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The Bump Chronicles: The postpartum Years.

This is the post excerpt.

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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!

 

 

‘Third’ rhymes with ‘Turd’

The Bald Kitten is three. At 16.48 on Saturday afternoon he was officially a whole three and I got a tad emotional thinking about three years ago; when our lives (and my fanny) changed forever.

Three brings a whole new set of challenges. I think kids bring a whole new set of challenges daily, it’s part of their charm but he’s really ramped things up. What I’ve not been prepared for is the rapid and alarming decline in his behaviour.

He is hard work.

He’s also started sniggering when he knows he pushing it, which is about as much fun as an ear infection.

On the days he’s complete bum hole from the moment he opens his eyes Even Balder is sure to cry for extended periods of time, so I really get to question my sanity before lunch.

Sometimes I question where my little boy has gone, but then yesterday after chasing the little sod all round Mothercare, having him shout ‘No! You’re being naughty and you have to stop it!’ at me in front of the nice lady at the till, after he turned ALL the heads in Superdrug because he didn’t want to look for his brother’s sock, after wailing ‘Mummy let go of my hand you’re hurting me!’ earning me some looks of disapproval (I absolutely wasn’t hurting him) he burst into tears (still in a shop, natch) and said ‘Mummy I want a cuddle.’

I’ve noticed he does this when he knows I’m furious. It’s his way of checking that even though he’s been a little shit, I still love him. I’m not going to lie, I needed a couple of deep breaths before I could cuddle him. My emotions aren’t quite as flexible as his. But cuddle we did, I got on my knees in the middle of the shop and cuddled him. He wrapped his arms around me, I wiped the tears off his face and told him it was important to hold my hand and use his ‘listening ears’. He nodded and I left the shop with a calm little boy.

It would be great if that was how it ended, wouldn’t it?

Well obviously it didn’t. We got to the door and he said ‘Mummy, can we go to the cafe?’ I’m not flush with cash at the minute and maybe I’m a Scrooge but I’m not spending a fortune on overpriced cake and squash for a child I’ve had to chase around three shops.

My refusal started the very dramatic, rather theatrical wailing again. With repetition of the phrases: ‘I WANT TO GO TO THE CAFE!’ and ‘I DON’T WANT TO GO HOME!’

But home we went. I’d like to point out my mum was with us, doing a good job of pretending she wasn’t. Traitor.

In other news:

Already regretting buying the Bald Kitten a noisy police car for his birthday.

Hubs and I had a heart attack after the boy said what sounded very much like ‘the animals are slags.’ Turns out he said ‘the animals are SAD and we need our hearing checked.

Even Balder is producing so much dribble I think he might actually be just dribble.

The postpartum body.

Postpartum body crisis alert!! (Imagine a klaxon going off if you will.)

When I’m lucky enough to get in the shower I have a hard time looking at a saggy tum with newly acquired stretch marks and pendulous boobs. I no longer have the bladder control I used to enjoy AND the postpartum hair loss is in full swing, before long I’m going to be rocking a Homer Simpson. Probably going to bugger up the hoover too, it can’t cope with all the bloody hair that’s EVERYWHERE except my head.

My appetite is now HUGE, I am chowing down on vast quantities of food and STILL feeling hungry. Starving in fact. And don’t get my started on chocolate consumption. Now this excessive food consumption is starting to show.

Great. Fat and bald.

My beautiful little sister is getting married in March. She’s chosen her dress, it’s stunning. Elegant, classy, timeless. She looks beautiful in it. I’m going to be a bridesmaid in about 9 months and I look like a potato. Amy Schumer said something amusing about bridesmaids in their 30s and ‘Turkey-leg arms’. Just call me Mrs Turkey leg.

I turned to Pinterest for ideas on how to lose weight without changing my diet or doing any exercise. (Spoiler alert, you can’t. But a girl can dream…) It was there I found us gals should be aiming to be ‘Slim-thick’ now, apparently I need to lose weight in some areas and put it on in others.

Good grief.

And apparently I should have got my ‘pre-baby body’ back approximately 37minutes after giving birth. I’m in the ‘let herself go’ mum category.

I don’t think that fact that I’m feeling really frigging old is helping. Although the hair loss has rid me of the impressive sideburns I acquired during pregnancy, my chin is sprouting like a meadow in spring. I’m getting crows feet, a little jowly (face AND boobs are sagging, score!) and my hands are looking creased and papery.

I’m desperate to buy new clothes to cheer myself up, but I’ve no idea how I’m supposed to dress?! I don’t really have a style. At the moment ‘clean’ is the only requirement. (Well cleanish). And then I can’t be arsed with the ordeal. Clothes shopping is fast becoming strange and bewildering experience (why are shops only selling half tops?! Why are people buying jeans that are already ripped?) I’ve begun to feel alienated in the shops I used to frequent. The music is loud, the girls are tall and willowy and I’m a potato. Waddling round, remembering the days I used to get dressed up. The days I put perky boobs into pretty bras. The days I scorned the granny pants I now wear daily. And really is there any point in getting new clothes when you spend most of your days boob feeding and cleaning up wee?

