Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Inevitable & Why Scots Don't 'Baby Shower'

For those of you who were desperate to bestow a five foot teddy bear upon the munchkin I have sad news.  You have been beaten to it.
This chap arrived today from my fairy godmother and her partner.  Just for the sake of scale, here he is sitting in one of our full size garden chairs in the living room alcove, where he'll stay until the nursery is ready to house him.  He's possibly the softest thing I've ever encountered and I'm sure there will be a future cute picture of the munchkin flaked out in his lap after spending a happy hour or two jumping all over him.

Here we were, worried that the largely white nursery was looking a little sterile, but this cuddly toy who shall henceforth be called Freddie, will definitely lend an air of joviality and fun to the place.  Much as we love him though, anyone thinking of buying Freddie a buddy his own size to play with should please refrain on the basis that the nursery is the smallest room in our house.  Fear not he will have Winnie the Pooh, the Meerkats, the Hedgehog of Love and I'm sure many other companions before the decorating is done!

Oversized cuddly toys are an inevitable feature in any house with a small person in it I find.  I recall several teddy bears larger than me kicking around when I was little (and I don't think they were all mine either despite the fact I was the only child in the building for the first three years of my life).  There was definitely a mummy, daddy and baby bear trio, an enormous Sally doll and a rather large clown doll wearing pink and blue satin pyjamas.  Odd the things you remember about childhood.  MC's Gran gave me several pictures of MC through his childhood when we visited last year and there is at least one of him curled up asleep on the knees of a mighty bear that dwarfs him.

Sleep isn't something the munchkin has done much of today.  She's been on the move almost constantly since about ten am and I wonder if that's the reason I've got the almighty fidgets.  MC, as I've mentioned, is doing the painting of the nursery solo as he's down to working with gloss and I'm barred.  As a result I've been ordering up the short person necessities so that I feel I've made a dent in the essentials before getting lost in work for the next six to eight weeks.  Nowhere on my list were there Disney story books but I figure small indulgences are allowed.  Especially seen as the rest of my weekend has been spent shopping for uninspired items like nappy bins, biodegradable liners, bottles, laundry bags and maternity bras.

Now I could rant for an hour on the unpleasantness of the maternity bra thing but will do my best to reign myself in just in case I single-handedly cause a major decline in the birth rate.  Let's just say they should warn women of child-bearing age about these monstrosities before they get pregnant.  It might prove as much of a repellent/contraceptive to teenage girls as that horrid video they show in schools of childbirth.   

Moving swiftly on, a Canadian rellie was querying my purchase of essential/non-essential baby items.  Isn't this what a baby shower is for?  Now there is no such beast in Scotland.  Baby showers are seen as an American trend and although they are becoming more popular on this side of the pond, many people (especially amongst the older generations) are turning their nose up at such 'rank consumerism'.

Is it consumerism gone mad?  Is it a bit of fun and a means of helping first time parents collect the array of paraphernalia the midwifes and baby blogs advise is mandatory for preparing to bring a small person into the world?  I could bring myself to argue for and against, so I'm not going to.  A two-sided argument delivered by one well meaning middle of the roader lacks the pith and punch required for good reading.  Feel free to post your thoughts below.

More interesting to me is not why Scotland doesn't have an equivalent inherent tradition for the North American baby shower, but why tradition (or should I say superstition) actually demands a complete refrain from having any sort of baby related artifact in the house until after the baby is born.  This has obviously been relaxed somewhat over time but if we jump back to my parent's generation (there being less than twenty years between us) it was unheard of to buy gifts for a baby before it was born, although my parents prepared with the practical basics like a cot, bedding etc.  Prams or pushchairs though were (and in some families remain to this day) a huge no-no.  My grandmother ordered a Silver Cross pram prior to my birth from John Lewis because they would store the pram for the buyer until they received the call to say that 'baby was here' and it was time for delivery.

