Tuesday, 16 April 2013

S is for the Shit You Breathe In

 (from The Extremely Over-Protective Mummy's Handbook) 

There was a time, not so long ago, when I didn’t give a fu@k about air quality; a time when I’d gad about the place, just breathing normally, like some reckless demi-god. But then, eight weeks after the birth of my Precious First Born, when an opportunity to sleep came my way, my mind suddenly landed on a single, terrifying idea.

Which was this:

What if there is a carbon monoxide leak in the house?


"Salad, darlings? I washed it in Milton's." 

Now, I’m not normally the kind of gal to go into a Blind Fucking Panic for no reason, oh no no no!! *suppresses horrible facial twitches, puts on weirdly superficial grin*. Neither am I the type to worry myself into an early fucking grave about a gazillion things that are all statistically extremely unlikely to happen, whilst at the same time doing precisely NOTHING about any of them. But if I were, these are the kind of thoughts I would have had:

Thought 1: Maybe I should go and live in the shed for the night? Yeah, yeah, coolio. Look, I know it’s minus 22 Celsius outside, and the shed may as well be called The Museum of Fatal Asbestos or The Asbestos Mega-Store or whatever (but with added rats, and bubonic plague, and frickin Weil's disease), but, BUT ... (and this is a key point, kids), if I don’t move us there soon, we will DIE.

Thought 2: Alternatively, I could drive to my parents’ house, which is only 100 miles away? Yeah, perfect. Ok, I know I’ll have to drive there through a thick fog of Satanic darkness, and there’s also a motorway slip road, which together make up two of the worst things in the whole world, if not the entire known universe, but both of them are preferable to CERTAIN DEATH? Right? RIGHT? 

Thought 3:  Or, OR, OR … fuck, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before … I’m a fat dozy cow that’s why … I could just go and knock on the next door neighbour’s door and ask if we could stay the night there instead? Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s what I’ll do!! It’s only 2am, ffs, and surely some things in life, i.e STAYING ALIVE during a carbon monoxide outbreak, are more important than the risk of looking like a fucking lunatic, and being the talk of the village, and then having to move and uproot everyone. Surely? 

Thought 4: Of course, whilst I’m weighing up the pros and cons of shed vs neighbours vs parents' house (which is an unbelievably complex and multi-faceted process, let me tell you), I should, at the very least, ventilate the fuck out of the house by opening all the windows, and probably the doors too. THIS IS THE VERY LEAST I SHOULD FUCKIN DO.  Listen, I know the baby could contract a nasty chill that could then mutate into a hideous secondary infection, I know that, of course I do, but what choice do I have? Eh? EH, EH??  

Etcetera etcetera until dawn (whilst not at any time moving from the bed or taking any kind of purposeful affirmative action.)

Since that night of course, I have been made aware of all sorts of other airborne hazards, which I feel duty-bound to share with you.
  • The Sun. Burny. Carcinogenic. Bastard.
  • Other people breathing over you, fucking outrageous – or worse still, other people breathing over you, whilst also being coated in a toxic layer of hormone-disrupting perfume, especially Impulse.
  • Secondhand smoke. (Look, I know you think you’re being considerate, smoking in the garden n’all, but unless you’re thinking of smoking directly into an extremely powerful north-easterly headwind, in other words, away from my baby, and unless you are also prepared to dump all of your clothes in that wheelie bin over there, and then blast off your epidermis with an industrial pressure washer, you are not touching my baby (or bump). Period.
  • Paint fumes. The woman at customer services at Farrow and Ball didn’t know what the hell I was talking about when I asked her whether any of their paints contained any known teratogens! Fucking hell, you’d think they know the basics.
  • Mould spores. Don’t get me started.
  • Exhaust fumes. To be honest, I found it fairly easy to avoid heavy concentrations of vehicle emissions, particularly whilst I was pregnant. All I’d do was run really quickly past moving cars, holding my breath in. It was no bother, honestly.

Like I said, this isn’t a particularly comprehensive list, and a great majority of you will now be screaming, “What about electricity pylons, and fungus, and pesticides, and particulates?” "And what about the clouds of formaldehyde almost definitely evaporating from my sofa cushions, and the giant plumes of invisible radon gas coming up through the gaps in my floorboards, and … grrrr ... the toxic mould spores in the bathroom that are playing merry hell with my orifices … and all the plastic shit … and ….." 

