Last weekend began with a long overdue NCT Girls’ night out.
It had been in the diary for months.
For anyone not in the know – the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) run antenatal classes around the UK.
The experience of Surviving The NCT Antenatal Course where we bought our “Bought Friends” is a separate story, see link below:
Fast forward four years and don’t worry, we are still getting our money’s worth out of those Bought Friends.
Our initial investment of around £200 has so far yielded the following returns, amongst many others:
- A Private Facebook group where every relevant childrens’ event/group/outing is shared and immediate plans formulated
- The “Bought Friends” WhatsApp group: all six women spewing a mutual outpouring of maternal neuroses
- Three annual NCT weekends away – all six couples and as of this year, we are up to eleven children
- Multiple children’s birthday party invitations (with a handy “no presents exchanged within the NCT group” rule)
- A two week holiday to a villa on Elba Island to attend an NCT wedding
My five bought NCT friends had been a very wise investment indeed, and currently form an essential part of maintaining my sanity.
Which brings me back to last night’s Long-Awaited Girls’ Night Out.
The NCT boys have been on a few boys’ nights out in their time (initially involving much alcohol drinking and comparing of notes on topics such as “just HOW crazy has your wife become since having a baby?”) but the girls’ nights out have been hindered by the perpetual cycle of pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Expectations were high given that Girls’ night out number one was infamous.
When our first babies were around three months old, everyone was in agreement that we all deserved a night off, dammit.
We expressed fridge-fulls of breast milk and left the Dads in charge.
After pre-dinner cocktails we shared varying levels of anxiety over how the Dads would cope.
- Would the babies take the bottles?
- Would they get settled back to sleep?
- Would their routines be forever disrputed by their negligent mothers indulging in a night out?
We ate dinner and marvelled that we were out in town like real (childless) human beings.
We ordered a few drinks.
One of the six of us (Kind Communications Mum) returned home at a sensible hour.
She has regretted that decision ever since.
The remaining five of us stayed out for “one more.”
Fast forward a few hours and there we were, sitting barefoot at 4am on the pavements outside a nightclub, singing, chain-smoking (none of us smoke) and shouting happily at passers by.
(It could have been worse…unlike Hurrah For Gin’s allegedly “completely fictional” night out, we did at least stay the distance)
I awoke in my spare room at 8am the next day, shuddering, with vague memories of:
- Downing cocktails out of pineapples
- Many shots
- Buying & smoking many cigarettes (all non-smokers)
- Dancing with a group of what appeared to be young male hispters (they looked roughly aged 12) wearing trendy hats.
The adolescent hipsters had asked us “girls” what we did.
We answered truthfully: Detective/Haematologist/PR company owner/Surgeon/Clinical Psychologist.
They found that answer hilarious and congratulated us on the good joke. (We were puzzled as to what was funny about our jobs and did not realise until later that they assumed we were lying)
Thankfully I had expressed enough milk for 24 hours because that is approximately how long the hangover took to subside to levels where I could contemplate breastfeeding my baby without poisoning him.
I felt as though neat alcohol may be oozing from my pores.
Incidentally, this experience prompted a middle of the night Google Search for the evidence behind the levels of alcohol transmitted via breastmilk.
I found a fascinating post by a dedicated scientist who got herself drunk then analysed the levels of alcohol in her breastmilk every hour and posted her results online.
Alcohol levels in breast milk negligible even when very drunk.
(Good to know, but I fear the problem is probably less the alcohol content in the breastmilk than the question of why are you looking after a small baby if you are drunk enough to worry about the alcohol levels in your breastmilk?)
Having just quickly searched online again now four years down the line to see if I can find the link to that experiment (I can’t), I am amazed to note how much technology has marched onwards.
There are now test strips available to test your breast milk alcohol level.
Who would have thought it?
That First Girls Night Out had achieved legendary status.
There were therefore high hopes for this weekend.
I thought it best to be honest with the others from the very first mention of this night out in the Bought Friends WhatsApp group.
- I would arrive late as I would be feeding 6 month old baby girl and putting her to bed before leaving
- I would definitely be driving
- It would be a miracle if I were there at all, as Long-Suffering Husband did not relish the idea of staying up all night persuading she-who-does-not-drink-milk-from-bottles that she should drink milk from a bottle.
I had no plans for a big night out for the following reasons:
- I no longer lived in the city centre (having since sold the Beautiful City Centre Duplex Waterfront Flat in exchange for the Perfect Family House in The Perfect Village)
- Transport in and out of the city was tricky
- Long-Suffering Husband was away the following day from around 8am
- I would therefore be alone with three children all Saturday
- Saturday’s plans included 3 year old’s Rugby Tots class at 9.30 and followed by 2 year old’s Rugby Tots class at 10.30, possibly followed by a local fun day
- Rugby Tots classes involve an unfortunate amount of expected parental participation – tricky when you are alone with three children even without a hangover
None of these things were in any way compatible with a late night, never mind a drunken night out.
