Friday, 24 June 2016

Me, Being Mummy: Week 57 Practical Conversations

Way back, when I was in the middle of my pregnancy, I remember thinking, as all of us do, about all the things that were going to change once we entered parenthood. I remember trying to mentally prepare myself for so many things... like... giving birth, finishing work, sleep deprivation and the daunting pressure to be the best parent I could possibly be.

It was only the day before we went in for induction, that I paused for a moment and looked beyond how it was going to affect myself and PB individually, and started to contemplate how it would affect us as a couple. We went on our last official date as just two, to a lovely country pub nearby, where we sat and ate lunch together in a quiet corner without any other distraction. I remember the drive there and back, the weather was bright and we tucked into hamburgers and chips, bistro style. I remember thinking that it was our last time as 'just us' and a tinge of nostalgia became mixed in with the many other emotions (and hormones!) I had swishing around my body that day.

Before we knew it, our son arrived and we were thrown into the deep end of parenthood. It is the best rollercoaster ride I have ever stepped on, full of highs and lows and twists and turns that I know will last for the rest of our lifetime and I am thrilled to be on such a fun journey. But the other day I caught myself observing a conversation between a couple that had me chuckling inwardly to myself and has caused reflection over this past week.

I am a hairdresser, and a week ago, my much loved client came in with her two young girls for their haircuts, with her husband due to follow for his once he has gotten through traffic and parked his car. Upon having the kids, and the husband's hair cut, they decided to get going so that Mum could stay and enjoy a peaceful appointment. They started exchanging information at a frantic rate, with things such as:

'Did you remember their swimsuits for tonight's swimming class?'
'I could only find their old ones but they look ok, are the arm bands in the car?'
'How long are you going to be roughly?'
'Have you put money on the car?'
'I've come out without my wallet, do you have change?'
'Just use the card... or your phone'
'My battery's dead...'
'Here! Just use my phone! Give them their tea at 5pm... no later than 5pm... then their swimming class is at 6.15pm... Bed by 8. Don't forget their teeth'
'Do we have anything for tea?'
'Put the tray on the side in the oven for 25 minutes, Gas Mark 7'
'Give me a call when you're done'
'Give me a text when you're out from swimming'
'Don't worry about bathing them, just use the showers at the pool'
'Did you pack shampoo?'
'Where's the towels?'

All of this went on whilst they were putting coats on the girls (and on the husband) and juggling car keys, carrier bags, rucksacks, a scooter, a school jumper and a book bag. The husband and the kids left and my client began to come back in through the salon door before making a 'Uh!' sound, at which her husband instinctively turned back round and they gave each other a quick kiss goodbye. As the kids and the husband ran up the road, my client sat herself down with a big sigh of relief. And I totally got it.

I got it, because PB and I have these conversations on a daily basis. Sometimes hourly basis. Parenthood is an operation. A complete balance. It is a series of (on a good day) well organised and planned out steps and procedures, scheduled to maintain order in the chaos through out each living day. We have to do lists, appointments, work timetables, errands to run and a routine to get through. Homes need maintaining, bills need paying and functionality is of upmost importance. In the midst of all the noise and the chaos, you forget to take time to simply just be together. We are always together... After all it is a partnership. You are a team. Like the ones from Crystal maze who work hard at figuring out challenges to help each other succeed, constantly providing helpful guidance, support.... even cheering when necessary.

But witnessing this conversation made me chuckle because it is exactly what myself, and no doubt many other couples, do and has become the norm. Gone are the hours of chatting about nothing and anything. Gone are the hours of pottering about at home with only ourselves to please. Gone are the lazy mornings in bed, brunch and all nighters watching movies and ordering pizza. Well... almost gone... once baby is asleep we do cling to our sacred evenings of 'alone time'. I could feel sad about it... sometimes I do. On the busy weeks, like this week, it is easy to feel suffocated and miss a time where we didn't have to have Nasa precision to get through a day and the proverbial arms get tired of juggling so many tasks.

