I am a geriatric mum and when I first realised it I was genuinely horrified. My stomach flipped and I felt like I’d been walloped by a subversive Superhero. I had no idea that any woman above 35 years of age is classed as such and boy did it hurt. I spent the whole of my pregnancy feeling a bit of an outcast and bizarrely a little ashamed. I longed with an avid fervour once reserved for John Taylor from Duran Duran to be young and nubile. However the reality was an aging woman on the brink of middle age with a finite amount of eggs in the shrivelling pot. There was though, one enormous silver lining in my aged cloud…….I could finally eat for two. All my life I had longed for this and it didn’t disappoint. I ate with the gay abandon of a death row inmate. Takeaways, MacDonalds, Pasties and Pies, I cast off any moderation and ate like Augustus Gloop at every opportunity. Obviously the result in both my pregnancies was vast weight gain. Think Bubbles from Little Britain without the accent and joie de vivre but lots more pubic hair (I couldn’t get to it). I was massively massive but very much the proverbial pig in s..t. What a wonderful feeling it is to give into one’s urges with some legitimacy. All good things must come to an end and my stuffing of face came to a stop with the birth of my first child. It was pretty hardcore and try as I might I cannot find much humour as it left me traumatised and ruptured in ways that only sheep farmers and the well educated are aware of. However my second birth was the stuff of the easy peasy and empowered me to such an extent as to wipe out completely the emotional trauma of the first. Life can have a wonderful way of balancing the scales eventually (excuse the pun) if we are able to be open to it, just look at Rick Astley.
So with my second child I awoke at 5.30 a.m to a pain that was sharp and bright and I immediately knew what had begun. I was now an accomplished Birther and Bertha of course and there was no freaking out or panicked phone calls but a calm bath that I took alone before any one else was awake. I would /should have played carefully chosen music and lit meditative aromatherapy candles but I couldn’t be arsed……… I hacked at my legs with a Bic lifting them high above my hippopotamus belly in a determined attempt to reach the carpet that covered my shins. I also took a few futile swipes at my nether regions but was completely unable to establish a visual so relied solely upon a fingertip search and a few literal stabs in the dark. Obviously my dignity was completely caught up in said grooming rituals and coordinated underwear which I then took half an hour to locate as they were my only pair and of course elusive. By that time my husband had persuaded me to embark to the local maternity hospital and the on duty midwife promptly laughed hard at our keeness and advised we wait it out at home. Silly B…h I thought but waddled to the car obediently. Within an hour of being at home I knew things were moving fast but unusually and bizarrely found it difficult to speak and as my husband was asleep on the bas…d sofa it took a while to summon aid. I tried to tell him that The Baby was coming but true to our usual conversations I knew nothing and he was an Obstretician. To his credit he drove like a maniac but to no avail and before we had reached the hospital I felt something large push itself into the gusset of my colour coordinated underwear. I told my husband again that the baby was coming and that something was now in my pants and such was his expansive obstetrical knowledge by this time that he felt sure I was again being ridiculous. How I laughed…………. He screeched up to the doors of the hospital and ran round to open my door as he did so I glamorously lowered my trousers and he became aware of the situation at hand. He ran off swearing profusely to summon help and in something akin to Casualty/Baywatch about 10 medical staff began sprinting towards me clutching medical supplies and I hoped some biscuits. Everything was now in slow motion as I sat there helplessly with my trousers still around my ankles and my baby’s head between my thighs awaiting the Cavalry. But I also knew that I didn’t need them, her shoulders were turning, there would be one more contraction and she would be out, the hard part was over and that made me feel pretty shit hot. I had practically delivered her myself despite my other half’s encyclopedic birthing knowledge and supportive bedside manner…… It never really pays to be a smug B…h though, especially when your trousers are round your ankles……………So she