Mummy fail

The kitchen is a building site and soon Mummy won’t be able to use it at all. Probably for a month, says the builder.

“I will buy jars of baby food,” says Mummy, “for emergencies.” Mummy goes into Boots.

Boots are selling off jars of baby food for 15p. Mummy does love a bargain! “We will take them all!” says Mummy, who forsees lots of emergencies.

Mummy gets home and opens the 15p baby food. Rebel Baby does not like 15p baby food. She likes absolutely everything else in the world, including beetroot-flavoured scrambled eggs, and porridge with leek and onions. But she does not like 15p baby food. Not even a little tiny bit… not a morsel shall pass her lips.

Now, Mummy has ten tons of 15p baby food and no kitchen.

Bugger, thinks Mummy.

Liability Baby

Today is a Very Important Day as Daddy has invited his Very Important Bosses round for lunch. Daddy is to cook a delicious and impressive meal, while Mummy is to look after The Baby and ensure she is well behaved – this is all that Mummy is to worry about.

Mummy spends at least a week attempting to teach The Baby table manners and rehearsing polite greetings such as waving and handshakes instead of RB’s usual face-grab and death-stare. She cleans The Baby and everything The Baby has touched / vomitted on,  including spending a good half hour chiselling dried-on Weetabix off the dining table lest it should cause offence to the Very Important Guests.

“Our guests will be here soon darling,” says Mummy as she puts The Baby down for a nap. “You have a nice long snooze while the grown ups eat lunch, then wake up to see them in an hour or two, just like we practised, OK?” RB gurns at Mummy and chews her toes with a knowing smile. “Sweet dreams poppet,” Mummy whispers as she tiptoes out of the nursery.

Mr and Mrs Boss arrive promptly for dinner and Daddy serves a delicious roast, exactly as planned. But no sooner has Mummy sliced into a roast potato than the baby monitor flickers to life. Mummy mentally curses herself for not unplugging it… or in fact buying it in the first place, back when she thought it would be desirable to amplify a baby’s screaming in surround sound.

“Ah, she is awake!” notices Daddy.

Bugger, thinks Mummy but out loud she says, “Lovely, I will just go and fetch her.”

Mummy goes up to the nursery to retrieve The Baby, who has pooed all over the inside of the cot. Not just a normal leaky nappy… an almighty tidal wave of foul-smelling liquid necessitating an entire change of clothes and bed sheets. Perfect timing, thinks Mummy, whose roast dinner is going cold. She chucks the whole lot in the bath to deal with later, rinses The Baby under the shower and sprays things generously with Dettol for good measure. She prays to the God of Nappies that it was a one-off. “Best behaviour darling,” hisses Mummy as she takes The Baby downstairs and plonks her in the highchair.

Rebel Baby has forgotten everything Mummy taught her. She greets the visitors with a death-stare and bangs on the table. She picks up every single piece of food one by one and purposefully deposits them over the edge of her tray onto the nice clean rug upon which she is seated.  Mummy is slowly dying inside.

“Are they baby people?” whispers Mummy to Daddy in the kitchen.

“Um… well, not especially,” says Daddy, and Mummy dies a little more.

“Raaaaa!” says Rebel Baby, and Mummy shoves some breadsticks in her mouth.

Soon, The Baby is getting whiny and wriggly, and Mummy notices a foul odour radiating from the high-chair.  It seems the earlier nappy was not a one-off. Marvellous.

“Won’t be a moment!” trills Mummy cheerfully, hoping no one else has noticed and mourning the loss of her hot roast potatoes. She whisks The Baby upstairs, leaving the Very Important Bosses to enjoy lunch with a hint of Eau de Excrement lingering in the air.

Another change, another spray of Dettol and one for Mummy for good measure. The roast potatoes will definitely be cold now, thinks Mummy with a sigh as she returns to the table. The Baby resumes her mission to relocate all of her food and toys to the floor, whilst intermittently shouting for no apparent reason whatsoever.

