Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Things That Go BUMP!

MY BUMP is growing fast. What was a relatively flat(tish) stomach seven weeks ago is now ballooning so much I can’t do up my jeans.
Same for my boobs. There used to be just the two of them, but now there’s an extra pair cascading over the top of my bra.
‘Do you want my seat?’ a suited stranger offered me on the tube yesterday. I grabbed it, happy to take the extra weight off my feet.
What a shame I’m not pregnant.
No, this extra stone-and-a-half around my middle is a pasta and wine baby. And, short of liposuction, the only way I’m going to shift is to go on a (gulp) diet – or get pregnant again.
Being up the duff does it for me every time. I lost four stone during my last pregnancy and two expecting my first child.
Morning sickness, heartburn and general lack of alcohol had the blubber falling off as my babies grew inside me.
Sure, I suffered stretch marks, leaky boobs and had two emergency Caesareans.
But that’s a small price to pay for a belly that will no longer hang over my giant knickers because I can’t resist cheap wine and seconds of spinach and ricotta ravioli in cream sauce.
‘Your tummy’s getting fat,’ my six-year-old boy Deme said, eyeing it, the other day. ‘Am I having another brother or sister?’
I glanced over at my gym-buffed husband and saw him flinch. ‘Not unless I keep my Spandex pants on for a drink-filled night of passion,’ I muttered under my garlic and rioja-scented breath.
Even Alexio suggested I join him for a workout. I would, if only I could find a gym kit to squeeze into. I’ve decided no more babies. Ever.
So now I’m counting down the days until next Monday when the diet starts. Until them I’m pigging out on red wine, cava and pasta in every shape and flavour.
‘You’ve got to stop eating so much,’ Alexio’s already warned me. ‘Or you’ll never fit into any of your clothes.’
But I’m not worried. I found my maternity jeans at the back of my wardrobe this morning. If I wear a baggy top no one will ever know!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Let's Talk About Sex, Baby!

AS SOON as I saw the couple sprawled on the grass I knew it meant trouble.
We’d come to the park to play on the swings and whizz down the slide, not watch teenagers make out.
‘Get a room,’ I muttered as my little girl toddled off to explore the playhouse.
My six-year-old son was transfixed. ‘What are they doing?’ Deme asked. I took a deep breath.
‘Er, looking for something they’ve lost,’ I lied. But he wasn’t buying any of it.
‘No they’re not,’ he said, rolling his eyes. ‘They’re kissing. Why’s he lying on her though?’
I tried to wing it. 
‘They’re playing a squashing game,’ I ventured. Deme raised his eyebrows. ‘They’re practising horizontal dancing,’ I went on. 
Deme shook his head. ‘I know, Mamma,’ he said in a bored voice. ‘They’re tired from so much kissing and just want to relax.’
I smiled. ‘That’s it,’ I said, steering him towards the climbing frame. ‘How did you get to be so clever?’
All day I kept Deme distracted, knowing a giant can of wiggly worms had been opened.
I was right. The moment there was a silence at dinner he blurted it out. ‘Dad, do you ever get tired of kissing Mamma?’
I already knew the answer to that one. We’ve been together 13 years, married for nine. Our last sexy snog was circa 2003 when lack of sleep and stretch marks became a contraceptive.
‘Er, what do you mean, Deme?’ Alexio asked, confused. I hadn’t had time to fill him in on the teenager’s open-air groping session.
‘Well do you ever have to lay down on top of Mamma?’ he continued.
Alexio nearly chocked on his spaghetti. I did a quick one of our looks – the evil eye – so he knew to change the subject fast.
But it was obvious Deme was growing up quickly. We wouldn’t be able to put off having that chat for much longer.
‘There’s no way I’m telling him,’ I wailed as soon as Deme went to bed. ‘I’m his mum. I just couldn’t.’
This was a father’s job. ‘I’ll tell Anais when she needs to know,’ I promised. That got me off the hook for another seven years.
‘OK,’ Alexio agreed. ‘I’ll teach him all about sex this weekend.’ I grimaced, making a mental note to be out of the house when the talk happened.
