Tuesday 31 December 2013

Why I had you - A letter to my son



I had you because I thought you would give me something I was missing - the next kick, the next big high. I had you because 9-5 just didn't cut it for me anymore and the prospect of carefree days making cupcakes and meeting friends-with-buggies for coffee seemed rather appealing. I had you because I thought the new range of baby girls' clothes I'd seen in the department store last week were adorable and I quite fancied the prospect of picking out a pink outfit each morning. I had you because I thought that I could cope with sleepless nights, because the joy of motherhood would be greater. I had you because I thought that you would fit in to our lifestyle. I had you because I believed that nurture was greater than nature; that our love and care would be enough to make you 'just like us', or at least behave just a little, instead of running riot down the supermarket cheese isle or responding to everything I say with screaming 'no' and chucking stuff.

I had you because I heard that ladies were giving birth for centuries, and they did alright. I had you because I heard babies slept through the night from 6 weeks if you get them in a routine, or you fed on demand, or you co-slept... or something. I had you because other mothers told me I should, and they seemed to be loving it... except for when they seemed to be angry for no reason when I told them I'd slept in till ten O'clock.

I had you because I had heard that ginger was a recessive gene.

I had you because I had dreams of us making dens (you find them boring after two minutes). I had you because I thought we could read my favourite childhood stories in silly voices (you only choose the ones I don't like). I had you because I had visions of us painting pictures and making stuff (you prefer Maths).

You had me because you had to.

You came with no agenda, no rule book, no preconceptions. You accepted me because you had to, you had no choice. None.

I'm sorry.

I love you because you're you, because you scream until you get my attention, because my attention is that valuable to you. I love you because you make me laugh, even if I shouldn't be laughing at the way you just asked if that lady is a man. I love you because you teach me new things every day. I love you because you are determined. I love you because you want different things out of life entirely. I love you because you only eat things that are rectangular or square. I love you because you don't have the attention span to sit and watch cartoons; you would rather be discovering something new. I love you because your dance moves are awesome. I love you because you put worms in families.

I love you because you're a boy.

I love you because you're ginger.




Saturday 16 November 2013

Life's about film stars and less about mothers


As a wise philosopher once said "Life's about film stars and less about mothers." Or was that Lilly Allen? Anyway, I connect with these lyrics; I connect with the notion that mothers are made to feel less significant than celebrities. Mothers are low in social importance because, contrary to film stars, no one sees what they do. No one wants to know how many nappies you've changed today, or the monotony of how often you've rocked your child to sleep, or how many times you've cleaned up the food spat out from the several attempts at cooking and feeding him something he will actually agree to eat. No one applauds you or gives you an oscar for your dramatic depiction of a mad woman pulling her hair out at 3:30am (oh no, wait, that was real). 


I sometimes refrain from telling people I'm a 'mum' in case they don't take me seriously. I'm not sure where this comes from, but maybe it's the way people seem to talk about the aspirations they want to achieve before they "settle down and have kids" (What part of having kids is 'settled' I'll never know). There is a notion banded around the place that once you have kids you will have achieved all you want to do in life, you will put away your party dresses, put your career to bed and disregard any temptation to engage in fashion, hobbies or intelligent conversation. This, ladies, is why at 35 you are still wondering if you will ever feel ready to have children and the answer is no you won't. You won't because no one is ever going to feel ready to give up the things that are important to them, the things that bring them life or their passion for their career. 

It's interesting then, that since I've become a mother I socialise more, I have taken up new hobbies and I am more passionate about my career than ever before. Having Albie has given me a drive for life that I've not had previously - my time is limited, so I spend it doing the things I really want to do. My house may look a tip, but it's full of art and photography, poetry and music. Having a child makes you realise what's really important to you and I can guarantee you this: there's nothing like the challenge of looking after one to test your goals and dreams. If your passions are genuine then you will always find room for them in your life, your house may just resemble H&M after the January sales but hey, I won't judge you for it.

What I struggle with most is trying to juggle the things I do. I have to constantly decide which is the most important task, from the menial: 'put make up on or brush my son's teeth', to the major: 'look after my child or go to work'. I am often expected to arrange childcare at the drop of a hat because, obviously, if I'm a career woman working extra hours should come before my child, right? If I can't manage to arrange childcare last minute I am letting down an important client and may be seen to be unprofessional, but if I do go into work I am giving up my only 'son and mum' time and I'm also having to pay a day's nursery fees for what can often be just an hour's meeting. Actually, I can't blame them, they're just trying to do business on their terms, but here's how I do things on mine: I am committed to my work and I am committed to my son. I have no legal contract for either, but if I did here's the deal: my time with Albie is important, I will not get that time back. Ever. It may be an hour's meeting, or replying to an email or ringing a client on my days 'off' but contrary to what everyone else thinks, I do not have days off, I just have days on with lots of things, one of which is my son. My 'role' on those days is to give him undivided attention, not to stress solving work problems whilst he's clawing at me to build a giant donkey out of lego (yes, it was a challenge).

I guess my point is that it doesn't matter if people think your role as a mum is unimportant. Let them. There will always be people who care more about film stars and less about mothers. There will always be people who speak of full time mums as 'just house wives'. These people just express that they have no fundamental understanding of how raising children well will make a difference to the future of our country, let alone the health and wellbeing of just one child. 

There will also always be those who think mothers shouldn't have careers. Let them. These people have no fundamental understanding about the value of teaching children independence and forming healthy relationships with others. These people have no understanding that people need space from one another and that both mother and child may actually benefit from spending time apart and investing in the things that bring individual fulfilment. 

There will also always be those who think that you cannot be taken seriously in your career because you're a mother. Let them. I've had people tell me that women just screw companies over by getting pregnant and taking maternity leave, that it's 'okay for women' and it's the 'poor men' that are left to run the businesses. I'll tell you what, I'll do you a swap - you carry a melon for 9 months and then try to juggle everything whilst you hope to recover: your child's health and well-being, your home and housework, your career, your health and fitness, your appearance, your relationships. For a mother to be sat at a work desk at 9am on a monday morning means she's pretty damn committed to being there, else she would not have made the effort to dress the equivalent of a wriggly, whinging octopus at 7am.

When all's said and done, you are the only person responsible for your happiness; you are the one who chooses what to pick up and what to put down. You can't blame your boss if you work too many hours, you agreed to it. You can't blame your child if you've not got time for your hobbies, you set the boundaries. While you may think me unimportant compared to Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt, I can tell you that when I'm doing my Lord Farquaard impression, my son thinks I'm the best film star around. And that makes me pretty damn important.







Wednesday 13 November 2013

To be or not 'two' be: The decision for no.2.

When I got married people frequently asked me one of two things; the first being 'how do you feed the guy who once ate 34 slices of pizza at Pizza Hut all-you-can-eat?' and secondly 'when are you going to have children?'

