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Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

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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I have to say that I am REALLY enjoying this blogging thing. I’m eagerly anticipating the moments when I can steal a little time away to write. It’s becoming a kind of refuge this blog. A way of de-stressing and unwinding, of laughing at myself and helping me not to take things too seriously. And I realised today that I have been keeping it faithfully for over two months.

I guess that doesn’t seem like much to some, but to me this is quite an achievement.

You see I’ve always been someone that took interest in a great number of things, picking and choosing between them all depending on my mood, but I have never been very good at maintaining focus on just one thing. I leap from one subject or hobby to another like some kind of giant human thought-association research project. The slightest thing can set me off. One book could set me off an frantic journey of discover taking in Arthurian Legend, onto tree lore, spiralling my way through Ecology and Environmental Campaigning, onto Green living and knitting, finishing up with remembering to separate my paper and my plastics.

It’s quite exhausting.

As such I find myself perpetually juggling a dozen or more different projects, all half pursued and half finished, left on one side as something new and more exciting steals my attention and my enthusiasm.  Over the years I’ve picked up no end of different skills and bits and pieces of knowledge.

In the interest of getting to know me better, here’s a few:

I draw, paint (and once won a competition), make cards (when I’m too broke to buy them), am a reasonable calligrapher, (producing stationary for two weddings), can knit jumpers with pirate motifs, embroider and undo knots that most people would find impossible, produced two (unfinished) patchwork quilts. I’ve had a go at amateur film making, featuring myself as both a hooker and a bearded doctor, and had a stab at photography. I’ve sang in public (not something I plan to repeat). I became quite adept at yoga, learning to contort myself into any number of positions, turned my bathroom into a laboratory whilst making my own beauty products and home remedies and cured my mum’s menopausal mood swings (well… almost). I’ve played three different musical instruments. I’ve read about philosophy and religion, argued extensively about both, making my mind up then changing it all again. I’ve ran for my local council and got a lot more votes than I was expecting. I’ve written letters and been on tv waving a placard. I’ve traced my family tree back to 1750. I’ve read ten billion books on every subject known to man.

And that’s before I’ve even mentioned my jobs. Let me see… I’ve sold shoes and waitressed (badly), I’ve organised filing cabinets and typed invoices at a double glazing firm. I’ve taken disabled children swimming and been a teaching assistant. I’ve taken care of elderly patients, wiping bums and changing giant nappies. I’ve bathed several old and wrinkly men. I’ve ran a school library and literacy projects and children’s book clubs. I’ve even sat with someone as they died.

Quite a list isn’t it?

But don’t get me wrong, this is not supposed to be a brag. Because although I am a bit of a jack of all trades, I am a master at none. At best I could be called ‘competent’ in most of the things I undertake but I’ve never been really good at anything. Maybe because I’ve never stuck with one thing long enough.

On first consideration, motherhood seems to be much the same. As always, I’d get points for enthusiasm but no-one is ever going to consider me an expert in the subject.

And yet now I come to think of it, it actually IS different this time.

This time I’m being FORCED to stick with something. As a stay-at-home mum I can’t give up changing nappies, or getting up at 6am every morning, or making toast highly delicious and varied and nutritious food stuffs. Well, I guess I could. But Kai wouldn’t be very impressed, and he has a great ability of pointing out my shortcomings in a very loud not-to-be-ignored kind of way.

This is one job I can’t quit.

And do you know what? I think it’s doing me the world of good. I think I have learnt more about patience and discipline in the last 12 months than in the whole previous 26 years combined and throughout all my other weird and wonderful occupations. I’m actually COMMITTED to something. And even stranger, I’m not bored or losing interest. I’m actually enjoying it. And looking forward to doing it a whole lot more.

Most surprisingly of all it’s making me want to change. It’s making me want to be more disciplined in other areas of my life. There’s the blog of course for starters. I’m trying to keep the house tidier and am making more of an effort with the cooking (and even better, so far I haven’t killed ANYONE! Result!).  Determined to know a bit more than ‘a bit’ about something I’ve enrolled on a part-time self-study degree course that I start in a month. The cynic in me tells me I’ll probably change my mind after a year and do something else, that the blog posts will dry up in another month and the house revert back to it’s old slovenliness, but actually I don’t think that’s true.

