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The Reality of 2011

Sally Wilson

I hope it’s not too late to wish you all a Happy New Year. We had a ball Scotland-side – oh how I ate, how I napped, how I drank three cans of Irn Bru in as many weeks! And oh how real this baby-to-be has suddenly become after rounding the corner into 2011 and Trimester Three.

Number Two is no longer the child that will be arriving ‘next year’ so giving me ample time to procrastinate over purchasing nursery furniture, double strollers and nipple cream. The time is now. Or in a couple of months anyway....

As if to put the cherry atop this very point, my 30 week belly is now mighty enough for strangers to confidently ask when the baby is due without then showing fleeting fear that I may just be overweight, I need to frog step into my knickers in the morning as my tummy’s too big for the usual approach and I’m often prevented from finishing sentences by tiny elbows, knees and feet delivering breath-stopping, Mr Miagi-style karate blows to the uterus wall.

Oh yes, and there’s the little issue of not seeing below my bump anymore. When I undress at the end of the day, if I’ve been cooking, I often find bits of congealed food stuck on my clothes from where my belly’s been pressed up against the kitchen counter. A nice look. But not as nice as yesterday’s coming out of a restaurant restroom with half a maternity shirt stuck in the elastic band of my maternity jeans. I’m simply unable to monitor anything below my belly anymore which exposes me to a whole range of fashion crimes.

It occurred to me while on holiday that no pictures had yet been taken of the baby bump -  not a one. My first pregnancy was documented in pictures from week 12 onwards. I suspect when she’s old enough to be interested even toddler Eliza will be too traumatised by her mother sporting greying and mismatched underwear in most of the photos to browse over them for long.

So, having now reached the final trimester, I decided to start taking pictures – this time with clothes on. Better late than never right? Exhibit A is above. It lacks the monochrome sophistication of Lexi Walter Wright’s beautiful bump shot but Husband N’s fancier camera seems reserved for photographing ospreys, owls and landscaping machinery so I’m making do with my pretty basic one.

The third trimester also hails the return of the humble pillow as trusted friend and bedfellow. To think I’d forgotten that they weren’t just for one’s head! I sleep now encased within a menagerie of pillows (one for bump, one for between legs – and two for other side) so fortress-like, Husband N needs to pole-vault over the plush walls just to kiss me goodnight.

And now being as big as I am, other mums at playgroups have begun asking when my ‘help’ is starting. When I tell them my ‘help’ will be my mother for a few short weeks on either side of the baby coming, they gasp and offer sympathetic smiles. I shudder. I’m an at-home mum with family a few thousand miles away. I am the help. Much as I’d love the chance to have a nanny, I could neither afford nor justify it. Besides, is two really going to be that much work? Urm, yes, apparently.

One parent-of-two friend said that you only really start earning your parenting badges once you’ve got two kids. Other friends have echoed these sentiments. Eek! And so the reality check that has become 2011 means I no longer muse over the cosy, rose-tinted day dreams of cuddling a newborn in one arm while stroking the cherub head of my patient, beaming toddler with my free hand.

Instead I’m struck my logistical quandaries at odd moments. How do I get a double stroller through the butcher’s door? How can I fly back to Scotland on my own with a car-seat requiring toddler, a stroller, a baby and all their gear? How will I cope with on-demand, discreet breast feeding an infant on a bench in the likes of Ikea with a toddler who downright refuses to stay put next to her mum? How do I bathe two babies simultaneously? And so it goes on....

I guess accomplishing the above is what earns you those badges but, oh what I’d give for a cheat sheet!

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