This book is the antidote to the rather wholesome, oh-so-serious and often smug range of pregnancy literature currently on offer. It's a story for women everywhere who have been, are or want to be pregnant. Mel Giedroyc, from "Mel & Sue", has based the book on her own experiences of pregnancy and birth and the dramas which ensue, and it covers everything from the usual morning sickness, food cravings and getting a seat on the bus, to the not-so-usual talking in Latin to the foetus through a shower attachment and falling in love with the Epidural anaesthetist. It's a witty and insightful narrative of events leading up to the birth of a first baby through the eyes of an excited, shambolic and slightly at sea, thirty-something, who pens the trials and tribulations of her journey to motherhood.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Mel Giedroyc is the son of a Lithuanian Lady-Bishop and All Creatures Great & Small's Christopher Timothy. As a direct result of her rather obscure parentage, Mel spent most of her childhood putting her hand up cows' bottoms whilst reciting the Lord's Prayer. Mel's brother, Vclav, is a stunt-double for the dogs on Pets Win Prizes and her sister, Denise, is a Welsh Nationalist who weaves her own pants.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
There is no dawn chorus in our part of London. It's more of a solo performed by a lone pigeon bemoaning his gnarled feet. This morning I was unfortunate enough to hear it. You see, I didn't sleep very well. Rather tossy and turny. I dreamt I was being chased by a strange man with long, sandy eyelashes. I was in a pair of concrete-filled waders, so I couldn't run away. I woke myself up and couldn't get back to sleep because I kept seeing the sandy eyelashes whenever I shut my eyes. I eventually realised they were mine. Must get them dyed.
Some might say that I am obsessed with sleep. Before I retire each night I like to work out how many hours I'm going to get. If it's between ten and twelve, I'm positively gleeful and jump into my bed like a toddler into a puddle. If it's in the eight- to ten-hour ballpark I am serene, verging on smug. Pulling back the covers, I'll give them a little pat and head for nod with a self-satisfied smile, like somebody at a classical concert who hums along to the music. If I know I'm getting less than eight, I'm resentful. Fewer than six and I consider putting in a morning call to Amnesty International. It's quite simply inhumane.
For as long as I can remember I have slept like a baby — seriously deep, Sleeping Beauty-type slumber. Of course, I don't for a second mean that I look like Sleeping Beauty when I'm out - a chloroformed chipmunk would be more accurate.
I take after my Lithuanian dad's side of the family — the hardy Baltic ability to hunker down and sleep any time, any place. I have slept standing up. I have slept in a shower. I have slept under a thin layer of felt. I have slept on gravel, on a bicycle and next to a man pleasuring himself in a sleeping bag. (I was not in the sleeping bag with him, I hasten to add.) I have slept in the dentist's chair undrugged, while the dentist filled a tooth. I have slept in a ferry terminal loo, a cinema foyer and a canoe. I even managed to grab a few winks onstage in a production of King Lear. While Gloucester was having his eyes put out, I was closing mine at the back of the stage. No location is too difficult for me — if there's an equivalent of the Mile High Club for kippers, then get me a membership card. My God, I love to sleep.
So I'm terse today and can't work out why I didn't sleep. Was the temperature wrong in our bedroom? Pretty clement, I'd say. Was Dan nicking the duvet? No more than usual. Had I eaten any cheese just before going to bed? Was it noisy? Who am I trying to kid? I once had a nap at a rave. Curled up for two hours. Right by the speakers.
I did all my prep last night. Went to bed nice and early, around the ten o'clock mark after a relaxing Tension Tamer Tea, safe in the knowledge that I was on for at least nine hours. The previous night's blip had left me feeling nicely tired. Not dog tired, just a comforting ache around the shoulders. Jim-jams on, slippers off, lights out.
I woke up at 2 a.m., then at three, five and half six. A ruddy joke. Restless, bored and shockingly awake, I finally whispered to Dan, 'Are you asleep?' really loudly so he'd have to wake up. He mumbled, 'Mmm thirsty? Water ... go to the loo,' then turned over and immediately made contented, rodent-like snores.
This morning has been rather too long for my liking. Both of us are working at home this week, which can be trying at the best of times. Although Dan's real ambition is to write film scripts, at the moment he is working as a subtitler - translating other people's films from English into French and German. Which makes him a bit of a swot really.
