Is love finally in the air…?

I can barely believe what I’m about to say, so improbable does it seem. After months – nay, years – of tragic mishaps and countless calamitous rendezvous, I finally went on a date and … HE WAS NORMAL.

Incredible, right?

In fact, he was more than just normal, he was a very nice guy and we both agreed we’d be happy to meet up again. Cue the fireworks and streamers.

What’s even better is that the date was notable for its distinct lack of job interview-style questions: I still have no idea of his relationship history, job status or salary bracket, but I do know that he likes pisco sours and bodyweight training, is ambivalent about pumpkins and dislikes early morning appointments.

I’m looking forward to meeting him again.

But irrespective of whether the Great Date turns out to be Mr Right or not, the real gift this singular experience has given me is hope. It seems there are some interesting, fun, decent guys out there and I can start to envisage a future that may not involve being surrounded by cats. And thank heavens for that.

Anyway, since success breeds success, I suppose it stands to reason that the Phantom Texter should be back on the scene, keen to meet up and – no doubt – get down. He seems to have an uncanny knack of knowing when my attentions are drawn elsewhere and pops up at just the right moment to get me back on (his) track.

Now, you might think I’d be more excited about this – he is, after all, a devilishly charismatic gentleman, with more than a hint of sex appeal. But … let’s just say that his textual enthusiasm is well documented, but has yet to be borne out in real life.

It’s all well and good spouting on about how much you want to meet up … yadda, yadda, yadda … if you never actually get off your butt and make it happen. Castles in the air make a happy refuge in times of relationship drought, but sooner or later you need to back up those sweet words and empty promises with some real-life action.

In any case, I have a feeling that is going to be a good year.

It’s true that Cupid is a bit behind schedule, but I hope he has a trick or two up his sleeve. Because in terms of singledom, I’ve more than paid my dues. And besides, I bloody hate cats.

Advertisements

Another year over … and a new one just begun

2016. What a year.

A year notable mainly for the roster of esteemed celebrities who chose to shuffle off this mortal coil, starting with David Bowie and ending with George Michael via Prince, Leonard Cohen and Hilda Ogden.

Fortunately, my own 2016 was rather less eventful.

In fact, my 2016 looked almost exactly like its predecessor, give or take the continuous development of the little guy who, incidentally, visited his tenth country at the ripe old and of three – “and a half!” – and informed me that he’d be relocating to Spain, via Australia and Germany, on his fourth birthday.
I’ve applied for a deferral.

Actually, travel was responsible for most of last year’s highlights: Spain, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Spain again, Hungary and Germany. All fun, interesting trips … although, it has to be said, not always particularly restful.

When we travel in company, it’s a joy. But I’ve discovered that solo travel with a ‘threenager’ has its drawbacks: small humans tend to throw tantrums when it’s least appropriate and are guaranteed to fall asleep just before the plane lands, leaving you to haul a slumbering sack of potatoes – plus your handbag, your 10kg backpack, their mini-backpack and assorted hats, coats and gloves – down extremely narrow aircraft steps. Bonus points if you manage to pick up the pram from below the aircraft without dropping the infant.
Oh, and there’s no lift to the terminal so I hope you’re good with carrying that lot up the stairs?

Truly, I am a beast of burden.

Anyway, travel aside, the biggest excitement of 2016 has been buying a house. Well, waiting to buy a house. And not a whole house. Obviously.

(In this city? On a single salary? Don’t make me laugh.)

Actually, I’ve been waiting to buy the darned thing – that is, 30% of a shared ownership flat – since June. But here we are in January and … fingers crossed we’ll be done before February, or else the little guy and I will find ourselves sitting on a pile of boxes in the middle of the street.
But what of romance, I hear you ask. Did the fat little fella with a bow and arrow make a last-minute appearance, saving 2016 from the designation of romantic wasteland?
Reader, he did not.