“Raaaaa! Raaaaa! Raaaaa!” shouts Rebel Baby at no one in particular.

“Shhhhhhhhh….” hisses Mummy to no avail, “what’s wrong?”

“Her shit is all over the floor!” observes Mr Boss and, for one heart-stopping moment, Mummy thinks he means literally.

It is clear that RB has no intention of sitting nicely through the rest of the meal. She whines and wriggles until Mummy lets her out of the chair onto her lap, then whines and wriggles until Mummy lets her sit on the table, which is something Mummy wishes she had never started doing. Hindsight is wonderful thing, muses Mummy as she decides it is definitely time to  stop letting the baby sit on the table… tomorrow. From her new seat she can reach Daddy’s beer and the wine, and makes it very clear that these are preferable to the sensible carrot and breadsticks which Mummy had so thoughtfully provided.

“Have a roast potato,” says Daddy, and RB is delighted.

Mummy is scowling at The Baby, but RB is pretending not to notice. There are Very Important Guests to give her an audience, and she intends to make the most of them. But they are not baby people thinks Mummy, mortified.  The Baby is whining again, and Mummy attempts to distract everyone with cheesecake.

Mr Boss talks to RB and pulls funny faces. She stares back, mesmerised, occasionally glancing sideways at Mummy from time to time as if to say, “Is it now I am supposed to be good?” Mrs Boss plays peekaboo and sings her songs, and RB claps along happily, delighted to be so thoroughly entertained.

“We are not really baby people,” says Mrs Boss, “we have dogs and horses.”

Mummy observes that they seem to be doing a better job than she was of keeping the small one happy, and wonders what in fact being a ‘baby person’ even means. She suspects it has something to do with ultimately having responsibility for the contents of the bath upstairs. Sometimes, Mummy wishes she was not a baby person.

When the Very Important Bosses come to leave, they are very kind about The Baby and pretend not to have noticed the smell or the whining.  Mummy and The Baby wave them off at the door, all smiles. Once the door is closed however, Mummy turns, stern-faced, to have serious words with The Baby. Unfortunately, something tells her RB is not taking it entirely seriously:




Why Grandad can’t be trusted

Grandad had The Baby. The Baby was clean.

Grandad gave The Baby back to Mummy.  There is red wine on The Baby’s sleeping bag. The Baby is rosy-cheeked and sleepy. Mummy is suspicious.

“Don’t worry,”says Grandad. Mummy looks worried.

“I can do a liver function test,” says Uncle Doc.

Mummy wasn’t worried about the liver. Those stains aren’t coming out, thinks Mummy.

Battles at midnight

It is a mere few weeks before Mummy must return to work, about which Mummy is both unbelievably sad and deliriously happy. She has decided, however, that the current wake-up-three-times-for-a-meal-in-the-night situation is totally incompatible with a 6:00 am start and full working day, so is taking matters into her own hands. Rebel Baby is not delighted about Mummy’s new venture, accustomed as she is to a midnight feast whenever she feels like it. Rebel Baby is going to fight Mummy every step of the way, determined that her love of eating will prevail. But Mummy is the one with the boobs and Mummy will win. Eventually.

Wanting to be fully prepared for her win, Mummy has naturally spent at least a week Googling night-weaning and reading every possible piece of advice on the matter. It seems the advice ranges from “…just stop feeding them in the night – they will quickly understand and immediately comply,” to “…denying a night feed would be to neglect their most basic and essential need, causing untold distress and everlasting brain damage – it is akin to child abuse.” Marvellous.

Mummy decides the 3:00 am feed will be the first to go, as this is when Mummy most despises being dragged from her bed to sit upright in a dimly lit room with tiny, cold hands down her pyjama top. She begins by making sure The Baby has  had an absolutely enormous dinner with extra helpings and pudding, followed by a good long bedtime feed and another one when Mummy goes to bed. So far so good, thinks Mummy.