If you're married you'll know how irritating that is and people will never leave you alone until the day you go through childbirth itself. People will then give you a bit of a break to recover and leave you to get used to parenting for a day or two until they ask you the next question 'When's number two?' This question was asked me three times within the first week of giving birth to my son which I took as extremely insulting, given what they knew I had just experienced.

People have asked me for a long time now the 'when' of number two, as though it would never really be an option for me to stick with just one. I don't mind people asking 'if', it's that 'when' word that is very presumptuous. These loaded questions make me feel, well, a little inadequate. I start wondering what went wrong when God handed out the 'motherly instinct' genes and I question why I'm left with a feeling of deep dread in the pit of my stomach at the sheer thought of a screaming baby in my arms. 'You will know when the time is right,' they all say. 

As Albie approaches his third year people have gradually stopped asking me those loaded questions and the piles of tiny baby grows that I kept for 'number two' are forming dust in my cupboards. I should be pleased that I'm off the hook, but I wince every time I give something of Albie's away, like I can see my idillic family of 2.4 children slowly trickling down the drain. I cling onto a few things 'just in case' because that feeling will come, right? I wait for the day that I 'forget' about childbirth like everyone says, but 3 years later it's still nearly as raw.

I used to wonder why people only had one child, I could never understand it. I never in a million years thought that would be me. I never in a million years thought I would be desperate, not for children, but for the feeling of wanting them. I meet women who speak so excitedly about the thought of having more children and it makes me think I have missed something somehow, like there's something intrinsically wrong with me. Worse still, I'm weirdly jealous. I'm jealous because they will have what I always 'wanted', or thought I did. 

Then I'm left with the guilt. There are people who tell me that it's selfish to have just the one child (which I often think is a very selfish thing to say in itself), as though I've made this decision all about me. There's actually not really a day I don't think about it, torturing myself that if I leave it another year there will be too big an age gap for them to be playmates, and if I have one now I will have a nervous breakdown and wreck my whole family anyway.

Smug mothers look at me puzzled when I say I'm unsure about number two, as their angel baby lies quietly in the corner making the odd coo and smiling blissfully. It's that lack of understanding that makes it all so hard - of course they don't mind having another if their baby only wakes once a night and they haven't experienced the joys of colic. Please don't think I'm weird but after holding a screaming child for several hours a day I'm ready to cut my losses at one.

But time does heal and I love being a mum to my terrible two year old, he is a handful but a very wonderful one. I wouldn't swap him; he is determined, he knows his own mind, he is very, very bright and, most of all, very loving. We have done well to have him in our lives, to get him this far without chucking him out of the window. We've done well to come out the other side and feel no less frazzled, but all the more fulfilled. We'd do anything for him, have another baby, even, except for the fact that when I asked him the question he scrunched up his little face and said 'don't like babies'. You and me both, kid.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject too...



Sunday 27 October 2013

Blog update

I've obviously been writing for quite a while based on my diary entries from when my son was born. This was originally inspired by the diary I kept at the time and I thought it would be great to write these up as an honest depiction of what life was like with a newborn. Well, now he is 2 and a half and those diary entries seem a very long time ago and although I have thoroughly enjoyed writing them up I have come to a point where I need to write more in the present (or at least not so distant past). Hopefully by writing up his first 3 months you've got an idea of the highs and lows of being a new parent but now I'm going to write up what it's like to be living with a toddler! I hope you enjoy :)

Wednesday 9 October 2013

On guard!

based on diary entry 25/4/11 (Albie 3 months)

I know we're supposed to have evolved from monkeys but seriously, according to the size of them, you'd think Boots chemist were supplying nipple guards to King Kong's 'Mrs'. Obviously I'll try anything at the moment to make my life a little easier but surely we've evolved enough to know that placing thick plastic between the baby and the baby's food is not doing anyone any favours. I mean, can you imagine if condoms were that thick? I don't think they would be in the shops two minutes before a scientist found a solution, but apparently us breastfeeding women aren't high up on the priority list. Maybe breastfeeding was never supposed to be about pleasure and closeness, maybe it's just a case of simply functioning - we provide a service; we merely need the basics. Once we're done with all this baby stuff we can go back to immersing ourselves in lotions from the Clarin's counter in John Lewis, we can do things like comb our hair and wear lipstick... but until then, ladies, you are mere milk machines. 
I tried a pair of these contraptions today whilst attempting to feed Albie. His face was an absolute picture - like, hey mum that's not my food?! He cried and fussed (nothing new) but then he proceeded to suck so hard that the nipple guards started to disappear into his mouth. I had visions of rushing him to a&e to get his stomach pumped. Maybe then they could see just how large his stomach is and just how much milk he can actually fit in there, because I swear he's an anomaly (not that I would ever wish for such an experience!).
So I gave up on the nipple guards. I gave up on trying to breast feed him in the night because it was taking over an hour each time and I was just so tired. At least Neil could take over when I needed and get some rest. 


Sunday 8 September 2013

"You're worth it, love".

Based on diary extract 23/03/11 (Albie 2 months)

My mum used to try and warn me when I was a teenager of how hard it is to have children. This would inevitably lead to a discussion about various negative post-natal body changes (which at the time seemed far worse to me than a baby crying several times a night). Not that my mum ever thought I was trying to get pregnant at the age of 16, but I guess there's always that worry in every parent's head that their children will decide to take on parenting that little bit too soon and, well, 'wreck' their lives. I think she put me off that little bit too much because I still remember those discussions decades later and it took a lot for me to decide to have a child and risk the inevitable stretch marks. She did, however, always end our discussions with 'you're worth it though, love'.
Years later, during my pregnancy, I would look in front of the mirror and see my belly getting bigger and bigger. I actually liked it - like a perverse infatuation with what my body was capable of (in this instance, looking like some sort of giant butternut squash with little legs peeking out the bottom). I found the whole experience funny, like it was some sort of game. Admittedly I was very blessed with good hormones during my pregnancy and what would normally have freaked me out I took in my stride, albeit a very clumsy one. I was very very lucky to have had such a good pregnancy, and maybe it was fitting that I should have such a horrible birth to compensate all those ladies cursing me with their morning sickness, like some sort of sick karma. Yes, that's really how I think sometimes.
Don't worry, I won't go into the birth story again, but it took everything out of me. For the first time in my life I wanted to die, call me pathetic but it's true. I felt a mixture of disappointment, pain, frustration and then the joy of seeing my baby for the first time. I've been through a mix of emotions and I feel emotionally and physically exhausted. I'm no good on no sleep. I've battled with a change of identity, feelings of failure and guilt and even anger. I feel like I sometimes can't cope, especially when I don't know why he's crying. I hate feeding him. To top it off I have a little pot belly.
I've had serious doubts as to whether I should've had children. Don't get me wrong, I have felt a special bond with Albie from day one - a love like no other - but it's almost been too much for me to cope with. I think that maybe he should've been born to a stronger woman, to someone more capable. That feeling of it all being worth it was so far removed for me.
Today, however, Albie has been on particularly good form (always helps) and he smiled at me all day. Neil and I took him out for lunch and he was as good as gold as we sat outside the cafe and had a bite to eat in the glorious sunshine. I suddenly felt incredibly blessed - it finally hit me like a tonne of bricks.  I felt lucky to have this little person in my life, this little monkey was worth it. Yes, he is. For the first time in two months I picked him up and honestly said 'You're worth it, love.'