Our son needed to know all about the birds and the bees. But it meant he was growing up too fast. And I wanted, like all mums, to keep him my little boy forever.
All week I dreaded the approach of the weekend. Was Deme going to be different somehow when he knew where babies came from?
‘What are you going to say?’ I quizzed Alexio. He shrugged. ‘I’ll just say what comes into my mind,’ he said. I frowned.
Alexio was Italian and had been educated by nuns. I could imagine what their sex lessons had been like – all ‘not before marriage’ else you’ll go blind or be burned at the stake. This was going to hurt him a lot more than it hurt Alexio.
That night, Deme came out of school, looking very pleased with himself. ‘I know all about kissing and stuff,’ he announced.
Alexio and I looked at each other, worried. We’d left it too late. Now he’d found out from someone else. ‘Who told you?’ I demanded.
Deme smiled. ‘My friends,’ he said. ‘The big boys.’ I closed my eyes, dreading what they’d said.
‘Tell us then,’ I whispered. There was a pause as we waited. Deme puffed out his chest.
‘Kissing’s not just for boys and girls,’ he said. ‘If you kiss a boy it’s called Gage and if a girl kisses a girl then she’s a Toni.’
I could feel the air rushing into my lungs, hear my heart beating once more. ‘Oh, yes, very good,’ I mumbled as Alexio looked even more confused.
Sex education in the playground? I think Deme needs a few more lessons.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Baby's Gone To Rehab

I COULDN'T wait for my husband to get back from the shops. It was Friday – my one night of the week when I could drink.
Before I’d been pregnant with Anais I’d party two or three times a week, necking rioja like it was ribena.
But morning sickness that lasted nine months and a year’s breastfeeding had turned me into a teetotaller.
My body – and liver – were now my own again and I was ready to road test my alcohol limit.
So I’d sent Alexio off to do the supermarket to pick up a cheeky red or two.
Now all I had to do was bath the baby, tidy up and persuade my six-year-old son that Strictly really was better than Ben 10.
‘Come on Princess,’ I smiled at Anais. ‘Bath, book and bed.’ She grinned at me, then toddled off in the opposite direction, dragging her best friend with her.
She had a vast selection of dolls but Baby Rosie was her absolute BFF.
Whatever Anais did, Baby did too. My little girl would kiss her, cuddle her, feed her a bottle and put her to bed. It was all I could do to keep Baby out of the bath.
‘Leave Baby here, she wants to watch the dancing,’ I giggled, picking up Anais and heading to the bathroom.
Twenty minutes later, she was happily asleep in her cot, and I could smell Alexio cooking downstairs.
More importantly, I heard the glug of wine being poured into a glass. ‘Aaah,’ perfect, I sighed, taking a sip.
The fruity, rich rioja caressed my taste buds, making me smile. ‘I’ve missed you,’ I announced, taking another sip, then another…
By the time I’d finished my ravioli half the bottle was gone.
‘Better pace myself,’ I thought, grabbing the half-empty bottle to drink while watching celebs in sequins trying not to trip over their own feet.
‘I’ll tidy up later,’ I said, pushing the toys and Baby aside to sit on the sofa.
The rioja slipped down far too easily. I felt my shoulders relax, laughed at Brucie’s jokes, even agreed that my son could watch the entire Harry Potter film collection in bed.
Alexio had a glass too. ‘It’s the only way I can endure this dancing nonsense,’ he muttered.
But soon, thanks to the wine, we were scoring each celebrity, discussing Tess Daly’s dress and Alesha Dixon’s attempts to be the new Cheryl Cole.
And when we realised that bottle had gone, Alexio uncorked another. By the end of Strictly our teeth and lips were black, and everything was suddenly so funny.
We were laughing so much our son stormed downstairs to tell us to be quiet. ‘I can’t hear my film,’ he complained, rolling his eyes. ‘And if you carry on you’ll wake up Anais.’
I tried to act sober. But his stern face was making me want to laugh. Then Alexio started to giggle and that set me off too.
Deme stormed off, disgusted with his silly, black-mouthed parents, but we were having a great time.
We chatted on, raided the kids’ crisp and sweet cupboard and even had a cushion fight.
