Friday, 13 December 2013

Lesson 12: The 12 Days of Toddler Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...
A whole day of being clingy!

On the second day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...
Two piles of washing
And a whole day of being clingy!

On the third day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...
Three hours of Peppa Pig
Two piles of washing
And a whole day of being clingy!

On the fourth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...
Four shitty nappies
Three hours of Peppa Pig
Two piles of washing
And a whole day of being clingy! 

On the fifth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...
Five separate injuries
Four shitty nappies
Three hours of Peppa Pig
Two piles of washing
And a whole day of being clingy! 

On the sixth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...
Six 'washable' pen stains
Five separate injuries
Four shitty nappies
Three hours of Peppa Pig
Two piles of washing
And a whole day of being clingy!

On the seventh day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...
Seven angry tantrums
Six 'washable' pen stains
Five separate injuries
Four shitty nappies
Three hours of Peppa Pig
Two piles of washing
And a whole day of being clingy! 

On the eighth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...
Eight 'share' refusals
Seven angry tantrums
Six 'washable' pen stains
Five separate injuries
Four shitty nappies
Three hours of Peppa Pig
Two piles of washing
And a whole day of being clingy! 

On the ninth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...
Nine demands for CAKE
Eight 'share' refusals
Seven angry tantrums
Six 'washable' pen stains
Five separate injuries
Four shitty nappies
Three hours of Peppa Pig
Two piles of washing
And a whole day of being clingy! 

On the tenth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...
Ten soggy rice cakes
Nine demands for CAKE
Eight 'share' refusals
Seven angry tantrums
Six 'washable' pen stains
Five separate injuries
Four shitty nappies
Three hours of Peppa Pig
Two piles of washing
And a whole day of being clingy! 

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...
Eleven shouts of 'No!' 
Ten soggy rice cakes
Nine demands for CAKE
Eight 'share' refusals
Seven angry tantrums
Six 'washable' pen stains
Five separate injuries
Four shitty nappies
Three hours of Peppa Pig
Two piles of washing
And a whole day of being clingy! 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...
Twelve hours of headache
Eleven shouts of 'No!' 
Ten soggy rice cakes
Nine demands for CAKE
Eight 'share' refusals
Seven angry tantrums
Six 'washable' pen stains
Five separate injuries
Four shitty nappies
Three hours of Peppa Pig
Two piles of washing
And a whole day of being clingy! 


Friday, 6 December 2013

Lesson 11: The Breastfeeding Mafia

Not long after I moved into our new house, I stumbled across a baby group quite by chance when exploring the area. I looked at a sea of new faces and plucked up the courage to storm in with the buggy and pull up a chair. 

"You do know this is a group for breastfeeders?"

Awkward long pause.

And then out it came. The usual defensive outpouring of information and justification: "Ah yes, well I'm no longer breastfeeding him actually but I did, I was just looking for a group to meet some other mums..."

I now feel obliged to tell you that my son was 13 months old by this point. But of course this is irrelevant. Whether he had been 13 months or 13 days old, it would not be an exaggeration to say that I simply would not have been welcome unless I was a breastfeeder.

I did breastfeed my son. For three months. Yay for me. 
They recommend at least six months exclusive breastfeeding though, so I guess this means I only get half a medal? 

If you sense any hint of anti-breastfeeding tone in this post you are mistaken. Breastfeeding is FABULOUS. Breast is best, breast is cheaper, breast is more convenient. I have lived it.

I am a FAN. 

But it can also be bloody hard, and there are times when it doesn't work out. Times when you need support and solidarity from other mums, not looks of silent disapproval when you whip out the formula or offers to speak to yet another breastfeeding peer counsellor before you 'give up,' as if moving on to the bottle is the point at which you fail the motherhood exam.  Times when a quick trip to Boots doesn't make you feel SHIT after you are told "You won't get Advantage Card Points on that, we encourage breastfeeding."

Breastfeeding should be encouraged, of course it should. But having witnessed the extreme pressure on mums to breastfeed I fear we have gone too far. Recent talks of effectively paying people to breastfeed only heightens this pressure. 