Sure, the Phantom Texter popped up from time to time, promise much and delivering … um … absolutely nothing. But when that’s the romantic highlight of the year, you can be sure that it was a pretty poor vintage.

Actually, last year was possibly the most romantically bereft period of my life. No one notices a mum with a kid. And, let’s face it … if I’m not at work, I’m with the kid.
Not that I hold the little guy responsible in any way. He starts conversations with anyone and everyone – regardless of age, colour or gender – and many a happy exchange has been the result of his chatty nature. I just need him to focus his efforts on single men of a certain age and demeanour.

And here’s the rub: I just don’t know any single men.

Few friends from my single era remain, and every single one of my mummy friends is happily married. Single men are entirely outside my sphere of existence. I probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than meeting my other half.

But I should hate to think I have yet another year of singledom ahead. Sure, I get along fine on my own, but a partner in crime would be nice … if only to help me carry the kid off the plane. (I jest.)

So join me as I raise a glass to the nascent year, and cross your fingers too. Surely there’s someone out there for someone like me?

I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

10th April, 11.26pm

Yep, that’s the magical moment when my little man finally made his way into the world.

Just one day behind schedule, he must have known he was late, because he came whooshing into the world at high speed: I arrived at the hospital around 10pm, and by half past eleven I was cradling my little pud in my arms.

Like all newborns, he was purple, skinny and wrinkled, but to me he was still the most beautiful thing in the world. Utterly besotted, I spent an age drinking in his deliciousness: the tiny, tiny toes, his miniature fingers with their incredibly long nails, his little rosebud mouth and his soft, downy hair.

My mum had made it just in time to hold my hand for the last, intense throes of labour; the Baby Daddy arrived shortly after, and we sat, marvelling at this little being and his tiny perfection.

But my reverie was short-lived. Just three days later, while friends were visiting, my little bundle suddenly became quiet and unresponsive; panic filled my heart and within thirty minutes we were back at the hospital. The little man wasn’t getting the nutrients he needed: he’d lost too much weight and had slumped into a hypoglycemic torpor.

From enjoying our first golden days together, Bub and I were abruptly plunged into a series of tests, checks and nourishing top-up feeds. Watching them put a feeding tube up his tiny little nose almost broke my heart. His little body went rigid as he screamed and turned red and purple with rage and indignation.

I’d chosen the tube over a bottle, as they told me that bottle fed babies may not return to breast milk, with all its health-giving properties and powerful antibodies. Since it’s so much easier to get milk from a bottle, they simply can’t be bothered to battle with the breast once they’d had a taste of the easy life.

But watching his little face racked with pain, I felt like the worst mother in the world. My little man had had three days of being treated like a prince, his every whim catered for, and suddenly he was being poked, prodded and tortured. He must have wondered what on earth he’d done to deserve it.

Big, fat tears rolled down my face and onto his little limbs as I held him still, complicit in his agony.

To give him his due, the Baby Daddy was absolutely brilliant, running errands to collect the bits and pieces we needed for our stay, taking his turn at waking for the nocturnal feeds and nappy changes (even when Bub exacted revenge for his harsh treatment by squittering liquid projectile poo in his direction) and being generally very supportive.

Two days later, we were finally allowed to take a fattened-up Bub home again.

If my little man had had everything he wanted before, he could now count on being thoroughly spoiled – feeding exactly when he wanted, for as long as he wanted, and being smothered with endless cuddles, kisses and snuggles.

Before his arrival, I imagined that a mother’s love for her child was incomparable. But I wasn’t prepared for the feeling that I would literally die to give this tiny human being everything he needs.

Even when he poops just moments after I’ve changed his nappy; even when he vomits all over his freshly washed sleepsuit; even when he wails inconsolably until I surrender my breast, in my eyes, my little cherub can do no wrong.

Precious beyond compare and utterly delectable, he may be just a tiny wee fella, but I think I’ve finally found my ideal man.

Where is Bub?

I know I shouldn’t be impatient. After all, he’s not even due til tomorrow. But I’d assumed Bub would be in a hurry, just like his mum, and would surely be with us waaaay before time.

