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Birth Club

Posted on: Thursday, 11 September 2014

Things that are a Very Bad Idea, especially when one is six-and-a-half-months pregnant and it's a Wednesday night less than two weeks into the new school year:

Reading about Rotherham's sex dens of iniquity and shame.

Eating far too much (admittedly divine feta, pea and mint) omelette.

Twenty minutes of half-arsed yoga and guilty push-ups.

Three West Wings. No. I don't care if it gets you to the end of Season Five, young lady. Never again.

All of these are terrible, terrible ideas and will leave you a broken woman. 

So we have started our antenatal classes. As anticipated, equal amounts of comedy and horror. After a bit of chatting and some tea and snackage (snacks: a cool 8/10 - there was cake, chocolate-coated waffles, butter biscuits, jaffa cakes and grapes) during which one of the blokes showed up all of the others by saying that his reason for doing the course was to 'learn how to become a more supportive and loving birth partner', the men were hustled off into a corner to play with a plastic pelvis and and curiously coral-lipped baby doll and the women's conversation seemed to segue effortlessly into full-on horror mode - like, talking about things I have NEVER EVEN HEARD OF starting with 'perineal' and ending in 'massage' (DO NOT GOOGLE. DO NOT YOUTUBE) and questions about 'ordinary' Belgian birth practice, like the 95% epidural rate in some of the bigger hospitals and enemas and episiotomies almost as standard. 

At this point, I was having a mouth-agape Kurtz moment while everyone else seemed to be nodding sagely.  I need to do some reading, clearly. 

But anyway, we're not really supposed to talk about it, let alone blog about it. It's kind of like Fight Club. Nevertheless, I shall try to stock up on some suitably anonymised comedy-horror moments and report back. 

Things that are a Very Good Idea on a Thursday (last lesson of the day, Year 9):

Poetry needs more white gels from Lahndahn, innit. 

Whassssssup? Ahem.

Posted on: Thursday, 4 September 2014

Whasssssssup? That's a little joke, by the way. Bedders' cousin has just downloaded WhatsApp and I've been tempted more than once to send him a message saying 'Whassssssapp?' before I'm reminded that he is merely twenty three, Australian and the Budweiser Whassssssup advert is therefore Not On His Cultural Radar. Unlike me, who stuck a load of Frankie and Louis the Lizard stickers all over my Year 13 school planner. Why? I didn't even like beer. At the time. Right now, I'd kill for one. 

So I'm back at work and a little bit wide-eyed, as predicted. The plan I'd formed of getting into the groove of next September's daily routine in readiness for when I do the afternoon creche run requires Herculean levels of self-control. I had this golden vision of front-loading my days from 7:30 then trotting out of the door at no later than 4:30. So far the 7:30 thing's going OK but the 4:30...well, today I left at 6:37, which is exactly 17 minutes after the creche shuts 45 minutes of public transportness away. Brillo. I wonder, does it actually shut? With the baby locked inside? If the driver of the 44 tram takes the fancy to declare 'Terminus!" at the Musee de Tram as he did tonight and I'm stuck 25 minutes walk from the bairn, what happens? The answer is simple, I know. I just need to leave earlier. Work smarter. Make every second count. Work out how to use the new learning platform. I'm pretty sure it could revolutionise my working life if I allowed it. 

Next week my 'How To Not Freak Out About Giving Birth' course begins, so there'll be a night or two a week where Bedders and I go to sit in a room with other expectant parents and learn how to breathe and say no to an epidural politely in French* from half seven until TEN O'CLOCK AT NIGHT. SERIOUSLY. This is a course for women who are at least six months pregnant and they're KEEPING US AWAKE UNTIL 10pm. 

(*PS I might not say no to the epidural. I might say HELL YEAH. It is entirely one's own choice as to whether one has an epidural or not, obviously. I'm just conscious that, in Belgium, about 99.9999% of women have one because "it's the norm" and if I decide I want one, I want one because I'm reaching cross-eyed levels of agony and begging Adam to finish me off with a spade like a hoary TB-ridden badger - not because "it's the norm.")

I haven't even had a proper week at work and I'm STILL moaning - I was in the Hague for two days visiting a school and was astonished at the utter professionalism and enthusiasm and DAZZLING TALENT of the Head of Department there. He's in charge of Drama, too, and he's directing the school play this year which is - get this - a musical version of Measure for Measure, played as a straight comedy with no tricky questions about Isabella's victim status or anything else but in a rather avant-garde twist each of the main characters has their very own disco anthem. The Duke's is Could it Be I'm Falling in Love?, apparently (how completely fabulous is this song?) The man is a genius. So I left there feeling very inspired and a little bit sleepy (actually fell asleep on the train, woke up, saw I was in Antwerp, thought I was back in Holland and snorted in panic before I realised Antwerp is in Belgium, doh) and a teeeeeny bit inadequate.  

BUT IT IS FAR TOO EARLY IN THE TERM FOR ALL OF THIS NONSENSE. Let's look on the bright side, eh? Tomorrow is Friday. I will do better at leaving earlier. And sometimes kids leave nice things in your classroom just to say 'Hi' and 'Welcome back' and 'I like Tracey Emin too.'

This is what it's all about, no? 

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