Sunday, 15 March 2015

Mum's the word

What makes a person a 'Mum'?  For me, it's about selflessly putting another person's needs before your own.  It's about loving someone with your whole heart and doing anything possible to make them safe and happy.  It's about listening more than talking, guiding rather than pushing, providing and not wanting. It's eating chocolate in secret because you don't want to share it... come on now, we all do it!

My Mum has always put us first.  I'm the middle of three girls (poor Dad!).  That's a lot of hormonal tantrums in one house, right there.  We have never gone without.  My parents have always worked hard for us- far too many hours than they should ever have had to and often more than one job at a time.  Despite all the pressures of life, my Mum has remained a role model to us.  She is a strong, capable lady.  She always has time for someone in need and will always go out of her way to help a friend.  She is smart and funny and brave.  When I was young, I knew I wanted to grow up to be like my Mummy.  The funny thing is, now I have children of my own I have become my mother at times.  I can't help it- her voice just falls out of my mouth unannounced- "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all!" woah... when did that happen?  To be honest, it started about when the goblins came into my life courtesy of Mr T.  The words and phrases were just in there, rattling around my noggin awaiting a small person in need of guidance.  I'd say, Mum, that's a job well done. The lessons in life you have taught me remain ingrained.  Your shared wisdom, just like your love, is etched into us forever.  You did great Mum, we will never be able to thank you enough.

I'm now in my thirties- a 'proper' grown up.  I have children of my own.  When my son, Crazy, was born I realised a capacity for love that I hadn't thought possible.  Little over two years on and my daughter, Pip-squeak, is proving that love is limitless.  Whilst I may have to share my time and attention there is more than enough love to go around.  It's the sort of love that enables you to wipe stinky little bottoms, pick gross boogers obstructing tiny nostrils and catch sick in your bare hands- that, ladies and gents, is parenthood.  It's wanting the last piece of cake but giving it to your toddler and watching him decide he doesn't like it after all and mushing it into the carpet.   It's cooking  three different dinners for three different tastes because it's worth it for full tummies.  It's needing desperately to sleep but watching her for just a minute longer because- well, look at her... she's incredible.  It's just wanting half an hours peace to watch a programme and zone out without being pestered, but instead listening to a teenager waffling on because hey- he has ventured from the darkness of his room to make human contact, so whilst it sounds like pointless drivel there is something important hidden in there, something that he's sharing with me.  It's so many things that I thought I was too selfish to ever do until my children came along and changed me for the better.  It's more rewarding than you can imagine or I can describe.  Its a tiny hand holding yours.  It's your child becoming a person in their own right and making decisions with confidence.  It's a card with just a few words from a sullen teen that speak volumes.  It's a happy heart and a happy home.

I will always be grateful to Mr T, the wonderful man that has given me wonderful, beautiful children.  I will always be grateful to my parents for showing me what it means to be a good parent.  To my friends and family for their ongoing support during the tough times.  I'm also lucky enough to have married into an amazing, caring family and my support team just keeps growing.  I hope to make you all proud.

Happy Mother's Day to all- if you're lucky enough to be able, give your Mum a big squeeze and tell her how much you love her.  If today is a difficult day and you can't be with yours, think of the good times and know- even from my limited experience as a mother- that she would want you to be happy and she will be proud of the person you are if you are just being true to yourself.

Mum- I love you, I will always need you and when things get tough I ask myself what you would do.  Thank you for everything you have sacrificed for me (I'm guessing sleep more that anything, right?).  Each passing day, now that I too am a mother, shows me just how much you love me.  I hope you can be as proud of me as I am of you xx

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Then there were 4

My good intentions of regular blogging throughout pregnancy fell by the wayside when the demands of Crazy and lack of sleep took their toll- sorry about that.  But here we are, Baby Pipsqueak is 17 days old already, time flies when *you're having fun!

*every day morphs into the next and there is no such thing as sleep

So let me begin by telling you that I absolutely love my daughter.  She is a real beauty (if I do say so myself) and I feel truly blessed to have Pip and Crazy in my life.  Mr T gave me these beautiful creatures and has been my hero during paternity leave helping with such a huge adjustment.  Super-Daddy to the rescue.  When we brought Pip home from the hospital that same day she was born, Crazy was in bed so they met the following morning.  He greeted her with a 10 second tantrum, took himself away to his room to have a good old chat to his pal 'Froggy', returned downstairs to give Pip a sloppy kiss and to bestow upon her his favourite 'Thomas and Friends' book (bestowed it right into her eye socket, bless him).  Cute.  That was it then, job done.  There's another person in the family, there she is- right there.  This is us then, a new family unit.  Crazy had taken it in his stride, on with the game of trains at hand.  What about me? Why am I struggling and why can't I say so?

