Feels

As I sit here stuck under a sleepy baby (thanks to 6 week imms), I can’t help but do a lot of thinking. To be honest, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since Lily arrived. I was stuck in hospital for a week without family being able to visit so I reflected a lot, I didn’t sleep much and the mind wanders.

I’ve been through a lot of shit in my life, who hasn’t? When you’re in the thick of it, it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But there’s generally a positive to every negative.

Every poor decision (and I’ve made a many), every shitty situation, every friendship gained and lost has helped me get me where I am today. 

I’ve written blog before that have touched on the friendship topic. Motherhood really made me reevaluate the friendships and relationships I held. Reuben and I have started a bit of wedding planning and we were having discussions around the guest list and how many people we think we’d have there. My thought process was around the whole would they invite me to theirs? Have they met our children? Have we ever met their partner? Would I regret not inviting them? Have I seen them/had contact within the past year?

It really made me realize that I can count my ‘friends’ on less than 2 hands these days. Sure, I have a lot of contacts and connections (personally & professionally) as well as Facebook friends but how many actual friends do you have? That you can confide in? Communicate often? Hang out or couldn’t imagine your life without? I’d be curious to know. Am I the only one with such a small friend group? Is it my own doing? Before meeting Reuben I lived alone for a really long time and was single (about 5 years), I became super independent and often went into my own shell and ended up becoming a bit of a hermit. I became at peace with my own presence and didn’t feel the need to be surrounded by others. Sounds odd, but if you’ve been in that situation, you may know what I mean. I was never a drinker, I never went to town or anything like that. I’ve drunk more since becoming a Mum (those end of day Pinot’s are my saviour).

I hold my friends dearly and would do anything for them, sometimes I am slack, I get busy and I don’t reply but that is not a reflection on how much I value their friendship. I try and tell my friends how much they mean to me, even though most find it corny. I would hate for tomorrow to come and something happen to myself or one of them and have had not told them how much I appreciate them.

As I mentioned above, I’ve made poor decisions in the past. I’ve allowed people to walk all over me and treat me badly. I’ve settled for less than I deserve and I let people hurt me. But looking back now, yes, those actions and situations changed me. They’ve shaped me into the person I am now and that I deserve a hell of a lot better. They’ve helped me find this drive that I didn’t realize I had.

Throughout my adult life, I’ve always been about helping people. Being there for everybody else even though at times I felt as though nobody was there for me – and maybe that’s why I am the way I am. I treat people how I would like to be treated. I like to tell them I care, I love giving my friends gifts – it genuinely makes me smile. I absolutely love doing things for others.

Building this blog into what it is today and getting amazing private messages from people saying how much I’ve helped them has made the negativity bearable. The support group for mums that I created now has over 13,000 members and daily I see mums empowering and helping our other mums. Giving support, guidance and positive praise. Sometimes all we need is a non-judgemental ear and some reassurance. It truly does make me feel so damn good. 

I have struggled with mental illness, this is no surprise. I talk openly about it because there is so much unnecessary stigma around it. I thought I was managing it, and then developed PND with Baxter. I have this new body that has been difficult to be comfortable in until I learned that acceptance was the key to my happiness. This body grew life (2 even). I jiggle more than I used too, I have scars that will never go away – and I am now OK with that.

It’s been a tough road this mum gig, I never imagined myself being a parent. To be honest, after some pretty shit past relationships – I thought I’d be on my own for the rest of my life. Then Reuben came along, unexpectedly – and changed all of that. Falling pregnant with Baxter had us both freaking us – new and unknown territory is scary but we owned it and embraced it, what other choice do you have? We’ve fought like mad and we’ve shared so much joy together. We’ve watched Baxter reach milestones and we’ve been so extremely proud, we made that and by god is he handsome. With the recent arrival of Lily, we still don’t know what we’re doing – no day is the same. Becoming a Mum has shown me a strength I never knew I had, emotions I didn’t know existed and it’s made me laugh and cry – sometimes at the same time. My family is complete and I have never been so happy in my life.