It's not that Scotland doesn't celebrate its babies.  Not at all.  The first visit to meet the new baby almost always is accompanied by gifts of soft toys, cute outfits and flowers for the new mummy.  Before leaving the guest will often 'cross the baby's palm with silver' too.  So you see, it's not the case that the Scot's stereotype of short arms and deep pockets applies here.  We revel in our consumery with Christmas and Easter every bit as lavishly as our stateside counterparts (though we don't 'get' Thanksgiving - what is that all about?!).

Superstition, like religion and the Loch Ness Monster I guess, has a power over us it would seem that is hard to move beyond.  Just as with religion and the Loch Ness Monster though, I personally dabble when it suits me (singing carols at forty decibels drunk on mulled wine at the watchnight service or spooking out foreign friends over whisky while sailing near Inverness) and then I put on my practical head and get on with business.

I may not be up for a full blown baby shower, but ahead of an eight week stint of working fifty hours a week for the office, I'm going to prepare my nest as best I can sans paintbrush.  And in the multi-cultural spirit of our household, I do not care if munchkin is blessed with kindness now, or after she's here to give the gift of a cuddle in return to her well wishers.

But just remember, Freddie is a one-of-a-kind type of teddy!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Spring Today Gone Tomorrow

It has been a while since my last outpouring of bonkerdom.  Fuelled by cookies and decaffeinated tea here's a brief update. 

We had a week of beautiful blissful sunshine.  It was followed by a week of snow, frost and the cold kind of wind that gives you a freshly slapped look and chapped lips.  It was decidedly glorious and the Scots descended upon the green belts with ghost white nobbly knees in their hundreds.  Within twenty four hours of the last whiffs of barbecued sausages fading from consciousness the temperature plummeted some twenty degrees.  I discovered that after only a week of not wearing my winter coat that I could no longer get the bottom buttons done up.  I'm ready for it to be summer.  I bought tulips and belly friendly shorts (which had to go back to the shop because they didn't fit my expanding bum) and everything.
Oh well, it was nice while it lasted (which was about as long as the tulips did).  That was probably it for the Scottish Summer.  It was a blink and you've missed it kind of affair. 

We're now at 14 weeks to go and there's no missing this belly now.

When munchkin has her party time in the evening my whole belly rocks out with her.  It's very bizarre: a bit like something out of Aliens if I'm honest.  It's still the weirdest sensation and it's very distracting when there's a massive burst of movement from her during the working day. 

I hate to say it but work is largely the reason for my lack of posting recently.  This week was supposed to be MC and I's last weeks' holiday together before munchkin is due but instead I'm going on a training course for a couple of days to help facilitate the speedy resolution of the current project.  MC is going to work on the nursery while I'm away as he's not keen on my being present for the paint fumes anyway.  I'll be back home in time for a long weekend with him before going all out for the next 8 weeks or so at work.  The one positive is that, all going well and to schedule, I should be able to start taking a step back from work from the beginning of June.  Indeed, with extra holidays and overtime I may even be able to finish up a bit earlier than I'd originally planned.  Watch this space.

For now I'm sticking to my guns with plans to work up to week 38 but I have to admit my confidence is shaky skates on thin ice.  We got news last weekend that MC's cousin and partner just had their second baby very early.  Out of four couples we know who have had babies in the last year, three have gone more than three weeks early.  I'm a little afraid of being massively unprepared should munchkin decide to grace us with her presence early.  On the one hand I'm happy to be busy at work because the days pass quickly, I sleep like the dead, and I don't get much chance to lament the aches and pains, but there's this part of my brain that's rightly concerned that all the extra effort required to keep my head above water at work may make me miss something vitally important that needs done at home.  On that note it's time to start making some To Do lists outside of the office. 

So, this week my extra workcular jobs include writing the birth intentions down and to find something suitable to wear to my friend's wedding next month.  I was thinking something like this might be appropriate...
Don't judge, there's a greater choice of two man tents available (in nicer colours and at better prices) than there are wedding appropriate maternity dresses.  Besides, with the Scottish Summer been and gone, it may be the tent's only outing this year.