Monday, 18 August 2014

Lesson 27: The secret dread of maternity leave

Well, here we are again. As of Wednesday at 5pm I am officially on maternity leave. 

I'm taking six months off to look after Boy 2 (due in 18 days) and of course his big brother, who is two and a half and a whirlwind of questions and tantrums.

'Bet you are glad to be at home again!' they say. 'Different kettle of fish with two though!'

'Oh it will be a challenge!' I reply, 'But I'm relieved to finish work.' 

Well the latter is not untrue. I am pleased to have finished work. 

But I am pleased for physical reasons. I am waddling not walking, everything is hurting and/or not looking like it should be (yes, everything), and I can't deny the nine hour work day has been heightening these body struggles. 

But that, I'm afraid, is where the gladness stops.  Cankles and pelvic floor issues aside, I had zero desire to give up work again. 

And zero desire to embark on this maternity leave lark again. 

The truth? I don't much rate it. I didn't enjoy my six months 'off' last time around and I am reasonably confident I'm not going to relish the experience this time either. 

I'm just not built that way. 

Oh I'll give it a bloody good shot. I'm already mentally preparing myself for hours sat on the sofa with my boobs out - though this time I will be coordinating toddler activities at the same time, adding to the excitement. 

I'll drop in to Bumps and Babies classes. 

I'll open the revolving door to visitors who will pop round for cups of tea, and freely discuss episiotomy stitches and problems with getting the baby to 'latch on.' 

But I won't enjoy these things. 

Because to me they are boring.

On the one hand, I feel pretty awful admitting that. On the other, I am at peace with my feelings. When I embarked on maternity leave last time I had a sneaky suspicion the forthcoming months would not be 'my bag.' But I hoped activation of the maternal switch (before realising I had switch activation malfunction) would allow me to enjoy the very special time at home with my baby.

I'm not saying there weren't special moments. There were a few. 

Spring 2012

But mostly, honestly, I lost all sense of Self (I maintain employment is vital for this) and spent the time feeling like I had woken up trapped in somebody else's life. And their post-labour body. 

I was not ill with PND. 

I was uninspired. Bored. 

I was fucking knackered at having a baby who never slept or fed properly (he was born with a floppy larynx). I was jealous of my husband who got to LEAVE THE HOUSE for the bulk of the day and converse with adults. I was unhappy.

This time, I'm wondering if my expectations might change this picture slightly. The only way is up, right? 

'This baby will probably be an angel' they say. He might be. He might not.

Either way, there will be no 'sleeping when he sleeps' with a nap-refusing toddler at large in the living room. The all consuming tiredness, therefore, is guaranteed. 

And the enjoyment factor? Well I just can't see it.

I will love cuddles with the new arrival, and I can imagine the magic of seeing his big brother fall in love with him too. 

But this won't change who I am. 

I am just not mumsy. I prefer team meetings to mothers' meetings. I hate being stuck indoors but don't much like trips to the park. Catching up with other mums to discuss sleep routines and weaning bores me TO TEARS. 

Six months will, I realise, zoom by. And for logistical childcare juggling issues going back to work will be tough. But I work part-time, and I know I will enjoy Home Days with my boys a whole lot more when they are not the totality of my weekly existence.

I'm not sure what the point of this post was. Other than honesty. 

Lesson 27: Maternity leave is not for me. I realise this runs the risk of making me sound like a bad mother, but I think it is important that we are allowed to speak as we find. Here's hoping I find something different this time. 

The Unmumsy Mum.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Lesson 26: What's in a (baby) name?

Choosing a name for your baby. The fun bit. 

Except when it's not fun. When in fact it is fun-less. Devoid of all fun. Actually rather bloody tedious. 

In early pregnancy, baby names were my favourite topic of conversation. Now, with less than three weeks to go until due date, I am sick to the back teeth of deliberating names. 

Don't ask me if we're 'all sorted for names yet'. We don't even have a credible shortlist. 

I feel like I should add some context and justification to this post. Well, quite simply we made a dramatic error of judgment this time around. An error I want to warn all other parents-to-be about.

We started discussing our name ideas with other people. 

