Seeing out 2018 as a single parent-scary!

I’ve joined the legion of single parents. I have left my partner of 4 years after many months of trying to rectify our floundering relationship. I admitted defeat after one last massive row and called time on us. Me. I did it. I walked away. Have I done the right thing? I don’t know. It’s stopped the arguments alright but here’s what I wish I had done before I walked out of the door. These do not include custodial arrangements for our son as that is just unfair to talk about. He is loved and cared for and cherished the utmost. His happiness is all and is one of the main reasons I have made this momentous decision. Having parents that fight is damaging so now we don’t fight. Surely that’s a good thing?

1. Passed my driving test

Or even just gained enough confidence to even practice driving. It’s so limiting being stuck to shank’s pony and little hates the bus, as much if not more than I hate driving. I would have so much more freedom though. It’s definitely one to think about once I have managed to become a member of the human race again.

2. Found LB a place in a nursery

I think this should come under the giant umbrella title of be more fucking organised you daft cow. Nuff said. I’m tearing my hair out right now.

3. Had my own place

I am not entitled to my Gloria Gaynor moment as it was me that walked out of his door.Not co-owning the bricks and mortar might be a blessing in disguise for now though, although my poor old mum won’t be seeing it like that. Another it’s all gone a bit Pete Tong move home then. Except this time I have a nearly 2 year old in tow. Believe me this measure is extremely temporary.

4. Made better life choices

There’s nothing like packing up a load of worthless tat and moving it back into your mother’s house that makes you think you should have re-evaluated your life choices. Now I’m not saying for one second I regret having my son. I couldn’t imagine life without him now and I can’t remember how not having him feels. I suppose what I’m really saying is I feel guilty because I have not done enough to secure him a decent future. I don’t own a house. I don’t earn enough to be able to own a house and we are currently residing in my mum’s bungalow with her and her very annoying dog. I keep having sliding doors thoughts about every big decision I’ve ever made in my life. I wish I’d had someone there to tell me what to do. Me from the future perhaps…

5. Worked on myself a bit more

It takes two to tango as they say. It takes two to argue too. I’m sure that my anxiety and depression have made me a shit person to be around. I don’t hold anything against my ex for that either. If anything letting go of a failing relationship is a relief in that sense if I’m honest. If I’d managed to work on myself a bit more I could have worked on our relationship more effectively perhaps. I’ve done what I could at the time but it’s felt like a one way street so at what point do you decide you’ve just got to keep walking? I’ve decided the time is now. I’m trying to ignore the fact I’m walking right into Christmas face first though…

Ok so there’s a lot of looking backwards here. The “gift” of hindsight and all that. Only it’s not really a gift is it? The only way to go now is forward. Every day I question whether I have made the right decision. I miss my ex. I still love him in a way. Breaking up is sucky and it really hurts, but it’s sometimes necessary to able to heal again. Right now all I have is the hope that things will be better. To still have hope is the key. The last thing to come out of Pandora’s box. When that is gone then you have a problem.

Keep going and keep telling yourself you’re doing great.

Ruth x

Anxiety is parp. Here are a few reasons why… but don’t give up.

I don’t really know how to keep this subject light hearted (because that’s my style, or at least I’m trying to be) as it’s really not, but I’m feeling especially anxious at the moment so I thought writing my next post might help get some of it out. Anxiety is such a ballache. The looming feeling that something bad is going to happen constantly is so exhausting. I hate my anxiety but because it’s my from my own brain I suppose that means I hate myself. Pretty depressing huh? I recently started part time work in a pub on top of my existing part time work as a nurse. I thought a bit of bar work would be quite light hearted fun because I used to do it, some years ago now, and at that time I lived in London, so working in a pub up here, thought silly old me, would be a doddle! Except it’s not a doddle when you’re knackered from a child and another job and it’s definitely not a doddle when you’re confidence has hit rock bottom. In the echoes of my previous post I keep wondering where the old me (who was no shrinking violet with drunken idiot customers for instance) has gone. It’s a doddle me has definitely left the building, and possibly the planet at the moment.

1. Space invader

Anxiety literally invades every corner of your life. Every thought process, every waking moment. It’s always there. Even about things that haven’t even happened, and probably won’t happen. It’s definitely the metaphorical devil on your shoulder, although more pessimistic than evil I’d say. Like Droopy Draws in a devil costume. The all pervasiveness is relentless and exhausting and it literally never shuts up. You have to train yourself to not listen, but sometimes it’s not that easy.

2. Liar

Linking into the Droopy Draws devil shoulder nicely is the fact that anxiety lies to you. It tells you all sorts of shit that you are more than likely going to believe in a now weakened state of exhaustion from being a) hyper vigilant and b) sleep deprived from being hyper vigilant. It also lies to others by the way of resting bitch face. I probably don’t look the most approachable person when I’m stomping around pushing a pram around but I’m actually feeling really vulnerable. I look like I’d snap your head off but in reality I’m about 3 seconds from crying my eyes out and I just need a hug.