So what would I like to see? 

Well for a start I would prefer to see 'Feeding Groups' rather than breastfeeding groups. Can a baby group not allow Breast and Bottle Feeders to interact? Perhaps there is a fear that the Bottle Brigade will start pushing Aptamil Hungry Baby to the Breast Club, and the session will culminate in babies snorting lines of formula with not a feeding bra in sight. Of course now I am just being facetious, but you get my drift. 

I would also like the term 'booby juice' banned. It is breast milk.

The Unmumsy Mum


Saturday, 26 October 2013

Lesson 10: For You, Mum.

You will never read this.

So I guess this is a fruitless exercise. What is the point? 

Maybe I don't know. Maybe after ten years of saying very little about how I feel I just needed an outlet to say:

It is so unbelievably shit that you died. 

Being a mum is really bloody tough. 

I need you now. 

I long for phone calls and shopping trips and catch-up coffees. Sometimes when I see other mums and daughters out together I feel like somebody is twisting my stomach. I look away quickly, but I have seen it. It hits me. And I miss what I will never have. 

I miss what you will never have. You will never know that you are a grandmother. "Nanny Debbie" we call you, after Henry pointed to the picture I keep of you on my bedside table and asked 'who's that?' He was delighted with the answer.

We play the 'who's at the door?' game when visitors come round. Last week, when asked 'who's at the door?' Henry replied (with a smile) "It's Nanny Debbie!"

I love him for wanting you to be at the door. But at the same time  my heart broke. 

The late 80s with us girls

Some day soon I will have to explain why you will never pop in for a cup of tea, or pick him up to take him swimming. And why when we say we are going to 'Nanny Debbie's beach' it will be an outing to the beautiful spot we scattered your ashes.

It is all so remarkably sad.

I want you to know that I will think about you every day for the rest of my life. And I know now. How you must have felt knowing you had no control over leaving us to grow up without you. 

Because now I am the Mum. 

And though I find it a struggle I will do a fabulous job at bringing him up. That's a promise. 

After all, I learned from the best.

The Unmumsy Mum

Oh how we miss you. And Crumble the dog.



Thursday, 24 October 2013

Lesson 9: The Motherhood Exam

Five test questions every woman should have to pass before being allowed to take delivery of a small person. As seen in all good parenting magazines*

I have highlighted my selected answers in bold and you can see my score at the bottom. Feel free to play along at home. 




1. Is your favourite noise whinging and/or loud irritating play spaces filled with other peoples' children?
Yes, I can't get enough of moaning and screaming children. 
No *shudders at recent soft play encounter*

2. Are you thrilled at the prospect of looking like an older and more haggard version of your former self - almost instantly and for EVER?

Yes, a mature new look!
No. I'd rather not age 10 years in 10 months. 

3. Have you had enough of spending any money on yourself?

Yes. Who needs things for themselves?
No. A new outfit and/or toiletries not bought in Lidl would still be nice once in a blue moon.

4. Are you such a fan of sharing that you would like to spend every waking minute of the day with a smaller person - even toilet time?

Yes. How lovely, like an extension of myself.
No, I prefer to wee/cook the dinner without an irritable other person clinging onto my leg. 

5. Would you enjoy even the simplest of outings becoming a mission with a child in tow? 

Yes. 
NO I BLOODY WOULDN'T.


Results
You scored 0/5. You are not cut out for parenthood. Probably best to stick to the day job for a few more years, or perhaps forever. 

Oh. 

Bollocks. 
That explains it. 

*This is of course all lies. I made it up in a fit of toddler-induced rage. 


Saturday, 5 October 2013

Lesson 8: Pushchairs, Public Transport and Panic

If the pairing of 'Pushchair' and 'Public Transport' does not instantly make you shudder, I want to know why. Why. And how. HOW do you do it? I guess the last question is somewhat of a rhetorical one, as I think some parents just cope. 

I like to call them The Copers. I, on the other hand, have come to the conclusion that I am not in this coping camp.

Today, I embarked on my first proper train trip accompanied solely by a child. I don't mean steam train/train at the zoo/small farm train, I mean actual train with set times and set seats and a set sense of panic. Granted, this journey was to be only one hour. With no changes. An hour. How hard could this be? 