Us... on a day both of us were suffering delirium from sleeplessness. 

But, ultimately, parenting is the ultimate team building experience. And, though tiring and often irksome, you end up learning so much about yourself. And each other.

Additional information and findings from this week:

-  Our son has a couple of words in his vocabulary now. I say words... but I guess sounds would be a more accurate description. For example, he mimics PB's Chewbacca impression. My son growls... that's fine and normal... right?
- BB knows to lean in for kisses. Which is so cute I feel like I could explode and have rainbow coloured unicorn confetti come raining down everywhere!
- We are stepping up our baby proofing bit by bit now. Stair gates, foam door stoppers and socket covers are dotted all about the place... like some amateur obstacle course. So far I have tripped over the stair gate twice, stubbed my toes on them five times and broken approx 4 finger nails trying to charge my phone. May just wrap baby... or self... in bubble wrap to save injuries. 
- This week has been so busy, there had to be personal sacrifices. For example, I took BB swimming on Tuesday and I didn't get a chance to wash out the chlorine. I managed to wash it this morning... which is Friday. Not only that, but I went without pants twice due to laundry duty failure, and turned up to work on one day with no makeup on. Went well with the chlorinated hair pineapple on my head, I assure you. Luckily, I sent a text to pre warn my client so she could recognise me. I love her for not keeling over in shock. 
- English Summer is shit. Correction: Soggy and shit. 
- Peanut butter M&Ms = happy place. 
- In complete contradiction to my previous point, I have been trying to lose weight and have lost over 8lbs in a month. Long may it (and my resolve!) continue! 

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Me, Being Mummy : Week 56 Empathy for Mrs Jumbo

This week we had our 12 month review with the Health Visitor. I'd approached this like I do most daunting tasks .... with the grace of an ostrich burying it's head in the sand. This approach was a success up until 20 mins before we needed to get to the appointment and gave way to pure stress and panic whilst I searched for that sodding red book and a pen to fill out the developmental activity booklet we received 2 months earlier. See?! Ostrich - Sand.

We arrived 5 minutes late (not bad, considering) and some genius (me) booked the appointment to coincide with nap time. Cue understandable meltdown due to being stripped naked, weighed, measured, poked and prodded by a strange Lady person.

Note: I'm referring to BB of course... not myself.

PB grabbed the buggy from the car as I cajoled a redressed BB into gentle whimpers instead of sobs and soon enough he was napping away happily so that we could commence the review.

After a series of questions, it was deduced that BB's development is 'within range' and that he is 'where he needs to be'. Cue sigh of relief. Then we came to his measurements and we were told that, although his height and weight are in good proportion of one another, they are still way above the highest percentile and therefore, 'as a precaution' we are required to take him to a GP appointment to rule out any possible syndrome that could be causing his size. She assured us she has no fear and that in her view it is purely genetic, but because we hit a certain 'bracket', a GP appointment is advised.
We smiled and nervously laughed our way out of the appointment. I kept the smile on my face all day but soon enough it wore off. Simply because this whole size 'issue' has worn so thin.

Ever since our 20 week scan, BB's size has been a topic for debate. I was poked and prodded during multiple growth scans, given umpteen blood tests because they were SO determined to discover gestational diabetes (which they didn't) and I was lectured on my eating choices without them even asking me what I eat.

His size was something that was applauded upon his birth, because he was a healthy 8lb 5oz despite being 5 weeks early. Nurses sat and calculated his prospective full term delivery weight for fun, making me wince at the idea of passing a potential 12lb infant, and took turns to cuddle him in the neonatal unit because he was so robust and snuggly.

It has been something I have even taken pride in and also jested at myself, saying I went into labour early because my body panicked and said 'get him out now please!'. My friends and family regularly share the joke with me. But all of that is in my control. It's light hearted. It doesn't feel like we fail or need to worry. In fact, I am happy to think he shall end up tall like his father and myself. I was never going to have a small and delicate child and have always been happy about things.

