petite anglaise

May 12, 2009


Filed under: knocked up — petiteanglaiseparis @ 5:44 pm

Meet the foetus.

A little weekly ritual of mine and Tadpole’s consists of looking up on various websites the info for whatever week of pregnancy I happen to be in (the tail end of week 16 at the time of writing) and reading out the recap of baby’s development. ‘Ooh, it’s got fingernails!’ I shriek. Or ‘Ew, it can wee in the water in my tummy!’ (Which is the technical term for amniotic fluid, in case you were wondering.)

The one thing I dislike about these week-by-week foetal development diaries is that the writers, pursuing the laudable aim of making things as concrete and real as possible, tend to compare the size of the beast to that of a piece of fruit, say. In week 16-17, for example, baby is officially the size (but not yet the weight) of an avocado.

The problem with this, I find, is that when, after a week of eyeing up said avocado (and wondering why, if it’s that small, my belly is already the size of a large melon), I finally give in to the urge to EAT IT, French style, by cutting it in half, smothering it in French dressing and scooping out the flesh with a teaspoon, I feel somewhat uneasy. Not guilty, exactly, but let’s just say I don’t enjoy my feast quite as much as I should.

So, in order to remove ersatz-foetus from my diet altogether, Tadpole and I have devised the revolutionary Soft Toy Sizing SystemTM instead. (So, um, yes, the baby is the tiger, not the passport. The passport is provided for the purposes of scale.)

Tadpole’s soft toy collection is (dusty and) varied, and I look forward to the coming weeks, when tiger will be replaced by Wibbly Pig, for example, or Peter Rabbit. I must admit that I’m slightly less thrilled at the prospect of week 20, where my only correctly-sized option will be a big-nosed replica of Postman Pat, complete with spectacles and satchel.

But the real problem, of course, will come when we get beyond the week 30 watershed, which represents the largest teddy in Tadpole’s collection – a wopping 30 cm long. How, I wonder to myself, shooting teddy an anxious sidelong glance and ‘kegeling’ furiously on the inside, can I possibly play host to something that will actually end up being more like 50 cm long at full term? Something which, in food terms, is described by babycentre’s helpful website as ‘a small pumpkin’?

I feel there is an argument, from that point onwards, for abandoning the ‘concrete and real’ approach and adopting a policy of deliberate vagueness instead, while simultaneously outlawing every ruler and tape measure in the house.

And needless to say, pumpkin will be off the menu chez petite come October. As will Halloween.

April 23, 2009


Filed under: knocked up — petiteanglaiseparis @ 2:09 pm

The first trimester of this pregnancy has been unexpectedly rough.

There was the all day nausea, which seemed to peak in the evenings, making a nonsense of the phrase ‘morning sickness’. Then there were the migraine-lite headaches that shadowed me from morning until night and the extreme fatigue, which meant that in the weeks immediately following our honeymoon I could barely manage to stay awake for five hours in a row. And then, last but not least, there was the big bleak cloud of despondency which settled above my head and refused to budge.

It was difficult, under the circumstances, to feel thrilled about being pregnant, however much I’d looked forward to it, in theory. Cue the guilt about not feeling more pleased. After all, The Boy is a first time future dad, and I was anxious not to sully what should be a magical time.

When I remarked to friends upon how much more difficult this pregnancy seemed compared to my last, six and a half years ago, their response was often framed as a question. ‘Cath, are you sure you aren’t having twins?’

The thought had crossed my mind. Indeed, my gmail status, at one point, read: ‘starting to worry I might be expecting a whole litter…’

Twins run in my biological family, you see. Non identical twins. The sort that can be hereditary because the females of the family are genetically predisposed to ‘over-egg the omelette’ every month. This is probably why it took me only a couple of weeks to get pregnant, both with Tadpole and with baby n° 2, which is obviously a blessing. But after spending a few hours reading up on the subject on the internet, I was bemused to see that one source gave the odds on me having a multiple birth as 1 in 16. My mother, after having me, went on to have non identical twin boys.

Now, of course I’m well aware that there are many couples out there that would love to have twins, or who already have twins, and who think that I’m a selfish human being for preferring my babies to come one at a time, in an orderly, spaced-out fashion. I also know that we could, if necessary, find space in Tadpole’s bedroom for two extra cots, and on the day of the birth I’d no doubt be thrilled to have two bundles of joy for the price of one. And why even have two breasts – sexual fantasies about multiple partners aside – if they can’t be suckled by two babies simultaneously?

