A Realistic Guide To Parenting

A Realistic Guide To Parenting

Many parenting books advise us of challenges a new-born will bring.  They emphasise the delirious exhaustion it brings and the rejigging of a previously carefree life.  We are shoved into debates about breast vs formula,  sleeping rituals or how best to bond.  But once that precious newborn smell starts to fade and the nappies turn to training pants, we are left, without warning, with a small person who wants to navigate the world their way.  Sounds exciting right? Well actually, it can be really really hard and you may feel, at times, like you are going mad. The terrible twos is real, except it starts around 18 months and ends at about 4 years (if you’re lucky).  

After a ghastly nights sleep (if you can call it that) I’ve necked my coffee and have decided that there is categorically no solutions to parenting.  All children are different, the crappy times are unavoidable and therefore we may as well have a laugh about it. I’ve written my own, more realistic, guide to parenting below. 

1)      Tantrums

Tantrums have no limits. I kid you not, some tantrums were/are so out of control that I get a ringing sensation in my ears for days. Once, she threw her shoes in the road as we were walking into nursery, another time she threw her shoe at my head as I drove, and the worse was when she laid on the floor of Tesco kicking and screaming.  This was made more stressful when Brenda who was surfing the fruit aisle for some bananas decided to tut at me. Children may be small, but they put up a good fight, so come armed with supplies. I usually find a hip flask of wine and the ability to pick your child up and run quickly back to the car can help a public tantrum. Genuinely though, do not give in; let them scream it out.  Learn to play an episode of friends in your head and ignore the shrieking. Alternatively you may just go deaf which I guess can be considered a win.

2)      Users

Don’t expect unconditional love from a toddler. My children cheered when I suggested snuggling up to watch a movie together only to be told they weren’t interested when the only snack I had was fruit. They were cheering for the sweets and popcorn they assumed they would get, not me. Whilst we’re on the subject of children being users, expect to only hear you’re the ‘best mummy in the world’, after buying both a kinder egg and a magazine. You must then also expect to be told you’re the ‘worst mummy’, 6 minutes later when you won’t let them play on your phone.

3)      Bedtime

Before I had kids, I imagined bedtime to be wonderful. Me and my child sat arm in arm whilst I read them their favourite book and giggled at the funny parts. They would kiss my cheek and tell me they loved me as I left the room and they drifted off into 10 full hours of sleep. Last night, in protest of going to bed, my daughter slept under her bed. She was so pissed off that she ripped a page of her book, threw it at me and then climbed underneath. And no, I wasn’t alarmed, I was so fucking happy she was asleep I simply slid her out from the bed and tucked her in. She can fall asleep in the airing cupboard for all I care, as long as shes actually going to sleep.

4)      Bedtime Part 2  

Just a word of caution, a child’s bed is magic.  When children get into them, they suddenly remember their need to hydrate or empty their bladders. They also realise they have to tidy their room, need to say goodnight to everyone including the next door neighbour, like light, hate light, hate dark, they’re scared, they’re sad, they’re poorly, they need a poo, they need a wee, they’re going to be sick, they need to wash their hands, their eyebrows hurt, THEY NEED TO CHECK THE TINY PEICE OF FLUFF IS STILL IN THEIR SHOE. Basically, come armed with a bucket of water, install a toilet in their room and don’t expect to be out of there before midnight.

5)      Hair Brushing

If your child has long hair, you should anticipate them turning into the grim reaper if you so much as comb the tiniest knot. The other day, to test the authenticity of said reaction, I merely brushed the air next to my daughters hair she, in turn, held her head and SCREAMED ‘ow’. Fake it until you make it hey?

6)      Disappearing Socks

Children’s socks are not like adult socks. Like beds, children’s socks are magic. They can escape, hide and disappear. I once put a sock on my child and two minutes later it had runaway, never to be seen again. Another time, I wrapped a few pairs and put them in my child’s stocking but when the present was opened, they had gone. The socks had escaped. Socks will leave, you will buy more and they too, will leave. They will never match, and you will spend every day of your parenting life looking for a clean pair of socks for your child. You will eventually need to re-mortgage your property to afford the cost of new socks. Alternatively, it may be an idea to make contacts at a sock making factory.