The know-it-all baby website tells Mummy that when The Baby wakes up, she should replace a breastfeed with water in a bottle. This will momentarily satisfy The Baby without providing energy, meaning she eats more the next day which will last her through the night. A wonderfully simple and logical solution, thinks Mummy. In order to trick The Baby into taking the cold, hard bottle of water over a soft, warm drink of milk, Mummy should find a nice soft comforter for The Baby and make it smell of her, so she can leave The Baby with it in the cot and minimise sleep disruption.  So – and only because it is what the website told her to do, not because she is weird – Mummy spends the next twenty four hours with a stuffed rabbit down her bra to ensure it collects enough residual boob sweat, hobnob crumbs and stale baby-sick to become a convincing substitute for actual Mummy. The poor rabbit emerges from its ordeal looking rather worse for wear and wondering what on earth it did to Mummy to be chosen for such an unpleasant role.

3:00 am comes and The Baby is awake. Mummy stealthily tiptoes into the nursery, armed with the bottle and Boob-sweat Bunny. The bunny is well-received: RB snuggles willingly into its soft fur, stroking the ear against her cheek. So far so good, thinks Mummy. But she is not satisfied, and continues to stir. Now, she is sleepily searching for food, smacking her greedy little lips and making disgruntled sucking noises into the air. Mummy gently slips in the teat of the bottle….

NOT OK! NOT OK! Rebel Baby’s eyes shoot open angrily and she stares directly at Mummy, swiping away the bottle with one decisive stroke. “Rah!” shouts Rebel Baby, clearly insulted by the attempt.

“Try the bottle darling,” coos Mummy, making a futile attempt to persuade it into her mouth.

“Raaaaah!” shouts Rebel Baby, expertly batting it away. She points at Mummy’s boobs with her stretchy, reachy fingers. “Raaaah!” she shouts quite purposefully. “Raaaah! Raaaah! Raaaah!” There is no mistaking her meaning as she grabs at Mummy, opening and closing her mouth, her angry eyebrows furrowed in disbelief at Mummy’s stupidity.

“Just a little bit of water?” cajoles Mummy sleepily, wishing now that she had come up with a Plan B as Plan A seems to be failing monumentally. Eventually, after giving in and taking The Baby out of the cot, Mummy persuades her – very much against her will – to accept the water. RB then spends the next hour letting Mummy know, from the next room, that the water was entirely unsatisfactory and that RB has not forgotten about it. When The Baby eventually falls asleep, Mummy is unnecessarily awake for the next two hours, mulling over a better approach and Googling alternative strategies. The Baby, meanwhile, is snoozing away happily in the knowledge that her point was well made.

Just to be sure Mummy has got the message, Rebel Baby wakes up at the crack of dawn, scowling and demanding milk. Mummy is too weak to refuse. If sleep deprivation is a form of torture, Rebel Baby is the Gestapo.  She is still clutching Boob-sweat Bunny though, so maybe it’s a start…

Playing it safe

Mummy and RB have been locked in a battle of wills for some time now over who gets to be in charge of the spoon. Mummy says it comes down to two main points:

1. Does The Baby want to actually eat any food?

2. Does Mummy want to spend the rest of her life cleaning the kitchen?

Assuming the answers are “Yes” and “No” respectively, Mummy concludes she should be in charge of the spoon. RB, however, has different decision-making criteria:

1. Do I want to be in charge of the spoon?

As a compromise, Mummy has devised a genius new way of feeding The Baby which limits collateral damage and maximises the chance of food actually going in by containing it to the area immediately surrounding The Baby. Mummy thinks this is the solution to all of her problems and has opened a packet of Galaxy Minstrels to celebrate. Given that mealtimes using this new system can take an hour or more, Mummy doesn’t really see the point getting The Baby out in between meals either. Take that, Annabel Karmel. And well done Mummy, you baby-weaning legend.

It’s not exactly a long-term solution. She’d need a bigger tub.


