Reactions

I have become an extremely interesting person apparently. I know this because people stare at O and me ALL THE TIME. And not subtly either. People sometimes point and stare and I feel like I’m in the zoo. I feel eyes on me all the time, and I know as I walk past people if I turned around they would be staring at my retreating figure too. I don’t mind, and I’m not surprised, but I think O might find it pretty tiresome when he’s older.
Sometimes they come up to me and ask me stuff too. Here is a small selection of the more memorable ones:

Saudi Woman: The Baby is you?
Me: Yes.
Saudi Woman: He no have yellow hair.
Me: That’s right, he doesn’t. (Big smile)

Kenyan Bathroom attendant: Is his father African?
Me: Yes and no. My husband and I adopted him from Ethiopia.
Kenyan Bathroom attendant: I am from Kenya so he is my brother! (Embraces O like a long lost relative)

Ugandan lady, also bathroom attendant, watching me intently as I change his nappy: Tsk. Hmm. Hmm. Tsk. Where is your baby from?
Me: Brief explanation, adopted, Ethiopia etc.
Ugandan lady: In my culture we wrap our babies up warmly with blankets… We believe it’s very important. (Pointedly disapproving look at my son)
Me: Well I’m from Northern Europe and we think it’s ok to get a little bit cold sometimes and it’s not good to be wrapped up too warm. (Big smile)

Lebanese man: Where did you buy him from and how much did you pay for him?
Me: We don’t buy and sell humans. That’s just wrong. (Turned my back and walked away)

Kenyan shop assistant: I think his father is from South Africa?
Me: Quick explanation.
Kenyan shop assistant: How do you feed him?!
Me: With a bottle
Kenyan shop assistant: What do you do if he wakes up and cries in the night?
Me: I wake up and cuddle him
Kenyan shop assistant: And if he’s hungry?
Me: I feed him.
Kenyan shop assistant: You feed him yourself?! Even in the night?!
Me: Yes. I am his mother.

Phillipina Shop assistant: What is he?
Me: A baby. (Sometimes it annoys me a bit.)
Shop assistant: Yes, but whose is he?
Me: He’s mine.
Shop assistant: Really? (Totally disbelieving)
Me: Yes.
Shop Assistant: Ok, but what is his father?
Me: (Resisting the urge to say a man) British
Shop Assistant: (Frowning) No Ma’am
Me: Who is your father?
Shop assistant: Sorry Ma’am?
Me: Don’t apologise.

See, I’m not always tolerant and chilled about it, about 1% of the time I’m sarcastic or deliberately obtuse.

The security guard in my car park is driving me mad, and I see him ALL THE TIME. To explain, he caught me off guard a long time ago. Basically, he used to incessantly ask when I was going to have children and why we didn’t have any yet. Eventually I snapped, and explained that I had lost some pregnancies and it wasn’t easy etc. He then came up to me every single time he saw me and told me that Allah will give me a baby because I’m a good person.
And then before we brought O home I explained that we were going to adopt a baby from Ethiopia. His English isn’t great and it took him a couple of days to digest this, but then he rushed over to me and confirmed that he understood, and that in his country (Bangladesh) people do this too!! But that I mustn’t adopt from Africa because, and I quote, “they are all liars and cheats”.
Well, I didn’t take that advice to heart obviously. He was happy and excited to meet O when we brought him home, but then immediately told me that Allah will definitely make me pregnant now because I deserve to have a real baby of my own. I have given up trying to explain I have a son that I love and am happy with, and he is a real baby, and that I don’t want to get pregnant. I’m trying to avoid conversations with him now, and just stick to the wave through the (closed) car window.

But I have to say, most people who I talk to are overwhelmingly positive and kind, and it makes it easy to be gracious to the rude and ignorant people.

I think it makes me more approachable in a nice way too. For example, there are loads of Saudis here on holiday at the moment, and lots of the women coo like crazy over O. They kiss his head, praise God for him, bless him, squeeze his hands shake their heads and laugh with joy and wonder. I doubt that they would be so comfortable doing that with a blue eyed blonde child. It’s nice and a completely genuine reaction to my beautiful baby boy.