4. Approach with caution(?)

Ever heard the phrase “it’s always the quiet ones”? Well that phrase really bugs me because I am naturally quite a quiet person. Not however because I am psycho, but because I have hideous social anxiety and by keeping quiet I believe I am stopping myself look silly. I have always felt like this ever since I had to get the school bus by myself at the age of 4. I was convinced for some reason that my nose was bleeding (it was probably just snotty) on this bus, so I looked at the floor all the time and wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone. That’s one of my earliest memories and I feel quite sad about that. In reality I am dying to dive in and meet people and have a proper adult conversations, and do things like even just meet for coffee, but even that is fraught with anxiety- what coffee to choose? Where do I pay? How many syns (for if I’m being slimming world friendly, which is definitely not at the moment). If I have the child are there high chairs? Where can I put the buggy? What if he throws a hissy fit? It’s easiest to stay at home and do nothing. It’s easy enough for me to stay home anyway because I have very few friends who could meet me for coffee or whatever anyway but it’s not really that I’m terribly anti social (ok I am a bit), but it’s all to do with the fact I’m crippled with anxiety about every stage of setting out of the house and reaching a destination.

4. Crummy Mummy

I would say my anxiety has been increased infinitely by childbirth/ parenthood. The birth of my son being a traumatic experience is something I’ll never forget but for all the wrong reasons. It’s something I’m trying to let go of still, and with time it’s getting easier, but with time come the new challenges of a growing child who is now well into the trials and tribulations of toddlerdom and its definitely all encompassing and very in the moment. For me I’d say it’s the thought that I’m not a good enough mum that has given me a high level of anxiety, because it becomes ingrained into absolutely everything. Is he ill? Teething? Too hot? Too cold? Why won’t he eat what he seemed to love yesterday? My lack of success at breastfeeding always haunts me. The list is actually exhaustingly endless. I am still learning the you do whatever works for you at the time approach, and I guess I always will be as things change all the time. One day I hope to have this conquered because this part of anxiety is totally rubbish.

5. Vote of no confidence

Being a mum has never made me feel less confident which is strange because when I was pregnant I imagined exactly the opposite. There the shiny hormones of pregnancy I suppose. The shit show newborn hormones have yet to kick in, but when they do it’s a punch in the flabby gut that carried a tiny human in, that’s for sure. You will question every decision that comes with doing what is right by that tiny human and that, for me at least, is a great source of anxiety. I suppose this is an extension of the last point, or maybe should have come before the last point even, but anxiety will hammer your confidence right out of you because you simply feel overwhelmed and like you don’t know what your doing. Your baby will probably flip you the proverbial bird as well with everything you try (or maybe they might just flip you the bird) and this doesn’t help. I’m thinking perhaps more of the earlier baby stages, but as they get older it just gets worse. Believe me toddlers definitely don’t give a shit. Babies don’t give a shit, but toddlers are more blatant in their non shit giving. You’ve got to have pretty thick skin to be a mum. Almost as thick as toddler skin.

6. Mrs Nasty

Anxiety turns me into a horrible person. I snap, I yell, and I cry because the guilt at yelling at the people I love the most (my son, my mum, my partner) eats me up inside. It’s because of not being able to deal with the fight or flight situation very well, which in my case is triggered by anything that worries me that I can’t control the outcome of. Which is literally everything my nearly 2 year old son does. The really pants thing is if I try and ignore this feeling of being wound up, then it comes out as a huge outpouring of crap later on in the day. A volcanic eruption of mount mummy loses her shit. I feel like the worst person in the world, which doesn’t help my self confidence any, and here I believe we have come full circle. A self fulfilling prophecy as it were. On another side note I have to limit my use of expletives before it’s too late and the sprog can repeat them. I do love a good expletive though, I don’t want to give them up completely, because having children is so fucking frustrating!

7. Mum is the loneliest number that you’ll ever be (due to anxiety)

Ok so not as catchy as the original version but it hey it rhymes! I’ll make a literary genius out of myself yet (yeah right!!). In the early days and even now I find myself struggling with loneliness, especially on mat leave and with a partner who works long hours and only a sometimes cooing, sometimes crying infant for company. Mind you if a tiny baby had started asking me what was for tea I probably would have shat once and for all but I think you get what I mean about the lack of conversation. These days my child is becoming more interactive which is nice, but mostly occurs in a destructive, testing boundaries kind of interactivity so not only is it utterly exhausting trying to stop a tiny person from wreaking havoc literally everywhere they go, it is also a massive source of anxiety, to me anyway, so that means I stay indoors a lot. Playgroups for example are the worst source of this anxiety for me as they are full of other people’s tiny overlords of destruction also trying to raise whatever community hall is hosting the event to the ground. Don’t even get me started on soft play, I haven’t got the energy. Fiery ball pit hell that’s what that is. Being lonely is balls though to go back to the original point. What’s totally shit is the catch 22 of the whole anxiety keeping you away from the very places that you are likely to meet like minded parents. My self deprecating, disparaging of soft play parents are out there somewhere! I just haven’t quite got the balls to go out there and find them yet.

