How To Deter Your Health Visitor

I’m typing this in the bath. These twenty minutes are very precious. There’s nobody else here, and it’s bliss! Writing my blog clears the mind, and prepares me for the remaining twenty-three hours and forty minutes of the day.

Today’s been particularly tough. I’ve no idea why. Perhaps it’s the two hours sleep I’ve missed out on every night for the past eight weeks? Maybe it’s the fact we had a brilliant day in the Lake District yesterday, and staying in today, staring at ‘Washing Up Mountain’ isn’t quite living up to it. Or maybe it’s because we’ve just used the last of the coffee beans; the thing I’ve come to be most reliant on. Whatever it is, I know that having a good old moan via my blog will fix my mood. Here goes…

There’s few people in life that really get on my wick. It’s easy to avoid the ones that do; delete them from Facebook, pretend you haven’t seen them in the café because you’re far too busy being busy to notice them. I sometimes don’t even open text messages from certain people, just so it doesn’t say ‘read’ on their phone. I’m well practiced in this. There’s one person I can’t seem to get away from though. The Health Visitor.

She hates me. I can’t say I’m too keen on her either. Don’t get me wrong, she’s pleasant enough and is obviously good at her job, but she doesn’t half nag! I don’t know how many more times I can tell her I’m not depressed. Unfortunately on her first visit I responded to the question “Have you felt tearful at all since bringing the baby home?” by saying “Yes.” Red alert! Red alert! Her iPad didn’t like my answer at all. Why, oh why did I say this? I cried the first evening we came home. Most probably because I’d just had a baby via a very unplanned Caesarean, for three days had been trapped in a hospital ward surrounded by undesirables, and had literally slept for five hours within 72. Who wouldn’t shed a tear upon stepping through the door to their home with a beautiful new baby whom you’re responsible for forever, a clean bed, your own toilet, and your partner making you a proper brew instead of the crap they provide at hospital? I’ve always expressed exhaustion through crying. I remember when I was 10, I was in a production of ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe’ (I was a badger.) The dress rehearsal had been so tedious, and I was so stressed with remembering my one line, that Sunday evening I sat in the bath with the muffled sounds of ‘The Last of the Summer Wine’ theme tune coming from the living room, and balled my eyes out. So I’m sorry if I cried once on the first evening in our own home with our new baby. It does not by any means suggest that I’m depressed. I was just bloody knackered!

And I’m not being abused either! I’m sure that sadly there are many women out there being abused by their partners, but I wish she’d take my word for it that I’m not one of them! No amount of questionnaire-filling in, or book marks with help line phone numbers on them are going to change that. Please desist!

Last moan now: I accidentally told the Health Visitor that I’ve been giving Theo a bottle of formula milk every now and then. I know I can’t ‘run out’ of milk. Believe me, I’ve read every bit of NHS advice regarding breastfeeding. But we had a couple of horrendous nights where he seemed to be starving, and it didn’t appear as though I had enough milk to meet his demand. So Alex nipped to the shop and got a tin of formula. Wham, bam, thank you mam! Theo fell asleep a happy baby in the end, and my boobs had enough time to build up a better supply before the next feed. Needless to say the Health Visitor took this news badly. Despite having just told me how well the baby was doing, that he was putting on weight, and that a lot of the things he was doing were quite advanced for his age, she went on to recite a monologue recalling the downside to formula fed babies. With the way she was blabbering on, you’d think all the millions of formula fed babies out there were malnourished, quivering wrecks. I’d like to see how she’d cope when reality hits with a baby who had been screaming uncontrollably for four hours! She wouldn’t be so quick as to throw her ‘rule book’ at me then. I must remind myself however, that this is her job. Boxes must be ticked!

So here are my top three tips on how to deter your Health Visitor:

  1. Don’t get depressed.
  2. Try to avoid domestic abuse at all cost.
  3. (And this is the worst thing ever…) Feed your baby a few bottles of formula milk a week. She’ll soon get the message there’s no need to come back.

