Thursday, 16 February 2017

Patience is a Virtue

My Grandmother always used to say I had the patience of a saint. That nothing would ever phase me. That I never wavered from a task that set me a challenge. Of course, she said this whilst I was around six years old and building a house out of her playing cards. At six years old, life hadn't truly tried my patience.... past the extent of a lop sided card dwelling tumbling down that is.

Now, as an adult, my patience has diminished substantially. Years of let downs, broken promises, regularly putting oneself out for others and getting jack shit in return as well as suffering personal loss has a way of putting one on edge and turning one's knack for patience into a knack for taking control instead. You feel as though you decrease the chance of being hurt that way...as a coping strategy. And, as another upside, if you are in control, the measure of your patience is superfluous. Why be patient when you control how long you have to wait right?

Usually, I get by without much patience. I organise and control pretty much every aspect in my professional and personal life. I am my own boss so have all the control there. I'm the one who makes lists and keeps schedules and 'ok's plans. I know where all things are kept and I am also the one who usually decides where to eat, what to watch and where to sit. Even where to park the car! I sound like a nightmare but I am actually surrounded by a lot of people who hate making decisions. If I didn't take charge or control then they would probably combust. Or I would. As I've said, I certainly don't have the patience to stand and wait indefinitely whilst they figure out what they would like to do. I'm not six anymore.

This is not a postive by the way. I am a control freak. I miss my patient self. The one who didn't care much about the inane crap and just lived in the moment, no pressure and no worries. Go with the flow literally used to be my motto. Now, because I got hurt by the flow of life, I cling to the side and crawl along with the flow but at my own designated pace as a way of feeling less at risk of more hurt. Yes I know... Its ridiculous.

It is also making this final part of pregnancy completely unbearable. I want out. I have a pelvis full of baby and that stupidly insufficient word 'uncomfortable' has cropped up so many times that it has me wanting to rip my hair out strand for strand. Uncomfortable?! Try fucking gruelling! Or Insufferable. No.... TORTUROUS!

My patience is gone. After almost 2 weeks of false labour pains, watching out for a 'show' (which trust me sounds way more impressive than it really is) and walking around like some demented penguin/duck hybrid with piles (literally!) I have had enough and my patience has GONE!

The lack of control that I have over this is doing my head in and I can't take it. If I could sit serenely watching netflix with the odd stretch and walk around the room followed by napping on demand then I would feel better about having to wait indefinitely for a tsunami of pain to hit me and my body. I would feel rested. Strong. Confident.

But, rest is hard to come by when you are in your second pregnancy and the result of your first is 21 months of loveliness who innocently wants to play and crack on with business as usual with you, regardless of what your lower back and ligaments think. The additional fact you had an induction with the first also means that this whole waiting and watching thing is completely alien to you. Throw in the fact that the first also ended at 35 weeks gestation and you can easily feel like this whole second pregnancy thing is almost a completely first time thing instead, because you are now 37 weeks and have officially never been this pregnant before.

I want an induction. I loved induction. I obviously hated it happening prematurely and there were a whole load of complications there. But the fact I knew the day and time I needed to 'check in' to the hospital meant I was in control. I knew I had everything under control, I was able to plan and schedule and I went in as cool as a cucumber and I did it.

I did not require patience. I did not drive myself mad googling things like 'what are early labour signs' or 'what does a show look like'. I didn't find myself feverishly scrolling through pregnancy forums, latching on to fellow impatient mothers to be who ticked all the same symptom boxes as myself. I did not have to seek comfort in these things. My comforts were my controlled elements: the induction date and time.

This waiting game approach is horrible... almost like playing a hand of poker with mother nature. Well, my poker face is shot and I want this baby out now please. I have picked up the phone on more than one occasion to call the hospital and just ask to be induced. Like booking an eye test or a hair cut. 'Hi, can I come have my baby please? You have space tomorrow at 2, I'll be there!'. I'd love that.

When I had BB, everything was so controlled. So simple. So quiet. So smooth. I checked in. I got plugged up with pessaries, read some magazines, got hooked up to a drip and then an epidural and then I laid there patiently waiting to dilate and push him out. PB says I looked like I was sleeping most of the time. Of course, my exterior wasn't relaying the huge undertaking my interior was going through, but I just felt so in control. And that suited me down to the ground.

Now, despite being near the end of my second pregnancy, I feel just as if not more vulnerable about B-Day than I did in my first. I no longer have an 'ignorance is bliss' mindset. I know what is coming. I remember the contractions, both before my epidural went in and on the 3 occasions it blocked. I remember gritting my teeth and pushing until my face felt red and about to explode. I remember the sting of the first wee, the fear of the first poop and the hell of the after pains. And, I'd just like to get it all over with please.

So, from me to my uterus....

'Hi... You've done a really great job and I am a huge fan but....

PLEASE. Let him out now and let me just get this over with ok? I am losing my nerve. Thanks'.

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Monday, 6 February 2017

The Mummy Guilt Bus, Self Doubt Fairy and Pat on the Back.