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Make mine a paracetamol


Some people say funny things that don't seem to add up. When this happens, unless you have accidentally swallowed a huge 'gullible' pill, you generally have no problem with taking what such people say with a large pinch of salt. There are, however, some instances when people may say things that don't seem quite right but you would have no clue otherwise - for example, if Stephen Hawking said that we all descended from broad beans, I would not be able to query him because I know very little about biology. 
I have now learnt that some mothers seem to play on this trick because, when you are not one, the whole idea of being one seems a complete mystery and, when you become one, everyone's experience is so different that you really could not compare them. So, in reality, no one has a clue about motherhood and we’re all walking around like blind mice. 
There are some mothers who like to convince the - let's call them - 'non-mothers' that every mother's experience is the same. They are the mums that will tell a pregnant lady that she will never be able to fit into size 10 jeans again, simply because she couldn't. They are the mothers who say that you can still go out drinking every night, just because she is lucky enough to have a nanny (who is probably on the phone to social services).
Now, this may seem like a controversial thing to say, but when mothers talk about childbirth I have news for you: they all talk complete and utter twaddle. Yes, that's right, even me - I don't have a ‘scooby doo’. Just because someone had a caesarian, does not mean they would necessarily have to have one again and just because someone gave birth in four hours doesn't necessarily mean that next time their baby would come out like a pea in a peashooter. Just because someone gave birth with no pain relief... oh, but wait, that's different right?
Now, I'm not averse to hearing positive birthing stories - if it happens to come into conversation that you gave birth as you were putting the washing out and biting on a twiglet then good for you. I'm talking about the ones who, after giving birth, go and update their facebook status with something like 'Just given birth to Pricilla Rose, 7 lb 3oz, with NO pain relief!!!'  These sort of people usually have husbands who then echo the facebook status with "she did really well - no pain relief!", as though the ones who did have pain relief didn't do very well at all. 'No pain relief' statements generally leave people in three camps: 

• Camp 1 think 'Brilliant, there's hope for women kind!’
• Camp 2 think ‘Wow, she's hardcore’
• And Camp 3 think ‘lucky cow.’

So which is it? Well, possibly all three. The thing that troubles me is this ‘no pain relief’ statement in the first place. I've come across a ridiculous amount of women who seem to be desperate to blurt out that they gave birth without pain relief, like they have something to prove. Let’s analyse this further (in case you were in any doubt that saying such a statement is completely and utterly futile). Here’s why having pride in a drug free birth is ridiculous:

a). You weren't actually in pain: 
Really? Okay, we'll take your word for it, but if that's the case then you seriously can't be proud of yourself that you didn't need to take a paracetamol. 

b). You were in utter agony and you resisted pain relief:
You are a plonker.

So, the next time someone is adamant to tell you that they gave birth without pain relief go and tell them to write it on their CV in case anyone actually gives a damn one-day. Please tell them to stop putting these ridiculous pressures on other women because we all have nothing to prove. Nothing. If you love your baby then you've done enough. No matter how you gave birth you should be proud. 

Monday 12 August 2013

Octopus Smuggling, Toast Juggling and David Attenborough

It's funny how, despite years of women producing offspring, you only feel like a select few mothers know exactly what you're going through - namely the ones who are going through it at the same time as you. One such friend came round today with her baby in tow and we off-loaded our parenting queries and revelations to one another with great relief that we weren't the only ones.
I hate to admit it but I thoroughly enjoyed our time together until her little one needed feeding and she proceeded to place her baby under her top and carry on chatting. Hang on a minute, chatting?! She carried on as though nothing had actually happened - nothing. Feeding Albie, however, more accurately resembles that of someone trying to smuggle a wriggling, squealing octopus down their bra. Seriously, I'm like some kind of circus act. I don't know why I haven't actually joined one and then I could at least make some money out of the whole experience - I could even perform my 'juggling baby' trick which I'm pretty good at now: baby, toast, toothbrush, you name it, I can juggle it (although I may look slightly unkempt but it's certainly entertaining!)
As I watched my friend feeding quietly I suddenly became overwhelmed with the feeling of utter jealousy. She was taking the whole feeding thing in her stride; she liked it even. This was exactly how I imagined feeding would be; that you would just pop them under your jumper when the need arose and carry on with your day; that it would be a time to bond with your baby and have some relaxation in front of the telly. What am I doing wrong? Is it because I'm not one with nature; have I not watched enough David Attenborough programmes?
I looked at my clock anxiously as I knew that Albie would be due a feed any minute and I did not want to have to a) let the octopus out of his lair, or b) resort to a bottle of formula in front of a potential breast feeding fanatic. You have to be careful you know, the fanatical ones always seem to be those who have found breast feeding quite pleasant and if word gets out that you find it hard or that you 'top up' with formula, they look at you like you've just fed your baby David Attenborough himself. I'm not sure even he could satisfy Albie's appetite - I have created some sort of 'super feeder': survival of the fittest gone horribly wrong.
Of course my friend is not a fanatic and she was, in fact, quite sympathetic when I told her how hard I was finding it. I'm going to persevere but I do feel as though Albie is a totally different species to that of most other babies I meet, although I could just be entirely pathetic. I'm certainly not a survival of the fittest, I'm not quite sure how I slipped through the net.

Tuesday 6 August 2013

A case of 'motherhood'.

(Albie 2 months old)

A friend came round with her daughters today so they could meet Albie. She asked me if everything was going okay and I said 'yes' because I didn't think it appropriate to talk about breasts in front of children. She then went on to relay her own experience of breastfeeding her eldest daughter (said eldest just sat there with a nonchalant look on her face - she'd been in this position before and it wouldn't be her last). It made me think back to when my own mother used to talk about my menstrual cycle with her friends over the phone, as though it were as trivial as the price of eggs in Tesco. This is the same mum who gets embarrassed when her own mother talks about pantyliners in public. And I guess that's how it goes; one minute you're discussing your child's teething problems and the next you've broadcast to your neighbours that your daughter is cutting out sugar to see if it regulates her periods and stops that bout of thrush. I've no doubt I will have made it onto my parent's church notice board: "please pray for Lisa's cracked nipples".
I am starting to see my identity slowly ebbing away and being replaced by a new 'motherly' persona. It feels like this is happening through no fault of my own - like it's inevitable. I'm fighting it as though it were some sort of disease - I wasn't very careful and I caught a case of 'motherhood', so stay away before I start wiping your face with my own spit and forcing you to eat your greens. I sometimes wonder, though, at what point I will feel the urge to give in, to give up, to admit defeat and start discussing my son's toilet habits over the phone. Damn it, I think I already did.

