7 Things I’ll tell you that the baby books don’t.

1. You will know exhaustion like you’ve never known before. So cut yourself some slack. Even if it’s the third day in your pj’s and you have to answer the door. If anyone’s going judge you, at this fragile period of your life, that makes them an asshole. Not you. So eat the biscuits, use the dry shampoo and sleep in the daytime. Sleep whenever the hell you can. Day or night. In bed, on the sofa or in the bath. Just do it.

2. You will learn the art of ‘nodding and smiling’ as elder generations impart their (usually useless) advice on babies to you. Apparently the fact that their children survived is an actual qualification, that no modern GP can match. Just nod. Just smile. Then do whatever you feel is best for you and your baby. Because at the end of the day, its nobody’s business if you breast or formula feed. If you top and tail wash or full on bath them. If you feel they need Calpol or not. Your choice alone. Mentally give them the finger. I said Mentally.

3. Your partner will feel left out. It’s normal but it’s pretty twatish if they say it out loud so they’ll just sulk (if they’re a man) or pretend everything’s fine (if they’re female). So, whilst everything revolves around you and baby (and rightly so), ask them for help when you need it. And you will need it. They’ll feel more helpful and involved and it lightens your load. It’s win/win. FYI: the arguments will die down. Your hormones + less sleep for you both x the overwhelming responsibility dumped on you = a truck load of arguments. I remember us two arguing over a pan of chilli. For 15 minutes straight. Concluding that we should divorce for the sake of the new baby. Before he grows too old to know any different. Lol. It happens and it DOES die down.

4. Your vagina will hurt. You will feel like you’ve been kicked between the legs by an ice skater 20 times. But it heals, like no other group of muscles in the human body. It’s pretty magic if you think about it. So get the heat pads on it, use lavender oil in your baths (honestly, it’s amazing), sit on cushions, take the paracetamol and keep your partner WELL away from your ladypiece for a good while. If there is any sign that things aren’t healing well, don’t mess about. Seriously. I ended up in hospital on the verge of sepsis after my second. If you think something’s amiss, ring your health visitor, even if it’s the 26th time you’ve rung them this week. Just do it.

5. You might not get the instant bond everybody raves about. And it’s totally fine. In the long run, it doesn’t matter, it has no bearing on how you mother your child nor about the bond you will have with them in the future. I had no bond with my first and I truly hated myself for it. I couldn’t hold him when he was born because he wasn’t breathing properly. Then I couldn’t cuddle him for 5 days as he was in an incubator receiving light therapy. But, you will not find a more protective and loving mother to my boys than me. I did get that bond with my second. He settled immediately on my chest and there was nothing but love. It was an amazing feeling  and in that moment, it was just us. But that’s all it is, one moment in a lifetime of moments you will have with your child. Nothing more, nothing less.

6. You will have to eat a great big piece of humble pie. Because you will become all that you said you wouldn’t. You’ll be posting pics of your newborn left, right and centre. You will type #blessed and #makingmemories. You will overshare on every milestone of your baby’s first year and expect everyone to ‘like’ or ‘love’ it. Even though you’ve rolled your eyes hundreds of times when other’s have done the same in the past. It’s ok, you’re only human. We can all be a bit judgy if don’t understand something. But now you understand. Just remember, there will be someone rolling their eyes at your “aww, where did the time go?!” photo. It’s just how it is.

7. Lastly,  Every cliche is true:

‘The days are long but the years are short’

‘It’s the hardest job in the world’

‘They’re not baby’s for long’

‘They’re tiny miracles’

‘cherish the moment’

of course you’re not going to remember these when it’s 4am and the third time you’ve got up to feed. Or when you’re cleaning poo from under your finger nails after a particularly bad nappy explosion. But, and I’m really not meaning to be patronising, saviour the nice cuddly moments, the bathtimes, the smiles and baby giggles. Because one day, all you’ll have are the memories. The good, the bad and the ugly.

💙 Em.

Parenting questions

If you don’t mind not having any form of personal space,

and your social life disappearing without a trace,

then parenting is for you.

