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‘I want to do it this way.’ The toddler answer to everything

‘But I want to do it this way.’ My toddler daughter’s way of asserting her independence. And that’s fine, a natural stage in development as far as I am led to believe. But does it have to be the reply to everything? Believe it or not, there are some times when mummy might know best and that really don’t need arguing about. And yet I haven’t found an answer that works yet.

 No, you can’t put your shoes on the wrong feet because you will fall over and hurt yourself. No, you can’t put both of your legs in the same trouser leg as it simply won’t work and again, you will fall over and hurt yourself. I guess the sensible answer is to let her do it her way and learn for herself, although when the possible result means falling literally flat on her face onto a very hard floor, this seems a little harsh. Answers in a postcard please. 

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Staring isn’t helpful……

So I was that mother today. The one in the supermarket with a small, screaming, red-faced baby strapped to me that everyone was staring at. At first I thought it was my imagination, but then it became more obvious and harder to deny. They were definitely staring at me. 

And for anyone who finds themselves in the position of the bystanders, staring isn’t helpful. Even if it was well meant or sympathetic staring, which I still can’t decide if any was, I am well aware my baby is screaming and no, she isn’t hungry or wet or being painfully tortured. All the staring does is to make me more aware of the spectacle we are causing and more eager to finish my shopping and leave. As quickly as possible.

Thankfully, a well meaning security guard stepped in to help me pack the bags as quickly as possible, (not an easy task with a baby strapped to my front and semi deafness in one ear due to aforementioned screaming.) I don’t know if this was to help me, or to move me along as quickly as possible to save the ears of the other shoppers, but however it was meant, the help was gratefully received.

And of course, as soon as we left the shop and were in the privacy of the car with no judging or curious eyes on us, what did I hear? Silence. With no witnesses to prove it. Thanks, baby girl. Impeccable timing as always. Calmness restored, at least until the next outing…….

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Back to Breast versus Bottle again

The breast feeding process has been a whole different experience this time. My second daughter latched on immediately in the recovery room after delivery and apart from a difficult second week when I had to revert to expressing to allow some open wounds to heel, we have had a ‘successful’ experience so far until our six week ‘birthday’ today. Long may it continue.

Although finding the correct word to adequately express how I feel about Brest feeding is tricky. ‘Successful’ could have been substituted for easy/wonderful/straight forward. Except none of those words really sum up the process fairly. Easy? I am not sure if mums are allowed to share how trapped breast feeding can make them feel but here I am admitting to just that. Breast feeding inevitably means a complete lack of any time away from the baby, another thing I am not sure mums are supposed to admit to needing to or wanting. But not a single hour can be spent away from a baby when you are the sole food source.

Wonderful? The best way I can describe breast feeding is like a drug. The highs are truly wonderful, better than anything else I have ever experienced. The bonding, the sense of achievement at successfully feeding my baby, the skin to skin contact. The lows? Pain that forces mummy to scream out loud and cry every time the baby latches when the latch goes wrong. Aforementioned complete lack of time away to recharge. Guilt that if I make the ‘choice’ to stop, I will be doing my baby harm and putting her at increased risk of diseases. 

Straightforward? I had been prewarned by a friend that breast feeding was the hardest thing they had ever done. I agree. It certainly ranks amongst the top five. Strange for something that everyone thinks is so natural.

My sole goal? Take each day as it comes. Do the best I can and when breast feeding becomes untenable, think again. 

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And then there were two…..

It’s been a long time. Almost a year, in fact. Baby girl number 2 was born on 03/03/2015 by c section. Mummy has two girls. I wonder when I will get used to uttering the phrase, ‘My girls….’ It sends warm tingles through my body but I have to admit to also feeling like a bit of a fraud. Mummy of two? Surely not. I can’t be old enough or sensible enough for that matter. That slightly harangued looking woman with baby drool on her shoulder? Me? And this brings to me to my latest thoughts on what they don’t tell you about motherhood. Other women float around looking like naturals while I walk around feeling like an actress who has taken on role that I haven’t researched properly and which I have no idea how to do. And that’s not through lack of effort. No, I have read everything possible on every baby topic around, that’s part of my slightly obsessive personality. But it still doesn’t mean I actually understand the rules of the game. I am hoping you aren’t supposed to and that all these other women are just better actresses than me. Time will tell, I guess. 

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Toddlerhood and the sleeping myth

And so it seems a fitting tribute as to how little spare time I have now as a full time working mum that I have only just got around to resuming this blog. The last post was when she was twelve weeks. She is now 18 months old.

