What not to say…

Being pregnant and having a baby has been a pretty bizarre experience. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any weirder than random strangers wanting to caress your enlarged stomach, someone comes along and says something weird…or unnecessary…or just down right stupid. Here are some of the corkers that I’ve encountered recently:

5 – “He? Did you say he? That’s not a boy! He’s way too pretty to be a boy. Are you sure he’s a boy?”
Oh my goodness, now you mention it I’m not sure that I’ve checked at any point during the last nine months of changing nappies! 

4 – “You’re looking *awkward pause…* well!”
I look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards by my crazy beagle…why do we have to be so terribly British about it? Just say I look awful and then I don’t feel so bad about having to try to return the compliment! 

3 – “Enjoy every moment”
I am so incredibly blessed to have a beautiful son, but I’m not convinced that anybody enjoys every moment…like the times where the baby has been screaming non stop for 3 hours and has only stopped momentarily to wipe his snotty face all over your favourite cardigan. 

2 – “He’s going to nursery in a few months? I would never have dreamt of sending my children to nursery! You’ll miss out on so much!”
Whilst I’d love to stay at home with my LittleMonkey forevermore, I’d much rather be able to afford to feed and clothe him! I don’t understand why some people seem to think that women who go back to work are cruel and don’t want to ever see their children again! 

1 – “It’s all worth it isn’t it? One smile and you forget about all the pain!”
Yes, it’s worth it. No, I haven’t forgotten about the pain. I was induced and still vividly recall the excruciating pain as some poor midwife inserted a pessary into a body that well and truly wasn’t ready to give birth! I still vividly recall the excruciating pain as a second midwife repeated the procedure 24 hours later. LittleMonkey is absolutely worth it, but I’m not convinced I will ever get over the trauma of being induced when my body quite simply wasn’t ready!

Do people actually think before they open their mouths?

 

Am I crazy?

LittleMonkey has just gone to bed (at last) and I’m sat wondering if I have completely lost the plot…

Tomorrow we get the keys to our new house. Moving with an 8 month old shouldn’t be too bad (so I am told) but we appear to have accidentally bought  a major renovation project. I’m all for a bit of hard work and I’m not afraid of getting my hands dirty, but considering most days I struggle to put LittleMonkey down long enough to have a wee I’m wondering if I might be biting off more than I can chew with this one!

This seems to be the theme of my maternity leave actually considering I thought it would be a great idea to spend my year “off” raising my first child and completing a Masters degree. It turns out that my utopian view of what maternity leave would be like was pretty inaccurate. I had imagined cake baking, reading, language learning, long walks with LittleMonkey and LittleHound and lots of time to catch up on my endless “I’ll finish that one day” projects (the degree being one of them!) I guess that I’ve sort of succeeded with language learning if you count the exchanges of grunts and nods between my husband and I when we are both too tired to string a sentence together…

I kind of had Italian in mind!

 

 

The power of a smile…

I’m exhausted. Thoroughly exhausted. I’m having to make some pretty huge decisions about work at the moment, which is terrifying, emotional and downright draining. Some days I’m pretty stressed and grumpy and then out of nowhere LittleMonkey will give me a cheeky little grin and I’m just totally lost in the moment. How can such a little (chubby) face make everything seem ok?

Thankful for the little things!

Returning to work…

I plodded around the office with my uncomfortable bump and terribly swollen ankles right up until my due date and I continued to work from home right until I was induced 12 days later. In fact, I vaguely remember checking emails when I was bored out of my mind lying in a hospital bay and willing my waters to break. I don’t think I realised how much of a slave I was to my job. I work in a pretty full on role, supposedly 9-5:30 but in reality I was working every hour that I wasn’t eating, sleeping or peeing! My colleagues were so convinced that I was going to give birth in the office that they’d made me explain exactly what they had to do if my waters broke –  call my husband and remind me to put my out of office on,” was my reply, closely followed with, “and DON’T call an ambulance! If things all happen a bit too quickly, my notes are in my bag and the midwives can be contacted on the number on the front…they’re only 10 mins down the road so none of you will have to deliver the baby, I promise!” To be perfectly honest, my boss is the type of person who wouldn’t have batted an eye lid if I’d given birth in the middle of the office. She would have expected me to have completed my day’s work and ran all of her errands before that head had dared to pop out though!

Anyway, I digress! I decided to take 12 months off from work. We’d lived off just my salary whilst my husband was studying and he was about to start a new job, so the prospect of living off one salary for the second half of my leave wasn’t an issue. My boss was shocked by this (small office, first person to ever have a baby other than her many moons ago) and I actually think I shocked myself a little. I’ve always been career minded and never thought I’d convince myself to want to take a year off. Despite this though, my boss was very pleasant about it and said that she would be totally flexible one I returned and would be happy for me to work a couple of days from home, or work fewer hours in the office and catch up on emails etc from home in an evening or whatever suited me and baby.

Fast forward a few months. LittleMonkey was born, I’d had a couple of months at home and I suddenly got summoned to the office and asked what arrangements I would like when I returned. To cut a long story short, I either return on a full time basis, working all my hours from the office, or I take a huge pay cut and return to my previous job and then she may consider me working part time. I can’t afford the latter, so it looks like I’m going back full time.

I’ve been thinking (and quietly raging) about this for a couple of months now. I feel betrayed by my employer, and I have absolutely no motivation to return to work, knowing that I will be expected to work ridiculous hours and never have any quality time with LittleMonkey. I’m not the bra burning feminist type (if I burnt my bras I’d be scuppered. Breast feeding has ruined me!) but I can’t help but think that a man would NEVER get treated this way.