Why do I keep yapping on about balls? Surely that’s what got me in this mess in the first place? Also I’m sure none of these things I’m whining on about are insurmountable, it’s just the weird shit my anxiety makes me think, say and do. It feels better to just to write/say it sometimes. I should try it more often. Just give me and my resting bitch face a chance! We could go for coffee in soft play hell!

A weekend out of the mummy bubble. But who am I?

For the first time this year OH and I have been away together just us. It is the first time in 23 months that I have been child free overnight. This rare occurrence was very enjoyable, as we went to the London tattoo convention for the first time in a couple of years (last year we decided not to with a smaller baby), but while it was great to get away and get to the convention which in itself is awesome, it has also left me with the age old existential crisis of attempting to work out who the hell I actually am now after being without a child for a full weekend as getting the pre baby me back seems nigh on impossible. A weird feeling indeed. All whilst wandering around a tattoo convention… hmm.

Being a mum really does encase you in a mummy bubble. A really big bubbly ball thing that never bursts and becomes your whole life. Now while I wouldn’t have my child being the centre of my universe any other way of course, it would seem I have forgotten how to people, or indeed actually how be a human that wears clothes that aren’t jeans and hoodies, whose hair isn’t always in a bun and whose eyeliner is winged. Science will tell you that a baby will see the primary care giver as an extension of themselves. They wonder in awe when they realise they have arms that are separate to the ones attached to the blob that does their bidding when they make noise, or just in general, but the noise thing seems to work well for them. I’m still waiting for that wondrous moment Ewan calls me mama. He seems to be able to name all his other family members apart from me, which is lovely of course, but a little bit of a kick in the (metaphorical for me) balls as it seems like a flat refusal sometimes.

Since I started work back in December 2017, I have been granted temporary release from the mummy bubble 3 days a week, to return to work part time (oh how grateful I was for that-thanks bubble, and lack of money!) but going to work isn’t really a proper release is it? For starters work is not really a place where you can drink gin, throw your bra across the room and use swear words with gay abandon… well not without the threat of disciplinary action anyway. It’s kind of like a scene from the prisoner, the mummy bubble/big ball thing will chase you all over (work) then when you are caught it will drag you back home (ok so the prisoner analogy is a bit wrong here!). When I first started work I didn’t see it like this of course. I didn’t want to be granted day release! I couldn’t possibly have left him. What was to become of our routine, our relationship? He would miss the blob with arms terribly I was sure… Wrong! That’s another part of another story but I’m pretty sure he does not miss me when I’m at work. Resents me for going away possibly, but misses me while I’m gone, probably not so much. I on the other hand do miss him terribly. Work keeps me semi occupied from the worrying/missing him thing but going away from him for the first time ie what happened last weekend, was a first for me. I have never left him at night before, and in true baby shit all over you (not literally although he has done that before) add to the guilt style, he also was pretty poorly with a nasty viral infection. Not the thing you want to happen when you’re already an over anxious parent in the first place. So far I have established I am a mummy blob that works part time in a job where I have to pretend I’m at least some sort of professional, so it’s hardly the “real” me, so good. So who am I still?

I digress slightly. LO stayed at my mum’s while we were away and she did an absolutely extraordinary job of looking after my poorly little lamb, just as I knew she would, although my anxiety was telling me lots of very different things. Not that I didn’t trust her of course. My anxiety tells me different about all things all the time, even just a simple walk down the street so it’s a constant battle not to give way to these annoying thoughts I have. Sometimes I am more successful, and sometimes I’m pretty shit. I guess this was one of the pretty shit times but anyway away we go to London, me feeling extremely guilty, an awful Mum/blob with arms, full of worry etc etc. OH not so much… Just putting it out there-it’s not a dig, but him being so nonchalant about things actually really pisses/pissed me off! The one thing that really helped me in this particular situation (and I am not advocating this at all) was alcohol… OH might have been pissing me off but came up trumps with the JD and coke he’d brought with him. Even then though, no child, slightly pissed, hair literally let down (straightening it counts as effort these days), wearing a dress and even makeup, a definitely rarity these days, I was still left with an empty feeling. Empty because we were sans child I suppose. A weird feeling. A guilty feeling. I was looking forward to a weekend of freedom and fun, but at the same time feeling very guilty about it. It even felt like OH and I were getting to know each other all over again, because things have definitely changed there as well. We are a totally different couple to the one pre kid. Perhaps this was even a make or break situation-but make or break what exactly? Everything has changed, even though I’m still the same person, so nothing should have changed. The mummy paradox perhaps. Or the parent paradox I should say-although from my point of view things don’t seem to have changed for OH “THAT” much. Although I have changed. I think that’s his issue.