This is, I've realised, a fucking stupid thing to do. 

Sounding out a few name ideas with family over dinner, friends over coffee, or strangers on the bus, is like decision clarity suicide.

You may think that you don't really care what other people think. You may even say this to each other as you deliberate names yet again before falling asleep. 

But you will care. And the opinions of others (parents/friends/colleagues/strangers/Tom/Dick/Harry) will start to cloud your judgement. 

Until you are not sure if you like certain names anymore, not sure if you want to like other names but don't, and not actually sure you will ever decide on the sodding name. 

Last time, we picked our son's name almost immediately after the 20 week scan. He would be Henry. 'Henry it is' we told people. And Henry it was. General consensus seemed positive, but mostly our assertiveness that the name had been selected put a stop to any of those comments. You don't slag off a name that is a certainty. We loved it, everyone else either loved it or pretended to, and we still love it now. Happy days.

This time, upon discovering we were expecting another boy, we had no such sense of name confidence. There was no certified front runner. This one would take more deliberation. 

And that should be the fun part. Behind closed doors, the baby name book comes out, along with the random suggestions and slight disagreements on names with your other half (by slight disagreement I mean "100% no. No way. Ever. Not EVER").

If ever there was a can of worms not to open outside of this private family sphere, it is the can of baby name ideas. The wormiest can of all.

The prompt 'so what names are you considering?' should come with the health warning 'you tell me them all and I'll slate each one to varying degrees, and then suggest a whole host of unrelated names I like better.' 

What people seem to forget, neglect to understand or just ignore is that your name 'ideas' may just become THE name. Granted, our suggestions this time have not been as concrete as Henry was. But they are names we are seriously considering. 

Despite this, comments on our rather sketchy shortlist of names, have included:

'You can't call a kid that!'
'Oh god, really?!'
'Well that's one way to ensure he is gay/bullied/has a complex!'
'Not keen on that one!'
'You'll think of something different'

And the less offensive but equally annoying:
'Wouldn't you prefer something nice like...'
'We had _____ on our list, you could use that if you like?'

Lastly, my personal favourite:
Absolute silence

YOU ASKED!  I was providing information. I didn't ask for your opinion. If you don't like the name, smile, nod, hell just tell me it's interesting, unusual, quite old fashioned, not a name you hear everyday...

Don't piss all over my name parade with your unhelpful authority on the history of all good names that ever existed. 

I'm so confused now. 

I have heard so many comments about our top three or four names (well, this week's top names), that I am struggling to separate my own feelings on the names themselves and the feelings shadowed by the patchwork of unwelcome opinion. 

I'm not having any more children after baby Anon arrives in a few weeks. But if I did, I would never discuss the name with anyone other than my husband. This time around it is too late for me to un-hear the chorus of the name mafia (though I am trying).

Lesson 26: Have a baby, name it, and then introduce said baby to the world and his wife complete with a definite name. Job done.

The Unmumsy Mum

Friday, 15 August 2014

Lesson 25: Nesting is A THING

There are many pregnancy phenomena, myths and general opinions I find fairly questionable. The old wives' tales about girl or boy ("All that sickness - it'll be a girl!"...well screw you, it's another boy), 'Baby Brain' (pretty sure my brain is just more occupied and therefore less focused), the pregnancy 'glow' (see Lesson 18 for my thoughts on this, though I could just be bitter....)

There are, however, other documented pregnancy quirks which are proving amusingly accurate. One of those is cravings (I'm crunching my way through four trays of ice cubes every day), and the other undeniable pregnancy-induced behaviour is obsessive cleaning. OBSESSIVE.

'Nesting' they call it. I fear the term is somewhat misleading. Nesting to me conjures up images of making a comfy sleep space to keep my offspring warm. Not pulling out the fridge to bleach behind it.

I guess I am nesting if the agreed objective is to disinfect the nest. Clear it of all clutter, dust, grime and odours. And leave behind the soft scents of Cif Cream (original) and Windowlene. 

GOOD GOD cleaning products at the moment. I CAN'T GET ENOUGH. They smell so good. My kitchen worktops get sprayed and scrubbed at least three times a day at the moment. And that is the most ordinary of my cleaning activities.

