Christmas last year was a rather surreal experience. I was floating in a fog somewhere between the fantastic hormonal high as a result of my hugely positive home-birth and eight weeks straight of serious sleep deprivation.
In the days leading up to C-Day I appliqued my daughter's name onto her Christmas stocking, just as I had done with my son's two years before. I finished just before we left to walk to the Christmas Eve family service, nothing like leaving it to the last minute.
On the day itself I cooked dinner for seven, two of whom are veggie and one of whom was experiencing his very first UK Christmas. Unlike the year in which I later found I was days pregnant with my first child, I managed not to grill the turkey and we all ate at a reasonable hour. In fact, without meaning to blow my own party trumpet too loudly, it was all pretty much a bloody great success. The turkey virgin even liked the sprouts.
On boxing day then, I languished in bed as my family rewarded my hard work with a long lie-in. Or not. This is where the fog comes in. Somewhere in my post-natal brain a little voice said 'why don't you get up and go to the Next sale'. Yes, leaving my husband and toddler asleep in the warmth I put my eight week old baby in the sling and half slid on icy roads to our nearest out of town retail estate at seven am.
When the fourteenth person tried to elbow the fat woman in the red out of the way, suitably chastised when they noticed I hadn't just had too much Christmas pud but actually had a baby strapped to my front, I realised the error of my ways. It was too late then though, I was already forty minutes into what would turn out to be a ninety minute queue for the checkouts. C was fast asleep of course and I was bonding with the woman behind me on potty training, Thomas the Tank Engine and the reputations of local schools.
Once home, the fog started to lift as I realised I'd squandered what had been a perfect opportunity to fill the bed with pate crumbs and start on my Christmas book list. I comforted myself with a big pile of bargains though, and carefully stashed them at the back of the wardrobe for autumn 2010 and my then almost-one-year-old daughter to wear.
This week as the rain continued unabated and the temperate dropped again I retrieved that bag and set about replacing the outgrown items in C's drawers. Or did I. Somewhere in the months between then and now C has grown. A lot. At nine months she's bigger than my son was at a year. Like her mother she's solid rather than tall and those clothes I bought? They're almost all too small. The ones that do fit wont last the autumn never mind the winter.
I have a crystal clear memory of standing in a crocodile of harrassed shoppers, holding up a dress against the sling on that Boxing Day morning. My fellow queuers laughed at the sight and the possibility of my teeny froggy-legged almost newborn ever being big enough to fit in it. Now it strains at the seams.
Time flies and babies grow but one thing never changes. I am still VERY good at shopping. The outgrown clothes are added to the eBay pile and my daughter and I hit the stores together once more.