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The Bump Chronicles: The postpartum Years.

This is the post excerpt.

The Bump Chronicles began as a regular whinge on Facebook about how crap (in my opinion) being pregnant feels. After the safe delivery of my rather hefty bundle of joy we progressed to the ‘Postpartum Years’. So two weeks and six days into my full-time role as ‘Mummy’, in between soothing a crying infant, getting covered in all sorts of unsavoury bodily fluids and trying to remember to feed my two house panthers, I thought I’d share snippets of my ‘parenting journey’. Think less epic, life affirming voyage, more traffic jams, faulty brakes, getting ripped off at service stations, throwing up in the car type of journey and I think we’ll be on the same page!

 

 

When will I feel like I know what I’m doing?

My weekend has not been great. I’ve had a clingy boy, a domestic and a hangover. My house is in a disgusting state, I’ve had to buy a new phone, my car tax reminder has arrived and my recent junk food binges have caught up with me and I couldn’t do my jeans up this morning.

William has once again spent the morning wailing, quiet only when he got hold of the cat food pouch and (I’m pretty certain) ate some of the cat food. He also covered himself in his own shit this morning, leaving a residual poo smell on my fingers despite me scrubbing my hands repeatedly.

Set the scene?

I’ve been to the shops this morning but have been walking round on the verge of tears. Wills kicked off in the phone shop, and Tesco, and my patience is practically non-existent. And I feel like shit.

I’d always fantasised that I would be one of those uber calm mummies, that is always 100% prepared for any eventuality loves every second of parenting and does all sorts of exciting things to amuse and educate her little one.

In reality, I’m not. I have fallen short of my own expectations. I mourn pre-mummy me. I feed the boy too much toast. I don’t know how to amuse him. I mean I know what he likes doing, pulling the cat’s tail, emptying the recycling, playing with the loo brush, taking hubs’ beers out of the box and putting them on the window ledge… But these aren’t what he should be doing.

I’m not wanting this to sound like a pity party or like I anything but adore my son; I love the very bones of him, but I feel awkward around him sometimes, like a baby sitter not his mum. I don’t know always know the source of a tantrum, I miss-read his hunger signals. I cut his thumb when I last trimmed his nails, it was a nasty cut. I’ve barely touched his nails since, taking off such miniscule amounts of nail it’s hardly worth bothering.

My question is this:

When will it start to feel okay?

When will I start to feel like a ‘proper’ mum? When will I start putting his needs above everything? When will I develop the spine to say ‘This is my son, this is what’s happening’ without being hindered by the crippling fear of offending anyone? When does it get easier? When will I stop feeling like an absolute failure?

 

 

 

Not all fun and games.

One of more bizarre questions I was asked as a very new parent was ‘Do you enjoy being a mum?’ A standard reply was something along the lines of I hadn’t decided yet owing to the fact I hadn’t had him for very long.

If I had been asked that question today the answer would have been a resounding NO. You see today Wills has acted in a way he has NEVER acted before. It involved screaming inconsolably every time I wasn’t in his eye line, or I was in his eye line but I wasn’t holding him. As a human being with functioning ears, I don’t enjoy the sound of a baby crying. I also like to wee without a child on my lap. I like to walk about freely without a child clinging to my legs. I like to apply make-up without a child on my lap. Today was a day that pretty much revolved round stuff I don’t like.

It was a poor start, he woke up crying. I retrieved him and nipped to the loo, he followed me wailing like an air-raid siren. A short while later he pooed. Put his hands in the poo, around about the same time he was kicking hell out of my boobs, saw a big lump on poo on his finger and attempted to put finger in his mouth.

Cue the machine gun no: NONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONO,

I grabbed the arm with the offending poo finger, he began to cry after all what sort of bitch stops him eating his own crap? Had to get the assistance of my heavily pregnant sister, to keep offending poo finger out of his mouth whilst I attempted to remove all the poo caked round his bum.

He remained clingy. Extremely clingy. And the crying. Good grief. Before I had a baby I vowed that I’d never let my child be sad. That as soon as I saw their lip quiver, I would hold them, cuddle them, reassure them by just being there.

A prime example of some of the fucking moronic ideas I had about parenting before I became one. I had cuddled him, I had tried being soothing but I’m tired. I want to be left alone, I want him to stop standing on my bloody feet. I want a cup of tea in peace. Today that was not on his agenda.