The latest midwife visit seemed to confirm my assumptions, when she’d checked his position and smiled, “I’m not sure you’ll make it to 40 weeks!” So naturally, I thought I’d be happily cradling my little bundle by now. But no. I can only attribute his tardiness to the mañana mentality, which I imagine he’s inherited from his (Spanish) dad.

Anyway, I really am trying not to be I am impatient. But I just can’t help it. After nine months of carrying this little soul in my belly, I’m more than ready to meet him.

I want to know what he looks like, how tiny his toes are, how pink and wrinkly his little limbs are; whether he’s happy or cantankerous or just plain sleepy. I want to marvel over his crumpled little face and look for traces of my own reflected in his diminutive features.

In the last two weeks, he’s become truly heavy: turning over in bed has become a logistical challenge and I’ve finally had to resort to propping up the bump with a pillow. Even the XL coat that I bought to replace the original size S is straining at the seams. Spring is (finally) starting to spring and there’s no more ice on the ground in the morning … all of which says to me that my little pud is well and truly cooked and it’s time he put in an appearance.

And yet he remains securely snuggled in my belly, reluctant to leave his cosy little den.

Still, I can’t really complain. Some things are going very smoothly indeed: He Who Shall Remain Nameless has been cheerleading for Bub, and brightening my days with his attentions.

Although there are many factors that preclude this from being The Next Big Romance, it’s a real pleasure to know that someone is thinking of me and cares enough to send me the odd text, just to see how my day is going.

He Who Shall Remain Nameless has also reminded me how much I like hugs and kisses, too. They’d pretty much faded from my memory, being replaced with internal kicks and wriggles – which, it must be said, have their own special charm – but now the luxury of sharing body heat is back on the agenda and I feel like the cat that got the cream.

To be honest, I’m seriously impressed that someone is prepared to take on the task of hugging me. After all, at the moment, I’m not easily huggable. But HWSRN has risen to the task, and even seems to enjoy hugging both me and Bub at the same time.

But still, despite all this happiness, I’m impatient. I want to welcome my son to the world. Every day that I’m still at work, every day that he’s not here, is a torture. All I can do is appeal to his better nature, beg him to make his mind up quickly and start his journey into the world at his earliest convenience.

There are so many things I want to tell him and show him, so many places I want us to go – so many tastes and sights and sounds for him to enjoy. So come on, little fella. Put me out of my misery. Come and join this fabulous and exciting world.

Or in other words … stop hanging around and HURRY UP, BUB!!

Life’s too good

So, once again, I’ve been pretty quiet of late. Life’s just been so darned busy: work has been full on, social engagements have been coming thick and fast … and of course there’s been the preparation for Bub’s imminent arrival.

With just seven days left until his scheduled appearance, absolutely nothing seems to have slowed down. There have been parties galore – including a quick dash down south for grandma’s 90th – a hectic schedule of coffees with friends, and work is one frantic round of tasks to be finished before I depart. And who knows when that might be?

In fact, I may have more time than I think, since my contract runs til 3 days after my due date. If Bub’s Latino side comes out, it’s entirely reasonable to suppose that he may arrive fashionably late and we can collect the juicy bonus that depends on the contract’s completion. Anyway, until he decides to put in an appearance, life continues pretty much as normal.

One notable exception to my usual routine, however, is the absence of the gym. At 38 weeks pregnant, I finally had to hang up my towel. Bub was just getting too heavy for Body Combat, and although I was planning to pursue more gentle activities for another week or so, a fall from my bike (thanks to an exceptionally clumsy cyclist) exacerbated the ache in my already stretched ribs and called a halt to all exuberant activity. And then my membership ran out.

I had thought I might go swimming for the remainder of my pregnancy, but of course I was forgetting exactly how much my shape has changed: the neat bump of yore has blossomed into a veritable barrel and the gigantaboobs of pregnancy laugh in the face of even my most capacious bikini. So that’s that.