But when I found myself in the darkened room, stripped naked from the waist down, my stomach covered in a thick layer of lube, the first words I uttered to the nice lady doctor operating the ultrasound when the picture of the contents of my womb came into focus were:

‘Phew! So there’s only the one in there, then?’

April 7, 2009


Filed under: Tadpole rearing, Tadpole says — petiteanglaiseparis @ 5:33 pm

I am shelling peas in the kitchen while listening to some vintage Aphex twin when I realise that Tadpole has gone disturbingly quiet.

‘Sweetie? What are you up to?’ I call, peering over the bar, from which vantage point I can see the whole of our open-plan apartment. Save the bathroom and toilet, that is. There is no sign of Tadpole, however, and I have a sudden, irrational vision of her drawing 3D pictures on the bathroom floor with a tube of toothpaste.

‘I’m doing a poo!’ shouts Tadpole. ‘Well… Actually, I’ve finished doing my poo, and now I’m reading the book about the bunny.’

The people who designed our apartment thoughtfully built in some shelf space above the toilet, and this hosts our extensive ‘toilet book’ collection. Highlights include our Larson collection, the foreign editions of ‘petite’, several tomes by Desproges and ‘the book about the bunny’, a.k.a. The Bumper Book of Bunny Suicides. Tadpole loves poring over this, even though I hope/feel sure that she doesn’t really understand a) why a bunny would want to commit suicide, and b) how he’s planning to go about it in many of the instances illustrated.

‘You don’t have to read that on the toilet, you know,’ I tell her, when she emerges, finally, a full ten minutes later. ‘You can borrow books from the toilet library. As long as you put them back afterwards…’

Which is why this morning, I found Tadpole with her head bent over a copy of fellow blogger Andre‘s If You’re Happy and You Know It‘ at the breakfast table. Indeed, not just looking at it, but reproducing several of the doodles herself with the help of a biro she’d pilfered from my handbag.


I do hope Andre approves.

March 25, 2009


Filed under: Tadpole rearing, Tadpole says — petiteanglaiseparis @ 1:09 pm

I introduced the idea of a new addition to our family several months ago, long before I began taking folic acid or dispensed with taking ‘precautions’. Tadpole was predictably delighted at the prospect of having a little brother or sister to fuss over and urged me to ‘put a baby in my tummy’ as soon as possible.

‘Will Daddy come to live with us when we have a new baby?’ she asks me, between spoonfuls of cereal, a few days after our first discussion. ‘So he can help us to look after it?’

‘Um, no… I shouldn’t think so,’ I reply with a frown. I’m about to ask her why she would think such a thing, when realisation suddenly dawns. In Tadpole-logic, I realise, Mr Frog is the only possible daddy and therefore it stands to reason that he will father all my children. Hence the assumption that he will be sharing the responsibility for caring for the baby, which he can’t very well do if he is living 400m down the road.

I take a sip of coffee before embarking on my explanation. Best to test my theory first, I decide. So I begin with a tentative question. ‘When I have a baby,’ I begin, ‘who do you think the baby’s daddy will be?’

‘Daddy,’ Tadpole replies, her scornful tone making it abundantly clear that she considers my question a foolish one. I sigh and glance towards the bedroom, wondering whether The Boy can hear us. He could be awake – after all, he just snoozed the alarm not twice, but three times – but there is no way of knowing for sure, as he seems to be capable of banging his fist on the alarm clock in his sleep.

‘Honey,’ I say gently. ‘When Daddy and I made you, we were living in the same house. Now I’m living with Manuel. I’m married to Manuel. So this time it’s going to be different. The baby’s daddy won’t be your daddy. It will be Manuel.’

‘Oh,’ Tadpole replies. She falls silent, processing this new information, then gives me a smile and a nod, and spoons more cereal into her mouth.

‘So the baby will call Manuel ‘Daddy’, I continue, thinking it advisable to press the point home while I have Tadpole’s undivided attention. ‘But you’ll still call him Manuel. And you’ll call your daddy ‘Daddy’. Tadpole nods again, her mouth full.

A few weeks later, when the future baby has become less an abstract concept than a grape-sized mini-foetus swimming in nausea-inducing circles, we are discussing the Easter holidays, when Tadpole will stay with Mr Frog’s parents for a week, as per usual.

‘When the baby is born,’ Tadpole says, ‘It will come with me to stay at Mamie and Papy‘s house, won’t it? Because they will be the grandparents of the baby too.’

I smile and shake my head. This is going to be more complicated than I thought.

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