We visited my cousin ( ? Her Grandma is my great-Aunt) who had baked us some truly delicious cakes for afternoon tea. This was lovely but a problem when a mother at the very end of her tether, a mummy to a four month old and a heavily pregnant woman with a lively two year old get together, is that most of the time we’re so exhausted/hormonal/sleep deprived we don’t really have a fucking clue what we’re talking about. I think we had about 17 half conversations on the go. So we’ve had a catch up but probably couldn’t tell you anything we’ve ‘caught up’ on. Apparently we shouldn’t expect that to improve any time soon.

My cousin(?) Katy has a dog. I can’t remember the breed (Yorkshire terrier?) but it’s tiny. Wills likes it. Except today. When he screamed. I’d pick him up. He’d point at the dog chatter to it, wiggle to get down. Follow dog. Dog would then see her new friend, get excited, jumping and licking would ensue, son would cry blue bloody murder again. Having said that, he was fairly quiet at Katy’s house he was busy eating his food off the floor. I tried a feeble intervention but my fallopian tubes were busy tying themselves in knots and quite frankly I didn’t want to stop them.

Afternoon tea over we faced the task of trying to get a two and one year old in the car. The two year old wanted to sit in the front (the driver’s seat), she is also terribly independent and we’d learnt, (to our cost) that she likes to ‘do the big step’ into the car by herself. SHE MOST DEFINATLY DOES NOT WANT LIFTING INTO THE CAR. However, actually doing the big step into the car, takes a long time. A very long time.

After dropping off my sister and my niece and enjoying some less-clingy William, I headed home. Got home to find hubs mowing the lawn. Wills continued to be clingy.

To cut a long story short I *might* have lost my temper (I did) whilst my poor mother-in-law was on FaceTime, trying to talk to her balling grandson, snapped at hubs (who was actually trying to help but I’d gone ‘rage blind’ and considered all the enemy) and stormed off into the house. (Slamming the door behind me).

Once in the house I spoke to my little boy in a manner that suggested I was absolutely fine and I had not marched off in a temper (OSCAR worthy performance, BTW) and popped him in the bath. Of course he cried when I put him down to turn the taps on, then ran off with his shampoo and his dad’s shower gel.

We made the sounds for his letters whilst he was in the bath. He concentrates so hard on the foam letter stuck to the side of the bath, I sound it out, he turns, grins at me and occasionally he will try to make the sound I’m making (most successful is the ‘zzz’ sound) (kudos for me for refraining from ‘P P P Pissed off’ and suchlike). I calmed down a lot until the cats started YET ANOTHER fight. Not quite sure why I’m paying an arm and a leg for a Feliway plug in, they’re still being wankers.

Anyway, the boy is in bed, his trusty monkey tucked under his arm. Hubs has poured me a wine and is cooking in the kitchen (I suspect partly to keep away from his moody and irrational wife). The ball of fury in my stomach is slowly dissipating, and I’m hoping to wake up a more balanced and reasonable individual. (And convince the MIL her son hasn’t married a psycho…)

In other news:

The washing machine is broken.

The cats have left two dead birds in the house and two on that lawn. (Fuckers)

I have a very exciting unicorn pad for work.

Decision Fatigue

I am bloody sick of making decisions.

They’ve never been my strongpoint. Ask anyone who has ever been to a restaurant with me. My idea of hell is going to the shop for someone with the instruction ‘get me anything,’ or ‘get me a chocolate bar, I don’t mind which one.’ I can’t do it. You need to tell me exactly what I need to get or expect me to take hours and be close to tears when I return.

But now, in addition to making decisions for myself I have to make them for my son. What he’s wearing, what he’s eating, what toys to pack when he goes to his grandparent’s house, where to take him, how long to be there, whether to put him down for a nap, how long to let him sleep. The list goes on, decision after decision after decision.

And truth be told it started before he was born,  when to conceive, when to tell family, when to accept I needed to wear maternity clothes, where to give birth, what clothes to get. The list goes on.

Hubs asking me what I wanted to eat on Monday very nearly tipped me over the edge. Perhaps it’s not just the decisions that are getting to me, it’s the stress of always thinking of another human being because he needs me to do that for him. Every decision is fraught with feelings that this choice might screw him up in the future. That it will make people think I’m a bad mum. No wonder I’m feeling on edge. I used to be able to please myself. That was nice.

