Persephone: Parent

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How Do Children Cope?

I know that they do, they must do. But how do children cope with new siblings?

Aside from my worries about being paid correctly, about how I will actually give birth, about making the wrong birth decisions, about how I’m going to cope with two all day on a Friday and all afternoon 4 days a week, about how I will cope with little sleep and a toddler in tow, my biggest unknown worry is about Elvis.

How will he cope having his world turned upside down?

How will he cope with this little baby who comes in to his home, his world and takes over things?

How will he view his sibling when everyone wants to come over and cuddle the new one?

Will he feel ignored? Will he feel left out? Usurped?

Will he even care, or just continue playing with his trains?

Will he eventually love a little brother to play football with? Or hate the little brother that steals his toys, that takes over half of his bedroom?

Will he care immediately for a little sister and become possessive from day one? Or will he hate all of the pink that she brings in to his world?

Will he feel like he’s getting less love, less attention, less time from mummy, daddy and nanny?

Will he notice when mummy is missing for a few days, labouring in a hospital?

Will he notice that daddy has suddenly started picking him up from nursery for a few weeks, allowing mummy to rest with the new baby?

Is he too young?

I know there is no optimum age-gap to have. Some people prefer very close together to either get all of the nappies, sleepless nights out of the way or to enable an amazing bond between two children with only 18 or 24 months between them. Some people prefer a good few years, so only one is in nappies, so the older perhaps understands more and can be involved in the journey of pregnancy. I tend to side with the former – smaller gap because, selfishly, I do not want to go back to the newborn hassle after a few years. It is something I would hate in my current mindset. I truly do not see myself getting broody when these two are over 10 and going for a third. But, would it be better on the children? With only one at home all the time, you get to bond better with each child. You might get more rest. And they would understand more. I would love Elvis to feel my belly kicking and understand what it is.

Everyone tells me that he’s resilient and adaptable, but what if he isn’t and I have to see him in pain and frustrated because I changed his world?

~ P

P.S. This is a scheduled post written before Robin’s birth, but as it is scheduled for February, Robin really should be born already!

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Poxy Weight Issues

Robin was weighed on days 3 and 5, she’s lost about 9.3% of her birthweight. Elvis got weighed on day 5, had lost 8%.  I’ve been advised to top up with expressed or formula but I wonder if either option will cause supply issues and possible latch problems if I use a bottle. Although our latch is better than the other day and my milk is definitely in. However, I’m so engorged, I have no idea if she’s ever draining a boob. So is she getting to the fatty milk? Although fatty/watery milk content is not that simple.

Meanwhile, I keep having hot flushes and severe shivers either from a post op infection, milk coming in or my engorgement has led to an infection. It happened last time so I want to rule out breast infection. Either way, we have an extra midwife check tomorrow to weigh her again and I’m really worried. I actually can’t tell you how frequently she feeds or how many feeds she has in a day. I’m not clock watching. I stopped clock watching at night to combat my insomnia about a year ago and I’m not starting now.

Surely it’s all about feeding on demand? And during the day she never goes longer than 3hours; she feels constantly attached!

Meanwhile Elvis has chicken pox. He’s dealing ok but he’s clearly not happy. All I want to do is cuddle him but I have a baby who may be losing too much weight permanently attached to me and my son no longer wants me.

It’s heartbreaking. It really is. I can’t lift him for another 5 weeks so I can’t get him in and out of his cot, take him upstairs. She will currently only really be settled by my boob and sleeps longer on me. But it’s me who feels like I’m failing both of them. I’m not getting her to feed properly and I’m not the parent my son wants or needs at the moment. And Elvis being poorly breaks me. He’s why I discharged from hospital early. And I can’t do anything for him. And she may not be thriving.

Happy Saturday,
~ P

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The Failure of Those First Few Weeks

I had felt like I was over the first few weeks of Elvis’ life. The few weeks where I hated everything. where I was desperate for some sleep, where I actually kind of wanted to send my son back or have him returned to me as a toddler. I’m not even sure how long those few weeks were. Was it just 4? Was it nearer 8 or 12? I remember at about two or three weeks old, I strongly considered returning to work just for a lunch break. I remember within the first 4 weeks, desiring a toddler more than a newborn. I remember at about 8 weeks old deciding that I could no longer bedshare, by 3 months old we weren’t anymore. If I looked at my diary, if I re-read all of my blogs from that time period, I would be able to pin point all of those moments with a to-the-hour accuracy. But I don’t want to because I don’t want to dwell on the past. I don’t want to think about my failures, I don’t want to be reminded of how, why and when I was a lousy parent. And I think I had got over the failure, the lousiness, the disappointment in myself (disappointment that, after wanting something so much and trying and fighting so hard to get, it was not as amazing as I thought it should have been. Not that I ever thought parenting was going to be easy), except now I keep thinking about it.

