The lists

What’s more overwhelming than washing your hands in a public restroom to discover there’s only a dirty towel to dry them with? Receiving the forwarded baby/hospital bag/hints and tips lists from well-meaning friends and acquaintances via email.

What’s so scary about a list? you may ask. When I received the first one, just named ‘Baba list’ it was preceded with a whatsapp message asking me if I was ready for it. Actually list number 2 (and 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3) were also only  sent after I had agreed to receive them. Because, you really need to be mentally and emotionally ready for the list before you attempt to read them.

The Baba list I had been told about when the sender (previously mentioned as Mrs M) had her first baby (baby m) five years ago. (Yes, that’s how far behind I am, but anyway). She had received the list from a friend, and we had agonised (mostly laughed) over its contents and tried to determine how much of it was serious. Apparently for the writer, all of it was. It’s a different story when you are receiving it. For yourself. As a heads up to what’s in store in a few months time.

The lists are not just shopping lists – although they are in a way because after reading it and quietly screaming between your two ears, you realise there’s a fair amount you’re going to need to go out and buy. ‘The list’ is a list of items, of all sorts from nappies to creams and divided between ‘for the hospital’, ‘at home’, ‘for the baby’, ‘for you’, ‘for the medicine cupboard’ etc.

Still doesn’t sound scary, right? Right.

It is not the items (some of which you don’t even know what they are), but rather – it’s the descriptions that accompany each item that will scare the shit out of you and wonder if there’s some way you can bypass the next few months (years) and why you didn’t seriously consider adopting a 14 year old.

For example
Nappy rash creamdon’t put rash cream on at every change. Use an emollient like baby bottom butter (from Waitrose)/vaseline/ natural balm to provide a protection barrier from the wee & poo and only use nappy rash cream when there is a rash. There are many different types and they all vary in their protection. These are the main ones and are listed in order of strength: Sudocrem/Drapolene, Bepanthen, Metanium

Nappy Rash. Remind me what that is again?

As these lists have done the rounds before they landed in my inbox, there are also the additional notes to the descriptions (that the original writer of the list wrote) that you need to decipher your way through.

Like this

Microwave sterilising steaming container – these are fantastic! Quick and easy to use. You can also use Milton sterilising liquid, but it can apparently irritate baby’s tummy ☹ . Buy the Medela steaming bags for travelling! So convenient and you can take them away with you etc.

Which would be fine and dandy if I knew what you did with the sterliser bag or container in the first place. I know I know, to sterlise. But what happened to hot water?

Then there’s just the outright scary parts to the list (no list is created equal and to be fair, this was only found on one list. She’s an honest lass, but this put my head into overboard spin mode).

“Course Salt a huge packet, every time you go to loo you need to rinse with salt water. I found its great to make a sports drink bottle with the cap you pull up as after the loo you just squeeze the salt water over the area to rinse”

Now I haven’t really given much thought to how I’m going to deliver our baby human, I’m still hoping that by osmosis is an option. But when I read about the need for a salt water concoction that I need to have in a squeeze water bottle by my bedside, my available options seem to diminish to just the one – convertible please.
So here I sit, with at least four different lists, a dry mouth and the strong will to burst into tears. I need to programmatically consolidate the advice, create one list, and go shopping. I need to feel in charge of what’s going to happen next.

So I email the lists to Hawk. He’s good at making order out of confusion, but apparently this one is for me.

And so I open excel (who doesn’t love an excel list) and wade through the notes, through the comments and with Google at my side to understand what ‘Telament colic drops‘ are used for and when.

The baby kicks me. I want to kick me too. I am scared beyond words by the enormity ahead of us of being responsible for a baby human in the real world. It’s bad enough trying to remember to not eat deli meat while baby h is on the inside! Knowing what to do once he/she is on the outside is almost too daunting for me to deal with. I think about wine. I count how many weeks are left, how many days. And I refer back to the lists. No one comments that it’s scary. No one comments that you won’t know what the hell to do. No one mentions wine.
These moms who write these lists and are so damn good at having babies.
And then I find it, towards the end of list 3.2 headed: life-changing (really? You think?!)

“It’s incredibly testing on your relationships as its uncharted territory, you’re tired & everyone has an opinion & some ‘helpful’ suggestions. So all in all, easier said than done but try to….rest when you can, accept any help that is offered by family and friends, accept any meals cooked by anyone!, and prepare for being patient and understanding about what you is going through. Every day is different, the baby will change its routine & so when it’s bad, know it won’t last forever, and they do grow up & sleep through the night!”

It doesn’t put my mind at ease. I’m still panicked. The excel document has 6 tabs, and there seems like an awful lot to buy that isn’t available through any online shops (when does clicks go online??).

But at least one list was honest. Which means perhaps I’m not entirely kak at being pregnant.


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