Where do I start in summarising today's train adventure? Perhaps the bit where there was nowhere to put the folded-down pushchair and I spent an eternity blocking the entrance to Carriage C as I tried to squeeze it in besides somebody else's luggage whilst my child tried to get back off the train *redness and sweating*. Or the bit where my toddler threw his regurgitated banana down the aisle of the train and I had to go and pick it up with a tissue, much like you would scoop up a dog s**t. Perhaps the bit where we got to the destination station and had to get in about five different lifts before I had calmed down enough to find the lift that would take us to the f***ing exit.

For the return journey, I was prepared.
We had Rowntree's Randoms *bad mummies club.* We had a Fireman Sam Activity Book. We had a new 'sports car' toy from Poundland. We arrived fifteen minutes early to allow for a wee stop.


And then I saw it. Right there, on the information board.

15:13 to Exeter - CANCELLED

Jesus Christ. Have they not met my child? I considered asking that question at the Helpdesk, but am pretty sure 'What the actual f**k do we do now?' was what came out.

'You can get the 15:44 love, though it'll be busy so you may not get a seat.'


This was funny. I mean this was HILARIOUS. Think about it. I had spent the day worrying about how my toddler would cope with being confined to a seat again. And when it came to it, I needn't have worried - there weren't any shitting seats.


Yes that's right. For the return journey, we sat on the floor of the train outside the toilet between carriages C and D. In amongst other agitated passengers and my stroller, which was being propped up by the knee of a random (but very kind) traveller.




There was no space, no chance of getting the activity book out, and nowhere to hide my sweet-giving. I had to admit publicly that I was bribing my child with sweets (as in 'if you stop racing your car over that man's briefcase you can have a foamy ice-cream). The shame.

I wish I could provide you with an upbeat ending to the tale of the train and the pushchair. Granted, I did get a day out with my lovely sister sandwiched between the journeys, but I am still none the wiser as to how people function with prams* on public transport.


Lesson 8: Taking your pushchair on public transport? Don't. Just don't.


*I am also none the wiser as to how people function with children on public transport, but I suppose The Copers just do. 


The Unmumsy Mum



Monday, 26 August 2013

Lesson 7: Then and Now (Illustrated)

Despite having always maintained that I would act/dress/shop/live in exactly the same way post-baby as I had done pre-pregnancy, I have this week accepted that I am failing miserably. 

Having taken stock of the 'key indicators' prompting this assessment, below is a selection of my favourites. In pictures.



Then and Now: Handbags
I used to own many bags (or imitation bags) like this one:

Nowadays, I'm pretty chuffed with this one:


Then and Now: Transport
A few years ago I bombed around in this, the company motor:

These days, I co-drive (and co-fly) these bad boys:


Then and Now: Skincare
There was a time that I used to treat myself to a luxury face mask in the bath on a Sunday night:


This week, I 'treated' myself to a Quickie Mask using my child's bum cream: 
Sudocrem - surprisingly effective. 
I feel it necessary to add here that the new house DOESN'T EVEN HAVE A BATH


Then and Now: Retail
In the Glory Days, I had time to shop here:
(and not feel like I had missed the memo on the latest style craze...referencing leotards for adults - really??) 

At present, however,  it wouldn't be an exaggeration if I said I buy 85% of EVERYTHING from here:

Or here...
 (If they don't sell it, you won't need it - FACT)


Then and Now: Body
I used to have a bum like this*: 
(*My bum was of course never really anything like this, but everything is peachier with rose-tinted glasses) 

Nowadays, the wrong light leaves it looking more like this**:
(**Again, not actually my bum. This would be a good day). 


Despite the above 'developments' in my life, I think (and I have given this 18 months of solid thought) that I am HAPPIER now. 


Happier despite living in a project house.
Happier despite now having a s**t 'runaround' car.
Happier despite having zero money for nice clothes.