Feeding frenzy

Mummy has had a very difficult mealtime. She cannot for the life of her understand why The Baby seems calm and hungry, then loses the plot every time the spoon is raised to her lips, squealing and flapping and flinging food all over herself. Each time, Mummy waits patiently for The Baby to settle down and the Baby leans forward, mouth open, appearing completely normal and mentally stable. Yet as soon as Mummy proffers a mouthful of delicious dinner, it is like an electric shock has passed through RB, rendering her first rigid and paralytic, then frantic and frenzied with squeals only a dog could hear.

Time and time again this happens whilst Mummy battles on. After each episode, she is immediately hungry and resumes normal behaviour, but it is impossible to get any food into her. By the time the pot has been emptied, there is food all over the floor, food all over the walls and food all over The Baby. RB is grinning at Mummy, delighted with the scene she has created. Mummy feels like she has weathered a storm without getting a morsel of dinner into the little one, and turns wearily to the sink to begin the clean-up operation. It is then that Mummy spies Daddy through the kitchen window… it is Daddy upon whom RB’s manic grin is firmly fixed. The sod has been playing peek-a-boo from the garden from underneath the window. Daddy will be cleaning the kitchen this evening…

Daddy – 1: Mummy – 0

Garbage disposal

Hating mess as she does, it is a Big Thing for Mummy to embrace letting the little one start to feed herself. When you have a kitchen the size of a postage stamp, the idea of puréed beetroot being flung over your clean washing up and Jenga-like spice rack is stomach-churning.

Rebel Baby however is delighted to finally be in charge of the spoon, having lusted after it for weeks. So excited is she that not a single morsel makes it from bowl to mouth without assistance, the majority being sloshed enthusiastically down her front en route to the spoon, accompanied by ecstatic squeals and frenzied arm-waving.

Never one to waste food, she then spends half an hour slurping the cold, congealing mix of assorted debris out of her bib gutter, emerging every now and then to catch her breath and grin manically, before plunging back in.

Mummy has left her to it and is frantically Googling “Finishing Schools,” hoping they still exist.

Let them eat cake

Mummy is working hard to provide The Baby with a wide range of flavour sensations so that she grows up to have a wholesome and balanced diet, embracing diverse and interesting culinary experiences. The plethora of delicious food on offer ranges from smooth, fresh purees to tasty chewy bites… from exotic fruit medleys to classic British ‘meat and two veg’ combos. Every morsel is beautifully crafted and served with flair.

Rebel Baby greets Every. Single. Meal. with her classic “What on earth is this tripe?” face. She mulls over each mouthful with disdain and contempt, eyeing Mummy suspiciously as if suspecting she may have been poisoned.   Only when it has all gone does she suddenly decide it was the Best Thing Ever and  clamour for more, stretching for the spoon and opening her little mouth like a goldfish. Should Mummy go to all the trouble of making more however, she will immediately be disinterested.

Mummy is trying not to take it personally, but instead to consider she has the makings of a snobby food critic for some pretentious magazine and might one day take Mummy to swanky restaurants where they will dine for free on champagne and truffles. When that happens, Mummy will be sure to pull this exact face:

Grandad, however, says it is because Mummy is feeding her horrid vegetables and should just let her eat cake. Grandad is soft like that.

In my day…

It started before The Baby was even born, when Mummy was pregnant and pretending not to feel sick all the time.

“In my day,” said Knitting Nanna, “we didn’t have all these rules about what pregnant ladies can’t eat. You could smoke and drink, and doctors prescribed Guinness. In my day, we only had to avoid green potatoes, and the babies all turned out perfectly healthy!” Mummy muses that healthy is not a word she would ever associate with Daddy, the product of this practice, and lover of beer and kebabs. Thankfully, Mummy does not like Guinness. Or green potatoes.

Mummy should have realised this was merely the start of things to come. It seems that everyone who has ever had a baby has had it on a different day, and on that day the rules were different from all all the other days. This confuses Mummy greatly, as she cannot always remember what day is it today, let alone which piece of advice belongs to which day.

