Tuesday, 30 December 2014

My Sometimes Secrets

Sometimes I 'wash' the baby with a wipe rather than giving him a bath.

Sometimes I tell strategic lies to my toddler. Like 'the bakery is shut.'

Sometimes I hide behind the fridge door and eat dairylea triangles and/or Chocolate Orange. 

Sometimes I put the baby in his bouncer in front of Baby TV. For 20 mins (an hour).

Sometimes I make up excuses to leave the park early because I am SO BORED with swing-pushing.

Sometimes I say 'yes' or 'definitely' in answer to a question from the toddler I wasn't listening to. Then I feel guilty so I let him have chips for tea. Just chips.

Sometimes I cry because I find being at home all day every day so bloody hard.

Sometimes I look at the front door and think how glorious it would be to open it and walk out into the fresh air on my own. 

But sometimes, I remember I married my best friend and made two beautiful boys. 

Sometimes I remind myself that it all came good.
The Unmumsy Mum

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Lesson 33: Second Child Shortcuts

'We'll treat them both the same' we said. Pah ha ha. As second children ourselves we should have known this was an outright lie.

When I was pregnant with Boy Two people were very quick to advise 'you'll be so much more relaxed this time round. It'll be a breeze in comparison.'

Relaxed, I've discovered, is parent-code for slack

I feel it necessary to put it out there that I was not exactly precious with Boy One. But I did at least attempt to do things properly. You know, like they say. Whoever they are. 

And Boy Two? Well, not so much. But you know what, I don't feel bad. Because I've realised much of what we practiced with Boy One was so bloody unnecessary. 

Nobody cracks out cotton wool and water for nappy changes second time around. Because, ladies and gentlemen, you will use WIPES. You know, those baby wipes designed for use on babies' bottoms. 'As kind to skin as water.' There is no need for water. Wipe away my friend.

As first-time parents, we expressed grave concern at every slightly damp spot on the sleepsuit shoulder. We analysed every nappy noise, and where there was doubt, changed him anyway. Even at 3am when he had drifted back to sleep...because a screaming baby was obviously less of an issue than a slightly shitty nappy...

With our current bundle of joy (now ten weeks) the 'grey area' nappy noises are ignored. Unless we can smell something. Even then, in the sleep deprived early hours, I have been known to turn a blind eye (and ear and nose). 

We used to change Boy One into another outfit at night. As in, his daytime babygrow would be changed into a bedtime one. We clearly had too much fucking time on our hands. Or too much surplus space in the washing machine. Our rule nowadays is simple: if it is dry and largely stain-free, it stays put. Admittedly, last week we reached a new parenting low when we used the hairdryer to give the sicky wet shoulder patch a quick blast...whilst the baby was wearing it...

And then there are all the rules. You know, the stuff you are supposed to do. Or not do.

With Boy One: 'He shouldn't really be in his car seat for more than a couple of hours. We best get him out.'
With Boy Two: 'He's asleep. Leave him. LEAVE HIM'

With Boy One: 'Let's give him another bath and a little massage with some of that nice lavender stuff'.
With Boy Two: 'He doesn't smell, exactly. Let's just give him a wipe.'

With Boy One: 'I'll read to him as it's his bedtime feed' 
With Boy Two: 'Stick Baby TV on will you; I'm having a shower.' To be fair the other day they were doing a counting song - it's practically a lesson.

Last time, we aimed for a feed/sleep routine. Some days, we paced the living room for up to an hour to 'stretch out the feeds.' On Wednesday this week, when the whole family was really rather poorly, I breastfed Boy Two pretty much every time he cried (every time he moved). No stretching out of feeds that day. In fact, I fed him into a stupor. Milk comatose. And sometimes, I give him an unnecessary top-up feed so I can do the washing (watch Made In Chelsea). Needs must. 

And then there's the crying. Boy One was picked up at the slightest grizzle. Which, to be honest, meant he was never bloody down. What could be wrong with him? Poor baby. I am not a fan of controlled crying (in general) but Boy Two is, regrettably, sometimes left to cry. It is more uncontrolled crying. As in, his newly potty-trained brother is shouting that he needs a poo, there are no clean muslin cloths in the house so the washing pile can no longer be ignored, the kettle has been boiled and re-boiled ten bloody times and I will have that sodding cup of tea if it kills me...

