So, it turns out there is a way to fill the time now Tom Hardy’s Taboo has finished. You can have a baby! Yes, really. Little Edie arrived a month ago, which is just as well because not only is Tom Hardy not around anymore, my boys haven’t said anything sexist for ages and this so-called feminist blog is beginning to go dangerously off-theme. But now there’s a baby girl there’ll be tonnes of opportunities for lots of lovely sexism, so hooray!
Edie came as a bit of a shock for two reasons. The first was the speed with which she came. There I was, bobbing about in the birthing pool, happily off my head on gas and air, and suddenly, one push later, there was a baby, in the water with me. The second was that this little person was a girl; I didn’t know I could do them.
Boys are what we know. Boys are what we do. I wouldn’t go so far as to add that we know what we’re doing with them, but at least we have a bit of experience. And there is comfort in knowing that the two we’ve done so far have turned out well; they have welcomed their new little sister beautifully. Raff refers to ‘his baby’ and is very territorial. Bear calls her Sweet Baby Edie and rushes to kiss her when he comes in from school, although he’s not very keen on the crying.
Edie has been welcomed beautifully by the rest of the world too. The kindness of people has been frequently overwhelming. So many people have given us so much stuff! Thoughtful, gorgeous, useful things. There’s been a lovely circle-of-life-ness about some of this gift giving too. Despite the fact that there are 16 other cousins to get round, many of whom are having babies as well, the aunties that bought presents for me as a baby have been just as kind towards my baby, thirty eight years later. (Our parents did not stop to think of the financial consequences for their families of all their reckless breeding, no they did not).The friends I grew up with, who now have children the same age as mine, have also been equally generous.
People have bothered to write cards, send texts, make lasagnes, bring flowers and send champagne. There have been presents for me as well as the boys, and frequently enquiries – often from people who don’t know us that well – about how we’re all doing. Friends have minded the boys for us, excused worse-than-usual-lateness and extreme anti-socialness. My mum spent two of the first three weeks with us here, helping out. And when I casually say ‘helping’ I mean, of course, ‘doing everything’. If ever you think that the world is not a nice place or that people don’t care, have a baby.
However, if ever you want to think that world is a terrible place and nothing will ever be right ever again, have a baby. Sleep deprivation has a way of balancing excess positivity.
Here are a few other things I have learned about the early days of babyhood, clumsily presented with a feminist slant. Not only is baby Edie a gift from the gods, she is also an opportunity to get this blog back on track.
1. Having a baby is the most sexist thing you can do. How many pregnant men do you see around? Exactly. Shirking bastards. This does not mean, however, that you can’t use the opportunity to smash gender stereotypes and stick it to the patriarchy. Putting your baby girl in a blue sleepsuit, for example, will cause all kinds of shit to go down in the Post Office queue.
2. Male respect for women peaks in the delivery room. White-faced and shaken, awed by a new-found respect for his partner, a man will often wonder aloud, ‘how did you do that?’ Well, he will after the birth of his first child. And he’ll still probably be quite impressed at the birth of his second. By the time the third one makes their entrance however, he might miss his wife’s AMAZING display of superhuman power because he’s too engrossed in his book. His book about soil.
3. Men! It’s a really good idea to be on-your-knees- grateful- at-all-times if your wife is doing the nights while you’re in the spare room.
4. Men! It’s a really good idea not to joke about your wife ‘having a hell of a life’ or ‘taking it easy’ when she goes back to bed in the morning, having had NO SLEEP THE PREVIOUS NIGHT FOR THE 30TH NIGHT RUNNING.
5. Men! It’s also a good idea not to complain about the mattress in the spare room being ‘a bit on the soft side’.
6. Women! If you are breastfeeding, and thus have a partner who is ‘really disappointed’ not to be able to do the nights, a funny thing to do is buy some baby feeding bottles and bring them home. You don’t need to say anything. Just put them on the kitchen table and watch the penny slowly drop.
7. After five years of grey, blue and striped clothes, pink, frills and flowers are fabulous.
8. Although baby girls will also wee on you when you’re changing their nappy, it somehow feels a bit less aggressive/gleeful than when baby boys do the same.
9. All that stuff about baby boys causing worse morning sickness than girls? Lies. Spread about by men-hating women, probably. Men hating women are called misandrists by the way. You will know this because by the time you’re on your third maternity leave you will already have worked your way through every episode of Poirot, Miss Marple and Father Brown. Googling stuff will have become your main form of entertainment. Funny to note how we don’t hear the word ‘misandrist’ nearly as much as the word ‘misogynist’. Just sayin.
10. It feels very special to talk about ‘our daughter’ as well as ‘our sons’. We are very, very lucky.