I’m not sleeping. Is it too light (I’m thinking of investing in one of those oh-so-chic eye masks)? Too warm? Or are there too many thoughts in my head? Yesterday I saw the hospital bag packed, ready and waiting at the door. I saw the nappies. Did I imagine the tiny white baby-gros? Not yet permanently marked with sour milk. The hand knitted cardigans and tiny hats, socks and mittens – it must be so cold and frightening for babies when they leave the womb and are rudely thrust into this world. The feelings I had walking away from his house with the kids and dog in tow are hard to put into words. There was definitely jealousy and sadness and a realisation that the kids are going to be part of something that I can probably never give them.
I started thinking about how he is feeling. Does he have to keep biting his tongue in conversations with his girlfriend? His head must be filled with birth stories and experiences – one emergency c-section following 48 hours of labour and one planned after what felt like an eternity of bed rest. I’m presuming he probably feels like he can’t share these tales. Has she actually gone so far as to say to him ‘I don’t want to hear any more about your experiences?’. I wouldn’t put it past her. And there must be a little bit of mansplaining on his part. After all a man can never know what it is truly like to give birth in whatever way, shape or form but I’m sure most men can’t help themselves. Okay, I know I’m generalising but in this case I’m pretty sure it’s true.
Has breast feeding been discussed? Has he regaled her with tales of a fridge full of savoy cabbage leaves? Has she had a baby shower – not something that happened in my day – but I know she’s had her last day in work. A make of pram decided upon and purchased, bottles, teats, sterilisers. What make of back-up formula have they gone with (if she is planning to feed herself)? All those things that you think you need as a first-time mum but are left unused in their box and all those emergency runs to the shop for things that are invaluable that nobody ever tells you about. That only comes with experience. I remember months ago a colleague overheard her sister chatting to a friend in a cafe. The conversation or rant went along the lines of: ‘and who does she think she is giving my sister advice. I mean what’s a woman of her age doing getting pregnant anyway?’. She was bitching about one of my ex’s sisters who is also pregnant and due to give birth any day now…and is my age. So my ex’s girlfriend is obviously not welcoming any help or advice, most certainly not from his family it would seem.
I can’t stop thinking about whether this experience will feel completely different for him. Third time around, nearly 8 years after our daughter’s birth. Will the guilt he must feel over the past ease when he holds his baby for the first time? Will he weep for his mum and wish she was here to meet his baby? Will his family forgive him for all of his past misdemeanours when they arrive up at the hospital? I mean it’s not the baby’s fault is it? But then I keep thinking will she let his family come to the hospital at all?
I passed her the other day. I was walking the dog with my boyfriend early on Sunday morning. She was walking with her sister and her husband. She’s obviously been told to stay active. I didn’t tell my boyfriend who she was until we were passed, carried on with my conversation about my brother and his rant about how three of his shirts felt too small on him and he would need to up the exercise. It was the first time since before my ex left – when she was just another girl in the gym and I had no clue about how she would become part of my future – where there was actual eye contact. No pleasantries were exchanged but she looked at me and I can’t stop thinking about that look and what was behind it. Would she have said hello if I had? This woman (or girl? She’s not even 30 yet) after all essentially parents my two for part of the week. She plaits my daughter’s hair and holds her hand, she supervises home work, laughs at appalling jokes, buys clothes for them. Is it ridiculous that we walk past each other on the street?
I had an email discussion with my ex last night about childcare over the summer. He is a teacher and has the whole summer off. He would usually look after our two Monday to Wednesday whilst I’m working. I asked if there are days he wanted me to arrange alternative childcare. My boyfriend felt it might be a good idea to involve his two daughters in providing childcare. A way of them getting to know my children and lets face it earning some money over the summer months, giving them a bit of focus and keeping them occupied. I love this idea. Especially since one of his daughters is a trampoline coach. My daughter would have a ball perfecting her moves! Anyway, my ex said he thought it would be okay. There wouldn’t be too many ‘disruptions’ but if there were any he would let me know in advance. This, again, has stirred emotions in me that I’ve never felt before. I don’t want my two in the thick of it, fetching nappies and entertaining the baby. Is that selfish of me? And anyway how does he know how his girlfriend is going to feel? Will she want my two hanging around?
And I’ve also started thinking about them bringing the baby home for the first time. I wonder will she feel absolutely petrified; that fear that defies description when you realise you’re solely responsible for another human being. Will their house be filled with flowers and dishes of lasagne for the freezer? Will he ration well wishers like he did for us, wanting to stay in control. Will he resent her mum hanging about like he did for me or will he welcome the help?
Why am I torturing myself like this?