Is it because I’m due number 2?

Is it because I see more and more people I know have babies and not fail?

Is it because I do worry and fear that it will happen again?

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Guilty Love

This is what I feel with regards to Robin, to the unborn baby that actually, I don’t necessarily even love. I don’t hate him/her. I just don’t know them. How am I supposed to love them?

Do some mums feel that kind of rush of love when they get that positive test? When they feel the first kick? Or when they first hold their child?

I don’t think I ever really did with Elvis. I felt immense relief when he was born – that an impossible journey was over. Finally.

At some point I fell in love with him of course!

But now I face the problem of the sibling.

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Adaptation

Just a quick, non-scheduled, blog entry. I’m 39 weeks today by hospital scans and for the past few weeks I have been telling Elvis that there’s a baby in my tummy, that certain things are the baby’s. For the past week, my Braxton Hicks have also changed. Where they were just tightenings, a hardening of all my tummy, a pause in my concentration and a rapid heat come over me, they don’t feel quite like that anymore.

Elvis has now started to point to things and say baby whilst signing it. Within a few days of me consciously introducing the concept. I’m not sure if the room manager at his nursery being pregnant has encouraged his knowledge or the staff there in general have been helping him understand or perhaps the younger children he sometimes shares a room with.

Or he has magically adapted!

(Oh, and, yes, he’s started talking! He loves saying Batman, Santa, Da and Nana. I don’t need a name!)

It amazes me that he seems to have some understanding of the baby and gives me hope that I’ll make the right decisions with regards to Elvis visiting me in the hospital.

As for my Braxtons, well, the changes could be anything. I firmly believe that Braxtons at any point are not wasted, they should not be viewed as abnoying or time wasting. They are your body preparing. I also believe that, even though I have never laboured, my muscles are still weakened, practiced so I’m likely to feel things more this time no matter what the changes to my Braxtons are.

There’s an elemeny of uncomfortableness with them now. Starting in the middle of my tummy and the actual tightening is barely realised by me anymore. I get a few back cramps at different times, but winder if that’s more Robin’s positioning. I keep getting scared that it’s actually going to happen. I keep getting scared that it won’t. My mind has no idea what it wants my body to do or not to do.

I’m still scared of having a newborn. About feeling like a parental failure again when I become a sleep deprived mess.

My bags are packed and aside from getting new cot sheets, I’m ready for Robin. Except I feel far from actually ready.

I have no idea if I want Elvis to visit me in the hospital. I fear making the wrong decision.

~ Pxx

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Baby Communication: 18 Months

I’m going to start this on a positive. Elvis has soooo many signs in his vocabulary now! I’m amazed as he was such a slow starter. So, what do we have?

More, bathtime, getting dressed, food, open.
Banana, drink, bedtime.
Cow, bunny, sheep, cat, frog, crocodile, spider, bird, duck.
Elephant, lion, dog.
Light, sun, sing, read.
Car, bus, home, train, boat, tree.
He can sign mummy and daddy but very rarely! I’m sure I’m missing some.

For most of the animals, Elvis also makes the noises.

Now for the “words”. Well, we don’t have as many at all.

Nee-Naw, brrrm, tractor, copter (helicopter), ooh-ooh (choo choo train).
Uh-oh, bye, no, yeah.
And the animal noises from his signs.

He cannot say mummy or daddy. He does not make much variation in noises and it is getting me down a bit.

I’ve done some reading and speech ability has a genetic component — I had speech therapy at 4 because I could not speak, I had no verbal communication at all so Elvis is doing far better than me! But I still,despite knowing this, wprry that we’rr doing something wrong. That it is our fault when we’re doing everything recommended. And Elvis’ understanding is amazing.

From his forewarning a poo was coming to him following directions witha two or more step process and recognition of pictures (he can point to animals in a book that only appear in that one book). So I know that it isn’t language fully and that we are doing things right, he just doesn’t want to talk!

Neither did I!

