The problem with listening to nursery rhymes

Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O
That’s not how you spell farm.
And on his farm he had a cow, E-I-E-I-O
One cow, huh? Some farm.
With a moo moo here and a moo moo there
Is he feeding the cow? It seems to want some attention.
Here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo moo
I don’t know a lot about farming, but that cow sounds pretty upset.
Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.

Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.
Yes, you said.
And on his farm he had a pig, E-I-E-I-O.
Why does he have a pig? Why doesn’t he get another cow? What is he expecting the cow and pig to do, get together and breed horses*?
With a oink oink here and a oink oink there
Oh come on, MacDonald.
Here a oink, there a oink, everywhere a oink oink
Feed your goddamn animals!
Old MacDonald had a farm
Until he got reported by the RSPCA and now he’s barred from keeping animals for life.

Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop, when the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall…
Okay, this whole thing is clearly a terrible idea. I have a better version.
Rockabye baby, never you fear,social services are on their way here
Your parents, quite frankly, need straight-jackets hugs, as we strongly suspect they’re on hardcore drugs.

Hey, diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon…
You know what? You guys are way too high for me. I’m out.

* If you get this, you too have watched too much Red Dwarf and we should be friends.

Write your birth plan on your vulva, Mila (it might get read that way)

According to recent interviews Mila Kunis has firm views on who gets to see her in labour. She’s allowing her doctor and Ashton Kutcher, and Ashton is only allowed if he stays firmly away from the business end.

Mila - this is not the end of you most people will be looking at during your labour.
This is not the end of Mila everyone will be looking at during her labour.

“Two people are allowed in my delivery room. My doctor and my significant other. And he is staying above the action. He’ll be head to head. Not head to vag. Unless he wants to risk his life and see. But I wouldn’t if I were him. I highly doubt he wants to see that being ripped apart and shredded. Because it will be shredded. It’s just a matter of how badly.”

Many sites, including where I saw this story, are asking if Mila should be worried about her partner watching her bits get “shredded”. I am mainly worried that she may think it’s possible to give birth with an audience of just two people, no matter how hilariously-presented and firm her birth plan is. And that’s assuming people reads the damned thing in the first place.

Her doctor will read their birth plan. It is, after all, what they’re paying him for. And perhaps Mila’s labour will be short enough (and her wallet large enough) to persuade her doctor to stay for the whole process. I doubt it though; doctors usually leave the painful tedious hours of cervix dilation to the midwives, and then rush in at the actual emergence of the baby. It will often be several different midwifes, even without shift changes, so the person sticking their finger up your fanjo to check dilation will often be a completely different person to the one who did it an hour previously. Will they all have read the birth plan? Will they bollocks.

So that’s probably your partner plus three people having a good long look at the business end. Want some mild drugs? That’ll be another person in the room. Want the good drugs? That’ll be an anesthetist and possibly their assistant. That’s plus five. Doing it in a hospital? Expect a nurse or five. And some catering and cleaning staff. And people to operate specialised machines. And, if you get really unlucky, some student nurses and doctors. That’s… that’s plus LOTS. There is a good chance there’ll be more people at the birth of your baby that at their first birthday party.

My labour was a fast and straight-forward affair and there was still 13 people present in the room when my daughter was born. Waters broke at 6am, hit the hospital at 8am, c-section completed by 10am. It didn’t even encompass one change of working shift but I still had so many people packed in there it felt like student party in a small flat (complete with drugs and people freaking out). And all of them were having a good gander at the business end. If I’d written “hello, nice to meet you” on my vulva, I’d have saved myself most of the talking I had to do.

Honestly, I’m not even sure who half of the thirteen people were. There was me and my husband (in ridiculous little red hats to mark us out so no one would do something silly like pass us a scalpel or ask us to hold the intestines). There was my surgeon and his nurse, and my anesthetist and his nurse, and a midwife and some other midwife and that’s only eight accounted for… look, I don’t even know why the remaining people were there. They could have been vital medical staff. They could have been the cleaners. They could have been a tour group in from China and desperately lost on their way to the Opera House. I have no idea. All I know is that, for a significant amount of my stay in the hospital, there was a real chance that people would recognise my vulva better than my face.

I was told to write a birth plan. I didn’t. Thankfully absolutely no one checked or I would have been making excuses like “my early labour ate my homework”. I did discuss various options with my partner, so he knew what to push for if I was out of it, but I had nothing in writing. I have no regrets – long birth plans are, I am convinced, only recommended to stop pregnant women from nagging the staff about inconsequential details so they can get on with delivering a healthy baby. Want the father to catch the baby? Sure, if it’s possible. Want whale music? You’ll need to bring it and something to play it on and someone to press the button but whatever. Want your medical staff to read a five page document on how birth should work when they have already delivered hundreds of babies? And think you’ll only need one person present? On your fecking bike, love.

