Diary of a Mum: (2) Finding Mothercare Challenging

Wanted: 33-year-old woman, about 5ft 5ins-5ft 7ins tall, last seen in an Alfa estate car (with roof box), flashing at young boys. Do not approach her. She’s a new mother and liable to flip in a hormonal sleep-depraved frenzy. Claire Bates is finding motherhood ‘challenging’……..

Ok, so I’m lying there on the bed, my damp, wide-eyed four-hour-old son is by my side. And then it hits me. The most incredible pain. I’m convinced this is it. I’m about to leave Number Two, and his older Brother, motherless before they’ve even met. I panic.

I haven’t told Bloke that I spilt Chardonnay on the will – and worse, I’m wearing paper knickers. I start fantasising about standing at the Pearly Gates and being refused by Peter because of a new dress code that doesn’t include underwear made by Kleenex.

If I could just reach the help button, everything would be fine but that bitch of a midwife who insisted on showing Bloke how much I’d filled my catheter bag has hung it too far away. Post C-section, with absolutely no control over my legs and with stomach muscles even Vanessa Feltz would turn down, it’s a mission impossible to reach it. And then in he walks – Dr Love. “Is everything all right in here Mrs Bates?” he asks gently. Desperately trying to pull the sheet over my disposable drawers, I smile back, hoping he has a penchant for women in comedy pyjamas with serious bed hair. I tell him I’ve a terrible pain in my abdomen and ask if it’s one of the usual side effects of a Caesarean.

He pulls his stethoscope from across those broad, strong shoulders and has a listen to my belly. “Nah, love – wind. You’ve got a right old build up in there. Have you tried peppermint tea?” And with that, he was gone.

Like I mentioned on these pages last time, dear reader – there ain’t nothing glamorous about pregnancy or birth. Having said that, the C-section was textbook and I felt like a proper Posh Spice with a team of six or so all staring into the gaping hole that was once my stomach.

Not so showbiz that they obliged with a tummy tuck though. I now have an apron, an attractive ‘overhang’, that wasn’t there before. When I had Number One, albeit naturally, within a day I was back in my size ten jeans and flouncing around the hospital ward musing loudly that I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. I don’t remember anyone calling me a stupid cow….

But now, whether it’s because it’s my second, or whether it’s because our local chippie is about to float on the Footsie thanks to my custom, I now have a papoose – and I didn’t get it in Mothercare.

Mind you, my massive boobs kinda compensate and at least keep me in some sort of bizarre proportion. Not that I think of them as breasts anymore. So perfunctory has the act of breastfeeding become, that I now answer the door to the postman with Number Two doing his best Maggie Simpson impression. Worse, postie no longer even sneaks a peek!

Not so, the two spotty teenagers who got a surprise showing in Winchester the other week though….

Bloke and I decided we needed to overhaul our diets, start eating food that’s come out of the ground and better still, support our local producers, so we went along to the Hampshire Farmers’ Market in Winchester. Likewise, the rest of Hampshire. So, we sat for what seemed like days crawling around layer after layer of the world’s smallest, most ridiculously laid out multi-storey car park with Number One whingeing, Bloke being Bloke and Number Two practising the cry that he usually only saves for 3am, ie, the RIDICULOUSLY LOUD ONE.

Given that we are in a car park, moving nowhere and likely to be there until well after Farmer Barleymow and crew pack up and leave, I take the bairn out of his car seat and attach him to the boob.

Being a boy, he’s never happy with one and has to have Pudding Boob too, so I went for the changeover, only to glance up and see two pairs of adolescent eyes, blinking disbelievingly from the side window of souped up Escort XR3i next to me.

Of course, I then realise they can’t see Number Two as he’s below the window line and as far as they’re concerned the woman next to them is sitting there with her baps out for no good reason. I smile at them. For some reason lifting Number Two up to make it clear I’m not just some middle aged desperate flasher doesn’t enter my head.

Poor boys. Hours later we emerge bedraggled and forty quid lighter, from a windswept farmers’ market with three jars of cauliflower and cranberry (or something) chutney, some venison we’ll never eat and an eight foot (or something) trout.

All useful, except we forgot we have a new baby and it’s the law to eat only things that take less than four minutes in the microwave, washed down with cold cups of tea. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love being a mummy, but “mother-of-two” just sounds so ridiculously old.

During the wee hours, feeding the wee one, there’s not a lot else to do apart from listen to Bloke groaning and consider my advancing years. Number Two is two months old now, so with boob one and pudding boob to drain every night at 4am, that’s a whole lot of contemplation.

Realising that by month three I will have managed to convince myself all that is left are Saga holidays and Citroen Xantias, I decide Bloke and I need a night out.

We deploy Grandma and Grandad, dig out our best, trendiest young people’s clothes (oh God) and hit the town.

Naturally, by 10pm, we’re both shattered, dribbling into our wine and shifting uneasily on the ridiculously uncomfortable stainless steel bar stools. Thank heaven the pregnancy piles have subsided. All the brave talk earlier of going clubbing has faded. We give in.

Standing outside the stupidly fashionable bar under the ultra violet lights, we wait in the rain for our stupidly expensive cab (they never cost that much in our day). A group of teenagers walk by and laugh out loud at Bloke’s pink jumper. We caught the words ‘grandad’ and ‘nice colour’ before they laughed like drains.

I couldn’t resist sniggering. In fact, I collapse. Bloke was really proud of his new sweater. I’m laughing so hard, I don’t see the huddle of hoodies now pointing at me. I think I caught the words ‘hooters,’ and ‘freak’ before I catch on and look down.

The UV lights have nicely highlighted my breast pads under my white top Very cool.

Taxi for Bates!……