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Development of columns into book... (1 Viewer)

Loulou

WF Veterans
Over the last year or so, in between a trillion other things, I've been developing my five year long column into a light-hearted book about the trials of being a parent - great scope for humour. I'm hoping that since I already have an audience, so to speak, that a local publisher may take this on.
The nature of the thing may not be to everyones taste! This is just the introduction but it may give an idea on tone, style etc...


INTRODUCTION
(1700 words)
And in the beginning there was a baby…





When do we really become a parent? When does that moment arrive where we proudly say to ourselves, ‘I’m a mum, I’m really a mum’ or ‘Wow, I’m a dad.’? When does that defining moment catch us unaware and we realise that we are no longer single entities (okay, our ‘other half’ might already be part of the equation) but we belong to a special team that involves a tiny but loud individual?


Maybe we should begin at the beginning and see where we end up…

Being a parent doesn’t begin at the conception. That’s the easiest part. (And the most enjoyable, especially if we had two bottles of wine and half an episode of ‘Sex and The City’ beforehand) We all know how to do that or else none of us would be pregnant in the first place – not that you have to do it right to get pregnant. At least with sex (unless you’ve read the Kama Sutra from cover to cover) there’s no right or wrong way. In fact any old way will do as long as Mr Sperm sets off in good spirits and meets Mrs (or Miss) Egg somewhere along his travels and the two unite in contented harmony before gestating into a living human child..

I’ve always marvelled at how short sex can be and yet result in a nine-pound child. It’s kind of like paying ten pence for a fifty quid trolley of shopping and having change and a handful off 50pence off coupons for next time. Amazing. So don’t worry if your partner takes four seconds on a good day and you can only manage it at 8.30pm because ‘ER’ is on at nine. Mr Sperm and Mrs (or Miss) Egg are pretty good at finding each other. Just like you and your other half did once upon a romantic time, long before you were raising your legs five feet above your head after sex to trap that precious sperm and ensure a baby is made.

I tried this once while my husband and I were ‘creating’ our youngest daughter Katy. My sister rang me at that precise moment. I explained to her that if I sounded muffled it was because my legs were raised so high on the settee I looked like I was the star of some cheap porn shoot. I could only just reach the telephone. She didn’t stay on for long.
We now have a cordless. Get one while making babies. Makes life (and sex) easier. In fact after all the sex (what a chore this baby-making lark is) a cordless phone is great to talk when the baby arrives. You can feed them while chatting about sore backsides to Aunty Mabel in Australia, make bottles while ordering from the catalogue, rock them while talking to friends at work.

The act of having sex however is in no way indicative of parenthood…maybe as messy but you can go to sleep afterwards if you desire and continue to sleep undisturbed until morning unless of course you fancy it again. (And by the way enjoy it… you’ll probably lose interest when your vagina is the size of Manchester and your breasts like rocks of granite.)

Being a parent doesn’t begin with morning sickness and tiredness either. However this is a good indication of what lies ahead if you multiply it by ten and add weepiness, soreness and a strange elation that clouds it all. It’s this elation that, like cotton wool, buffers us from the shock of it all. One look at new baby and you float. But that’s for later; technically we haven’t even made a baby yet…

Being a parent doesn’t begin when your once neat tum swells slowly to the size of a hot air balloon squashing aside organs in the process and tearing clothes like David Banner turning into The Hulk. Fortunately you don’t have to turn an evil shade of green in the process, only red when the stretch marks appear.

Be prepared. They can attack at any time and they aren’t restricted to the poor old tum. Breasts and thighs are also a much sought after vacation spot for Cruella De Stretch Mark. And they usually stay for a long time though they do eventually turn white. Well, after thirty years…

At least your swollen tum kind of deflates once junior departs but it’s never quite the same. Get used to these extra pounds as they’re a bugger to shift after the birth. Still they make a nice cushion to rest babies head on, infact your own at times, and often your partners if it was his turn to do the three hourly feeds the night before.