~ P

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VBAC Agreement

I had my final VBAC midwife appointment and had the consultant sign off my plans – c-section at term +12 if I haven’t already had a baby of course!

And I just feel so tired. Physically, mentally. I have no fight left even though I haven’t had to fight any medical people. Yet (I worry that I will as I reach term). Somehow I still feel like I’m too tired to fight. Maybe I’m too tired to keep juggling everything – work, pregnancy, mother to a toddler, being a person. Maybe I’m tired. Maybe I’m finally succumbing to the awful cold that has plagued my house. Being pregnant, doing what’s right for my health, Elvis and Robin is draining.

Maybe I just want February to hurry up and get here.

I physically ache. One hour of shopping leads to agony. A night of recuperative sleep is no longer a fix all remedy to my aches and pains. Sometimes I feel like becoming a mum has cost me so much. Sometimes I feel like being pregnant this time has cost me so much.

Other than at work, I don’t socialise. I don’t let Elvis socialise (he does get it at nursery of course). This pregnancy is so much harder than my first. I spend a huge chunk of my night, my time, sitting on a gym ball. It makes me unproductive. It makes me unsociable.

I wonder if anything will change when Robin arrives. The exhaustion and pain makes me snappy, makes me lazy and I fear for my parenting. It makes me fear if I can recover from this laziness once Robin’s here. Will the newborn exhaustion stop me being a good parent still?

Then I question my social life. I enjoyed my year with Elvis. The new friends I made and saw all the time who all slipped away when I went back to work because of my juggling acts – a ball had to drop. The existing people in my life who were also a ball too many. Will I be able to pick up a ball in a few months?

And will there be any point when a year later I’ll go back to work and potentially have to drop one again (although will I have the pregnant ball again? Doubtful). I guess I’m just feeling really down and know that I still have 3 weeks until I reach term and then another 5 until it will be over. 8 weeks of back pain, of pelvic discomfort so bad it’s physically draining.

And then a new period of exhaustion and pain.

~ P x

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What I Learnt

First time around, doing all the reading and attending all the classes, I was under some huge pregnancy and parenting misguided notions, and I’m hoping that second time around I’ve learnt from those facts or helpful advice.

1. Having painkillers, epidural or an actual C-section is not the easy way. It is not the cowardly way either. It makes you no less of a woman, parent or human being (even if I do have some vagina jealousy — I am jealous of those who have given birth naturally).

2. Having painkillers, epidual or a C-section will not stop you from breastfeeding.  I swear, these things are the very reason I was so anti having them all. Every antenatal class, all the breastfeeding information made it sound like painkillers, etc would seriously hinder breastfeeding. I am in no way trying to say that they don’t have an effect on bf, but I successfully fed for 366 days and had pain relief, epidural and a C-section. I asked a friend the other day and she said she remembered feeling like that – her two children were C-sections and breastfed. Even worse, on my first meeting with the VBAC team, the midwife, after asking how I fed Elvis and how long for, then told me that a having a C section in general causes problems for breastfeeding. Did you not hear me, woman?

3. Babies who breastfeed will do so constantly, on demand, they will be clingy and only want Mummy for milk. Nope. I was so worried about getting a clingy baby just because I was feeding.  My son never rooted around for milk on me and has always had a streak of independence. I wonder if he can’t smell sometimes, because he truly never rooted. I watched 9 month old baby-friends get tired and root on their mums, never, ever happened with Elvis.

4. All babies have growth spurts. All babies will have sleep regressions. Well, I never noticed either in 15 months.

5. Formula fed babies sleep through the night quicker than bf. That’s funny! I did, in those first two months of sleep deprivation worry that my bf baby would never sleep through the night. At 4 months my bf baby was, my formula fed baby friends still aren’t at over a year. Even now I know toddlers 6 months older that have far more sleep issues that Elvis, now they’re all on cow’s milk so clearly it has nothing to do with formula versus breast, it’s just the person!

6. Babies cannot self wean from the booby before a year. Well, I stopped offering at 9 months and he didn’t ever ask for it (I did still force him twice a day!)

7. Everything passes. Everything gets better. In those first few weeks I truly couldn’t believe those things. People told me that after 2 weeks things would look up, then 1 month, then 2. Nope, it was never going to happen. I could not see that far away. I could not see how it would ever happen. Well, it did. I survived.

