Pink line fever

“I am insanely nauseous,” I said, dropping the groceries as I walked in the door.
“Poor thing,” Learner Dad said distractedly, eyeing off the bags of food.
Then his eyes flew up to meet mine in a panic.
“Don’t worry, it can’t be that,” I said reassuringly.
But I’d thought it too.
In fact the thought had followed me around the supermarket.
What if I was pregnant?
After the failed IUD, I’d hopped on the mini-pill.
Plus I was breastfeeding.
So logic said it wasn’t likely.
But, having had two surprise pregnancies before, I wasn’t listening to logic.
As I walked around the supermarket, burping quietly, I was listening to the products on the shelves – the coffee that made me want to gag, the soft cheeses whispering ‘don’t come over here’, the ginger ale that screamed ‘drink me, drink me now’.
I only remembered feeling this kind of nausea twice before and both times involved growing a human being inside my belly.
“Your tummy does look kind of fuller,” Learner Dad said later, reaching out to touch it.
When I still felt ill the next day, he went out and got a pregnancy test.
We made small talk, trying not to look at the clock as we counted down the three minutes.
“How about I check it?” he asked.
Considering I’d checked the past two positive ones, we decided this was a good idea.
You see, we were barracking for a single line.
A negative result.
Lumping Li’l Fatty with a brother or sister as a first birthday present just didn’t seem fair.
Not to mention what it might mean for Master Seven.
Or for our bank account.
“Do you really think we could be?” Learner Dad asked as we entered the bathroom.
“Nah,” I replied, failing to mention I’d already mentally re-planned our bedrooms and picked out a boy’s name.
I can’t remember who checked it first. I only remember seeing a distinct single line.
And, although I stared at it for another five minutes, no other line appeared.
“Phew, that was a season defining moment,” Learner Dad declared.
I looked at him questioningly.
“I meant ‘life’ defining,” he said sheepishly, and we both laughed, tension gone.
“It sure was,” I agreed.
“Now, about my big tummy…”

First the worst, second the best…

“Awwwwww look at him.”
“He’s falling asleep.”
“Bless him, little angel.”
We were gathered around Nanna’s coffee table, which my one-year-old nephew had wearily stretched himself out on.
Everyone gazed at him fondly as he rubbed his eyes and curled into a ball.
A few minutes later, Nanna Ros called out that lunch was ready so we filed into the dining room – to find Master Seven sprawled out on the dinner table, pretending to be asleep.
A chorus of: “What on earth are you doing?” “Get off there now!” and “You should know better!” filled the room – which Master Seven ran from, blinking back tears.
It was only as soon as he left it dawned on us – in a bid to be cute, he was copying his little cousin.
This was a couple of years ago. He was actually Master Five then and slowly getting used to sharing the spotlight.
My first child and the first grandson on both sides, he had always been the ‘cute one’, the ‘cuddly one’…
The only one.
With wobbly teeth and chubby cheeks, even at five he was still fierce competition in the cuteness stakes.
But little did he know his cousin was only a small taste of what was to come.
To his credit, Master Seven has been nothing but a fan of his little brother since the moment he was born.
It’s only recently, five months down the track, the novelty that is Li’l Fatty is starting to fray at the edges.
Who is this fat little lump who gets to spit and squeal without consequence?
How come everyone thinks it’s adorable when he burps?
And why on earth does he get to go to bed later than me?
“You know you got the same attention as a baby that Li’l Fatty’s getting – more actually,” I explained to Master Seven, after I heard him tell his aunty nobody cared about him any more.
And when a 15th request for him to stop jumping into a photo turned into a screamed demand, I reminded him: “You were the only baby for a long time and we got so many photos of you by yourself. Shall I get out your baby album?”
Being an older sibling myself, I guess I can relate.
I know what it is to be branded the one who ‘should know better’, the one who ‘sets the example’.
But we firstborns seem to forget we were once the ‘cute ones’, the ‘cuddly ones’.
And, lucky for us, the only ones.
Sadly it’s only just the beginning for Master Seven.
As he transforms into an undoubtedly handsome but knobbly kneed kid with nit-ridden hair and protruding teeth, his plump little brother will sprout divine blond curls and the tiniest teeth imaginable.
Master Seven will watch on as Li’l Fatty learns to walk and talk, two of the cutest progressions any parent can bear witness to.
And he’ll see his Mummy’s delighted reaction, without remembering it was the same expression she wore when he took his own first wobbly steps.
But, in ten years time, when Master Seven gets behind the wheel of his first car to take his girlfriend to an 18th birthday party, he’ll realise being eldest isn’t that bad.
Because it’ll only be after he writes it off that the rules in our family about owning a car, having a girlfriend and going to parties will change – and Li’l Fatty will find out what it means to come in second.