To be honest, though, it’s probably for the best: my little pud is so active that half the time, my belly undulates and bulges in a way that’s potentially alarming to fellow swimmers unacquainted with the little man’s charms.

So, apart from a lack of energetic exercise, things are ticking along as usual. Well, as usual, apart from the fact that I’ve seen the Baby Daddy not once but twice in the last month. Can you believe it?

Now that Bub is almost with us, it’s apparently the right time for us to communicate, so we’re dutifully meeting up to make polite conversation and – for my part at least – wondering how on earth this is all going to play out once the little fella makes his grand entrance. After all, we seem to have scant little in common except a past attraction to one another and a son that’s about to be born any day now.

Still, my days of worrying about the Baby Daddy’s involvement are well and truly over. I’m not really worried what the future holds, as long as Bub is healthy and happy.

And anyway, I’ve had other things on my mind: incredibly, there’s been a modicum of romantic activity to grace the endless grey days of Cupid’s absence.

Big surprise, huh?

Of course, I’m an extremely round pregnant lady, so what counts for me as ‘romantic activity’ may barely register on other folks’ amorous scale, but suffice to say I’ve been enjoying the distinguished attentions of a very charming and attractive gentleman and it’s been a pleasure and a joy.

Naturally, as with all good things, it’s not set to last: he’s due to leave town any day now, and my little sproglet is about to be born, so opportunities for coffee and sweet conversation are going to be rather limited. But that’s not the point.

The point is that He Who Shall Remain Nameless has lifted my spirits and given me faith that there are good guys out there somewhere. And some of them might even be interested in me.

Logically, I’m under no illusions: I’m going to have my hands full for the foreseeable future, with nappies, night feeds, and t-shirts decorated with drool. Amorous activities will surely be far, far from my mind.

But just the thought that someone liked me enough to devote their attention to me – even in my rotund state – has made me a very happy mummy-to-be. And what could be nicer than that?

Chopchop-busybusy-workwork-bangbang…

Crikey, where does the time go? January has flown by in a haze of baby planning, parties and new job integration. I feel as if I’ve barely had a moment to myself and already it’s February.

Now, I know that the move from the flexible, freelance lifestyle to being firmly anchored in an office for most of the daylight hours has had an impact – a fairly sizeable, week-filling sort of an impact – but, if I’m honest, what’s making life completely and utterly hectic is the fact that I’m apparently unable to surrender any of my other activities.

From work I zoom to the gym, or to dance classes, or to dinner with a friend, finally arriving home at eleven o’clock and ready to crash into bed. At the weekend, I cram in the social engagements as if my life depended on it, arranging two or three coffee dates then one or more evening engagements, just in case boredom or solitude should set in.

In the whole of January, there were only three blank days in my diary.

Now, whilst this is all lovely, and I truly appreciate the chance to spend time with my friends, it’s also pretty exhausting. It would surely be exhausting even if I weren’t suffering from the kind of insomnia that sees me get no more than five hours’ kip, three nights a week. As it is, I’m starting to resemble a damp dishcloth.

So why on earth can’t I slow down?

Well, it’s partly because I’m only too aware that once Bub arrives, my social life’s going to be a whole lot leaner than at present. So I’m cramming it in while I can.

And it’s also because spending time alone at home allows me to start fretting about all the Bub-things I’ve yet to do/may forget to do/may never get round to doing.

And lastly, it’s because being home alone occasionally leaves me prey to feeling just a little bit sad and blue.

Whether it’s down to tiredness or hormones or whatever, the beatific bliss that has characterised most of pregnancy occasionally chooses to abandon me – just now and again – reminding me that Bub and I will be facing the world all on our ownsome.

And that’s when I think that if I were happily coupled up with some dashing young gentleman, we’d be moving in to a cosy family home any minute now, instead of contemplating babyhood in an (admittedly very pleasant) shared house. And that if we two were three, there’d be someone to turn to when I’m changing my 97th nappy and Bub is wailing the house down.

