#mumlife

I’m starting to realise that there is definitely strength in numbers.

Being a mum can be incredibly lonely. You’ve created this new life and, probably about 90% of the time (in my case 99%) you have no idea what you’re doing. You have questions: is this normal? Am I doing this right? Should my baby really breastfeed this much? (The answer is yes, your baby will breastfeed until the point you think they will actually explode).

Your life has changed beyond anything you could have imagined, and you go from being able to basically do what you want to having to plan for a quick toddle round the garden.

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Katie Kirby probably puts it best in Hurrah for Gin:

…this was the point in my life where everything shifted from being all about me to it all being about somebody else. I couldn’t nip to the corner shop to buy a bag of pickled onion Monster Munch, grabbing my keys and purse on the way out; I had to relearn how to live, putting another person first. (Kirby, 53)

And she is completely and utterly right. Also, pickled onion Monster Munch are THE best crisps. Its just a fact.

It becomes so much harder, impossible even, to carry on as you were. You just can’t, and you need people to help you through the transition to mum. You’d think the whole pregnancy thing would prepare you but, despite the limitations on soft cheese and the discomfort, you can still pretty much enjoy a bit of free time. The concept of free time is null and void when the baby arrives.

This is why it is so important to find your group, people who just get it. I have a supportive husband, and I have family around. But I do think it is different for my husband, and yes my family are supportive, but they’ve also parented and they had their own way of doing it. Some things you maybe don’t want to discuss with your parents, I can think of a couple of things. Sometimes you want to say things and just not have the advice, sometimes you just need someone to say “Yeah, I completely get it.”

I was lucky enough quite early in my pregnancy to find that group. They’re strong and amazing women, who so deeply support each other. How fiercely these women will support each other is quite amazing.

I hesitated then, because I wanted to say how fiercely they will protect their own, and they do. But “their own” is any woman who needs and asks for their support. They welcome with open arms.

I believe that having these women behind me is the reason I didn’t give up on breastfeeding, and they’ve helped my confidence soar since having Pippin.

Without support networks, without a mama family motherhood can be unspeakably lonely and it really shouldn’t have to be.

8 month update – late again!

I am seriously no good at getting these updates in on time, I missed seven entirely and Pippin has been eight months for three weeks now. It is because these months are going far too quickly, I can’t get my head around the fact that she’s fast approaching one whole year old. Pretty soon she will have been in the world longer than she was growing in my tummy (37+6 weeks!).

We’re very, very proud of her.

As we’re biased and her parents we’re pretty sure she’s talking already. She regularly says Da-Da, and she says “Ca” whenever she sees the cat. Clearly first words over here. And of course the moment she stole a piece of dairy free Easter egg was a proud one, she has inherited one thing from me at least.

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She can properly crawl, she surprised us with it 7 months and a week. Now its all about pulling herself up on furniture, and she is just starting to move along. This is more than a bit scary, I can hardly cope with the fact that she can get around on all fours, I don’t know what I will do when she’s walking.

Two teeth are through, and she manages a surprising amount of food considering she has basically nothing to chew with. Bagels are a particular favourite, especially spread with Vegan Cream ‘Cheese’, she also likes curry and stir fry. Her tastes seem to change from day to day: I can get her to eat a tangerine one day, the next she spits it out like poison. I’ve managed to re-introduce Soya to my diet without causing her problems, so the aim at some point between now and her first birthday will be for me to have some hard cheese.

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She saw the consultant and, because she was gaining weight, they were ok for us to continue managing her intolerances as we were doing. So that’s what we have done.

Just this last week she has started sitting still to be read to. Her favourite book is “Dinosaur Roar”, and it makes me all emotional when she laughs along.

She hates being dressed and tooth brushing and anything really that someone has to do for her. She is fiercely independent, and incredibly wilful.

Sleeping is gradually improving. She will go in her cot for a couple of hours, but I am still breastfeeding throughout the night. However she is starting to self-soothe more. I’m just following her lead really.

In other words we’re still just winging it. But she seems to be doing just fine, so it must be working.

Parenting with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

In the great scheme of things I’ve not really been a parent for very long – but in the eight months that Pippin has been in my life I’ve changed a lot I think. I’m a lot more tired for one thing, but I’ve made more changes in these last eight months, for her, than I have in the twenty five years previously.

That’s from little things; like making sure I eat lunch every day, so she can see me eating it and she gets something nutritious (even though most of it ends up on the floor!), and not having a lie in, ever. To bigger things like making big changes to our house to make it safe for a baby, getting a family-friendly car and even coming up with a ‘life plan’.

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One of the things that I knew would challenge me most as a parent was dealing with my mental health problems, and their effect on my parenting. If you know me in real life, I am pretty open about the fact that I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) about six years ago. If you looked hard enough you could find plenty of things I’ve written about it on the internet. Having OCD nearly destroyed me, and it took me a long time to get to the point where I can function on a day to day basis.