Anyway enough moaning. I’d best dry off. I’ve gone all wrinkly and can hear the grunts of starvation coming from downstairs. Don’t worry, Theo, it’s Wab Time.

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I Have No Time At All.

Before I got a ‘real job’ in September last year, before parenthood, and before I had to grow up, I was a musician. Time was disposable. The only responsibilities I had were shoving a bit of ‘slap’ on my face, singing a few songs to half-filled pubs, and getting home to a well-earned G&T, scrolling through the ‘What’s New’ section on the Topshop website, and telling Alex about all the freaks and weirdos I had encountered that night, before going bed. Day time was my time to do as I wished with, and so, was divided into units of time; gym: 1 unit, nails: 1 unit, drinks in the local Wetherspoons with my fellow musician pals: quite a few units. And although I’m loving being a mum and spending time with ‘Mr T’, the days whiz by and are now slipping uncontrollably through my fingers.

I have no time at all; hardly enough time to even have a wee, never mind snatching that precious ‘alone time’ reading Private Eye on the toilet. The days of merely being able to drink a hot coffee are long gone. Mornings are the worst. I feel we run a military operation before we even go downstairs. It all starts around 6am (if we’re lucky). We wake up to the sounds of him stirring; a small grunt at first, then the kicking of his legs, a few farts, an amplified squelch of shit from his nappy, then all hell breaks loose as he screams blue murder. He’s got attitude and he’s hungry. We try our best to ignore it, not making eye contact, thinking he’ll get bored and forget he’s not eaten for three hours, and fall asleep again. But then my boobs start pouring. I’m like a cow. I’d best get up, sort his arse out and get him fed. That’s a large chunk of units eaten up before I’ve even said “Good morning” to anyone. Days are then broken up into three hour blocks. This is the time I have to do the mundane chores, like washing up, before the next feed. I’ve worked out I spend eight hours a day feeding him; that’s eight hours a day with my tits out. That’s the same amount of time I spent at work. I’ve swapped work for milking time!

Another change…We’ve turned into one of ‘those families’ who are late for everything. And I mean everything! Prior to entering Mumsville I could not abide being late for anything, because I know how much lateness pisses me off. It irritated me when students would arrive late for their music lessons, knocking all my carefully planned timetable completely out of sync. Yet it’s now I’m a mum that I can (sort of) understand why they were late. Feeds can take anything from 20 minutes to an hour, you’ve to pack everything but the kitchen sink when leaving the building (heaven forbid you forget the Muslin Square or the emergency dummy), and getting him in and out of the car is definitely two units in itself! Even if you get organised way ahead of time, you can bet your life on it you’ll walk out of the door having forgotten to do or pack something. So if you’re arranging something with me, never expect me to be there when I say I will, for I am a mother now, and cannot possibly run on time for anyone or anything.

So it’s taken us a good three hours to get him to bed. We’ve bathed him, changed him, fed him (again), walked round the park (again. I swear he’ll quack before he speaks English.) We’ve done ‘bouncy Theo’, shushed and rocked him, and he finally falls asleep. This is ‘our time’. Do we sit down and watch a film? Enjoy a bottle of wine and munch nibbles outside enjoying the last of the evening sun? Do we buggery! We’re watching him sleeping, checking he’s still breathing, talking about the last cute thing he did, and analysing the colour of his last shit. A few weeks ago, we left Theo with Alex’s parents for the evening, loaded with bottles and dummies, while we poured as many G&Ts down our necks as was physically possible in two and a half hours. It’s true what people say about not having a social life once you become parents. With the amount of planning it took, and time spent attached to my trusty breast pump filling emergency Tommy Tippees, we did wonder whether it was worth it in the end, or whether we’d have been better nipping to Lidl and getting a cheap bottle of ‘plonk.’  It was nice to get out of the house alone though, without the kitchen sink, albeit for just two and a half hours.

So if you see in the distance someone resembling ‘Stig of the Dump’ pushing a pram round the park shushing like something deflating, and smell the faint wiff of puke, baby poo, and B.O., it’s probably me; the was glamorous cruise ship singer, now turned mother.