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It’s been a long day. It’s been a tiring day. More than anything, it’s been a slightly disquieting day.

Because now, sat here writing to you, I suddenly find myself a Baptised Christian.

Yes friends you read that right.

“But Josie!” I hear you cry! “Are you not famous for your public and extremely vocal rejection of organised religion, favouring instead a more free-thinking, spiritually diverse discourse?”. Well, yes! Yes I am, person with a very eloquent way of putting it!

Ok, an involuntary Baptised Christian.

For today I went to a Christening.

Now I don’t like Christenings. As a non-Christian there is nothing more likely to cause me spiritual and philosophical discomfort, and internal pew fidgeting  than the Christening or Baptism of a baby. But, as my friends will keep insisting on producing gorgeous offspring, and as I love these friends and respect their choices, from time time I find myself attending one.

Needless to say, we didn’t have Kai Christened, opting instead to be the first of anyone we knew to write and conduct our own naming ceremony. Caused quite a few raised eyebrows amongst the elderly relatives but once they’d got over the misconception that it would involve some kind of elaborate goat sacrifice and women with bare breasts and names like “Ephinany Moon-Jewel” (it didn’t), it actually all went down rather well.

But other people? Well they like Christenings don’t they? It’s a big rite of passage for them and their child and a cause of much celebration and excitement and joy and silver plated trinket boxes. And that’s fair enough. So several times a year I force myself to swallow back my self-righteous opinions, put on something fancy, and… *deep breath*… go to church.

Today was one of those days.

So there we are. At church. Ant is resplendent in a badly pressed shirt and I am wearing make-up (an even rarer event than me attending church) and posh trousers with only a little amount of baby leakage on. And there are my lovely friends. H looking beautiful and radiant with an adorable new-mummy glow, and her precious new baby breaking all records for unbelievable cuteness and prettiness and making me rethink the whole “I’m not ready for another baby” with just a few heartbreaking smiles.

Kai has been miserable with a cold the last day or two and was not on best form, starting to whinge and squirm within a record ten seconds of the service beginning. So I quickly made a hasty retreat to the back of the church to the children’s play corner to observe the rest of the proceedings from afar whilst playing Thomas the Tank Engine Goes Large and Liturgical (very very quietly) .

And it’s all going ok! Kai’s only had one minor meltdown when a small child dared to look at him funny and I have done my usual trick of zoning out through the particularly irksome parts. Me and Kai did some half-hearted dancing and clapping to the hymn sung to the tune of the Flintstones just to show willing (Flintstones??! Yes really. Let no one say that church is not cool) and stood up to wave and smile at the important dunking moment.

And then it happened.

Young female vicar with a rather forced air of ‘hip and happening’ mumbled something about honouring all OUR Baptisms (a rather arrogant assumption if you ask me but there you go) and began prancing around the church waving a bunch of sticks spraying holy water all over the unwitting congregation (ironically if we’d done anything similar at Kai’s naming ceremony, no doubt all the ERs would have immediately condemned it as some kind of new age witchcraft tomfoolery!). Now I renounced my childhood Baptism when I decided that Christianity was no longer for me, (yep, I’m going straight to hell, but at least I won’t be going there a hypocrite!). So as hip vicar ambled her way towards me little did she know that she was approaching something of a clean sheet. Nope. No taint of Baptism here.

It took me a minute to figure out what was happening. First I saw my husband a few pews in front take an unsuspecting hit, and before I knew it, she was upon me. And upon Kai.

I saw Ant turn quickly round with a look of shock and apprehension on his face as he realised what was about to happen. He later told me in the car that he turned fully expecting to see a scene straight out of ‘The Bodyguard’ in which I, with a slow-motion NOOOOOOOOO! threw my unprotected body in front of Kai’s poor defenseless form to take the hit in his place, the holy water hissing as it hit my heathen skin. In reality, nothing quite so exciting happened, Kai (with more foresight than I) chose that moment to duck behind some soft play apparatus…

…but I wasn’t so lucky. No that’s right, I was blessed (and no, the water didn’t make a hissing sound as it hit me).

It was quite a shock I can tell you. Inadvertant baptism was certainly NOT on my lists of things to do that day.

But do you want to know what was worse?