was born without much further ado in the footwell of our cream carpeted Audi A3 and whisked quickly away into the warmth of the hospital with hubby following close behind. By now it was just myself and a few disinterested stragglers left behind and one of them approached my side of the car with a wheelchair. Marvellous you might think, here comes my ride but this straggler was male and I was sporting a killer look- naked below the waist, apart from socks and shoes (nice), with the umbilical cord still hanging, clamp attached……..and as they indicated that I was to rise from the car and sidle over to said wheel chair, I became deeply struck with complete mortification. The wheelchair was positioned quite a way from the car due to our erratic parking position, and it quickly became obvious that there was nowhere to hide and nothing else to do but suck it up or ask for a piggy back (can you imagine?). Luckily it was a Sunday and the usual smokers were absent,a mixed blessing as I could have done with a quick drag, but the porter was male, young and attractive and I had both bottoms plus stylish accessories on display. Two nurses attempted to shield my modesty with a sheet but my wheelchair driver had full visual access, poor desperate fellow. He held my chariot steady and waited as I began my slow shuffle of shame, with clamp swinging off the umbilical cord and banging against my thighs and a huge hippopotamus jelly belly doing the Mambo, I advanced in a wide legged waddle that seemed to last an excruciating eternity. When at last I reached Adonis and his chair I lowered myself and dangly bits carefully into it, and thanked the Lord that my expose was over and hoped dearly that he had access to Counselling …………..thank God I had shaved my legs hey?
My absolute favourite during my pregnancy gorging was Apple Pie and Cream. It became a small obsession with me to find a recipe that ticked all my boxes. I had a thing for the pastry that was used for the cheap supermarket pies that you can buy freshly baked but due to their price I assumed they must be full of cheap ingredients. I tried a great many recipes in my avid search and had all but lost hope when I came across this wonderful recipe by Louise Wilcox in The Aga Bible. I have adapted it to suit my cravings and am thrilled to be able to share this seriously incredible recipe. It has pastry that doesn’t even try to be flaky, it is the manual labourer of the pastry world and delivers a pie that is filling and completely up to the job in a way that only a 24hr emergency plumber can be when your pipes have burst at 2 a.m and your upstairs bathroom is flooding. It has a filling that is in perfect parts sweet and tart with the cinnamon bringing the whole thing together into a dessert of the stupendous and deeply satisfying.I pour obscene amounts of double cream over the top but I’m a fat b.t.h.
- 360g of plain flour
- 150g of unrefined caster sugar
- pinch of salt
- 180g of cold unsalted butter
- 2 free range eggs
- 30g of plain flour for mixing with apples
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 800g of cooking apples.I use Bramleys. Peeled and chopped into 1 cm chunks
- 12o g of unrefined caster sugar for mixing with the apples
- 1 beaten egg for brushing over the pie.
- Preheat the oven to 170 C. Put the flour,butter,salt and sugar in a food processor and whizz until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the eggs and whizz again until it almost forms a ball.Tip it out onto a work surface and bring together into a ball.If it is to soft and wet then sprinkle liberally with flour and knead it a little until it firms.
- Cover in clingfilm and refridgerate for 30 mins
- Divide the pastry into 2/3 and 1/3 and roll out the bigger to about 2mm thick.Make sure you use flour underneath your pastry discs when rolling out.
- Line a 8″ pie dish that is quite deep and trim off the overhang.
- Mix the apples well with the cinnamon,sugar and flour and tip into the lined pie dish.
- Carefully roll out the smaller disc to fit the top of the pie and place on top and trim.
- Squeeze or pinch the pastry to seal,brush with eggwash and bake for about 50 mins.Be careful to watch it in case it begins to burn and needs a bit of foil on top of it to stop it getting too dark.Using a knife make two 2cm long slashes in the centre for steam to escape. Refrigerate for 15 mins before baking. Bake for 1 hour or until golden all over. If it starts to darken too much then make a little hat out of silver foil and use it to protect the edges etc from burning.
- Apply to pregnant,puffy face.