For Boy One's first Christmas, we overspent. For Boy Two's upcoming first Christmas, we are being realistic. He will be 15 weeks old, unable to yet sit up, quite probably no interest even in the wrapping paper. He does not need a fucking stocking. 

So you see, we haven't been treating our second child the same. Occasionally, I do have a pang of guilt. But mostly, I reckon it will do him good. I'd put money on him being more laid back as a result. 

Boy One will always be our 'precious firstborn' because he made us a family. But Boy Two is equally as precious because he completed it. The odd damp shoulder and suspicious nappy doesn't seem to have done him any harm so far. 

The Unmumsy Mum

Friday, 17 October 2014

Lesson 32: No place I'd rather be?

At home, with my wonderful boys. Taking care of them. Looking after our home. Creating memories. Where I belong.

But sometimes, I'd rather be anywhere else.

When the baby has been screaming for over an hour and the toddler is throwing objects at my head and/or refusing to put his shoes on, and I am feeling REALLY RATHER FUCKING SHOUTY...well, on those days I'd quite like to step out of the front door and keep on walking. 

I want out. 

They say you discover things 'about yourself' when you become a parent. Well, I have mostly discovered that I have no patience. Zero. None whatsoever. My fuse is SHORT. 

I can't stand the constant demands. And mess. And noise. I recently embarked on a rare child-free supermarket trip and found myself sat in Lidl's car park with the engine turned off, smiling from ear to ear because for the first time in days nobody was shouting or whinging at me. Jesus Christ it was peaceful. I sat there in silence for ten minutes, staring at my windscreen and wondering when Lidl's car park on Saturday at 11am became the fucking highlight of my week.

I am bored at home. I read an article recently criticising mums like me. How dreadful to say your children bore you. Except that's not what I'm saying at all. It's not my children I find boring. It's the situation. My boys are hilarious and cute and smart and lovely (sometimes). But it is bloody hard work. And parts of it have pushed me to breaking point. Not the endless washing and nappies and feeds and battles over nap times (though all of these things are challenging). The hardest part is the mental torment that accompanies twelve hours of whinging, and discussions limited to 'the kids,' and seventy seven trips to the park in as many days. I don't really like other people's children to be honest. They always have runny noses.

I have discovered that I am ironically least 'at home' whilst I'm at home, and happier in the work environment. I like going to work. Nine months 'off' (yeah right) is not a pleasing prospect. Perhaps that is why I chose to take six months maternity leave again and have subsequently further reduced this to five months. The drop to Statutory Maternity Pay is not enough for us to scrape by on for nine months, but for me the real motive for returning is non-financial. Five months is the maximum I can manage without cracking. And even that is quite possibly too long.

At Baby Two's eight week check, the doctor asked the following:
'How are you feeling? Are you enjoying it?

I replied, as I always do, with my honest thoughts:
'A newborn and a toddler? It's not the most fun I've ever had. In fact, I'd rate it pretty low on the enjoyment scale.'

Cue a nervous look at the chart to see if this answer is listed under PND warning signs. 

I'm not depressed. This is not PND. This is just fish out of water syndrome. I'm the fish, work is my water, and maternity leave is an uncomfortable drought. 

But whilst we are increasingly encouraged to talk to one another about our mental health, it doesn't ever seem acceptable to share your true feelings about life at home with children. Unless, of course, your feelings match the general consensus that the first year is magical and maternity leave must be treasured. I am regrettably too honest, and this is often met with looks of surprise and, I hate to say it, disgust. 

Beautiful boys, but it's not all rainbows and smiles
There are moments I treasure. Truly there are. But if you ask me how I find being at home with my wonderful babies I will tell you the truth. 


At work, where I exist outside of breastfeeding duties and nappies and snack time and smiley fucking baby groups :-) :-) :-) :-)

At work, where I look forward to seeing my boys because I have not spent every waking minute with them. Where weekends and non-work days are cherished more because they do not represent yet another patience-testing Groundhog Day. 

At work, where my cleavage remains sick-free and I can have a hot cup of tea.