‘Take that,’ I giggled, hurling a giant fluffy one at Alexio. He ducked, then threw a leather cushion back.
It was coming straight at me, so I swerved, lost my balance and began to fall. I put out my arm to save myself – and knocked my last glass of red wine all over the floor.
‘Oh no,’ I yelled, considering whether to suck up the spreading pool of rioja. It was such a waste and I’d mopped the wooden floor that morning. But as I bent down, I gasped.
Baby was lying prostrate on her back covered in red wine. Her babygro was soaked, her long blonde hair matted with rioja, her soft body wet through.
‘Look what I’ve done,’ I said, holding the wine-ruined doll up. Alexio shook his head. ‘Let’s put it in the washing machine,’ he suggested.
But I could tell it was ruined. The doll’s body was soft but its limbs were plastic. There was no way we could save it.
So, ashamed and full of guilt, I went to bed.
This morning – after taking two painkillers and drinking a litre of water - I inspected Baby. She stank like a wino and was stained beyond recognition. Time for the dolly to go to rehab, I decided.
‘Sorry Baby,’ I said, throwing her in the bin before Anais woke up. All morning my poor little girl’s been searching for her BFF.
So now I’m off to buy a replacement. This one won’t be called Baby Rosie though. I think Amy or Britney would be better. That way she’ll survive my slummy mummy Friday nights.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The Mum Who Walked Into Doors

ONE MINUTE I was asleep and the next a bottle hit me over the head. Luckily it wasn’t glass. But the contents of my baby’s half-drunk milk dripped down my face, making sure I was suddenly wide awake.
‘Don’t use me as target practice,’ I muttered, peering at the clock. 5.30am. Oh great. Another early morning in the Pasquali Jones household, thanks to Anais.
She was shrieking by now, desperate to leave the confines of her cot at the bottom of our bed. ‘Time for you to move into your own room,’ I decided. ‘And to start anger management classes.’
To say my little girl’s violent is an under statement. Most days she pulls my hair until my scalp burns. She has her six-year-old brother in tears with her headbutts.
And she can throw anything – no matter how heavy – at least six feet, and has an uncanny ability to always hit the target, even if it’s moving.
I’ve turned up at nursery with scratches, bruises and, once, even a fat and bloody lip. I’ve caught the sympathetic looks from the other mums. I could tell what they were thinking: ‘Poor woman. She’s obviously been beaten up by her husband. Why doesn’t she leave him?’
I don’t say anything. I mean who’s going to believe the only punches or slaps I’ve ever received were from my little baby? But I might have to start a help group for battered mums – or learn to duck quicker.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Breastfeeding boob!

GAZING DOWN into my baby’s cherubic face, I smiled. Her huge blue eyes were the exact shade and shape as mine. Her soft blonde hair curled around itself at the nape of her neck, a mirror image of my ringlets.
‘Are you hungry, sweetie?’ I asked, fumbling to undo my bra for her mid-morning feed.
Anais opened her mouth, moved closer to my bare breast and - chomp! - bit down hard on my nipple with something else that were also a photocopy of mine. Her two bucked front teeth.
She was eleven months old and these incisors had just cut their way through her sore, pink gums. But these weren’t teensy little baby teeth.
No, these suckers were giant tombstones, sticking out at a wild 45 degree angle, with a motorway-sized gap between them.
With her mouth closed, my baby looked like she’d fallen out of a Michelangelo painting, all podgy dimples and velvet skin.
Lips apart, she resembled SpongeBob SquarePants. Only her teeth were bigger, more prominent – with a vice-like clamp that now had me screaming for mercy.
‘Ow,ow,ow,ow, OUCH!’ I yelled, finally prising her jaws apart. ‘That’s it. No more breastfeeding. It’s bottles for you from now on.’
Those huge gnashers were too dangerous now. I’d become quite attached to my nipples, and wanted to keep them both intact.
So I stopped breastfeeding, just like that. I wanted my boobs – as well as my life – back.
‘It’ll be fine,’ I told myself. ‘Anais is on solids anyway. How hard can it be to get her to drink formula from a bottle?’