Happier because now I have this:

The Unmumsy Mum


Friday, 16 August 2013

Lesson 6: Feeling Mlustered (or Mum-Flustered)

I could, if prompted, dedicate a whole book to tales of trips, outings and unforeseen situations that have all ended in the same way – with me feeling (and looking) extremely flustered. ‘Mlustered’ I like to call it, as in mum-flustered.

You can spot a mlustered woman a mile off. Red in the face, sweating slightly, her children will be kicking off and she will without a doubt be carrying something bulky that is not easily manoeuvrable in public spaces. She will also often have forgotten to pack something vitally important to the success of the day. In the newborn days, mums get mlustered because they can’t function for more than an hour without having to whip a boob out and because they travel loaded with the kitchen sink (usually before they have a crack at a baby carrier or sling). As things progress, the regular feeding pit-stops become less of an issue and are replaced with the child’s own demands – being bored/tired/fed up/determined to ruin Mummy’s day (delete as appropriate).

There have been a couple of instances of my own public mlustration (can it work as a noun?) that really stick in my memory, and a lesson that I have learned somewhere between the two.

The first is Swimgate – the day I took my son swimming on my own and ended up trying to balance a semi-naked and screaming child in one arm whilst negotiating a faulty locker and trying to stop the pram from obstructing the lifeguard with the other arm. Juggling children and objects is never ideal at the best of times, and on this occasion my sense of urgent panic was exaggerated by the fact that ten months post-labour I was still sporting my maternity swimwear (for comfort reasons, obviously). My intended strategy had been to nip straight into the water without drawing attention to the ‘state of things’. Instead I caused a flustered spectacle at the lockers, right at the side of the learner pool, and ended up practically running to get in the water after feeling twenty pairs of eyes on my dimply white thighs.

The second 'incident,’ and this happened only recently, was Winegate - which unfortunately did not involve me drinking copious amounts of wine. This was the day that a quick trip to Tesco Express started with me bribing an absolutely hysterical child with some bread (standard), and culminated in me knocking over the red wine display by the till as I unwisely tried to shimmy through carrying the basket and change bag whilst pushing the pram. Cue a big smash followed by what looked like the aftermath of a massacre and the cleaners having to close down the entire self-service area to deal with my mess.

Winegate sticks in my head not because I was mortified (as I rightly should have been), but because I found myself to be surprisingly unflustered. Jesus Christ it was funny, and I delighted in feeling so unaffected by the PDE (Public Display of Embarrassment). It’s as if somewhere between Swimgate and Winegate I have built up a filter of not giving a s**t. Long may it continue.

 Lesson 6: we all feel mlustered from time to time. If you can laugh, you have cracked it. If you are still turning red and sweaty following PDEs you probably haven’t had your fill quite yet – the shield of not giving a s**t takes at least a year to develop.

 The Unmumsy Mum





Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Lesson 5: For When You Are Ill...

I never realised how easy my pre-parental poorly days were. Obviously it is awful to be poorly at any time, but Jesus being ill whilst in charge of a baby or toddler is like a 12 hour battle of will where only the strongest survive.

When my husband and I first got together, we would ride out sick days (or more often hangover Sundays) in style by getting up late, popping out to the shop to pick up only what we most needed or craved, and taking long lazy afternoon naps on the sofa. I think I am mourning those days...

This week, hubby and I were struck with a flu-like virus. Sweaty then shivery, headaches, aches all over - the whole shebang. 'Proper Poorly' as we like to say. Our toddler, on the other hand, woke up fighting fit and fully expecting a fun-packed day of activities. Mummy and Daddy both at home on a weekday - he must have thought it was going to be a great day. And we tried. Oh how we tried...to instigate as many different activities as possible that could be supervised from either sofa. Block building, 'drawing hour' on a big plastic sheet and (let's be honest here) more episodes of Fireman Sam and Peppa Pig than would usually be allowed. Having mustered up enough energy for a 'quick' trip to the park, I ended up chasing my little sun beam from one end of the park to the other after an aeroplane flew over and he tried to run after it (to say Bye, obviously). On a normal day this would have been amusing. And cute. Today, I can assure you, it was neither of those things. I returned from our fun excursion sweaty and light headed. 