Sure there are mums who will take a year off. There are mums who will never go back to work. There are mums who will take no more than one month off before returning full time. I respect them all. 

'A happy mum is a happy home' I once read. A bit fucking selfish I thought...but it does make some sense to me now. Turns out a working mum is a happy home for us. 

Lesson 32: 'where you belong' cannot be dictated by other people. The needs of your children should come first, of course they should, but not to the exclusion of your happiness. If you want to stay at home, and can, you should. If you don't want to stay at home, and don't have to, you shouldn't.

'You won't get this time again' is a dead cert. Make it a happy time.

The Unmumsy Mum

Friday, 10 October 2014

Lesson 31: 'Breast is best' but not always for mum

I have blogged about the pressure on women to breastfeed before. I breastfed Boy One for three months, and I am breastfeeding Boy Two (now 4 weeks in). I also expressed for a number of weeks, and formula fed for a number of months, so I hope I am at liberty to comment...

In my humble opinion, whilst breastfeeding remains wonderful, it is significantly harder than bottle feeding. I am not disputing the health benefits for both mother and baby. Nor am I denying the convenience of breastfeeding (milk on tap at the right temperature, no sterilising bottles, bloody marvellous). 

I have, however, been once again reminded about the truly relentless nature of feeding a newborn. Once again, I am left dubious as to whether it is worth the hassle (*hides from the glare of breastfeeding peer counsellors*). 

I am, of course, aware that feeding of any kind is difficult when it comes to those first few weeks. But nothing is quite as draining (both physically and emotionally) as having a small human welded to your nipples 24 hours a day. 

All other activity is put on hold to sit feeding the child, sometimes for hours at a time, sometimes with no more than half an hour between feeds. 

Routines are glorious once they are established, but I am a great believer in feeding on demand for the first few weeks at least. On demand does what it says on the tin. You are a slave to a breast-hungry monster who never seems to want a cuddle without having a nibble. 'Look for cues to indicate baby is hungry' they say. Well he tries to eat my neck/shoulder/hair if I attempt a cuddle and often cries until he is attached, so we are going with his 'cues.' I swear he is often over feeding, but as I can't truly monitor how much milk he is getting WHO KNOWS? 

At times it is difficult to do anything else. Good luck negotiating the washing and shopping 'between feeds' when the illusive 'between' time is non-existent. The health visitor advised I need to encourage him to feed for longer. I should, she explained, view each feed as his opportunity to have a three-course meal. Breast one should be his starter and main (to allow for two 'let downs') and if he finishes those, I should offer the second breast 'as dessert.' Fucking marvellous - he gets ten feasts every day and I am lucky to finish a meal unless it has been cut into fork-sized chunks by my other half. Tickle his feet to keep him going. Change his nappy 'between courses'. The palava rolls on.

You are a prisoner on your own sofa. This may sound nice, but you can forget having time to play with any of your other children, unless of course by 'play' you mean read them a book next to you as you feed. I miss spending quality time with my eldest. When family members come round to entertain him I often think how much I would like to take him to the park or to the shops, and leave my newest boy with one of the many willing volunteers for an hour or two, complete with a bottle. I simply do not have the time to express this time around. Instead, my precious time with Boy One is invariably cut short by the phrase of doom 'I think he's hungry again.' Of course he bloody is. 

My wonderful husband was at home with me for our boy's first four weeks. I was so very lucky in that respect - his support as ever remains a godsend. But we are both left frustrated when his willingness to help is rendered pointless by the simple fact that he cannot feed the baby

And then there is the feeding itself. No disputing the ease of getting a boob out to comfort a screaming child. Anytime, any place, anywhere. 

But what if you become fed up with getting them out? Heaven forbid you might want to wear something which doesn't have a button-down front. Or a 'secret' feeding panel (I can spot a JoJo nursing top a mile off, there is no secret). 

I have no shame in feeding in public. My boobs are doing their job, I get that. But the constant muslin-over-the-shoulder-buttoning-down-of-outfit-to-feed whilst also attempting to eat your own food/play with the toddler at the park/have coffee with friends does take its toll. 

As does adjusting breast pads to avoid wet T-Shirt patches and having to wear a bra day and night. After 40 weeks gestation there is relief at being master of your own body again. Except with breastfeeding, the complete child body dominance lingers - little or no alcohol, limited caffeine, avoiding foods that can make the baby agitated or windy. 