I truly don’t even know what the purpose of this blog was all about, I had feels I needed to get out.

A word from Grandma

Jess asked me to write about how it felt to become a grandma for the first time.  I was honoured to be asked to write this for her (and you all).

From the moment we knew we were going to be grandparents, both Kevin (Dad) and I were excited and instantly got how our friends have felt over the years when they got the exciting news they too were going to be grandparents.

I went crazy buying stuff and Jess had to tell me to calm down. Baby was going to be here for along time and I should pace myself. To be honest it was little stuff as Jess and Reuben had everything under control, and Baxter was never going to able to wear it all!

The nine months waiting for Baxter seemed to take forever. When Jess called to tell me her waters had broken we were up the coast visiting my parents. We bade them a hasty goodbye to get closer to town, knowing it would take a while for things to happen. We weren’t needed of course but we wanted to be close.

Reuben was great at giving us a running commentary via text and invited us into the hospital once Baxter was born. Kevin didn’t need a second invite. We were in the car and hospital bound pretty quickly.  We were suddenly but not so suddenly grandparents. The older generation just like that! Older and wiser! Nope, not really, just Grandma and Grandad.

Baxter brought us all instant delight. He was a bubbly, giggly baby from the get go.  He can light up a room and make us feel young again. We see him often but never enough. I, like grannies before me, bore anyone who will listen on how fantastic our grandson is.  Yes, I am one of those grandmas.

Baxter learnt pretty quickly if he comes to Grandma and Grandad’s for tea there is always a bath afterwards. Now Baxter gives us the hurry up at the tea table and once let down from his chair he runs straight into the bathroom to get Grandad to run the bath.

I get the drying and dressing chores. This means I get to smother him in baby powder and give him his first freshly washed & dress hug. I love it.

I know there is going to be two soon and there will be some changes, but I have enjoyed the past 20 months of having him around.

Grandchild number two is almost here. Another week (hopefully no more for Jess’ sake) and we will have “grandchildren” and not just a grandchild. It sounds like so many.

I can’t wait to meet our newest member of the family. Princess Bemrose is just over a week from arriving and I know Baxter is going to be a cool older brother.

Over the past four years Kevin and I, along with other members of our family, have spent quite a bit of time assisting our parents who are either ill or ready for the next phase of their lives in care. I recently lost a stepfather who was in our lives for 40 plus years. Whilst I was at the hospital during his last couple of days, a visit from Baxter still managed to put a smile on our faces. Kids have the ability to make any challenging situation more bearable.

It is also good to see Jess and Reuben parent. I am proud of all my children. I am especially proud of the mother Jess has become. To see her go through motherhood is a privilege and I am very aware that not everyone gets to see their children having children, so I try not to take it for granted. Jess is doing a wonderful job and she doesn’t see what I see in her. Baxter has the ability when we are tired or stressed to make us look at things a little clearer and remind us at times not take things so seriously.

I couldn’t imagine life without Baxter in it. I feel very lucky to be his grandma. Love you Baxter.

I have spent a couple of hours with Baxter this morning whilst Mummy was at the midwife. Gosh these little humans can eat! Half a banana, a piece of a hot cross bun, a packet of raisins and some cheese. Balanced diet right?

Jess asked me to comment on her blog and what I thought about her oversharing at times.

I admit that I find it very difficult at times to read the blogs Jess writes. When she is open about her depression it makes me sad that she often doesn’t talk about it with us, and when she is at her toughest point she deals with it herself. I understand why but as her mum it is very hard. I respect Jess’s decisions and she always makes the right one for her and her family.

It is great to see her succeeding and her blog has been posted in so many different publications. It is good to know that Jess is helping others to open up and talk about their feelings as well, and to acknowledge that at times being a mum is hard. But it’s a full-time job and what job isn’t hard from time to time? The good times outweigh the bad and she has such a positive attitude. I always wanted to write, so it is good to see Jess getting on with it and owning it.

