Sceptimum

One sceptical mother (of two)

Archive for the month “March, 2013”

The waiting game – getting childcare before they get the vote

This morning I took a tour of yet another childcare centre and I have to tell you, it sounds lovely. Five meals a day, often made with local organic ingredients, prepared with far more care for nutritional balance than my own diet. Large airy rooms spreading out to shaded courtyards and grassy gardens, with lots of space to roam. Each child has napping space, toys to play with, and constant attention from adoring staff who are willing to do anything to keep them happy, up to and including nappy changing.

I could see the other mums in the group, all with bubs in arms, looking impressed too. It all sounded idyllic right up until the Centre Director mentioned to the waiting list.

“So, we have sixteen places for children under two-years-old here. And there’s 500 on the waiting list.”

There was a thunderstruck pause. “Sixty?” asked one mum hopefully, as she jiggled her fretting baby.

“No, sixteen.”  the director clarified.

One woman piped up, “I’m looking for a space in January 2015, so I’m okay, right?” She instantly earned a whole heap of hate from the other women there, babes-in-arms, who had just realised that their chances of going back to work or just getting some sleep had gone as tits-up as Lindsay Lohan’s career. But the director looked helpless and shrugged. “Maybe. We really can’t guarantee. We have a long waiting list.”

No shit. About as long a teenage boy’s celebrity-fuck wish-list, and with about as much chance of getting in from what I can see. The whole morning was like being given a glimpse of what life could be like for you if you were Ryan Gosling’s girlfriend, before being informed of the odds on ever even meeting him.

I wasn’t surprised; I’ve been around a few centres now and they all advise you to sign up for as many as possible in the hope of getting a place. Given I’m just a little pregnant – and could just be fat, let’s face it – I get confused looks from the other Mums present. As soon as the insanity that is the waiting-list gets mentioned though, it all makes sense, and I get glares instead.

This toddler is crying because she has been told she has left it too late to sign up her own children into childcare.

As a general guideline you can sign up for a waiting lists for a small fee whenever you want. I found one that will only accept women who are pregnant (but didn’t, thankfully, demand I pee on a stick there and then) but some will pop your name down, no questions, in the complete absence of any impending child. In many cases it can take 3 years to work up to the top of the list, if you ever do – I have one friend who was finally offered a space for his daughter on the day she started school at age 5. So if you’re considering children, it actually makes sense to sign up before you throw away the birth control.

The system in New South Wales is that childcare has to prioritise those who need it most; single parents, families on very low incomes, children with disabilities. Which is good and laudable and all that, but means that a working couple on a good income in Sydney’s lovely but overcrowded Inner West have about as much chance of getting the place they want – for the days they want, from when they want it – as I do of becoming Australia’s next Top Model.

I’m not sure why the various centres bother with the tours and trying to impress us as we have about as much real choice in the matter as Americans do when voting. You can want what you want, but you’ll get what you get, and I have every intention of grabbing any spot I am offered with both hands and my bared teeth. If there’s a space available – and the centre doesn’t use the words “gulag” or “penal” in the name – The Child will be going in.

In fact, given how nice the various childcare places seem and the relative dreariness of old folks’ homes, I think I’ll book myself into childcare for my old age instead. Five decent meals a day, lovely surroundings, constant available staff and my nappies changed for me? Sign me up.

And if I sign up now – about 35 years in advance – who knows? I might actually make it to the top of the waiting list by the time I need it.

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I’m not fat, I’m… well, fat.

I’m 16 weeks in and I don’t look pregnant enough.

Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a “I wish to bodypaint my tummy with spirals and run around rejoicing in the womyn-ly* curves of my mystyryos* lyfe-bestowing* belly” thing.  I’m just sick of being too big to look good but too small to be pregnant.

Rejoice in my belly, bitches!

This is mainly my own fault for knowing how best to hide my beer gut. As a natural apple shape (or as I see it, a beer barrel) who likes her food and drink (also a cheese barrel) my abs have been missing in action since my early 20’s. I’m an Australian size 14 (that’s about a UK14-16, or USA10-12) and most of my clothes are a little loose on the waist and designed to skim gently over my porkier areas.

So, at 16 weeks in, I’ve just edged out of my normal clothing comfort-zone and pushed into the “maybe you should try the next size up”. Which is great in some ways, as I haven’t needed maternity gear yet, but crap in others as I just look like I have really let myself go**. I keep catching sight of my tubby tummy and thinking “you need to lose weight!” and then remembering that I only get to lose weight in 5 months after some of it has ripped its way out of my vagina.

And it turns out I was completely wrong about my expectations of weight gain during pregnancy. I figured, if I was looking at a 3kg(7lb) baby, plus a little extra for placenta and fluid, then my probable healthy weight gain should be about 5-6kgs. I was off by about 100%. The average recommended weight gain is 11kg to 16kg (25lb to 35lb) and, even for someone who is already over-weight like me, they recommend gaining between 7kg and 11kg (15lb to 25lb).

Where the hell does all that extra weight go? As it turns out, a lot of weight in infrastructure, and the child itself is about a quarter of the gain.

kgs pounds
The actual baby weight. Skinny damn baby in a huge fucking house, I tell you. 3.3 7.3
The placenta (do not eat, no matter what people say). 0.7 1.5
Amniotic fluid – like a bouncy castle for your kid! 0.8 1.8
Muscle layer of uterus (womb) growth as it Hulks up in preparation. 0.9 2
Blood volume increase (about 20%) making you fecking boiling hot at room temperature. 1.2 2.6
Retaining ALL the water – lots of extra fluid. 1.2 2.6
Boobs! Pass Go, go up a cup size. 0.4 0.9
Does my fat look fat in this? Some extra fat for breast-feeding stores. 4 8.8
Total extra weight 12.5kg 27.5lb

All in, that’s an expected gain of about 12.5kgs, of which only 4kgs are actual fat.

