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I woke up on Monday…actually, let me pause there. To ‘wake up’ means that at some stage you have entered into that elusive bliss delivered straight from heaven, sleep. I reckon that Sunday night was spent at worst, awake and crazy, and at best, in a very light fluttery doze for microscopic bursts. 

We think Moo has reflux. Either that or a dairy intolerance. Whichever it is, she’s probably had it all her life, and yet it’s taken us five months to marry together the relentless sick, frequent constipation, slow weight gain and general arsehole temperament into something worthy of seeing the GP. It’s not always been bad, you understand, but a slightly alarming trip to the weigh clinic last week put the wind in my sails slightly. Anyway, we’re tackling it as could-be reflux to start with, and she’s on some dissolvable tablets which we have to mix with weak squash and aim into her mouth, water pistol fashion, every day.

They seem to be working, in that the sick is substantially less, but the trade off is a pretty fucking savage nosedive in wondrous nocturnal restfulness. We had it almost sewn up – bed at 8pm, feed at 4am, up at 7am. Bingo bango. Bit of a wobble at 4 months, but nothing insurmountable. This week though, Christ. Bed at 8pm, whimper at 10pm, scream at midnight, up between midnight and 2am, up at 4am. By the time the 4am feed is done I can hear the world waking up and if I happen to nod off, I come to feeling sluggish and drunk and on the verge of tears before I’m even out of bed.

So, on such a Monday morning, what better activity is there to engage oneself in than a spot of dress shopping? There are a MILLION better activities than this, trust me. Dress shopping is probably the most ill-conceived outing there is when you’re sleep-deprived, except perhaps for taking your driving test or operating some heavy plant. No groups were on due to holiday breaks, and in my deranged head I managed to convert “a peaceful, chilled day with a stroll in the sunshine” into “Shit, need to get husband’s birthday presents. Fuck, nothing to wear, need a dress. Bollocks, potentially going for dinner AND afternoon tea in August, need two dresses.”

I HATE clothes shopping. I get zero enjoyment out of selecting items primarily based on price (refer to previous moans about lowly SMP), and stripping off in a badly lit changing room with a curtain that doesn’t shut and no room for a pram. I’m also perilously adrift in the nomansland of age-appropriate togs because my choices seem to be slut or frump and I’m not really sure which camp is preferable. So, with all these wonderful building blocks in place for a rip-roarer of a day, off we trotted into town. I opted to start off in a department store because at least they have about 80 brands over 1000 square feet and I could hit the mission hard.

On entering, I had to take a moment to acclimatise my eyes to all the fashion. I have no concept of what’s IN in, what’s in but on the way out, what’s out but having a quick encore, and so on. I was alarmed to arrive at one concession and be met with swathes and swathes of bodycon lycra, which made me forlornly lament my squishy torso. I quickly ducked to the next block and found myself squarely in “Mother of the Bride – 50 Shades of Salmon”. Then crop tops and hot pants. Then crochet. Then Aztec maxi dresses. Then admittedly gorgeous frocks but with a sale price of £60. What fresh hell was all this?

I eventually amassed four dresses, two of which I immediately disregarded on entering the changing room, therefore making it a complete waste of time having carried them around for the five hours we seemed to have been in the shop. The remaining two were miraculously alright – one is very afternoon tea appropriate, and the other one is a sort of bright orange tent that can be cinched in with an almighty great belt to actually look halfway trendy. Even better, the orange one went through the till at £7.24 rather than £20 (down from £45, alledgedly). In these instances I try to feign a very casual demeanour, in case the shop assistant notices my covert glee at winning the game of underdog vs conglomerate and checks the prices.

We emerged into the sunlight, which was enough to rouse Moo from her power nap, having no doubt accrued enough sleep to facilitate all the night time wakings. Realising we still hadn’t got a single present for my husband, I weaved into a sports shop and headed for the running shoes, to busy myself among all the open boxes and detritus. Just then, I heard the low, unmistakable rumble of a nappy being filled, and judging by the smell, to max capacity. Moo’s beetroot face and clenched fists were enough to tell me who the culprit was. I abandoned ship and thought it wise to make a beeline for a toilet, perhaps attached to a merchant of coffee. I chose badly – the toilets had those ridiculous key code entry systems, and the bored-looking barista seemed unwilling to reveal the code until I’d parted with cold, hard cash. “I will buy something in a sec, I just need to sort my child’s disgusting output.” Reluctantly, he jotted the code on a post-it and said he’d see me when I’d finished, the presumptuous oik.

By this stage, Moo was rather vocal and squirming around like a champion muck spreader. I ham-fistedly jabbed in the code and the door to the toilets refused to budge. I tried again, reading the code aloud just in case that helped my hand-eye coordination. No entrada. Abandoning the pram, I sought out another member of staff, who stomped over with a teetering pile of empty cups on his arm. Sighing, he deftly pressed in the code and opened the door the teensiest crack before flouncing off towards the counter. As I closed the door, I noticed several hand written guidance notes taped to the back giving instructions as to the release of “the tricky lock”. Excellent.

One perilously wriggly, smelly and leaky nappy change later, and of course I couldn’t work out how to open the sodding door. The staff had helpfully peppered each note with a smiley face, as if this might act as encouragement for customers to try that bit harder to escape. They may as well have written “don’t worry, our shitty coffee will make ALL of this worthwhile.” Eventually, after a moderate degree of panic, the locks aligned and the door gave way. Obviously, during this interlude an entire wave of summer holiday teenagers had come in and were jostling about in the queue, ripe with freedom, crushes, Converse and BO. The barista caught my eye as if to say “You go nowhere, lady. We had a deal.”

One grande Americano with hot soy milk later, we began the trudge home. I contemplated my purchases. Afternoon tea dress: need complimenting jewellery. Orange tent: need belt. Probably need shoes. Husband’s birthday presents: need in entirety. Sleep: need in astronomic amounts. Online shop? Oh yes.

– SJW July 2016

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