If you can survive on just a couple of hours solid sleep,

and always, regardless of hangovers, be up before the bird’s first cheep,

then parenting is for you.

If you have police negotiating skills, think, hostage style;

while your toddler tantrums on the floor in a screaming pile,

then parenting is for you.

If you enjoy spending weeks asking them to repeat simple words,

for those words to be (after hearing it muttered once) ‘you turd’,

then parenting is for you.

If you admire a freshly cooked meal splashed on the floor,

because they spied a carrot, and are now shouting for more,

then parenting is for you.

If youre curious by nature and like a good guessing game,

and aren’t put off by the newly titled “hmmm, what’s that stain?”

then, parenting is for you.

If you like being a little persons cleaner, chef and P.A,

with very little breaks and not even make minimum wage,

then parenting is for you.

But of all, if the simplest of kisses can make you so happy,

a cheeky smile and a “wuv you mummy” stops you feeling crappy,

then parenting is definitely for you.

 

Sometimes it seems the hardest job in the world, but it has bountiful rewards amongst the wiping bums* and repeating the same request 81 times. It’s tiring when they’ve kept you up in the night, but they’re the best reason to get up on a morning.

Heres to my little boys. Who’ve reduced me to tears of frustration and joy in a nano-second. (It’s possible. Ask any mother of small children.)

Em 💙

* I did write arses, but my husband said babies don’t have arses, they have bums. Whatev’s. 🙄. 

Not a Disney Classic day.

Sometimes I think I’m the real Cinderella. Not that I have two ugly sisters, I have just the one and she’s far from ugly (despite the fact that I’d tell her that was why she was put up for adoption.) Just FYI, we share the same biological parents but I was a mean sister as a child. I, instead have two little boys that dictate my every task and what I need to do to be able to leave the house. I must make their breakfast, wash them, tidy up, dress them, make them drinks, clean the bathroom (for I live with 3 males,) brush their teeth and if I can, get myself dressed and scrape my hair up. Then I may go to the ball.

Well, that’s not strictly true either. I don’t even get INVITED to balls. When I leave the house it’s to nip to the local town to tick more ‘jobs’ off my never ending to-do list. Pushing a beautiful but moaning baby in his pushchair and pulling my flight-risk toddler by his reigns. Maybe that’s why when my husband nips to get his lunch in the very same town, he drives past us rather than stopping to say hello. Leaving me to console my two year old that’s just seen Daddy’s ban (van) drive away. Speedily. (In fairness, I’d probably do the same.) I similarly lose things when I’m out too. Never a glass slipper though, no. Usually, the aforementioned to-do list,  money, receipts, keys, kids and lastly, my sanity. Today it was gloves. Brand spanking new gloves. He managed 15 minutes with them on before I had to retrace our entire bloody walk. One was in the fridge in greggs where he made me stop and get him a sausage roll. And a polite gentleman informed me he’d handed the other in a shop after seeing it on the road. By this point my disowning husband had rung to ask me to get him a sandwich and take it to his work. I obediently did so before taking us three to our almost-weekly doctors appointment.

Ok, maybe I’m not like Cinderella at all. There’s no Prince Charming coming to rescue me. Oh wait- sorry- let me rephrase-maybe I’m not like Cinderella, I’ve already found my Prince Charming. Maybe I’m more like Snow White?! But I have three dwarfs and not seven? No…… that lucky cow gets way too much sleep to ever liken to me. Rapunzel? No, she gets alone time I can only dream of. Bambi’s Mum.. no wait, things aren’t that bad. Maybe it’s Jungle book. My husband always refers to our toddler as ‘Mogli’. He’s adventurous, thinks he’s an animal but he’s so, so endearing. My husband is hairy enough to pull off being Baloo (and I’ve literally seen him rub his back on our door casings to scratch an itch.) I could be Bagheera, the responsiblity-overloaded, anxiously boring, yet wise panther who spends his time chastising and worrying. Yup, probably more accurate. Or maybe, my mother was right, life isn’t a Disney film. There’s no one coming to save us. Maybe we don’t need saving after all. We decide our future.