Ant hurried over soon after looking pale and anxious (and a little damp) which I initially assumed was in anticipation of my inevitable (and probably vocal) rage over the whole affair.

But no.

Because as she feverishly sprayed the congregation, sitting, inoculously on top of the pew was a beautiful one-of-a kind hand-made piece of stationary I had crafted at the request of my friend for their after-Chistening Party. And now, held in Ant’s trembling hand was said piece of priceless creativity. Covered in water drops with the ink running in big blobs.

Unbelievable. Who knew church was such a dangerous place?

So what do you think I should sue them for first? The forced indoctrination into their religion? Or the ruined handy-crafts?

Either way, next time I’ll be sure to remember to wear my anti-baptism waterproof suit and keep my belongings in a zip-up plastic bag. Just in case it’s another Christening of the ‘spray-per-view’ variety.

 hh08pg52-85330

 

P.S. Congratulations H & D – despite the unexpected inclement indoor weather it was a lovely occasion and you both looked such a picture of pride and contentment (and L is LOADS prettier than all the other babies). Sorry we had to leave early – absolutely nothing to do with the accidental baptism and everything to do with a very tired, grumpy baby needing an early night! Love you loads x

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Rainy Day Play

rainy day

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So I think I’m quite away off being able to make any significant contribution to the fabulous “kids say the funniest things” category of mommy blogging. Which is disappointing really as they are by far my favourite posts to read.

But not to be outdone, and in order to try to prove to you that blogging about babies is JUST as funny and interesting as blogging about toddlers (completely not true by the way – I need Kai to start doing some more interesting things else I fear this blog may die a horrible stagnant death), and in case you meet Kai anytime soon, here is a handy translation guide to all things Kai-speak.

1. “og” and “gat” 

Otherwise known as “dog” and “cat”. Used to refer to anything vaguely resembling an animal. 

Usually proceeded by frantic pointing and often accompanied by a “ahhhhh” sound and a little beckoning gesture, which translates as “please come here and let me pull out great chunks of your fur stroke you”. 

2. The words are a new development but animal noises…pah well we’re an old hand at that one. We of course have “miaow” and “woof” but also “mooooooo” for cow (but think more ghost than bovine) and a new one for today “oooh oooh oooh” for monkey (although thinking about it I have always suspected Kai was more monkey than human so maybe it was just his inner-chimp revealing itself).

3. And while we’re on the subject of noises, well of course I have to include Kai’s party-piece. Following in his father’s footsteps of being able to do the most convincing formula-one car impression I have EVER heard, any mention of the word “car”, or the sight of one will immediately prompt an excited “BRRrrmmmMMMM” from Kai. In fact, so primed as he is to jump in with his impression I only needed to utter the sentance “I’m just going to write this card” the other day to start him brumming and brrring around the living room. No honey. CarD. Pay attention please.

4. “Book” and “Ball”

To be said beautifully, articulately and perfectly. When absolutely no one is around to bear witness.

5. “Da”

For Daddy. So far not even an inkling of a Mama. Ungrateful child.

6. “Bye Bye” and “Hello”

The former said mournfully as beloved “Da” disappears off to work, and to everything he no longer wants (usually right before it is thrown at me).  Accompanied by ultra-cute waving. Seriously. I defer even the most hard-hearted child-hating grump not to melt after one wave from my little fella. The latter said in the best middle class accent I could ever wish for and usually said with a question mark (“hello?”) when holding his toy phone/shoe/pig/dinner/anything in reach up to his ear.

And that’s it. So actually not very funny OR very interesting now it comes down to it.

But still enough to make me the proudest mama on the face of this earth.

You can go back to reading the funnier blogs now. Just check back here in another 12 months because given the way the baby bear already won’t shut up, I have a feeling he’s going to come out with some great one-liners.

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I am in total shock.

After our previous experiences with Kai and this sort of thing,  I had been anticipating complete meltdown at Kai’s 12 month booster immunisations today, packing all favourite toys to try and distract him and preparing for many hours of sobbing and cuddles. I even warn the nurse on entering that he has a tendency to be ” a bit of a drama queen”.

And guess what. He didn’t even cry. Not even a whimper. Just looked slightly confused then pointed at the door as if to say “right that’s that then. Lets go”. 

Who is this strange child and what have you done with my Kai?

