Our babies are a month old this week which we’re pinching ourselves to believe. They’re feeding well, piling on the weight and growing like mad. Flo is bright-eyed, alert and busy pointing, stretching and shouting. Archie’s more sedate – cuddly, sleepy, fluffy-haired and decidedly more slothful. Nice mix of gene pool going on there between them we reckon. Good and even brilliant days far outweigh bad days so far – when feeding and sleeping works like clockwork, we get some decent rest in the day and sleep at night, and even get some grown-up evenings with supper and a DVD (and call each other by name instead of Mummy and Daddy). Our families have been amazing this first month and I don’t know how we would have survived without them. We’ve been spoilt rotten with their love, support and time. They’ve shushed, jigged and cwtched restless newborns, changed more than their fair share of nappies, run scores of nursery drop-offs and pick-ups, done endless supermarket trips, and fed, watered and hugged us. At the same time, friends have showered us with generous gifts, cards and good wishes. It feels like our first few weeks have truly been the ‘babymoon’ we always joked about having but never thought possible or likely. In secret, I weigh myself too much but delight in losing almost 3 stone in a month.
On the less good days, I’m glued to the feeding chair for what seems like hours on end, we’re sleep deprived, I’m still in PJs at lunchtime, we surrender to too much TV as after-nursery childcare and the house looks like a bomb’s hit it. I confess this tests my control-freakery to the limits and I have to give myself a good talking to about needing to embrace the brave new world of life ‘a cinq’. I avoid the mirror on these days to avoid catching sight of my still-sizeable bump, cadaverish complexion, eye bags with eye bags, and mumsy smockery of my post natal wardrobe.
And then there was yesterday. I’ve been having some hideous abdominal pain (like I’m being ripped apart) for the last fortnight which has me doubled up, weeping and hobbling like a limpy old crone whenever I do anything vaguely strenuous. By strenuous I mean like turning over in bed, walking to the end of our lane or getting something out of a cupboard. The midwife, health visitor, GP and emergency locum press, poke and prod me, assure me that my section scar is healing beautifully but fail to identify any recognizable problem, instead citing numerous possible but vague and untreatable causes.
Throwing my toys out of the pram, I insist on a referral to hospital and am advised to go to A&E. I arrive there at 4pm hopeful and in good spirits with babies and my stoic sister-in-law in tow. Four hours in, the spirits are fading fast when a Neanderthal and probably demented octogenarian kindly berates me for feeding the babies in public, having no man with me and being ‘a little bitch’. I shake and sob with rage, yell at him hysterically, and other people waiting wade in and yell at him too on my behalf, bless them all. On the plus side, we’re given our own room to wait in and the horrid old codger is taken to task by hospital staff who tell me a verbal abuse inquiry will be launched. To top off the day, I leave hospital after 10.30pm, six hours after arriving, a shadow of my former self with no diagnosis beyond ‘see how you feel in another couple of weeks and if the pain is no better, ask your GP what you should do’. I’m too tired to battle for better information even though I know I should have, and leave feeling beaten up and none the wiser about why I’m not recovering.
On a lighter, more rustic note, our sprawling garden bursts into colour with spring bulbs and we smile at its green loveliness. Just and my Dad build and plant a veg patch. The same night, Justin watches a vintage episode of The Good Life – the one where it transpires that the only reason Tom and Barbara can actually afford to lead the Good Life is because Tom paid off the mortgage when he still had a ‘real job’. Just gazes wistfully upon gorgeous Felicity Kendall in her wellies, dungarees and adorable mud-slicked nose and I know exactly what he’s thinking – she is his perfect woman. I watch his little smile fade when I remind him that sadly (for him), I will be forever Margot.