But then I remember my ‘mum roar’, it’s been a little quiet lately, but our little boy needs us to make these decisions for us and frankly I should enjoy it before he starts telling me ‘no’.

In other news:

Took Wills to the zoo, he pointed at a monkey and shouted ‘DADA!’

Captain has been back to vet and cost us a fortune (again).

Hubs and I are looking forward to a weekend with no plans, I would say we’ll have a lay-in, but I think we all know that won’t happen.

 

 

Holidays?

We have embarked on our first holiday abroad since becoming parents. The thing with being on holiday with a baby is that they neither know nor care that you’re on holiday. Holidays of old meant drinking excessively, laying about in the sun and reading, for hours on end. Our holiday now revolves around trying to keep a tiny dictator happy, and for vast amounts of time; he ain’t happy.

We have come to an apartment in Spain, my parents are lucky enough to be here for a month so we’re staying with them. The apartment is nice, but the decor theme seems to be ‘pointy and dangerous’, my parents have moved/hidden as much as they can to make a safer environment for their grandchild but there’s only so far they could go. William is highly skilled at finding something pointy and or dangerous and hurting himself on it. Shutting fingers into drawers is a firm favourite. This rules out completely sitting and relaxing. We need eyes on William at all times! It’s very warm he’s which is fantastic but it makes for one very crabby baby, he doesn’t like having sun cream applied and as he’s one there is no way to reason with him. Just a frequent battle to apply it to flailing arms and legs. William is ‘sleeping’ in a travel cot in our room, no reading in bed because we can’t turns the lights on, no talking in case we wake him up and no nookie in bed.

There are lots of new things for William to see and explore so often, he won’t nap. This makes him tired and SOME SORT OF DEMON CHILD. Yesterday he was vile. I nearly cried. Hubs and I wanted an evening together, it took hours to get a tired William to stop screaming and go to sleep. My parents urged us to just go but it wasn’t fair to leave them with him. When we finally got him down it took about an hour for me to unclench my teeth!

It’s not all doom and gloom, sometimes he is his usual womderful self. After a hot walk today we’ve kept him in our room with the air con on. He’s pulled all my (clean) knickers out of the drawer and ran round the bed laughing and waving them about. It’s not an activity I’ll encourage but it kept him occupied for a few minutes. He’s currently having a nap on  daddy, daddy is also unconscious. I’d like to join them in a family nap but I’ve got knickers to pick up…

In other news;

I’be become addicted to breadsticks

I need to to somehow teach a one year old it’s not appropriate to pull mummy’s dress up in public

Although Ive so far managed to escape a mosquito bite, my feet appear to victim of a midgey feeding frenzie.

 

 

Wills is turning one!

Well, one more sleep until our little boy turns a whole one! This time last year I was in hospital, being induced. It hadn’t started hurting yet and I was feeling pretty smug about the whole birth thing. (Fast forward a couple of hours, definitely not feeling smug, groaning like some sort of large mammal).

I’d always looked forward to feeling the first signs of labour and waking hubs up to tell him baby was on they way. Not sure why I convinced myself I’d go into labour in the night. As it happened I was told a day and time I’d be going into labour. I was so nervous in the morning, I started scrubbing all the doors, panicking and telling hubs we couldn’t possibly bring a baby back to such a filthy house! (It was immaculate.)

I’ve talked about the birth before, and shortly afterwards. So much has happened in his first year! He is walking now, experimenting with sounds, occasionally he shouts, it’s both unintelligible and adorable. When you have a baby people say ‘blink and you’ll miss it!’ How right they are! This year has flown by. There are already a million things I’d do differently if I could have him again, things I wish I had known, things I wish I hadn’t worried about. We’ve had the steepest learning curve of our lives, but the most exciting. We still stare at him in disbelief sometimes, we made him. Our perfect little boy. I’m watching him shovel strawberries into his mouth, he loves them, and I love the smell of him when he’s eaten. I love how he scrunches up his nose when he smiles, and how he smiles with his eyes, just like his daddy! I love how he holds his hands if he’s unsure about something, how he giggles when I sound out C-A-T. How he cocks his head to one side and rests it on my shoulder if he’s feeling shy. How when we’re in clothes shops he grabs hold of clothes and shakes them. How he devours toasted teacakes.