I struggle with some of the negative comments people write about Jess or her lifestyle. I am grown up enough to know you can’t be out there in the big wide web without being trolled, but some of the comments are vile and no one deserves to be treated like that. It’s these times I wish Jess wasn’t online but that feeling passes and she tells me not to read the comments. I read the positive comments that people are finding some of the blogs very helpful with pride. That makes it worthwhile.

Jess, you’re doing a great job.  Now about your swearing… LOL.

 

 

Hey mama, you’re doing just fine.

To the mum tapping her brakes at the lights, we’ve all been there.

To the mum struggling to carry her newborn while her toddler is having a tantrum, I feel for you.

To the mum rocking her shopping trolley while the person in front faffs about with no regard or awareness that your baby is about to go from 0-100 REAL quick.

To the mum feeding her baby in the cafe while her own meal goes cold, I don’t remember the last time I ate a full meal – uninterrupted. You’re a good mum and your child will one day thank you (maybe).

To the mum who hasn’t washed her hair in over a week, you rock that mum-bun.

To the mum persevering through the pain of breastfeeding in order to prove a point or to keep others happy, do what’s best for you. A happy mum is more useless than a broken one.

To the mum who isn’t sure if that stain on her pants is food or fecal matter, you rock on.

To the mum who’s stuck on the couch under a sleeping baby while your phone is out of reach, I feel you sister.

To the mum stuck in the car with a sleeping baby/toddler not knowing whether to risk the dreaded transition. Stay there, get your phone out and relax.

To the mum swaying side to side in the coffee line, I still do it 18 months on. I don’t think it ever stops.

To the mum reading this while gritting their teeth because there child won’t go to sleep – breeeeeathe.

To the mum hiding in the bathroom crying so she can get one moment’s peace, we’ve been there.

To the mum scared to feed their child formula because of fear of judgement, just do it. Happy mum = happy baby.

We’re in this together mamas! I salute you! Sometimes we just need to take a deep breath and realise this parenting gig is a tough one. We’re not alone and that there are SO many mums experiencing the same things as us each and every day but very few will openly admit it.

If you see a mama out in public, struggling, who could do with a helping hand or a hug. Reach out, you could make her day. You could be that one adult conversation she has been craving for all day.

You’re doing an amazing job, don’t question yourself mama. You’re doing just fine x

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GUEST BLOG – 10 things I’ve learned in 10 weeks as a Mum

written by Melanie Hall.