I brought the boys home and whilst baby slept his teething episode off, me and Mogli baked. He made a holy mess, ate raw cake mix and dropped an egg in the floor but we had fun. Maybe sometimes all we need is a different perspective. I always wonder why some days I get so much done and others I barely scrape through. A lot must be down to my mood and how much sleep the boys (all three of them) have let me have. In that moment in town, I could have cried and another day I might have done. But ignored (understandabley) by my husband, getting pity smiles from older mothers who remember how difficult it can be and pacifying two little boys I merely rolled my eyes and laughed it off. I ended the day with having to clean icing sugar from my two year olds bum crack. And that’s my kind of fairytale ending that I definitely wouldn’t trade for all the Prince Charming’s in the world.

“Things will look better in the morning.” – Bagheera, The Jungle Book. 

Em 💙

Dear Beautiful Boys

An 11 year old boy hung himself recently. After years of bullying he found his way out, leaving a trail of broken hearts in his family and friends. Earlier this year a 17 year old threw himself in front of a train, after being bullied and excluded from his peers. I read these stories and cried my little heart out. I realised as a person who has attempted suicide before, I’ve never looked at it from a parents perspective but now I’m a mother ive changed the way I think about suicide. Or the wider impact of it at least.  I can’t bare to think of someone making you feel bad, hurting your feelings or making you dislike something about yourself, it tortures me. The only way I can make sense of anything is if I write. So I thought I’d write to you, in case it happens to you.

1. Your mummy was bullied. She was chubby, had a monstrous mono brow and had to wear a brace strapped around her head because of an accident with her teeth. There really was no hope in high school for her. Every horrible word weighs on your shoulders and you carry it everywhere you go. Every little push or shove hurts until you believe you’re worthy of the hatred you get. But I had a good set of friends, when I felt too defeated to stand up for myself, they did it for me. Surround yourself with few but good friends. Bullies want you to think you’re alone. You’re alone in weighing what you do, alone in wearing glasses or braces or the only one wearing a head brace. (To be fair, in my instance, I was. But I actually didn’t give a crap). They want to feel you’re alone in dealing with it too. Which you won’t be. You have your friends which are your first line of defence. Let them help you, as you would them. You ALL are never alone.

2. You can’t control other people. You can’t stop their thoughts or behaviour. You can try but some people are just toxic and hell bent on bettering themselves by putting others down. All you can do control is how you deal with them. (Easier said than done. I know-I still struggle with people like this now.) But avoid them. Ignore them. Pity them. Can you ever imagine being so insecure that you make another person feel bad just to cheer yourself up?! It’s their prerogative, leave them to it. Let your teacher know, you don’t have to ‘tell tales’ just give them a heads up. Teachers are employed to teach and care for you, let them. Remind yourself that there won’t be many people that grow into adulthood proud of being bullies, they will have live it. You don’t have to if you choose not to.

3. Pick your battles. Through out life you have to pick your battles. If you perfect this when you’re young you’ll be set for a more peaceful life. Let some stuff slide. Act like an odd comment here or there is nothing. Shrug off that shove and bounce back from that push. But if the time comes and you have to stand up for yourself, do it. Do it with every ounce of your being. I’m not advocate of violence, I can’t stand it. But in the very few ‘school fights’ I’ve being in, they’ve been to win the war when in the past I’ve surrendered the battles. Bullies are f***ing fickle creatures, they thrive off feeding each other’s ego’s. dent one ego, you pretty much dent them all,  thats if you time it right.

4. Know that we have your back. Your father and I have been through hell and back to bring you to this earth. We will defend you with our lives. (Your mother is a little dramatic but hey.) If you can’t cope, we’ll move schools. If they bring it to our home, we’ll move house. And if that’s not enough, we’ll move to Neptune. Ok, maybe not Neptune because it’s bloody cold but you get my drift. We will always be there for you. But we can only help you if you let us know what’s going on. I know how important it is that we respect what you want, so we’ll only listen while you want us to listen and act when you’d like us to act. However you want to play it. (Apart from moving to Neptune, I really wasn’t serious about that bit.)

Lastly, if you ever bully another person. God help you if I find out.

