Img and I have been getting out and about a lot more over the last couple of months -- it all got much easier once the breastfeeding got to the stage that I could feed her in public without too much struggle/pain and didn't need to carry bottles around for 'top-ups' (I was always too ashamed to bottle-feed her in public anyway for fear of getting lectures from militant lactivists which would have made me either punch them or burst into tears -- or more likely both). We still haven't done anything complicated like going on trains (yes yes, I know, most people have happily gone on round-the-world cruises by this stage) but we've done lots of buses and tons of walking. My knees are somewhat knackered from sitting for hours in uncomfortable positions (see above re difficulties with feeding) but fortunately this only seems to affect bending (stairs & kneeling are still really painful) rather than walking. I doubt if I'm going to be going running again any time soon though, sadly.
I'm not going to the breastfeeding-support groups as often any more (though the Baby Cafés are very welcoming so I do still go occasionally, especially the one at Rose Hill children's centre which doubles as a general play/chat session) so I've had to find some other things to do instead to get through the days without going mad: we go to baby singing group (also at Rose Hill) on Mondays, which is nice (who knew there were so many verses of "Row, row, row your boat"?) and we've started going to Donnington Doorstep (our nearest children's centre, which is practically actually on our doorstep, less than 5 minutes' walk away) a bit more for their general drop-in play sessions (& delicious lunches). A couple of weeks ago I met another mum H and her baby T who were there for the first time, the Doorstep staff got her talking to me so that she'd have someone to chat to, and we seemed to get on fairly well so we've agreed to meet there on Tuesday mornings as a regular thing.
Having Img with me has made me have to be a lot more sociable -- loads of people stop us in the street to tell me what a cute baby she is (why thank you! I think so too) and how adorable her strawberry hat is (can't argue with that), and I've even exchanged numbers/email addresses with people I've met on buses. Admittedly I sometimes wonder what on earth happened to my old misanthropic self -- OK, actually, she's still there, but she mostly stays hidden until strangers start recommending homeopathic teething treatments, sigh -- but I don't mind the "new me" that much. I've also been seeing more of our neighbours because I've been at home a lot more -- I finally learned the names of the nice guys next door, and I've been chatting to R a few doors along who also has a baby (she is, um, making some very different choices from me about how to bring up a baby, and doesn't have as many choices in some other areas -- which, at the risk of treating her as some kind of cultural tourist attraction, is useful for a sense of perspective), and I've chatted a bit more to the nice chap A who lives a couple of houses away (he works from home so he's around a lot in the day as well). He gave us a bagful of quinces from his tree so I gave him our spare apples in return as we'd more or less reached our limits for making crumble (my mum is making jam from the quinces now so hopefully I'll be able to give him a pot of jam too!). It sounds cheesy but I feel a lot more part of the community now that I'm chatting to people and recognising people -- it's a friendly area with lots to do and I quite like having time to enjoy it rather than always just dashing to or from it on the way to/from work.
As well as going out with Img I've managed to go out on my own a handful of times -- I try to ride my bike to the shops at the weekend while Owen looks after Img; I managed to go to a colleague's leaving drinks for half an hour (which felt like the most efficient party ever! -- one glass of bubbly, quick chat to all the interesting people, then run away); I've gone to two School Governors meetings (having missed several in the early days of babywrangling); I've sung in the choir at Choral Evensong at Bartlemas Chapel (Img slept through it in Owen's sling) and I've sung in the choir for a friend's wedding (Img didn't sleep through that one, so Owen had to take her out). I've even managed to join a proper choir (it has slightly earlier rehearsals than the excellent choir that I used to be in, so it's just about manageable with baby bedtime) -- it's very relaxed & you only pay per rehearsal that you attend, so I won't feel so pressured to go if there are weeks when it's all getting a bit much.
On the other hand, our getting better at going out has unfortunately coincided with the point where work stop paying me (can't complain, the maternity benefits are very generous), i.e. I go down to statutory maternity pay only (after Christmas I go down to No Pay At All, chiz chiz) so I'm having to be a bit more careful about how much I spend when I'm out and about (not before time you might say). My major weakness is buying baby clothes from charity shops -- none of them are terribly expensive but it all adds up and we probably don't need any more! Just as I like buying small things more often, though, I'm also enjoying trying to find small savings all over the place -- e.g. making my bus journeys go further by buying a 24hr dayrider in the afternoon so I can catch the bus somewhere (usually town or Headington) two days running; checking the supermarkets' reduced sections more often for cheap food -- that sort of thing. (Yes, I'm aware that it's a luxury to be able to see this as a challenge rather than a grim day-to-day struggle against abject poverty.)
In general state-of-the-baby news, Img is still not really mobile yet (she can roll, but doesn't do it that often) but is doing much more babbling and laughing. She's not sleeping very well at the moment (I thought it was getting better a couple of months ago, but now she's back to waking every couple of hours... ughh) but it's more bearable now we've given up on fighting to get her into a cot & are just letting her sleep with us -- she doesn't stay asleep any longer but she goes to sleep more happily and I don't have to go as far to pick her up when she wakes. The big development recently though has been SOLID FOOD -- we started at the beginning of the month (we're doing baby-led weaning) and she is clearly really enjoying her food. Also, it's such a relief not having to try to distract/entertain her with something different while we eat -- we actually get to eat our own food much more now that she's sharing the meal with us. Don't worry, I'm not going to list every food she's eaten, that's what the BLW forum is for; but she definitely loves mango and baked potato (not at the same time... though now I think about it, that could be quite nice) and seems to be able to eat a surprising amount for a tiny baby!
No further progress on the cycling issue I'm afraid (though many thanks to the people who gave constructive advice). I still want to come to Cambridge and investigate Dutch bikes in Hope Street Yard (as well as seeing all the Cambridge friends we haven't seen for ages!), but getting to Cambridge is awkward & we haven't made any concrete plans yet.
This post has been sitting around unfinished & unposted for a couple of days because on Friday night Img came down with a fever and a mystery rash -- after a struggle with rash-identification over the phone to NHS Direct yesterday (I wish they had skype so we could just show them the rash!) we ended up going to the out-of-hours doctor, who established that some bits of the rash were "non-blanching" (i.e. they don't fade when you press them...) & sent us to the hospital to get her checked out. Spent a miserable afternoon waiting around with an extremely grouchy slightly-feverish scratchy baby who does not like being examined, didn't get any lunch till about 6pm, finally they decided that it was probably "just a virus" & sent us home. Of course this is only the first of many illness-panics -- I hate being seen as the paranoid first-time-mum who runs to the doctor with every little thing, but I also have to admit that I just don't know enough about what's likely to be serious & what isn't, & I'd rather get things checked out if possible. I sometimes wonder if I'll ever feel unworried again. :-/ She is worth the worry though!
Phew, sorry for rambling on at such length. Apologies in advance if I'm slow to reply to comments -- it's rare that I get both hands free to type, & commenting via the iPhone LJ app involves clumsy one-finger-stabby-stabby typing, so I am a bit rubbish at commenting. (I'm also a bit rubbish at reading other people's journals, sorry. Feel free to use the comments here to tell me things about you that you think I should know & might have missed.)