Big mistake. I hadn’t figured for the only other thing bigger than my baby’s front teeth – her stubbornness.
I bought special bottles with teats that resembled the breast. ‘Waaaaaaah’ went Anais, spitting it out.
I tried a beaker, a cup, a syringe, even a spoon. The results were just the same - a puce-faced baby screaming so loud it made my brain shudder.
Sssh, it tastes nice,’ I pleaded, placing the bottle next to my breast to try and trick her. No such luck.
Exasperated, and feeling like crying myself, I turned to my husband, Alexio. ‘You’ll have to do it,’ I said, thrusting the baby and the formula into his arms.
Without me there, our thirsty daughter gave in and emptied a bottle, then another.
I ran upstairs to escape – and that’s when it hit me. A red-hot pain slicing through both my breasts, making my nipples and under my armpits throb.
My boobs were engorged with milk. ‘Oh no,’ I panicked, running a bath and placing hot flannels on them. Nothing.
I slumped in front of the TV, trying to ignore the pulsating agony now overwhelming my top half.
‘This is hurting me more than it hurts you,’ I said through gritted teeth as I tried to pump the excess milk away, while a now-full Anais stared at me.
An hour later my boobs were bigger and more painful than ever. More worryingly, they were full of lumps.
Oowwwwww,’ I yelped, unable to even put my arms by my side in case they grazed my swollen breasts.
All day and night I watched my breasts balloon until they must have been 44JJs.
I couldn’t wear a bra. By bedtime I couldn’t even wear a top. I took painkillers to try and fall asleep, then dreamt I was drowning in milk.
The next morning, I could hardly see over my Dolly Parton-size appendages. ‘Are you OK?’ my husband asked anxiously as I downed more painkillers.
‘Do I look all right?’ I snapped, trying not to jiggle my boobs for fear of knocking myself out.
‘Look on the internet to see what I can do,’ I begged. I couldn’t get near enough to the keyboard to type.
Every website said the same thing. Do not stop breastfeeding suddenly. Drop a feed at a time so your breasts don’t become engorged.
Too late. My baby was on the bottle – and that’s all I wanted too. I hadn’t drunk for almost two years but a bottle of rioja was the only way to get over this agony.
Unfortunately, it was only 10am, so I needed an alternative, but what? I couldn’t cope with these giant breasts for much longer.
And then I remembered reading that cabbage was a cure all. ‘Well it’s meant to help with sore nipples when you’re breastfeeding,’ I thought. ‘So it must work when your whole boobs are aching.’
But I wasn’t going out in public looking like this. So I sent Alexio. ‘It has to be a Savoy cabbage,’ I instructed. ‘I’m looking for a cure for my poor boobs, not an ingredient for soup.’
Half an hour later, he was back with a whole bag full of greens. I ripped the leaves off one and started banging it with a rolling pin.
‘I need whatever goodness is in it to come out fast,’ I told a puzzled looking Alexio. Then I shoved the cabbage down my top and waited…
I looked ridiculous with Savoy leaves sprouting over the top of my T-shirt but within 10 minutes a strange thing happened – the pain began to subside.
Half an hour later, the soreness was bearable and my nipples didn’t feel like they were being sawn with a rusty axe grinder.
Aaaaaah,’ I sighed, collapsing my arms by my side for the first time in 24 hours.
An hour later, I was pain-free and my boobs were slowly reducing.
I changed the cabbage leaves every few hours, while praying no one came to visit. By the end of the day I was cured.
There were no lumps, no bumps and my breasts were back down to a more manageable 40DD – still big but at least I could lift up my baby, and see where I was going.
‘Mamma’s all better,’ I said, cradling Anais. She looked up at me and smiled. I winced at the sight of those teeth.
‘Better start saving for braces,’ I thought, imagining the orthodentist’s bill in 10 years time.
Still, at least she was happily guzzling formula from a beaker and I was back in my pre-pregnancy bras.
I headed downstairs for the fridge. ‘I love cabbage,’ I said, grabbing it from the shelf and throwing it in the bin. Part of my five a day? Never. I couldn’t eat it again knowing where some leaves had been. But when it came to sore boobs Savoy cabbage was the breast.