Pip was overdue. 8 long days.  There are more hours in an overdue day than an average one- ask any post due date fed up Mumma.  I was induced on the Saturday, by Sunday morning we were rushing back to the hospital to have a baby.  It all happened pretty quickly.  So quickly, in fact, that there wasn't time for the epidural I so desperately needed.  Crazy arrived early, but the labour was slow and steady and I felt calm and in control.  Pip was arriving, ready or not- I was very much not ready, despite the extra days cooking her.  Whilst I don't want to scare off any potential baby-makers or even more so, those already cooking a fresh one- I need to be honest, so now might be a good time to skip the rest of this paragraph.  I have never known pain like it.  I did not feel in control and I did not feel like the professionals delivering my baby were in control.  There was an air of panic as Pip's heart rate couldn't be traced and they tried and failed to fit a trace to her fragile little head.  The anaesthetist had left in tears because she couldn't help me and I was in distress.  Poor Mr T was helpless and his face told me so.  Nobody would talk to me or answer my questions and I was angry.  Boy was I angry.  I had requested an epidural in plenty of time, yet here we were.  I know hospitals are very busy places and needs must be prioritised- but there and then I felt cheated.  At it's worst, I begged Mr T to tell Crazy every day how much I loved him as the panic and pain made me feel like I might not make it through.  I begged the midwives to put me under and cut her out- right now, I can't take another minute- please, somebody help me.  My pleas were ignored and the panic rose.  Somehow, thankfully, we made it through and baby Pip was born healthy- if very grey- and a decent 8lb 9oz.  I waited for the exhilaration I felt with Crazy.  It didn't happen.  I felt relief.  Relief that she was ok.  Relief that Mr T could relax.  Relief that I wouldn't have to do that ever again.  I did feel love for little Pip as she snuggled in, wondering what on earth had happened and where she was.  But I felt angry.  I felt empty.  But I said and did all the right things- the first feed, skin to skin, told everybody how wonderfully ecstatic I am.  Hey- I did it with gas and air! Way to go me!  I could just stare at her forever! That's how I wanted to feel and should have felt. 

Now don't get me wrong- I'm so thankful for my children.  I have a son and a daughter, they are both perfect and I am beyond lucky.  I had read about how a second baby is different to the first.  I always like to read up and be prepared- but I wasn't prepared.  I was underwhelmed.  I felt unimportant.  Like the trauma I had been through didn't really happen or at least didn't really matter.  I didn't feel that urgent sense of 'I must hold my baby and never put her down' and when other people held her I didn't think 'I need her back!'.  Instead I thought- she's happier there.  You're doing a better job than me, you keep her.  I was happy to pass her around because it was better for her.

I breastfed for the first four days.  This kid was insatiable.  I didn't sleep for more than an hour at a time, day or night and as much as Mr T was around to help- and help he did- he couldn't do the feeds for me.  Crazy still demanded from his Mumma- and I was grateful for that.  I could make him happy at least.  Except I didn't have the time because I couldn't put Pip down.  She was always hungry and her shrill scream cut through my soul.  Urgent neediness, not soon, now- you're failing me.  I wasn't enjoying feeds like I did with Crazy, when I had all the time in the world to gaze at him and imagine our future together as a family.  Now there was no time- no time for Crazy's bedtime story, bathtime, snuggles- all my favourite things.  No time for Pip, to bond, to learn her noises, her smell.  No time for Mr T, despite all his efforts I just didn't have the time or patience to even thank him properly.  What I did have was guilt and lots of it.  Guilt for all those things, all those feelings- or lack of.  In desperation we tried Pip with a bottle of formula and she slept for three long hours.  The decision was made, she was happier and I was happier.  She finally had a full tummy and was content.  We could put her down and she didn't scream.  I felt relieved that the pain would stop and I could rest.  Which brought more guilt.

These days things are getting better, but there are still moments.  I find myself in tears, both children demanding at the same time.  This morning I opened up to a friend.  A friendship that is based on absolute honesty, no matter how brutal.  I said "I don't feel like I should".  Her reply- "I didn't either".  I felt better.  Just like that, I felt hopeful.  We chatted, she identified with a lot of what I had to say and I wasn't alone.  Why wasn't this stuff in the books?  The real grit? Not the glossy stuff.  Already when she won't settle I can now think- it's not my fault.  My children are different people, already they need different things from me.  My relationship will be different with both of them and that's ok.  It's ok that I didn't enjoy breastfeeding this time- I'm also raising another little person at the same time.  It's ok that I didn't feel overwhelmed with joy and high on adrenalin when she arrived- I had been through an immeasurable amount of pain and I had already experienced birth before, of course it was never going to be the same.  That doesn't mean I'm not attached to my daughter as I should be.  It doesn't mean I'm doing it wrong- its just different.  When I see her snuggling her Daddy, content and quiet, or snoozing in her Aunty's arms without a whimper I don't need to feel like I'm failing.  I need to feel happy that she is happy.  I need to use that time to steal back the moments I miss with Crazy.  There are times when she is content in my arms but I'm so wracked with guilt that I don't recognise them.  All I'm guilty of is guilt itself and I'm going to make a conscious effort to stop.

I hope my honesty can help somebody that might find themselves in my position,  Or maybe somebody who once was but is still harbouring that guilt.  To see it from another perspective is so easy- to say 'but you're doing great!' doesn't always help if you really don't feel like you're doing great.  Sometimes you need to hear- I struggled too and that's ok.

Apologies for the heavy stuff- on a brighter note, Crazy has just gone for a nap and Pip is currently snoozing in her hammock so I shall take this opportunity to close my eyes.  I won't say nap, because Pip has a sixth sense for my napping and knows it's time to 'Squeak' once again to keep me busy.  She so hates to see me bored, this one... Maybe if I learn to sleep with one eye open I can fool her!  Or maybe I shall just resume with the chores.  The bottles won't sterilise themselves and I kid myself that the steam is good for my skin whilst I hastily make up bottles so hot to handle that I probably have no fingerprints left whilst simultaneously load the washing machine with one foot, precariously balanced on the other in haze of sleep deprivation.  Multitasking- I've got that shizzle down.