It’s one hell of lot of belly to get used to, mind.  I have read various admonitions that I should be fine with, or actively rejoice in, my change in shape.  If being curvy is so bloody womanly, how come no one ever told me to embrace my beer belly, hmm? Where the fuck were “the feminine is a curve” people when I went to the USA for 4 months and gained 5kgs in beer and grease weight? Well?

And truth be told, while I am a long way off doing a Demi Moore and posing naked (you can all breath a sigh of relief), I’m not that fussed about the gain. I’ve put on about 2-3kgs and there’s more to come. It’s for a good reason and I’ll cope fine with looking pregnant. Once I finally look pregnant and not just plain old fat.

* It’s more mystical if you misspell everything, apparently. I know this because of my Wimmin’s Intuition

** Please note: I’m a firm believer that you should work with your shape and your health, and know that size 12-14 is my fit-and-happy weight. Over that, I start to look and feel bad. I’m not saying it’s everyone’s ideal. Whatever size you are, provided you are happy with it and think you look good, more power to you.

“Fun” ways to announce your pregnancy

We’re now hitting the point where we need to tell people there’s a child on the way. I am so not ready for this. I am a chronic over-planner and stage-manager so in an ideal world we wouldn’t tell anyone until a month after the whole thing was over and we had a child to show them in a, “And here’s one we made earlier!” style.

But, at 15 weeks in, I’m getting to the point where my usual fat pants are becoming slim-fit, my dietary restrictions ruin every dinner invite and I’m running out of excuses to avoid alcohol. (“I’m on antibiotics.” “I’m ill.” “Fuck it. I’m a recovering alcoholic who has converted to Islam.”) The families have been told, a few mates are in the loop (hi guys!) and my boss has the heads-up, so it’s time to started spreading the news.

But how to tell people? The flat-out “I’m pregnant”? Or the coy “we’re expecting” –  but expecting what? Mail? Santa? That Keith Richards will be made pope?  I could try  “there’s a bun in the oven”, but that risks disappointing friends who were hoping for baked goods.

So I googled for ideas and, as always with everything pregnancy-related in the internetz, found endless amounts of totally-fucking-unhelpful crazy. Here are just some of the “fun” suggestions:

http://katersart.deviantart.com/art/Here-s-Johnny-188786758

Or you could carve your way in through the door and scream, “…I’m PREGNANT!”

  1. Install an infant’s car seat in the back seat of your partner’s car and see how long it takes for him to notice.  Or, you know, he could decide you have kidnapped and murdered a child and he’s next on the list. Or he has stolen a car identical to his. Or you have finally fucking snapped and require a refreshing break in a mental ward. The possibilities are endless, frankly.
  2. Video the result of your home pregnancy test, upload to YouTube and send the link to loved ones. If you really love them, would you send them a video of you dipping sticks in your pee? What if they are eating at the time? Does this really sound like a “fun” idea for anyone who doesn’t have some really specific fetishes?
  3. Invite people over for dinner and bring out a platter of baby foods jars and sippy cups of apple juice to wash it all down. Why wait until after the birth when you can alienate your friends with a complete inability to manage anything adult now? (This is also a great way to tell your boss.)
  4. Put a bun in the oven and when your guests arrive, open the oven to show them what’s inside and say , “Look what we’re cooking! What is that?” And they will say, “A bun. Moron.” and look at you oddly until you explain.
  5. Ask your partner to get the milk out of the fridge for you but instead of the regular milk jug, leave a breast pump or a can of baby formula in its place. Like suggestion 1, but with the added advantage of putting them off their morning beverage, and your cooking, near indefinitely.
  6. Have restaurant waitstaff bring out a special wine list where the only selection is a vintage from the year your baby is due with a description like “a unique blend of the very best of a special couple.” Are you just trying to turn everyone off food and drink? Because it’s fucking working. And the waitstaff is probably pretty nauseated too. And a vintage from the year the baby is due is either going to be a) impossible for most of the year or b) vinegar. That said, I do admire the passive-aggressiveness inherent in this one. “Want wine? Fuck you, if I can’t drink alcohol you’re not even allowed read the wine list in peace. Fuckers.”

In the absence of the urge to purchase car seats and breast pumps, or to send videos of my pee to those I love, I will probably just go with a simple, “I’m pregnant”. Although I may add “bitches” at the end. Just, you know, to make it “fun”.

As an aside on announcing things, a few people I know in real life are reading this (hi guys!), and have asked if will I go public and pop my name on this blog. The answer is no. While I have no shame and no issue tying my name to my words, given this blog is going to contain a lot of anecdotes about both Himself and The Child, I’d rather not tie their good names to what will doubtless be the giggling, ranting and swearing of a sick and sleep-deprived brain.

So, while if you know me it’s obvious who this is (and I don’t mind people referring people on) I’ll be keeping names firmly off this site. I’d rather not have any of The Child’s prospective friends/partners/employers google their name to discover naked bath-time photos and detailed descriptions of their bodily functions.

That, and threatening to go public will probably be a brilliant way to get them to tidy their room occasionally.

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