Dan and I met when we were at college, both studying French. I knew instantly it was love when I saw him smoking a Gauloise. So laid-back and sophisticated — sitting on the steps outside the library, his eyes squinting into the middle distance — he could have been in an Ultravox video. True, the impact was lessened by the fact that he was also wearing patchwork trousers and white socks, but still, a filterless French cigarette!
One of the key differences between us since that day is that Dan has actually gone on to make use of his education, while I have forgotten everything I was taught. Recently, in Paris, I couldn't remember what the French was for 'weekend', until Dan, rather smugly, reminded me that the French for 'weekend' is 'le weekend'.
So while Dan's poring over a French dictionary checking the best way to phrase 'The geezer's tooled up ain't he?' for the gangster flick he's working on, I'm pretending to be busy at the kitchen table. I'm supposed to be researching the Male Pill. I'm not a scientist or health worker. In fact I don't do anything remotely useful. I'm a presenter. On radio and TV. I have to come clean and say that work's been a bit slow of late. But hurray! I've been asked to present an item on male contraception in a health show for Bravo cable channel. My brief is to make it 'pithy, wry, amusing, but not smutty'. But at the moment I feel about as pithy as a very old orange that should be thrown out of the fruit bowl.
Dan's work is obviously going very well. He keeps repeating French phrases out loud to himself and laughing. Feeling tired and sorry for myself, I ask Dan for some help, but his only comment is 'The Male Pill? Make it lager-flavoured and it might catch on!'
Tonight I brought out the big gun: the Virgin Airways long-haul sleeping mask. It had worked a treat for the row of nuns behind me on the New York flight a few years back — each sister blissfully slumped with 'Virgin' emblazoned across her crumpled brow as they snored in holy unison over the Atlantic.
Nothing. It blocked out the light, but still didn't take me anywhere near the shadowy forests of Lethe. Not even halfway. I probably got as far as Leatherhead in sleep terms.
It's three in the morning. I'm normally into my second round of REMs by now. The irony is I'm writing this by the light of Dan's special reading glasses that he normally uses, so as not to disturb me. DJs use them, they're like plastic sunglasses with a light on each corner of the lens - a kind of ravey Davy lamp. I don't think Sleeping Beauty modelled these either.
I try to wake Dan up by focusing the beams of light directly into his face. I then do a quick impression of the Underworld DJ who wore them at Glastonbury in 1997 and I sing 'Lager lager lager!' into Dan's ear. No response. I then whisper too loudly that I'm bored and does he fancy a quick game of Boggle? His response, with little movement, is 'Bugger Boggle' closely followed by '... and Bugger off'. He's turned over again into his sleep and is soon chomping contentedly on some imaginary titbit.
I'd once read somewhere (laughingly and a little smugly - 'Insomnia? Me? Ha!') that if you can't sleep you should get up, strip and remake your bed very carefully and energetically, to hospital standards. I briefly toy with the idea of just stripping to see if that'll wake Dan up, but feel loath to undock myself from my beloved pyjamas. I'll go for bed-stripping. I leap out of bed, do a couple of star-jumps at its foot, touch my toes several times with some little 'hrrumphs', then jog round to Dan's side and start to strip the bed. Crick his head round, slip the pillow out from underneath him. Lovely. Pillowcase off, humming as I go. Whip off the duvet and try to grab the bottom sheet. Everything carried out quickly and clinically. Dan opens one eye slowly. He is not amused.
'Oh. You're awake!' I say brightly. 'Can't you sleep either, love?'
'Of course I can't bloody sleep if you take the bloody duvet away. What the hell are you doing?'
'Just stripping and remaking the bed. You might have to get up actually so I can get a proper purchase on this bottom sheet.'
At which Dan gets up and leaves the room. I hear him shuffle downstairs and the living-room door slams behind him. Oops.
I try to carry on regardless. But changing a duvet is a hard enough act of domestic engineering in the cold light of day. My actions suddenly appear as pointless and ridiculous as indeed they actually are. What the hell am I doing? It's three in the morning. I take the executive decision to go downstairs and snuggle up with Dan on the sofa. Not a lot of room or sympathy down there, but I'll make it into an affectionate gesture. I scrape plaintively on the living-room door like a sad little gerbil.
'Dan! Can I come and lie with you?'
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Book Description Ebury Press, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0091886864