With love from your previously bullied and kind-of wiser Mummy.

💙

The most unwelcome guest

Out of all my post birth visitors, you were the worst,

I should have been so happy that I was close to burst.

But instead, you kept taking me in a cold embrace,

but the coward you are, wouldn’t reveal your ugly face.

I had to go weeks without knowing who exactly you were,

by then I’d lost precious time with the baby I’d just birthed.

Luckily I recognised you, from the leaflets and books,

before you got your claws in and my life I nearly took.

You’ve taken many a mother, baby and child,

I wouldn’t allow you to take mine, my mother instincts were wild.

I fought you and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,

but im glad I got through it for me, my husband and sons.

You will never be welcome at my door again,

I will write about you, I’ll warn others so they don’t go through the same.

Post Natal Depression you really are a horrible illness,

But you can be defeated, and families can get back to their business.

I hope in many years to come everyone will see you walking to a mothers home,

and we’ll be ready and waiting For you, to the curb you will be thrown.

Em 💙

From your baby

I love mornings when I can creep into mummy and daddy’s bed,

“daddy wants to give mummy a big cuddle” he winked and said.

She looks so peaceful, warm and snug,

Daddy’s right, so I give her a hug.

When daddy goes to work, me and mummy eat together,

she looks a bit sad but tells me she’ll love me forever.

We play with my trains until I get bored,

then to make me smile she gets out my dinosaurs.

“mummy has some things to do” she huffs to me,

she starts to do some washing and sits me at the TV.

When daddy’s home I get all excited and he makes me happy,

mummy says “I now need a little time for me”.

i don’t see her for a little while, I start to miss her,

“let’s get ready for bed” daddy says in a whisper.

After my bath, mummy comes and reads my favourite story,

I start to get sleepy, she kisses my monkey Rory.

“I’ve saved my big kiss just for you” and she kisses my cheek,

but her face feels wet, from her eyes I see water streaks.

As she turns out the light and turns from my view,

She says “I hope you know how much I love you”.

I wriggle around to get myself comfy,

I think “wow, we’ve had such fun. she must really love me”.

– A poem for the days you think you haven’t done much play, haven’t done enough with them or haven’t felt as happy as you should be. They’ll never know, you know.- 

Em 💙

 

 

It’s his party and I’ll cry if I bloody want to.

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We had a premature birthday party for mine and other babies at our group today. And I was mortified. My suppose-to-be last baby almost reaching his first birthday milestone should have left me happy, warm and reflecting on his 357 (so far) days on earth. Instead I felt robbed that they’ve gone too quickly for me to appreciate them. I wanted them all back. I want them again. This isn’t normal is it?! To feel broody once your youngest is no longer an ‘infant’? We’ve told ourselves no more. We have one income, a cosy home and a pretty busy life. Surely we couldn’t fit anymore in. Could we?!

I called my husband 2 days before he was due for the snip panicking that we were making the wrong decision and to cancel it. I think my words were “you can’t do this. Don’t let them touch you. No.no.no.” If its possible to hear a smile down a phone, it would have been him, then.It sounded like a big whopper smile too. A few months later we go on to regret that we now have to worry about contraception when deep down we know we shouldn’t have another. Should we?!

We’re quite responsible parents. The boys very rarely spend nights away or are babysat by anyone other than us. And it’s nice that I can occasionally go out for an afternoon for some wine and he can go for a few drinks after work now and then. Leaving the other to happily (mostly) bath and bed the kids. But surely another baby would totally tip that balance. How do they all fit in the bath? How do you do team teeth brushing and toileting?What if sharing bedrooms would mean they wouldn’t settle to sleep as awesomely as they do now? We would question whether it was a wise decision,despite all newborn smells and cuddles, to fix something that wasn’t broken. Would we?!

I never expected this. We have perfection in our children despite Henry shouting “Mummy’s pumped!!” when I pass a cheeky wind in public or that Joey insists on pulling my tops down past my cleavage whenever I try and put him in trolleys or any kind of seat. I thought once I had my two children, regardless of their gender, I’d feel complete. And most of the time I do. But sometimes, I get this creeping “what if?” moment and want to throw caution to the wind. Other times, dealing with the boys leaves me wanting to take up smoking again. We can’t base a whole human life on a why not. Can we?!

