I’m in this in-between place. It’s kind of peaceful, with elements of crazy. I have impending crazy, which lends a little of the crazy to the current, more-peaceful moment. How is life peaceful at the moment? I have lowered my expectations and cross things off the to-do list, most days, because they’re unnecessary rather than because I’ve done them.

But the coming crazy, that’s less of a mystery. I stumbled across a few things (thanks to Pinterest…) that reminded me what the first few weeks with a new baby are like.

Pregnant Chicken’s ‘10 things they don’t tell you‘ is a funny and frank list of things to expect after giving birth. If you’re an easy-queasy, don’t click that link.

And this list advises post-partum visitors about how to be more/less helpful when visiting new mums/babies.

Excellent advice. Though I’m not so worried about the hand-washing thing. Let’s not set ourselves up with an unmaintainable standard of cleanliness.

I am glad to have done this whole shebang before, in a more familiar environment. In most instances I’m feeling pretty relaxed and confident. I’m not, however, looking forward to explaining embarrassing issues to a pharmacist, in French, while sleep deprived and suffering from all the other joys described in ’10 things they don’t tell you’.

I am wondering how Louis is going to react to all this. My placid wee lad is showing his stubborn streak at the moment and I have no expectation that this is a phase he’ll grow out of. Considering his parentage… nope, the stubborn is probably here to stay. Stubbornness, or its rosy-complexioned buddy, determination is one of those (many) traits that make toddler-hood hard on everyone involved but are actually pretty handy in adult life.

He might be determined, but he still needs his two naps a day and bids me a cheery ‘Bye bye’ after I tuck him in. Often wakes up an hour later and chats, sometimes cries. In the afternoon I’m usually just about to start getting some writing done for the day, so I wait it out and see if he’ll doze off again. Most of the time he does.

I have a couple of hours in the morning and a couple in the afternoon while he sleeps. The trick is going to be getting the new baby to nap during Louis’ nap time, but at least there’s a pretty good chance of that at first, when the newbie is lethargic all the time.

I’m reading Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ (fantastic, by the way) and he’s kicking me in the pants re: work ethic. I’m not bad, I mean I write most days. But I still watch TV. I still waste loads of time. I don’t read 70+ books a year. ‘On Writing’ is full of good practical advice but one theme that he keeps circling back to is that if you want to be a good writer you’d better be willing to work hard, to make sacrifices.

I suppose there’s a wider lesson here – if you are serious about achieving ANYTHING challenging then you’ll have to work hard and make sacrifices.

Everyone is always telling new and soon-to-be Mums to lower their expectations of themselves, to just relax and accept:

– you will wear only pjs, at the most, for a couple of months

– you will not leave the house

– you will not achieve anything beyond keeping that baby alive and nourished and loved – and that’s a great achievement


The advice givers, their intentions are good. I get it, I do. And for many new mums this list is very close to true. It might even be helpful. But I didn’t have it so hard the first time around and this time I don’t want to plan on that depressing existence. Why not?

– I felt a million times better when I’d had a shower and put on something that made me look a little less pregnant.

– I felt a million times better when I left the house. And I liked the house a lot better after a few hours apart.

– I felt a million times better when I did achieve something other than keeping Louis alive.

So, for me, I’m raising the bar. I’m going to be my usual naively positive self on this one and plan to bounce back from the low that is labour (lets just be honest and call it a miserable few hours, followed by a rough few days, at the very least).

How am I going to bounce? Well, I plan on keeping writing, for starters. Even if I only get a few words on the page. If I do some I’ll still be making progress, no matter how slow. And I want to keep blogging, but I suspect that’ll be easier than novel-writing anyway.

I also plan on getting out of the house. I live in France, so that means I’ll have to get out of my PJs too. Thank God.

Also, thank God, i live in Antony, not Paris. There are a lot more normal-looking people around, and a lot fewer models. Everytime we go into Paris (and we’re only half an hour away, so it’s not so very rare) I am lumbering up some horrible stairway deep in the bowels of some metro rail station, when I’m passed by these incredible perfume-ad girls in stilettos that might as well use knitting needles for heels. Surely they’re in as much discomfort as I am!

Anyway, I’ll be glad to not see them when I have a newborn strapped to my leaky chest, and my would-rather-go-to-the-sandpit toddler in the pushchair, on my way to the bakery for ‘deux baguette’ (so that I have enough to snack all night if necessary).

In other news, it’s only a week tomorrow till Mum and Dad arrive! They’re off on their O.E., coming to visit me. That rhymes nicely but isn’t the entire truth. There’s nearly two grandchildren which make for pretty good impetus. I am looking forward to showing them our new town, introducing them to certain culinary delights, and taking advantage of their babysitting services so that I can see a movie and have a really long, leisurely dinner date just one more time before the baby arrives. So, we’re assuming she’s not coming for another two weeks or so.

I could skip the movie and leisurely dinner actually. I’m over being pregnant. My hips ache, deep in the bones, and my clothes don’t sit right, so they irritate my skin, which is already a mess.

The baby is welcome to come really any time now. After ten o’clock tonight when Luuk gets back from the Netherlands.