SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media is a part of our lives now. There is no escaping it. It does has its place and can be very useful in many ways but it also has its disadvantages, people, myself included can get sucked in to the game of compare and contrast and it can greatly impact on mental health.

Too many people paint a perfect picture of their lives. In reality this is rarely their life. Most people posting a photo of them out enjoying themselves are doing it for the ‘likes’ and are probably sitting in their pjs at home. Other people over share every little tiny aspect of their lives from the moment they get up until they go to bed and everything in between; if they go to a concert – we are right there with them only our view of the stage isn’t quite as good and our sound quality isn’t quite the same!!

Sharenting- parents who share everything from the second their child gets up including all outfits, meals, snacks, nap times. Where these people get the time to do so with a newborn baby is beyond me because I barely get to have a shower some days. I am on social media sites so it is inevitable that I will see these posts and for me it hasn’t been healthy.

Am I a bad parent because I don’t show my child off to the world, am I a bad parent that I don’t take an insta worthy picture of their meals daily, am I a bad parent that while others log when and for how long their child napped for, my child has hardly even as much as blinked or closed their eyes and I long for 30 minutes by myself, am I a bad parent because some days of maternity leave are lonely and its hard to put on a happy face all the time while everyone online is ‘living their best lives’

I asked myself these questions daily for a long long time, each time I didn’t have a definitive answer and truly did question my parenting ability and whether I was a good enough mummy.

When I have a break from social media I do realise that the answer to all the above questions is NO.

No I’m not a bad parent for not posting 100s of cute photos and milestones of my daughter. I share photos with family and friends – not the people I have on Facebook that I barely see or know anymore. Also I feel that my daughter doesn’t get a choice on whether her photo is uploaded here there and everywhere which is why we have decided to massively limit how much her image is online. I know as she gets older this will become harder but for now only her parents can make decisions as to what goes online and I am glad we have made that choice. I respect other peoples choice to post photos of their child but for us this is what is right for now.

No I’m not a bad parent for not posting what my child eats, for not making it look pretty and neglecting to do a before and after photo of everything she ate because she is HANGRY and woe betide anyone who delays giving her food for a photo opportunity. Also who cares if it looks pretty, it all goes down the one way and out the other end….and it’s not so pretty!

I don’t post about how often she naps because mostly she doesn’t and I am spending her awake time making memories, playing games, going for walks and I don’t need to share this with the world. That’s not to say it’s all sunshine and roses because it isn’t and I choose not to post the other side of the coin as well, the days when it is really really tough. These are the days that when you do check social media and someone’s perfect family life pic pops up it really destroys you. So my remedy is to call an ACTUAL person – one of my friends and we get out of the house with the babies for a few hours. That’s usually all it takes to perk me up and realise that I’m being the best parent I know how to be!

As I’ve said there is a place for social media, it’s part of our lives now and we can’t get away from it but I for one need to be mindful on how I use it. For now; with my daughter I want to live our lives without a constant phone in hand and link to the fake world of social media. She needs to make memories with her mummy not a phone!

HUSBANDS

Before I begin I’m going to put in a disclaimer, be sentimental and say I truly love my husband from the bottom of my heart and feel so lucky to have married him. However no matter how hard they try no husband can ever fully understand what it is to be a mummy and part of the reasons for me writing this is to help him have more of an insight into my thoughts and feelings and that my irrational outburst because he buttered my toast wrong isn’t to do with the toast at all, sometimes I don’t know what it’s about I just need him to do something to cheer me up – it doesn’t have to be flowers or chocolates – just change the bins.

I feel like my husband and I started out of this journey on an even keel. It was the blind leading the blind. Neither of us had navigated this journey of twists and turns called parenthood…

When my daughter was born my husband did every nappy change pretty much for his whole paternity leave. I was input and he was output. I was worried about how I would deal with nappies when he returned to work however I need not have worried. I became a nappy ninja, particularly at nighttime – barely even waking the baby with my lightening speed skills. My husband on the other hand became deskilled. It became painful to watch him, knowing that because he had faffed about for so long she was gonna pee again in the time it took for him to reach for a nappy.