Hey, it’s not that I’m not listening to you. I just don’t want to come over all loony tunes.

PS: Driving in the dark - Unless you have the spectral range of a frickin racoon, or you own one of those psycho night goggles donned by Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs, I don’t see how it is possible to enjoy night driving. Yes, there is less traffic, which is a big plus, for sure, but on the downside - and I do apologise if I come across as a bit of nit-picker - You Can’t. Fucking. See.

PPS: As for motorway slip roads, they deserve a whole entry of their own. For now, suffice it to say that one minute you’re driving along a nice country lane singing nursery rhymes to your kids, the next minute, you have less than one septillionth of a second to accelerate to the absolute edge of The Speed-of-Light Barrier, whilst also still singing the nursery rhymes. BLOODY HELL. AS IF I HAVEN’T GOT ENOUGH ON MY PLATE.


Monday, 1 April 2013

F is for Formula Milk

Hey, here's another extract from the Extremely Over-Protective Mummy's Handbook. 

The world of food is full of strange unsettling facts, like the fact that Worcestershire sauce is made from dissolved fish guts, or that a jar of peanut butter contains a big bunch of rat hairs, or that infant formula milk (blow me down with a fucking feather ladies, you’re not gonna believe this one) is NOT, I repeat NOT, actually poisonous!!!


I, for one, am a little pissed off. You see, for three months prior to the birth of my first child, I was told that feeding my daughter any kind of formula milk - even as an emergency measure - was exactly the same as feeding her a ginormous bottle of raw sewage. Bottle-feeding, explained the NCT lady, would condemn my daughter to a life of constant shitting (caused by massive gastro-intestinal dysfunction) as well as (prepare to grow pale with fear at this next idea) turn her into a Totally. Fat. Fucking. Dufus.   

So I breastfed.

Within a week or two, one of my nipples hung by a jellied nerve end from my aureole; the other was Missing Presumed Fucked (although, I did find traces of it in a hawked-up fur-ball next to the cat bowl.) My daughter lost close to 10% of her own bodyweight on a weekly basis, whilst I was forced to follow an emergency feeding regime that allowed me to sleep for 20-minute-bursts, day and night, for a month. (Ha ha ha ha ha … ha ha ha ha ha …. please help me…why are there so many talking snakes? please make the scary voices go away mummy, please, I think I’d like to sleep now … ) You know the kind of thing, right, RIGHT? Anyway, after four weeks of this hell, my partner gave our daughter a big fuck-off bottle of formula milk while I slept. When I woke, he fessed up.

My memory is hazy and unclear (and forever compromised by a further eight long years without sleep), so to this day I don’t know exactly what I said, or did. But I think I stood there, on the upstairs landing, with my patchy hair standing on end, and my huge milky tits bobbing up-and-down and from side-to-side, screaming about how the milk supply-and-demand thing was now fucked-up FOR-EV-A. I also mentioned, yeah, I’m sure I did, that the baby was mine as well as his … and how he didn’t have the right to give her formula milk a.k.a poison. I may have asked him what he intended to do about the beautiful nutritious milk now curdling in my tits … bespoke milk that my body had lovingly and painstakingly made for OUR baby and was now TOTALLY UNWANTED????  I may have also suggested, just in passing, that I loved our baby more than he did  … and I may have asked other questions, too. Did he at least wash the bottle beforehand in hot soapy water and then sterilise it in the steam sterilizer for twenty minutes? Did he at least use the sterilised tweezers to insert the teat into the bottle? Was the milk at least organic formula milk with a unique blend of prebiotics, was it, WAS IT? And did he definitely use one of those BreastFlow double teats that simulated real nipples, because of the massively underrated but real and present danger of Nipple Confusion? And was the water he used to make up the formula fresh water that had been boiled, and then cooled down to not less than 70 degrees, and had he even considered the risk of constant shitting, or off-the scale cardiovascular disease, or worse still, the hideous neverending shame of our daughter, our precious firstborn, being a regular guest on the Jeremy Kyle show because she was now going to be obese and also mental?

You know how it is girls, right!

To which my partner calmly said, “Formula milk is not actually poisonous.”

Yeah, I know that. Smug motherfucker. 

PS: None of this is to excuse Nestle, who aggressively market formula milk in the developing world, in places where there is not always access to clean water, and in spectacular breach of international marketing standards. They are, unequivocally, bastards.