Having the first word

“Despite the fact that you have grown this child inside you for nine months, and have given up smoking, alcohol, or any illicit drug that could help you come to terms with the fact that there appears to be a baby beluga whale frolicking inside you, despite the fact that you have given birth to this child, suffering truly unspeakable indignities in the process, and have spent every waking hour since that birth loving him, feeding him, nursing him, comforting him, washing him, dressing him and changing him, his first word will be ‘Daddy’.” – FRANCES WHITING, COLUMNIST

So true, right?
Mummies, I’m here to tell you it’s wrong.
I mean, yes, they do usually say ‘dad’ first.
But, in my experience, it’s not as a word, and certainly not as a word they associate with their father.
Before I go on, all you fathers or soon-to-be fathers out there best shut down this page now.
Because you won’t like what I have to say.
I was, as most of you know, a single mum to Master Seven from early on in the pregnancy.
During his first year, I had no boyfriends, close male friends or anyone else purporting to be ‘Daddy’.
Because that element of his life was so clearly missing, I did my utmost to actually avoid the ‘D’ word.
Despite this, Frances Whiting, despite this… he one day came crawling to me very clearly saying “dad-dad-dad-dad-dad-dad-dad-dad…”
Gobsmacked, I quickly moved to the other side of the room to test him.
He stopped, followed me with his eyes and then began crawling towards me again, starting to whine as he again chanted: “dad-dad-dad-dad-dad-dad-dad-dad…”
There had been nothing close to ‘mum-mum’ come out of his mouth and, to my horror, I remained ‘dad-dad’ for quite a long time after that.
Clearly the name ‘Daddy’ harks back to our first days, when cavebaby crawled up to caveman and blurted out ‘dad-dad’.
A chuffed caveman quickly claimed the only coherent sound cavebaby could make as his own name.
Cavewoman was relegated with cavebaby’s next new sound – ‘mum-mum’.
“Me, dad-dad. You, mum-mum.”
And it stuck.
A friend’s husband proclaimed proudly on Facebook recently that his son had just said his first word – and that it was, of course, ‘daddy’.
I quickly recounted my experience with Master Seven in the comment section, humorously but also to set the record straight to him and all his male friends.
An eerie silence followed and I began to wonder if I wasn’t being a bit of a spoil sport.
I mean Mummy, with her breasts and her constant presence, seems to get top dog for the better part of a year.
Maybe being the first person baby calls out to is a deserved piece of validation for Daddy.
So, Learner Dad, if you’re reading this, do what you always do and promptly forget everything I’ve said.
And, when Li’l Fatty starts ‘dad-dadding’ his way round the house, I won’t tell you he is in fact talking to me.

