The No Zen Zone


Baby A has picked up a new and disturbing habit. He has started thrashing about in his sleep, scratching his face then waking himself up terrified because he thinks someone is attacking him. He isn’t old enough to understand the concept of self-harm. His little pudgy face is covered in cuts and he looks at me mournfully as if I have failed to protect him from this assault.

I’m not sure what’s causing the thrashing and scratching but it doesn’t help that his nails are like razorblades. The Book says that the safest way to cut a baby’s nails is to bite them. I’ve tried this and apart from the fact that you can’t get a really short cut by this method and that Baby A’s nails do not taste good (he doesn’t let me wash his hands), the biting of the baby-nails gives my teeth the heebie-jeebies. Both Mr Oh and I have tried to use baby nail clippers. We have both ended up accidentally cutting his little fingers which, in conjunction with the scratched face, would be enough for social services to take him off us. Luckily, we live in Belgium, beyond the reach of social services so that’s less of a concern. They probably have social services here but I like to think we’re living off the grid.

In order to bring some zen back into Baby A’s life, I took him to Mum & Baby Yoga this afternoon. To be honest there’s very little about the whole experience that promotes relaxation and calm. First there is the never-ending preparations for exiting the apartment. This involves hunting down nappies, muslins, clean clothes, soothers, emergency bottles (for places where breastfeeding is just unseemly - like the supermarket checkout), wallets, phones, keys and putting everything into a bag. This is before the baby is even out of his pjs.

The baby is the least of my problems though when it comes to yoga. The biggest problem is that I have to drive to get there and driving in Belgium is enough to make one consider life in Amish country. There’s a lot of beeping, lane swerving and yielding inexplicably to traffic coming from the right. It’s like a high-speed free-for-all with SUVs. All of this is compounded by the fact that the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car and the traffic is on the right. My driving tactic so far is: accelerate, scream and hope for the best. Baby A doesn’t like it either and he usually screams as well so there are often two of us screaming. Terror loves company.

Today we made it to yoga in one piece. I even managed a parallel park that was so stupendous I nearly took a photo of it and posted it on Facebook. Upon arrival at yoga, what I really need is a drink. There is no gin at yoga - sadly. I take my place on the sofa beside the other mothers who are all feeding their babies until the class starts. This is a common mothering technique referred to as ‘tanking-up’. The more milk you can get in the baby, the longer you’ll be able to do yoga. I made it a whole 45 mins today. Baby A quite likes yoga. He lies on my mat and makes gurgling noises as I try not to step on him. He’s not so into the other babies. Today he got hungry in the middle of the Wheels of the Bus (it’s not normal yoga) and decided he’d had enough. He then screamed the entire way through Itsy Bitsy Spider, the meditation session and the final relaxation. He screamed as I put him in the sling. He screamed as I bid my farewells. He screamed as I walked down the steps. He screamed as I put on my shoes. The moment I set foot on the pavement, he stopped screaming, smiled and promptly fell asleep. He’s still asleep two hours later. Yoga really tires him out.

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