I have been hit by the Mummy Guilt Bus over many things since BB was created. Ranging from the fact I ate prawn sandwiches like they were going out of style during my pregnancy (at that point it was vaguely questionable as to whether it was 'safe' to eat them) to the other day where I favoured eating my dinner over the fact that he was yelling in demand for one of us to come and stroke his hair so he could fall asleep - because it was 8.30 and I am a pregnant blimp who gets dizzy and nauseous if I get too hungry.

Disclaimer:  Cooked prawns are (according to my midwife now, in my second pregnancy) in fact fine during pregnancy - swordfish and shark however are not... darn it! And I bolted my food that night like a competitor from Man vs Food before compromising and sitting across the room from BB's cot for 15 minutes, soothing and reassuring him all was ok and that it was time to go to sleep.

On average, I get struck by the Mummy Guilt Bus at least 10 times a day. It's preceded by the Self Doubt Fairy on my shoulder, who nervously twitches about, twiddling her thumbs and tugging on my earlobe, whispering things into my ear. Things such as 'Don't you think you should play with him rather than answer this email? ... He's been playing by himself on the floor for 5 minutes... don't you think you should get down there and 'interact' more?' or 'A Heinz Ready meal for dinner AGAIN??  What happened to feeding him all home cooked meals with a range of colours, flavours and textures?' or my personal favourite of 'Should you be working right now? He's not going to be little for long... you should be soaking it all up! Every second. RIGHT NOW!'.

We are so self critical and critical of others too. It is exhausting. And we are surrounded by statements and opinions that just fuel the fire. Only the other day, this post circulated around social media... another shame, another wagging finger.



I completely admit that I could not bear to be the parent who favours checking their Instagram instead of saying "hello" to their child after a day at nursery. When I pick BB up after any time apart, my phone is in my pocket or bag and away from my mind. I also admit that I would find it hard to witness a parent doing such a thing without feeling sad. But, that's just my own personal opinion and, really? It is none of my business. It wouldn't be my place to voice how I felt.

On another perspective... who's to say that the parent on the phone isn't receiving important information about something urgent? Maybe a possible emergency or some bad news? Could they be desperately trying to balance their career between their home life (what a tough balance that is?!) and struggling to know what and who to prioritise first? It is so easy to say 'Your child should be priority', but if you have a boss (you know.. the guy who pays your wages and keeps the roof over yours and your baby's head... that guy) who is on you about a deadline or a client who is your bread and butter because you are self employed and need to secure their custom to make your ends meet - if they decide to contact you at the exact moment your little one runs up to you with a finger painting... it makes for one hell of a tough call. Literally. Ha!

When did it become acceptable to put these notices up anyway? Because, if we are continuing in the same vain... I would expect to see where all the other notices are. Where is the 'Don't raise your voice to your child, it's appalling' notice and the 'Don't bribe your child with chocolate, it's appalling' notice? In fact... the entire wall capacity of every daycare/nursery/pre school/kindergarten could just be a mass wall paper of parental guilt and shame based on generalised opinion and circumstance.
If a child minder is concerned about a child's welfare and feels they are being neglected in any way, surely it is better that they deal with the parent/child in question, face to face? Privately?

Generalised notices like these leave us all victim to the 'Self Doubt Fairy'... and we instantly run the risk of holding a self analysis before feeling guilty and then defensive for even checking a text or email in the company of our tots... at any time.

And, believe me, as a regular RTC victim of the Mummy Guilt Bus, I don't need the side order of guilt and shame. I already filled up on the free self doubt and loathing buffet that Self Doubt Fairy has been shovelling down my neck since conception anyway.

Enough already. Motherhood is exhausting enough without all the tellings off, questioning and constantly being made to feel bad or inadequate. It took a lot for me to admit that motherhood isn't all I want or enjoy from life. There. I said it. The Self Doubt Fairy went a shade of puce with that one. It doesn't mean its not what I want to do with my life or that I don't love my son to phenomenal levels or that he is not my top priority; or even that he (and currently growing bump) aren't the biggest and most important parts of my life. It just means that there are other parts present, and that I am not going to feel guilty for having other focuses and interests going on. Nor am I going to be some cross between Mary Poppins and the smug Mum from Topsy and Tim on Cbeebies every day either. It's too exhausting to even comprehend?!

Halting the Mummy Guilt Bus isn't me being self righteous. At the same time, I also don't believe that it makes me selfish or a bad mother. I see it as being more of a self preservation tactic, the practise of not willingly giving myself a hard time over things constantly (well... if I can help it) and I try to make sure I am OK so that I can be there for my babies without crumbling to dust every five minutes from the weight of being this perfect, selfless, Super mum who never sets a foot wrong. I came across a quote the other day that said 'You can't pour from an empty cup - put yourself first' and it really resonated with me. I'm not saying I leave BB chained in the corner with bread and water before going out to get my hair and nails done. And, like I said, I would never greet him from nursery by checking twitter.

Of course not!

I'm just saying that I am a bit sick of the constant critics, and occasionally flick the Self Doubt Fairy off of my shoulder, step out of the path of the oncoming Mummy Guilt Bus (which is, by the way, driven by the types of people who put up notices in nurseries), and I focus on my own task in hand rather than downing tools at the drop of a hat all the time, for fear of not being 'perfect' and 'super'.