Look, this is not Mila’s fault. The general portrayal of labour and childbirth is as far removed from the reality as the Kim Jong’s family album is from coverage of them in the international news. Before childbirth, mothers-to-be are fed a shite load of stuff about choices and empowerment  and all this hoohah about how you can choose to push your baby out your hahhoo. And then the baby decides to arrive and you realise all your lists and ideas are useless and you may as well just roll with the punches. Honestly, it’s a good way to set you up for actually having a baby – they don’t read the damned plans either. Not even if you write it on your bits.



Reasons I am the world’s worst mother (this week)

It’s six months in and I’m still terrible at this parenting gig. It’s not just that I’m a bit crap; it’s that babies change so much and so fast that as soon as you get to grips with one issue another five rear their (drooling and teething) heads.

Every new week with your newbown is a glorious and amazing chance to screw up even more badly than the previous one. Just some of  reasons I am the world’s worst mother (this week) include:

Your baby. Except Onslow’s not incontinent.

Trousers? Feck.

Someone at playgroup recently asked if 6 month old babies should still wear onesies. Opinions were divided; some people thought they were good for at home wear but not going out, others thought they were only acceptable as pyjamas.

…I had no idea this was a thing. I love onesies; they’re easy, fast and allow instant access to a nappy. Childzilla likes onesies as I don’t spend an age annoying her by faffing about at her clothes. Some days we don’t even make it to a onesie and she rolls around for the day in her nappy and a vest like a teeny incontinent Onslow Bucket. Childzilla will be in onesies and easy outfits until she’s old enough to tell me she dislikes them or until they stop making them in her size. And, as they make awesome adult onesies, that could be when she’s 90 and back in nappies again.

My dog is my baby monitor.

I could turn the real one on while she sleeps and I am out of the room. But there’s no point as the dog always notices the moment she wakes up and goes in to wag his tail ingratiatingly at her. Perhaps he is trying to entice her to play ball. Perhaps he is trying to make up for my terrible parenting. Either way, my first warning of the stirrings of Childzilla is always a vanishing dog.

Does this look like the face of a good mother?

I send my child to daycare…

I am completely unconvinced by parenting’s unofficial first rule, that Mother Is Always The Best Caregiver. The way I see it is – Childzilla could spend time with her sleep-depped and inept mother, me. I have no younger siblings or nearby cousins, little to no interest in or experience with other babies.

Or she could occasionally spend the day in daycare where the staff are trained professionals with years of experience who have also had some sleep in the last 72 hours.  I leave my child in occasional daycare with a light heart safe in the knowledge she’s surrounded by care, attention and far more toys than she has at home.

…and enjoy myself while she’s there.

The second rule seems to be that it’s only okay for mothers to spend time from their baby if they’re are not enjoying it. If your child is in daycare it’s because you must be weeping through your working day or undergoing invasive and uncomfortable medical tests or, preferably, both. No peace. No sleep. No breaks. If you are not actively suffering right, you are doing parenting wrong.

You know what I do when she’s in daycare? Whatever needs doing.  Some days that’s 2 hours frantic housework and a doctor’s appointment, and some days that’s a grocery shop followed by walking the dog and a lovely unrushed lunch.

Still less scary than the lyrics of Hush A Bye Baby.

I am ruining her musical taste with a steady diet of terrible and profane 90’s pop…

Childzilla loves to dance and I love to sing, so this should be an easy spot to pick up “Good Mother” points, right? Not when your sleep-depped brain can only remember songs heard while out drunk and clubbing in the 90’s. This week has been particularly bad – we’ve had gems such as I Like to Move It Move It. the Guinness dancing man advert sung entirely using the word “tequila” and endless repetitions of Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (the cover with Timmy Mallett).

…because I can not for the life of me remember the lyrics to any  appropriate stuff.

I can’t remember more than a few bars of nursery rhymes and tend to ad lib new verses as I go along. But the sleep dep appears to have turned off my inner censor. Yesterday I caught myself singing The Outhere Brothers, Avenue Q, and the lyrics “and if that diamond ring turns brass, Mama’s gonna buy you a piece of ass”. Oh dear.

I cheer myself with the thought that that’s still better than Hush A Bye Baby where you tell your child that they have nothing to fear from sleep other than plummeting to their death. Who the hell puts their child’s cot in a treetop anyway? It may not have been a stellar week here but at least I haven’t put Childzilla to sleep with the squirrels. Perhaps I’m not the worst mother out there after all.