So if part one of the who am I crack was feeling guilty about enjoying myself now I’m a mum, part two was definitely some kind of PND lack of confidence special. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the London tattoo convention, or indeed any tattoo convention, but it’s/ they are a very cool place, and of course full of very cool people. I only have two very shit tattoos but OH is covered, he’s a proper tattoo collector. I just hang off his coat tails at these things. Or at least that’s what I feel I am doing. On the Saturday night I was slightly dressed up and falsely confident under the influence of alcohol. On the Sunday I was hungover, so perhaps tinged with beer fear, and wearing slouchier clothes. I should have made more of an effort clearly! Everyone else had!! I quickly felt inadequate and silly, like I hadn’t got the memo. I felt a bit intimidated being surrounded by awesome body art and funky fashion. The last time I had been to the convention I had been pregnant so what I was wearing really didn’t come into it. I wore my maternity jeans and I didn’t give a shit. These days I still wear my maternity jeans (full bump ones) because they are so ruddy comfy. I have noticed OH is more despairing of this lately so I didn’t include them in packing for this weekend. I rarely wear anything other than jeans/leggings and hoodies however so this is pretty much what I had packed apart from the dress I had worn on the Saturday night, and the compromise (I thought so anyway!) of not packing my oh so comfy (but terrible) maternity jeans. I put in a lot more effort into my child’s clothes, as most mum’s do I suspect, and I have barely anything other than the tried and tested dress for special occasions that makes me feel the least fat, which I never wear anyway because I never go out anymore. When we returned to our hotel room after a day of mooching and hanging around cool people, OH had an early night, giving me plenty of time to ponder who I once was and who this mummy blob thing was now. I scrolled through old pictures of OH and I on nights out, at the last couple of conventions we’ve been to, and just in general. I realised that I’ve lost that person completely. I am somebody new now. A hoody/leggings/ jeans wearing, no makeup wearing, Mum bun hair style, somebody new. Because it’s convenient to become that person. I haven’t got time to put on makeup, or even have a shower some days. Being a mum is such an all encompassing, earth shattering thing to happen, and although I wouldn’t change it for one second, I think it’s time some of the shattered pieces of me need to be picked up again. I suppose it took the weird feeling of freedom and guilt, and having the time to put on a bit of slap and straighten my hair that only a child free weekend could create to make me realise this. So who I am is still I work in progress I guess and I definitely have to work on my self esteem. There is life outside being a Mum/blob with arms, it sounds obvious to say it now, but I didn’t half miss him the whole weekend. He’d had such a whale of a time at Grandma’s he didn’t seem that arsed when we picked him up, but secretly I think he was glad to see his Mummy blob and Dada too.

Travels with my pushchair (and baby… and the kitchen sink)

I’m writing this off the back of a little stroll downtown that sadly went awry and ended up with me getting locked out of my house complete with sleeping baby, a massive bag of shopping, and an absolutely second hand but more than does the job buggy. Amidst the panic of realising I had no key and OH had gone out with no phone and the power of telepathy was not yet an option, I began to think of the things that really piss me off about trips out with buggy (as well as being suitably pissed off about being locked out) and how this might form the basis of the next thrilling instalment of this blog. It’s a bit first world problemy so I apologise and I would ask that you indulge me. A pregnant me was quite excited when we picked out a new pram sometime in Summer 2016. A silver cross travel system that came at a rather good price. Although I was slightly less excited about putting the thing together as you can imagine, I managed and as my pregnancy progressed, I imagined who would be in this pram, and myself as the yummy mummy who would be pushing it all over the place. That’s right, I would walk this baby weight away! It was the most foolproof plan. Wrong!! The title of yummy mummy was never destined for me. I’ve talked about wanting to slap my pre pregnancy self, but I’d also quite like to slap my pregnant self (sounds very wrong, sorry) for all my stupid idealistic imanginings. The pram was good at first. Well for the amount of time he could still fit in the pram/carrycot part, but when he outgrew that but still didn’t quite fit in the buggy part I began to panic. I also realised (horror of horrors) that when it was time to use the buggy part, the seat didn’t parent face like the pram attachment did. As it turned out my mum had bought a buggy from one of the selling sites on good old Facebook and that one parent faced so after a quick swapsie, that has been the pram of choice since my son reached 6 months old. A second hand mamas and papas sola with a red hood and a purple seat. I love it and I don’t care it’s old and cruddy it does the job as well as any overpriced, overrated travel system. Whilst I love my second hand pram (and my son, obviously-just putting it out there!) I would still like to address the top annoying things that really get on my goat when I’m pushing my child in his pram.

1. Cars parked on the pavement

This has now become my number one peeve when out and about with my little mate in his hot wheels. Parking like an absolute dickwad is prevalent in my area. Also if it’s bin day forget it. The petty criminal in me would like to key all those cars- and up end everybody’s bins but here’s the thing, I’m not an arsehole like you pavement hoggers so I refrain. I think my Mrs Doubtfire car wrecking moment may come one day soon though.

2. No universal rain cover has ever fitted on my pram

Universal my arse!! I have 3 “universal” rain covers and none of them fit my buggy. That means if it’s windy bits flap around all over and slap me in the face and also don’t provide adequate cover for my child. My darling child also hates the rain cover on in the first place and manages with ease to undo the shoddy fitting Velcro fastenings, which I obviously think is amazing, as is any walk around in the howling wind and pissing rain of course. I did look for the original rain cover for my pram but I think because it’s quite an old model, I couldn’t find it. Perhaps I just wasn’t looking hard enough.

