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Congratulations! You Cease To Exist

A.K.A Grandparents think they’re far too important!

I am so going to get into trouble for this post! I got a text a while ago announcing a birth. It reads: Hi just to let you know Baby Blah Blah was born this morning. Mum is battered and bruised but my new grand daughter is worth it xxx

Oviously the baby was not named Blah Blah. No, first off, I found it very impersonal that the new babba’s Grand mother did the announcing. I don’t believe that it is a Grand parent’s prerogative to do this, although, perhaps she was tasked with this by both parents. It was my husband’s job, not my mother’s. But that’s me and my family.

Secondly, I found the message hugely disrespectful to the mum in question. Now maybe that is simply because I have had such an issue with identity since becoming a mother. From before Elvis was even born, my mother insisted every other day that no one would want to visit me, they were all coming to see Elvis. No one would care how I was coping or processing things, everyone would want to hold Elvis, know how he was doing. I would, according to her, cease to exist. What even to my husband and own mother? How can I cease to exist when I was, at that point, the person who had just had major surgery and was the most important person to that little baby?

So, perhaps due to my own issues, I find the comment that “my new grand daughter is worth it” almost revolting. Really I do. First off, what exactly did you do in getting the grand daughter? Wait outside in a waiting room, or back at home. Did you get battered and bruised? Maybe you did 30 years ago, but do you want the world to know that? Meanwhile, how does your daughter feel? Oh, you’re in pain, never mind you have a daughter now and I’ll shout it all to the world.

People have to stop only seeing the baby in a birth. People have to stop telling mums to get over the birth because all that matters is the baby that they have. People have to stop only wanting to see the new baby. People have to stop deciding that they are more important than a parent.

I think Elvis’ grandparents had an issue with me breastfeeding him. I had one grandparent ask me if I was breastfeeding purely to lose weight. I had another, after we’d started weaning him, declare as they fed him spoons of yoghurt “see, mummy’s not the only one who can feed you”. Do some grandparents think that their grandchild is a do over? Do they think they are as important, have as many rights as the parents? Why did we have some grandparents race across the country to meet their grandson and then never send a Christmas or Birthday card to him?

I can remember one hot August day last year when Elvis was still under 3 months old and we were too far from home when he got hungry/thirsty and would not stop screaming in his pushchair and I started to get really upset, walking as fast as possible to get him home and my mum, in the way she does, spoke to him as if he understood completely and said “You’re upsetting my daughter.” And I remember thinking, yes, I am still your daughter. I am not just the person who gave you a grandchild. I am still me. I will always be me and sometimes, selfishly, I want everything to be about me.

And that poor other new mum, in her battered and bruised state, was completely overlooked on the day that she did one of the hardest things a woman a can do, a day that can be one of the most amazing days in a person’s life, was ignored. Sure, that child becomes the most important person in the parents’ lives, but you still have to consider each other and others. And, as a grandparent, if you annoy the parents, you can be written out of the story.

Have you ever felt pushed out of your own family by others?

~ P

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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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No Man’s Land. Again – Clothing

When I was pregnant with Elvis I didn’t spend that much on maternity wear. I think I lived in the same four t-shirts for the majority of my time and I bought my maternity trousers in the January sales. I’m pretty sure that I made it to half way through before hitting the maternity wear. Possibly slightly after.

Well, I haven’t made it that far this time!

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He Wants Milk

That is, by far, my most hated sentence from the past year. I hate those three words.

They were okay at the beginning, none of us knew what Elvis wanted at any given point so he wants milk was highly likely.

For a while, as he cut down his feeds to just the three and then two, now one, I stopped hearing those words. I stopped saying those words. But then, a few nigts ago, in the middle of the night, amidst baby screaming, hubby said it again: he wants milk.

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My Breastfeeding Journey: 12 Months Later

I might post this a little after 12 months, to see how the holiday affects our feeding, but I do know that I am so proud of myself. At the beginning, I could not imagine even making it two weeks, then one month and then six months seemed doable and manageable. In fact somewhere after 4 weeks, it all just clicked and everything blurred until I realised he was six months old and BAM! Now we’re at the ultimate goal, the finishing line I really thought I’d never even see.