Thursday 18 July 2013

Sexy cow

Went into town today with Neil and Albie. I left them in Costa so I could run a few errands and felt as free as a bird spending my life savings in 'Boots' and, what better, treating myself to new underwear. Yes, that's right, more nursing bras....
As I walked down to see if M&S had started stocking any bras with more thought gone into the design than a pair of long-johns, 3 lads walked past me, whistled and said 'nice arse'. I'm not sure if they were being tongue-in-cheek but I have been working out very hard lately and I thought that maybe, just maybe, they might have meant it. Well, I say I've been working out but what that actually entails is running on the spot in my own living room for 30 mins next to a moses basket, after wasting a ridiculously long time customising my own avatar.
I find it a little bit wrong somehow getting wolf-whistled as a mum. I feel like mothers should have a little more respect than that, like the kind you'd give a war veteran or something. Of course, I am in no way comparing myself to a war veteran, but I feel like I've just done something extraordinarily hard that deserves something more. On the other hand, the opposite sex still finds me attractive and I'm a little relieved that having a baby hasn't turned me into an ogre.
This is one of the things that I'm struggling with the most; my identity as a woman has been flipped on the head, like I've been slapped in the face with a giant sized nursing bra. Am I to be seen as attractive, or as a mother? Am I aesthetic or functional? I still want to feel good about myself; I want my husband to still find me attractive; I want to go out on a night out and feel good in a dress without the need for giant hug-in pants and I want to choose an outfit based on what looks good and not what is practical. I've noticed a lot of mums go to the extreme and either become some sort of 'glamour mum' or else find the thought of juggling another 'job' of choosing outfits and colour coordinating clothes so impossible that they just give up and go out in the equivalent of a brown paper bag. I'm not sure which category I fall into yet as I feel like a mish-mash of a young woman and a dairy cow. Still, at least I can still get a wolf-whistle, which would make me feel a little bit better if I weren't holding a carrier bag full of beige maternity bras.

Tuesday 9 July 2013

I'm a failure.

Based on diary extract 19/4/11 (Albie 3 months)

I decided to try and breastfeed again last night - stupidly. True to form, I fed him for the usual 10 minutes before he kicked off and fussed and fussed. By the second time I was in floods of tears. I'm a failure. Neil took over and gave him a bottle and told me to get some sleep.
I rang my mum today and she was very sympathetic which is what I needed to hear. I feel like I need to hear it from her that it's okay to find things hard.
Neil left for football and I tried to feed him again with little success. I felt so fed up. I nearly rang Neil and told him to turn straight back around.
How can something so 'natural' be so hard? I'm perplexed how a phrase such as 'breast is best' came to be. No doubt it was invented by mothers with tiny angel babies who feed perfectly.
We decided to get a curry tonight to feel sane. We even got to watch tv for an hour before Albie kicked off for the night again. Still, it felt like a treat because that's what we used to do at weekends. It made me feel like I'm actually having one.

Monday 8 July 2013

Don't call me Daisy

Based on diary extract 18/4/11 (Albie 3 months)

I feel like a bloomin' dairy cow. This combination feeding malarky is all good and well when Albie behaves himself but trying to find time to express milk when he's kicking off every 5 minutes is a nightmare! It would actually be so much easier to breastfeed - if only he fed okay!!
I know what you're probably thinking, that I'm a quitter. That I should endure for the good of my baby and I would be just opting for an easy life if I quit (yes, and?!). Don't worry, I would've thought the same of me before all of this.
I mean, let me get this straight, I'm not a quitter. I took my driving test 5 times; I fell off my bike about 10 times learning to ride a bike... but this? This is draining. It's not even like there's an obvious reward at the end.
Still, I'm hoping I heal up and try and breastfeed again. I'm not quite done yet... though I have to say, it's probably more to prove to everyone else that I will do what's best for my son even if it kills me, just like every other mother, right?! Wouldn't want people thinking I'm a bad mum now would we??!

It's weird looking back on this diary entry and seeing how I change so much from one day to the other (after reading the day before!). If I ever did it again I would hope I would feel confident enough to make the right decision for me, not just because of what others thought of me. If you're going through something similar, you shouldn't feel guilty for the decisions you make as a mother because the fact that it's a concern to you means that you are a good one. 

Friday 5 July 2013

Booby Prize

Based on diary entry 17/4/11 (Albie 3 months)

So today I made the decision to give Albie a combination of expressed milk and formula. I feel like a weight has been lifted... literally. Well, two actually: the emotional one of feeling like I don't have enough food for him (and not having a clue how much he's getting) and obviously the physical one.
I don't think I care any more what people think of me for it. I'm over it. I've done my best for him and I've endured as much as I can take of the pain for long enough. Since I've made this decision I am happy and, in turn, Albie seems happier too.
The fact I'm expressing means that he's getting the best of both worlds and I am able to have help with the feeding... and maintain my boob job for the time being ;) Admittedly I am currently sat expressing which is still a bind, but hey, it's worth it. It's like I've won the lottery today... or some sort of booby prize at least.
I feel like this decision has been a total brain-wave, like I invented combination feeding or something. I guess I'm sick of having to choose between one or the other and then feel guilty either way. There is too much guilt put on mothers and I've had enough of it - as Lord sugar would say, I'm out. I'll take my booby prize and go.

What do you think about combined feeding?

Thursday 27 June 2013

Your kid's poo may smell of roses but it still needs clearing up

As a parent you will probably fall into one of two categories - although I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule. If there are exceptions then such parents are obviously very secure individuals who would not be reading blogs likes this and instead would be writing the next 'supernanny' manual whilst sipping a herbal tea and singing something out of Mary Poppins. If you're not due to release any guides to parenting in the next few months then you may relate to one of the following descriptions: a 'Martyrdom mum' or a 'My kid's poo smells of roses' kind of mum. These are, of course, only revealed when parents are pushed to their limits and are feeling somewhat challenged about their choices as a parent. Let me explain:

"My Kid's poo smells of roses" category:
Such mums like to rave about how much they love being a parent and how their little one can do no wrong. When cracks start to show in their parenting, or their child's behaviour, they resort to a sort of code red, undercover operation in order to conceal that both they and their children are in fact far from perfect.  They're the sort that when asked how they are finding life with a newborn they say 'yes, loving it!' (when they are secretly tempted to curl up in a ball on the pavement and sleep for 3 hours). Their child behaves far better than yours, is cuter than yours and has poo that smells of roses. They're the sort that answer questions like "How was little Tarquin's birthday party?" with "Oh it was fantastic - such a delight to have 30 energetic children in our cosy terraced house, all munching on the delicious double chocolate cake I made... Of course I didn't mind that they got it everywhere, I love cleaning. The entertainer didn't show up either so I had to play a clown for 20 minutes while the children threw custard pies all over my Karen Millen dress (fake chuckle) - I've had it a while, Im sure the stains will come out it the wash. It was hilarious, we'll definitely be doing it again next year!"