Because do you know what? I think I’ve changed.

I think I’m almost… *gulp*… becoming a grown up.

Now where’s that book on Quantum Physics I started?

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First of all I have to ask. Which one of you has cursed my house? Because, as is fast becoming an almost weekly occurance in our family, we have been struck down by the illness fairy once again. And by ‘we’ I mean ‘me’. A throat infection, a low-grade fever and the weak-and-wobblies have meant Kai has once again had to be subjected to the bare minimum of parenting and opened the doors to my usual guilt-ridden worries that I am not doing ENOUGH.

Why is it a few days of feeling under the weather causes me to doubt every single one of my parenting choices, life choices and pretty much every other aspect of my self in one fell swoop? All I have been able to do this last couple of days is curl up in a ball on the sofa and moan faintly while Kai looked on bemused and tried to feed me various bits of half-eaten rice cake that he had squirrelled away in his toy box.

The killing blow (and ultimate salvation) came in the form of The Mom Blog. Not mine but other moms’. You see I’m fairly new to the world of blogging and although I didn’t think for a second my contributions to the bloggosphere were in any way different or special, I hadn’t quite realised just what a teeny tiny insignificant speck I was in the vast universe of the Mommy Bloggers until I started looking. There’s frickin millions of them. Which isn’t in itself a bad thing, until I started reading and found that the vast majority of the ones I came across were very obviously the work of neat, ordered self-congratulatory, self-important, taking-everything-far-too-seriously SUPERMOMS.

And reading them I was suddenly left feeling very small, very immature, very incompetent and completely unqualified to be a mother (or a blogger).

Because I am NOT, in any way, shape, or form a supermom. Not even close.

For starters I do not bake. I am in fact a dreadful cook. I have never made home-made soup or pasta sauce. My son often eats frozen fishfingers and ravioli from a can. My crowning culinary achievement lately was to mash pre-bought roast potatoes with a fork and grill them with sprinkled spring onion and cheese (was yum though). My cupboards contain tinned mince and dry spaghetti.  I don’t know what a ‘caper’ is. I don’t frequent deli’s, or buy organic unless it’s on sale (because I’m broke). I often eat chocolate for breakfast. Or biscuits.

I do not own a shining stainless-steel bedecked kitchen in which I wear an apron or from which waft the delightful smells of cookie dough or roast dinners. My kitchen is in fact this:

DSCF3376

Two square metres of cramped appliances and this morning’s washing up all of which smells of catfood and damp and may or may not have previously undiscovered forms of life making a cosy home behind the fridge.

I do not pray with my child, or at my child, or about my child (preferring to talk to said child himself, and my husband, and other REAL people when I have a problem). I do not attend a bible study group, or go to church, unless you count the very excellent church-run playgroup I attend but even then I have a tendency to mysteriously disappear when they start with the inevitable baby Jesus songs.

I do not have a ‘good’ child. He does not sleep on demand or without assistance. He is, I fear, a very long way from ‘sleeping through the night’. He is often lively, noisy, demanding and extremely separation-sensitive. If you are male and not in his immediate family you WILL make him scream just by looking at him. He probably watches too much tv. When tired, frustrated or over excited he bites and scratches. He is not particularly fond of vegetables.

My (mostly second hand) clothes don’t fit well and are not particular fashionable. I don’t have a personal style or have a skincare regime. I prefer to buy groceries than pay for expensive hair styles so my hair leaves rather a lot to be desired. If you were being kind you would call it ‘tousselled’.  I don’t own a single pair of heels (given my tendency to fall down even when wearing flats) but do own several pairs of well-loved trainers. I have yet to figure out how to make it through the day without getting covered in food, sick, poo or wee. I could count on one hand the number of times I have worn make-up in the last year.