So far so piss boiled. Let’s continue. The non fitting rain cover leads nicely on to…

3. Adverse weather conditions

This is a pretty obvious one. It’s pretty crappy to walk around in any crap weather at all of course. Let’s face it there are a lot of adverse weather conditions here in Cumbria. I mostly manage to avoid wind and rain battles pushing a pram because I am very very sensible (or lazy whichever) but on the odd occasion that I haven’t been able to avoid it, or have been caught in a downpour, being exposed to the elements trudging around with a pram is certainly not a living my best life moment. Obviously every effort of mine goes into making sure the small human is protected as much as possible from the elements, but I am fair game.

4. Messy pram wheels

So the main offender in this category is obviously dog poo. I always keep a look out so I can avoid the vile menace. The streets round me are pretty bad for dog fouling. Once there was a large pile of turd between a car parked on the pavement (!!) so I was forced detour into the road. That sent me skyward as you can imagine. It’s not always the poop though. Things like grass cuttings and leaves are a nightmare, even just extra gravel/mud/soil especially if the ground is slightly wet from previous rainfall. Soggy leaves just love a pram slightly damp pram wheels or four. I would wager there is more dog shit lurking underneath the leaves as well. I don’t have a hallway , or anywhere with laminate floors where I can dump the pram and easily wipe them clean in my home. It’s also more than likely that chuckles is asleep so the buggy needs to assume the usual position for naps (in the lounge, under the stairs). The thought of so many types of coliform on my carpet makes me want to vomit so I do clean the wheels a lot, but it’s a job I could do without to be honest. I mean sure they would have to be cleaned anyway but my lazier self who’s gagging for a brew at this point would rather not have to hose down pram wheels. I also have a recurring horror that I might accidentally shower the baby with the hose, or the scrubbing noise will wake him up or something daft. Not a problem if he’s not alseep, but on nice days, if this is the case I have been known to leave the pram outside for a bit. Sorry not sorry. Self cleaning pram wheels. Now there’s a selling point!

5. Leaving the house is never going to be simple again!

The actual act of leaving/returning to the house becomes a military manoeuvre in itself. Door steps, garden gates, and paths, all become obstacles akin to a tough mudder course (or it might feel like that after you’ve made your way through them). Take my mum’s garden path for instance, it must be the hardest path to get a buggy down ever! It is a treacherous assault course of bushes, pebbles and a stupid low wall that I always end up pushing the buggy into, no matter which way I try to angle the sodding wheels. Followed by a steep step into the house which I am always paranoid will wake him (should he be asleep after I have trudged round for what seems like hours in the attempt to get him to nap). As if being pushed into a wall, a bush and rattled down a pebbled path wasn’t enough, the step of doom will test anybody’s driving skills! Before even leaving the house is the issue of the amount of equipment babies require whenever they go anywhere. Packing a baby bag will become a fine art trust me. They are quite handy in that they will fit over handle bars but if you are going to do any sort of additional shopping (which you will totally end up impulse buying more than you actually need) you will definitely end up like the proverbial packhorse. Chugging back up that hill pushing a buggy, complete with child, baby bag and shopping will leave you feeling like an 80 a day smoker with a glass back. Even if you are lucky enough to live somewhere relatively flat (Holland?) you will still feel like you’ve just done ten rounds with Mike Tyson, and possible require the use of an oxygen tent by the time you get home if you’ve done shopping (which is inevitable). If you’re one of those people who actually enjoy exercise/ buggy induced exhaustion, you can actually get specialised buggies you can push and jog at the same time-should you want to pop a lung.

I think the the five points I’ve mentioned are more than piss boiling enough for the moment so I’ll stop there. I’m sure I can think of a few more though. Is there anything in particular that rattles your cage when you’re out and about with your LO and buggy? Let me know what I’ve missed out I do love a good moan in true Brit style!

Myths and facts of motherhood!

Before I start this post properly I think I already need the flashing neon disclaimer sign that 99% of what I’m about to write is supposed to be humorous. It’s my way of detracting from the ongoing shit storm that is my life at the moment. I can’t believe I am having to justify myself this early on in my blogging experience but there we are. Of course if you don’t like my content then that is absolutely acceptable. I would wholeheartedly encourage you to move on and have a jolly nice day. If you like what you read then why not like, follow, or comment? You could if you don’t like it as well actually. Constructive criticism always helps… once the tears have dried up, and the self hating abates of course. Again I jest. If you know you know I suppose.

I couldn’t wait for my maternity leave. I took some holiday and went off about 4 weeks before I was due to give birth (although that turned into 3 weeks because he came a week early). Cue the crazy nesting and reading up on helpful hints and tips for mummy’s to be. Here’s some of the things I thought I’d be doing as fabulously fantastic yummy first time mummy…. err yeah right!

Myth- Breastfeeding and pumping will be a breeze. There would be so much milk in fact I will have to store it in special breastmilk freezer bags (that I actually purchased and still have in his cupboard upstairs).

