Thursday, 10 November 2011

old wives' tales

I tell you what. Pregnancy doesn't half let you in for a load of old crap. No, I'm not changing nappies yet. Instead, I'm talking about the motley collection of old wives' tales, superstitions and rubbish that people suggest could possibly have some impact on the gender of your baby.

The gender of an unborn is of great interest to the wider world. Of course, some people have preferences for what they end up with. We're not too fussed. After all, whatever it is, it'll end up playing with Lego. I would mildly like to have a crack at parenting a girl, having had a boy. Mon Geek would mildly like to have a son. Neither of us are fussed. We just want a healthy baby. Come the scan (three weeks and counting down), and provided our child has no objection to doing a full frontal close-up while still in the womb, we'll look forward to finding out for sure. Meanwhile, however, there are lots of suggested ways to find out.

So far, 7 people think I'm having a boy, 2 think I'm having a girl, and my mum and eldest brother have some sort of sweepstake on and won't tell me what they think. Neither Mon Geek nor I have any feeling that it might be a particular sex. I've had two dreams about the baby, in one of which it was a boy and in the other of which it was a girl. So we're no help. I tried four baby gender predictors on different websites as research for this post (the things I do for you, honestly). Two said it was a boy and two a girl.

So I delved deeper. The people who come up with these things are deranged. That's actually the only firm conclusion I could draw. It suggested I look at all kinds of things including the colour of my wee and how fast my leg hair grows as opposed to before I was pregnant. So, actually "they" (whoever "they" are) are deranged AND intrusive, getting a kick out of asking total strangers about urine and leg hair. Freaks.

And some of these superstitions are nuts. Special points go to the people that think if you crave chocolate, you're sure to be carrying a girl, and if you want crisps and cheese it's a boy. I haven't had many cravings yet - except for cheese, ice cream and milk, which coincidentally are all the things I crave when premenstrual. Possibly something to do with the same hormones being active? Well, possibly. I also like the people who look at how high you're carrying your bump. Umm, I am five foot tall and overweight (this is not a bad thing, I'm placing no value judgment on myself, I'm stating a fact). My bump is *always* going to look high.

Swinging a needle over my bump told me I was going to have a boy. The fact that my hair looks like a bird's nest told me I was carrying a girl. In fact, if you're carrying a girl, you're supposed to look worse and more knackered than you did before pregnancy. Which I do...maybe because I'm undertaking a three-hour daily commute door to door, studying for a qualification which involves two gruelling twelve-hour days in Birmingham each month, travelling regularly on business trips and, well, life. And suddenly I'm coping with pregnancy as well? Of course I'm not going to look dewy and fresh-faced. I look like a bear rudely awoken during hibernation and intent on killing the waker-upper. Which frankly is a fair reflection of my mental state.

And whether I'm married to Mon Geek will affect what we're likely to have? Umm, bollocks. I don't think for a moment that my having a pretty dress and some new finger bling is going to bring forth a rush of XY (or XX) sperm, which last time I checked was how baby gender gets decided. And if it did, well, to be honest, I'd worry. I'd worry badly.

About my dry cleaning bill.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

it's listening in

I am concerned. Apparently the baby I am currently gestating is now developed enough to hear sounds. The boy and I were looking forward to this point; the point where we could talk to our offspring and know that somewhere, deep within the bodily darkness, a tiny human no bigger than a pear would hear what we had to say...

That, of course, was before we realised just how much crap we talk.

You listen to yourself a bit more when you realise that someone is doing a spot of in utero eavesdropping. And when you listen to yourself, talking to your boyfriend, you hear conversations about:

- farting
- petty annoyances of the working day
- cake
- working men's club singers
- why Mon Geek will never, ever be allowed to have hair again (past mullet)
- what you'd cook if you were on Come Dine With Me
- threats to sell my pants on eBay for revealing Mon Geek as an ex-mullet

And more. Can our child be allowed to hear this stuff, liberally sprinkled with expletives ("WANK BUCKET!") and childish threats ("I'll blow my nose on your X-Men shirt")? I fear for its later conversational skills.

And what about all the other stuff? Crunching Monster Munch, heckling teative TV quiz Eggheads, snoring, attempting to imitate the morning call of a lar gibbon? Quotes from films that an embryo is way too young to watch ("I feel like a pig shat in my head")? Threats to one another concerning axes, rectal insertion and Z-list celebrities? Cries of "GO ON MY SON" while watching Man Vs. Food? Slagging off of bad '80s knitwear?

