Thursday, July 9, 2015

Toddler vs Mamma.

This post is a collaboration of my own experiences of motherhood and experiences of those around me.

As the Mother of a Toddler,  it would be quite easy to get offended on a daily basis. Oh, that's different from the usual motherhood walking in meadows, my life will never be the same a gain mush you're used to hearing? Well yeah, it is but it's also the truth. 

It would be quite easy to get offended when your Toddler refuses the food you've so lovingly and tenderly prepared for them. By refuse, I don't mean a simple "No Mamma", I mean full blown thrown it all over the walls, floor, table (you've just cleaned) smeared it in your hair, eyes anywhere on your body within their grubby little reach - not to mention their hair, eyes, ears and belly button. 
Me: "Awwww poor darling, don't you like the yummy scrummy lasagne mamma made for you? 

Using all the healthy ingredients she could find so you'll grow up big and strong? One more mouth full, please?" 
Toddler: Blurghhhhhhhhhhhh

You calmly remove the lasagne and spittle from your face with a baby wipe. 
Don't spit, it's naughty. Mamma likes it  when you eat all your dinner and don't spit it on mummy's face."

*spits on mummy's face again. 

Your beautiful angelic Toddler is laughing at you.

Deep breath. 

Me: "Ok, what would you like to eat?"

Toddler: "Yog yog."

Me: "You're not having another yogurt today, you've had forteen yogurts already."

Three different meals later and Toddler, you  and the entire kitchen is covered in a) the first nutritious/healthy and probably organic meal.  B) the back up plan meal  - the trusty beans or cheese on toast and finally C) the meal you never thought you'd give your Toddler or daren't admit to feeding your Toddler- chicken nuggets/fish fingers & chips.  

All failed miserably. 

You're tired. 

You're emotionally drained. 

"Ok, yogurt it is then."

Toddler 1 :Mamma 0. 

It would also be incredibly easy to get offended when sharing a loving tender moment with your Toddler, when lets be frank? They're few and far between nowadays. 
Just at the crucial point where you feel your heart will explode with loving admiration. 
You ask..

"Can mummy have a kiss?"
And... You're met with more spit, a smack around the chops or a trump. Delivered with tender loving care by theirs truly. 

Toddler 2 :Mamma 0.

It would be perfectly acceptable to take offence to but you're "not supposed to" when you've spent hours amusing your Toddler with interactive play. Then, they are quite happily amusing themselves with one of their thousand toys in the other room and you think? Now might be a good time to use the toilet. 

Please consider this child has had you worried on more than one occasion that they could be hard of hearing. Many a time you've asked something you know they understand and nothing?! 
I swear, I think he/she could have a hearing problem

But the minute you stealthy close the bathroom door. Quiet as a mouse. Oh they hear you alright. 


"It's ok, Mamma's just having wee, wee. One minute and she'll come out" 


You live in fear your neighbours will call the NSPCC because it's just not normal for a child to be able to reach those decibels. Seriously, they've  just broken the sound barrier. 

You open the door, whilst still on the loo, a task in itself  and proceed to wee with your Toddler sat on your knee. 

"Mamma, wee wee."

"Yes, mamma wee, wee."

Toddler 3 :Mamma 0.

It would be a certainty that you'd be offended by your Toddler never letting you get ready. Ever. You try everything to occupy them. For goodness sake, it used to take you over an hour to get ready. Now, you've got it down to a personal best of ten minutes. You just need ten minutes. Ten minutes of stopping your Toddler from putting the roll on deodorant on their tongue or from spraying the hair spray in their eyes. 

Oh well I'll just walk around looking like a homeless person who doesn't have time to bathe. Heroin Chic's in, right? 

Don't be offended though because to your Toddler you're beautiful, you are the centre of their whole world. 
You know this because the minute they wake up in the morning, they beam you a big grin and shout 
You're the first thing on his mind. 
(And the devil himself winces that your Toddler is awake) you're not alone, this IS the terrible two's that everyone warmed you about and you'll both get by relatively unscathed. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Gypsy mamma

A flutter as faint as a feather blowing in the breeze.
An overjoyed lover falling to his knees.
A tear in his eye, capturing his pride.
A lifetime together, together by his side.

The scans came and went and all was well.
She adored being pregnant,
Caught in natures spell.
In love with her son, she fell.

They spent many a day imagining his face,
Decorating the nursery - creating his space.
Opening their hearts - finding his place.


The wait seemed an age but eventually he came,
In trauma, in anguish - her body to blame? 
Dylan Joseph - king of the ocean, his name.

Their days are spent consumed in joy,
Her life, her soul. 
The gypsy mamma and her boy. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

We are all wonder women.