Babies come with a lot of clothes and it introduces new vocabulary to our husbands – grobags, sleepsuits, rompers etc. Some clothes are self explanatory for instance long sleeve and short sleeve vests. When I instructed my husband to put a long sleeve vest on our daughter and he proudly presented me our freshly bathed clean daughter wearing a short sleeved vest. When I asked what his thought process was he had no answer. Our baby vocabulary learning continues.

I have learnt to multitask at the highest level which the male species seem incapable of. I can eat breakfast While emptying and reloading the dishwasher, put on a wash and hang up another and supervise the baby. This can be done in less than an hour and I’ll be out the door with the car packed ready for the day. My husband will have had a coffee and watched half a movie. (Who watches half a movie?!)

I realise this makes him sound lazy. He isn’t, he does do stuff but only if I ask him . Occasionally he will spontaneously do chores and this is when he is at his most sexiest to me. However when he does said chores they will be royally announced and a fanfare needs to follow or you run the risk of this spontaneous job doing to become extinct.

I understand he is out working while I am on my ‘extended’ holiday with crap pay and the most inflexible and unsociable working hours. It must be hard having a set lunch HOUR (?!) where you get to eat lunch with two hands and have normal conversations and your day doesn’t revolve around how many hours sleep baby got and how long has it been since her last poo.

As mummies we have mental checklists of shit that only we get. We know what’s needed in the change bag, we know exactly what we need to bring on a day trip, we know when the next wash was put on and when the next one is due. This is all mundane stuff but if it doesn’t get done the house doesn’t function. We also notice stuff like when the nappy box needs refilled, when the floor needs brushed, when a bib needs changed. Again all mundane but vital to our daily lives. So when daddies give themselves a big old pat on the back for spontaneously emptying the bins that one time or having a nice rough and tumble play session with baby before handing them over for mummy to calm them down before bed…spare a thought for said mummy. She can’t switch off. Her priority is baby’s sleep but her sleep is no ones priority.

Yes babies put a strain on relationships and although there are times when I have contemplated murder because his snoring has woke up the baby and you have to deal with the aftermath at all hours of the morning, but at the end of the day we created something so perfect and so beautiful and the fact that my daughter gets so excited when daddy comes home from work means he must be doing something right. (I just wish I knew what it was so I could get the fanfare started!)

IDENTITY THEFT

Pre baby I was just me when people spoke to me it was about me they were interested in me. I’m not someone who needs a lot of self assurance and I don’t like being centre of attention but it is nice for people to take an interest in your life. Granted I’ve had a lot of things going on in quick succession that people were always keen to ask about; engagement, wedding plans, honeymoon, pregnancy! People were always avid listeners for these topics, keen to join in and muse about future plans.

During my pregnancy I noticed small changes in how people treated me. Obviously everyone was concerned for my welfare but they also felt it was ok to just rub their hands on my baby bump. People would ask to touch it or sometimes just dive on in. I mean I was pregnant – not a petting zoo. No one has rubbed my belly after I gave birth – not that I’m complaining but I really feel that was the start of me losing my identity as I was me and the bump.

Giving birth to my beautiful daughter is my life’s greatest achievement. I have always wanted to be a mummy and now I am one. It is the best feeling in the world achieving something you have always longed for. What I wasn’t prepared for was the loss of self. I became ‘Baby’s mummy’ – an amazing title to hold but I’d lost the other half of me. I’d already given up my surname for my husbands and now my first name is gone too.

Again people around you don’t mean to upset you but when you become a mummy you become a secondary person. People can text you or can spend a whole afternoon with you and only ask about the baby and not once ask how you are – it’s totally unintentional but very hurtful to the new mummy struggling to find her way in this crazy new world she has been catapulted in to.

You answer the door to people holding your baby and they put on their best baby voices and coo away to the baby and come into your house for cuddles and no one says hello to the mummy. When they do ask you a question or you tell them a story they are only half listening. This all makes it sound like I am jealous of my own daughter. Not one bit. she is the centre of attention and rightly so. She is the centre of my universe and everything I do is for her and that includes looking after my own mental health which can be difficult at times when to others you seem invisible.

I may have ‘lost my identity’ as a single girl but I have gained so much more as a wife and as a mother. I have a life long partner and my little mini me side kick. Together we will get through anything and everything and have so much fun in the process. Our wee unit is all that matters!

BABY BLUES ‘SHE’S MY DAUGHTER!!’

