Weight training with baby

Working those arms
My wife often gives me helpful feedback on what I’ve written. “What you wrote last night,” she said, “it seemed … disjointed, somehow. I was waiting for it to come together, and it never did.” It feels daft that I could lose the ability to write coherently after drinking half of two bottles of beer, but you should know your strengths and stick to them. Speaking of which, it’s easy as a new father to neglect exercise. Nothing ruins a man’s marathon pace like a squealing newborn. But there are ways to combat this.

To begin with, I tried dialling up the difficulty on the Kinect Fitness game. There’s no “punish me harder” setting available in any of the menus, so what you do is avoid using the training programmes for four months, and then pick it up again. The game won’t make any allowances for your time off, and will start punishing you at full force, on the basis that you’re clearly fit enough. I’m not sure if this is the Xbox suffering amnesia, or some kind of gymnastic sadism.

Either way, I could hardly walk after my session on Sunday, and that was meant to be an aerobic session. I hardly used my tins-of-artichokes dumbbells or my eight-pound piggy bank, and still I had legs that bent like I was suffering advanced malnutrition. It was all I could do to lie on the sofa and sip protein-rich recovery drinks.

But you can’t jump around in front of your television set wearing only your underpants every day. Eventually the people living below you will get mad at the constant thumping on their ceiling and come upstairs to remonstrate. And once you’re used to exercising in your underpants, it’s hard to go back to being properly dressed.

Today we had to take baby on her first proper outing, back to the hospital where she was born, so that her mother could be checked up on. The doctor seemed almost shocked at my wife’s robustness and independence; a week after a c-section you’re probably meant to be taking it easy, not hoofing it around town and baking as much as you possibly can. But these Canadians are made from hardy stock.

We didn’t get around to buying a stroller before Foremanbaby arrived, so I had to carry her in the car seat everywhere. That was fine when we were going from apartment to taxi to hospital, but on the way home we decided to walk half a mile from Bencoolen Street (where I was unsuccessfully signing up for Spanish lessons) to City Hall MRT (where we were going to look unsuccessfully for bin liners). It turns out that even a baby weighing less than three kilograms, in a fairly light car seat, is awfully heavy after a while. I began to grow underjoyed with life. By the time we reached the Singapore Art Museum, about three quarters’ of the way through our journey, I was ready to drop. And you can’t go dropping babies, that gets people quite cross.

Fortunately, we were stood outside a restaurant, so as it was now 6pm I persuaded my wife to stop all this yomping and have some dinner. It was an easy sell: for the first time in months she could have a glass of wine. Well, half a glass of wine. Well, a sip of half a glass of wine, and then worry for three hours about whether her liver had purged enough alcohol for her to be able to feed Foremanbaby again. I wasn’t on the booze. To begin with. But you mustn’t leave a glass unfinished, so I had to hoover up the red wine, and then perform another feat of superhuman strength as I carried baby and seat down the street to the shopping mall.

People stared at us. Well, people stared at me. I suppose usually you see a baby in a stroller, not just being carried around by a sweaty man who may have drunk too much. To confuse eavesdroppers, I told my wife that when I found the person who stole the wheels from the stroller, I’d give them what for, but I think it was wasted on those around me, and now my arms and back were cramping up. I’m built for speed, not comfort, I guess.

Downstairs in the mall, we tried to fit baby into a shopping trolley, but it was too small for the car seat so we balanced her atop it as we navigated the supermarket, finding only magical ten-dollar tubs of hummus and all the baking trays I could have purchased on Sunday but paid more for elsewhere. Drat those sellers of cookware!

But I couldn’t rage too much. It was time to go home and rest my weary arms, and peer at baby to make sure she still had all her arms and legs and other attachments. And try to remember not to go on the booze tomorrow.


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