I read a very interesting article the other day, that stopped me in my tracks and made me re-assess my attitude towards women; who don't want to have children. Ever. 

The article was about the fifteen things you shouldn't say to these women, as I read them, I realised, I had said more than a few of them in conversations to women who'd told me they didn't want children. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to those women, first hand. 
The ones, I'm guilty of saying are. 
1) But you'd make such beautiful children. 
2) You'll change your mind when meet the right man, you're more settled, financially secure etc
3) You'd feel differently, if you had them..
4) It's the most special thing in the world. 
5) I wasn't fulfilled until I had children.

I've probably said a few more too. In my attempt to say something kind to these women, what I was actually doing was making it more awkward. 
The 'mother' and the 'non mother' are afraid to offend each other by concluding they have nothing in common. Even by using the term 'non' in 'non mother' it's like I'm taking something away from those women. The truth is, having children isn't the be all and end all and anyone who says it is... Is lying. 
What I should have said and will say in the future is... "That's fine. I get it, I totally get it."

Some people have other interests/pursuits rather than starting a family.  
Do I regret my decision to have a child? No. Are there moments when I crave for the freedom of a child free existence? Absolutely. 
I miss sleep the most. I miss my eyes pre crows feet, and pre this nervous twitch I've developed in my left eye. when I've had a particularly bad night, my left eye twitches. I look insane. At work, when people are talking to me and I can feel my eye starting to twitch, I can see them...slowly moving away, as if I'm about to lash out and attack them in some kind mental/psychotic breakdown. I'd be embarrassed but I'm too tired to care.  I miss having the time to groom myself  - dry shampoo has become my saving grace. There is no time to tame this mane everyday with a screaming 19 month old - tearing the place down.  I'm not saying all women without children have time to do these things or even care about doing these things (probably too busy saving the world or doing some other amazing cause - worthy of a noble peace prize.) but these are the things, that I personally miss. 

It may not be a question of 'not a good time' for these women. They probably no it's just not for them. Another term we assign to these women is 'not maternal'. This is cruel. These women can be a thousand things... but we put a blanket over all of that and call them 'non maternal'. It's usually associated with negative connotations too, like being 'non maternal' is a bad thing or there is something wrong with that. It definitely isn't and shouldn't be thought of as negative. Often these women are maternal, they care. Maternal means to have the characteristics of a mother. When I think of a mother I think of many things, protector, carer (very often) provider, teacher but mostly strong. I believe most women, whether or not they actually have a child - possess these feminine attributes. 

In my first blog when I said mothers should unite, I meant women should unite. Whatever their decision or choice. Let's not meet them with negativity, there is nothing wrong with them or their choice. 

So next time when a woman tells you that they don't want children, don't assume anything, just say..."It's fine. I get it. I totally get it." 
Them ask them about their interests and show them that you have more to you than just your mother status. You have an identity and interests too, as well as being a mother.

Friday, May 22, 2015

I can't get no colief

The 'baby moon' as it is often termed was utter chaos. We had two weeks to get ourselves established as parents. For the vast majority of that time, I was still ill and so in and out of hospital. Thank god for Gaz. He'd be awake most of the night, feeding Dylan whilst I lay there in a dizzy haze. When Gaz did eventually fall to sleep I'd jump up and ask if Dylan had died? The last thing he needed was a paranoid nervous wreck unable to help. It was all very surreal. Gaz took an additional week off work as holiday because well... I just wasn't up to it. I wouldn't have coped. Those first weeks of Dylan's life, Gaz showed his true colours and his commitment to us both I will always, always be grateful for. Of course I couldn't see it at the time, we were at each other's throats, constantly. We said some of the worst things we've ever said to each other in those first weeks. I remember thinking I'm just going to run away, I'm no use. They're better off without me. I couldn't understand why the mother instinct hadn't kicked in? Perhaps it never would? What an absolutely terrifying thought.

Then on one particularly evening, I recall having an almighty row with Gaz, Dylan was crying uncontrollably and he couldn't stop him. "What's wrong with him?" I shouted. 
"He needs you, he needs his mother."
Gaz replied. 
It clicked - of course he does. I wrapped him inside my dressing gown, both of our skins connected. His whimpering subsided. For the first time, I wasn't scared he was going to die, for the first time I knew this was my son and I would move heaven and hell before anyone or anything would ever hurt him. This was the new me, this was the mother coming out. She's here at last and my god she was fierce! 
When eventually the mother instinct kicked in, three weeks later than I needed it to, I slowly began to feel a little more in control but by no means was this the end of the journey.