When I got pregnant I was terrified. I didn’t know how the pregnancy would affect my OCD, and I didn’t know how my OCD would affect my ability to parent. Which caused a lot of issues with the medical professionals who looked after me during pregnancy: which is another story entirely.

I have some things that I really struggle with. I wash my hands more than most people, I have to wash my hands after touching shoes, I can’t use public toilets, in fact, I have to wash my own toilet seat before using it. I don’t touch taps, or bathroom door handles, and I have real problems with towels too – I can’t dry my hands on them. It’s not all about germs, each of my compulsions has their own little story that I won’t bore you with, but these are behaviours that I really struggle with. As you can imagine these things do impact on my daily life.

When Pip was first born, I spent a lot of time in bed with her. I have breastfed her and I was recovering from a c-section, so in some respects hiding out in my room was convenient. What it also meant was I had more control over my environment. I was struggling with all the things that come with being a new mum, and I couldn’t cope with my OCD on top of that: so I minimised the amount of triggers within my environment.

As she got older it wasn’t feasible for me to hide out in my bedroom, so I ventured downstairs, but I was still struggling to do things that triggered my OCD. Gradually the house began to suffer for it, and I started having panic attacks again. I have started to get things under control again, but now Pippin is crawling it is hard for me.

I don’t believe the floor is clean, so every time she crawls off the rug in our living room (that I try and keep meticulously clean) I feel a little bit sick inside. If she is on the floor at someone else’s house it goes through me, but I am trying not to show it. I want her to not have to grow up with the same fears as me, I know in the upcoming years I am going to have to take her to public toilets, tie her shoes for her and do countless other things that scare the hell out of me. I don’t know where I am going to find the strength to do it, but I will have to.

I suffered massively at the hands of my OCD and I hope she never has to. I don’t even know if I can make a difference, whether it will happen anyway, whether she just has a higher chance of having OCD because she is my daughter. Nature vs nurture and all that. I guess we will just have to wait and see.  

“Things I’m NEVER going to do when I become a parent” – the delusions of someone without children.

We’re three-quarters of an hour into a three to four hour journey and I’m quickly munching through my data allowance whilst awkwardly holding a tiny screen in front of my seven month old, and telling my husband and mother-in-law in the front of the car that we really, really NEED an in car DVD player.

She’s sat, wide-mouthed, watching Tombliboo Ooo drink his stolen Pinky Ponk juice and I’m trying to justify my decision to let her have screen time to myself.

She doesn’t watch too much TV: just in the car and when I want to eat breakfast.

Ok. Sometimes she watches it during the day too, but only when I really need to get things done.TVTime_PipandBlossom

Well, sometimes when I’m tired too, but we do other things!

We arrived in the North East at 12:35am on Monday morning, dealt with a sleepy but not willing to sleep baby, a funeral, another night of little sleep and were twenty minutes from the next services. Why should I feel guilty about letting her watch something to distract her? I tried playing, and singing and pulling funny faces and she wasn’t having any of it.

But I did feel guilty. A little voice in the back of my head giving warnings about her eye sight, her attention span, her development, and that little voice was mine.

Long, long before Pip was around, before she was even thought of, I looked in disapproval at parents who sat their children in front of the television. Parents who, when their child cried or was grumpy, got out the screen and put on some brightly coloured, baby-talking monstrosity and left their child to it. If they just interacted with their child then maybe their child would behave better, said pre-child judgey me, it is such a shame for the poor little one.

Frankly, I was a bit of a dick. And so far up my own arse I’m surprised I could see the screen. What business is it of mine anyway? Why should I even care what other parents do? PipwatchingTV_PipandBlossom

I’ve made good friends with Iggle Piggle, Pat Clifton and even Justin make a regular appearence over breakfast. Episodes of Bing Bunny are in my favourites, just in case of a car or pram meltdown. We do other things I hasten to add, we stack blocks, we play peekaboo, we talk and sing together we go out for walks, but I would much, much rather have her  watching Robert the Robot dusting than cry her little heart out between services because she hates being in her car seat. Or pram. Or because I’m exhausted. Or heck, because she actually LIKES In The Night Garden.

Pippin’s (Completely Overdue) Six Month Update

This is cliche, and probably said by every parent ever, but it has gone so quickly. I can’t believe my tiny little baby is six months, well, nearly seven now! And it is really bad, but  I find myself looking at newborns and getting a tiny pang of “ooo, I want another”. Before I remember that pregnancy is not fun, and labour hurts.

Quickly, a little run down of the last six months with my little girl.

It has been an eventful six months.