(Not that Bub is likely to do anything so uncouth as crying. He’s clearly not going to be that sort of baby…)

Still, when I feel like that, I just have to remind myself that I’m VERY lucky to have Bub, and that we’ll make a great team. And that, 99% of the time, things will be just fine. And that I have my family and friends around me, and that Bub already has a fanclub, even though he’s not even born.

Besides, things with the Baby Daddy are getting better: we managed to talk for almost a whole hour the other day without a cross word. On top of that, I’ve been enjoying some very pleasant coffee time with The Divine One, and Skype contact has been re-established with The Semi-suitable Man, who should be meeting up with us in summer, if all things go according to plan. So things could be far worse.

But best of all, it’s only nine weeks til I meet my little pud. And with the weeks passing like hours, that means he’ll be here in no time at all … and that really is a truly delicious thought.

Although I’ll miss his little head butting into my ribs, and his 4am wriggling and my inside-out belly button, I just can’t wait to welcome my little Bub to the world. Because even though it sometimes isn’t the way I’d want it, it’s still a bloody brilliant world and I can’t wait to show Bub all the fabulous things it has to offer.

So the time can fly, for all I care, and the negative thoughts can just sling their hook: whatever life throws at us, Team Bub is in the building and we’re going to take the world by storm!

Shaken, but not stirred

So, after a month’s silence, Normal Guy has been in touch again.

Since we last spoke, or rather messaged, I’ve been to Barcelona and partied at the Festa de Gracia, supped innumerable coffees and gossiped with girlfriends, been to birthday party, a fancy dress party and a retirement party … oh, yes, and I’ve also started a new job.

I’ve no doubt that Normal Guy’s schedule has been equally packed … but is it wrong that I’m a bit underwhelmed by his rather meagre missive, which amounts to just four words?

“Hey! How’s it going?”

Now, I understand that folks is busy, but such a short and superficial message says to me that you’re not really investing much in this friendship. Like, not even a full minute.

And yes, I know, I know. I know some people just don’t rock it by email. But four words? Four? At this rate, YEARS could pass before we have a proper conversation.

Since I’m sworn off menfolk anyway, I’m finding it hard to get excited about such titchy tidings.

What I am properly excited about, though, is a book that I’ve come across called Live Alone and Like It: The Classic Guide for the Single Woman.

The book, “takes readers through the fundamentals of living alone, including the importance of creating a hospitable environment at home, cultivating hobbies that keep her there (“for no woman can accept an invitation every night without coming to grief”), the question of whether single ladies may entertain men at home and many more.”

Nothing amazing about that, you might think … except that the book was published in 1936.

Apparently known as a bit of a bon viveur, the authoress, one Marjorie Hillis, was apparently fed up of hearing single women complaining about their lonely lives, so she penned the book as a call for single ladies to stop whingeing, take control and start enjoying their circumstances.

Sound just a little bit familiar?

Anyway, the inimitable Ms Hillis is an arch old bird, dispensing pearls of wisdom such as:

“One of the great advantages of your way of living is that you can be alone when you want to. Lots of people never discover what a pleasure this can be.”

Quite so.

How anyone could fail to love a book with chapter titles such as ‘A Lady and Her Liquor’ is beyond me, but it’s ‘The Pleasures of a Single Bed’ that has me snorting with laughter, making me realize that although the good lady was writing more than 70 years ago, some things never really change. Or, perhaps, the more they change, the more they stay the same…

“It’s probably true that most people have more fun in bed than anywhere else, and we are not being vulgar. Even going to bed alone can be alluring. There are many times, in fact, when it’s by far the most alluring way to go.”

Sounds like the old girl is right on the money. Now, according to the book, all I need is a maid to mix my martini and a set of matching bed jackets and I’ll really be living the lifestyle.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a date with decadence lined up. Mine’s shaken, not stirred, with just a twist of lemon, please…