I guess it sounds dramatic but you lose a little of yourself when you have kids, a body you no longer recognise and a mind dulled from lack of sleep and full of baby thoughts, and now I feel I’m losing a bit more of myself to age.

In other news:

I’ve just had to stop the Bald Kitten licking his brother.

The co-sleeping continues.

My first baby turns three in just under a fortnight!

The Reluctant Co-Sleeper.

I’ve never wanted to co-sleep.

I like my sleep.

Nay! I love sleep.

Sleep is my jam.

I look forward to sleeping in the hours that lead to bedtime. A nap is a real treat for me.

The Bald Kitten was every parents dream, sleep wise. He slept through the night from 8 weeks. At bedtime, we’d pop him in his cot and walk away. He’d nod off without a tear or whine until the next morning. And he always woke with a smile. Heaven. The gold standard in sleeping, hubs and I were pretty bloody smug about it.

The Even Balder Kitten, is a rather different story. For one: I can’t put him in a cot unless he’s in REM sleep. Even then I only get enough time to crawl into bed before he starts. He gets up AT LEAST twice in the night, unless I’m really tired and unsure how I can go on functioning, in that instance he gets up every four seconds.

Now, I’m human and I’m tired. If he’s snuggled next to me, he sleeps. So I can spend my nights putting down and then picking up a baby. Or I can sleep… ish.

So why a reluctant co-sleeper? I like to thrash. Left, right, leg out the bed, flat on my face, starfish on my back, curled up in a ball, feet hanging over the edge, one pillow, no pillow, all the pillows. I like the freedom to move in bed.

I can’t do that with a baby in there too. In fact, he’s often so traumatised by the fact I’ve lowered him into his soft, comfortable bed with the gentleness of a bomb disposal expert, that he needs boob to calm down. An upside to boob feeding is it can be done whilst laying in bed, but to ensure he feeds and I stay put I have to do a bit of twisting. I give my knees and back four months before I’m stuck with the flexibility of a octogenarian.

So when he’s in there with me, I can’t move and I have to lay in such a way that causes me physical pain.

BUT

If he’s not in bed with me, he’s awake. And screaming. So it’s a lose – lose situation. Hubs has diligently been researching how to get babies out of the habit of co-sleeping. I mean sure, I could be a bit more consistent but I don’t have the strength to stay up all night putting him back in his bed, when I could be getting painful, fractured sleep.

Co-sleeping can be quite an emotive subject. Some people are all for it, some resolutely against. There are new guidelines on safer co-sleeping, so if, like me you find you’re co-sleeping not by choice, check out how to make it a safe as possible and NEVER co-sleep if you or your partner have been drinking alcohol. For further information on safer sleeping please see The Lullaby Trust

Some further observations on breastfeeding.

So I’ve been boob feeding for just over 16 weeks now.

The main and best change is that my nips are no longer pure agony. No more wincing when I take my bra off and nip meets air. No nipple shower caps needed. No more bleeding! (No more wincing and crying out when he latches, whoop!)

Although a downside is that I have worn a bra day and night for just over 16 weeks. (Not the same bra, smart arse.) I hate this because I love the relief that comes with de-braing after a long day. But these leaky lumps need containing now.

I’m pleased to report that my initial hesitation about feeding in public is loooong gone. I’ve had my boobs out in a LOT of places – the car, pubs, restaurants, a jewellers, a school, Ikea, M&S, softplay Costa. In fact my boobs are out in Costa so often they should have a coffee dedicated to them.

I use a scarf when I’m feeding in public. When I first got the scarf it was like an extension of me, I wasn’t good at being discreet and I felt so self conscious in public. I still use that scarf, but in all honesty it’s more for other people. Tom gets hot under there, it gets in the way, I’d rather not wear it. And if someone happens to see a bit of boob, then they should see it for what it is: something I feed my baby with.

My boobs have changed. Sadly, not for the better. They are rather pendulous now and I imagine if I didn’t wear a bra to bed, there’d be boob claps whenever I rolled over. (If you don’t know what a ‘boob clap’ is, you’ve never experienced one. It’s pretty self explanatory really…) However due to the frequency in which my little boob monster in laying next to me suckling, rolling over in bed is not an option. Sleeping in bed isn’t really an option either.

It’s definitely less demanding now, although he is going through a ‘cluster feeding’ stage. Cluster feeding is a fairly nice sounding term for pure hell. If you boob isn’t in your babies mouth they’re screaming blue bloody murder. It’s times like this I feel irrational rage towards hubs when he’s getting to enjoy sleeping and drinking beer and not breastfeeding.

