I am a Strictly addict.
The first thing I do when I come home from work after taking Wriggles out the pushchair is to pop on BBC2 for a bit of It Takes Two . Not only are there the delights of sequins, Anton’s cardigan collection and oh, the dancing, I have a very soppy reason for feeling the Strictly love.
As I prepared to take Wriggles home from SCBU aged ten weeks, I got the opportunity of “rooming in” as it was confirmed she would be coming home on oxygen. They left the air challenges as late as possible but it was not happening; she just liked her 0.1 of oxygen and that was that. The other option was dealing with a bright purple baby-just so not in season! Saturday 13th November, two months old exactly, I arrived bright and early (well early for lunchtime! I had bright intentions for being there for 9am ward rounds but had not counted on how long oxygen installation would take and tying up loose ends likes last minute panics of being without an adequate nappy supply, missing a changing mat and the onset of early winter bringing doubt on if I had enough miniature cardigans; nowhere near. She was in cardigans that would fit a 3 year old all winter) with my little suitcase for a weekend mini break at Room 1, overlooking Leazes Park and the ambulance depot. The room was little like a Travelodge but with a hospital-style television and oxygen. I was given a swipe card to whizz in and out and permission to utilise the kettle in the day room of the maternity ward on which the room were located. The only quibble I had was on the ward opposite my room was a poster proclaiming “Baby is better in than out!” and the image of a sick premature baby next to a frankly 6-month looking newborn cuddled up with his mum. It’s a fair point but I am yet to meet a mother of a premature child who delights in the fact their child was born early and did all they could to induce premature labour. Slightly an insensitive place to display such a poster, if you have to display it at all, given that the ward was next to NICU and all the parents from SCBU roomed in there prior to hometime.
Anyway back to rooming in and dear old Strictly! After making the bed and an all important coffee, I got to do the most exciting bit of all. I went through the doors into SCBU and very proudly got to wheel the cot containing my baby round to my room. It felt unbelievably intrepid to go to the great world of about 10m away, if that. But the sense of pride is pushing my baby, proclaiming ownership for one utterly beautiful infant, was amazing. A nurse helped hook her up to the oxygen that mysteriously lives in hospital walls and left us to it. Two long months and this was the first time that the pair of us had been alone together. Would I cope? Would she cope?! It was all too much for her so she had a nap. When she woke I successfully changed her and fed her (on my own!! Just me!!) and we settled down in the big chair to watch Anne Widdecombe pirouette dressed as a Christmas tree fairy. Being alone was a big deal for me. Obviously I knew she was mine, I had given birth to her after all, but with the overwhelming nature of SCBU and the nature of what I had been having to organise quickly in the last two months, it had not seemed real. I had felt like I was in a dream. The initial shock had worn off and I had been able to locate obvious love and some emotions, but I just didn’t feel like a mum, especially not her mum. That weekend I did. I was a parent. And not just any old parent-I was her parent. Her proud and irreplaceable parent, preparing to imminently take her home.
I don’t think she was overly impressed with Strictly Come Dancing. I couldn’t even say with confidence she was overly impressed with me. But I had located my inner mummy at last and with joy welcomed the first night of many to come of hedgehog-like snuffling and night feeds and disruptions. Bliss!
This year she has slowly warmed to Strictly. Now I swear she lights up when the theme tune starts and she actually got quite excitable last weekend when Harry Judd started the charleston. Result!