7)      Toilet Flushing

Your children will be fascinated by flushing the loo for the first 3 times they use it and then they will never bother to flush it again.

8)      Home Décor

If you must choose a colour of carpet suitable for children, then I would suggest the colour ‘it doesn’t exist’. The best advice is to not bother with floor. Maybe you could put some newspaper down, if you’re feeling fancy, but no floor is the best bet. Same with furniture. Don’t bother getting any, before you know it will look like you had a break in, and your furniture was vandalised.

9)      Timekeeping

Astonishingly, none of the parenting books I have read have ever mentioned the fact that children are unable to understand you until you have repeated yourself 53 times.  If you ask them something the poor little soles cannot register it until you have actually lost your voice getting the message across.  If you want them to get ready for school on time, it’s worth waking them at 4am and starting the requests then, as they may have heard you by 7am. Also, all children are born with a defect that causes them to automatically slow down when you are in a rush. This again, is strangely not mentioned in parenting books.

10)   Extra Senses

They say children can see ghosts and their senses don’t just stop there.  They have all sorts of additional powers.  One is knowing what a food tastes like before trying it.  For instance, they know that a chicken dish you’ve spent an hour cooking tastes horrible, but only need to hear the word ‘ice cream’ to know it tastes amazing. Other additional senses include; hearing you eat no matter how hard you try to hide it, sudden ability to adhere to all rules if chocolate is mentioned and the instant hunger they are hit with once they are near a cake.

To summarise, parenting can be so hard and were all blagging it.  And yes, that includes tutting Brenda in the fruit aisle.

Birth? Is It Really That Bad?

Birth? Is It Really That Bad?

I spent so much of my time wanting to be pregnant that I didn’t give much thought to the experience of giving birth to my child. It was something I had heard lots of women talk about but not something I had really considered. 

The one thing I did know was that child birth was terrifying and it hurt. Actually it didn’t hurt it was like someone ripping your insides out while you were still alive (a description kindly given to me by my sister). So when I fell pregnant last year it was pretty much one of the first things I thought about once I got past the initial shock.

The first thing I did was totally suppress any thoughts of birth. I spent the first 22 weeks blissfully ignoring the fact I would potentially push something the size of a melon out of my vagina, but as time went on I decided it was probably best to face the music and arm myself with knowledge and information on how this incredibly huge life changing experience could pan out. 

I was really open to all eventualities of how this could go. Whether that be vaginal or cesarean. I didn’t have an ideal situation in my head. I didn’t know a lot but one thing I was aware of was that no birth was the same and if I focused on having one type of birth I’d probably end up having the opposite. 

Let’s be honest it couldn’t be that bad, I mean women have been giving birth for years. Some women even do it over and over again and back in the stone ages they didn’t even have drugs and hospitals! Surely I’d be OK? 

I read a lot! I read book after book after book which didn’t really make anything clearer as I still didn’t know the type of birth I would have. It did give me a better understanding of the eventualities of labour and what my body would be going through, however didn’t resolve my main question; “What does it feel like to give birth?” 

I think by week 32 anxiety set in and I started to really think about the pain factor and how I would cope, bearing in mind I was someone that would cry at the mere thought of a paper cut. 

As my due date drew closer and closer I began to dream of all the things that could go wrong.

I tried to imagine the feeling and the emotions I would feel on the day. Would I love my baby? Would I recognise him? Would he be big or small or have a funny shaped head? I watched reruns of one born every minute like they were going out of fashion. A few times Matt arrived home to me sobbing, eating ice cream on the floor, having watched a sad episode. I’m sure he thought I was a mad woman. 

About 5 days before my due date I started to get frustrated. I was adamant I would be early. I never really understood it when women said they were getting frustrated when they were overdue, but once I was in the situation I totally understood. I was ready for my little tenant to vacate the building (or my tummy) that had been his home for 9 months. I think it was probably the anticipation of being so close to your due date that makes you go crazy. You wait 9 months to get to this point (9 long months) and suddenly it becomes a reality that any day they could be with you. 

I had my first sweep around my due date and it was pretty painless and uneventful. I was told my cervix was still far back and no where near ready to go, which was soul destroying. I was furious. Did they not know it was my due date in 24hours, surely something would be happening. It started to feel like I might be pregnant forever. I imagined meeting people at 58 months pregnant, explaining that my baby just never arrived. Rolling myself around the house as I could no longer walk! 