Fact – It’s fucking hard. The reasons I stopped are manyfold and have been discussed in a previous post so I won’t bang on about it. Instead I found I spent at least half my maternity leave (and more) waiting for kettles to cool down to the required temperature as I was scared to death of making my LO ill. Just another thing to add to the all consuming anxiety beast. Also the breast pump I used about as effective as a chocolate fire guard.

Myth- I would turn into a batch cooking, bake off whirl and who will probably be able to start a cake baking business I’d be so good at it.

Fact- I can’t cook. I have never enjoyed cooking, and becoming lost in the fog of the fourth trimester meant that cooking dinner for myself and the rest of the family was way down my list of priorities where keeping my tiny human alive was concerned. I don’t know why I thought I would suddenly become a master chef when I didn’t even have the energy to boil an egg for about 6 weeks after the baby arrived. Fair play to OH though he does cook when he’s not working. I can’t complain about that (see I am nice sometimes).

Myth- I would be a yummy mummy pushing a yummy mummy pram around town to meet my yummy mummy friends for coffee and play dates. I would still manage to look respectable doing said activities.

Fact- I didn’t go out of the house with the pram for at least a month. Partly because I was sore and poorly but also partly because anxiety is a wanker. What if it started raining, was he warm enough? Was he cool enough? Was the baby bag carrying everything plus the kitchen sink? Let me tell you now once you have a child you don’t simply leave the house. It becomes a military manoeuvre just to push a bloody buggy over the threshold of the front door, let alone the walk down to town. Also I have very few friends to meet for coffee, but those I did meet up with, by the time I got to meet them I looked more like some kind of bedraggled dog that you see in those ugliest pet competitions. Also my pram is definitely not even worthy of competing in today’s pram wars you see around town these days. It’s *sharp intake of breath* second hand. Absolutely not a yummy mummy. He was a pretty good baby to take out in his defence though. He did coo all the cuteness from his pram sometimes to take the attention away from me looking like an absolute mess thankfully.

Myth-would not be spending all my time watching crappy day time TV.

Fact- I was just lying to myself and there’s not much else to say on this subject. I was blessed with a baby who slept reasonably well and had good naps. I actually watched a lot of one born every minute and other baby related programs as my head was now suitably mashed by hormones to be able to watch this crud. Also a lot of cartoons when the sprog was awake which has mashed my brain in other ways. This links me on nicely to the last point:

Myth- My child will have zero screen time and will never be allowed near my phone or iPad and the telly will never be on.

Fact- Hahaha! Cue Baby TV, CBeebies, milkshake, and all the other cartoon reasons for all that is wrong in the world. Don’t even get me started on Peppa Pig or Bing (echoing so many other blogger parents here but wtf is Flop?). Your child will soak up the crappy telly like a sponge. They will also dismiss any toy phone, tv remote and car keys set that you buy them to play with in favour of the real thing. They just will. It’s baby law or something. They may be taken with it for about 5 seconds, but then they know it’s a ploy.

Myth- I’d be weaning my child with lovingly prepared organic food in baby led feeding style.

Fact- Ok so I didn’t try the baby led feeding avenue so successfully but again I blame anxiety for that too. Weaning without doubt has been one of the most stressful experiences of motherhood so far. He definitely has a “not this homemade shit again” setting and he won’t eat whatever I make him, so yes he does eat out of jars and packets somewhat (not even then sometimes though). I will never ever forget Pea Gate either for as long as I live. He also is able to manage hard things to eat if it’s a chocolate biscuit say, but if he has lumps of pasta in his spaghetti bolognese (the absolute gall!) then all hell breaks loose. He does like garlic bread though. Who knew?

Myth- My child will have a schedule.

Fact- A baby will do what a baby will do when a baby will do it. To me sleep training and crying it out etc is all bunkum (sorry my opinion). Staying on the precious issue of sleep for this point, on the whole he has never been an awful sleeper, for which I am extremely thankful. He has his moments though, and they couldn’t be more maddening. The other day for example I had been trying to get the little angel to nap for about an hour an a half before resorting to the buggy and walking around for an hour in the pissing rain. I also got splashed by some bastard in a big jeep driving too fast down a road full of parked cars. He did get a sleep though, after 3 days of no naps in the day so I have had to take getting wet on the chin. I am still claiming a soggy victory for that one.

So I’m going to finish on that semi victorious note. Believe me you’ve got to take small victories where you can in this motherhood life. This list is by no means exhaustive and I’m sure I’ll think of more things in the meantime. I’m off now to to go back in time and give childless me and all her ideals a great big slap in the face! If you can think of anything else to add let me know!!

#maternityleave #expectationsvreality #motherhood

Scrap the birth plan!