I’ve taken the online tests to see what percentage I do/don’t want another child, or how many my ‘subconscious’ wants. They literally come back 50/50 and 2 or 3.  I’ve asked other mothers and most just smugly ‘know’. Some friends tell me not to even think about it. (Just FYI, these are the friends that saw me hobbling around on crutches in my last pregnancy as my hips were separating.) Others tell me my children are the most amazing little people to bless the planet and why not add more. I’ve come close to setting up an online poll just to make a descision once and for all. I welcome any suggestions or tips on how you’re supposed to know. Or if someone could come have a stern word with my womb that would be great.

Em 💙

 

 

My Monkey Business

 

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I’ve always felt a bit embarrassed when my boys get clingy. I don’t know why, I’ve thought a well socialised child is independent and trusting of others. But other than a handful of family members and friends, they don’t like to be with out me. I’ve always done the best I can, gone to groups with them encouraged  them to play with others at play gyms but I can’t run away from the fact that I’m a stay at home mum. Im their anchor day in-day out. It took weeks and weeks of settling Henry into nursery and Joey, well, he full on wails his lungs out when I dare to leave his sight. It can be hard work if I’m rushing to get away and bloody annoying if I just need a little time to do something for me for once.

But it’s never made me cry, until last week. While I attend a short course on Toddler Behaviour (I see the irony, don’t worry.) they kindly watch my children in the next room. This week however both boys decided they did NOT want to be without me. Henry cried his tears onto my leggings as he clutched my thigh whilst Joey screamed his tonsils into my ear as he clung to my neck. No amount of gentle reassurance, persuasion, leg shaking or baby arm unclamping worked. So I welled up and was about go back home. Cursing myself for my shit-mumsyness months before for not socialising my children properly. When one of the ladies took Henry into the corner to read a book and another shushed Joey and cuddled him. He was still crying but she reassured me that she’d come get me if he didn’t settle. I walked into the class with tear stained cheeks and a sad smile.

By sheer coincidence the latter half of the session was about clingyness. It appears clingyness is a bond between mother and baby that has existed way before humans even came about. Think- our monkey ancestors- in trees swinging down to the floor, looking for food, climbing and sleeping all completed with baby literally clung mum. Click. I suddenly realise I’ve been beating myself up for no reason. People have judged me for something that’s so natural. The group leader reinforced that they act like this because they’re my little monkeys (she must know them 🙊) and have been with me, in everything I do and their behaviour of feeling secure before they venture too far away from me is totally normal. You see it in every wildlife documentary; cubs surrounding their Tiger mummy, stepping away before retreating because they’re unsure. Then when they’re ready, going a bit further from mummy, and running back for comfort. Why on earth are we any different?!

Dont read this the wrong way though, if your monkeys are more independent it doesn’t mean you don’t have a strong bond. It’s just different. Every mother, baby and relationship is different and not to be judged. I wouldn’t have felt bad about my bond if I hadn’t comments like ‘oh he’s a mummy’s boy’or ‘he needs more friends’.  Now, if you excuse me, this mama monkey needs to take her baboon-like behind and sort out the little monkeys who are swinging around and flinging their crap everywhere.

Em💙

 

I Love(d) you.

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I loved you when you were but two lines on a stick,

I loved you when I could feel you move and kick.

I loved you when I thought I might die from the pain,

I loved you when I could cuddle you and we were no longer the same.

I loved you when tears fell from sheer tiredness,

I loved you when you would sleep in all your helplessness.

I loved you when you smiled and coo’ed for the first time,

I loved you when I pushed you in your pram, proud that you were mine.

I loved you when I felt so alone, like a good mum I wasn’t to be,

I loved you when you’d settle in my arms, those worries would go free.

I love you when I kiss your cheeks so red and bare,

Ill love you when I have to kiss them full of stubbly hair.

Ill love you when I imagine comforting your upset heart,

I’ll love you even though that would actually tear me apart.