Everyone was scared of me and disrupting the ticking time bomb I’d become. A family member made a fly away joke about him not having arrived and how funny it was and I went in to melt down mode. I was furious that anyone would find it funny. Furious, extremely hormonal and hugely overreacting, something no one would have dared say to my face at that point. 

You’ll be pleased to know that I did go in to labour, thankfully for my husband and close friends and family who had probably had enough of my constant moaning. 

I went in to labour on the 21st November at 11.30pm. My waters broke just before midnight, I paced up and down for 20 mins before calling the hospital and they told us to pop down for a quick check up. Everything moved extremely fast from that point. We were told that he had pooed inside me and by no uncertain terms was I going home but being induced immediately. I was given an epidural and then induced but within about 4 hours his heart rate dropped so much and it was plain to see he wasn’t going to be coming any time soon so a cesarean was the safest birthing option.

So there you have it, I spent most of my adult life talking about birth, listening to other people’s birthing stories and imagining the pain I would go through, to not having a single bit of pain. 

Do you know the crazy thing I didn’t even feel one contraction. Not one. 

I have to say I’ve heard other women say they felt cheated, I don’t, in fact I feel pretty happy that I didn’t have to go through a single contraction in pain. The one thing I did learn was that when you’re in the midst of labour, your whole focus just goes on getting that little person here safely. I’ve never considered myself a selfless person, but everything went out the window in those final hours before he arrived. If they had to chop off my leg to get him here I’d have done it in a heartbeat.

As they wheeled me down to theatre I remember the feeling of fear set in. I’m still not sure to this day if it was fear of what was going to happen or fear that my life was about to change forever as I entered the room. I remember looking around for Matt. I’m a fairly independent person but I needed him next to me to be able to get through this. I’ve heard women say that they wouldn’t have been able to get through birth without their partner. Not just their partner being present but the mere smell or touch of their partner giving them the strength for those final pushes and I can honestly say without sounding too soppy I’ve never needed him so much in my life. 

As they topped up my epidural I started to panic that I would feel them cutting in to me. I was petrified that the anaesthetic wouldn’t work. I asked the nurse but apparently they had already started so I didn’t need to worry. 

 The fifteen minutes I was on that table while I waited for them to pull him out felt like a life time. I could feel nothing apart from tugs and pulls as if someone was building a Lego toy inside my stomach. I distinctly remember just holding my breath and waiting to hear him cry like I’d seen on all those programmes and as soon as I heard his little cry I let go and burst in to tears. It was the most wonderful, emotional and scary thing I’d ever been through. 

So there you have it my birth story. Totally different but equally as special to all the million, billion others out there. 

I have to say on reflection, one bit of advice I would give to any pregnant women is to try and not plan your birth too much. There is no wrong or right way to give birth. You don’t know what is going to happen when you’re in the situation. Just plan to look after yourself and get your child here safely. 

Women are amazing. To think we grow and give birth to a little human is mind blowing. Every time I look at his face I can’t believe it was him in my tummy for 9 months. Although, the last few weeks of pregnancy were long sometimes, I wish I could put him back in just to have him all to myself again for a day and feel those little kicks once more. 

To The Girl I Used To Be

To The Girl I Used To Be

Sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed with balancing life, relationships, work and being a good Mother to my two children. Imagine trying to carry six bags full of Tesco shopping, whilst walking a tightrope and reciting the 8 times tables backwards; that’s how I feel most days.  I often think back to my younger self and compare her to who I am now. I view myself then and myself now as two entirely different people, sometimes wishing I could be more like her again even though when I was, I wasn’t too fond of her.

I remember my Mum saying to me when I was a teenager that she had a dream that she was free.  She had no ties or responsibility and the feeling was amazing and one that she had forgotten.  It stuck with me because I had no idea what she meant at the time. Now, I understand just how possible it can sometimes be to miss that freedom from responsibility.