“In my day,” says Grandma, who has had three babies and can’t always remember which was which, “it was very important to have the baby weighed every five minutes. You must take the baby to the clinic all the time, because it is impossible to know how she is doing unless you know exactly how much she weighs.”

“But Mrs Health Visitor said don’t come back for a month,” explains Mummy.

“Take her anyway,” says Grandma, “just to be sure.”

“I’m amazed you are sitting her up,” says Terribly Old Great Granny. “In my day, you couldn’t sit then up ’til they were eight months old and you only fed then at 10:00, 2:00 and 6:00.” Mummy wonders what happened if they were hungry at 3:00, as Rebel Baby would almost certainly choose to be hungry at rebelliously different times…

“Leave them to cry at the bottom of the garden!” says Terribly Old Great Grandad, “It ne’er did ’em any harm!”

Mummy looks at the size of her garden and thinks that the neighbours would not thank her for that. She wonders if it would be OK to leave her at the bottom of someone else’s garden.

“We weaned you at three months, on freeze-dried cheese and tomato instant baby food,” says Grandad nostalgically. Mummy suspects this was much more convenient than the home-made organic vegetable purées in the recipe book Mrs Health Visitor so kindly provided, and makes a mental note to check if this is still available.

In twenty or thirty years, muses Mummy, I wonder what I will be telling the baby about? There must be things we are doing now which will seem ridiculous to her in the future. 

Mummy doesn’t know, but she suspects that Ewan the Musical Womb Sheep may be one of them.

Least convincing fake-sleeping face EVER.


Tongue ties and murderous thoughts


Due to the incessant demand of the milking machine, Mummy does at least now have boobs like Pamela Anderson as promised, though it is unlikely Pam’s were as sore as Mummy’s, unless the red swimsuit was to hide the blood. The difficulty now is that the Little One is not actually drinking any milk from them, but relies solely on the convoluted process of decanting it into a bottle via an industrial pump.

In actual fact, now the supply has finally kicked in, Mummy has gone a bit over the top with milk-production and there is gallons of the stuff in the freezer. It hasn’t yet occurred to Mummy that she can scale back The Plan once normality is established, so Mummy is like a machine fuelled by fenugreek tea and organic porridge. She contemplates buying a breast milk recipe book she finds on Amazon to help get rid of it all, but decides that would be beyond weird.

Mrs Health Visitee has decided The Baby might be tongue-tied, and has referred Mummy to a clinic over an hour away to investigate. Naturally, Mummy stayed up until 5:00 am Googling ‘tongue-tie’ and, thanks to her dogged perseverance and some very specific search terms, has managed to find at least one example of a baby who has actually DIED as a result of tongue-tie (sort of) and at least one example of a baby who has actually DIED as a result of being treated for tongue-tie, so has convinced herself The Baby is doomed either way and it’s all her fault. (Mummy did try very hard to think about how she could make it Daddy’s fault, but on this occasion has failed. Very unlike her.)

The clinic wants The Baby to arrive for her appointment when she is due a feed, so Mummy drives for over an hour and arrives at 12:00 with a ravenous infant and exploding boobs, only to be told they are “running a little behind.” Marvellous. At least in the waiting room there is another copy of the scary breastfeeding magazine, which Mummy spends the next forty five minutes editing with a biro for accuracy, whilst rocking her screaming baby increasingly violently and asking every five minutes if it wouldn’t matter that she just fed her a tiny bit, for the sake of all the other patients’ eardrums if nothing else.

By the time they are called into the appointment room, Mummy has had to fill her bra with paper towels and The Baby is hoarse from screaming. It is difficult to hear what the nurse is saying through the screams, but she pokes about in The Baby’s mouth and tells Mummy there is a partial tongue tie she can fix.

“And this will mean she can feed properly?” says Mummy, desperate to end the crying.

“Yes, yes,” says the nurse, “it should fix it pretty much instantly.”

“Will it hurt The Baby?” asks Mummy anxiously.