It takes commitment. And patience. Which runs in short supply after two-hourly night feeds and an inability to have five minutes to yourself. 

All of the above assumes the baby is feeding well, that you have adequate milk supply, your nipples remain crack free and you are not on the verge of mastitis. I have met women so desperate to continue breastfeeding they have cried through the sheer pain of feeds. They have continued with bleeding nipples in total depression at the feeding situation, because the thought of 'giving up' is somehow worse. Such cases always lead me to ponder 'surely, it cannot be worth it?'

Well I don't think it is worth it. 

For me, this time, it is still early days. I guess we are not in any kind of feed and sleep cycle yet. But if the relentless one to two hourly feeds continue for much longer I know exactly what to do. I will march on down to Boots, grab a tub of Aptamil, rest easy in the knowledge he has had a decent 5ozs and GET ON WITH MY LIFE. 

Lesson 30: breastfeeding is bloody hard work. You will be talked out of bottle feeding by any number of health professionals, but you don't get a medal for 'sticking at it'. Don't be a hero. 

Sometimes, it doesn't work out.

Sometimes, the wellbeing of the whole family improves with the switch to bottles. 

Sometimes, Mums deserve the 'best' option too. 

The Unmumsy Mum

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Lesson 30: Things 'down below' and other annoying euphemisms

Euphemisms for the sake of preserving modesty get right on my nerves. 

I am a fan of calling a spade a spade. 

The world of the newborn baby is full of these pointless alternative words and phrases, and I have listed a few of my 'favourites' observed during recent home visits from the midwife and health visitor.

Down below
'And how is everything' *lowers voice* 'down below?' they ask. 

Below where? Oh. You mean down there (equally annoying). 

What is wrong with vagina. Is that so offensive? 

Vagina vagina vagina

I would find it quite refreshing to simply be asked 'how's your vagina doing?' It's clearly not a time for shyness, given that a baby just emerged from down there (*sneers*). 

Ones and Twos
Actually this goes for all toilet related euphemisms. 'Are you managing to go to the toilet?' *completes checklist in maternity notes* 'Ones and twos?

Ones and twos?! FFS. What happened to wees and poos? Yes I'm managing to wee and poo, thanks for asking. 

Granted, it might be slightly unnerving if the midwife pottered in and asked 'have you done a shit and how's the vagina?' but at least we'd all know where we stand. Of course I wouldn't really expect her to say shit, but we could at least find a middle ground. We talk openly about poo with our potty-training youngsters for god's sake, and I am not a child. 

This one isn't a euphemism, but rather the annoying habit that health professionals have of abbreviating the growing foetus and/or new child simply to 'baby.' I recognise that this is in no way offensive, but god how it annoys me.

'Shall we check baby's heartbeat?'
'How is baby feeding?'
'Make sure baby gets a full mouthful of breast.'

It's THE baby. Please bring back use of the definite article. Or better, once said 'baby' arrives he or she usually has an actual name. Baby indeed. 

'Baby' (grrr) 
Over to you...
Are there any other commonly used euphemisms you can think of to add to this list of annoyances? 

The Unmumsy Mum

Monday, 6 October 2014

Lesson 29: Toddlers copy what you f***ing say

There is nothing worse than potty-mouthed children.

When Child One was born, The Husband and I were adamant we would curb our use of foul language and raise a polite and politically correct small human. How hard could it be? It's not as if we are common or anything, we don't swear that much...

Two and a half years in, and I am not proud to report that we are failing miserably.  

Phrases my toddler has repeated, to date, include: 
'Oh shit'
'For fuck's sake'
'Fat bum'
and the low point of our existence as parents: 'You're fucking joking.'

The latter, I am relieved to update you, was stamped out then and there when we looked quizzically at said child's declaration of 'you're fucking joking' and asked if he meant 'the Froggy's croaking.' He was delighted with this new expression, and continues to repeat it. At random. Thank The Lord for the Froggy and his croaking. 