People used to say (before children) that I was selfish…and I was, because I could be.  Don’t get me wrong, if a friend or family member needed me, I would of course be there for them, but if I wanted to do something then I did it; regardless of consequences. If my parents asked me to babysit my younger brother on the same night of a huge party, then I would be politely declining. I used to put my own needs first, sometimes to a fault. I’m not bitter about the fact I can no longer do that anymore (I couldn’t think of anything worse than gracing a nightclub until the early hours) and being a mother is my biggest achievement to date, but how do I be a good mum and partner AND look after myself at the same time? That is the bit I find difficult. And where along the way did I lose my ability to be even remotely selfish? 

The love I have for my little family is too strong to not prioritise them, I want them all to be happy first and foremost. Consequently, self-care falls by the wayside. I truly find it to be one of the most challenging parts of parenting. When is it ok to put yourself first? Are you even supposed to ever again?

I used to tell myself that I needed to be less selfish, but I always ended up making the decision that suited me best. People would pull me up on it; ‘You must think about others Hayley’, ‘It isn’t all about you,’ ‘Here she goes, talking about herself again’, were things I heard often. At the time, I was always really miffed when someone mentioned just how self-absorbed I could be.  I would instantly jump to my own defence and justify myself into continuing to put myself first. In hindsight, I’m glad I did. And if I could go back, I would tell myself that from the age of 30 I won’t be able to be selfish, so it’s worth enjoying it. A quality I used to think was my weakness I now miss and wish I still had to a degree as it is now engrained in my mind that I MUST do it all, so my selfish side, or the ability to prioritise my wellbeing, always takes a back seat.

The issue is that my brain thinks I am failing as a mum if everyone else is not happy, fed, clean and clothed; it just seems that I don’t fit into that equation. I am sometimes so focussed on making my children and partner happy; making sure their lunch is made and clothes are washed, only to realise I have no clean clothes and I forgot to make my own lunch.  

My partner works very long hours, so without hesitation I will sit up with the children if they won’t sleep, same story if they get up early, I always insist on giving up my lay in even when he hasn’t had a long shift.  Whether this is habit I do not know, but it is the only way I feel I’m doing my job properly. Just for the record, my partner asks to take over all the time and is more than willing to do his share. This issue lies with me, and the fact that ever since I became a mum, I seem to accumulate an immense amount of guilt if I accept a hand and don’t complete everything myself, even if I don’t want to. My capacity to allow others to take the reins appears to have been left in my hospital room the day I brought my son home.

Maybe the way I feel is a common feeling amongst mothers, or maybe it is a consequence of my own experiences. Either way, I do sometimes wonder if the traditional ‘man/woman’ role is more engrained in us than we are aware.  Maybe, as women, we subconsciously think it is our job alone to satisfy everyone else’s needs. The trouble is, times have changed and commonly, women now contribute financially, me included.  Despite this, there still seems to be an immense societal pressure for women to take on the majority of the household and childcare duties.  I know of at least seven other mothers who feel the same way. I know of a few who also don’t of course, but it appears to be more common than not, when talking with others mums.   I am not saying it is the fault of husbands or partners at all, and this isn’t a feminist debate, I am simply stating that I think women feel as though need to do it all and end up feeling guilty if they don’t, even when help is offered. 

I’ve previously confided to my partner about how I feel which makes him frustrated. He asks why I do not just let him take over sometimes and why I decline his help. And he is right. How can I be so stressed and in need of a helping hand, whilst insisting I’m completely fine and don’t need said helping hand? It isn’t fair on him and it isn’t fair on me. I want to say ‘yes please do it this time’, but I just can’t seem to allow myself.

A natural progression in life is to mature, and with that comes responsibility. I don’t miss living recklessly and partying in Ibiza; in fact I don’t miss that at all. What I do miss is how much I cared for me.

There are plenty of qualities I have accumulated over the years as I have grown up which I am truly thankful for. For one, I am far wiser and a lot calmer in a crisis, but the thing I miss most is the raw ability to not care what anyone thinks. I used to speak my mind, shout my opinions and not let anyone walk over me. I rejected a lot of people’s opinions and justified that I was who I was and if someone thought I was odd or had said something unkind about me then that was their issue. I laughed at myself and I laughed at the negative opinions’ others may have had of me. Now, one negative opinion can ruin my week, and I don’t know why. I am so conscious of other people since becoming a parent, and I don’t like it. 

