An occasion on which ‘reading around the subject’ doesn’t really cut it

21 Nov
I start a new job on Monday, which is exciting on multiple levels. New company, new industry, new challenges, meeting new people, and new working hours. Three days a week – bring it on. I feel I’ve been hoping for this my whole working life, but this is an exaggeration, I have been hoping for it for the last four years, but circumstances until now have been unfriendly. But now the stars are aligned and I am poised: bring it on.
In true ‘once an English Lit undergrad always an English Lit undergrad’ stylee I have been reading around the subject of my new industry. It is ingrained in my very soul (maybe even ingrown, toenail fashion) that if one reads round a subject one is automatically on course to be able to focus with more depth on the actual strand of it in the hand. Reading round this particular subject is proving fascinating, and I am thoroughly enjoying it, but it has reminded me of the one time when my inherent belief that reading round the subject solves all fell flat on its face. And had a massive tantrum to boot.
Yes, it was reading round the subject of ‘having your first baby’.  I was convinced that, like any good graduate, if I did my background research the actual thing would just fall into place. To those kindly people who commented that perhaps this was slightly, um, naïve, I laughed, pointing out confidently “I manage a team – I can manage a small baby”.  So, I learned the acronyms (EASY – ‘eat, activity, sleep, your time’ – who knew, easy indeed, my goodness what is all the fuss about!), I investigated foolproof ways to work with mixed feeding (bottle plus breast is definitely best! I trilled blithely), and I planned my home birth with military precision, even setting myself a key project – consultant permission for the keeping of medical grade pethidine in the house. What could possibly go wrong? I had read around the subject.
Once the midwives had collected the home birth paraphenalia, minus the pethidine (not because I took it, but because they wouldn’t let me have it) after we had lurked in the hospital for nearly a fortnight having had to go straight in once ‘things’ started happening; and once my wee girl had taken one nibble of a rubber teat, gagged and vomited, I still maintained hopes of EASY.  After all, I had read around the subject. So our first full night back in the house, I laid my little girl – who had eaten, and undertaken activity fit for purpose for a two-week-old small wriggling thing – to sleep, in preparation for ‘your time’, I was astonished when the ‘s’, and subsequently, as you may imagine, the ‘y’ was not forthcoming.
It was a pretty massive lesson for me in the gulf between the two jobs – paid work and parenting work – I would be juggling for the foreseeable; and indeed that I am still fortunate enough to be juggling now. No amount of ‘reading around the subject’ can truly prepare you for the arrival of your first.

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