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.