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Awkward Moments

Our adoption happened so quickly (relatively) that lots of people haven’t heard about it. It’s hard to hide a pregnancy, but adoption isn’t something you blurt out to everyone for so many reasons. It might not happen as planned, it might be delayed, something could go wrong… so we didn’t tell everyone. And then you blink and you’ve had your baby home for a couple of months and people who haven’t seen you had NO IDEA! It’s a little bit awkward.

I was in the supermarket recently, blankly staring at a mile long row of different washing up liquids, when a woman stopped me and asked if she knew me from a fertility support group. She has a great memory for faces because we only met once about a year ago. She was totally surprised to meet O, and when she went for a cuddle she started to weep. She held him for so long that the mummy part of me started to twitch – that’s a whole other post. I felt awful. Sad for her, unable to empathise though, embarrassed and somehow like I’d betrayed the sister-hood and let her and myself down somehow. She is on her 14th round of IVF. That’s just unimaginable to me. I don’t know how anyone could do that, I clearly couldn’t, so I feel a bit feeble. But on the other hand, I couldn’t be happier with our choices, and we have the most beautiful son. I wouldn’t change a thing now.

And then I got a text out of the blue from my old boss. When I left my previous job to focus on our fertility struggle, she was surprised but supportive. (I never let on, and had miscarriages while at work but just got on with it.) Her message said that she’d heard I was a mother now and congratulations. Obviously we’re not really in touch often, and I have no idea where she heard about O from, but it’s a little uncomfortable. And there are other congratulatory messages trickling in from old acquaintances. I feel as though I should have told everyone I ever met so that no-one gets blind-sided but imagine the conversation. “Hey, I know I haven’t spoken to you for 6 months/a year/since school (delete as applicable) but just wanted to let you know my husband and I have adopted a baby boy. Ok, byee!”

Classes and Cliques

I’ve signed up for so many classes, it’s sort of ridiculous. But I need to meet some other mothers and it’s good for O and most importantly, wears him out stimulates him. My sister in law is still really close to her pre-natal class friends but obviously I didn’t get that experience, so I’m playing catch-up.

Sundays: Baby Garden
Mondays: I go to riding for the disabled while T and O have some boy bonding time
Tuesdays: Baby Splash
Wednesdays: Baby Sensory
Thursdays: Boogie Babies
And at the weekends we practice swimming

Term started last week. We loved baby sensory, with all the lights and colours and music. All the babies are around the same age, everyone was very friendly and I had a coffee with a lovely Bahraini lady afterwards. I’m really looking forward to going next week.
Boogie babies was cliquey, I mean REALLY cliquey. I felt sooo unwelcome and looked like a complete lemon sitting waiting for the class being ignored by everyone. Luckily, I met another lady who is also new and we bonded and swapped numbers, she lives very near to us. If I hadn’t met her I don’t think I would have gone back. I’ve since heard that Boogie Babies has a reputation for being like that. To my shame, it’s always the expat British housewives that are the worst. I shall continue to endeavour to be someone who looks for the loner and tries to involve them.

Baby splash hasn’t started yet but we’ve taken him swimming in our pool a few times. (Just to clarify, the pool in our building, we don’t have a private pool- I’m not a princess!) O‘s very brave and never cries, even though we dunk him and throw him around the place. I’m desperate for him to be like my husband who is a bit of a fish. It’s one of the great advantages of growing up somewhere hot where there are swimming pools all over the place. It’s also a basic safety thing. More young children drown here than any other cause of death. (Apart from RTAs, obviously.)
I found swimming quite traumatic as a child. I didn’t learn until I was about 7 and I am really short sighted so I could never see anything when I was at the pool without my glasses on. The chlorine in the school pool was ridiculously strong and I had quite a bad reaction to it. My eyes would stream for hours afterwards and I used to have a nightmare trying to comb my (very fine) hair after it had been shoved in one of those awful rubber swimming caps. And then you’re a teenager. Is there anything worse than making girls wear swimming costumes in front of boys when they’re teenagers?! I’m sure the boys felt equally uncomfortable. There’s always someone who’s early/late to puberty, or has an unusual birthmark, or is skinny/chubby. Oh God I just remembered the verrucas! And those ghastly rubber socks! There was always a suspicious plaster floating in the foot-wash pool too. And the lost property box of spare abandoned stinking sports kit….. The memories are flooding back to me.
I think I need to lie down.