The baby blues are a real thing. They tell you it’ll happen day 3-5 that you’ll just be highly emotional and weepy. However baby blues come back. When you least expect it – usually after a sleepless night your body will think ‘yep you are at the brink of exhaustion so let’s just throw in some weepy hormones and make you cry at the drop of a hat.’ I’m lucky to have such a supportive network around me that my baby blues don’t last longer than a day or two but it is also my supportive network that unknowingly add to my stress levels as a new mum but you would be the worlds most ungrateful bitch if you were to broach the subject so you put up with a day or two of the baby blues to save face.

The strength of the bond and relationship between mother and baby is like no other. You know that little person before they arrive in this world and when they do you naturally want to hold them and never let them go. But when you have a new baby there is an influx of family and friends who want a cuddle. No one understands how gut wrenchingly painful it is to hand over your child to someone just for that cuddle.

It’s hard when you are breastfeeding in the very early days as you feel your only time with your baby is for feeding and the second you stop feeding someone swoops in and takes her to wind her. This made me feel like a milking machine and that I wasn’t able or allowed to be there for anything else. I would often hold my baby for longer and say she was still feeding under the nursing cover ignoring statements like ‘she can’t still be feeding’ and doing a silent two fingers up to you all!

The worst offenders are people who are already mums and should have an insight into how this makes you feel as a new mum. They will say things like ‘I’ll take her a burp her’ or ‘come and see me’ both statements are demands to either myself or my baby – never a question, never a request like ‘can I hold your baby?’ This is never done with malice and I understand people think they are helping but words can cut like glass when you are having a down day. People say ‘I’ll hold the baby while you go for a nap.’ What a new mum in the early days hears is ‘you look like shit and I don’t fully believe you are capable of looking after this child, give her to me.’ You want to scream at people SHE IS MY DAUGHTER but you put on the brave face, hand her over and excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and cry.

When I go visit a new mum now I will no longer go expecting a newborn cuddle. I will go and have a conversation with the mummy. Ask her how she is and what I can do to help. If it’s holding the baby for half and hour while she showers or making her a lunch she can eat with one hand but it’ll be whatever she wants or chooses.

My latest emotional outburst was regarding clothes. My daughter has wardrobes bursting at the seam with clothes. This stresses me because

a. I have to remember who bought them so next time I see them she’s wearing said outfit for an instagram selfie session and

b. I have to ensure she wears each thing at least once so that it hasn’t been a waste and c. There are starving children in the world with not a pick of clothing on them and it’s a sin my child has too many clothes.

No matter how many times I say (at the risk of being ungrateful) please don’t buy her any more clothes or no matter how many times I physically take people to see the overflowing wardrobe people don’t listen. (People don’t listen to new mums/dads anyway but that is for another chapter.)

Don’t get me wrong I am so grateful for people’s generosity but I don’t want my daughter being spoiled and when she’s older expecting to get gifts every time she sees someone. What people don’t understand is the impact on me. Here’s that line again – SHE IS MY DAUGHTER (not your dolly!) I have never bought my daughter an outfit. I have never gone to the shops specially for her to buy her something that I get to choose. As a mummy who loves clothes and shopping this has cruelly been taken away from me by people who don’t even realise it and if I were to voice my opinion I would most likely be met with hostility.

I know what she needs and what is practical – cute dresses are now a no no because she’s starting to crawl and will get tangled up in them. Shoes are a waste of money because she can’t walk and are gathering dust. Clothes that are in the shops now are summery and if you buy the next size up it’ll be November when you are expecting me to put on that summery top. Don’t tell me to stick a cardigan on her cos when she rolls over she gets caught up in the cardigan. I know these are crazy irrational thoughts but that’s new mummy hormones for you and I don’t apologise!

If you want to help, buy us a packet of nappies or a Tesco voucher for all the food we will have to provide for her when she starts weaning.

I dread Christmas, it’s already giving me palpitations but I will be buying my daughter a Christmas outfit or two. Anyone else that buys will be asked to hand over the gift receipt and I will treat myself to a new top. I’m liking my new catchphrase SHES MY DAUGHTER NOT YOUR DOLL!

Phew. That was a rant and a half about clothes….!