8. Dummies are awful, a human nipple and should be weaned by one. My son had the human nipple option and screamed when all he wanted to do was suck to sleep and he kept getting milk from me! As for weaning by 1, Elvis only has his dummy in a cot and is never allowed it elsewhere. He isn’t addicted to it, he doesn’t take it everywhere with him. He simply sleeps with it. How is that awful?

9. A C-section is awful, painful and, as it’s major surgery, will leave you bed-ridden and mentally scarred. A natural birth is easy and has no long lasting effects. Ummm, how about tears, stitches, being unable to sit down, forceps causing headaches. I know some mums who have issues regarding having had a C-section, but not me. It was the best thing for me and my baby at that point.

10. Every baby can take a bottle. Okay, we’re talking breastfed here and maybe, with enough practice they can. Maybe once you find the right kind of teat and you can express enough, or find the right formula that doesn’t upset their tummy. And maybe if you can get them to accept it from you, Daddy or a complete stranger. Maybe if you don’t have milk that needs flash boiling to stop it spoiling after a few hours even in the fridge. All that effort? For a night out? Dude, I have the rest of his life to have a night out, go to the cinema, so rather than figure all of that stuff out, I will not leave my baby for more than 3 hours at a time. And don’t tell me otherwise.

11. Some babies don’t like cuddling. I honestly thought that every baby wanted to be held. Elvis didn’t.

12. Breastfeeding is natural and won’t hurt if you’re doing it right. Really? So, just because something is natural means that you’re perfect at it straight off? Sex is a natural thing, right? The means to procreate is nature at it’s best, yes? So was your first time amazing? Did it rock your world? Did you get pregnant the first time you ever did it, of the first time you wanted to conceive, did you? Or did it take practice to become fantastic? Did it take time to get it right and make a life? So why should breastfeeding be fantastic and perfect straight away? Yes, babies are born with a suckling reflex, it by no means means that they can latch on perfectly straight away. Once established, feeding shouldn’t hurt, if it does, there probably is something that needs correcting. But at the beginning… nature isn’t perfect. And in that time where nature has an imperfection, where mum and baby are both learning something new, perhaps awful things occur, but no one mentions blood blisters, milk blebs, mastitis and engorgement before baby arrives, do they?

13. Something I wish that hubby had been a bit more aware of and I only told him about the other day – when a woman’s milk comes in, it can hurt. I could barely hold Elvis against my chest for a day or two because my breasts ached so badly. Hubby never realised this and didn’t try and take over a simple act of lifting him up to change his nappy.

I know that every baby is different and maybe Robin won’t sleep through as early. Maybe Robin will never learn to feed quickly. Maybe they will be clingy and only want me for milk. Maybe I will have a C-section again. But I survived one birth, newborn and year. I can do it again. The biggest difference that Robin will bring is I won’t pander to anyone else’s needs but my family. Maybe with an increased parenting confidence I will also find the confidence to tell people to butt out of our lives!

~ P

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Number Two/How?????

I read a blog by Mum of Boys, and, well, oops, I didn’t plan a second, but, here are my thoughts (my initial thoughts are – What? I won’t be welcome at under-1 groups? At all? Or at my mummy friends houses? How will playdates go for Elvis? How will they go for Robin? Holy, crap.)

  1. Apparently the second pregnancy will be harder, there’ll be no lazy cuppas with other pregnant mums-to-be and you’ll be covered in food, dressing more practically
  2. Being unwelcome at Mummy groups – or your toddler and “been there done that attitude” won’t be welcome
  3. More sleep in the hospital than in the few years leading up to then
  4. You will welcome visitors, simply to entertain the toddler
  5. You will be up and on your feet much quicker, if only to get the toddler out of the house!
  6. You will not sleep when the baby sleeps, you’ll be watching toddler TV
  7. No morning lie-ins after a night of feeding
  8. There will be no time for friends and a social life, even online
  9. You’ll “miss” the developments of the second as they appear from out of nowhere whilst your attention is on the older child
  10. You will not, even for one second, regret the decision to have number 2.

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Goodbye To You

Honestly, in the past year or even more, I have been such a push over. I have let people judge me, my friends and my family and never said a thing. Simply stewing in my resentment in private. And when I have ever said anything, it has been dismissed as if what I think, what I feel does not matter.

Do you know what actually angers and upsets me most about all of this though? It isn’t that I let it all happen to me, it isn’t that my family and friends have so little regard for me that they treat me like nothing, no, it’s that I can already see it all happening to my son.

And I refuse to allow that to happen.

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