My other half looked no better after tackling the state of the house during the 30 minutes 'free time' the park excursion gave him. Before you have children, when somebody says you have half an hour 'to yourself' you simply do not prioritise having a quick sweep up and putting the bins out. But when you have kids, THE SHOW MUST GO ON - even (sob) on sick days.


If you are thinking I'm lucky to have had my hubby at home to help you would be right. He had one day off, and the truth is we were better off both being ill that day - solidarity in sickness and in parenting. It did make me count my blessings that: 

1) I am not a single parent - full respect to single parents who get through a sick day without losing the plot
2) we only have one child (and yes poorlygate has undeniably pushed back any future date that we had previously considered 'thinking about another one.') Like many days, today's conversation ended with 'definitely not broody, are you?'

Lesson 5: Being ill whilst trying to look after a young person is a brutal test of emotional and physical willpower (arguably only easier if two of you are poorly together). Have a brief fond recollection of how you used to combat sick days in style if you need to, and then face the day with as many 'rainy day' activities you can set up in the living room. Oh and never EVER allow yourself to get a hangover - that goes without saying, right? 


The Unmumsy Mum






Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Lesson 4: "What have you been DOING all day?"

If you've ever been woken up first thing and thought Jesus Christ a whole day at home with the baby then you are not alone. 

I look forward to my 'days off' (ha) when I am at work, and I absolutely love trips out with my little ray of sunshine, but an entire day at home with a baby (or toddler as mine is now) is a different kettle of fish altogether. A long, frustrating, cranky and quite often boring kettle of fish. 

Yes I said boring. That doesn't mean I find my son boring - far from it, he amazes me constantly. Whole days at home just us two, however, can be a real struggle. Not exactly how I had imagined them to be.

Firstly, I had naturally assumed my 'home days' would comfortably combine both childcare and domestic chores. Cleaning, tidying, phoning the bank/insurance company/tax office, cooking batches of vegetables that will end up in the liquidiser. Whilst not an entirely foolish assumption, the logistics of actually doing anything productive when looking after a small person requires military organisation and precision (or Peppa Pig on repeat).

The problem is, you feel guilty if you don't clean up the house, but likewise feel guilty for cleaning the house when you are ultimately at home to look after your child. You also feel guilty for watching TV/bidding on bundles of baby clothes on eBay/calling a friend for a chat/reading a magazine/having a cup of tea (any activity that leaves your little one to their own devices for a minute or two). Yet inside we scream surely THESE WERE THE PERKS and feel cheated to find that actually it's not all that perky. 

If you have ever tried to phone the mortgage company with a screaming toddler hanging on to your trousers or attempted to hoover only for your offspring to deliberately crush their crackers all over the carpet, then you will understand that a day at home is stressful. I must say 'for god's sake' at least 50 times a day. Usually accompanied by a sigh.

And then there's the nap. I sometimes wonder if anybody else's entire level of success for the day is based on when and where their child chooses to have a snooze. 
The Nap
If it's at a convenient point in your day at home you can wash the dishes, get the sheets out - if he or she passes the expected half an hour you may even have time to treat yourself to This Morning with a cup of tea. Imagine! Usually, however, they nap in the car/in the pushchair at the Post Office/when the plumber has turned up/when you are expecting your Sainsbury's delivery - basically any time you are unable to take advantage of the nap. These are the naps of wasted opportunity.

In all honesty, I tend to find that the best way to survive a day at home is to GO OUT. Go to the park, feed the ducks, brave the supermarket (though probably not to do the 'Big Shop'). 
The Shop
The day goes quicker and the pair of you get less narky with each other. This does mean, however, that you may have left the breakfast dishes, neglected the washing and not phoned Direct Line so be prepared to face 'what HAVE you been doing all day?' when your other half gets home. Mine wouldn't dare - he knows he'd have to face an hour by hour breakdown of my day which let's face it is not a massively exciting account. 

Lesson 4: A day at home is not for the faint-hearted, and can go either way depending on The Nap. Probably best to get out of the house or admit defeat that you can't be a nanny, cook and cleaner all at the same time without feeling endlessly guilty. 

