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Posts Tagged ‘letting go’

First of all, a HUGE thank you to Potty Mummy for naming me the British Mummy Bloggers’ Blogger of the Week – what an honour! Welcome to new folks joining the sleep deprivation party here at SIFTW (acronyms mean I’ve totally made it!) This does of course now put me under immense pressure now to come up with something vaguely entertaining for you all. Which no doubt means, according to the ‘rules’ that I will end up being dull and weird. Oh well. Popularity was nice while it lasted!

There seems to be a bit of a theme running through my blogging at the moment. First we had a post about my average accomplishments, then it was my average blog, and today, well, today I want to talk about average babies.

You see, now Kai has hit the big 1 the inevitable baby race seems to have taken on new and infuriatingly pervasive proportions. Of course, it’s always been something. Can he smile yet? Can he roll? Sit up? Stand on one leg while singing ‘I’m a little tea-pot’? (ok, not the last one. At least… not yet)

Right now it’s walking and talking. It’s all anyone seems to care about.

And as Kai is doing neither (apart from the odd random word and strange animal impersonation) nor, in fact, showing the slightest interest in doing so, I find myself once again the recipient of a multitude of wonderfully reassuring and self-affirming comments such as “Well, I’m sure he’ll get it EVENTUALLY *sympathetic look*”, and (my current favourite of the week) “It’s ok, some babies just have more ‘physical’ intelligence than others” (what does that even MEAN??! If you’re reading, person who said that – FOR SHAME!!)

I’ve talked about the infuriating affliction that is competitive mum syndrome before on here.  It’s something I try very, very hard to avoid. Mostly because I think it’s a huge big pile of bull crap.

But I’m going to admit it. A teeny tiny part of me cries as I watch Kai’s peers confidently run around reciting the alphabet backwards while Kai himself sits in a corner randomly pointing and laughing at inanimate objects and trying to bark like a dog. I am forced to face the fact that, despite my best efforts at parenting, my child hasn’t been gifted with supernaturally advanced powers of development.

Yes Josie, it’s bad news I’m afraid. Your child is *gulp*… average.

Why does it bother us so much? Cause I know it’s not just me, I bet you, mummy readers, have all had such moments of fleeting disappointment and vague feelings of failure which seem to rise, unbidden into our minds, every time your child’s friend does yet another extraordinary thing.

Saying that, I think this is mostly a first-born thing. Parents with two or three, or even (as in the case of some friends) , five or SIX probably don’t give a damn at what age their child decides to do something, or what anyone else thinks about it, too busy as they are trying to end the day with as many children alive as when they started. So parents of multiples – you have permission to take a smug position of superiority here – no doubt you learned these lessons long ago.

Anyway. Where was I? Oh yes…

Common sense tells us that obviously the rate of our child’s development has nothing whatsoever to do with our relative merits or failures as parents, or is, in fact, any indication of their future intelligence or success but far more likely down to random genetics, personality and well, chance. Despite what the competitive mums seem to infer, the fact that my baby is not walking and talking at the grand old age of thirteen months old, does NOT mean he is destined to become that man that walks around our town with a robe made of a sacking, sandals, and a straw hat shouting at the pigeons.

So why do we take it all so personally? Why DOES it bother us, if only a little?

I think the reason it seems to strike a nerve is due, in part, to a journey that began back in our teenage years. When we were forced to come to terms with the fact that no, we probably weren’t going to be a model, and that we weren’t going to ‘grow into’ our noses and magically wake-up looking like Angelina Jolie. Or that we were going to randomly bump into Robbie Williams in Starbucks one day and, looking mysterious and alluring (as, of course, we would), and being given his skinny cappuccino with extra foam in a hilarious coffee shop- misundertanding, cause him to fall head over heels in love with us because we ‘got him’ and didn’t care about the fame  thing.

I’ve STILL not quite got over that one.

And guess what. Our children probably aren’t going to be space men either, or prime minister, or nobel peace prize winners, or pirate ninjas, or a horse, or any of the of the things we ourselves dreamed of becoming as children. Unconciously we long for them to live extraordinary lives, the lives we did not lead, the lives we had to let go of.

Ok I’ll admit this is all sounding rather depressing in a kind of let me take your dreams and stamp all over them kind of way.

But the sooner we realise this as parents the better. The sooner we can let go of our need for our children to be so damn extraordinary, the sooner we are freed to see just how incredible they already are. Maybe if we can just stop worrying about the big stuff, the stupid milestones and the whole ‘my baby should’s, we’ll be less likley to miss all those teeny tiny subtle moments of everyday extraordinariness that our children show us just be being alive. Those moments that show us that sometimes it’s the ordinary and unremarkable that can be the most beautiful and precious of all.

