The ‘New Mum Land’ that time forgot

Being a new mum is daunting – but I knew the second time must be much easier – after all, this is not my first time at the rodeo. Two and a half years ago I had been a new new mum and there wasn’t anything that could surprise me about it now.

And as usual, I was wrong. It would seem some new mum agency in fancy black suits (or perhaps just massive pants and maternity pyjamas) had zapped me with a memory erasing device (presumably made up of a Gin based compound) and I had absolutely no recollection of some of the elements of being a new mum – that are all coming back to me now.

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1. How tiny they are

Yes – of course I know they are small. We all know they are small. But quite how small I had completely erased. How light they are to hold. They weigh the same as a pickled onion and the ickle-ness of their limbs is mesmerising.

The first time you see your toddler after spending a few hours with your new born he will look like a twenty eight year old competitor in the World’s Strongest Man competition – the one where they pull a Land Rover along by their neck muscles. You try and pick up your toddler and realise he weighs the same as a Grand piano – and when you go back to pick up the new born you misjudge the weight so much you hit yourself full in the face with the baby.

2. How difficult it is to get them dressed 

The first time my first midwife asked me to get the baby undressed so she could examine him will remain in my memory forever – the shame of it. My fumbling fingers and nervous twitches, the length of time it took to get his vest off and things over his tiny head – all the while your eyes wide with terror that you may accidentally snap off his arms or dislocate his joints. I thought if this was how long it took to get him dressed we were both better off naked!

And I’m here to tell you it doesn’t change the second time around – trying to get the tiny nappy around him and trying to put his legs down the holes of his massive baby grow – it’s like trying to put an unshelled soft boiled egg in a sleeping bag.

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3. The noises they make

You’re used to the hollers, shouts and Earth shaking screams of your toddler – you forget the sound of a new born. They sound like baby Raptors emerging from their shells. The sound comes from deep within them and is like a cute baby piglet screaming from three houses down. The sound of yours is quite sweet – but the harmony of six new borns on the labour ward, at 2am, for an hour – loses any novelty pretty sharpish.

Considering they’re so tiny and so sweet – the sound of their wind and pooping action is remarkable. One fart from a new born is enough to wake up the toddler and see him sprinting to the window to check out the cool motorbike that must be speeding past (true story) and one movement will make you think he’s been sneaking baked bean toasties into his diet. Their whole bodies shuddering with whiplash when they indulge in a bowel movement is heart breaking.

4. The smells they make

You have got used to your toddler’s full on adult shits that make your eyes water and put you off that tuna sarnie you were eying up for lunch – you misremember new borns being stinky too. But they don’t smell – at all. Their nappies are a delight (smell wise) and there it is – that beautiful new born baby smell that is indescribable but brings back exactly how you felt that first time.

5. How difficult it is to clean their bums:

using only tiny cotton wool balls and a bowl of water as you carefully hold up their minuscule frog legs and ‘gently’ wipe off what can only be described as black treacle quick drying cement from the depths of Hell.

6. What it feels like to “get no sleep”

This is something we must block out, as a human race, to ensure we have another baby. You mentally prepare yourself for your new born. You know you’re lucky that the toddler is a dream boat who has been vigorously trained for two years with the modes of CBeebies cut off time and triple layered black out blinds. You thought you were having a tough day if he awoke before six. Ha. Ha. You didn’t know you were born!

You now have not slept for around 36 hours. You studied an experiment like this once in GSCE Psychology and you’re pretty sure everyone died. The only sleep you have is tiny bouts of micro sleep where you momentarily doze off before your heavy head jerks you awake once more and your eyes dart to the new born to check all is well. And just one hour of sleep turns you into Julie Andrews!

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7. How fucking hard breast feeding is

You forgot this. You got a bit smug – you know what it looks like and feels for the baby to latch this time – and he’s done is straight away. Oh this will be easy. I’m so good at this shit.

Thirty six hours later, your body and mind utterly drained, your nipples sore and chapped, Lansinoh all over the shop, your arse numb – Holy Crap this is hard. It’s fucking hard.

8. How many pictures you will take

You knew there would be some snaps – but it’s day two and you need to upgrade your phone as it doesnt have enough storage capacity. And you’ve made a short film and award winning documentary.

9. What your body feels like

You have a long list of what you will do when you’re no longer weighed down by being pregnant. Most of your list involves carafes of wine, exotic spicy food and marathon running. You imagine shedding the baby like removing a cushion from up your jumper and leaping down the street singing ‘Everybody’s Free’. It doesn’t quite work like that.