'Martyrdom mum' category:
These mums like a good moan. No child or baby could be worse than theirs and no life could be harder than the one they lead. They use phrases like 'my baby was up all night'. Really? All night, or just most of it? Their baby slept far worse than yours did, fed worse than yours did, had the worst colic known to mankind... and no one had as traumatic a birth as theirs, don't even try to compete on that one! After all, everything is backed up with hard medical science... or something they read in Grazia magazine once.

I'm definitely more of the latter, I like a good moan. I wallow in my own self pity about being up all night with my little one, until I pop round to see my pal who was up twice as long. At the end of the day we're all in this together. All I ask is that whatever category you fall into, you're honest. Sometimes you have days where you can't cope and you just need that reassurance that others are there to help...your kid's poo may smell of roses but it still needs clearing up.

Which are you?

Monday 10 June 2013

"Bug"gies: why we all hate babies on wheels.



based on diary extract march 15 2011

There's a reason why buggies are known as such; they bug people, they bug parents, people in the street, people on the bus, people in the shops. Don't say you've never been bugged by one yourself because at some stage in your life you will fit into one of these categories:

a). You will have to give up your seat on the bus for a plastic monstrosity on wheels.
This seems like an honourable thing to do, yet in reality you feel that giving up a seat for an item that takes up three seat spaces is slightly unfair when, in reality, a baby does not need even one seat - it could be neatly strapped to his or her parent's chest. Besides which, the parent gets to occupy any available seat nearby to be near the 'baby on wheels' and gets to have a ready made shopping trolly too. This is made twice as painful when such parents are spotted on buses in rush hour. Could they not have waited for the 10am bus?!

b). You've been caught behind one in the supermarket, taking up most of the isle
...God forbid you get stuck behind a double buggy, equipped with 2 whining children. The worst kind are those parents who decide to go clothes shopping on a Saturday, pushing a silver cross pram down the isles of H&M and clogging up lift space. Do they not have a whole week off in which to go fannying around perusing clothes isles, is that not what maternity leave is for?!

c). You've settled down for a nice quiet cuppa with a friend in a quaint little tea room. 
All of a sudden there's a mother trying to barge her pram through the door, bashing it into everything in sight. Why on earth you would choose the tiniest of coffee shops to take your 'baby on wheels' is beyond everyone. Still, the mother perseveres to find a table that she can squash a pram next to to await her friend who has a buggy that's twice the size, eventually taking up two tables. People try to squeeze past just to order another coffee or a slice of cake, thinking that it would have been easier if all parents just stayed at home for coffee and baked cakes - is that not what women do on maternity leave anyway?!

d). You're a mother: Like me.
You've been given a dentist appointment at 9:10am and the only way you can get there is by bus. The bus doesn't pull up to the pavement properly, meaning that you have to hoist the baby up and ask for help from strangers who are wondering why the hell you are getting on a bus in rush hour. You then have to make a lady, who has a rather large briefcase, standup because you need the buggy space. Once you get off the bus the driver pulls up too far from the road again, and right in front of a bus shelter, meaning you have to do some sort of contortionist trick in order to get onto the street, almost tipping your baby out in the process. After the ordeal of the bus and the dentist your baby is getting restless for a feed so you decide to go for a coffee as you don't quite fancy feeding on the bus home. You look for a coffee shop that has ample room for a buggy and realise that these don't really exist, besides which your baby is screaming and you need to just find the nearest place possible. You try to open the cafe door with difficulty and no one comes to your aid, leaving you trying to manoeuvre the buggy back and forth and people look at you as though you were attempting to reverse up the M1. On the way home it rains, or worse, snows, and you've got the 'town buggy' which fits into smaller spaces and buses but can't quite move in general british weather, and you try to work out the rain cover, which is like when my husband tries to make the bed, it looks skewif and inside out (but you could have sworn that was the way it went). When you finally get back home you are relieved it's Saturday tomorrow and you will actually have the car, meaning you have ample time to nip to town and back without coffee shop stops and then you can go shopping and replace those saggy maternity leggings at H+M.

Which are you??




Wednesday 5 June 2013

How to get away with murder.

diary extract March 14th 2011
Last night Albie woke up pretty much every hour. I found myself getting SO angry with him, to the point where I wanted to banish him to the garden shed. Don't worry I didn't, we probably would still have heard him from there anyway. The images on the 'Cow and Gate' advert of mother gently caressing her baby seem a million miles away from my experience, let alone how pristine she looks - how does she manage that on no sleep?! The reality is me rigidly holding a child who screams for apparently no reason, with my hair resembling that of someone who has just been electrocuted and wearing a pair of milk stained pyjamas. Put that on your advert why don't you?

I often question what abilities we are naturally born with; the whole nature/nurture debate. I can definitely say that we are born selfish, or else why has my baby not considered what having no sleep does to me or my sanity?! Another trait which I'm sure is nature is manipulation. Are babies really that clever, you say? Yes. Here's why...

As I had just reached the end of my tether this morning, I went to tend to Albie's needs, muttering something about a caffeine drip under my breath. As I peered over his crib reluctantly, I no longer saw a whinging baby but a beautiful smile. He even gave a little chuckle! It would seem that something else we are naturally born with is to be complete suckers for baby smiles. I was left cooing away at him and laughing as though I had had the best night's sleep of my life.

That kid is going to get away with murder.


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Wednesday 22 May 2013

The formula for success.

I went to visit my family today which is always eventful, if only for packing my Gibraltar sized bag for a three hour visit and a one hour car journey. I swore before I had children that I would keep things simple, but this is keeping it simple. If I didn't take this monstrosity of a hold-all I would have to walk around covered in baby vomit all day, not to mention what having no nappies would add to general appearance and smell. No feeding cushion would mean a bad back; no moses basket - no opportunity of peace and quiet, no emergency milk - a day of crying... you catch my drift. So we basically drove an hour up the M1 as though we were jetting off on a holiday (I wish), or maybe more of an expedition. If you forget even one essential item the expedition would be far from a success.

