A SOBERING THOUGHT / by Charlotte Marriner

Since my you-can’t-ride-a-death-trap midwife almost spat her PG Tips all over me and Carlo read one too many news story about a poor, crushed cyclist under a lorry, Sue hasn’t seen much action lately. And, as much as I love her, in this sombre and soggy weather that clings like a limpet to January, I don’t mind too much. Instead, my baby badge and me have been doing a lot of bus riding (lucky me), slash walking (actually lucky me), which has given me plenty of time for thinking. (Side note on the thinking comment: pregnancy brain is a real thing, people. I covered my entire head in Dove cucumber deodorant before I realised it wasn’t dry shampoo and that my greasy roots still looked like they belonged on a homeless cat. This is not the first time I have done this.) Thinking has meant lots of planning and I’d love to tell you that those plans involve opening a savings account for the baby; finally finding a preggy yoga studio and reading up on the ins and outs (unfortunate phrase use) of Hypnobirthing, but they don’t.

At all.

My plans largely involve what drinks I’m going to have once this baby is out. (For the record: an enormous gin and tonic with a big wedge of cucumber in it, sat outside with the grass tickling my toes; a glass of ice cold, extra dry Prosecco whose bubbles leap up my nose; an evening in front of the telly with a bottle of  warm-ish, 2008 Tamboerskloof Shiraz; a slug of my parent’s homemade silky, smooth sloe gin and and and…)

OK so they wholly involve alcoholic drinks. This is the thing that people neglect to tell you, though, when you’re pregnant. Yes, it’s wonderful. Yes, it’s still the one thing that’s going to blow your mind every time you sit down and acknowledge that you are currently GROWING A HUMAN BEING INSIDE YOU. I know, and have done since the moment that that little cross blinked up at me, that this is the best thing that Carlo and I will ever do. By a mile. But you don’t stop being you. Your priorities change and your habits change and the responsibility piles on, but you don’t morph into a parent overnight. At Christmas and New Year’s, I wasn’t ‘not drinking’ because a magical mum switch had been activated and I was now immune to booze.

“Champagne? No siree! Merlot with my cheese? Eurgh. Get that filth away from me!”

Inside I felt like a raging smack addict, leaning over my husband’s wine to get a big, shuddering whiff before smiling sweetly with glittering eyes and insisting that I was very happy, actually, with my elderflower cordial and tonic water. (Thank God for my lovely, also-pregnant cousin who got me a teetotal drinks book for Christmas. If I have one more elderflower-and-something I’m going to lose it.) I’m itching to sit in a pub again and waste a whole afternoon lolling, lazy-eyed in a velvet cushioned corner drinking wine and laughing ’til I hiccup. I fantasise about eating a cheese so ripe it’s trying to run off the board and smells like something that should be buried or set fire to, instantly. I really, really want to go to the Argentinian restaurant that Carlo and I love and drink mint-laden mojitos chased with tequila shots, that make us wince and whoop and chair dance to the cheesy DJ.

I don’t do all of this, because until June, I am the only person responsible for this little life. It’s up to me to make sure the baby enters this world healthy and happy. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to.The endless, gooey, new-parent blogs, articles, emailers and TV advertising sell us saints; mother Marys who smile with glee while their boobs get veiny and pendulous and the heartburn makes them burp like your Grandma at the supper table because her hearing aids clearly don’t work and she thinks you can’t hear. These carefully crafted robots don’t help us. In fact, they just make you feel even more selfish and awful when you wish you weren’t pregnant for just ten minutes so the constipation would let you have a normal bloody poo, or that you could have one night off to leap up and down with wild abandon on a crowded, sweaty dance floor. And therein lies my first parenting lesson I suppose; understanding small sacrifices and that from now on, every decision I, and we, make will now include another little person. And even though we haven’t met yet, I know they’re worth skipping it all for.