Monday, 12 November 2012

Straw Islands and Losing Yourself

So I'm blogging at a rate which is, quite frankly, unsustainable but my little peanut is asleep and the washing up needs to be done so I have to procrastinate somehow. I mentioned travelling in a roundabout way in the last blog but well... if I tell you that I like to travel, that makes it sound like a cheerfully vague hobby, when in fact it's been a life-consuming passion for the last five years or so. For me, the hardest thing about finding out I was pregnant was realising that I may have to put some of my travel plans on hold and that I'd need to reprioritise a little. Hitching rides through third world countries with a little baby could be considered slightly... unsafe is probably the word I'm looking for. Stupid is probably the word you're looking for.

I've done a lot of things which at the time made me feel very happy. I've walked on islands made of straw in Peru, drunk green tea from the most ornate teapots I've ever seen in Japan, gotten lost in the raw noise and chaos of New York and Marrakech, spent hours browsing through incredible bookshops in Australia. I've danced (badly) in cities all over the world. But, honestly, the most beautiful thing I've ever seen is my baby's face. I wish I could send a message back to the scared, heavily pregnant me of three months ago. I wish I could tell her that everything will be alright because the most perfect little boy I've ever seen has given me some semblance of peace.

I wasn't joking. These islands are made of FREAKING STRAW.

That last paragraph is probably (no, in fact, DEFINITELY) needlessly sentimental so I'm going to interrupt the saccharine sweetness by exposing yet more of my terrible personality. As I mentioned in my last blog post (which just happened to be earlier today - what an eager beaver) my friend has also recently had a baby. I really like my friend and her baby is beautiful but, and this is a big but (haha! big butt), she appears to have given birth to her personality as well as her son.

It has LITERALLY disappeared. My attempts at making conversation crumbled into awkward silences wherein she would just stare at her baby in mute concentration. Please don't misunderstand me - I could (and regularly do) spend all day gazing into the face of my son. However, when I go and have coffee with a friend, I kind of expect both parties to talk and ask questions and at least feign interest. The only point at which she showed any animation was at this point:

Me: "We managed to get to the cinema for the first time yesterday. Mum looked after the baby for a couple of hours for us. It was lovel..."
Her: "I have NEVER left my baby. I just don't feel the need to, I enjoy spending time with him."

Firstly, that to me sounds unhealthy - her baby is nearly six months old. For Christ's sake give the  poor child a bit of breathing space. Secondly, the silent implication that I don't enjoy spending time with my baby makes me a tad cross. The fact that I've written this all down makes me a bitch right? Oh goodness. Yep I'm a bitch.

Now that I've achieved my aim of making everyone hate me by the end of every blog post I guess I should really get on and do the washing up. Sigh. Over and out.

Listening to: The Struggle by Scroobius Pip
Reading: Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas

Aztec Jumpers and Baby Sick

So I have to be honest. Getting pregnant was not part of the game plan, at least not for a few more years. The game plan was in fact, this:

Spend the summer in Mongolia and hope that my boyfriend will either come with me or stick around for when I get home.

But... y'know... even if he didn't. This would probably be enough to start the healing process.
Study harder than anyone has ever studied in the history of studying to get my degree finished (whilst I work full-time may I add) so that I can become a teacher and y'know... get all Dead Poet's Society on some kids' asses.

Generally continue my usual cycle of working, saving and travelling until hormones start to kick in (I figured this would probably happen in my early thirties) and I start to reproduce.

Instead, last December, having just turned 23, I suddenly thought: "Ooo, my boobs feel a bit funny." Cue panicked pregnancy tests, a full day of carrying the secret around with me - the only person in the whole world to know I was carrying a tiny little person around inside of me, or at least the potential of a tiny little person, and a scared conversation with my boyfriend who I had literally only just moved in with. Literally two months before. We're not talking about a long-term, very stable relationship here people.

And here's the paragraph where you find out I'm a terrible, horrible person. Until the point when I actually gave birth to our little boy and held him for the first time I really really didn't want to be a mum. I didn't want a baby at all. The comments box below is reserved for your vitriol ladies.

My friend fell pregnant a couple of months before me and the contrast between us could not have been any more marked. She turned, I swear, into Mother Nature overnight and became the most serene, glowing pregnant woman I had ever seen, as though her eyes had turned inwards and she could actually see her baby growing and changing within her.

Actual picture of my friend whilst pregnant.
I, on the other hand, turned into a kind of panicked, sweaty monster. My history of google searches consisted almost entirely of questions like, "Why don't I love my unborn baby yet?" "Will this love thing kick in at some point?" and, my worst fear from day one: "What if it never does?" Thank the LORD, the second I saw our little peanut the love thing hit me square between the eyes and eight weeks on, it intensifies every day.

But the whole experience of being reluctantly pregnant got me to thinking. It's a kind of taboo to admit that you're not enjoying every second of being pregnant and that (shock horror) you may not have actually connected with your baby. It's a taboo to say that, actually, this has really screwed up my plans. I wanted to go to Mongolia dammit! And yes, by having sex, whether you are using protection or not (we were by the way) you know that the possibility of falling pregnant is always there. But it doesn't change the shock of seeing those two lines on a pregnany test. It really doesn't.

I'm not saying that I regret a single thing, and I certainly don't regret having our little boy who I love more than anything. But having a baby is huge and scary and... well it means you can't wear skinny jeans for a while.

I'll be writing about music and films and things I love, as well as my little boy and the things we get up to together. My hope is that someone like me reads this and realises they're not alone, because goodness knows I felt pretty alone in my pregnancy.

Listening to: Love love love by Of Monsters And Men