As soon as we walked in the room everyone wanted to hold the baby of course. Grandma nearly dropped him which left me half in a panic and half chuckling to myself, watching everyone else gasp and leap up to catch him. Then all my friends came over - about 8 of them which meant that every space of the minuscule lounge was filled with bodies, passing Albie round like some sort of weird pass-the-parcel for adults. And you probably don't want to get to the prize, it doesn't smell so good.

Then came the point where he needed feeding and I started to panic that I would have to get my boobs out in front of all my friends and their partners (you all know Albie's feeding habits by now!!) but I don't want to leave the room because I know he will take an hour to feed and all my friends will have to leave. I coyly grabbed my bottle of pre-squeezed breast milk and gave it to Albie as the room fell silent and watched. I felt everyone thinking things about my feeding choices. One friend piped up with 'is that breast milk in there?' And I thought, 'phew, I'm off the hook'.

My Grans noticed the feeding bottle later on and asked if I were still giving Albie 'a bit of breast', which made me jump to my own defence: 'It is breast milk!' Then ensued a full conversation about mathematical formulas for how much expressed milk you need per weight of child and so on, leaving me wishing I'd stuck to formula in the first place so I didn't have to do any maths.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Two to town please.

Based on diary extract 10/4/11 (Albie 1.5 months)

Albie had two 'nightmare' feeds again this morning meaning I couldn't nap or get anything done. I seem to cope in the morning though - Mornings mean hope; they mean that the afternoon may be different. I try to calm him as best I can: I pace the floors, I wind him, I rub his tummy, I try to feed him but he tugs and pulls and scratches me with his nails. I persevere until he takes a feed for 5 minutes and then this process repeats over and over again. For hours.
Thankfully I managed to leave the house today which generally does us both good: Albie, because the outdoors seem to relax him, and me, because I feel like a normal person by talking to other humans, like bus drivers. Sometimes saying 'one to town please' makes me feel like I'm a free person again, just for a second.
I decided to take a trip into my work. This is a godsend, mainly because it takes no arranging and I don't have to apologise for turning up an hour late due to an explosive sick incident. I just rock up whenever and I generally always get a cup of tea made for me. Amazing.
I chat away for a while and then leave just at the point where I find myself turning into a martyr (or sobbing uncontrollably). They must think he's a little angel because he always sleeps the whole time I'm there. I feel like I'm going crazy.
True to form, as I reached my road his little beady eyes open like he senses home. He waits till we're just inside the door and then screams.
I tried expressing for his next feed but I couldn't get anything. Apparently you always have enough though, right midwives?! I've just prepared a bottle of formula. I feel incredibly guilty, but it's now the afternoon and I can't cope.

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Harry Potter and the Health Visitor


Based on Diary Extract 7.3.11, Albie 9 wks old.


I had the health visitor round today. She brought with her a trainee nurse; a lad who resembled Harry Potter, except with more acne. "Do you mind if Steve observes this session?" she asked, stood on my doorstep. "Erm, yes actually, I would rather not have a young boy look at my c-section wounds and watch me breastfeed," was the answer I gave in my head. What I actually said was; "Yeh that's fine," maybe in the hope that he would perform some sort of spell to stop Albie crying.
The health visitor proceeded to ask me all those personal questions I dreaded, leaving me wishing for a rather large hole to hide in: whether I had stopped bleeding and how tender my breasts were (Steve's eyes nearly popped out of his head).
While I tried to stammer my way out of the answers, Albie started one of his crying fits. The health visitor asked me if I'd fed him. "Yes," I said. I'm not sure what it is about babies crying that makes everyone assume that they're hungry, like that's the only thing that could possibly be wrong with your child. Surely if you didn't have a voice you would have a lot more to ask for than a drink of milk. Alas, no, a mother with a baby that cries is obviously not feeding him enough, right?!
The health visitor started to tell me things I could do to help with the crying. After suggesting a large list of things that I had already tried, she proceeded to tell me to invest in a grandfather clock. She said that the loud ticking would stop him crying. I started to check for film cameras incase they were in fact filming a scene from Harry Potter. A grandfather clock?! I told her that I didn't need one because I have an 'app for that' - and I do. It's called 'white noise' and it has been a life-saver for calming Albie to sleep. The setting that sounds like a hairdryer is the best and, no word of a lie, it is like magic. Unfortunately this only works when the crying is due to him being tired and not when he decides that nothing will appease him.
The Health Visitor looked a little agitated that I was not convinced with replacing my pocket-sized iphone with a 6ft wooden clock but I was not buying it. 30 minutes later and Albie had still not stopped crying. "Is he like this all the time?" She asked. "Yes," I said. "Have you tried feeding him?" She asked again, as though 30 minutes later her memory had been erased by Voldemort. "Yes," I said. After 10 more minutes of telling me where to buy a new clock, she persuaded me to try breastfeeding again (Steve's eyes had now fallen out). Albie fussed as usual but eventually quietened down and the health visitor said "There you are you see, he just needed a feed." And off her and Harry flew on their broom, leaving me scouring the internet for grandfather clocks.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

You're tired?!

This is my exact diary extract on: sun 6/3/11 (Albie 9 wks old).

I was in so much pain feeding him today - he was so aggressive and restless and I'm actually finding it pretty hard not to get angry with him, as though he should know what I've been through for him. I cried a lot today; I've just had enough and I want to pack it all in and run away.
Despite this, I managed to get out the house. Neil was supposed to come too but he was too tired. Well, you can imagine my response, "YOU'RE TIRED??!" That went down well. It's so much harder to take a baby out of the house on your own but I needed to do it - I have to force myself to otherwise I'll sink into a pit of depression; which in physical terms resembles one of stinky nappies and washing. I need to see people to make me feel like I'm still alive, that I'm more than a dairy cow or a cleaner. It's worth going out even if it's ten times the effort.
I gave Albie a feed before I set off which would render most babies content for a while. Not Albie. True to form, as soon as I arrived at my destination his beady little eyes opened, sussed the place out and then kicked off, big time. I tried everything but nothing settled him so I left my friends after 30 minutes and drove home with him screaming the whole way.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Mum Bore

I'm sure there comes a point in any mum's life when she realises she's become the mother she said she'd never be - whether that's resorting to using a dummy on day one, licking toothpaste off your child's face with your own spit, or even sniggering when they say a word such as 'fart' for the first time (yes, I'm that mature). The realisation of this hit me like I'd been slapped in the face with a wet fish (or by super nanny herself); I did indeed give my child a dummy on day one; I am now infecting his precious body with top up evil formula and I often open the door in my pjs at 3pm with baby sick in my hair.