The point is, I want O to enjoy swimming. And I like going to over-priced baby activities.

PS I’m sure it should be cleek like week not click like lick. It confuses me when people ( and I mean YOU American readers!) say click.

Content-Happy-Fulfilled-Busy in the Desert

I’m still here! I’m sorry it’s been so long. My Christmas thank-yous have been shockingly late too, but today I finally finished them.

I don’t really feel desperate in the desert anymore. I feel content, happy, fulfilled, busy in the desert, but I’ve paid for the name now so I’m not going to change it. It’s hard to know how to continue the blog though, because before it was an obvious journey and I wrote about that, but that’s come to an end now, so anything I write now feels a little bit pointless and self-indulgent. I don’t want to be a ‘mummy blogger’ who writes about baby poo and weaning and all that junk, nor do I want to be one of those ghastly women who thinks because they have a baby they’re suddenly an authority on the subject. A friend of a friend did that with a blog and it was so irritating to read I nearly hurled my computer off the balcony. (And then I realised it would be easier and cheaper just not to read it!)

So I don’t know where this is headed, but here goes… and thanks for reading xx

You should really…

For anyone who doesn’t want to read a new mother rant, look away now.

Today has been a bit trying. Not because of T or O who are both wonderful, but because of the endless advice I get given everywhere I go. It is SO ANNOYING!
Firstly, I think the majority of it is utter crap. Secondly, I don’t care what you think total stranger. Thirdly, I wouldn’t dream of telling you you’re doing something in your life completely wrong. I could go on up to about a hundredly…. but you get the idea. I’m a new mother so I don’t know everything, but every baby is different and we’re all from different cultures so what you think may not apply to me thank you very much, and I know my baby. And I didn’t ask for your opinion. And there are some things I want to learn and discover for myself so wise words from friends about what I have to look forward to are just irritating. I’ll find out for myself in due course won’t I?! Or maybe not, it’s possible my baby will not be the same as your baby in some regards.
It all came to a head this evening. I’d just got off a train where I was told off by a stranger for holding my phone too near his head and was in a shop. O had hiccups, and the cashier told me they were because it’s very cold outside and I hadn’t wrapped him up enough. There’s so much wrong with that I couldn’t process in time to respond, except with a frosty “he’s fine thank you”. We live in Dubai, it’s never that cold. And since when are involuntary diaphragm spasms caused by a chill in the air? Aaargh! A lot of the Asians living in Dubai seem obsessed with keeping my baby warm, but us Northern Europeans have been quite successful at not dying of cold related tummy aches and hiccups for thousands of years, despite the snow! In fact evidence points to a link between overheating and cot death. Of course I always think of funny and cutting remarks after the event. I wish I’d told phone man that the phone was the least of my worries and I was trying to get the baby to quit smoking, just to see his reaction. To finish the title of this post, you should really…. just keep your opinions to yourselves everyone.
But to all those people who stop me to compliment me on how beautiful my baby is, carry on! Just not when I’m talking to someone on the phone, that’s annoying too.

Happiness continued

I am currently at the salon in the bottom of my building getting a pedicure while my son sleeps on my chest. He’s snoring his head off! All the Phillipina ladies in here say that babies who sleep loudly grow up quickly and very strong. They also reckon that not wearing socks will give him tummy ache though, so I’m not totally convinced!

Life is good.