The strange pod child is now home and playing happily with Mr Fireman #2, attempting a daring rescue of small purple elephant from my shoe. The dose of Calpol I prepared in advance sits redundant on the side.

Maybe I should take it? I certainly have a headache from all the stressing.

 

*POSTSCRIPT*

Phew! Within seconds of publishing the above, strange pod child took a tumble and gave his head the minutest of bumps. The agonising wails have only just stopped 5 minutes later (and that’s only because he’s having a get-better comfort feed as I type.) I think it’s safe to say that it’s the real Kai after all. Thank goodness for that.

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Ok, so it’s a normal morning in our house. Kai and I are playing, making all the farm animals kiss each other and the little construction people (yes I know, condoning bestiality to a one year old, good god my immorality knows no bounds – there may even been some bull on bull kissing action going on). We then get bored of all the kissing and decide to do some jigsaws instead when suddenly I have a LIFE CHANGING REVELATION!!! Yes. For once the capital letters and multiple exclamation marks are justified… (as is the dramatic pause… have you noticed I tend to do them a lot too?)

You see I’ve always been under the impression that I was a bit of a free spirit. My house is cluttered in a kind of hippy disregard for authority (and Pledge) kind of way, my clothes rarely match. I quite often go the entire morning not knowing what I’m going to have for lunch until just before when I will impulsively throw something together and go A-HA! Pizza toast! My friends would probably describe me as creative and pretty random, and I have always been rather proud of that.

But no. My revelation this morning proves that all this is but a facade, an illusion, and that beneath it’s dippy, slightly unkempt exterior lies a deeper, darker side to myself. One I am not so proud of.

I like order. And rules. And boundaries. And safe, predictable things.

I know. Isn’t is awful??

Yes, I know there were clues. The pregnancy file and labour sign were probably two biggies. As is the fact that I frequently spend my evenings doing mathematics FOR FUN as a way of preparing for my degree in the autumn, and that I mark my own answers with large self-satisfying ticks while saying things like “algebra really is brilliant you know”.

And yet this morning still came as something to a surprise to me when my ability to embrace all things chaotic and random was tested and found severely wanting. Not only was a perturbed, I was positively DISTURBED.

By what? Well, by the following:

DSCF3352

By all extents and purposes a harmless, fun jigsaw. But no. Look closer people.

First it lulls you in to a false sense of security. “Oooh shapes and colours” you say. “I understand. One of each shape and one of each colour. Just as it should be. Look Kai lets put the orange circle in the orange circle hole” (good pagan child that he is, the circle is his favourite).

Spurred on by the reassuring logic your brain keeps going. Shapes and colours, yep, and oh look! Animals and counting! Perfect!

Two cats, three zebra, four dogs, four rabbits….wait…that’s not right… we have two fours? And hold on a second, where’s one? Ok I’m feeling a little shaken but I’ll keep going.

And then five. Which cored me to my very marrow. Five…what the hell is this?? Five AMOEBA?

What kind of devil jigsaw is this????

Deep breaths Josie. It’s just a bit of a disordered jigsaw. And that’s ok. We like disorder!

NO WE DON’T!! WE HATE IT! I need to my child’s toys to be predictable and apply the rule of logic! Else where will it all end? Alphabet books that miss out the M and Q?? Madness!!

I’M SCARED KAI!! All my so righteously held convictions are crumbling around me!!

………..

Needless to say I’m ok now. Kai held my hand through my angst, we finished the jigsaw and put it away.

But I fear a part of me has been changed forever. The curtain to my soul has been tweeked aside and for a second I have seen the darkness within.

Perhaps this is only the beginning of a deeper corruption. Today crying over jigsaws, what about tomorrow? Ironing my jeans? Voting Conservative??

*sob*

WHO THE HELL AM I??