So my question is… do any other mums work full time and still feel they have enough time to see their little ones grow up? For those that work part time, how did you negotiate this with your employer?

 

 

 

Progress!

It’s been a little while since my last blog post and LittleMonkey has reached a few milestones!

Breastfeeding
At about 5mths LittleMonkey finally worked out how to breastfeed properly. To be honest, I think I had just ended up feeling so negative about it after such a rubbish experience that I had given up trying. Nevertheless there were tears of utter joy the first time LittleMonkey had a full feed (and probably after every feed for the first week or so if I’m honest). I was so relieved to be able to relax over Christmas, rather than having to sneak away to express in private every couple of hours and I feel so proud of us both – Well done LittleMonkey!

Breastfeeding (or at least trying to) has taught me a lot about myself. I care way more about what people think about me (or what I think people think about me) than I ever thought possible, I’m incredibly sensitive and hard on myself and I’m ridiculously stubborn. I need to work on these qualities. Not being able to breastfeed LittleMonkey made me incredibly miserable and I didn’t enjoy the first 5 months of his life like I should have done. I planned my day meticulously around his feeds and expressing and this made it very difficult to escape the mummy bubble. I would only feed LittleMonkey around those that I trusted the most and on the rare occasions I fed him around others, I always felt the need to explain that I was bottle-feeding him breastmilk. I personally have absolutely no problem with bottle feeding or formula and think that parents should do what is best for them and their babies, but apparently despite wholeheartedly believing this, it’s hard not to be affected by social pressures.

Weaning
Oh the joys. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that LittleMonkey is discovering new and exciting foods but my goodness, the mess! Purees I can cope with (until the point that LittleMonkey grabs the spoon or spits it in my face) but who’s idea was baby led weaning!? Baby led weaning seems to equate to LittleMonkey mushing bits of food into every surface possible whilst still finding remnants to throw onto my beige carpet. I’m not convinced any of it goes into his mouth (unless it’s toast…he’s definitely inherited my addiction to toast) but it seems to be the trendy way of weaning your child at present, so we’re rolling with it…or at least that’s what I’m telling the health visitor!

Rolling
…and then screaming because he hates being on his tummy. My days are literally spent doing nothing other than feeding LittleMonkey, cleaning mushed food off the carpet, dog and LittleMonkey and rolling a distraught LittleMonkey back onto his back a gazillion times!

Where did the last 6 months go…

Breastfeeding…or not?

Prior to having LittleMonkey, I made the decision that I would breastfeed. I didn’t entertain the idea of feeding in any other way, not because I think there is anything wrong with formula feeding, but because for me, breastfeeding felt like the most convenient and natural way forward. Preparing formula, sterilising bottles and constantly having to think about taking milk everywhere I went sounded like far too much fuss and organisation and since I intended to take a year off work, I may as well utilise the free tools that God blessed me with, right?

LittleMonkey was born via an EMCS, two days after I was induced. I was exhausted and emotional (birth was about as far away from my ideal as possible) and unable to hold him for about 5 hours due to being so drowsy. I had always imagined my baby being born and immediately put on my chest and him feeding like a pro…but LittleMonkey just wasn’t interested. I’d put him to my breast and he would fall straight to sleep. He wouldn’t latch, he wouldn’t suck…nothing.

Antenatal classes had championed breastfeeding and nobody had ever mentioned the possibility that sometimes breastfeeding just doesn’t work!

It broke my heart to be told by a midwife that my baby wasn’t getting any milk and that I would need to express and top up with formula until breastfeeding could be established. I knew nothing about either and they weren’t allowed to offer their opinion on the latter! I found myself making uninformed choices about which formula to feed and had absolutely no clue what I was doing. I left hospital and immediately had to go out and buy formula, bottles, teats and a breast pump. I had no time to research and wandered around a local store tired, emotional and completely lost, trying to work out what to buy.

4 months on and 3 pumps later, I’m exclusively expressing. It’s exhausting, inconvenient, I feel like a dairy cow and I’m fed up of unnecessary comments from people who need to learn to mind their own business. “Why don’t you just breastfeed? You shouldn’t be scared to feed in public.” I’m not! I’d give anything to whip my boobs out in public and have LittleMonkey feed successfully. Believe me, Ive tried…and tried…and tried. I’m willing to put up with pain, discomfort, constant trying but quite frankly, I’m not willing to watch my child’s weight drop to an unacceptable level, just so that I can join the BreastIsBestMafia.

To those that feel the need to comment on how a woman feeds her baby, please keep your opinions to yourself. They are neither needed or wanted. As silly as it sounds, I have mourned not being able to breastfeed LittleMonkey. Even though he is getting breastmilk, I feel a sense of guilt every time that I express and bottle feed. I feel like an inferior mother. I feel that my child won’t love me as much as he might have done. It’s silly, and I know it’s silly, but that is what 4 months of unwanted comments can do to an already tired and hormonal new mum.

Here we go again…

Today I find myself tentatively entering the world of blogging. By entering, I of course mean re-entering…(re-re-re-entering!) Having just tried to create what I thought was my first blog, several websites have reminded me that I have tried this before. Apparently I blogged my way through my angry teenage years as well as through stressful undergraduate and postgraduate study. Clearly just being a source of procrastination, each post would feature an apology for not blogging for weeks, with the promise (to myself – nobody else wants to read my rants) not to leave things so long next time. It’s only been 4 years!

If at first you don’t succeed…