I felt quite smug to have arrived at an age where I could recognise my limitations.
I was therefore very happy with the plan to drive into town late, miss the cocktails, have a civilised dinner with my friends, then get home in time for the 1am breastfeed.
Friday evening: 7pm
The beeping from the WhatsApp group informs me that four of the others have already met in a cocktail bar. I am wearing tracksuit bottoms with sick on them, persuading 3 yo boy and 2 yo boy to go upstairs and brush their teeth. I tell myself this is okay. I have the youngest baby in the group as well as the most children. I will get there in the end.
Friday evening: 7.15pm
Long-suffering husband to the rescue. He takes the two boys off my hands and does their bedtime routine.
Friday evening: 7.20pm
I consider feeding 6 month old girl and putting her down. I have an irrational attack of guilt about leaving the dishes in case long-suffering husband is up with screaming baby for hours. Therefore I load the dishwasher one-handedly, carrying curious baby girl round the kitchen whilst he reads the boys their bedtime story.
Friday evening: 7.40pm
I finally stop fannying around and feed Baby Girl, reading WhatsApp chat. The late arrival has just found the others after warning them they may not wish to be seen with her inappropriately tight top.
Friday evening: 8pm
Dinner is at 8.15pm. The restaurant is a 45 minute drive away. Baby girl has just gone to sleep, and I am still wearing tracksuit bottoms. I am sorely tempted to put on my pyjamas. I give myself a pep talk.
Friday evening: 8.15pm
Second wind. I have managed to get dressed in skinny jeans, very high heels, jacket, straighten my hair and put makeup on. I do not recognise myself in the mirror. I wave good bye to long-suffering husband. He tells me I look nice and waits for me to walk out the door. I lurk around nervously wondering what I have forgotten and if it is wise to go out, then eventually make a run for it before I change my mind.
Friday evening: 8.30 pm – 9.15pm
I am genuinely having the time of my life.
Not downing shots or dancing on tables…
I am driving on the motorway, ALONE, in the DARK, listening to very, VERY loud music.
Because I can.
Friday evening: 9.15pm – 10.30pm
I arrive. I find the others. I can’t believe I am here! I am eating dinner in a restaurant in town on a Friday night, wearing high heels, with a small handbag.
Friday evening: 10.30pm
Two sudden departures. Apparently Power PR Mum and Sympathetic Psychologist Mum are getting the last train home (both also now moved away from the City Centre to Family Friendly Locations). Who knew the last trains on a Friday night were so early?
Friday evening: 10.45pm
Departure number three. Happy Haematologist Mum can’t stop yawning. I ask her what is wrong – her second child has gone insane in the growing of a tooth.
Friday evening: 11.30pm
We have gone to a cocktail bar, and I have had my token cocktail. I need to leave to get home for the 1am feed.
Kind Communications Mum seems disappointed. She still regrets going home early 4 years ago and missing the “Epic Girls Night Out” and she was hoping to go dancing.
Sarcastic Detective Mum and I cannot be bothered.
Friday evening: 11.50pm
After dropping the last two off at home I join the motorway for my now 20 minute drive home.
A complete, total, standstill of all three lanes of the motorway.
I assumed there was an accident and waited.
Still no movement.
I have crawled forwards just enough to find out that this is a PLANNED motorway closure for roadworks.
I try not to lose the plot in the car.
PLANNED, to close the ENTIRE MOTORWAY, at midnight? With no signs warning anyone to take a different route? WTF?
Did they not realise I have Very Important Places to be, i.e. breastfeeding my daughter who would surely be screaming at Long Suffering Husband by now?
Sure enough, a message arrives saying that she is awake, screaming and refusing the bottle.
My stress levels rise.
I find myself screaming at the empty car about how this is totally unacceptable traffic management.
I reach the front of the epic queue, which is nothing more than three lanes of angry drivers all stubbornly refusing to give way as we merge. Eventually someone lets me in and we crawl onto the diversion route. I escape and drive through a quiet back route to re-join the motorway.
I arrive home, stressed and exhausted.
The house is strangely silent.
I creep upstairs into our room and find Long-Suffering Husband awaiting me.
No sign of her-with-the-giant-lungs.
I am confused.
He is half asleep.
“She screamed refused the bottle. I tried everything, gave up, then messaged you. Then she stopped screaming when she saw the glow of my phone. I put a baby app on, she stared at it and downed the whole bottle.”
Who would have thought?
Unfortunately my breasts felt like rock-hard painful grenades, ready to explode.
There was no way I was going furtling around in the kitchen sterilising things to express, so despite Long Suffering Husband having miraculously managed to feed her and get her back to sleep, I then woke her back up to feed her anyway.
Four hours until all the children will be awake, at least one more night feed to go before then and a day of solo childcare ahead complete with Parental Participation Rugby Tots.
All for a big night out sitting alone on a motorway.
The moral of the story?
Next time – don’t drive.