Skirting board bleaching.
Cupboard disinfecting.
Door washing (yes all internal doors have been Cif Creamed and wiped. Mmmm Cif Cream....)

37 weeks pregnant and I keep getting asked if we are 'all set.' Well granted on paper we are - the hospital bag has been half packed, the Maxi Cosi has been dragged down through the loft hatch and I have just finished work.

But inside I'm screaming: NO!! I HAVEN'T FINISHED CLEANING. 

I haven't pulled the TV stand out to dust behind it and germ-bust the floor. I can see dust. I want so badly to address the situation but the stand plus TV is too heavy for me to shift (I've tried twice). Definitely a weekend joint activity - yes, he's a lucky husband. 

I haven't washed all the cushion covers yet. Clearly I can't bring new life into a house with unwashed cushion covers. 

I can't let others loose on the fridge. Last pregnancy, The Husband bunged a leftover lasagne dish, slightly leaking, into the fridge. This time, boiled eggs have been left uncovered. In both instances I CRIED. Then got the Flash kitchen out.

I am not being irrational, am I? It all feels very rational. It is instinctive. I really NEED to clean.

I hope post-birth I will be able to walk down the cleaning aisle in Tesco without attempting to sniff how citrus fresh the products are. In the meantime, you can leave me to my Cif, Flash and Cillit Bang, and try not to worry too much that Barry Scott's declaration of 'Bang! And the dirt is gone!' continues to be my biggest turn on.

Lesson 25 : at times enjoyable, at other times worryingly all-consuming, nesting is some serious shit. Be prepared. 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Lesson 24: Woeful Weddings

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of attending a good friend's wedding. The whole day. At a lovely venue with great weather and great food. Glorious.

Only it turns out our toddler is not a big fan. Of sitting down for longer than two minutes, of eating actual food (not confectionery) and of talking at any volume less than shouting.

During the vows, he shouted 'Farty Pants' and 'WHERE'S THE WEDDING?' Hubby had to remove him. He missed the wedding.

During the amazing sit down meal he ran between posh tables hitting strangers with his balloon sword. I'm blaming the magician/balloon man for this one, what's wrong with making a giraffe?

During the speeches, he reached Toddler Boiling Point and started whinging at a concerning volume. We had to leave the room for a Time Out. I missed the speeches.

Do I look like I enjoy weddings?
And throughout all of this, at least once every twenty minutes he declared 'I need a wee!' and 'I just need a poo' which obviously we took seriously. And obviously he mostly didn't need anything. Except a thick ear.

He didn't want to be in the photos. 

He demanded ketchup for his meal and wiped it on the sleeve of his Dad's new shirt. 

He cried when we refused to let him have a second bag of sweets. 

And twice he escaped onto the roof terrace to 'hide.'

If this is how annoying we found our own child throughout the day, I can only imagine how irritating he was to others. Particularly to the poor unsuspecting (but oh-so-lucky) childless people who cannot fathom the impossibility of making your child behave.

We were those childless people attending weddings a few years ago. God they were happy times....and it is fair to say that disrupted speeches, drowned out vows and a smack in the face from a ketchup covered balloon terrorist would have been our worst nightmare. 

Of course, this still is our worse nightmare. But now we are committed. And responsible. More's the pity. 

So you see I was quite looking forward to attending said function as our family unit. He can be charming. He had a nice shirt on. But realistically, had we wanted to enjoy the day, we should have got a babysitter. 

Next time I will get a babysitter, sit peacefully drinking prosecco and if the mood takes me shoot disapproving glances at the unruly children causing noise disturbance (just kidding, they'll have my full sympathy).

I don't care if that is not the Done Thing. It is, without a doubt, the kindest of outcomes.

Lesson 24: Wedding and kids. Urgh. LEAVE THEM AT HOME*. Unless you have a cooperative one. In which case, you could take yours along as a beacon of hope and tut at the disgraceful behaviour of children like mine.

The Unmumsy Mum
[*I know that's not always possible, I'm just bitter because I was wiping a bum during the speeches].