This same ill fated child, when he asked his mother where her willy was, was told 'girls have fannies instead.' (In my defence, I was caught off guard). He now potters around pointing out who has a willy and who has a fanny (with impressive accuracy). Sometimes he asks those he is in the company of which of the two 'bits' they are in possession of. Just last week our childminder had to let the parents of a lovely (and non-sweary) little girl know that she might repeat 'willy' and 'fanny' at home after our son talked at some length about their differences all day. Shame on us for having set in motion a wave of toddler corruption.

Then there was that incident with the Bristish Gas man. A hunkier than average chap turned up to service the boiler. Amidst the small talk and tea-making (the hunky ones always get a biscuit), my toddler loudly declared 'look Mummy, he's a MAN. Not got a fanny. Nope. No fanny.' Cue nervous laugher all round and a hasty exit. 

We have, for now, ignored and stamped out the most severe of the naughty word chatter. We are having to let 'for god's sake,' 'oh god' and 'fat bum' go as the lesser of many possible evils.

And we are trying. How we are trying to watch what we say. But he picks things up having heard them just once. Sometimes they lie dormant for days and then pop out unexpectedly; usually at crowded social functions. He remembers. I once tentatively asked him where he had heard 'fuck's sake, man!' and he simply replied 'when the traffic light went red.' I wonder how old he will have to be before we can do what my parents did, and maintain that adults are allowed to use special 'Car Language.' 

Lesson 29: Upon reflection, it turns out we are pretty common after all. Kids repeat everything. Be f***ing careful what you say. 

The Unmumsy Mum

Lesson 28: The Easier Second Birth (That Wasn't)

I don't know why I had ever banked on labour being a breeze second time around. The second pregnancy was worse than the first one - perhaps I should have taken this as a sign of things to come...

Instead, I bought into the whole 'it will be so much quicker/easier' myth and merrily planned the water birth I had missed out on with Boy One. The complications of pre-eclampsia first time round had ironically made for a relatively positive labour experience for me. Despite the world and his wife joining us in the room and fretting over my ever increasing blood pressure, things progressed as they should and baby Henry arrived naturally without too much trauma. Contractions remained bearable, I had an epidural somewhere in the middle (GLORIOUS) and despite it having worn off at the all-important pushing stage I was as relaxed as anyone could be whilst trying to negotiate a small person out of there

I came out of hospital in February 2012 maintaining that childbirth was, actually, not that bad. The six months of raising a crying monster that followed put me off trying again for a good 18 months, but at no point did the whole birth experience deter me from having another one. 'If anything,' I told people, 'that's the easy bit!' 

Well I am eating my words now. Words well and truly devoured. Three weeks ago I gave birth to my second bundle of baby boy goodness and it was not the breezy repetition of Birth One I had anticipated. 

I am not writing this as a horror story. It was not, by any means, a horrific experience. Baby Jude arrived naturally, healthy, and we left hospital less than 5 hours later. There was no risk of fitting due to hypertensive crisis this time. On paper, all went well. 

At the hospital, before shit got real
But JESUS CHRIST it was not an easy labour. In contrast to the calm and collected woman from Birth One, I became hysterical then withdrawn, I felt panicked and I was completely and utterly out of control. Quite frankly, I DID NOT COPE. 

Contrary to the suggestion by the midwife that we would 'have this baby out in no time,' the birth of Boy Two was longer (23 hours), more painful (I genuinely thought the contractions were killing me at one point!) and less straight forward than that of Boy One. 

I was mis-sold. 

I sploshed into the birthing pool with long awaited anticipation but lasted less than an hour before demanding 'SOMETHING THAT WORKS.' Seriously, I have heard nothing but rave reviews about the benefits of the water but when it came to it, the most pain I had ever encountered was not much alleviated by a giant bath. 

I puffed on gas and air, felt dizzy and light headed, and then discarded the mouthpiece in a rage, declaring 'well this is shit.'

I wanted an epidural. 

I was talked out of an epidural.

Now I understand the rationale for this. The wonderful (and bloody patient) midwife explained that the baby could arrive in just an hour or two. The epidural might slow things. It might lead to an unnecessary stay in hospital the following day. My husband agreed - I had probably just reached 'The Wall' and our boy would be with us in no time. As it turned out, I would be in agony for a further SEVEN hours. I should have demanded that epidural. Every centimetre of my body was crying out for it.