I am not the social epi-centre of a trendy group of friends. I tend to be the one sitting in the corner looking tired, dishevelled, and coming across a little weird. I either talk too much or not at all. I laugh too loud, have a tendency to mix my words up and the awful habit of not finishing my sentences. In the last twelve months I have had two evenings out without the baby. Neither of which involved drinking cocktails or dancing. Both of which involved knitting and drinking tea at my best friend’s house 100 metres away.

I am not a measured oasis of calm. I do not bend in the wind. I have a tendency to be selfish and resentful. I frequently neglect my husband in favour of a little extra stolen ‘me’ time. I often fall apart, have meltdowns, cry, scream and then hurriedly put myself back together again before anyone notices.

I swear too much.

So no. Definitely not a supermom.

So bombarded as I was with tales of bible camp, and bake sales, and endless photos of shining, clean, perfect babies (who I’m positive slept like angels, the little sh*ts) and their shining, clean, perfect moms, I was left feeling pretty much like crap.

And there I probably would have stayed. Feeling like crap. Except thankfully I didn’t. Because I kept looking and I kept reading. And hidden in amongst the endless drivel I found my salvation.

Other not-supermoms. Yep. Thank the sweet Lord.

Other moms that swear and struggle and take the piss out of themselves and their lives and laugh at everything (that kind of slightly hysterical laughter that sounds a little like sobbing). Who have equally grubby, wild children and equally grubby, unkempt houses. Who choose blogging over housework and say that if you’re child is playing happily it’s perfectly acceptable to steal a little extra writing time.

I love these moms. Suddenly, being given free reign to eavesdrop on their lives and their mistakes and their mini-meltdowns, I felt sane again. It was ok to not be perfect. In fact, it was pretty cool. For all their shortcomings these moms were obviously intelligent, accomplished, successful, witty, and despite all their self-deprecation, completely and utterly awesome mommies.

I was happy to be in their camp. Well, happy to in the anonymous periphery of their camp. If I can ever manage to be even half as good a writer, comedian, social commentator or creative free-spirit as most of these women I will consider myself to have done very well indeed.

Screw you supermoms.

So here it is, for your enjoyment: my honour blogroll of the moment. Thank you ladies for restoring my sanity and giving me some much needed reassurance this week. For telling me it’s ok to find motherhood impossibly hard and ok not to take it all too seriously.

Not Drowning, Mothering

Naptime Writing

Bad Mommy Moments

I love you. Please keep writing.

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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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7.00am

Flashback: I have been lying awake for two hours. Rather considerably bigger and fatter yet rather considerably less the woman I am today (in more ways than one). 40 weeks and 1 day pregnant. The size of an average sized whale (which I don’t know the dimensions of for sure but I imagine is rather large). No longer able to put on my own socks without assistance, or roll over in bed without making unattractive grunting noises and taking ten minutes to rearrange my huge nest of various shaped pillows. I have probably just hauled myself back in bed from taking my 32nd trip to the toilet of the night. I am lying here wondering if this squeezing sensation in my pelvis is the real deal and not another cruel bout of false contractions. Well they’ve been every 15 minutes like clockwork and if I had to describe the pain I would probably be using the word ‘wave’. Ooomph there’s another one. No, this is definitely different. Ow. Maybe I should wake Ant…

Flashforward: I sit and watch Kai smearing his hair with banana and laughing hysterically at the ceiling. I love you my odd child. How incredibly blissfully restful boring and empty my life must have been before you.

7.30am

Flashback:I wake up Ant and tell him that, although I don’t want him to panic, I think this may be it. He jumps up gleefully to phone work and tell them he’s not coming in today. Dosser – any excuse for a day off is a cause for celebration in Ant’s eyes. Haha enjoy it my dear, it’s the last ‘day off’ you’re going to get for a while. Say about 18 years.