There are of course some things I’m not so keen on. Like his habit of crying when you tell him ‘no’.  The fact that he’s always finding and dragging my toothbrush across the bathroom floor. That he won’t stop eating the cat biscuits. That he likes to lick the cat. (Captain doesn’t seem bothered by this). He keeps pulling my top down in public. My food is no longer my own. He puts his sticky fingers all over me he has temper tantrums which involve screaming in my face whilst furiously smacking me.

Have I learnt much in this first year? Heaps. If I can save you some time, stop second guessing yourself and stand by your decisions. A lot of well meaning people will give you ‘advice’ you don’t have to take any of it.

I always thought I’d be a tad more emotional when William turned one. (Granted there’s still time) and I do feel like our baby is slipping away from us at an alarming speed, but I adore the little boy that’s replacing him. Every day he amazes us, and yes we’re tired, emotional and at times frustrated, but he’s been our world for a year. And what a wonderful year it has been.

In other news:

Baby-proofing has made our kitchen the most annoying room in the house.

We will be getting William his first proper pair of shoes next week.

I can no longer poo in peace.

 

Talk baby to me.

Baby talk. Some love it, some hate it. You’ll find most people have an opinion on it. I had opinions on it too, it then I had a baby and nothing makes you rethink your opinions like having a baby.

I’d never been one for baby talk. In fact I was decidedly awkward around babies, mostly because they ALWAYS cried around me. Some women from a young age are magnetically drawn to babies, and they’re good with then. I was never one of those women.

I went to a hen do a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time I’d left Wills for more than one evening. Although I was dreading being away from him in the run up, I had the most lovely time, and I didn’t miss him as much as I thought I would. (Enter mum guilt.) Some of the women there had said they absolutely do not do baby talk. And I have no problem with that, how other people talk to babies and children is not my business. I don’t feel there is a better way and if I did what makes what I think right? (I’m not always right. Although don’t tell hubs that…)

Anyway, through the miracle of FaceTime, I was able to see my little boy who was decidedly confused as to why mummy was now in the square thingy and not nanny. On the morning we were saying our goodbyes, my phone trilled signifying daddy was true to his word and keeping in touch. I pressed ‘accept’ and the small screen was filled with the face of my son. My beautiful baby. And my voice went high pitched ‘Good morning pookie! Have you been a good boy?!’ William is only 10 months old (well he was nine months when this happened) he doesn’t understand most of what I say, so it’s not what I say, it’s how I say it. He smiled at me and I felt an ache, I wanted to cuddle him, I wanted to hold him close and take in the scent of his hair. But I couldn’t so out poured torrents of baby talk, and his little face broke into a massive, adorable grin. And he clapped. ‘Yay! Who’s a clever boy?’

And that’s when I heard a friend say ‘What is it about babies that makes people talk like retards?’

Wow.

Not only is that far from politically correct, it was upsetting.

Not so long ago I probably would have cringed hearing myself. But I absolutely delight in William, I feel genuine excitement when I see him, sometimes that bursts out of me in the form of baby talk. Kind of like what seeing puppies does to people, gives them a warm fuzzy feeling that sends them into a mini meltdown. Was there any need to make such a comment? Is that the reason I’m now trying to justify how I speak to my child right now? Well I’m nipping that in the bud right now!

I talk baby talk. If you don’t like it that’s your problem, not mine.

In other news:

Wills is once again a little snot factory, he doesn’t seem bothered, he seems to enjoy licking it off his face.

We are off to a wedding on Saturday. I’m hoping to get a nice family photo before Wills gets filthy and daddy gets drunk.

Our garden continues to be the place all the cats get together in for a scrap.

‘Thanks, now would you mind minding your own business?’

A slightly weird but definitely infuriating thing happened to me and hubs today.