Like eating mash potato with their hands. Or how watching a dog running round the garden can be the single most hilarious experience of their little life. Or they way their head seems to fit so perfectly nestled into your shoulder.

Not clever. Not exceptional. But just magic.

So let go Competititve Mums. Please. Because I can’t take this crap anymore.

Stop asking me if Kai’s walking yet and let us get back to rubbing mashed potato in our hair. Cause it’s ten million times more fun.

 

Nom Nom

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 So where was I? Oh yes, my contractions had stopped and started again. I had lost all hope of EVER having the baby and was sobbing for my mum, whilst simultaneously, in the future, I was sat eating Orios and watching something crappy on tv, while trying to ignore the incessant whining noise at my feet (i.e. the baby that, surprise surprise, DID come out in the end). So on we plod…

July 7th 6pm

Flashback: After pouring my heart out to my mum over the phone we decide to up camp and head off to chez Whitney-Cooper for some much needed TLC and a bath as ours is gnome sized and rather uncomfortable for those that are dimensionally challenged. We throw the labour bag in the boot just in case but I am seriously beginning to doubt that this baby will EVER be born. I’m serious. Maybe I just haven’t got it in me? Maybe my body just doesn’t know what to do and I’l be pregnant FOREVER? Ok, at least until they induce me/slice me open, neither of which I particularly fancy. Or worse – maybe I’ll just carry on having these (increasingly painful) contractions every five minutes for days and days and no-one will do ANYTHING?! (except tell me to have an early night and take some paracetamol).

We arrive at mum’s and I instantly feel a bit better. Mum runs me a bath, lights some candles, makes me a cup of tea and I have a long soak. I have to keep shifting position when a contraction comes though as lying on my back when one comes seems to amplify the pain by about a million. Ant sits on the loo and makes me laugh despite the pain and suddenly the world is all ok again. Did I ever mention I was a bit changeable in the mood department?

We make a deal. No more timing contractions. Well, me anyway. I had religiously recorded every one; doing nothing short of making a graph to plot their regularity (or lack of it). Time to relax a bit Josie. Time to recognise that maybe YOU’RE NOT IN CONTROL THIS TIME. I know. Shocker. And you never know maybe removing the giant stick up your butt might make room for the baby. Ant will surreptitiously keep track, but me, well I was just going to concentrate on riding this pain.

Because bloody hell. It’s hurting now. Hurting too much to stay in the bath. Hurting too much to do ANYTHING in fact although it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep still through out it all. I have an overwhelming urge to walk and change position and grind my hips in a kind of weird pregnant lady hula. Do you know what, I think I WILL have some paracetamol now…

So I walk, and lean, and contract, and do the hula. Shouting out “here comes another one” just as Ant mutters under his breath “any second now…”.

Is it just me or are they getting closer together?

Flashforward: I wipe up Kai after his tea. He has some pasta in his belly button (and, incidently on his hair/ears/neck/dad/cat – it was pasta bolognaise so our front room looked like something out of Saw 3) and it occurs to me… this is where he was attached to me. For nine whole months. And my belly button; that is where I was attached to MY mum. And so on, down the centuries in one glorious genetic chain of belly buttons. Every one before me a mother, everyone before me going through that same terrifying and wonderful experience of giving birth to another human being. Wow. I feel kind of special. I also can’t believe I’m having profound thoughts about belly buttons…

 

9.00pm

Flashback: Everything’s getting a bit blurry now. Pain seems to dance in front of my eyes and I realise I’m beginning to pant and groan more and more. My pacing and my hula hula dance is becoming more vigorous and rhythmic as I ride each new wave. Where on earth is that mooing noise coming from? Oh wait, it’s me.

I’m vaguely aware of mum and Ant whispering in the kitchen and periodically poking their head round the corner to ask if I’m doing ok. “I’m fine” I keep saying. “Stop talking to me” is what I’m thinking, just let me walk and moo in peace. At some point, they come to me and tell me that my contractions have been every four minutes for a while – maybe we should phone the hospital now? I nod and a quick phone call later and Ant is steering me into the car.

Time to go.

Flashforward: Kai is asleep for now and I sit surveying the twenty miscellaneous pieces of plastic and metal that should, with proper assembly (BY AN ADULT stresses the instructions – thanks for that) turn into Kai’s birthday Tricycle. I screw bits together, unscrew them again and turn them round, and screw them back together again.

At least making a baby didn’t require self assembly and an allen key. I have a feeling Kai wouldn’t have been half so well put together.