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 So where was I? Oh yes, my contractions had stopped and started again. I had lost all hope of EVER having the baby and was sobbing for my mum, whilst simultaneously, in the future, I was sat eating Orios and watching something crappy on tv, while trying to ignore the incessant whining noise at my feet (i.e. the baby that, surprise surprise, DID come out in the end). So on we plod…

July 7th 6pm

Flashback: After pouring my heart out to my mum over the phone we decide to up camp and head off to chez Whitney-Cooper for some much needed TLC and a bath as ours is gnome sized and rather uncomfortable for those that are dimensionally challenged. We throw the labour bag in the boot just in case but I am seriously beginning to doubt that this baby will EVER be born. I’m serious. Maybe I just haven’t got it in me? Maybe my body just doesn’t know what to do and I’l be pregnant FOREVER? Ok, at least until they induce me/slice me open, neither of which I particularly fancy. Or worse – maybe I’ll just carry on having these (increasingly painful) contractions every five minutes for days and days and no-one will do ANYTHING?! (except tell me to have an early night and take some paracetamol).

We arrive at mum’s and I instantly feel a bit better. Mum runs me a bath, lights some candles, makes me a cup of tea and I have a long soak. I have to keep shifting position when a contraction comes though as lying on my back when one comes seems to amplify the pain by about a million. Ant sits on the loo and makes me laugh despite the pain and suddenly the world is all ok again. Did I ever mention I was a bit changeable in the mood department?

We make a deal. No more timing contractions. Well, me anyway. I had religiously recorded every one; doing nothing short of making a graph to plot their regularity (or lack of it). Time to relax a bit Josie. Time to recognise that maybe YOU’RE NOT IN CONTROL THIS TIME. I know. Shocker. And you never know maybe removing the giant stick up your butt might make room for the baby. Ant will surreptitiously keep track, but me, well I was just going to concentrate on riding this pain.

Because bloody hell. It’s hurting now. Hurting too much to stay in the bath. Hurting too much to do ANYTHING in fact although it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep still through out it all. I have an overwhelming urge to walk and change position and grind my hips in a kind of weird pregnant lady hula. Do you know what, I think I WILL have some paracetamol now…

So I walk, and lean, and contract, and do the hula. Shouting out “here comes another one” just as Ant mutters under his breath “any second now…”.

Is it just me or are they getting closer together?

Flashforward: I wipe up Kai after his tea. He has some pasta in his belly button (and, incidently on his hair/ears/neck/dad/cat – it was pasta bolognaise so our front room looked like something out of Saw 3) and it occurs to me… this is where he was attached to me. For nine whole months. And my belly button; that is where I was attached to MY mum. And so on, down the centuries in one glorious genetic chain of belly buttons. Every one before me a mother, everyone before me going through that same terrifying and wonderful experience of giving birth to another human being. Wow. I feel kind of special. I also can’t believe I’m having profound thoughts about belly buttons…

 

9.00pm

Flashback: Everything’s getting a bit blurry now. Pain seems to dance in front of my eyes and I realise I’m beginning to pant and groan more and more. My pacing and my hula hula dance is becoming more vigorous and rhythmic as I ride each new wave. Where on earth is that mooing noise coming from? Oh wait, it’s me.

I’m vaguely aware of mum and Ant whispering in the kitchen and periodically poking their head round the corner to ask if I’m doing ok. “I’m fine” I keep saying. “Stop talking to me” is what I’m thinking, just let me walk and moo in peace. At some point, they come to me and tell me that my contractions have been every four minutes for a while – maybe we should phone the hospital now? I nod and a quick phone call later and Ant is steering me into the car.

Time to go.

Flashforward: Kai is asleep for now and I sit surveying the twenty miscellaneous pieces of plastic and metal that should, with proper assembly (BY AN ADULT stresses the instructions – thanks for that) turn into Kai’s birthday Tricycle. I screw bits together, unscrew them again and turn them round, and screw them back together again.

At least making a baby didn’t require self assembly and an allen key. I have a feeling Kai wouldn’t have been half so well put together.

 

9.45pm

Flashback: We arrive at the hospital. Four minutes had turned into every three in the car (why why WHY did you have to live on a private estate with SPEEDBUMPS mother??! Did you not know that your heavily pregnant daughter would be contracting over every single one??). We park in a ‘do not park here’ zone and display my pre-prepared “Wife is in Labour” sign (no, I know what you’re thinking – it didn’t have an accompanying drawing or was laminated, I’m not THAT bad…).