Dylan developed colic at three weeks old, I heard of it but never really thought it could be as bad as it was. He started to cry at about 4pm in the afternoon and he'd go straight through, screaming uncontrollably until the very early hours of the morning. I obviously googled the life out of it and there it was - my first breastfeeding slap to the face.
Bottle fed babies are more likely to develop colic due to the extra air taken in through the bottle creating air bubbles in their tummies.  #Tug at heart string. 
Ok, we would tackle it - head on, so we bought the anti/colic bottles, then we bought infacol, then gripe water and eventually colief (at nearly £11 a bottle this is daylight robbery.) We ended up using them all at once. It was a strange little procedure we had going. I don't know, if all together or one of the above, cured him or he just grew out of it but at three months, almost to the day, he just stopped. I remember in desperation one night, putting on our disco ball and some seventy's disco music, think I'd fully cracked up and just wanted to dance the screams away. When suddenly, I realised Dylan wasn't crying, he was completely transfixed on this disco ball. Now, this isn't an approved parenting technique and I'll be ostracised for over-stimulating my child BUT it worked. So we managed in the early days and when it got really bad we'd have 'Disco time' helped long by Gloria Gaynor's 'I will Survive' ironically. 
There's a funny little anecdote to why I played that particular disco song too. My friend Stacey brought he son Billy around for a play date. We bathed them together, probably both had explosive poo's or projectile vomited all over each other or something and whilst in the bath they started to cry, as babies do. Stacey said "what songs do you know all the words to?" 
I assumed she meant nursery rhymes?! As you would. I thought for a minute... back in the early days I knew no nursery rhymes what so ever. now, I can proudly say, I know them all with the actions too. Stacey said what about  "I will survive" we laughed, we sang it. It worked. I use this song even now when he's in the throws of an almighty tantrum. It still works. 

First I was afraid
I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live
Without you by my side
But then I spent so many nights
Thinking how you did me wrong
I grew strong
I learned how to get along

And so you're back
From outer space
I just walked in to find you here
With that sad look upon your face
I should have changed that stupid lock
I should have made you leave your key
If I had known for just one second
You'd be back to bother me

Go on now go walk out the door
Just turn around now
'Cause you're not welcome anymore
Weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye
You think I'd crumble
You think I'd lay down and die

Oh no, not I
I will survive
As long as I know how to love
I know I will stay alive
I've got all my life to live
I've got all my love to give
And I'll survive
I will survive (hey hey)

It took all the strength I had
Not to fall apart
Kept trying hard to mend
The pieces of my broken heart

And I spent oh so many nights
Just feeling sorry for myself
I used to cry
Now I hold my head up high
And you see me

Somebody new
I'm not that chained up little girl
Who fell in love with you
And so you felt like dropping in
And just expect me to be free
Now I'm saving all my loving
For someone who's loving me
Go on now go walk out the door
Just turn around now
'Cause you're not welcome anymore

Weren't you the one who tried to break me with goodbye
You think I'd crumble
You think I'd lay down and die
Oh no, not I
I will survive
As long as I know how to love
I know I will stay alive
I've got all my life to live
I've got all my love to give
And I'll survive
I will survive (oh)

Go on now go walk out the door
Just turn around now
'Cause you're not welcome anymore
Weren't you the one who tried to break me with goodbye
You think I'd crumble
You think I'd lay down and die
Oh no, not I
I will survive
As long as I know how to love
I know I will stay alive
I've got all my life to live
I've got all my love to give
And I'll survive
I will survive
I will survive...!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mothers pride.

I began to write this blog as I was compelled to do so by my ever changing and complex emotions on motherhood and what it means? What it means to me, my friends/associates and what it means to others, people who are mothers or fathers (as I'm aware sex in today's society does not determine who the main caregiver is) and people who aren't mothers/fathers and what this means to them.

Birth and breastfeeding.

When I discovered I was going to be a mother, I had no idea what my own expectations of this would be. I was captured in a naive 'Motherhood bubble.' I began to imagine what it could mean and as every day passed and I felt this little life inside me grow, I became excited by what the prospect of motherhood could be. I imagined a perfect little world where my angelic offspring and I would walk through meadows together, reading great literature singing Beatles songs and basking in the sunlight. At one with peace and harmony. I had it nailed on. I was going to be an Earth Mother,  growing my own vegetables and writing poetry about my child. A complete natural. I would take it all in my stride, never stress and let my child be free to be themselves. Never putting any of my unrealistic expectations on their 'carefree' shoulders. 