Unmumsy Mum

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Lesson 3: You Can't Have It All

At 8 months pregnant I was struggling to get in and out of my black BMW (the company car) without making unattractive heaving noises so with some reservation I opted instead to drive the maroon, less-guts-than-a-Kenyan-athlete Ford Focus (our 'family car' purchase) to and from work. I think this was a sign of my life to come - it was the first point at which all sense of style had to be sacrificed and my single short-term aim in life was to be comfy. The second sign was the fact that the first thing I did when I got home from work every day was to change into my husband's casual clothes to 'get settled' for the evening. The writing was on the wall. 

So long, Brucie BMW. It's been emotional.
Maternity leave, I thought, was a practical chapter where mother would bond with baby, establish the routine, before returning to work.

How massively misguided I was.

I had fully expected to return to my career in finance - full time, possibly four days - slotting straight back in to the job I had worked very hard at. I held this assumption for a good four, maybe five months, before I was all-consumed with the following realisation: I would never match up to my pre-pregnant working self. I simply had not thought it through.

Sure there are women who return to their pre-prgenant positions, fitting back in and re-joining their climb on the career ladder. I have nothing but respect (and a little jealousy) for these women. The trouble is, for most of us, something has to give. I had become accustomed to working late and logging on at weekends in the name of exceeding sales targets. I loved and hated the pressure of my job all at the same time and the reality is I chose to work myself to the bone - I thrived on it. But nowhere in this employment picture is there a 5pm teatime routine to get back for or frequent last minute meeting cancellations due to childcare issues - having a baby is so uncorporate. I could have gone back, I could have given it my 'best shot', but it would have been the best shot possible as a Mum, not the shot I knew I was capable of.

In the end I cut my maternity leave short at 6 months and returned to the world of work to take up a new role outside of the financial sector altogether. Similar rate of pay, dramtically less benefits, but it was a part-time job. Three days a week. The holy grail for working mothers.   
My new business partner
Part-time work, I was told, would be the best of both worlds. And 10 months later I still maintain it is probably the most favourable option. You have a couple of days at home to enjoy motherhood, and a few days at work to be something other than a mother. Don't get me wrong, I understand why some mums choose full-time motherhood. It's just personally, if I am to maintain any level of sanity, I need to get out of the Mum Bubble for half of my week.

So now I have it all, right? The best of both worlds? Well not exactly. Career-wise I've taken a step back from my pursuit of promotion, and home-wise I still feel some guilt when passing my child over to somebody else three days out of five. I don't do either job at full capacity but I am at least doing both.

Lesson 3: When maternity leave ends you can't have it all. Perhaps we should stop striving for the best of both worlds and settle for a bit of both worlds instead. 

The Unmumsy Mum











Friday, 21 June 2013

Lesson 2: Other Mums Must Be Lying


Every new mother must, at some point, have had the following thought: 

My life is over.


Admit it. No of course you won't admit it - because new mums will smile, gush about how magical the birth was (see Lesson 1 for my thoughts on this) and generally just get on with it. And that, I believe, is where we let each other down.


My first experience of this over-exaggerated coping came when I took my six-week old son to a local breastfeeding group. I was shattered. Cream bloody crackered. He was waking up every hour, my husband had just gone back to work, and I was in that panicky stage where it takes about three hours to get ready and you take a full-to-brim Yummy Mummy changing bag with you to cover every eventuality (except four changes of clothes due to nappy leakage, for which no mortal could have prepared).


Don't get me wrong, breastfeeding/baby groups can be a godsend - a chance to get out of the house, have a cup of tea, and mix with like-minded mums. Wonderful. Except the like-minded bit, which was not my early experience. The other mums were always lovely, of course they were. But I needed a rant, a vent, a scream about how awful sleep deprivation is. I needed solidarity from other slightly fed up breastfeeders who were also at the end of their tether with having to get their boob out every half an hour having never finished a meal. I'd hoped we'd all rant and vent together.