Being a parent doesn’t even begin when the new infant squeezes its impossible way out of your vagina and complains in a high-pitched squall. For some insane reason you will greet this horror with tearful enthusiasm and open arms. (Believe me, this is the only time you’ll ever greet that crying with such joy. Your tears later will be ones of frustration, confusion and sheer panic. However they will not be as loud as that newborn squawk.)
Hearing your new baby cry is one of the best sounds you’ll ever experience. People without children might insist that the best sound is the cheering crowds at a football game when England beats Germany. Or hearing Madonna live at Wembley. Or the engine of a brand new BMW turning over. But they are wrong; you can’t explain it to them unless they witness their child being born so don’t waste your time.

Still this is not the exact moment you really become a parent though it feels very much like it.

No to me, being a parent really begins when the midwife carries your bundle out of the hospital as you follow in fairy steps so that your uterus doesn’t fall out and spoil the polished floor and your husband/partner/mother carries the fifteen bags, wilting flowers and bunch of balloons out to the car behind you. You climb pensively into the vehicle avoiding too much impact between perineum and seat (unlike the way you grunted and panted out of it only two or three days previously) and the bundle is strapped by husband/partner/mother into the stiff new fluorescent car seat. You fasten the seatbelt ever so gently around your waist, especially if you had a caesarean, and check twenty times that your new baby is comfortable. The car positively groans under the weight of bags and child and parents and nappies and post-birth water retention. Still it manages somehow to pull away.

And this is the moment of raw terror. This is the moment you are a parent. It can only be compared to jumping off a cliff. You are going home with this pink mewling sprog. Alone. (If you’re going home with your mother you’ve probably got a slightly better chance of survival than if it’s with an equally terrified partner or husband who holds the baby like it is fashioned from porcelain. Some hold them like a rag doll, it all depends on the moment/practise/size.)

As the car pulls away from the hospital entrance the midwife waves. It’s like a scene out of ‘Titanic’ - except it’s worse. Far worse. Any fool can swim. What are life jackets there for? But to look after a baby – that’s scary. You’re on your way home where there are no midwives or nurses or doctors to advise, soothe or take baby to the nursery overnight so you can get maybe three hours sleep. There’s no ruddy-faced mother-of-ten in the next bed cradling her triplets and insisting it’s a doddle and you won’t know you’ve got him. There are no endless visitors to fight over baby like a ‘pass the parcel’ giving you chance to drink your tea.

None of the ten hundred childrearing books you devoured while pregnant mentioned the utter feeling of helplessness when you arrive home.

I remember arriving home with my first son Conor. I was fortunate enough that it was with my mother who had a vague clue, having had four of her own. But I was unfortunate enough to have had a two day labour, a large baby and be barely out of my teens.
So you would think the second time, with nine years under my belt, a great husband as an added bonus and some experience it would be a walk in the park. More like a walk in the wilderness without any water or maps.
I remember getting home from the hospital and standing in the middle of the living room with new baby Katy in her Moses basket assessing exactly what mischief she could get up to and a hospital bag the size of Africa to unpack and no milk in the fridge and my husband and I just looked at each other and our eyes said it all.
What do we do now? Just what the hell do we do now?

You see babies are really good in the hospital. Another thing baby books don’t mention. Well, they’re not going to show themselves up in public are they? On the maternity ward they sleep and feed and sleep and burp and occasionally open their eyes in a sleepy Marilyn Monroe sort of way. They smile (it’s definitely smiling and not wind) at the visitors and lay in their arms peacefully. They’re just saving the fun and games for later when you’re on your own with them.

Because that’s when being a parent begins. At home. On your own. And nothing can prepare you.

But then nothing can prepare you for the unbelievable, indescribable, insane rush of love when you smell that fuzzy head, count those tiny toes, hear the snuffly whimpers as baby sleeps and dreams whatever babies dream. Nothing can prepare you for how proud you feel, how contented when baby sleeps in the nestle of your arm, how needed when they root for your nipple or the teat. Nothing can prepare you for the love. Not a book, not a film, not a description by another mother. Nothing.
Because that’s when your lifelong relationship with this new person begins and being a parent is just secondary…










 
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dalante

It's so touching. The feeling of going back home with your child is so well described (I am not a parent, but I was really moved by your words because you made me understand it so well). I like the "write it like it is" style.

Hope to read more.
 

Loulou

WF Veterans
Thank you guys for your comments. I shall put up the first chapter when I sort it out. But thank you for the time, and appreciation.
 

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