Seriously though I understand these rants are totally irrational but when you are caught up in the moment they are the most important thing and these thoughts fester in your head over and over until you are irrationally pissed off at the world!! It’s crazy what post baby hormones do to you. You mostly cry, it could because you are happy, it could be because you are sad, it could be because the shop didn’t have your favourite crisps, it’s like an emotional Russian roulette – you never know what’s going to hit you next.

Sometimes I just look at her and cry. I cry because I’m so happy and so overwhelmingly in love with this little lady I created. When other family members tell me they just love her so much, it hurts me to the core because they don’t love her like I do and no one ever will. But irrational hormones aside, I am very grateful that this little lady has so many people in her life who love her and we are very lucky she is here. One day I hope she will know and understand how deep a mothers love goes and she will know how much I love her.

SLEEPING

SLEEPING

I thought I was prepared for sleepless nights. You hear about sleepless nights and sleep deprivation and you just think it’s all part of the experience. What they (I don’t know who ‘they’ are but ‘they’ need to buck up their ideas and start telling some home truths!) don’t tell you is that everyone and his dog thinks it’s ok to ask about sleep and it’s a competition at the baby classes as to who is getting the most. I’ve just started lying now and saying my daughter is a brilliant sleeper so you don’t get the pity stares and the look of ‘what are you doing wrong?’

Quite simply when people say their child is ‘sleeping through the night’ they are defining this as four hours sleep. To me that was an amazing nap pre baby, not a full nights sleep!

People give you great advice like ‘sleep when baby sleeps’ and that is all well and good but when baby only sleeps while you are outside pushing the pram or driving the car, call me crazy but I don’t think that’s the best time for you to sleep….??!!

Sleep deprivation can hit you like a tonne of bricks and turn you into a mad woman. I’ve woken up and forgotten where I left the baby and have stripped the bed thinking I must’ve fallen asleep feeding and lost her in the covers when she’s sleeping soundly in her crib. Was sleeping. The panic of losing her has woken her and it’ll now take another hour to get her back down again.

You find yourself becoming obsessed with sleep and getting your baby to sleep. You’ll shove her in the car seat at ungodly hours and take her for a drive so she doesn’t get overtired or you’ll go on 6am walks in the pram hoping the fresh air knocks her out and she’s not crabby for the rest of the day! There’s only one person that has to deal with the crabby baby that’s overtired and that’s the mummy.Relatives and friends get to hand her back over once she gets fussy and they’ve stimulated her so much she resembles a hyena on speed.

In my naivety as a first time mum I allowed people to lift the sleeping baby, yes lift her and hold her. If there is ever a no2 people will be asked to look and don’t touch. If you’re coming for a visit it’s not for a cuddle, if you want to help bring food and empty the dishwasher or do the ironing. Do not under any circumstances lift the sleeping baby.

Also part of the sleep obsession is the sleep competition. The constant ‘who has had the most sleep’ battle between me and my husband. He needs sleep because he has work tomorrow while I’m off on my extended holiday….I need sleep because this is no spa weekend and sleep is needed for my sanity and ability to preserve human life for another day. Woe betide anyone who does not have children and responds to the question ‘how are you?’ with ‘I’m tired.’ No. You. Are. Not.

I’ve concluded that some babies just don’t need as much sleep as others. I’ve given birth to a nosey little Madame who came out of me wide awake. Having a good old nosey at her mummy and daddy and checking out the doctors and nurses. She has the odd cat nap during the day but is pretty much constantly awake keeping me on my toes. But she is thriving, hitting her milestones and is a little character, so the way I see it is I get to spend more time with her and her cheeky little ways which provide me with endless entertainment and smiles throughout the day. This, though hard, makes it all worthwhile.

BREASTFEEDING

BREASTFEEDING

Breastfeeding Is such a natural thing you think it would be innate and easy…. It is so heavily promoted at the antenatal classes the word ‘bottle’ and ‘formula’ are practically taboo. The way in which it is promoted is a happy clappy video of mums feeding their children who latch on with complete ease, no one is in pain and there isn’t a chapped nipple in sight. LIES! Word of advice to the NHS, if you want to promote breastfeeding at least be honest to us before hand. Tell us the latch can be sore as both you and baby find your way with it, tell us about the cracked nipples and the leaking, tell us about the cluster feeding that means zero sleep while baby ups your supply and during this time you will turn into a complete maniac who plots their husbands death as they roll over and go back to sleep because they can! Tell us that as you breastfeed it helps your stomach contract back to its former (?!) state and that this will be as sore as early contractions and make you wonder if no2 is already on the way! Tell us the signs of mastitis and thrush so that if we are unfortunate enough to experience the pain of razor blades on your nipples that makes labour seem like a walk in the park, we know what to do rather than shoving an apple in our mouths and feeding through the pain and dreading every time our baby cries with hunger because call us crazy but we still need to feed our babies.

