Saturday, 1 December 2018

On the subject of babies!

The daughter of a friend of mine had a baby a month ago. I have been very good. I have sent congratulations and refrained from commenting on the pretentious, upwardly-mobile name the poor child has been given - the kind of name the Sackville-Bagginses would have chosen for a daughter! Truly!

I have also refrained from commenting when she asked for advice on party clothes for her tiny daughter - the approach of Christmas means every girl needs a pretty dress. Even if she will only be eight weeks old and will be just as adorable in a baby-gro and a pretty cardigan.

And I kept quiet when a picture was posted for her being one month old, with alongside her a cute toy bunny with a cute label declaring: I am one month old today. Oh, boy! The card and soft toy manufacturers really know how to cash in on sentimentality.

But yesterday she posted a picture of herself looking frankly hollow-eyed and quite knackered (but still with beautifully manicured nails!), baby on her shoulder and a comment about how she imagined her evenings - baby asleep in her crib, a calm dinner and a glass of fizz with hubby. In her dreams! The reality is a baby who screams and cries all evening, who needs carrying around by one of the doting parents while the other tries to get something to eat.

So I got into a social media dialogue reassuring her that this is quite normal, that one month old is early days for a baby to be in a settled routine. I did not question the advisability or otherwise of drinking fizz if you are breastfeeding but I did give hints on how to snatch some sleep with a tiny person around. I wasn‘t the only one. Loads of people - new mums and old - chipped in with reassurances that this stage does not usually last for ever.

New mums need reassurance so nobody gave her horror stories of babies who never settle into a routine and do not sleep through the night until they are seven years old.

That’s my good deed for the week.

On the subject of babies, I read about a phenomenon called the “gender reveal party”.

Few couples can resist discovering whether they will have a boy or a girl. And nowadays they no longer rely on dangling the wedding ring on a string over the baby-bump and seeing which way it spins. That always struck me as a bizarre thing to do. Personally, I was happy to wait for delivery day. It has always seemed a bit like opening your presents before Christmas or before your birthday. Besides, I only ever had one scan for each pregnancy. But in this day and age Mummy-to-be’s tummy is scanned at twelve weeks. Then you can send a print-out to everyone or put it on Facebook or Twitter to announce the pregnancy. And there seem to be scans at regular intervals after this so that at some point Billy or Betty Bum will be shown to be a boy or a girl - unless you look away at the relevant moment.

The thing to do when you have the gender news is to have a party to let your friends and relations know. In The UK, as we are still a fairly restrained, some would say inhibited, nation, this is usually done with cake. An iced cake is usually cut to reveal a pink or blue interior! As a rule is takes place at the “baby shower”, an American invention / social event where friends and family are obliged to provide all the stuff a baby might need - tiny items of clothing, even the car seat and baby buggy if you are really fortunate.

In Australia apparently the custom for some people is to do something weird to their car so that it emits pink or blue smoke from the exhaust. And recently in Arizona a couple set fire to 47,000 acres of land by shooting at a target full of coloured explosive as a means of announcing the gender of their forthcoming baby. Rather an expensive announcement as with firefighting and so on it cost around $8 million!

The world is truly strange!

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