The walk up to the ward seems to go on for miles but I’m determined to walk it. Stopping, SITTING, seems unthinkable. I just have to move move move. Finally we’re there. A bored looking midwife shows me into my room. MY room. The room on the midwife-led unit I had been so adamant to have, with it’s homely decorating and bean bags and Anne Geddes’ pictures on the wall. The room that I didn’t give two hoots about once I finally got there. It could have been a dingy back alley in the East End for all I cared as long as it had some gas and air.

At last some pain relief!!! Oh sweet Jesus thank you!  “You make yourself comfy dear” she tells me, “You’ve got a while to go yet”. Great.

Ant contemplates going back to the car for the bags but the midwife has disappeared and he doesn’t want to leave me, and pretty soon they’re forgotten. Relegated to the boot, my refreshing face spray and the rest about as useful in the end as that paracetamol I’d taken an hour ago.

The midwife finally arrives to examine me and to her surprise, and mine, I’m 8cm dilated. She tells me I’m nearly there but I don’t really hear her. I’m away on my gas trip. The room fades away and all that is left is my teeth on that cold, hard mouthpiece and the sound of mask as I breathe in and out, timing my gasps to take the edge off the peak of the contractions, coming fast and strong. I’m aware of Ant’s constant, calm reassurance, holding me through everyone but everything else just becomes a jumble of vague sound and light. I don’t think I’m even particularly conscious of the fact that my baby is coming. There is only this pain. This moment. All I can do is hold on.

Flashforward: I’m STILL building that frickin trike…

 

11.30pm

Flashback: At least I think it’s about that time, I’m having to rely on others’ memories now. I am pushing. The pressure has built to peak and now I’m pushing and pushing. My waters have finally popped with one huge gush. I moan and cry and shout and I don’t care. Even when that stupid cow of a midwife tells me I’m making too much noise I don’t care. Shut up b*tch I’m having a baby for Frick’s sake – just do your job and I’ll do mine.  After an eternity I begin to feel something slowly move down and push hard against me with each contraction, and finally, Kai’s head begins to crown. It is physically and mentally the most unbelievably hard thing I have ever done. What on earth was I thinking? Having a baby? Was I MAD? “I’m NEVER doing this again” I cry vehemently between contractions. Gas and Air is forgotten now, I need every bit of my concentration just to bear down and push. PUSH! With every contraction I push and push some more. Push so hard I think my back will break and my eyes pop out. Weirdly it’s not pain I’m conscious of. Just the sheer effort and physical endurance with the hot, burning feeling that only a 7 and a half pound babies head forcing it’s way through a MUCH smaller opening can produce. “Push!” Ant and the Midwife kept telling me “PUSH! You’re nearly there!”

Flashforward: I sit holding the small, hot form of my sleeping child. My head pounding and my body about ready to drop after nearly an hour of trying to get Kai back to sleep after his inevitable wake-up. Once again it is a mystery why he has woken up. Once again it is a mystery why he has so much trouble falling back to sleep again. It’s been a long day. It’s been a long year. A year of delight and joy and fun and laughter and more love and happiness than I ever thought possible. But also a year of incredible anxiety, and stress and frustration and sheer physical effort coupled with unbelievably little sleep.

The labour was the easy part, in hindsight.

But no matter what I said, I WOULD do it all again. A million times over for just one touch of my beautiful, precious boy. And not just the labour. Every broken night, every hour spent walking and rocking and feeding and coaxing Kai into some kind of sleep. Every minute of despair and hopelessness and doubt. I’d do it all. Naked. Covered in Bees (if only because it all seems to have gotten rather serious all of a sudden).

Because he is totally, irrefutably, worth it.

I gently lower him into his cot. He sighs and rolls over but thankfully is soon sleeping deeply again. Thank god for that.

 

July 8th 12.10am

Flashback: With one last almighty PUSH! I finally feel a release as Kai’s head comes out, pushing out the shoulders, and finally, with one long, glorious, blissful gush, the rest of him. He is lifted, red and crying and slippery and the most beautiful perfect sight I have ever seen, straight on to my chest where I hold him close and sob and laugh, looking up at Ant in relief and joy and surprise. My boy is here. My Kai.

I did it.

Flashforward: I roll over, away from the clock at which I have been staring, waiting, remembering. I listen to Kai’s breathing, slow and deep and peaceful. I close my eyes.

Happy Birthday Little Bear x

Two Hours Old

Two Hours Old

One Year Old Today!

One Year Old Today!

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