I kept a diary when I started breastfeeding, to note times, length of feed and which boob he fed from. I flicked through the other day and found the following notes: ‘All I’ve bloody done today is feed! My nipples are killing me!’, ‘I’m bloody fed up’ and after a particularly long on/off/on/off lasting from 8-11pm I found: ‘THIS IS TAKING THE PISS’ after I wrote that the on/off feeding continues until 4.43 am, then I was able to sleep until he wanted feeding again a 7.30am. I know there were a few dark thoughts I didn’t commit to paper, but the feeding ‘schedule’ in the early days was by far the most gruelling thing I’ve ever done in my life. To the point I convinced myself I’d pass the sleep deprivation part of SAS training no worries.

We’ve not had another ‘snapping turtle’ incident but now his nails grow like I don’t know what and one would be forgiven for thinking I’d been mauled by a tiger. I have to say, I’m not looking forward to his teeth coming through…

I’ve read many social media posts and articles where women say that they love breastfeeding. And when hubs asked me if I liked it, I said no. BUT for all the parts I dislike: (leaky boobs, saggy boobs, ugly bra, can’t drink as much wine as I like, my entire wardrobe is clothing I can easily whip a boob out of and I’ve not been able to have a long uninterrupted bath since before he was born) I genuinely dread our last feed. I feel so connected to him when he’s feeding from me, I feel powerful, if that makes sense, and although I long for a little more freedom, I have to remind myself that in a flash he won’t need this from me anymore.

In other news:

In an attempt to get the Bald Kitten out of nappies he’s in pants in the day. We’ve had varying success.

Even Balder has been in a swimming pool for the first time. He couldn’t have been less bothered and spent the whole time chewing his fists.

I have polished off an alarming quantity of food today.

Weigh-in woes

Today I took the Even Balder Kitten to get weighed. It’s been about five weeks since his weight was first plotted in his red book. He’s a big baby and measuring in the 95th percentile.

So after dropping the Bald Kitten at nursery (and staying for a quick feed) I’d done the weekly shop and headed to the clinic. Due to cuts, the clinic is only open for an hour twice a month. It was packed. One health visitor weighing and giving advice meant the queue was steadily increasing.

When we were one baby away from our turn the Even Balder Kitten decided to do a poo. Everyone heard it, he makes such a racket when he goes, it’s like comedy sound effects.

Having amused everyone with his loud poop symphony, I nipped to the loo to change him. There was poo EVERYWHERE. All out the back of his nappy, therefore all over the changing mat. And guess who couldn’t find the nappy bags?

That would be me.

Returning to the packed waiting room with the boy in just a nappy and the soiled nappy, (covered in poo) in my hand as the baby clinic does not dispose of nappies (!) I desperately scrabbled round the changing bag for the pack of nappy bags I KNOW I put in there, whilst trying to hold the boy AND shitty nappy. I EMPTIED the changing bag, no frigging nappy bags. I had to ask a stranger for one, feeling judged for not being prepared.

It was then I noticed, with the benefit of natural light, that my son’s back was yellow from all the poo. Well that was bloody embarrassing, I gave it another wipe hoping the earth would open and swallow me up. And to think one woman was embarrassed that her baby was the only one crying. Mine was covered in his own faeces.

I then nearly got lynched for going to thee front of the queue, but it was my turn and I had a car with chilled and frozen groceries getting warmer by the second. Luckily the women who’d been there for a while backed my claim.

I placed the Even Balder Kitten on the scales, and his weight was translated to pounds and ounces (kilograms mean NOTHING to me). 13lb 12oz. That’s weird, I’m sure he was 13lb something last time.

‘He’s dropped a percentile, is he feeding frequently?’

‘Err yes’ (he’s hardly off the sodding boob)

‘It’s nothing to worry about (although she didn’t sound convinced) he’s probably moving his arms and legs about a lot and lost weight, make sure you bring him back next month.’

I dressed him, put all the nappies and clothes (but no nappy bags) back into the changing bag and almost made it to the car before I started crying.

How can he not have gained more weight? All those hours he’s on the boob, every time I sit down with my dinner, he wants boob. 11 weeks without a decent night sleep, being late for pretty much EVERYTHING because I’m feed. Not playing with the Bald Kitten, because I’m feeding. Not indulging in a huge glass of wine because I’m feeding. And he’s dropped a percentile.

I’ve had a bra on 24/7 for ten weeks (not the same one!) I’ve woken soaked in my own breast milk because those sodding useless pads have moved in the night, my tits are now hanging significantly lower than they were four months ago AND FOR WHAT?!

I let myself go when we got home. I balled. The Even Balder Kitten started too so we both cried. I then latched him on to my apparently useless boob AGAIN.