Your body looks the same as it did at nine months pregnant – just with less tone. You won’t be running any marathons just yet. After a Cesarean agony is: breaking wind (purposefully), sneezing, coughing and God forbid – laughing. You walk around like Mr Burns and dread the day when you’ll need to defecate.

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10. How much love you will feel 

That one gets you every time.

 

In case you haven’t guessed – we had our baby boy. 7lbs, 15oz.

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Sssh… some days… being a stay at home mum is a piece of piss

I am all about the moaning! I love a whinge! I am the first to complain (well..I’m very good at tutting). And it is generally very accepted (in life, as well as blogging) to have a right old grump about parenting: How hard it is, how draining it is, how much sleep you don’t get, the list of negatives just roll off your tongue. No one ever has a pop at you for complaining about being a mum (so far).

A couple of Tuesdays ago; the day usually reserved for doom, gloom, laundry and self loathing (which I have just decided will be the title of my autobiography), I woke up in a good mood. Maybe it’s the change in the weather. I put on my new maternity clothes (getting out of my pyjamas is a major milestone). I got the toddler ready and we went out.

But just before I left the house I read a tweet from that woman. You know the woman. I won’t name drop her. The woman who likes to upset people – it’s her career now. I followed her after she swayed me briefly on Celebrity Big Brother. It read something like

Stay at home mum? This just means you’re unemployed.”

I read it a couple of times, unfollowed her and heaved the three of us out of the door.

We went to the park just next to us. The sun was shining. The birds were singing. The flowers were in bloom. I watched my two year old stampede through the park, pushed him on the swings, lifted him up onto the slide. I then walked with him to our local collection of shops. I bought him two little cars. We walked to a local bar and he had the children’s fish and chips.

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I walked him half way home before he decided walking wasn’t for him anymore so I carried him the remaining half a mile. Once through the door he napped and I cleaned and caught up on TOWIE (don’t judge me!) I thought about the tweet again.

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The toddler woke up and we played together until Dad came home. Dinner time, bath time, story time, bed time. I sat down with my partner and he asked the usual:

“How was your day?” I shrugged ‘alright’. Not wanting to admit to him the truth:

that that Tuesday, that day – being a stay at home mum had been a piece of piss.

I never want to admit this to him – and it is an extremely rare occurrence – don’t get me wrong. But the day had been sublime. I felt organised, sun kissed, happy, stress free, a good mum, relaxed and accomplished. This doesn’t happen all the time. But it does, sometimes happen.

It reminded me of the summer when my son was only a few months old. I sat in the garden one day because we were experiencing a heat wave. My baby fell into a slumber in the shade. I poured myself a Gin and Tonic (just one) and I felt utterly at peace. My working partner returned home (sweating) and eyed me suspiciously, slightly angrily – I knew he was thinking

“I knew this stay at home mum gig was a piece of piss!”

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I threw the Gin in the paddling pool and started folding some washing off the line.

But – really, some days, being a stay at home mum is a piece of piss. And I’m admitting it. There.

Most days involve me pulling the covers over my head at least once and weeping silently or shutting myself in the bathroom for longer than it takes to do a wee and just shaking with frustration.

I honestly never felt worked up enough to respond to the tweet about me being “unemployed” – I could have written a post about how hard it is, how my Further Education Teacher’s pay doesn’t equal nursery fees plus travel, that I don’t receive any benefits (as I would if I was unemployed) but I don’t feel strongly enough about it. About her.

What I do feel is content – pleased, grateful and lucky that I am able to have these years at home with my son and also blessed that some days (at least 1 out of 34) are a piece of piss.

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ps. Post July I will have two children – and if you ever, ever insinuate that it is a ‘piece of piss’ or that I am ‘unemployed’ I will kill thee.

 

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Dear precious first born… We have something to tell you

Mummy's Writing Darling

Dear precious first born, there is something pressing we need to discuss with you.

I write this on the eve of a fairly important event. You see, someone is arriving tomorrow – someone who you’re going to be spending a lot of time with – like it or not.

I know you’re young and we don’t talk much – unless it’s about frogs or cars. But I suppose now is as good a time as any to try and have this conversation. I know you think mummy has been eating A LOT lately and my stomach has outgrown the both of us. I see your horrified face when I’m in the shower – but I haven’t swallowed your monster truck set – I’ve been growing a little life long friend for you.

The good news is it’s a brother! And you know boys are cool right? Really cool. And he will love your cars! And your train set. But, of course, only if you want him to love them. No one will force you to share your cars with him. I know you don’t know the word “share” yet – I never learned it myself! But we will have plenty of time to discuss sharing in the years to come.