I feel remorseful for sometimes wanting to sit in a room on my own and read a book when my little boy wants me to watch him play a game or my daughter wants to show me a new dance, and I assume this is quite a natural feeling, but it is also one I should be listening  to. You only have to look at the conflicting messages society gives to mums to understand why it can be so confusing.  

Have a break/Don’t miss the special moments. Look after and have time for yourself/ You will have plenty of time to yourself later 

I just need a little moment to myself. It’s the little moments with your children that you will remember.

 It becomes exhausting.

If I sit down and start to relax I can guarantee I will suddenly remember an article I read which told me the years ‘fly by’ and how before I know it I will be a lonely old woman sat at home crying because my children won’t come around for tea. I am then unable and completely unwilling to have a bit of time to myself. 

Usually, I’d conclude my writing with some advice. But this time I have none. Prioritising myself is a work in progress. I need to retrain my mind so that I can reach a happy medium; a bit of my younger selves’ attitude would not be a bad thing and I hope to meet that girl again soon and come to a nice compromise.

I can only speak for myself and my situation and I am utterly blessed to have my two children; I wouldn’t change it for the world. But sometimes I do miss the old me. I sometimes grieve the girl I used to be.

This article is why I named this blog ‘Who’s Looking After Mum’.  Because sometimes I wonder, who is? 

5 New Born Must Haves

5 New Born Must Haves

Becoming a Mum comes with all types of challenges and the biggest one for me was where to start when it came to purchasing all the new gadgets and equipment I would need for our new addition. I was so excited to start but as we pulled up to Bump Start (our local baby store), I started to actually feel a bit nervous. What did I actually need to buy? As a first time Mum this was new territory for me. Of course there’s the obvious pram, bottles, car seat…but what about the not so obvious bits? Should we choose a Moses Basket or a Bedside Crib? Should we buy a baby bouncer? Did we even need one yet? Everyone gives you so many recommendations, but a lot of my friends and family had not had a baby in the last two years and things change so frequently on the baby market. 

Just a tip, most stores are extremely helpful when you go shopping for new baby stuff so don’t be afraid to ask for help! John Lewis actually do a baby appointment for free. You can go in (without buying a thing) and they will talk you through everything all types of baby products on the market to help you work out what will work best for you! Such a life saver, even if you end up buying from somewhere else! 

Anyway I did a lot of research on the must haves but really struggled to find recommendations on the necessities for a new Mum and the stuff I would just be throwing away money on buying. So I decided that once I had my little boy and I had tried and tested all the things I had purchased I would write a blog around everything I thought helped me in those early weeks. Please bear in mind, this is only an opinion on what I think worked for us and our baby (this isn’t a sponsored advert). All these product recommendations are genuinely my thoughts and opinions and things we use daily. 

Shnuggle Air Bedside Crib

First of all, we decided we wanted a bedside cot instead of a Moses Basket and the reason for this was purely because at least 3 friends had said after a month or so their baby out grew the Moses basket, so I took on board that information and went straight for the bedside crib. 

After much deliberation, we decide on the Shnuggle Air Bedside Crib. The reviews were fantastic, aesthetically pleasing and it has not disappointed! It’s sturdy and was extremely easy to build even for the note so technical among us (my husband).

This bedside crib has been incredible and Otis loves sleeping in it. There has never been a transition period, he literally slept in it straight away. The main thing I love is the fact that it is right next to me, so on nights he’s moaning or isn’t settling straight away (especially at 2am), I can lean over or stretch my arm out and comfort him without having to leave my bed. Which is AMAZING! Trust me, I can’t tell you enough how much of a luxury this is when you are exhausted! 

The crib comes with a mattress and a small section underneath that you can store nappies and wipes on, which is fab to keep some organisation among all the baby products and means it doesn’t take up space elsewhere. 

The crib does retail at £199.95 but in my eyes is absolutely worth every penny, especially as it will last him till at least 6 months. If you did wish to, it’s the only bedside crib which coverts in to a stylish cot using an add on Complete Sleep System. This eases the crib-to-cot transition and providing a safe and comfortable sleeping space for your baby right up until approx 2 years old.  