Getting your child mobile

“Hey there, just calling to say I’m not cooking tonight, running a bit late. So you might want to pick something up on your way home from work. Love you, bye!”
“You forgot to say who it is,” Master Seven piped up from the back seat.
I glanced in the rear view mirror.
It was, of course, a voice message for Learner Dad.
“He knows it’s me,” I answered.
“Well you could have left him your number,” he said.
While he might not sound mobile savvy, Master Seven is actually quite the expert on the iPhone.
I have to be careful about where I leave it – kids these days seem to have a sense of entitlement when it comes to their parents’ phones.
Sometimes I flick through my videos, surprised to find entire documentaries he’s made starring Li’l Fatty.
Wobbly but cute, I don’t have the heart to delete them.
Even when they run for 15 minutes.
He’s quick to check a text too.
“Mum, you’ve got a message from Dad. Why does he want to know what you’re wearing?”
Or: “Mum, Bec G has written you a text. What’s a shag-fest?”
Or even: “Mum, Nanna texted wanting to know if I’m still being a pain in the arse.”
And, though I lay down the law on using phones at the lunch or dinner table, when we’re out for a meal he always manages to swindle one off an uncle, grandparent or friend to bash out a game of Angry Birds.
Luckily he’s yet to realise he could soon have his own mobile phone.
Recent surveys show more than a quarter of Australian kids have them by the time they’re 11.
Talking 13-year-olds and it’s four out of five.
It’s hard to believe Master Seven could be only a few years away from having his own.
I interviewed a dad for a news report on the very subject once.
He had embraced the idea of getting his daughter mobile early.
He said the key was simply having control – starting your child off with a very simple phone and plan, then rewarding their responsible use of it by adding extras as they grew older.
He said being able to reach his daughter any time or, more importantly, her being able to reach him, gave him peace of mind.
Her thoughts on the subject?
I’m not sure, she was too busy texting…

Li’l Fatty goes for gold

A milestone for me today – this is my 50th blog.
So I thought I’d celebrate with a recap.
It was a flurry of activity on my first post, which introduced an imperfect but hopefully realistic version of the modern day tribe.
Throughout the past two months, I’ve exposed my gorgeous fiancé, Learner Dad, as an iPhone addict, potential strip club fan and a poor imitation of the Tooth Fairy.
I’ve revealed his secret baby names list and his distaste for green vegies (earning him the nickname ‘Ol’ Nine Beans Costelloe’).
I’ve forever scarred his sister by mentioning her brother and the word ‘sex’ on the same page.
And I’ve forever changed his gift giving habits with my rampage against men and ‘pink Kmart crap’.
But there are two other littler men in my life.
I’ve exposed Master Seven as a fan of the ‘f’ bomb and Li’l Fatty as a Baby Bomber.
And I’ve been told I’ve brought tears to eyes with my ramblings on Master Seven’s relationship with his new dad.
Lilfatty.com has got a mention on Learner Dad’s Saturday morning radio show.
And Li’l Fatty himself had his nappy changed live on air – yes you read that right, ‘nappy changed on radio’, hmmm.
Then there’s me.
I’ve shared my own embarrassing history of being dumped.
I’ve admitted to leaving my baby in the car.
And I’ve admitted to re-gifting (at the expense of every present I’ve handed out since).
I’ve shocked readers by continuing to see a doctor who likes to talk about dying babies.
And I’ve turned many female readers off ever getting an IUD.
I’ve unwittingly spoken ill of the dead by writing about self-professed ‘baby whisperers’, using a made up rellie I called ‘Great Aunt Beryl’, only to find out, on Learner Dad’s side, there really was a Great Aunt Beryl.
My more serious spiels on pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding have generated a surprising and usually touching response.
I’ve plagiarised a bunch of quotes from a book called Yummy Mummy and I’ve sent readers constantly over to blog hero Mia Freedman.
I therefore thank her for filling any silences.
Thanks also to my regular Facebook sharers – Audrey, Alice, Jan, Gerrarda, Alysia, to name a few.
Regular commentators – Janelle, Kerri, Amy, Hanna, Jo, again just a few.
And my subscribers – I’m pleased to say there are now too many to mention.
A little thanks to Evie for her initial encouragement (and her book Blogging For Dummies).
To Master Seven and Li’l Fatty for being great little muses.
But mostly thanks to Learner Dad – for saying stupid things, and for putting his pride aside to share my blog every single day.