Ask anyone who knows me; my greatest fear is zombies. Well, zombies and spiders. My husband recently asked me what I would do if there was a Zombie Spider Apocalypse. After I regained consciousnesses, I started to wonder.. What would I do in the event of a regular Zombie Apocalypse (ZA)? In the old days, it would have been a matter of ensuring my own survival until I ran out of ammo, food or steam, at which point I'd drink the last of my whisky supply (in this scenario I drink whisky), grab the nearest blunt object and run out into the gaggle of waiting zombies (yeah, I'm saying it's a gaggle) and go down swinging and cussing. Now that I'm a mum, however, failure is not an option. I've seen too many of those Omen-type movies to even entertain the notion that my precious baby could become a flesh-eating monster (great. Now there's a fresh nightmare for me tonight). So, how would I meet the basic needs of my 5 mo baby during the inevitable ZA?
- Carrying your baby : When the ZA hits, you need to be able to run and jump over various obstacles, such as discarded treasured possessions, abandoned military road blocks and dead bodies. A pram will not cut it. You'll have a flat quicker than you can say "Did we just run over broken glass?". And don't even bother with a Baby Bjorn. Sure, it got you from the car to the boardwalk on a sunny day before the world was being overrun by the living dead, but they have little back support and your baby is likely to fly out as you bound across rooftops. Go for something versatile like a cotton woven wrap, so you can have your baby securely on your back, keeping your hands free to wield a shot gun or practice your knife skills. After a particularly nasty attack, you can swing your baby to your front where he can nuzzle on your chest and listen to your heart beat, calming him down. You can provide all the comfort of a long hug without the back pain. In a pinch, your wrap can be used as a baby hammock, a blanket, or something to shimmy down the side of a building for a quick supplies dash. Another advantage is the wash-and-wear factor: good luck getting zombie brains out of a Bjorn. The world may have gone to hell, but hygiene is still important.
- Feeding your baby : Here's hoping you can breast feed, because finding formula when there isn't a ZA can be a bitch. With gas and electricity the first things to go (after mobile reception), you're only going to be able to bunk down in places where you can light a fire unseen so you can sterilize bottles and heat formula. Of course, still being able to make milk under such extreme stress with poor access to food and water is going to be a challenge as well. There is nothing wrong with saying to your troop/spouse/only-other-survivor that you need to sit this one out so you can rest and make milk. If you get the "as-if" look, hand them the hungry, crying baby while you do the watch and see how long they last. In the end, you may have to combine formula and breast feeding to meet the nutritional needs of your growing child. Now is not the time to go into the debate. Much like in normal life, you feed your baby any way you can and nuts to the nay-sayers. If it's safe start solids, consider baby lead weaning so you don't have to make pureed meals; during the ZA, no mum has time to cook separate meals for her family (just avoid things like peanut butter; the last thing you want is to discover your baby is allergic to nuts with the nearest children's hospital overrun with brain-chewing deadies).
- Sleep : You need to sleep. You need your energy not only to decapitate the walking dead who stand between you and the boarded up 7-Eleven, but to remain patient with your baby. Remember, throughout this chaos, your darling one still needs to take those big, overwhelming developmental leaps (the sooner he can hold his own head up the better) and you need to be there for him, providing loving understanding. Try to get at least 4 hours of sleep a day. Broken is fine. You should be used to this anyway. Remember that a bedtime routine is an important way to ensure your baby feels safe and secure, and to signal that it's time to go off to dreamland. Don't rely on anything physical, such as a bath, TV show or blankie, because there wont be hot water, Giggle and Hoot have long since been turned into hideous beasties that send shivers up your spine (wait. Undead hideous beasties) and you used the blankie to tie off the wound from a stray bullet weeks ago. Sing the same song, tell the same story. That should be enough. It doesn't matter where he sleeps, as long as your precious little bundle sleeps.
- Play : Fortunately, babies don't need Fisher Price toys to have fun and learn; empty ammo boxes, tin cups and an old rag are fine for playtime. Try to allow about 30 mins, 3 times a day for play. You may have to throw bubba on your back and sing nursery rhymes while you're on lookout. An added bonus is the lullabies may subdue the zombies.
- Nappies : If ever there was a time to be okay with cloth nappies, it's now. If there is some warning of the impending ZA, leg it to your nearest baby store and buy 6 modern cloth nappies. That should do you for a 24 hour period; it's not ideal, but you don't want to be lugging around more than that, let alone 15 boxes of Huggies (which will run out rapidly, buy the way). Go for the all-in-one type so you're not fiddling around with a cover when the undead are baring down on you. As for wipes, our mother's mothers used flannels and water and I don't recall hearing my mum complain about having a raw arse 50 years later.
- Communication : If you bought the Baby Sign Language app and not the book, you're screwed. Try to learn the new cries that you baby will quickly develop during the first days of ZA to ensure you can respond appropriately. Sure, you know the difference between your baby's "I'm hungry" cry and his "I'm tired" cry, but what about his "there's a zombie behind you" cry versus his "there's 42 zombies behind you and they look angry and hungry" cry? Get well versed real quick. That tiny person you're wearing is like having eyes in the back of your head.
It's important to note that all of these things (except, of course, breast feeding) can be done equally as well by daddy. Sometimes mummies just need a little break from the 24/7 of parenting. Remember to take time out for yourself: Go for a rooftop jog, read an old, blood-splattered chick magazine or practice your sniper skills without having to divert your attention every 4 minutes to your baby. If you haven't had to throw your spouse to the zombies to save your baby yet, try to have date night once a week; let your man know that even though life has changed with the arrival of your precious baby and a weird virus that causes the dead to rise up and attack the living, he is important to you.