I am concerned. Maybe I live too adult a lifestyle to birth a child. Maybe my baby is already smirking at old REO Speedwagon videos, and laughing at its father's white-faced, jelly-kneed reaction when I threaten to give his phone number to Kim Kardashian. Maybe I'll have to learn to be quiet and well-behaved to an extent that would satisfy even the rigorous standards of Lady Whiteadder...

Nah. Fuck that for a game of soldiers. I'll shut up when it comes out. Till then, this is my time to be as riotously adult as I know how. Twister, anyone?

Monday, 7 November 2011

Wars of the Roses

Most parents argue about their children even before they're born. Names are a popular cause of pre-birth rows. My own parents were so completely unable to agree on a name for their first child (not me, by the way) that they ended up exhaustedly agreeing on the only name that they could think of that neither of them hated. I was proud to have dodged this particular bullet. Mon Geek and I agreed on names with the minimum of discussion. I felt that I was entitled to feel a little smug.

No more. For this week, we realised that our child will be half-Lancashire, half-Yorkshire. It will be a Tudor rose. It will be a cross between perky buxom Lancashire lass (think Gracie Fields) and dour old Yorkshire bumface (think Fred Trueman). And this hideous realisation that we have produced a Lancashire/Yorkshire hybrid child, who will be growing up in Nottingham, has led to many, many rows.

Will our child say "barmcake" or "breadcake"? Will it aim for holidays in Blackpool or in Filey? Will it crack a superb deadpan joke, or will - No, there aren't any Yorkshire comedians. Even Boyfriend can't think of any, thus proving my natural Lancashire assumption that the Yorkshire temperament is naturally grumpy and miserable. (Boyfriend, aided by Wikipedia, has just come up with Charlie Williams, which, but he's the only one either of us can think of.)

We finally managed to compromise on bilingualism. We will teach our baby some of the great and deathless words in both our dialects. From his, words like, "maungey" and "fettle" and "How do"; from mine, ""ginnel", "skrike", "sken" and "mither". Compromise is key. My baby may end up eating haslet, but at least this way, it'll be in a barm. With black pudding.

And dripping.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

bad to balloon?

I hesitate to do another pregnancy-related post, but I'm all womb-brained at the moment so here one is anyway. Suck it up, people.

EAT MUNG BEANS! GO TO THE GYM! DO YOUR PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES! DO YOU WANT TO BE FAT AND INCONTINENT IN NINE MONTHS' TIME?! I SAID, DO YOU?!!

That's what pregnancy feels like. It feels like doing a fifty-mile run up Mam Tor in a blizzard while being mercilessly yelled at by a sadistic marine of a midwife. All while you're in a state of permanent and total exhaustion and hungry enough to fry up your own arse for a midnight snack.

Seriously. This is a bit of a culture shock. I thought of pregnancy as a time to relax, be easy on myself, bask in the serene glow of my expanding girth and eat more or less what I wanted (within reason). Far from it. Suddenly, my health is everyone else's business. Magazines, midwives and mothers all tell me how I should try not to put on weight, should keep away from takeaways, should exercise. To which I reply, "I commute a total of eighty miles each day on public transport, working a 50-hour week every week. I am growing another head inside me and nothing fits anyway. I deserve bangers and mash once in a while."
"Nonsense," shouts the magazine/mother/midwife in a cod-SS screech. "You vill comply, you lardy bitch."
"Leave me alone," I weep, pregnancy hormones oozing from my eyes, as I craft myself a face mask and matching hat out of pizza.

I was overweight before I was pregnant. I can't diet now and nor would I want to. I'm eating OK for the most part (apart from the pizza hat) and I've been doing the Release Your Inner Trapped Wind Pregnancy Yoga Workout. I'm not smoking, drinking or investing in a giant crack pipe. Why am I suddenly satanic just because I fancy chow mein once in a while? Hmm? I'm sensing that something's blown way out of proportion here. It could be my thighs, but then again, it could also be their thinking.

I know my body isn't my own now, but the only other person it belongs to can't speak yet. And if they could, they'd probably say, "Thanks for the pineapple, Mum. And I don't think the melted cheese has stunted my growth, really."