Joyful
Except the other mums didn't do either. They all looked so happily mumsy. Breast-feeding was going well, their babies were already in some sort of a sleep routine, yes they were finding it a bit tough but  they couldn't even remember life before the baby. My declaration of "god it's AWFUL isn't it?!" was met with sympathetic but not understanding smiles.  Any expression of unhappiness in these circles runs the risk of sounding like not coping ("she's probably got a spot of post-natal depression"). There is simply no room for a downright good moan.

Herein lies the problem for women like me. The non-mumsy mums. The mums who are totally in love with their child but struggle to enjoy the endless feed/poo/cry/not having time to have a shower in peace cycle. The mums who can remember life before the baby - sleeping for nine hours, having clean hair, deliberating on topics more highbrow than which boob feels fuller ahead of the next feed and comparing nappy contents. This does not mean I regretted having a baby - I never ever have, and I hope my son knows that in years to come. But Jesus Christ those first few months were tough. 


The day I met a now VERY good friend of mine sticks in my mind due to all of the above. My husband came home to find me pacing the living room in tears trying unsuccessfully to calm down an uncontrollable baby (he had acid reflux due to a floppy larynx, not known to us at the time). I literally handed the baby over, put my shoes on, and headed out for some fresh air before I exploded with frustration. I paced the country lanes on the edge of our estate for nearly an hour, and on the way back I bumped into a girl I recognised from our ante-natal classes and the midwife clinic who was putting out her recycling. She looked fed up, she looked tired, and I wondered if she was taking longer over the recycling than necessary to get a moment's break. I asked how she was finding it all.


Her reply - 'pretty horrendous!' I loved her instantly. 


Lesson 2: most mums will tell you what they think they should be telling you. Having a horrendous time of it does not make you a bad mum, and neither does admitting it.


The Unmumsy Mum


Lesson 1: The Birth (No Need To Cry)

After countless prep sessions watching One Born Every Minute, those ante-natal classes and three weeks obsessively 'nesting' I was prepared. Hospital bag packed, un-packed and then re-packed (they said I needed two packs of maternity towels - that couldn't be right, surely) and the freezer stocked with meals I had spent ages preparing but we would never eat, I waited.

When I went into labour (picture a whale trying to have a relaxing bath and lots of exercise ball bouncing whilst my husband timed my contractions on his Birthing App - seriously they have an app for everything nowadays) I was feeling quite optimistic. I think it is important to let you know from the outset that I have never been a very broody person, so I was looking forward to the moment I would first see my baby and that natural maternal instinct would 'kick-in' following the experience of bringing life into the world.
It was quite an amazing experience, and woman to woman I am not lying when I tell you it really wasn't as bad as I had expected, but I couldn't help but feel guilty that the often talked about 'sudden rush of love' didn't hit me in the way I was expecting. Don't get me wrong, it is a remarkable process and delivering a healthy baby (we had a boy) after all that anticipation is such a relief. But that was just it; above all possible emotions I was hit solely with an enormous wave of relief. I had seen every OBEM episode going and it is an absolute given that the new parents always cry. Always. And believe me I am a cryer - I've been known to cry at property programmes and Jeremy Kyle. We had even joked about waterproof mascara. 

No prizes for guessing then that I didn't cry. That's right - not a single tear was shed between my husband and I at the birth of our son. It was more of a happy High Five moment, or would have been had both my hands not been attached to a drip of some description. My husband dressed the baby in one of the outfits we had lovingly packed and it was far too big, I was a pretty cross at our wasted effort choosing new clothes and he ended up in a second hand newborn outfit that had shrunk in the wash. It was all quite functional. Kind of how I'd imagine the launch of a product to be after you've designed it and taken delivery but then have teething problems to address.

I want to make it clear that post-labour I was not depressed, or tanked up with painkillers, or experiencing some kind of delayed euphoric reaction. And we were happy that the newest member of  our family had arrived safely - he was gorgeous! 



I was simply underwhelmed by the process in comparison to the picture that I had bought into through witnessing endless emotional labour scenes in films and on TV.

Lesson 1: labour will undoubtedly be one of the most important things you will ever do, but it may not match up to the general expectation and (shock horror) you may not cry - it should be okay to admit as much.

The Unmumsy Mum