I was lucky to come out the other side and am now successfully breastfeeding and love it. I’m used to the broken sleep that comes along with breastfeeding and knowing that my child is thriving because of my milk makes me extremely proud. However simply put there is not enough support out there for mums wanting to establish breastfeeding. I was one of the lucky ones that did get excellent support but I’ve heard far too many stories of new vulnerable mums wanting to continue and not getting the support. Baby blues are a real thing and I’d say 99% of my baby blues were and still are caused by breastfeeding. So why not preempt this and give mums more support in those hazy crazy days so that if they have to or choose to switch to bottle feeding they don’t feel guilty and feel like they have failed. At the end of the day, if you have a well fed baby and you’ve managed to wash your face and brush your teeth who cares if their milk came from bottle or boob….??

Labour….!

LABOUR

Let’s start from the start! You wait in anticipation for nine whole months. While the first 8 and half fly by the last two weeks do not. Every little sneeze, kick, hiccup, urge to wee could be a potential sign that labour is starting so you spend most of those days googling every symptom. In the end if you had just listened at the antenatal class and to your own mother who told you ‘you’ll just know’ you’ll realise this is true and yes I just knew. 

Everyone has their war story and strangely enough everyone wants to share their war stories after when you couldn’t care less about how wee Jimmy came Into the world and could do without a second by second commentary of his mums labour story. 

I had a nicely written, colour coded birth plan. It made it sound so easy and straight forward. I’d practised hypnobirthing in my own way which I truly believed helped me in the early stages of labour but when it came to the full throws of labour it was ‘fuck that calm serenity shite and get her out of me!’ In the end I was lucky and didn’t deviate too much from my plan, let’s just say that after keeping us waiting a few days my daughter arrived with such speed and urgency  it took everyone by surprise. The midwife said ‘just makes sure when you have no2 you tell them how fast no1 came!’ No2…was she having a laugh?! That experience was so traumatic I can barely think of a no2 bowel movement never mind pushing out another tiny human.

At the end of the day if I had to have deviated further from my birth plan it wouldn’t have mattered. Who cares how these babies come into this world as long as they get here safe. They say time is a healer and you do forget. It’s been six months and yes the flashbacks have stopped, the initial night terrors where I relived it and woke up in a cold sweat have stopped, and instead I have the most perfect little girl ever. The most joyous and unforgettable moment was the second she was placed into my arms- wide awake taking in the world around her while two people got to work down below stitching me up should I ever change my mind on baby no2! 

Hazy Crazy Newborn Days – my first post!

I have kept lots of journals over the years…countdown to my wedding, holiday journals and even a pregnancy journal. My daughter is almost 6 months old and I haven’t kept a written journal of all the tiny changes she has made, all the firsts milestones and what we have been up to. While I initially feel guilty I remember we have lots of videos and photos which document that journey just fine. 

But why also have I not kept a journal – first and foremost TIME! Those early days baby is just attached to the boob 24/7 and when she’s not mummy just wants to sleep or eat never mind pick up a pen and start recording memories – just live in the moment – the hazy crazy newborn moments when it’s enough that you both made it through the day alive and you also managed to brush your teeth. ‘Well done mummy!’ 

Secondly, while I consider myself to have a fairly good grasp of the English language and a career that involves promoting communication skills, I find myself at a loss for words to fully describe my parenting journey thus far. However as we reach the half way mark of my daughters first year I have tasked myself to put down on paper (or in this case the iPhone notes section of my phone because this journal writer is going 21st century!) my feelings, the highs and the lows of keeping a tiny human alive for 6 whole months. 

Welcome to my blog! I’m going to post on different topics as a first time mummy. Wish me luck! 🤞

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