Flashforward:I emerge from the shower to find Ant holding Kai like an unexploded bomb. “He smells”, declares Ant when asked what is wrong. Yes I imagine he probably does smell since he has just evacuated about a week’s worth of poo from his behind. Thank you for bringing this to my attention honey. Here, you pin him down/distract him by putting things on your head and  and I’ll try and clean him up quick before he  crawls off and covers himself/the bed/me in excrement. I suddenly fear I may have got the short end of the straw, or the messy end anyway. Do you remember when we used to have romantic long lie-ins and DIDN”T know what it felt like to be up to your arms in crap? No, neither do I.

11am

Flashback:Contractions coming good and regular now, 5-6 minutes apart and strong enough to take my full attention. It hurts but weirdly I find myself quite enjoying it all! When not breathing and rolling about on my birthing ball (which, I’ve decided is just a space hopper without the handles and the weird face – could have saved some money there, we have one in the loft), I dutifully consult the LABOUR section of my Pregnancy File, a self-compiled recepticle of knoweldge, complete with different coloured index tabs headed in my best writing. I had been pregnant for nine long months and I had been determined to be prepared. Notes had been made, checklists written. In different coloured pens and with drawings and everything.

Breathing. Check. Moving About and Staying Upright. Check.

In between contractions I also unpack and repack my hospital bag that has been sat ready for at least a month so is slightly dusty, checking on the essential items carefully planned and packed in advance.

Cooling face spray. Check. MP3 player with pre-prepared playlist of labour songs. Check. Snacks for Ant. Massage Oil. Check Check.

I phone the labour ward and they tell me I’m doing great, that that if I feel ok to keep going at home to do so, and phone again when I get to 4-5 minutes contractions. No problem Midwife lady! I’m fine! Ok it hurts a bit but I’ve been waiting for this moment for nine long months and god dammit I’m going to do it well – all is under control. I have my file!! Over-achiever? Me? Nooo…. but if I was then I would DEFINITELY get an A+.

Flashforward: Me and my best friend Helen buy the biggest chocolate cake we can find to take to our Breastfeeding Support Group to celebrate the birthday of our boys (who were born on the same day) and a whole year of successful breastfeeding despite many difficulties along the way. We feel this is extra symbolic in that chocolate is probably the only thing to have kept us both alive this last year and able to keep up with the demands of our respective milk monsters.

3.00pm

Flashback:Ok, this is REALLY hurting now. Ow. I lie bent over my footstool with a hot water balanced on my back and watch Bill Bailey DVDs to take my mind of things but it’s getting kind of hard to stay serene and calm. My breathing is getting kind of huffy. I may be starting to moan a little. I dutifully make a note of every contraction and am getting a bit discouraged to see that they’re STILL 5-6 minutes apart, shouldn’t they be getting closer together by now?

We take a walk, pausing every 5-6 minutes for my to clutch Ant and sway and do my moany sound. Poor neighbours, I must be quite a sight. It rains and we get completely drenched and decide to go home.

I’m a bit fed up now. And I think Ant is getting bored. Look he’s given up rubbing my back to go play Football Manager…

Flashforward: Me and Kai snuggle up for nap. His head is pushed as far into my armpit as he can make it go. I look at the size of that head. Bloody hell that’s a big head. I try not to think about where that head forcibly appeared a bit later, exactly one year ago. It certainly wasn’t my armpit.

4.30pm

Flashback: I don’t believe this. My contractions have stopped. I haven’t had anything for half and hour now. No. No No NO NO NOOOOO THIS IS NOT HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO GO!!! Surely this couldn’y have all been false labour? I had endured 12 hours of pretty intense contractions. Was it all for nothing? Was I going to have to do it all again in another few days? DAMMIT I HAD MOVED ABOUT AND BREATHED AND BEEN SERENE (mostly) AND EVERYTHING!!!  Sobbing, I phone the Labour ward again, exhausted and defeated, and demand to know what the hell is going on and why why why have they stopped. A kind but slightly patronising midwife tells me I’m probably just experiencing mild (mild?? MILD???!) practise contractions and that this wasn’t established labour yet. Go take some paracetamol and have an early night she tells me.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

I sob and sob. My whole world has fallen apart. I am officially going to be pregnant forever. But, oh, OWW! that was another contraction, sob sob, god dammit stop playing with me baby!!!! Are you coming out or not?? Pretty soon the contractions are back to every 5 minutes but after the midwife’s assessment I have lost all confidence in them now and figure we might well be here for days yet.