Diamorphine arrived instead. I had two doses of that. What a terrible idea. Pain only marginally relieved, I became sleepy and unresponsive. 

I was fucking exhausted. Falling to sleep (sat up) in between each contraction, I moaned like a wounded animal. At one stage, my better half informs me, I refused to communicate for several hours and sat silently rocking on the bed. I mean, WTF? 

When my responses eventually came they were abrupt and panicked. Progress had slowed and contractions were wearing off due to low blood sugar levels. 

I needed a sugary drink, by all accounts.

I refused the sugary drink. 

At 10cm dilated I refused to push (yes really). I went on the most pointless strike of my life. I simply would not be participating any further in the birth of my son, thank you very much.

Everyone became concerned. Drugs were administered to strengthen contractions and force me to finish what nature had started. The midwife had a stern word. 

At 3am I half-heartedly started pushing. At 5:56am we had a baby. 

And then you expect the euphoric post-labour cuddle. Which I got (a momentary delight) before it became apparent that the placenta was not going to deliver. Fucking marvellous. There were talks of spinals and theatre and several attempts to 'encourage' it were made before one doctor succeeded where the others had failed. I am not going to describe how this happened, but the adjective used by my husband upon reflection of what he had witnessed was 'brutal', so you probably get the picture. 

And then it was over.

At 11am, after a delightful round of tea and toast and a hot shower, we left the hospital and our life as a newly extended family of four began.

Of course it was all worth it. But I am still slightly in shock at just how bad I found things this time. 

Lesson 29: Every birth is different, and women behave differently not only to each other but also to themselves in differing situations. 'Easier second time' is not always the case. In this instance, that turned out to be utter bullshit.

Ps...no certificate is given or eternal glory granted for a drug-free birth. If you think you fancy going straight for the hard stuff JUST DO IT. 

The Unmumsy Mum

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Now you are not my baby: a letter to my firstborn

My crazy and wonderful baby boy,

Your life changed forever in the early hours of last Friday. You jumped from being my baby to being such a big boy. You became a big brother. 

'How lovely for Henry to have a brother' they all say. And it will be lovely my darling - trust me when I tell you your future happiness was a key factor in our decision to add to the family. 

But right now, at this very moment, I see your sadness. I see your confusion when you watch Mummy cuddle somebody else all day. I see your absolute rage at the situation, and your anxiety. When I asked you if you would come and give me a cuddle on the sofa, and you replied 'no, you cuddle the baby' my heart broke. I want to cuddle you both.

For all of your 31 months on this planet you have been the centre of our world. You have had our love and attention on tap, and you have been happy. We have all been happy. We were a happy family of three. The Three Musketeers. 

I'm sorry it has all changed. I feel guilty right now, because for the first time in two and half years I love something else as much as I love you.

Your brother is very special too. And he needs me now. He needs me a lot. But don't think for one second he is taking your place. When he is permanently attached to my breast and you go out to the park with your Dad I really miss you. I hope you know that.

You are showing signs of coming round to the new situation. In years to come we will all laugh together about the day you suggested we leave your brother at the supermarket, and your declaration of 'I hate him'. By then, I have no doubt you will have a special bond with your little brother and will likely never remember the years we spent as a family of three.

For now, I just want you to know that I love you my sweetheart. You may be an independent whirlwind of toddler energy but you are my special firstborn and will always be my baby. 

The Unmumsy Mum

Monday, 18 August 2014

Lesson 27: The secret dread of maternity leave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm just not built that way. 

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

I'll drop in to Bumps and Babies classes. 

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

But I won't enjoy these things. 

Because to me they are boring.

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

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

Spring 2012

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

I was not ill with PND. 

I was uninspired. Bored. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

But this won't change who I am. 

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

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

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

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

The Unmumsy Mum.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

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

Choosing a name for your baby. The fun bit. 

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

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

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

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

We started discussing our name ideas with other people. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lastly, my personal favourite:
Absolute silence

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

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

I'm so confused now. 

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

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

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

The Unmumsy Mum

Friday, 15 August 2014

Lesson 25: Nesting is A THING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Lesson 24: Woeful Weddings

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

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

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

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

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

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

He didn't want to be in the photos. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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