Now I don’t want you to worry about favouritism. It’s not an issue. You, my darling, are our precious first born! We only have eyes for you (but let’s just keep that between ourselves shall we? Your brother doesn’t need to know!)

Anyway! If the pregnancy is anything to go by – I think your brother is going to be an arse! So much more difficult than you were. But again – ssshh.

I’ve been wondering why on earth we decided to have another baby to be honest. You’re so wonderful! If it ain’t broke – why try and fix it?! What possessed us? Were we just showing off?! Was it a case of when you buy a fancy juicer you only use once and you feel like you haven’t got your money’s worth! We should use it one more time – just to see if it still works?!

But here we are and tomorrow our tiny little family will be transformed to a bigger one. Though we do promise – this will be the only addition. You can relax.

So although it might be unsettling / shocking tomorrow and over the next few months while you get used to him – we just want you to know that you’ll always be our precious first born and we could never ever love you any less! Er… That came out wrong. What I mean is – we will never change our love for you. Just don’t tell your bro.

I’m going to miss you so much over the next few days and I hope you don’t miss me too much. I also hope your dad doesn’t only feed you crisps and biscuits – I’ve given him a detailed list of instructions, don’t worry.

All my love,

Mamma.

(Dear baby number 2 – don’t worry! I’ve placated your brother, We know the truth – see you tomorrow). X

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About Our Affair

I am the back in the kitchen

We need to talk about our affair

Baby, I think he’s on to us.

I know we’ve been careful. We’ve skulked about and met in the twilight hours, we are sure not to even so much as look at each other when he’s about. But I fear we may not have been as careful as we should.

These past seven weeks have been magical. They say you can’t love two people at the same time – but they were wrong. As soon as I laid my eyes on you I was in love.

Don’t get me wrong – I still loved him, but in a different way.

Sometimes with you … it’s just easier. With him – it’s complicated. He wants to talk and play games and craves all my attention. Whereas you – all you want to do is stare in my eyes and be held. And you smell so good. And you’re so frickin gorgeous. Everyone says so.

My phone is full of pictures of you I fear he might see – but I can’t stop, and I can’t delete them.

We have our secret hour – at 4am, when it’s just the two of us. I make a cup of tea and we just lay together and giggle and lie in peace. The whole house sleeps unaware of our secret love affair. It makes me so happy. Just our time. But the guilt I feel is immeasurable.

The other night I just sat at the end of his bed weeping, weeping that I had betrayed him – that I had replaced him. Wept for our old relationship – when he was the one and only, the precious first.

And I thought he had no clue – I thought we were carrying on and he hadn’t noticed. How could I be so arrogant? So naive?  In the last couple of weeks he’s not sleeping, he’s angry and he wants to spend much more time with me. Baby, I think he knows.

I’ve done my best to reassure him. I never mention you, I try and have one on one time and I tell him all the time that he is the only one for me. “I love you” I say 200 times a day. But I fear things will never be the same.

Dear New Born – we need to cool it. The toddler, he knows…

mummy's writing darling

 

That awkward moment when your child gets walloped

I’ll never forget the first time my son was walloped.

We were at a ‘mum meet up’ at the local church hall. He was not yet two and running around happily, not a care in the world, safe in the knowledge that he had a blissful, blessed life. Another, larger boy looked him up and down, thought for a moment, before opening his palm wide and pushing it with full force, very slowly, into my son’s face – forcing my son’s head back a good ten inches.

I saw the expression on my only child’s sweet, innocent face- utter devastation; shock, confusion. In his eyes was a flash of a new realisation – that life is actually pretty shite – and it’s full of bastards!

I watched the child with my seething eyes and scanned the room for the ‘bad mother’… where was the bitch? (slowly takes off earrings and tucks shoes under the chair) IT’S ON SKANK!

I couldn’t identify her … and my son was now howling and screaming so much that all eyes were on me (tag! You’re now the bad mother). So we scurried off.

I told Grandma. She wasn’t best pleased. I tried to explain to her that the police had more pressing matters on their hands and probably wouldn’t be too interested in filling out a report about the incident.

Soon after, at another kids’ group my son was bitten by another child. I saw the whole incident. Thankfully the fact I had put my son in such a chunky heavy-duty knit that morning had saved his left arm. This time I saw the mum. It’s on!

Ah! But what do I do now? What do I say? How does one start a sentence with a complete stranger that segues to “your child tried to draw blood from my child.” Do you start by complimenting her on her shoes… or remarking on the humidity… and then slamming into “I have reason to believe your spawn is feral.”