  • Parenthood is the most hotly debated topic in the world. Even more so than politics, religion, and which team will win the next English Premier League. Listen to all the advice (smile and nod – it usually comes from a good place), and take from it what you please. Lean on a handful of people that you trust most, and save your questions for them.
  • The only constant is change. I thought I’d “cracked” a routine with my newborn baby until she cried incessantly for 3 days straight. It took me that long to realise she was just more hungry than usual – her feeding “routine” had suddenly changed from 3-hourly to 2-hourly, with cluster feeding in the evening. Babies grow and develop every single day, so you just can’t expect any day to be the same.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. You’ll make mistakes (like the above) many, many times as a parent and I’ve been told that those “parent guilts” never go away. I have to keep reminding myself that the best i can do is your best.
  • Leave your ego at the delivery room door. It’s true that everyone’s a perfect parent until they have kids! A dummy may be your lifesaver, and you might be too busy or too tired to ever use those cloth nappies you bought. You’ll find yourself doing things you said you’d “never do”, but those little things (yes, they are little things) really aren’t a big deal as long as you and your baby are both happy and healthy. And don’t concern yourself with what other mums are/aren’t doing either – every baby is different.
  • Always get a second opinion. Actually, get a third. It took that many to figure out why my baby was struggling to latch – she was finally diagnosed with both tongue and lip ties. She had laser surgery at 4 weeks old, and now feeds perfectly. If something doesn’t feel right, keep asking until you find an answer.
  • Read your baby, not the book. Babies develop at their own pace, in their own time. Some will be below the curve, some will be above it. That’s how bell curves work. Most of the time it’s nothing to be concerned about. In the early days I was told that my baby MUST feed for at least 20 minutes, and must feed off both breasts in order to get enough milk. I stressed us both out trying to force this, until a 320g weekly weight gain proved she was getting more than enough from one breast, in a 10 minute feed. Our babies haven’t read the textbook, they’re just following their natural instinct – trust them.
  • Breastfeeding is hard. You already know pregnancy is hard, everyone tells you how awful labour is going to be (I came out of it looking like I’d had an affair with Edward scissorhands), and you know to prepare yourself for sleep deprivation. But when it came to breastfeeding, I definitely went into the whole thing with rose-tinted glasses. Black and bruised nipples, cracked nipples, bleeding nipples. They happen, and they really, really fucking hurt. With the aid of Lansinoh cream, hot showers, hot and cold compresses, gel pads, some expressing and syringe feeding, I managed to battle (yes, battle) my way through those first few weeks of breastfeeding with gritted teeth. If you are battling, just remember it will get better. It got a hell of a lot better for me after my milk came in, and better again after my baby had her lip and tongue ties treated. If it’s not getting better after a week or two, go and see a lactation consultant (they’re free through the hospital until 6 weeks, and free through Plunket after that) and have a look for a breastfeeding support group in your area (wharekai Pepe in Wellington is amazing).
  • You can’t spoil a baby. It’s true that babies aren’t wired to manipulate you. If they’re crying, it’s usually for a reason. Check the usual things – wet nappy, hungry, over-tired. If all else fails, give them extra cuddles, let them sleep on you, feed them for comfort – whatever works to give you both a break. And don’t sweat it. If everything you did at this early stage was “creating a habit” then they’d still be shitting in diapers when they’re 20!
  • Find your village. My village is a modern-day one – it comes in the form of the New Mum Club Support Group on Facebook, it comes from my antenatal group girls who I meet with regularly for coffee, it comes from group classes at Lower Hutt Parents Centre and it comes from friends and family. They’ll guide, listen, deliver hot meals, and babysit while you nap. Parenting is a tough gig, and no one should have to go it alone.
  • Enjoy it. Some days you’ll bake cookies, do 7 loads of washing, and vacuum the house. Some days you’ll be glued to the couch wearing puke-covered pyjamas. Embrace them both. And find a really good series on Netflix (shameless will make you feel better about your life). Before you know it your baby will no longer want those cuddles that stopped you from hanging out that load of washing today. Each stage is over far, far too quickly. Every day I try to find time to cuddle, sing, read, laugh and go for a walk outside with her in the pram. Whatever you do, just remember to enjoy it.

Mum guilt

We’ve all experienced it at some point, sometimes even daily. This overwhelming sense of guilt.

Whether it’s for going back to work, choosing to put your child into some form of care, for not breastfeeding, simply sometimes for just not doing what society deems ‘normal’. We feel like a bad parent, we feel judged and we feel guilty.

I feel guilty for a variety of reasons and no matter what I choose to do, I will end up feeling guilty. I feel guilty because I know people are coming over and I haven’t cleaned the house. I then decide to focus on getting the house tidy to clear my mind and then feel guilty for not spending time with Baxter. I tidy it, Baxter makes a mess within minutes, I get angry and then I feel guilty again.

It’s a vicious cycle.

Before becoming a parent I didn’t experience guilt this regularly, I guess because I only really had myself to worry about. Now there is this little person who is so dependent on me and all I want to do is make him proud and ensure he is happy + healthy.

In this crazy adventure we call parenting the guilt is never ending and I am sure it is only going to be heightened once our children grow older and start learning/experimenting new things.

What can we do? I’ve decided to take a different approach. Embrace the guilt. None of us are perfect. We need to learn to be not so hard on ourselves. Experiencing this much guilt makes me realise I care. It doesn’t make me a bad person. Guilt makes me human, I think about the end result, I CARE about the end result. I would worry a little if I stopped feeling this way.

So, next time you’re feeling guilty, embrace that shit. Pat yourself on the back for caring, realise you are making a difference in your little one’s life and they chose you for a reason.