I loved you then,

I love you still,

love you forever,

I promise I will.

 

Em 💙

From my heartbreak to my hero

We’re at the beach. After an hour and a half of preparation including the baby crapping up his back and toddler pretending he’s a dog and licking everyone’s sun lotion off their legs, we finally made it here. We’ve put up the parasol, watched as the toddler walks sand over our freshly laid towels and the husband has checked out where the topless women are and positioned himself appropriately. Then it dawns on us that we haven’t brought a life vest for Henry. He’s only just learnt to doggy paddle with it and won’t go in the sea without it. Humph. Off Jim trots to go get it from where we’re staying and takes baby Joey with him to sleep on the way.

I watch as Henry attempts to make sand castles with dry sand. I feel cruel after the fourth go and he’s stamping his feet because they won’t stay up so I tell him to fill his bucket with water and we’ll wet the sand first. As he toddles off the short distance to the shore, I feel a small pain in my chest. He’s cute as hell in his swimsuit and hat. My little Mr independent is careful not to walk over other people’s towels and is excited by the waves. And there it is again, a stab, deep within me. His first bucket of water wasn’t good enough so he fills it another two or three times, he’s smiling and waving at the little Spanish girls. The charmer decides to return to his mummy, proud as can be with his collection of water. I realise I’m crying and not just a little, but great, big, fat baby tears. Thank god for sunglasses.

Watching my boy doing what boys do best on holiday just opened up all the emotions of my pregnancy with him. It was difficult and we nearly lost him. Twice. I thought I’d got over it but clearly not. We spent the first half of the pregnancy being told there so little fluid around him, he might not survive. If he did survive, there’d be a massive chance he’d be disabled. His body just hadn’t room to form properly. I had an amniocentesis to try and shed some light on this condition called oligohydrominios. Anyone who’s had this procedure knows it’s crappy experience that in itself carries risks of miscarriage. We did it for an answer or some hope at least. But, nobody could give us any hope. I’d ask the consultant, the supervisor midwife, my midwife, anyone who was slightly medically trained. I’d just end up watching them squirm whilst they tried to manage my expectations. It was awful. Each little kick I felt, each scan we had was purely confirmation he was still growing and had a heartbeat. Each time we wondered if it would be the last kick or the last heartbeat we’d see.

Im not a fan of belittling other people. I’m not one to discredit the empathy of others to our situation but honestly, until you’ve been through it, you don’t know the sheer heartbreak of carrying a baby that no one has faith that will make it alive or healthy. I sometimes think these little pains I get when I watch him are little needles of love stitching up my broken heart. And maybe one day, it will be mended and truly be behind me.

You see, when we reached 20 weeks in the sonographers words, the fluids miraculously went up to a normal level. He was perfectly formed and everything was as it should be. finally, some hope. My husbands face lit up in way I had never seen before. “oh, ok, there’s a slight problem” I remember her saying. Hopes dashed in a bloody second. A problem with my cervix meant my waters could break in any moment and I was rushed in for an emergency stitch. My boy had fought to grow and now my body would fail him again. At 20 weeks, if he was born, he was still too small survive. And everyone was worried. But he withstood the operation and I rested as much as I could for the rest of the pregnancy. So yet again, we weren’t sure he would make it full term and spent hour after hour consulting with Dr Google on survival chances and birth rates with cervical stitches. By this point my heart was shattered, but you can’t really find a cure for that on Google. Believe me, I searched it.

He made it though. After a horrible labour (but that’s for another day. Maybe.) He made it to 37 weeks and he was so very, very beautiful. And every day since, this fierce little soul has made me so very happy. Maybe these pains are little alarm bells of mindfulness. Maybe these tears of joy come with the territory of a heartbreak. Maybe I had to go through that to have these beautiful moments that others will take for granted. As he plods towards me, struggling with the heavy bucket and sticking his tongue out in concentration, I wipe my face, embrace the pain in my heart for what it is and put my arms out for a cuddle. He trips over a lump in the sand and drops the full bucket over my legs. The moments gone and we laugh (him more than me.)

Heres to you little Henners. You clumsy little hero.

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Em 💙