In those first few weeks I read the horror stories – breastfed babies who only feed to sleep, breastfed babies who drop all of their daytime feeds at 4 months and feed every 2 hours overnight, babies over one who still need to feed constantly overnight whilst you’re trying to manage work, parenting and being a person. All of those fears coupled with the pain and the fact that neither of us were naturals, meant that the idea of keeping going for a year was just a dream.

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My Breastfeeding Journey – 11 Months

In retrospect I probably should have tried to post regularly about my breastfeeding journey. It was difficult at the beginning, so very very difficult. By three weeks old I was able to feed in public but it hurt, there were latch issues although Elvis and I had established a routine.

Somewhere along the way it all became second nature, just how everyone and everything seemed to imply from day one! We didn’t need the lights on to organise a night time feed. I didn’t need nipple shields. It became normal.

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Countdown to Graduating

It’s gradually creeping up on me: Graduation, the time when I graduate from my maternity leave, from The Other Side and return to work.

I want to say return to normal, but nothing will be the normal that it once was ever again. Nope, I just have to figure out a new routine, a new way of doing everything. Which is why I’m chilling out now. Elvis only wants to nap in his cot? Fine, I’m going to enjoy my time at home, relaxing before I graduate. Elvis needs to learn to nap at Nanny’s. Nope, I have even longer before he’ll be going to Nanny’s once a week and who knows what his schedule will be like at 15 months so I’m going to chill about it.

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The Little Details: Dressing For The Ocassion

Another of my quite random, possibly obscure, things to think about before giving birth!

All of the baby books make a huge point about taking maternity clothing with you to the hospital (umm, wouldn’t that be what you’re wearing?) because after you give birth you’ll still look about 6 months pregnant. Well, kinda, duh, you’re not gonna be back to pre-pregnancy just because the baby’s out, are you?

Elvis was due in the middle of May; I did my maternity shopping in the January Sales and bought trousers, lots of trousers.

Then we got the hottest summer ever!

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Monthly Update: Month 10

Weight: 22lb 5oz at 9.5 months.

Bedtime: Still at 7pm, maybe slightly earlier if he finishes his milk quickly.

Naps/Length: Still 2 or 3 a day, from 1hr to 2hours depending on total over the day.

Number of feeds in 24hrs: 2, and sometimes just the one! We might not make it to 12 months of breastfeeding at this rate! I now give Elvis a cup of cow’s milk with breakfast simply because he stopped eating his cereal.

Favourite toy/objects: Cubes, books, balls from his ball pit.

Clothing age: 9-12 months for everything.

Foot length: 10.9cm

Milestones: Can stand unaided for… quite a while. We’ve never managed to time it! Don’t think he’s done any others. He can put objects into a box. Oh, and he’s started clapping!

My swimming ability: 1058m on average.

What I’m reading: Still on Clash of Kings, I keep seeing the countdown for season 4 and thinking, oh I only have a few chapters left… I will try and finish it this weekend! Challenge, accepted!

New Foods: He’s eating meat now and still loves his pasta. I’m not sure we’ve given him anything new. Unless you count the prawn cracker I naughtily gave him. Or the cheesecake my Auntie gave him without permission!

Number of Stairs: All of them, I just haven’t timed him. He hasn’t figured out the safe way of coming down though.

Time Across the Landing: Haven’t timed him in a while. Oops.

Words: None. Booo! I did read somewhere that language is hereditary and I was a late bloomer. I didn’t start speaking until I was 4 after speech therapy, so he has a while to go before I worry!

Fears: He doesn’t like me pretending to be an elephant. Weirdo. He dislikes having doors closed but I think that’s more a dislike than fear. He still hates the hoover, hairdryers and similar noises.

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Sacrifices

I’ve decided what one sacrifice I would trade when it comes to being a parent. There is one thing that I would give almost anything to be able to do.

I am full of cold, had a busy day and I am full of cold. I would give anything to have a lemsip and some of that desire must be a placebo effect because I don’t crave decongestant tablets. My head is so blocked and it’s making me sooo tired.

It was one thing to give up lemsips whilst pregnant, but whilst breastfeeding, too? My son is almost asking too much of me. Except if I were that desperate I’d take it and the risk as it’s so minimal. But it’s a risk. So I’ll suffer and wait for the first cold I get when we stop breastfeeding; the lemsip will never be taken for granted again!

~ P

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