That’s it. I want my mum.

Flashforward: Nothing particularly interesting happened…. sorry. Kai whinged. I think I ate some Orios?

To be continued…

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Sat here with a headache and a sore throat trying not to think about the possibility that we might make it a hat-trick and personal family record and have all three of us ill within a fortnight. Bleugh. 

So instead of facing the inevitable and going to bed here is my account of one of the best and worst aspects of being a new mum. The world of OTHER MUMS.

You see, it turns out that when you become a mother, along with stretchmarks and the jelly-belly and the end of wearing clothes that have NOT been smeared with food/sick/snot, you get exclusive membership into a new and powerful club. The Mommy Elite.

Upon having a baby I found myself thrust into this shadowy world, unprepared and inexperienced. The world of play-dates and coffee dates and baby groups and salsa and tupperware parties and all the rest suddenly filled my life and my schedule. After previously being rather flat and uneventful, my social life suddenly took on astronomical proportions. I started to have to plan my days weeks in advance in order to schedule in all of my new friends and activities. 

 It was wonderful. But also one of the most overwhelming, stress inducing experinces of my life.

Because there isn’t just one club. Oh no. There are factions. Types of mothers who tend to hang around together forming powerful and impenetrable cliques. To which did I belong?? All of a sudden I’m back at school and wondering whether I’m a geek or trendy (geek) and worrying that my clothes are crap and dress sense a bit questionable and whether anyone actually likes me at all.

So, after that rather lengthy intro, here they are. Over the next few days I will bring you the truth of the Mommy Elite. The Mom Files.

 

Competitive Mom

I’ll start with this one cause this is be far the most pervasive type I’ve come across. Of course, we all display this tendency from time to time, being as we are so incredibly proud of our gorgeous offspring. And rightly so. Sometimes the desire to tell the world precisely what our (obviously gifted) child has done that morning overwhelms us and before you can say ‘facebook’ we have joyously boasted of the fact that Junior just said ‘cat’.

But the Competitive Mom  takes this to a whole new level. Facebook is a good environment in which to spot a Competitive Mom. You can even lay a trap for them to lure them out out into the open. Tell your friends that your baby took their first steps today and the Competitive Moms will be quick to reply and tell you that THEIR child took their first steps two weeks ago. Tell them your baby waved goodbye to their dad this morning, Competitive Mom will be promptly respond with “Aww how cute! Tarquin waves AND says ‘bye bye’ now!”

When meeting for coffee, every sentence you utter regarding your child will be instantly bettered by the eager competitive mum. EVERYTHING becomes source for competitiveness. Who crawled first, who’s crawling style was obviously more efficient, who eats better, who sleeps better (always an easy win when talking to us). Every achievement a victory to be lorded over your opponent, and an OBVIOUS indicator that you are both a better mother and that your child will grow up to be a nuclear physicistwhile Mr Bum Shuffler will have to face an inevitable future of shelf stacking at Tesco’s

One friend once gleefully reported a conversation she had with a Competitive Mom (CM). CM noticed that little Freddie (names changed for anonimity) had two bottom teeth. “Has Daisy got any teeth yet?” my friend asked innocently. “No” CM replied shrilly “But she’s VERY advanced in other ways!!!!”

Yes that’s right. Because teeth are obviously an indicator of intelligence. You stupid woman.

Of course it’s all very well meaning. They don’t MEAN to be stupid, these mummys. Their usually just insecure and desperate to prove their doing a good job. It’s a reflex, I don’t think they even realise they’re doing it.

But excuses aside, it’s still annoying. So quit it please. And leave the rest of us with our wonderfully average babies to let them get on with things when they bloody well choose.

 

Next time: The Earth Mother

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