Set on enjoying the bank holiday we got Wills ready and were out the house by 11:15 am (only and hour and a quarter later then planned score!) We began the day by looking at kitchens we couldn’t hope to afford but have optimistically booked a ‘design visit’ where I fully expect to have to scale back our expectations and sell one of my lesser organs. After traipsing round the vast showroom and drinking overpriced coffee in the café, hubs and I decided to head to the Fargo Village Beer Festival. Fargo Village is a new development for the city of Coventry, which has a bit of a reputation for being fugly. Mainly because vast areas of it are.  The Luftwaffe kindly flattened most of the city in the forties so bang went the medieval charm and up went some pretty revolting concrete buildings. Anyway the council have begun ‘tarting up’ the place Fargo Village is a fashionable development with a brewery, and other crafty/vintage shops including barbers shops and vegan food outlets. But most importantly there is a brewery.

Hubs and I were surprised to find the place pretty much deserted, the brewery was open (huzzarh)) but other then that it was very quiet. It wasn’t hot but we sat outside because it’s May and that’s what the British do. In other countries I’m quite sure people would be sat in coats on days like today, but we’re out in pub gardens, with shorts on, freezing but acting like there has been some sort of heatwave. I kind of like it, we NEVER waste sunshine in this country. Even if it’s bloody freezing, if the sun is shining we’re out, lighting barbeques, having picnics cramming  ourselves into pub gardens and wearing the shorts we brought four years ago but have only worn six times. (Unless of course we went abroad on holiday.) Anyway, I digress. We sat outside; Hubs with a beer, me trying to calm a tired William (whom I suspect is having a poo this very second, yep, please excuse me a tick.) Tired William was balling so I decided to placate him with a bottle, when he’s had enough I popped him in his pushchair, but he started a protest in the form of wailing at the top of his lungs. Ahh the naptime fight, a battle of wills with Wills. It doesn’t happen every naptime but when the little foghorn is fighting sleep you sure do know about it!

As he wailed I uttered soothing phrases and  pushed his chair back and forth.

‘Excuse me’

‘Err, yes?’

‘Maybe if you sat her up she’d stop crying, I don’t think she likes that’

He is actually very tired, he is fighting sleep, that’s why he is crying.’

‘Oh is it a boy?’

(No I just call her him for shits and giggles yes it’s a fucking boy, he’s in blue corduroy dungarees!) ‘Yes it’s a boy.’

‘Oh, and is he your first baby?

(What the fuck does that have to do with anything?) ‘Yes, first baby.’

‘I hope you don’t mind me saying?’

(Of course I fucking mind, who in the name of arse do you think you are? creeping up behind me and giving me advise I neither need or asked for!) ‘Not at all, thank you!’

 

Thank you!! I fucking said THANK YOU. I didn’t mean thank you, there was nothing about that situation that I was thankful for!! You see, when you have a baby you sort of become public property whether you like it or not. Sometimes it’s nice that strangers say nice things about your baby, but sometimes it crosses a line. Like the woman who asked; ‘… and are you feeding him?‘ The temptation to reply: ‘No, I refuse to offer him breast or bottle, we send him out into the woods to forage for his own food…’ To the people that ask ‘Did you have a natural birth?’  What comes out of my vagina is my business, and although I’ll happily talk through the process to preggos, that particular question is posed in a way that suggests anything other than natural is sub par. And it absolutely isn’t. There are babies and mammas that wouldn’t be here today without the marvels of modern medicine. So you can stick your natural birth question up your arse.

I’ve never had such an intrusion before. Perhaps this person thought they might combust if they didn’t intervene. But what if I was having a bad day. What if it had been one of those days when I’ve doubted my abilities. The days when I’ve cried, thinking there are a million women who’d be a better mummy. Women who never get tired and make only organic home cooked food. Who attend every baby group going and keep an immaculate house. If this had happened on one of those days I can’t tell you the damage it might have done.

But today has been a good day, I’m looking over at my little boy who is sharing a rusk with Captain and I feel all warm and proud. And I’m wondering how I’m supposed to get rusk off the cat.

I may not be a ‘supermum’ but I’m doing my best. If I want or need advice, I promise I’ll ask for it. If you don’t hear me asking, keep it to yourself.

In other news:

There is a black cat coming into the garden that my black cats are hell bent on terrorising. It’s not always easy to distinguish which black cats are mine form a raging ball of hissing and clawing.

We’re off to a wedding in a couple of weeks. Going to get Wills a suit, hoping I can keep it clean for longer than five minutes…

I’ve started a diet. Hubs is looking for sanctuary somewhere, any offers greatly appreciated.