Moata's Blog Idle
Before I got pregnant the most time I had ever spent in a hospital was in the late nineties when I worked across the road from a teaching hospital. Teaching hospitals have student doctors and student doctors have parties... inside hospital buildings.
You haven't lived until you've drunk something called a "Green death"* and then stumbled out into the night via A&E having made sure to turn left and not right at the hospital chapel.
Where was I? Oh yes, hospitals. I've never spent very much time in one as a patient but when my son was born, suddenly I was recovering from surgery and he was a little undersized tiddler strung with tubes and wires. We got to spend a LOT of time in hospital after that.
Having your kid in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (or NICU) is a very strange experience. You have a newborn baby but you also get to actually sleep because they're in the hospital and you're at home. So you can do things like go to a party or whatever.
Which sounds great, I'm sure. But it's not. When your baby is in NICU it's kind of like they're in jail except you have no idea when they'll be eligible for parole.
Hair. It sprouts in differing thicknesses and lengths from almost every surface of the human animal. It can differ in colour and texture but all of us (excluding those with alopecia universalis) have some.
It is a thoroughly mundane, and one would think, uncontroversial substance.
But not so. For hair is a highly politicised bit of the human body and the latest kerfuffle over schoolboy Lucan Battison's locks only proves this fact.
In case you missed it, Battison was recently suspended from St John's College, a Catholic boys' school in Hastings, for having long hair. Lucan and his parents are currently fighting this suspension in the High Court. Their argument is that with his hair tied back, Lucan adheres to the "out of the eyes and off the collar" rule that was in place when he enrolled, and that this is actually a tidier way for him to wear his hair than if it were short (anyone with an abundant head of curls will be familiar with the notion of "short" equalling "puffy mess").
In the court of public opinion much has been made of a school's right to make rules which students, for the sake of learning boundaries, and general orderliness, should adhere to. As well, this story highlighted the underlying sentiment that some people hold that young people, especially teenage boys, should just bloody do as they are told and not have tickets on themselves.
In every life there are certain weeks or days that stand out as phenomenally more difficult than the others. The week before your thesis is due. The day your father died. That time you got your heart broken. A massive earthquake damn near destroys your city. These are what we call Tough Times and once you've made our way out the other side you can quite rightly feel proud that you got through with your sanity intact.
Sometimes it's a single momentous event that makes normal life impossible for a while. If you're really unlucky a whole bunch of things happen at once or in rapid succession in a veritable cascade of catastrophe.
This is the story of one such week (and a bit) in my life.
Saturday: Had a baby! Whoop! In the course of having said baby have to have major abdominal surgery. Am weeing into a plastic bag attached to the side of my bed. Am afraid to touch my own stomach. Am in love with whoever invented codeine, for it is a miracle drug.
I have no milk to feed the baby with. Nurses come in periodically to "milk" me. The last one couldn't even fill a 1ml syringe. Massive fail. What is the point of having huge boobs if they can't even do what they're designed for? And I don't mean "bringing all the boys to the yard".
Back in the nineties (back when my hair was a mess, not because I had no time to groom properly*, but because I simply didn't know any better) I took a course in Mandarin chinese.
Because I neither live in China, nor spend significant amounts of time with any Chinese people my list of Mandarin phrases has shrunk from being enough to manage a somewhat stilted conversation on a variety of bland, safe topics to "hello", "how are you?", "my name is...", "thank you", "goodbye", "no problem", "I don't know", "happy birthday" and the oddly specific "I would like to buy a sweater".
During this time, it wasn't unknown for my fellow students and I to go to a local Chinese restaurant. We got to practice reading the menu and this is also how I know that chickens' feet are actually quite tasty if you can get past the fact that they look a bit like tiny, wizened hands. Our Chinese teacher would sometimes accompany us and would explain which of the doughy dimsum bundles that all looked the same to us were savoury and which were (weirdly) sweet.
He also provided informal tutelage in the art of wielding chopsticks which has stood me in good stead many years down the line. Because, let's face it, chopsticks can be mighty tricky at the best of times but if you have bad technique they're nigh on torturous.
Yep, if you're ever in Shanghai and want to go sweater shopping followed by lunch at a noodle house, I, apparently, am your girl.
Last week I explained about how my son was born.
Naturally, this event has changed my life quite significantly. This was expected, of course. I knew going in that I had no idea what I was getting myself in for, and how true that was.
It's difficult as a yet-to-be-parent to fully grasp quite how terrifying, overwhelming, and well, hard it is to care for a baby. Certainly no one was able to sufficiently describe it to me, pre-baby, in a way that even scratched the surface of the thing.
It truly is the hardest job in the world.
In that vein, in case any non-parental types out there are wondering what that particular line of work is like I have created a series of visual aides below that use an everyday office environment as a frame of reference. Just how much does motherhood differ from an office job?
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