I’m feeling slightly better about it now. I honestly don’t know why I got so upset. That’s a lie. It’s so personal, it’s so much hard work and I feel like I’m failing at it, like I’m failing my son. And I’ve not had a decent rest since he’s been born. I’m exhausted, and this was an icing on the cake moment.

In other news:

The Bald Kitten has been pooing on the toilet to much applause and celebration.

A short family holiday has been booked and we are beside ourselves with excitement. Mablethorpe here we come!

I’m having the besties round this weekend for a takeaway and girly night! I’m so excited but it means I have the insurmountable task of clearing the dining room table… I sense a floor picnic.

Cluster feeding: Who needs sleep or rest of any kind anyway?

Cluster feeding, oh what fresh hell is this?! I feel like I’m being sucked dry, that my very soul is seeping out of my now misshapen nipples.

The boy has not stopped. It seems he only stops when there’s an opportunity to shit all over his clothes/ me then he starts again.

My boobs have risen to the occasion and feel like rocks, hence my new nickname for myself: Boulder Boobs. They also occasionally get a little enthusiastic and I end up squirting milk all over him. And me. The sofa. Bed linen. The cats.

You see the boy may be all about the cluster feeding, I’m all about cluster sleeping unfortunately I’m at the mercy of a tiny milk mad dictator so what mummy wants, Mummy doesn’t get.

I’m so tired I feel sick, and whilst the Even Balder Kitten slept for a few hours earlier I couldn’t, I had to ensure the Bald Kitten is safe, not pouring anything on the living room /kitchen floor, not filling the cats bowls with an entire bag of biscuits.

Being out and about is tricky, occasionally I’m having to buy a coffee I don’t want just so I can sit down and feed, as any peace anywhere is being shattered by my screaming child and my other child shouting ‘ JUST CALM DOWN THOMAS’ over the din. I also have the rather embarrassing habit of forgetting to cover up the bra after a feed.

In other news:

It’s 4.08 in the am and I’m desperate for the loo, but if I take this baby off he’ll wake the whole house.

I took both boys to the shops on my own and the Bald Kitten was so bad I cried when I got home. (I need a bloody medal for not breaking down in a shop)

I’ll be taking the boys to Rugby so we can meet hubs for lunch today, at this rate I’ll be leaving the kids with him and having a nap in the car.

The night shift.

It’s the night shift. The boy has pretty much been on the boob since 7. It’s now just gone midnight and I’d like to be unconscious. Last night I had two glorious hours sleep between feeds, when the hungry little git eventually goes down I’m hoping for a similar thing tonight.

The Bald Kitten saw me prepare to feed earlier and keeps calling my nips ‘Mummy’s willy’, I think we’re going to have to go over anatomy together, I don’t want him telling people he’s seen Mummy’s willy.

The Even Balder Kitten has pooed through two outfits today. I just love it when I’m trying to do a quick bum change and end up having to bath him, change his outfit, change the changing mat and then scrub poo out of clothes and towels. ESPECIALLY when doing that eats into the time I could be napping.

We’ve had a fairly productive day, after packing the emotionally unstable one off to his grandparents me and the tiny one braved Tesco. Not sure how I managed to spend forty quid on bugger all shopping, it seems to be a special skill of mine. The Balder Kitten decided to exercise his lungs in the shop so I was forced to carry him whilst attempting to push a trolley. It wasn’t easy and I was tutted at!! If there’s one thing guaranteed to send me into a rage it’s being tutted at. To make it worse, apart from carrying my son and pushing a trolley I’m not sure what I did to deserve it. It resorted to tres mature passive aggressive talking loudly to the boy about not wanting to set off ‘Tutty McTuttingson’ (yes I actually said that. Out loud.) That will learn her. I wanted to smack her with a chair but want to avoid a custodial sentence if at all possible. It will bugger up the breastfeeding.

Shopping purchased (with much more Haribo than I intended to come home with) we made a quick pitstop at home before going to get my nails done.

Meanwhile the Bald Kitten was giving his Grandparents a heart attack because when asked what he chewing in the garden, he replied ‘a bee’ and then wouldn’t spit it out/open his mouth for confirmation. He came home with his head the same size as it was when he left so I imagine it probably wasn’t a bee. Which is good news, as their population decline is already a concern without my son deciding they are a tasty snack.

So the Balder Kitten is STILL feeding, which means I might be awake when Captain does the rounds later. He likes to come in, climb all over me and hubs, slobber on us a bit then curl up in his bed. He’s usually soaking wet too. Furry little wanker.

In other news:

I can’t stop eating Cadbury Twirls

I get to spend time with my sisters this weekend as the boys are off to a football match. Hubs will be taking the ‘Phew to his first match.

I think the boy is asleep…