This bubble was dented slightly at the buildup to, and the birth. After a seventy seven hour labour, in which I'd consumed every drug going. I was completely exhausted. I seriously  lost my shit on more than one occasion, the medical staff rushed me in for an emergency C section. I know I'm a drama queen at times but this was unimaginably terrifying. I was petrified, hardly the Earth Mother Warrior I'd envisaged. My body had failed me, failed me at the first hurdle. The disappointment was completely over-whelming. I remember lying on the surgeons bed, tears rolling down my cheeks, shaking, fearful for, not only my life but the life of my unborn child too. After the surgery I was a little relieved that the decision was taken out of my hands. I remember Gaz placing Dylan on my right shoulder, tears welling.
"He's here Shell, it's Dylan." 
It honestly could have been anyone's baby. I was happy he was alive but I never felt the instant rush of intense love that everyone says you will feel the minute you lay your eyes on your birthed child. My immediate thought was Sssssssshhhhittttt!

Right, with the birth done and 'seemingly' dusted, I was so ready to embrace my Earth Mother. Dylan was here and he had an identity. The first 24 hours were a blur. I have almost no recollection of the drifting in and out of consciousness as the drugs wore off and the adrenalin subsided. I remember seeing the concerned faces as family and friends sat by my bedside, as they took photos and gave presents. I vividly remember the abject terror spread across my nieces face when she visited me, I must have looked like death. I did, only worse. (I'm not telling you this for sympathy, every woman who has a child will experience similar maybe worse. I'm telling you this so matter of factly because this is an everyday occurrence and after months of therapy (I kid you not) I can turn around and say I will have another baby at some point in the future (God-willing.) I am however, under no illusions about the myth that surrounds natural birth. I've got nothing to prove now, no medals to be won. Think I'll opt for an elective C section next time In an attempt to mentally prepare myself... If that's even possible.

The second day, I met with positivity, I'll just place the child tenderly on my breast and ...oh WTF -this is horrific! The pain was excruciating, this wasn't natural. This was anything but natural. This was torture. Dylan breastfed from 8pm until 3am in the morning. I literally didn't move. He couldn't latch on properly or I couldn't do the impossible nipple   manoeuvre thing, that no-one ever spoke to me about. What the hell is this? I remember standing over the sink in the bathroom as blood and milk dripped onto it, crying. I spent the reminder of my days in the hospital hooked up to an electrical breast pump -bearing more resemblance to a cow than I care to admit to. Dylan lost 9 percent of his body weight. One more percent and We'd have to stay in hospital until he'd gained the weight and the breast feeding stabilised.  I wasn't producing enough milk. What? So my body was failing me again? Why was this happening to me? Having a child and keeping them alive is basic human nature-right? I freaked out and bought formula milk, ok new plan... I'd combine feed until we got out of hospital and went home where I'd feel so much more settled and able to breast feed. Great plan. 

Alas it was not meant to be. I was in and out of hospital with back pains/dizzy and sick spells. I caught an infection (I can't tell if this was due to the fact my waters had broken 3 days before I went into labour and they told me I'd wee'd myself or whether it was due to the 17 million internal examinations I underwent) either way, I had to have intravenous antibiotics and continue orally upon my release. I had a very real fear that they would take Dylan from me if he wasn't thriving. Looking back, probably due to the lack of sleep, I developed post natal anxiety. (Every time I drifted off to sleep, I'd shoot up and think he'd stopped breathing. I thought if I slept, he'd die). Any rational thought went completely out of the window. I was a startled new mother. How anyone has a child in their teenage years I'll never know. I was nearly twenty eight but I felt about four years old. Completely out of every single comfort zone and totally over-whelmed by fear. Where were these maternal instincts that everyone spoke about? I just wanted to run away. I breastfeed for some weeks after that, never exclusively. I always combination fed. 

I never thought I wouldn't breastfeed and this did and still causes me a ridiculous amount of guilt. People assume you're lazy, have a low pain threshold or worse still just simply do not love your child enough to put their needs ahead of your own. This is painful to hear. I would dare say most mothers put their child's needs ahead of their own. The guilt I place on my own shoulders is only re-enforced by the society we live in.  
Constant reports of breastfed babies having better health benefits, intellect and even emotional happiness. I'm not claiming these studies aren't valid, I'm saying stop slating mothers who can't breastfeed. The majority don't choose not to, they can't. If they choose not to this is ultimately their choice and I'll bet there's a valid reason, rather than branding them as 'uncaring, selfish and impatient' mothers spare a thought for what they've been through and will continue to go through for the rest of their lives. It's likely to be hell on earth.
Mothers should stand together, United. I embrace breastfeeding and I will try to breastfeed again but I will not dwell on it and beat myself up if I can't. I completely disagree when people take offence to the sight of it. It's a child feeding, it is in no way sexual. If you're offended by this and you're linking it to sexuality, you're the one with the issue not the breastfeeding mum.

So after failing the two very basic necessities of my previous perception of motherhood, I began to embrace my new distorted version of motherhood. Okay natural birth and breastfeeding = fail but there was so much more left to experience and so much more to blog about.