Today I was looking forward to a day with my mum and my sisters to have a nice girly day to take my mind off baby things. We had a good old catch up and they all cooed over Albie, until some of his poo leaked out onto my sister's leg, but that's another story. My mum jumped at the chance to go and change his nappy (what is it with grandparents that even poo becomes cute?!) and left me and my sisters to have a good chinwag. The conversation started by discussing the latest gossip as per usual, except this time, instead of showing them my latest fashion purchase or telling a funny story from a night out, now my gossip sounds much more like this: "oh my god, you will never guess how cracked my nipples are!", which doesn't quite have the same ring to it, I'm sure you'll agree. I told them all the 'hot gossip' about the birth, down to the number of times I had to shout 'I want to die' and then informed them of my breastfeeding woes and my sleepless nights and before you know it.... oh god, no; I'm a 'mum bore'.






I'm a mum-bore, one of those mums who talks about boring and often borderline cringeworthy things that other people do not want to talk about, at least not in that amount of detail. It's one thing to do the things you said you'd never do out of desperation, but saying things is a whole new ball game. I remember my own mum discussing things like menstrual cycles on the phone and swearing I would never become a 'mum bore'. Oops.

I've often put 'mum-bore' syndrome down to just getting a bit out of touch with what is an acceptable topic of conversation, a bit like my grandma talking about her Haemorrhoids in public, but I actually think it's more the shock you feel in having to deal with so many unacceptable things that you need someone to confide in before you have a nervous breakdown. You want someone to tell you that it's okay that you've had a baby ripped out of you and you still have the wounds to prove it; you want someone to say it's okay for you to have a baby constantly stuck to you like a leach, or that you're eating chocolate for breakfast because a) you haven't had time to make anything nutritious and b) you need the extra energy for breastfeeding, honest.

Going through all this stuff is hard and you need someone to share your life with. So although I will try to remain dignified in the information I share with others, this blog is my release... sorry if I'm a little inappropriate at times but I promise not to talk about haemorrhoids or you have my personal permission to slap me round the face with a wet fish, or a super nanny, or whatever the hell you like ;)

Do you find you say things you thought you never would?

Monday 25 March 2013

Milk Police

Based on diary entry 28.02.11

Tricky subject this one. You all know I like to be very honest but I also like to remain somewhat dignified: I swore when I became a mother that I would not be the type that talks about things like nipple cream and maternity pads at a trip down the pub (a trip to the pub, what was I thinking?!). However, I write these posts to my younger, childless self and I swore I would be honest to those who wanted to know what being a mother was really like, so let's press on.

Breasts....  (I'm hoping my Dad hasn't discovered this blog yet). As I've mentioned previously I may resemble Pamela Anderson at her peak (no pun intended), but this comes with it's inevitable setbacks: one being the sheer discomfort, two being their change in job role and three being the fact I have to shove them into bras that resemble something out of a 1960's oxfam display window. I feel so sexy. Not.

More to the point (keep those puns coming...), I hate breastfeeding. ARGH, I said it! I may have to change my identity and lay low for a while to escape the milk police. You didn't think there was such a thing did you? Wait till you have children and they pop out from everywhere. Yesterday I even had a delivery lady ask me if I was breastfeeding, practically as soon as I answered the door (or did I just forget to fasten my nursing bra?!). I gave a tired 'yes' and she nodded in approval and said it was 'the best way'. See, they even go around in disguise. Now don't get me wrong, I do think it is the best way, else why would I be getting up three times a night to do it? But if I hear one more woman say that 'breast is best' I'll clamp their nipples in a vice and ask them what the hell is best about that sort of pain!

I was told at the start to give it a month and it would get better. 5 weeks later and if anything it's worse. I've had every midwife under the sun checking he's latching on correctly (which he is, apparently) but then why am I in so much pain and why is it now taking him over an hour each feed because of all his fussing? I've even resorted to taking expressed milk out to bottle feed him when I'm out to avoid the stress and the pain but I feel like everyone's judging me. I feel like I need to label the bottle in big red letters 'FRESHLY SQUEEZED BREAST MILK', in case any milk police work at costa.

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Saturday 23 March 2013

Chubby Bunnies

One thing that I found incredibly patronising before I had a baby was this statement: 'you don't know what love means until you have children'. Well, would you say I didn't know what laughter meant if I hadn't heard of Peter Kay; or that I didn't know what sadness was until I'd sat through 15 episodes of Eastenders?! Just because I have produced another human being do you think that some sort of chemical reaction has happened that's changed my very substance, my capacity to love? No. Else why would there be any mistreated children in the world? I know that everyone has the capacity to love or the capacity to hate. Do I think I have the capacity to love another 10? Yes. Do I think I have the capacity to want to chuck them all out of the window? Yes. As human beings we have a huge capacity for things which is only realised when put into practice. A bit like playing chubby bunnies. 

Then you eventually have a child yourself and you're told: "you don't know how you can ever love another… until you have two". Is this some sort of ploy all parents have to get others to procreate? Do you want us all to produce a bounty of loved children squabbling round our ankles until we are so loved up we start revelling in having our houses caked in sticky jam fingerprints and an array of monstrous plastic toys - until people start walking in our home and concluding that another 'Toys R Us' must have opened in the area?!

I for one am in awe of how much I love my baby. It never ceases to amaze me that after he has been screaming all night he can give me half a smile and I no longer want to throw him out of the window. As a parent I'm now just made more aware of our human capabilities for extreme limits (for sheer exhaustion without dropping dead for one thing!). Having my boy has made me appreciate mankind a little more; it's made me softer, more likely to cry at 'You've been framed' and more likely to invest in a small furry animal (no, really, I'm not going there). It's made me want to do silly things like pull stupid faces in public, invest in toys that take over the living room (and clash with the wallpaper) and sit for hours on end just rocking (that's not even out of madness, though it has crossed my mind). I will, no doubt, be the mum that runs miles to give my 10 year old his forgotten packed lunch box or who waits up till 3am after his first night on the town. 

I have no doubt that my feelings for him will continue to do ridiculous things to me that will change me for good - but (wait for it) not necessarily for the better. What? Controversial I know but I see many parents who love to the death of them - their lives are consumed with their children and they are left an anxious wreck. With any opportunity to love comes a choice - we can choose to love so much that our children turn into our 'most prized possessions' or we can choose to love so much that we set them free. That's scary.

I want my son to learn to make choices of his own - good choices that aren't out of an 'ought' or 'should' but I know it will be hard to let him. I want him to take his own paths in life (although I know that the first time he walks to school on his own I will be the mum hiding in hedges along the roadside to check he's okay). Most of all I hope my son learns that love is a choice. I hope he chooses the things in life that give him more opportunities to love and more opportunities for fun and laughter - whether that's travelling the world, playing sport, listening to music... playing chubby bunnies? You get the gist.