 

9.45pm

Flashback: We arrive at the hospital. Four minutes had turned into every three in the car (why why WHY did you have to live on a private estate with SPEEDBUMPS mother??! Did you not know that your heavily pregnant daughter would be contracting over every single one??). We park in a ‘do not park here’ zone and display my pre-prepared “Wife is in Labour” sign (no, I know what you’re thinking – it didn’t have an accompanying drawing or was laminated, I’m not THAT bad…).

The walk up to the ward seems to go on for miles but I’m determined to walk it. Stopping, SITTING, seems unthinkable. I just have to move move move. Finally we’re there. A bored looking midwife shows me into my room. MY room. The room on the midwife-led unit I had been so adamant to have, with it’s homely decorating and bean bags and Anne Geddes’ pictures on the wall. The room that I didn’t give two hoots about once I finally got there. It could have been a dingy back alley in the East End for all I cared as long as it had some gas and air.

At last some pain relief!!! Oh sweet Jesus thank you!  “You make yourself comfy dear” she tells me, “You’ve got a while to go yet”. Great.

Ant contemplates going back to the car for the bags but the midwife has disappeared and he doesn’t want to leave me, and pretty soon they’re forgotten. Relegated to the boot, my refreshing face spray and the rest about as useful in the end as that paracetamol I’d taken an hour ago.

The midwife finally arrives to examine me and to her surprise, and mine, I’m 8cm dilated. She tells me I’m nearly there but I don’t really hear her. I’m away on my gas trip. The room fades away and all that is left is my teeth on that cold, hard mouthpiece and the sound of mask as I breathe in and out, timing my gasps to take the edge off the peak of the contractions, coming fast and strong. I’m aware of Ant’s constant, calm reassurance, holding me through everyone but everything else just becomes a jumble of vague sound and light. I don’t think I’m even particularly conscious of the fact that my baby is coming. There is only this pain. This moment. All I can do is hold on.

Flashforward: I’m STILL building that frickin trike…

 

11.30pm

Flashback: At least I think it’s about that time, I’m having to rely on others’ memories now. I am pushing. The pressure has built to peak and now I’m pushing and pushing. My waters have finally popped with one huge gush. I moan and cry and shout and I don’t care. Even when that stupid cow of a midwife tells me I’m making too much noise I don’t care. Shut up b*tch I’m having a baby for Frick’s sake – just do your job and I’ll do mine.  After an eternity I begin to feel something slowly move down and push hard against me with each contraction, and finally, Kai’s head begins to crown. It is physically and mentally the most unbelievably hard thing I have ever done. What on earth was I thinking? Having a baby? Was I MAD? “I’m NEVER doing this again” I cry vehemently between contractions. Gas and Air is forgotten now, I need every bit of my concentration just to bear down and push. PUSH! With every contraction I push and push some more. Push so hard I think my back will break and my eyes pop out. Weirdly it’s not pain I’m conscious of. Just the sheer effort and physical endurance with the hot, burning feeling that only a 7 and a half pound babies head forcing it’s way through a MUCH smaller opening can produce. “Push!” Ant and the Midwife kept telling me “PUSH! You’re nearly there!”

Flashforward: I sit holding the small, hot form of my sleeping child. My head pounding and my body about ready to drop after nearly an hour of trying to get Kai back to sleep after his inevitable wake-up. Once again it is a mystery why he has woken up. Once again it is a mystery why he has so much trouble falling back to sleep again. It’s been a long day. It’s been a long year. A year of delight and joy and fun and laughter and more love and happiness than I ever thought possible. But also a year of incredible anxiety, and stress and frustration and sheer physical effort coupled with unbelievably little sleep.

The labour was the easy part, in hindsight.

But no matter what I said, I WOULD do it all again. A million times over for just one touch of my beautiful, precious boy. And not just the labour. Every broken night, every hour spent walking and rocking and feeding and coaxing Kai into some kind of sleep. Every minute of despair and hopelessness and doubt. I’d do it all. Naked. Covered in Bees (if only because it all seems to have gotten rather serious all of a sudden).

Because he is totally, irrefutably, worth it.

I gently lower him into his cot. He sighs and rolls over but thankfully is soon sleeping deeply again. Thank god for that.

 

July 8th 12.10am

Flashback: With one last almighty PUSH! I finally feel a release as Kai’s head comes out, pushing out the shoulders, and finally, with one long, glorious, blissful gush, the rest of him. He is lifted, red and crying and slippery and the most beautiful perfect sight I have ever seen, straight on to my chest where I hold him close and sob and laugh, looking up at Ant in relief and joy and surprise. My boy is here. My Kai.

I did it.

Flashforward: I roll over, away from the clock at which I have been staring, waiting, remembering. I listen to Kai’s breathing, slow and deep and peaceful. I close my eyes.

Happy Birthday Little Bear x

Two Hours Old

Two Hours Old

One Year Old Today!

One Year Old Today!

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