Pippin has been to one wedding, had one holiday aboard and one in the UK, she’s had her first Christmas and Halloween and has had more cuddles that I can count. Currently she’s trying her first few foods, avocado was a success, broccoli less so. She’s pushing herself to crawl, managing to get onto all fours and rock, before either pulling her feet up flat on the floor and bunny hopping or throwing herself forward and dragging herself wherever she wants to go.

She has a few favourites at the moment, baths are fun and water gets everywhere as she splashes her arms and tries to stand up. We’re getting a lot of arm flapping now too, especially when excited. Despite being unable to crawl yet she absolutely loves pulling herself up to standing and climbing everywhere.

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Sleeping is still not going well, we don’t get an unbroken night of sleep yet and we very rarely get a few hours to ourselves, but when she puts her arms up for me to pick her up and cuddle her it is all forgotten.

She’s a wonderful, wilful little girl, with a smile that charms everyone she meets and I couldn’t be more exhausted, overwhelmed and proud of her.

 

 

No. 1

I don’t know that I’ve mentioned it before – but this isn’t my first blog. My guilty secret is that I have tried blogging before, unsuccessfully. I kept giving up at the first hurdle.

My other blog was supposed to be about the renovations of our 1930’s home, and it dried up a bit after we moved into our home and promptly sacked off doing any work at all. Until I got pregnant and we realised that a house with plaster falling off the wall probably wasn’t safe for a baby. We have subsequently realised that it is even more difficult to do up a house when you have a small baby – seriously, who has time for that?! But my new years resolution is to get some of the crap done on the house that has needed doing since we bought it three years ago.

So, a bit of background.

No.1 is a 1930’s semi. We bought it for the space it offered, how light and bright it was, the lovely garden and mostly because it was the biggest house we could get for the money we had at the time. As it turns out that has worked out lovely, No.1 is absolutely a family home.

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It has more issues that we could ever have imagined, and I love a good vintage home. It is far from a ‘good’ vintage home. The advantages are its aforementioned lovely garden and lightness, two large bedrooms, an original 1930’s bath and a lovely open plan reception space. It’s disadvantages are shot plasterwork, leaking windows, a tiny kitchen and mould.

When we bought it the house could have passed as a 1970’s show home, garish carpets and anaglypta everywhere. The tasteful bathroom suite was complimented by woodchip and the kitchen was finished with tiles in a charming shade of brown.

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I look back at the photos and think, wow, the house used to be tidy! We went in with so much enthusiasm and basically no plan, and that was a huge mistake. We managed to finish the reception rooms, do odd jobs in some of the others and then basically ignored it for the next two years. It wasn’t all laziness. The money ran out and we were paying for the house, it made sense to move out of the one room we were living in and into our new home – finished or not.

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Then we found out we were having a Pippin and we knew we had to get a wriggle on. So we sorted a few outstanding jobs around the house and made a nursery (which we haven’t finished: I hope you can see the theme here.)

My new years resolution is to work on getting more rooms done, the bathroom first I think, then the two remaining bedrooms and then the hallway. The kitchen we are still in two minds about. Our house is lovely, if in need of some tlc, but the area isn’t the one we saw ourselves settling in. Ideally we would extend and have a lovely kitchen-diner, but if we intend to move it wouldn’t be worth it financially. So we’re still debating that one. But hopefully No. 1 will make a few more appearances on the blog. You never know, we might ave finished Pippin’s room by the time she’s ready to move into it!

 

The Post Partum Body: Three Months In

I wrote a post (which you can read here) about my first views of my body after having a baby. My first reactions weren’t positive, but I did feel strong. Strong that I had gone through it all and was still standing.

The emotions from the birth are still pretty raw for me, and I have realised over the last few months that it has left me feeling soft, squishy and very vulnerable. And I am not just talking about my abdomen!

My first real challenge to my confidence is fast approaching. Since the birth I have lived in my giant panties, maternity leggings and oversized tops. Practical I have said: easy for whipping the breasts out and the high waists stop the rubbing on my wound.

But I have to acknowledge now that my maternity leggings are just starting to look a bit saggy, and although oversized tops are practical,the one’s I bought in late pregnancy are less ‘oversized’ and more ‘dressed in a bin bag’.

As I said, the test to my confidence is approaching. I am meeting a bunch of retro mummies and their bubbas at the Christmas Markets. This will be the first time I have dressed up since Pippin was born, and the first time I have dressed my new tummy. Scary stuff!

I am still swollen, although it has come down a lot I still have an overhang. I was measuring my waist today for a pair of jeans and my waist is still a whole four inches bigger than it was pre-pregnancy (and yet I weigh less. How does that work?). That made me sad.

What won’t be visible are my stretchmarks, which are fading quite well. My stomach still feels deflated, and there are patches where I have no feeling at all.

I need to not beat myself up, it is still early days in my recovery and to all the people who matter to me I am still me. Plus I really doubt that any of the mummies on Thurs will refuse to associate with me because of my mum tum.