Now though, 13 months on, I'm tired of it coming up on his notes. I'm fed up of being made to worry unnecessarily about our healthy son. I now have to take him to another tedious appointment because he doesn't fit into a 'category'.

My smile lasted the whole afternoon when we left the appointment, but as I sat spooning ravioli into BB's mouth at supper time, the tears started to fall. All I could see was this happy boy, ironically refusing to eat his dinner, and the scene from Dumbo sprang to mind, where an overjoyed and proud Mrs Jumbo unravels her baby from his swaddling to find he has huge ears, and whilst she looks past them and even loves him more for it, all the other elephants laugh and make judgements. As I sat weeping, PB waded in to try and ground my irrationality, citing that the health visitor was a lovely lady (which she was) and that she was simply doing her job and had also stressed to us not to be concerned because it was simply protocol due to him being in a certain bracket. That word again... hate it.

I managed to pull myself up by the time we got to dessert and have since been trying to push Mrs Jumbo's expression from my mind. I shall go to the GP appointment and dutifully sit through what they have to say. But, I shall still chuckle to myself when we buy our 13 month old clothing intended for 2 year olds and I shall be happy that, when I am teaching BB to walk, I don't have to hunch over or bend down to hold his hands steady.

Brackets can supposedly measure development and height and weight but they don't measure a mother's love and they never will do.

Because, as Mrs Jumbo demonstrated.... it is, simply, immeasurable.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Me, Being Mummy : Week 55 Sleepy Musings

It is 9.51pm. I'm sat on a bean bag in the nursery singing 'Soft Kitty' to my child who, despite having a decent track record for falling asleep between 7-8pm every evening, has decided tonight is the night to resist sleepies (aka sleep in case you aren't down with my rendition of mummy slang) and has spent the last hour and a half terrorising myself and his father if we so much as tried to lay him down in his cot.

My initial response to this break in routine was anxiety. Evenings are sacred... I look forward to them as much as I used to look forward to my lunch break in school following double periods of maths and science! Evenings are my time, our time, time to gather thoughts, revel in quietness and submerge one's tired body onto the sofa and focus on really important things... such as Netflix and a catch up with how the day has gone. Having that time taken away can be such an upheaval for one's mood and brain function!

Then my anxiety fuelled selfish disappointment gives way to irrationality, where I start to panic that we shall never have peace and quiet again. That this is the start of a new behaviour where each evening will be spent trying to cajole BB into his pit and that we shall have a child who simply won't ever sleep 'normally'. Then it crosses my mind that he must be in pain or unhappy or terrorised so I administer teething powders and look around the room for anything that may be causing his imagination to go into hyper drive and summon up monsters and scary suits of armour leaping out of the closet or something (it happens... I was 3 and I still remember it vividly!). Then, just as I am planning out a strategy to try and fend off this offensive character plus all the other reasons for this uncharacteristic insomnia (and start to write on here in order to calm my worries) I look up to find that I have stopped singing 'soft kitty' and that BB is sleeping peacefully.


Isn't it funny how we can snowball into complete irrationality and anxiety? It always amazes me how logic disappears out the window once you have the perfect panic cocktail of tired baby/tired parents in equal quantities. As soon as the calm and quiet descends, you do find yourself thinking 'what the hell was I so worried about?'. After all, we are still here... no major disaster happened. Two or three hours of my evening have disappeared but, meh, there's always tomorrow!

The main thing to remember is that as long as you are there for your kids and keep a cool, calm head, everything falls into place. It's dawned on me many times that circumstances aren't what affect our children... it's how we as their parents react and handle the circumstances that have more of a bearing on them and their well being. As long as we see past our own selfish tendencies (such as wanting to sit down and watch the latest Game of Thrones for example... ahem), stop running around trying to control the situation and just sit and provide comfort and support... then all magically works itself out. 

Simple right?

Daren't risk an action shot from within his cot so a nap time picture will suffice!