So sleeping through the night, eh? Parenting books and websites led me to believe that my daughter should be sleeping through the night after six months. If not, there was a problem. She shouldn’t need a bottle after six months during the night, there is no medical reason at all. I was always fascinated by this fact. There may not be a medical reason as such, but I often wake in the night for a drink as an adult. I still find a dark room a little scary at night time sometimes when there are unexpected noises from the depths of the house. I am not sure I remember the last time I slept through the night even pre-baby and from speaking to other adults, this is not unusual. In fact, good sleepers seem to be a rarity, even in adulthood.

Bearing this in mind, why should I think I have somehow got a problem or failed if my daughter still wakes during the night even though she is not an infant anymore? She has had phases when she has slept soundly for around 9 hours, but these have been the exception rather than the norm. It is difficult to remember sometimes that a toddler is also an individual with an increasingly independent personality, so why should she conform to the specified guidelines given by the medical profession about what she supposedly needs?

Anyway, on that note, I need some sleep. Goodnight.

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The Feeding Learning Curve

So how much should my 12 week old baby be drinking every day? According to the guidelines on the back of the tins, (and I have compared several different brands,) she should be drinking 4-5 feeds of 180 ml each time, and now she has turned twelve weeks, that should jump to 240 ml each time. I appreciate these are just guidelines, but should I be worried that she cannot ever fit that quantity in her belly in one go? She has never moved past smaller feeds at more frequent intervals, and regularly only manages around 100 ml at a time every three hours.

However, she is putting on weight and is healthy and happy, and the guidelines don’t seem to take into account individuality. Some adults are grazers, and some like to pig out, surely that can be the same for babies? Breast feeding mums don’t have a measure on their boobs to tell them how much baby has drunk, after all. One of the most nerve wracking thing with a first baby is that every minute of every day is a learning curve. And a steep one at that. It is like being on a course every single day about something I know absolutely nothing about. As each day goes by, I begin to feel more like an old pro, and then just as a think i have something sussed, she changes the game. A false sense of security if ever there was one.

That’s one of the crazy juxtapositions of first time parenting. The thrill of discovering the new, contrasted with the terror of realising I don’t know the rules for this part of the game. It seems crazy in some ways to worry about the fact that she isn’t following the exact guidelines on the formula time; after all, she can’t read them and she is a human being, not a robot. But then, as a first time mother, it is difficult to keep the worrying at bay, and I am sure the wonderful gift of hindsight will show me just how unnecessary most of my worries were. I wonder what the next one will be?

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Surprising Reactions of other People to Miscarriage

One thing that has astounded me during my whole pregnancy journey is the way in which others have reacted to my two miscarriages. After one pregnancy loss, my husband and I found most people to be supportive and caring. After two pregnancy losses, some reactions changed.

Our close friends were still there for us. I will be eternally grateful to those people who remained caring throughout; who came to visit us in hospital, who sent messages just to check how we were, made food for us when we would not have had the motivation to do this ourselves. Those people who called to invite us out, and still treated us as ‘normal.’

Because many people did not treat us ‘normally’ any more after two miscarriages. It seemed as though our personal misfortune had somehow tainted their world, our unhappiness threatening their secure existence. Did they worry that our bad luck was contagious? Perhaps I am being harsh, maybe they simply looked the other way as our misery made them uncomfortable. Either way, it made a devastating situation lonelier than it should have been.

And then there were those women who feel judged. A situation as personal and devastating as pregnancy loss affects every person differently; speaking as someone who has been through this, I would not presume to know how another person would deal with this if it happened to them. During the height of my grief, I was told by certain people that I was dealing with my grief wrongly, that I should not appear upset in public, and that the person in question understood as they had had a long battle to conceive themselves and that this was somehow the same as my loss. This was all by other women. Not just other women – mothers.

Most people didn’t know what to say. This is understandable, it is a very hard topic to broach and thankfully one that many people do not have experience of. We really learnt the meaning of friendship during this time; those people who we knew were there without having to say it. Those people who didn’t judge, didn’t ignore us, didn’t turn their backs. Who didn’t make me feel like a leper because I had experienced trauma. Who understood when I couldn’t face certain situations.

We seemed to have become members of an elite club; one miscarriage is bad luck that others could relate to. But after two miscarriages, no one know what to make of us it seemed. After one miscarriage, it was surprising how many people had been through the same. After two, our pool of contemporaries got infinitely smaller. One thing is for certain, we learnt who our friends were.