I ended up shuffling up and apologising, stuttering and falling over my words like Hugh Grant trying to declare his love. I tried to tell her what had happened in the most polite / British way possible as a look of mortification crawled over her exhausted face. She apologised profusely as I backed away saying it was no problem – of course, no problem, and I felt worse for bringing it up.

If you look up the word “Awkward” in the dictionary I think you’ll find a small picture of one parent trying to tell another parent that their child walloped theirs.

The thing is, my son grew up over the next few months and started getting a bit more boisterous, a bit more ‘playful’, a bit more heavy handed. He clomps about the play groups like a pissed up platypus knocking into the smaller children like they’re wobbly pins at a bowling alley. And slowly you realise, with horror, that one day your child will be the one who wallops another child. And it serves you right for being so judgemental.

My time at kids’ groups is sectioned into: 80% terrified my son will clobber another kid, 10% terrified my son will be pummelled by another kid and 10% being thankful another child is doing the clouting for today. I am also waiting for a not so understanding parent to launch themselves through the air at me like someone out of The Matrix.

I am much less judge-y than I used to be – I know it is only a matter of time before it’s my child doing the biting / head butting / kicking / walloping. I also know it’s not bad parenting. While my mum still scowls “but where has that girl learnt to wallop? mmm…” I know it’s not as simple as that – I know it’s the child experimenting, testing, playing, expressing.

I know this because since turning two – my own, gorgeous, innocent, wide eyed angel has head butted and bitten me. Me! As though my three day labour means NOTHING to him! He has bitten the hand that literally feeds him. And he certainly hasn’t learnt that from home – unless he can read mummy’s mind when Daddy doesn’t fill the dishwasher (not a euphemism).

And then there is the delicate politics of when you see someone else’s child get walloped. Do you intervene? Is it your place? Where is the rule book?

This morning at a huge soft play centre I witnessed a very small child head butt a larger girl around seven times. We will call the head butter child B for Butt-er. The taller child was sobbing and trying to get away. We will call her child C for Cry. So B is head butting and C is crying. I assume they must be siblings (ah…sibling love – what joys I have to come). I look around the room to see if I can identify the mum of the pair just to let her know child C is very upset.

I see a room of mums enjoying their coffees, reading the papers, chatting to friends. I have no clue which mother owns these two gladiators. I look back at the children. Child C is now lying on the floor screaming as child B punches her. Oh dear. It’s escalated. Time to do something. Yes – it will be awkward but politics means sometimes doing the hard things, putting your head above the parapet, intervening in wars.

So I approach a large table of mums and ask if they have little girls – say what I have seen and they set about going into the soft play to retreive children. Job done. You can feel very pleased with yourself now Steph.

To my horror I realise soon after that the girls were not sisters. They were strangers. And the table I have been at is child B’s mother. The head butter. I see child C in hysterics with her mother at the other end of the room trying to explain to her mum what had happened. The mum then walks up and down the room, clearly upset, looking for the offender and mum.

Lord! What do I do now?! Bloody Hell.

After much deliberation I slither up to the mum of the very upset pummelled girl. My exact words:

“Er….excuse me…I don’t really know how to do this. I haven’t done this before (I meant parenting really). But if it was my son, I would want to know.” I then kindly explain that another child had been head butting her child (and thumping) and that I would have intervened – but they were on the second level and I can’t clamber up the slide at seven months pregnant…(or usually).

The mother was very thankful that I told her what had happened – before asking “WHO IS THE MOTHER?”

Oh….Shit. Gulp. “I think, I mean, I think, I mean it could have been…but I’m not sure – it might have been her?” I subtly nod my head towards the mother in the opposite corner of the ring, I mean ‘room’.

“Thanks” she says, as she strides her way towards her, walloped child in her arms. Me left there looking shifty – like a proper grass! Like the kid in class who just told teacher! Like a drunk, meddling instigator of a fight in a dodgy pub. I have thrown the grenade and can now only sit there like a lemon.

I see the women exchange words and the child is made to apologise. I squirm in the corner trying to look at the menu of “chip butties” intently as the room stare at me – Little Miss Tattletale.

Moments later the younger child, head butter – well she decides she wants another go and does the exact same to child C.

The mum sees it now.

She exclaims something pretty rude into the air.

It’s earrings off.

Shoes off.

Ding Ding Ding.

Round two!

Grandma and I make a swift exit as we see the mother storming up to the parent – it’s on!!

Abort…abort… I think it might be nap time.

mummy's writing darling
That awkward moment when your child gets walloped