Sometimes I think I want to have another baby.
Then I think of elastic-waisted tights, nipple shields, years of sleepless nights, having to drag half the house along on every outing, the spirit-crushing repetitive boredom of ABC2, the hours spent wasted trying to fold the fucking giant pram so it fits in the car – and then waiting on the side of the road with a crying baby because you can’t ever work out how to do it.
Babies are adorable. I like them as much as the next person, with their squishy little bums, lack of kneecaps, and fat peachy cheeks. But the memories of epic inconvenience rush in.
Tonight, I’m putting up two old flashback posts that set back the cause of King family reproduction even more than the polka-dotted pink pyjamas/grey windcheater combination I’m wearing while posting them.
39 weeks, with Rufus
See here Jadeluxe pregnantus in the final weeks of gestation, pictured in rarely seen upright position. Note that at this stage, members of the genus closely resemble a sideways mountain with limbs and a head. See also the early development of unsightly stretch marks near the left hip, which cause much discomfort and aggravation for the subject. Her outer layers of protective clothing barely cover her swollen form and would provide little protection against outdoor elements. Which is why she always stays inside.
A Jadeluxe pregnantus in this condition would likely have stopped work some weeks ago and have ceased making any valuable contribution to society. She now spends her days in a state of almost total hibernation, resting horizontally and ignoring tasks members of the species are usually required to complete. She is thus an easy and rewarding subject to observe, with the outer boundaries of her habitat during this time consisting of the couch, the fridge, the bed and the toilet. She traverses the small area within these bounds in a slow and cumbersome gait more commonly seen in juvenile members of the mallard duck family.
Patient fanciers will note that Jadeluxe pregnantus generally rises sometime between the hours of 11am and 1pm and moves from her bed to the couch, where she watches the following schedule of programming: Blue Heelers, Rafferty’s Rules, the 4.30 News, Antiques Roadshow, Deal or No Deal, the 6pm News, Neighbours, Home and Away, and Australian Idol if it’s Monday night.
Astute observers will know that Rafferty’s Rules is actually a shit show and she usually only watches it until she hears someone say “Oh, Fulvio!” and views what the public prosecutor is wearing to court that day. She then turns off the television and dozes until 4.30.
Particularly rewarding for the observer are the eating rituals of this subject. Jadeluxe pregnantus has a well-developed rooting instinct and the bulk of her time (when not on the couch) is spent foraging in the kitchen for sustenance. She has a vast capacity for food and will eat half her body weight most days. Her diet follows no established pattern and seems constrained only by availability (i.e. how much time her already over-burdened mate has had to forage for her during the day). A day’s menu may include (but be not limited to) Special K with strawberries, Rice Bubbles with Milo, Corn Flakes with tinned fruit, Vita Brits with honey, almonds and grated apple, toast with Vegemite/peanut butter/jam, muesli bars, tinned spaghetti, soup, salad, chickpeas, muesli and yogurt, ice, tuna, pasta, instant noodles, staggering quantities of cheese, frozen peas, uncooked broccoli, frozen meals, biscuits of any kind, juice boxes, cordial, Coke, iced tea, and what appears to be the staple foods – pears, and Saladas with cheese and Vegemite.
The only other activity the subject engages in during the day is disjointed conversation with the two fine examples of feline domesticus who roam in the same territory. Jadeluxe pregnantus allows their presence and they allow hers, though there is some agitation on the part of the smaller inhabitants if their efforts to converse don’t result in a share of the food supply. They don’t appear to be disabled or hindered in their hunting ability in any way, so the resultant unnecessary constant feeding of them is likely a vivid example of the subject’s developing maternal instinct at this time. Or her status as a complete pushover.
Sometime around 8pm she senses instinctively that her mate’s return from a long day at work is imminent (and also, all the good stuff on the teev finishes), so she at last grooms and dresses. This is such a tiring ritual it is invalidated immediately by her subsequent falling straight to sleep on the bed.
She rouses sometime around 10.30pm and spends the next two hours frequenting the toilet. She may leave her bed and make this journey up to 30 times. This appears to be a most frustrating time. The subject can be heard making expressions of discomfort each time she gets up from or returns to the horizontal sleeping position – a particularly graceless activity – and even crying from the fatigue brought on by her condition. During this time she may be observed slumping helplessly against the wall outside the toilet door; this seems to be an energy-conserving measure. Throughout this extended bathroom ritual, her mate suffers from lack of sleep, sleep he desperately needs in order to be able to manage a full day of work and complete all the tasks required to keep the household functioning. He also suffers from lack of energy during the day, because he has expended so many kilojoules throughout the night fighting the gravitational forces pulling him into the cavity made in the mattress by his mate’s sudden excessive weight.
This is the price of reproduction in the animal kingdom.
And so another weary day ends. Jadeluxe pregnantus will sleep now until the morning (or perhaps the early afternoon) when her stomach wakes her and the cycle begins again.
39 weeks, with Zadie
(Actually I don’t have a photo of myself at 39 weeks with Zadie. This is me at 20 weeks. And now you know why I don’t have one at 39 weeks.)