I haven’t contributed to this blog in while as I have been wanting to write this post for ages but feeling ill, physically and mentally has just drained me lately so firstly apologies for that. I have also been watching a lot of episodes of the highland midwife and one born every minute lately, which although it’s lovely and inspiring to see women and their brand spanking new offspring, it highlights to me all the stuff (that I can remember) that was crap about my labour/my son’s birth and I know I’m in trouble when I’m watching one too many episodes!! It also sets off my stupid ovaries, which I can now actually hear ticking from, but how in all honesty could I cope with another child? That’s another subject for another day!

The story (very condensed version) should you wish to read on starts from my waters breaking first-not exactly usual to happen before the labour pains but I didn’t know this at the time. I fully expected to get turned away from the hospital, which I was. The pains started the following evening but not too badly and as we were told to return to the hospital by the 8 am the morning after that, that’s what we did. The cramps weren’t bad enough to warrant rushing in before then (although they did hurt!). By 10 am after the trace and the examination it was determined I was 4cm dilated and could proceed to labour ward. All going swimmingly so far. I thought of all those ladies on one born every minute and smugly thought how I was going to join their number. Perhaps even in a lovely pool of warm water, as per my birth plan, if the pool was free. A lovely midwife, also pregnant herself, introduces herself, settles me and my OH in a new room and discusses pain relief. I didn’t need any then! This was going to be absolutely brilliant!!!

****

Things started to go a bit tits up after the midwife does my observations. My temperature was over 38 degrees. Cue a huge commotion of doctors rushing into my room to establish venous access. In that moment the water birth goes out the window. It’s also established that they want to induce my labour as it’s now not progressing fast enough for them and also set up a bag of fluid and IV antibiotics. In my nursey head I know this is bad. I know the cannula, the antibiotics and the eventual catheterisation I was to receive (just another way to lose my dignity) are parts of a sepsis pathway. Did I even think this at the time? Hell no as my head is not in the game at all. Unquestioningly though I let the chaos ensue all around me. This is my turn to be cared for by the professionals. My work hat was taken off the minute I began maternity leave a couple of weeks earlier. The point where the pitocin drip ramps up my contractions and the gas and air gets wheeled in is where things become very hazy. More monitoring, and another examination (what I think is hours later) reveals I’m still only 4cm. Cue an anaesthetist waving papers under my nose to give my consent for an emergency caesarian section and bang went the whole natural birth idea.

Well that escalated quickly!! I mean of course it does in an emergent situation, and of course I wanted doctors to do what ever was necessary to save my baby. That part was never in question, no matter how high on gas and air I was but at the time if I’d have been told it was necessary to have my legs amputated in that same theatre I would have agreed to it. In theatre they took the gas and air away from me and gave me spinal so that bit I do remember because of feeling the pain without the gas!! Being made numb was a massive relief after that but also a very strange sensation. I must have been given some pretty good stuff then because here’s where it all goes hazy again. Which is pretty sad because near enough here’s when my son was born. They took him to be weighed and cleaned up straight away from looking at my OH’s pics. There’s one of him with his mouth scrunched up in that crying face of his that has now become so familiar, completely naked, with massive red bollocks, being weighed on the scale (6lbs 3oz). I do remember hearing him cry, and the crying seeming like it was miles away. By the time they brought him back to me I was completely off my tits. The anaesthetist took photos of the three of us, which was a lovely gesture, but I look like I’ve just got in from a weekend bender on all of them. I also couldn’t hold him properly because as I remember it I think the spinal had affected my arms, but no sooner as he had been presented to me in his wooly hat and bundles, he was whisked off to special care, as because I had needed antibiotics in labour, he needed them now. I’m in recovery for what seems like ages, being brought round from my buzz by kindly nurses and ODPs talking to me occasionally but I don’t get to see my son until we are both back on the ward and he’d had his IVs done. He was born at 19.19. I know that because that’s what’s documented in his red book. First skin to skin was later that night. I don’t know what time. The magnitude of what had just happened never hit me as you see it hit those families on one born every minute. In those moments you see their lives change. Mine also changed in those moments, but what I guess I am saying about my birth experience is that the most important part passed me by. Obviously I’m not saying a c section is any less of a way to give birth. You are cut open and pulled apart at the end of the day. The recovery from which alone is a bloody nightmare. Add to that the fact you’ve just had a baby pulled out of you, well that’s actually a kind of horrific isn’t it? It’s also the amount of drugs I was given. I can’t remember anything exactly, I only have pictures to tell me what happened. I look at them often but can’t really remember what was going on. I just felt out of control and very scared. Especially since I was paralysed. Not a nice feeling to remember when you want to know what it was like holding your child for the first time.