Sleepyhead 

Having not purchased a Moses basket, I decided that I would need something that I could take around the house with me when we weren’t in our room. I had heard mixed reviews on the sleepyhead and at £120 my eyes watered thinking about something that was effectively just a blow up mattress! That being said, I am so so glad we did invest the money. The sleepyhead comes in two sizes 0-8 months and 9-32 months. We bought the 0-8 and again, it was something Otis loved straight away. It came everywhere with us due to its functionality, it’s a comfy spot that lets your baby sleep, rest, co-sleep, lounge, play, cuddle and enjoy tummy time.  It’s easy and light weight enough to be portable and take with you around the house or to other peoples houses and he seemed to just drop off straight away in there. 

I know some midwives are not a fan of these and I appreciate that opinion but as long as you use it safely, in other words, don’t leave them alone. The great thing is they can’t roll and the mattress is breathable and air can circulate. 

You can also buy additional covers to match your mood, room and style, which again is great for all the Mums that love that stuff like me! 

https://sleepyheadofsweden.com/collections/all-pods/products/deluxe-pod-pristine-white

Snuggle Baby bath 

This bath is incredible, from 6 weeks Otis could pretty much sit up in it even though he couldn’t support his own head yet, so it made bath time so much easier! 

There’s a foam backrest that keeps your baby comfortable and cosy. A bum bump and anti-slip surface help to secure baby, making bath time much more enjoyable. The clever shape fully supports newborn babies and allows older babies to sit up and play, while the grippy feet help to keep the bath in place.

It also looks great in my bathroom and isn’t an eyesore. It is also an absolute steal at £24.99.

Jungle gym 

This is fairly straight forward and to think I wasn’t going to buy one until later! Otis loved this from really early on. Within a few weeks I found he was more alert and awake and I loved that I could pop him on his play mat and let him look at all the shapes and colours! My sister bought the one linked as a present at my baby shower, however there are obviously many different colours and variety’s on the market. Our one actually plays music and has a keyboard at the end so he can kick his feet and set of music as he plays which he loves. 

Tommee tippee baby bottle making machine

Another controversial product and obviously one for those who are bottle feeding. I am a first time Mum but I have four nieces and nephews, so for years I used to have them over night and have experienced the pain of making a bottle and having to cool it down all while dealing with a screaming baby! I didn’t realise these even existed, so when my husband stumbled across it and recommended we buy one, I JUMPED at the chance!  

Again this cost us £130 (for the updated version) Tommee Tippee digital machine but the older versions retail at £80. The machines makes bottles in 90 seconds and the only real difference between the two are the fact the newer one is quieter and has a digital screen which seems easier to use! 

Beware Midwifes and Heath Visitors don’t seem to be huge fans of them due to reviews about pipes rusting etc but if you keep your machine clean and change the filter regularly you will be fine. 

I know I said 5 products I couldn’t have lived without, but I can’t finish without mentioning a 6th item which I bought about a week before his due date and I’m so glad I did. Although I’m not breastfeeding I was told by a friend about breast feeding pillows. 

They mentioned that when feeding your baby they can get quite heavy and uncomfortable so this allowed you to take the weight off and rest them on a pillow that helped with support. Again, he loves it and I love it and when I am tired or he can’t get comfortable, this makes life so much easier. We also use it to help him sit up after feeds for a short period of time and at £14.99, I really couldn’t do without! I got mine from Amazon, but they sell them everywhere. 

I would also recommend buying dummies just to try them. I actually wasn’t going to. I was really torn as I had read a lot about people frowning upon babies with dummies and the fact that people use them as a a first resort to stop crying. First of all it’s totally your decision, however I cannot tell you what a life saver the dummies I purchased were (we used the Mam Dummies). I know not all babies take to them, but honestly he loved them and when he just needed some comfort they have been a god send. Let’s be honest, there will come a point where we won’t want him using them but I’m sure it will all be OK; I’ve never seen a 30 year old man sucking a dummy. I also recently read a lot about how dummies can help babies with colic and wind as they act as a type of indigestion remedy when they suck! Which again has been great for us as Otis has suffered from wind a lot in the beginning. 

As I say all babies are different so some of the products recommended may not work for you. Don’t stress too much because honestly you can buy stuff once they arrive and sometimes that can be a good thing as you will have a better understanding of what your baby likes. Now he’s a little older, I’m already thinking of the next stages and the new purchases I have to make…it’s never ending. Next it will be high chairs, weaning equipment, bowls, spoons etc, although that’s a few months away yet and a whole other blog post! 

