’s a fair question. (Before you ask, yes, it was on purpose). Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy about it; it’s just that falling pregnant has not changed my basic personality (sarcastic), nor my worldview (I know you love your kids, but I really don’t).

Having decided to replicate my genetic material in the form another human being, I made the conscious decision that I was going to be a good mother (not A Good MotherTM – an important distinction). So, I picked up my first pregnancy guide book.

Five minutes later I flung the book from me, screaming and panting in horror.

“I’ve changed my mind!” I shrieked to Himself. Himself glanced up from the alien about to eat him.


“Stop playing computer games! I’m having a crisis! I looked at the pregnancy book. I can’t do this! It’s painful! It’s gross!”

“It’s not gross – it’s natural.”

“Natural?! Nature is gross – there’s always something oozing or poisonous or eating another creature alive! Why do you think I always send you out to deal with the nature that encroaches on this house?!”

Himself mutter something to his friends online about being back soon.

“No you won’t!” I yelled. “I’m having a crisis and you can’t just pour me a glass of wine!”

For the first time Himself seemed to understand that this pregnancy thing might change both our lives – and not necessarily for the better. He cast around for an alternative to his fail-safe-get-the-wife-to-calm-down-immediatley-so-I-can-go-back-to-my-game.

“I’ll make you a nice cup of coffee,” he offered.

“No! Coffee might be ok, but then again, it might lead to miscarriage or low birth weight!”

“I’ll make you a nice cup of tea.”

“Tea also has caffeine in it. They don’t know how much is safe! Maybe I can’t have tea!”

Himself scratched in the cupboard, “Green tea?” he suggested. Even he wasn’t able to sell that as “nice”.

“Yes. That’s healthy.” I gasped. “No! Wait! Some herbal teas can cause miscarriage!”

“I’ll heat up your wheaty bag and you can go have a lie-down.”

“No – ”

“Let me guess…”

The pregnancy book was plucked from my hands with the promise that he would read it and tell me what I need to know. (I recently found it collecting dust under a pile of running magazines.) Finally himself dispatched me to bed with a glass of water, a romantic novel and a piece of chocolate. (“Amy, if your kid can’t survive a piece of chocolate…!”)

As I gingerly settled into bed (On my side? On my back?) I heard himself tell his online buddies, “Guys, give me the biggest gun we have. I really need to shoot some aliens!”