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Feminist quandry

602072_10151966454087674_246089574_nSo, I’m a feminist. Emphatically, vocally feminist, albeit not quite to Germaine Greer’s standards, having never fancied tasting my own menstrual blood. Really Big G? Really?

But while according to G I’ll never be truly emancipated, it doesn’t stop me disliking the gender division which starts happening before a baby is even born. We chose not to find out M’s sex at the 20 week scan, partly because I like surprises, partly to avoid a well-intended deluge of pink/blue trucks/princesses according to the results.

Quite a lot of people – many of them strangers who struck up a conversation in the queue at Boots as I bought my 17th bottle of Gaviscon that week – were surprised by our decision. Apparently you cannot plan for a baby’s arrival if you don’t know whether to buy it clothes with trucks on or clothes with princesses on. Obviously you could not just buy clothes with trucks on anyway, because if a girl baby wore something like that, its vagina would just fall right off.

Pretty much as soon as I discovered I was pregnant, I knew I was having a boy anyway. I was totally confident that when the nine months were eventually up, the midwife would inform me: ‘it’s a boy!’, at which I would smile smugly and say: ‘well of course’. We actually ended up discovering Beta Baby was a Martha not a Noah a few minutes after she was placed on my chest. It was the moment I realised that any intuition you may think you have as a parent is almost certainly wrong.

Throughout pregnancy, despite my conviction I was growing a boy, I insisted that if I did have a girl, I wasn’t going to force her into conforming to tired old gender stereotypes. ‘She will wear dungarees’, I said. ‘I am not dressing her exclusively in pink’, I added. ‘And especially no fucking tutus’, I claimed.

But then I actually did have a girl. And I started looking at all the little girl clothes. The weeny little dresses. Mini leggings. Tiny cardigans with fricken glittery thread. Tights, lace, bows, ribbons, floral prints and oh-my-god-the-cutest-fucking-tutus. And my baby needed a tutu. She did! Her vagina would totally fall off without one.

So M has the girliest of girly wardrobes. Pinks, corals, ruffles, weird ballerina mice which are inexplicably everywhere, pinafores, sparkly stuff and yes, a tutu. A pink, layered, flouncy, sugar pink tutu. But she also has dungarees, pirates, blue, a batman outfit, bear suits, and dinosaurs.

But I’m ok with all the over-the-top froth. Because ultimately, feminism is about choice and freedom. As long as M grows up knowing her options never have to be limited or defined by her sex, then a tutu isn’t going to do her any damage.

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Not-so expensive taste

1442_10151957348152674_628671788_nThe fact that babies require constant entertainment and new parents will pretty much buy anything if you throw the words ‘aids development’ into the product description has led to an apparently bottomless market for expensive toys which manufacturers claim will help make your baby better than all the other babies its age.

These toys are approximately the size of a family car but, unlike a hatchback, they have to be inside your house. If you’re thinking ‘oh no, that means I wont have room for my tv any more’, don’t worry. They make so much noise that you wont be able to hear your tv anyway. The person who creates the noises for baby toys apparently made a pact with the devil which enabled him or her to fabricate a sound so grating it will make you think wistfully about forks scraping on plates or that time Katie Price and Peter Andre had a song.

One of the most popular of these plastic, light-up, electronic-sound-making monstrosities is the Fisher-Price Jumperoo, which starts at around £75.

We recently bought one for M, hoping that she’d enjoy it, but moreso that it would buy us ten minutes here and there to do things like eat or check Google for stories about Jumperoo-related baby deaths.

Fortunately, it’s more of a success than the baby bouncer. Last time I tried the bouncer she immediately tore down the visually stimulating toys, tried to fit the toy arch in her mouth, then, upon realising this would not be possible, screamed until I removed her.

However, while she does love the fact the Jumperoo lets her jump up and down without our help, she has so far entirely rejected all of its toys, regardless of how much they spin, bleep, flash, and generally behave like a teeny-weeny Vegas strip.

No, M has three things she likes to do in the Jumperoo: 1) bash anything within reach with a £2 wooden worm I bought at a garden centre 2) sit transfixed by an old Coke bottle filled with water and glitter 3) crinkle and suck on pieces of greaseproof paper.

If we have a second baby, I think I’ll just save the contents of the cardboard recycling bin, tip it on the floor and chuck the kid in the middle of it.

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The Great Baby Paradox

mbigsmileI’ll be honest; I’m one of those people who loves my job. Not in a pretend-you-like-it-to-your-boss-but-actually-it-makes-you-die-inside way. No, I genuinely love it.

I work here, doing PR-related stuff. I’ve previously worked here, writing about local news, and here, mostly writing about motorbikes and diggers. But I like what I do now best by far.

I get to go back in the new year and I’m definitely looking forward to it. But as much as I want (and need) that part of my life back, I’m also dreading missing a single second of M. Dreading only getting a few hours a day with her. What if she says her first word or takes her first step for someone else? Or forgets who I am? Or develops abandonment issues and ends up dealing drugs or running away or voting Tory?

That’s the funny thing about having a baby though. It seems to create endless paradoxes.

Getting M to nap is one of my primary concerns. I’ve become one of those sinfully boring people who sticks to (and talks about) a routine. But at the same time, as soon as she’s down, part of me wants to wake her up so I can cuddle her and sniff her and kiss her fuzzy hair, and try and get her down for her next nap.

Then there’s the length of the nap itself: there is a very fine line between ‘oh dear god, how are you awake? I JUST put you down, do you have coffee in there? Redbull? What?’ and ‘Oh god. You’ve been asleep so long and are so quiet you have almost certainly died. Clearly you and a burning eagle are locked in a swirling deathgrip and I just didn’t hear anything over the baby monitor’.

Or there’s the milestone paradox, whereby I simultaneously am desperate for M to be doing all the stuff my weekly email from babycentre says she should be, yet I also look wistfully through her boxes of outgrown clothes every time I have to add something to them, and wish that she’d be a teeny little newborn again.

There are many, many more which I could list (‘Really? Poo again?’ vs ‘Why haven’t you pooed?’ or ‘Let’s have time for us as a couple’ vs Now we’re alone, let’s talk about baby poo’). However, the baby is sleeping, which means I have to go obsess over whether her sleepsack might have magically unzipped itself and migrated over her face and smothered her.