“Oh… just a little snip,” says the nurse evasively. “Very few nerve endings there you know… 95% of babies don’t even feel it.” Mummy suspects that is a made up statistic. She signs the papers anyway.

Mummy has to hold The Baby still while the nurse holds her mouth open. The nurse then produces THE SCARIEST PAIR OF SCISSORS MUMMY HAS EVER SEEN IN HER LIFE to cut The Baby with. Mummy has a sudden change of heart and a less-than-mild panic attack. She starts sweating profusely and closes her eyes. Daddy is at work which is most unfortunate as Daddy is very good at talking sense into Mummy in these situations.

“DON’T YOU DARE CUT MY BABY WITH YOUR GIANT SCARY SCISSORS YOU CRUEL BABY-BUTCHER!” screams Mummy at the top of her voice. She throws the nurse across the room, scoops The Baby up in her arms and runs into the waiting room where she cuddles her baby tightly, sobbing, “I’m so sorry my precious darling, Mummy would never let them hurt you!” and feeds The Baby the milk she so desperately wants.

That is what happens in Mummy’s head. What actually happens is that Mummy sits there with her eyes closed, rocking and sweating, while the baby-butcher reaches into The Baby’s mouth with the very scary scissors.

There is a moment of silence.

Mummy dares to open one eye.

The Baby is visibly shaking and turning slightly purple as she musters the energy to express her feelings on what just happened.

“I think she is in the 5%,” observes Mummy.

Mummy and The Baby are escorted, bleeding and screaming, to a back room where The Baby is finally allowed to eat. She latches on greedily, comforted and calmed at last.

“See!” says the nurse. “The perfect latch! She is all fixed!”

“There is no change!” protests Mummy. “She has a perfect and beautiful Oxbridge-worthy latch and has done since the day she was born. The latch is not the problem. It is the sucking – look how she sucks.”

“Ah… ho… hum…” says the nurse hesitantly. “Then tongue-tie is not your problem. Tongue-tie will not change the way your baby sucks. It was only a partial one anyway… they aren’t usually a problem.”

Mummy resists the urge to stab the nurse with the very scary scissors and concentrates very hard on feeding the baby. “What do you suggest then?” she asks through gritted teeth.

“I think probably just keep doing what you’re doing,” says the nurse. “She’ll get the hang of it eventually. Some babies take a bit longer than others… maybe they have a small mouth, or maybe it’s the shape, or maybe they are just slow to catch on.” Mummy very much resents the insinuation that her beautiful baby is a slow learner, and scowls at the nurse until she backs out of the room apologetically, muttering something about going to “check the notes.”

RB expresses her own views on the matter… nobody asked her.

Sometime later, once Mummy has calmed down

In the month that follows, everyone and his wife offer Mummy advice about how to fix The Baby, what she should be feeding her, when and how. Thankfully, Mummy manages to stop just short of murdering anyone and therefore narrowly avoids life imprisonment… but only just.

It seems there are no short cuts or magic solutions but Mummy sticks to the system and, everso gradually, The Baby does begin to get the hang of things. And Mummy learns to be slightly less neurotic some of the time. Occasionally. She also starts to wear proper clothes again by choice, which is an odd feeling.

Disappointingly, the Pamela Andersons don’t stay which is something Mummy wishes she’d known about, and she makes a mental note to add a warning in biro to the scary magazine next time she comes across one. The milk, however, does stay and Mummy is able to gradually persuade the Little One it is far more efficient to drink it straight from the source.  Nipples heal and pumping machines are laid to rest.

Hopefully the lovely ladies trying to breastfeed who messaged Mummy online can associate with some of Mummy’s depraved ramblings… but they should also know that Mummy has, in her sleepiness, tried both breast milk and formula milk and couldn’t tell the difference.

Now Mummy just needs to work out what to do with the umpteen gallons she over-pumped in panic that are currently residing in the freezer.

Yes, it’s a cookbook. Just weird.