Fertility

Fertility

One minute you’re 20 years old taking the contraceptive pill religiously, praying that your partying days aren’t over; and the next you’re counting your fertile days, peeing on ovulation sticks and jumping on your partner every spare second you get in the hope that this month is THE month. For many women, that positive test comes quickly, but for many others the waiting game is tough and soul destroying.

We tried for 4 years before I fell pregnant and they were the toughest 4 years of my life. I cried, I laughed, I spent a lot of money on a lot of shit to help me fall pregnant. I pressured my husband in to sex day in day out and I prayed, (something I’d never done before). I was a woman on a mission. Wanting a baby and not getting pregnant is a lonely place. It consumes you and you can only really understand it if you’ve been through it. It’s strange how the second you decide to try for a baby, every one else in the world becomes pregnant. Beatrice from school who I hadn’t seen for 20 years popped up on my Facebook announcing “surprise we’re having a baby” everywhere I looked there were bumps, baby showers and baby reveals, just to make me feel a little bit worse and remind me that I was most definetly not pregnant.

Pregnancy tests became the enemy…an expensive enemy. I got almost used to looking at a stick praying that there would be two lines. I’d even sometimes see a line that wasn’t there, desperately standing by my bedroom window turning the test in the light to see if the result was different….of course it wasn’t it was just a big fat negative each time.

I decided to come off the pill at 33 (looking back I am so glad I did). I told Matt it would take us at least a year to get pregnant so it was best we started trying now, even though I never believed that would be true. Little did I know that the journey would be a lot longer than anticipated.

The first month off the pill, I convinced myself that I in fact was pregnant. I was adamant I could feel the symptoms they say you get once the egg has implanted. I was a little smug and thought to myself that I was obviously just one of those extremely “fertile Freddie’s” the ones that don’t even have to actually have sex and get pregnant (god I wish I could go back and slap my then self).

I need to also point out at this time that my journey is by far not the worse that I’ve heard of during my time of trying for a baby. I came across women and stories that made me cry myself to sleep. Some of the things people have been through to have a baby are crazy and I have so much respect for the strength and determination of any couple fighting for their dream to have a child, especially when it’s such a simple dream and something you take for granted until it doesn’t happen.

So I came off the pill. We tried for just under a year and nothing happened so we decided to go and see a doctor who was great and said that we would get to the bottom of what was wrong. Two and a bit years later we didn’t have any answers. We had sperm tests, a HSG

(which checks your tubes) and numerous blood tests under our belts and everything looked perfect (annoyingly perfect) which to be honest was even more frustrating. They checked my ovulation which came back showing that some months I skipped ovulation and others I didn’t so they decided to start me on clomid for 6 months which did nothing apart from make me bloated and grumpy. I was then told there was nothing more they could do, that the next steps would be IVF and I was sent on my way.

After much deliberation we decided to go down the route of IVF although just before we did we found out we were pregnant naturally. Unfortunately, that pregnancy ended at 6 weeks and again the painful process of accepting this wasn’t our baby began.

Eventually we did get pregnant naturally after nearly 4 years. I still remember the morning so clearly that I sat down to do a wee and take a random pregnancy test. When the 2nd line came up I was in disbelief, I was tired of it all and I remember not feeling excited because I associated pregnancy with sadness and disappointment and didn’t really believe that it was real or that it would actually last this time.

My fertility journey is something I want to talk about in more detail and something I probably can’t cover in one blog post. As I sit here writing I can see my little boy next to me smiling and it still makes me feel like the luckiest Mum in the world.

I think the main thing I have to take from all of the years of trying is that now I appreciate more than ever my little boy. I count myself so blessed even through the sleepless nights.

It’s hard when you are trying and not getting pregnant. At times I really believed it would probably never happen for us. I know it’s easy for me to say now but people going through something similar need to be kind to themselves and honestly don’t give up, know that it will happen and that sometimes the best things come from the toughest situations.