A few days after my son’s birth I was told I had sepsis which had infected the amniotic fluid and sac surrounding my son. That’s the reason for my waters breaking first. It’s unknown how I got the infection. Some women are just prone to it, I have found out from further reading, that it’s a main cause of women rupturing their membranes early and having a premature baby, or even losing them. Thank heavens for small mercies but I still feel somewhat traumatised from my son’s birth. I have often wanted to write/talk about it so essentially I want this to be cathartic. It is in a way. If I could offer any advice to myself nearly 2 years ago and also other mums in my position it would be to not let it make you feel guilty, don’t let it define you. Try and talk about it and put it to bed. Talk to your partner. Unfortunately mine is useless when it comes to the emotional stuff, hence why I’m writing, but only do it when you feel ready. Sometimes the memories will come back strongly, but try and own it as your experience. It’s still a birth experience after all. I’m trying to reclaim it now, to try and put to bed the anxiety and depression the birth of my own son has caused me. I want to get rid of that way of thinking that it shouldn’t be like this, that it’s unfair somehow, but actually it is what it is, and eventually no matter how far you are down the line it helps to face it head on and deal with it. That’s what I’m trying to do now. The availability of counselling that isn’t private in my area is appalling but I have had a bit of CBT which I’m trying to apply here. Wish me luck!

#birthstories #pnd #traumaticbirth #maternalmentalillness #postnatalanxiety #mumwriting #mentalhealthawareness

My take on breastfeeding and why I had to give up

In the light of world breastfeeding week, I would like to share my experience. It’s not intended to cause a row, and join one team or the other, it’s just a story of how it was for me and my son. Well I can only guess about his part because he can’t tell me properly but here’s the thing, it didn’t go all that well and I’m still pretty gutted about that. We all know that breastfeeding is the best way you can feed your baby by far. Nothing in formula rivals the components of breast milk by the smallest amount, but I had to formula feed my son as I simply didn’t make enough milk. So this puts me into the category of the 1-2% of people who are unable to breastfeed I suppose. I have never been told properly but I put this down to having an emergency section and sepsis. I’m aware there are mother’s who manage breastfeeding after going through all this, and I am in no doubt that pumping in hospital did save my life because it made my womb contract (which is where the infection was), but I was literally pumping for hours just to produce 50-60mls. Apart from it being a really uncomfortable process, it was really hard to do when I felt like death personified. Ewan was also jaundiced but not enough to be put under lamps I was told, so what he needed to do was guess what? He needed milk and plenty of it and that was the one thing I didn’t have. I had no sensation of milk coming into my breasts, no sensation of let down, no nothing. The nurses and midwives were lovely and tried to help me with all kinds of positions, but Ewan, who also had sepsis, and jaundice, was too tired to latch and suck. I had no alternative but to supplement with formula from day one near enough. So since the day of my son’s birth I have been filled with guilt for giving formula to my son but ultimately I know that it saved his life. I had to take comfort in the fact that whatever breast milk I could give him was a bonus. None of the nurses or midwives I should point out we’re responsible for instilling this guilt in me. Social media and just my overall naivety about what it is actually like to be a mum have been very much to “blame” if you like. The message at my only antenatal class was very pro breastfeeding and of course that’s what I wanted and why should it not be? Of course I would be able to do it, (error) like I would naturally have this baby (again error) and in fact I would have an excess of milk that would have to be frozen (I even bought the bags-definite error). Everything was already there in my head because of what I already know about breastfeeding and it’s what I wanted to do from the start. Its failing at it that really knocked my confidence, not the fact I had to formula feed, as I knew I had no choice.

It was about 2 weeks after being discharged from hospital that something wonderful happened. Ewan latched! It was only to the right tit (left never worked properly so guess I’m cack titted as well as cack handed) but still, he had found the energy and motivation to feed from me. I was so happy, but also filled with a lot of trepidation about what was in my breastmilk (painkillers, antibiotics in quite vast quantities), even though I had been assured by the hospital staff it was safe for me to breastfeed (I don’t think it was actually). Sadly the breastfeeding dream still didn’t materialise properly. I still didn’t experience let down or the filling of my breasts. I still had to combi feed. When Ewan was about 8 weeks he rejected breastfeeding himself altogether. The PND really kicked in then as I struggled to come to terms with completely formula feeding. Anxiety surrounding him getting ill again and not having the antibodies from my breastmilk made me feel like a massive guilt ridden failure all over again and triggered the worst bout of anxiety and depression I have ever experienced. On the other hand the reflux he experienced from my breastmilk being pumped full of painkillers and antibiotics was equally difficult for me to deal with. He would throw up literally seconds after every breastfeed. He would throw up after bottle feeds but after a longer period for sure. Looking back it was all perfectly “normal”. He was a “happy chucker” but I was worried. So both types of feeding caused me to have massive anxiety really. I still cling to him getting at least a bit of my breastmilk though despite everything. Even though he is a perfectly healthy 20 month old, causing me no end of toddler grief now. The guilt never stops. That’s why I don’t find slogans like breast is best, Fed is best, informed is best particularly relevant or helpful to me. I am pretty well informed and look what happened! I must say I admire breastfeeding Mum’s, especially those that persevere through the really hard times of cluster feeding, ruined bleeding nipples and mastitis, to still be breastfeeding and finding the experience enjoyable and life affirming. Most of all though I admire Mums. Whether it’s choice or not, breastfeeding and formula feeding is fucking hard. Feeding children is fucking hard (weaning is not going well either!) so more power to those that feed babies. However you manage you do a great job!

#worldbreastfeedingweek #breastfeeding #formulafeeding #postnataldepression #maternalmentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #WBFW2018