Maternity leave continues to be a ripper. I “sleep in” every day until 10.30am, though each morning is punctuated by 85 stealth toilet breaks between the hours of 5am and 10am. The contemplative stress of weighing up the risk of waking Rufus versus my ability to fall back asleep with a full bladder, further significantly complicated by Joel’s warm arm around me, sends wee production into overdrive and removes the choice anyway. And creates an urgency that makes it impossible to sneak past Rufus’s room to the bathroom in any case. Had I just gone when the notion first struck me, I would have had time to put on soft cotton socks and tiptoe delicately past his door, disturbing nothing in my silent and dignified progress. But if I wait until it’s almost too late – and I always do – each trip becomes instead an awkward nude gallop as I hurdle gracelessly over the floorboards that squeak the loudest, thundering the open plains of the hallway like some new distended creature from a re-issue of Where The Wild Things Are.
(All the floorboards now squeak, of course, when I cross them, even the structurally sound ones. So the hurdling is merely a comedic device for any cat who may be watching; or else a desperate, sad nod to my daily diminishing self-esteem as it flickers dimly towards extinction.)
I still check my work email repetitively.
In the mornings, Rufus and I enjoy leisurely visiting peeps, complete long-neglected household administrivia, or kick it with lots of books on the couch. He naps each afternoon from 3.30pm to 6pm. I spend the first 30 golden minutes reading in bed with some kind of snack. This started as a delightful treat one day when I realised Joel was at work and wouldn’t find out – and then I realised he’s at work EVERY week day, and would NEVER know ANY day! So I started to get a bit lax, and extravagant, progressing from neat and tidy little snacks like yogurt to reckless fripperies like handfuls of cheesy rice crackers with little easily toppled bowls of homemade dip. Soon Joel was getting crumbs in his crack at night, and the plan was foiled. I tried to blame Rufus, but Joel rightly realised an 8-month pregnant wife is far more likely to be binge-eating in bed than a 2-year-old of limited cunning, especially regards eating (disorders). So now I’m more careful and I use a plate. It’s the only time of the day I enjoy food, even though laying in bed with my oesophagus at a 10-degree angle, and my stomach compressed into the space of a large gumnut, makes it a downright dangerous experience.
I spend the rest of the day in a state of constant hunger and simultaneous dislike of food. This definitely didn’t happen last time. But this time around, I long for a pill to make me feel full. I hate all food except (the idea of) sushi, the actual consumption of which is prevented me by the Coterie of Listeria Alarmism. Nonetheless, I’ve packed on weight like never before, so I’m clearly eating enough of all the wrong things.
I can no longer swing the shower screen closed once I’m in there; and the bathroom door has swelled confusedly as global warming fucks with the seasons (or perhaps in sympathy with me), so it no longer closes properly. I therefore ablute virtually in the open, exposed to laughter from any passing Rufus. Is there no dignity?! I thought wetting myself in labour last time was a low point, but having your son laugh uproariously at your nude form, innocent though he is, is well crushing. “Mama’s BUM! hahaha” – and, inevitably, as he’s helping me dress (passing me the clothes I can no longer pick up off the floor), “Too TOIT!” (he is developing a fine ocker accent, but more of that in another post).
And to be fair to the little dude, if I got a glimpse of me showering, I’d laugh too. If it didn’t cause unbearable heartburn.
I’m troubled nightly by tremendous Braxton-Hicks contractions. The doctor told me to expect this, and that they would likely be caused by hefting my 20kg pre-existing child around. They’re much worse than last time. Then, I thought each trifling episode heralded true labour. After 30 hours of birthing Rufus, I now realise how hilariously and embarrassingly I underestimated “true labour”. Braxton-Hicks was to true labour what going to Christmas Mass most years is to being a diligent Catholic: just a hopeful delusion. So while I haven’t automatically thought each episode of Braxton-Hicks this time around is true labour, some have been so bad they’ve fooled me. That has been most alarming, because I know what’s coming, and I’ve been found pathetically clinging to a doorframe so I can’t be prised off and taken to the hospital – I KNOW WHAT HAPPENS THERE! I know labour is the harbinger of our new baby, etc, but I really just don’t think I can face it again.
Am obviously in full craze. Hopefully this means the birth is imminent! I’m tipping 12 December or 19 December – the first optimistically, the second because I keep having dreams featuring 19 and I want to attribute them to something. Could just be the ultimate prediction for the amount of inches my arse is going to be by the end of this malarkey, multiplied by 312.
My dearest friend is pregnant right now. I wish her a restful and slender remaining 25 weeks, with a tidy 2-hour labour at the end.
And I think, for now, I’ll be staying here in the blazing light of baby liberty. It shines BRIGHT.
Also, someone in Australia send Saladas. It’s been too long since I’ve squeezed 50 Vegemite worms through their little holes! BUT NOT LONG ENOUGH SINCE I SQUEEZED TWO 10-POUND BABIES THROUGH…oh you know…