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Sunday 10 March 2013

My new accessory

based on diary entry 26.2.11

Before I had Albie I would make sure I invested in a decent outfit before I went out - or at least jazz one up with a decent accessory. I remember people telling me how when I became a mother my child would become my new accessory and I'd spend hours in Mama's and Papa's depleting all of my maternity funds on new baby outfits. I know many mothers like this but I am not one of them. My logic is that baby's don't have any knowledge of fashion. In fact, you'll find that babies seem to hate fashion because the moment you put them in anything expensive they vomit all over it. Babies, contrary to popular belief, don't care how much money you spend on them or check for designer labels in their baby grows. They want to be fed and cuddled. End of.

You would think, then, that when I became a mother I would not change my fashion habits. Wrong. I now have a whole new sense of fashion. There are certain fashion rules of thumb that I've lived by my whole life which have now totally gone out the window. For example:

1). Wear black if you put on a few pounds, it's very slimming.
Wrong. Classic mistake for new mothers wanting to hide their mummy tummies this - that is, until their baby vomits white sick all over them and it dries like cottage cheese. Best stick to those faux pas patterned outfits - 90s patterned trousers are ideal for disguising vomit.

2). choose a neckline that is flattering to your face.
Wrong. Choose a neckline that stops your gigantic milk jugs from accidentally making an appearance. Tops are now a practical item - and you may as well order several in that 90s pattern again to match the trousers, though you'll soon be wearing clashing outfits when all your shell suits are in the wash.

3). Wear the right shaped bra to flatter your size. 
Wrong. You don't need any flattering in that department because a) they're massive, b)You're partner won't be going anywhere near them and c) It's all about support and accessibility. You sexy thing you.

4). Have a haircut that flatters your face shape.
Wrong. Don't get a haircut. You'll be wearing it up for the next 6 weeks and dousing it in dry shampoo every 3 days. 

Despite all this, however, I do consider Albie my new accessory. Not for fashion but for more of a social accessory. I've always found large social gatherings a little daunting... I never have the right things to say when starting new conversations. Now social occasions are a walk in the park because no one even looks at me anymore... they are all too busy cooing over my son and if they get past him they just look at how huge my boobs are and then move on. Admittedly it's not the most rewarding existence, I'll give you that, but I am pretty happy to fade into the background for a bit and not have to talk about the weather or ask someone what they do for a living. That is, until someone asks to hold him and then I'm left explaining why I'm wearing a patterned ski suit from the 1980s.

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Wednesday 6 March 2013

Goodbye Jimmy Choos. Hello choo choo trains!

Based on diary entry 24.02.11

From the day I announced I was pregnant I was bombarded with 'advice' relating to the massive change of life that would befall when a baby arrived. It's funny really, because I always thought advice was a helpful piece of information - something which you could act upon when problems arise. So confused was I by people's idea of advice that I had to look it up in the dictionary:



Turns out I was right. Confusing then, when other people's version of advice is this:



What this advice really is, is a way for other parents to somehow place labels on other naive individuals who think that family life will be a state of bliss (oh how we laugh).
Here lies the top 5 'advice' given by parents to others:

1). In the midst of a pregnant lady recalling what she did for the weekend, this advice usually follows: "Make the most of having the weekend to yourself sweetheart, before you know it you'll be up to your eyeballs in shit and vomit and weekends will be a thing of the past."

2). When a parent is stood in a queue in the supermarket with a toddler having a massive tantrum (the toddler, not the mum - thought it's a close call), another parent will come from almost nowhere with those helpful words of 'advice' "It's all downhill from here love - it only gets worse."

3). When an expectant mother is innocently purchasing herself a new pair shoes a helpful shop assistant will say "That'll be the last time you ever buy anything for yourself once that baby comes and bleeds you dry. Goodbye Jimmy Choos. Hello choo choo trains!"

4). When a pregnant lady is still in her pjs at 11am on a saturday after being rudely awoken by the postman, he looks at her and gives a knowing chuckle "Just you wait, you'll still be in your pjs for different reasons next time I knock on your door at 11am. No more lie ins for you!" (queue evil cackle).

5). When a pregnant lady says she is feeling tired the whole room will go silent until you can only hear a tumble weed blowing past (because we get a lot of those in Sheffield) and everyone will look at her with a smirk... "tired?!! Just you wait!"

So when I received multiple emails about art competitions and the first thing that entered my head was "well, you don't have time for that now do you Lisa", I remembered the so called 'advice' given to me and out of sheer defiance and determination I got out my paints and started painting. I've realised that sometimes being creative is more important to me than cleaning, eating and even sleep (yes even) - and for the first time in a long while I felt myself. So I finished my painting which I did in half hour stints throughout the day, in between feeds and rocking Albie to sleep. Having a child has limited my time, which is a good thing because it's made me more determined to use my 'free' time for the things that are important to me... until I get interrupted.

My painting was a 'still life' of my immediate environment. It's entitled 'I don't have time to paint I'm a mother'. Long may the creativity continue... screw the advice.

How do you feel as a parent about being given advice? Has it been helpful? 
If you have any funny stories about being given advice please go to:
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or feel free to comment below! :)

Saturday 23 February 2013

Baby Brain

Based on diary extract 23.2.11

'Baby Brain': a phrase that is banded about the place that implies all parents are stupid - or it seems that way before you become one. Either that or just an excuse to be forgetful and make the world believe it's not your fault, like people are supposed to believe that when you begot another human being a chemical reaction happened in your brain and that, in turn, made your brain cells deteriorate at a rapid rate. Load of rubbish.
Today started pretty well to be honest, I seemed on top of things - even so organised as to sterilise my breast pump in time for the next feed (I've decided expressing and bottle feeding my own milk is actually easier and quicker than feeding him myself because he is such a nightmare to feed). I didn't, however, do the sensible thing of using an actual steriliser. No. Instead, I thought it would be quicker to just boil a pan of hot water whilst I was milling around the kitchen, under strict supervision. Of course you will know if you are a parent, that if you plan to do anything at all your baby instinctively knows to interrupt and Albie started screaming for a feed right on queue. Thirty minutes into the feed and I smelt the distinct smell of burnt plastic. I shot up and ran into the kitchen to find the whole pan in flames and the whole kitchen in smoke. I rushed back into the lounge to put Albie in his chair whilst I tackled the fire with a wet tea towel. Why I went towards the smell of burning with a baby in my hands I'll never know; Why the smoke alarms didn't go off either is another mystery.
You will probably be thinking 'what an idiot', as though I am not a rational human being and I have no sense of safety or logic. You and me both. My neighbour even checked everything was alright due to the fumes escaping into her house and then a friend popped round to find all the windows open and me nearly in tears over the fact I nearly burnt down my house, nearly killed my child and destroyed a £100 breast pump.
And there you have it: baby brain. I have no excuse, other than I'd like to see you try to function in a new job after 4 hours sleep, thinking for two people 24/7 when your whole life has been thinking for yourself. People will tell you baby brain doesn't exist. It doesn't. Being pushed to human limits, however, will do a whole manner of things to your brain. I hope it's reversible.