In fact... I am in the process of hiring a new fairy. Her name shall be 'Pat on the Back', and she shall kick 'Self Doubt Fairy's arse and decommission the Mummy Guilt Bus in the same way those nuns decommissioned the Nazi's car during that final scene of the Sound of Music. She shall help me believe in myself as a mother, to climb every mountain (ok... shall stop the SOM references now), be kind to myself and others as a human being and pat me on the back for all the good things I am doing. Because, personally, from one look at my kid, she can't be wrong and they simply must outweigh all the bad. 



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Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Night Time Delirium

I wrote this a few weeks ago now, in a semi delirium after battling the hell that is night waking. Somewhat controversially, I believe in the controlled crying method. Not in leaving an infant to be upset and in pain or hungry, of course if that is what is happening then I am there without question. But if it is simply because our son wakes up and fancies a chat and a party in the wee hours of the morning, then I choose my pillow thanks. And, after a cuddle and a reaffirming 'It's time for sleepies now', I lay him down and leave so that he can learn how to fall back to sleep without relying on me to do it for him... just like he learnt to roll over, sit up, walk and now (kind of getting there) talk. I don't want to chat and party... that's what day time is for. I'll have to write a post on it actually, since I wrote the entey below, we have actually had success and now get 10-12 hours a night. The ironic fact I am about to drop with BB2 is not wasted on me though, I assure you. Anyway, this particular night (technically morning) was trying. Controlled crying wasn't working, I hadn't the mental or physical strength to carry it through and it felt as though we would never sleep or function normally again. The following is me babbling it all out.. the peak of my delirium hitting in rhyme for the last paragraphs. For all parents, you shall nod knowingly. For all non parents, you will appreciate your slumber all the more! Either way, I hope you all enjoy the read and the glimpse I'm about to give you into that particular night of sleep deprivation:

"It's 3.30am. For over three hours now, myself and PB have been trying to cajole our 21 month old back to sleep.

It started out uneventfully. BB stirred with a bit of a grizzle so I changed his nappy and offered up some water and left the room. Then silence. I sank into bed again, confident that all was well. Then came a gradual babble of nonsense. Lots of 'Hi's and 'Who's that's (his favourite phraaes right now), with the occasional bumps and thumps as he launched himself from one side of the cot to another. Then came the excited shrieks and giggles. That then led to full on screaming.

I went in, patted his back til he fell silent and sleepy. Then left the room. Thirty seconds later the screaming started again.

To and fro, back and forth, each time losing a little bit more patience and peace of mind. Each time heaving my weary  pregnancy bump laden body out of bed to lean over and linger around a cot.

My back feels broken and my bump feels sore. And all the while, a triumphant BB smiles, and giggles and babbles at me for coming to his bedside... for nothing.

An hour passes and I have to lay down and stop my muscles screaming. Why does everything scream at me nowadays??

PB takes over, but the cycle continues.

I scoop BB up and bring him to our bed. If I can just calm the babble and get him to snooze.. surely then I can put him back in his bed and we can all get some rest.

He plays with my fingers and the hairs on my arms. He pinches my skin and traces my face. More babble and attempts to interact. He tries to sit up and wriggles around. It isn't working. Another strike out. I ask PB to return him to bed and he does. But when he comes back to our room, the wailing begins again.

Nappy is changed..  again. Milk is proferred. There goes my hopes of dropping the night time feeds. Failure and guilt tugs at my conscience but I simply have to sleep. It is guzzled down greedily but seems to fuel more babbling and screaming... and a temper begins. How dare we not play? How dare we leave him? How dare we try to tell him to sleep?

More taking turns over the cot. Controlled crying is attempted and failed... more over concern for the neighbours who are now banging on the wall than over anything else. One temper tantrum brinks on hysteria, causing PB to consider it being a night terror. Cue all the lights on and a lot of soothing. Which causes me annoyance and I descend on them both in the nursery, seething.

Out go all the lights, I storm up to the cot. Go to sleep is my mantra and lost is the plot. PB gets annoyed and says I've dismissed him. I just feel angry that he has broken the system. No lights on, no contact, no weakness should show. So we end up at logger heads, and both sit on the bed. Heads in our hands, BB shouting bub bye. Myself losing all hope of any shut eye. The buggy, its needed... get it out of the car! So PB puts his trainers on, and complains it's too far. I don't care, we'll try anything. I need to rest! I'm 35 weeks pregnant and meant to be on the nest! Bundling up BB, who was still full of chatter, he leaves and they go down the stairs with a huge clatter. I lay crying and losing all hope for myself... how can I give birth with such poor mental health? I miss sleep, and makeup and washing my hair. I know it's the way, sometimes life is unfair. Children and family are really a blessing. But right now, at 3.30 I can't help confessing. Sometimes it is hard... sometimes its a mess. So much worry, such heartache and such endless stress. If we could all sleep our full quota and get some more rest, there's no doubt in my mind, it would be for the best. But for now, it is simply a case of keep going. Of patience and nappie changing, more to-ing and fro-ing. One day, I will look back and miss these old days. But right now, I miss me.... in so many ways."