Motherhood

Motherhood

When I was pregnant with my son my partner at the time’s mother said to me ‘you don’t matter anymore, all that matters is that baby, your child.  You are no longer important’.  This was a women who had also told me that I was unreasonable to expect financial help from my child’s father (a well educated man with a highly paid job may I add) and that I should move in with  her, go back to work after a month whilst she looked after my baby and earn my own keep.  As an advocate for independent women I was adamant that eventually I would do just that, but there was more chance of me letting Stalin look after my baby than there was of me allowing her to be his main influence throughout his first year.  I was treated terribly by them, I was scared and genuinely fed the lie that I would be a crap mother and I was about to screw up my child’s life.  On top of that; I apparently no longer even mattered.  Needless to say I was very depressed.

There is a point to my story, and that’s that after becoming a mother and excelling on my own after dumping the boyfriend and his odd family, I realised that mums’ absolutely matter.  The mere notion that we no longer exist after children is, in my opinion, the biggest parenting mistake because to me, it means you are living your life through your child and when eventually that child becomes an adult with their own life- to put it plainly -you’re f**ked. I spent the first few months still with this man, demonized when I chose not to breastfeed (he actually trashed my bedroom when he found formula), told I needed to lose weight and told I needed to start thinking about his private school education (when all his dad seemed to take away from it was that he was better than everyone else).  But once I had left it became easy, and that was the first step to the absolute liberation I now feel as a mum to raise my kids and live my life how I want to and not apologise for that.  I know a lot of mums feel the same; and some are still new, and I want to let them know it will be ok.  I have listed some pointers on not letting what people think get to you below. 

1.  Baby’s weight – My son was 10.7lb when born and people would literally recoil when they looked in my pram.    Despite the fact it was pure genetics (his dad was 6 foot 4 and born 3 weeks early at 10lbs), for some strange reason it made people uncomfortable to see how big he was. Some individuals still seemed to view his size with the same repulsiveness as they do with adults. Anyway, my son is now 6 years old and a (healthy) beanpole.  The kid could eat an entire turkey and not gain a pound.  He is athletic and healthy and the tallest in his class (something he is very proud of). A completely robust child; I doubt even the plague could take him down. He was the easiest baby in the world, slept like a grown man and has the most amazing temperament. So ignore the gasps at your naturally born bigger baby (or small for that matter), it has no indication of your child’s weight or health as they grow and shed the baby fat/gain it. 

2.   Going out and leaving your baby after Giving Birth – Here’s a good one; do it whenever the hell you want and let Bernadette stay in and slag you off after seeing your happy carefree pictures. Secretly, she wishes she could have a night off and glass or two of wine.  Poor Bernadette.  Bernadette needs to get laid. 

3.    Bottle or Breast – A tired debate with one clear answer; do whichever you want.  I bottle-fed,  I admire women who breastfeed and I literally could not care less which one anyone does, and neither should you. 

4.   The Division of Labour – Ahh the dreaded point scoring starts.  People with new babies know this is shakey ground and it becomes so easy for resentment towards your partner to grow.  As a woman, I felt obligated to do it all. DON’T. Get yours ladies. Take that nap, have that break and let dad do his thing. Single mums- it may not feel it but you’re winning, I found doing whatever I wanted with my first child almost liberating compared to the second one (with partner), which was far more frustrating and included a lot of compromise.  No man, no compromise and no division of labour. 

5.  Unwarranted Advice – Aunt Mildred may have found that a dummy dipped in whiskey helped her baby sleep in the 1920’s but unfortunately it’s 2020 and you’d rather stay away from using alcohol as a sedative for your precious bundle.  Don’t fight back at unwanted advice; nod, smile and forget it. Literally forget it. Then do what you were going to anyway.  I trained as a midwife for 2 years and witnessed different midwives give different answers to the same FAQ’s, which proves there are no answers for motherhood, we are all blaggers. 

6.  Have a peaceful few hours to yourself or sleep? Motherhood’s biggest predicament.  I would say do a bit of both but choosing sleep may reduce your coffee intake to nine from fifty the next day. 

Generally speaking, you’re going to get unwanted advice, you will be tired and your life will change; your relationship will face challenges, your body may be different and you will find it harder to find time for you.  You may even question your skills, or your decision to enter parenthood and that is ok. An hour later, your baby will smile or laugh or walk for the first time and you’ll forget it all.  Every last frustration will melt away.  You’ll wonder how you ever lived without them and Aunt Mildred’s advice will become a distant memory.