Persephone: Parent

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And So The End Begins

This week marks the last week of what I’ve considered for however long as normal because it’s all coming to an end. My maternity leave ended a month ago and I’m still not back at work for almost 4 weeks but it’s all starting to end. Next week we’ll be in a period of transition for a few months.

I’m excited about the future about what will become the new normal but I am also sad about this week.

Tuesday was our last Tuesday where it was just the two of us, just Robin and I all day long. Where she could nap truly whenever she wanted as there was no nursery run. We could take meals slower, potter around playing in the bedrooms, do extra shopping. That’s all gone now. The one day a week where she could call the shots. And on our last Tuesday I spent it napping due to an awful migraine. Next Tuesday, Robin and I get to play at nursery for an hour for her first settling in session! Never again will she truly be able to call the shots. I mean, she has some freedom on weekends with regards to her naps, but if we want to go out as a family, her routine is the one sacrificed. Poor, second child, all she ever got was one day a week.

Oh, the sadness!

Wednesday is the day that I’ve been taking Robin for swimming lessons before lunch and then the nursery run. Next week Robin will have her second nursery settling session so I need to make sure she naps in the morning. Her lesson is during her nap time, which sometimes I can work around by taking her shopping right before and she’ll fall asleep for maybe 20 minutes. Most of the time, I just don’t let her nap and she waits until after the nursery run at 2 or 3pm. She might have been okay next week, swimming and then napping after an hour at nursery, but I don’t want to risk it. Next Wednesday, she gets to go into her nursery room for an hour whilst I fill in paperwork in the office. So she’ll be alone! She’s been in a creche loads for the therapy course I was doing so I’m not worried about leaving her. She also smiles and seems to really like the look of all of the staff when we pick Elvis up so I’m not fussed, but I’d prefer her to not be overtired! As of next week, and for the transition period maybe longer, both children will have their lessons on a Friday, his right after hers. As in, immediately after. Nanny will have to do more than just babysit one of them. Again, I’m quite sad about it as I’m so used to doing each swimming lesson with them on their own. Now, each of them are going to intrude on the other’s time. I won’t be able to get Robin dressed after her lesson. I won’t be able to get Elvis ready for his lesson. Since he was just 10 weeks old, I’ve taken him swimming, just the two of us for most of that time.

Oh, the sadness!

Thursday is the day where, well, we quite often don’t do much and next week Robin will have her third and final settling in session, where I take her and leave the building for an hour! Now, if I’d thought about it properly, I would have done it in the morning whilst Elvis is in nursery and scored myself an hour child-free, instead, I might take Elvis out for a drink and snack, maybe cake and hot chocolate – just the two of us. Sometimes on a Thursday, a friend visits with her toddler, we lunch and then collect Elvis, maybe go to a park. If not, I get cleaning done during Robin’s nap. I don’t know how I’m going to see my Thursday friend in all honesty. With my work hours, her school run, my nursery run. We’ll figure out something, but I can’t quite see how it’ll work out. We might be able to snatch an hour once a week. We could move to a Friday (along with half the rest of the bloody world), but with swimming in the morning, it might still only be an hour, maybe two. With some friends, I quite like to be limited to only an hour here and there, but not with Thursday Friend. I’m not even fussed about the cleaning, that’s built in to my new routine, but Thursday Friend, well, we might get more time during school holidays. Oh, dear, her toddler and Robin are really cute together – they talk and kind of actually play with each other. They might not see each other as much!

Oh, even more sadness!

I’m typing this just as we finished our last ever normal Thursday nursery run. Although for the next two weeks, Mondays will be normal, the other days won’t be. Tomorrow is the last Friday as normal before they both have to go on a Friday, inevitably making my Fridays far busier than currently. Oh, dear, all of this change and I am feeling a bit down about it. But I am also excited. Robin loved the creche she went to, she loves the staff we see at nursery and she is far more of a sociable baby than Elvis ever was or is now. I’ve loved seeing how Elvis developed at nursery, doing things that it would never have occurred to me to do (paint with blocks, cars, animals; use clean food containers to make a shop, paint and cook in general actually, try writing over thicker, highlighter pens), see what he picked as things he liked to play with, hear who he considers friends and who upset who today (haha!) and I am excited about Robin getting to experience all of that. With her big brother just downstairs.

But there’s still sadness at this chapter ending.

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The Blame Game

And how to get over it?

With only a few weeks before my return to work, I think I’ve realised why I really don’t want to go back. Rewind almost three years ago to when my maternity leave with Elvis was almost up and work errors meant I didn’t get paid. Then I got paid too much. Then they took back my overpayment leaving me with nothing that month. No warnings, no explanations until I questioned, no communication at all and still no real explanation as to why I was penalised for their error.

I was given assurances that it wouldn’t happen this time.

Rewind to a year ago when I recieved a letter telling me you’ll be surprised to learn that you’re not entitled to maternity pay. Replace surprised with fucking fuming.

Rewind to the beginning of this tax year when, 4 months into it, I discover that someone hit a reset switch at work and started paying me. I never realised. I didn’t get payslips. I told them, the payments stopped and I heard nothing else from them. So I owe them money. A lot. I have no idea how much. And I was technically claiming benefits because I knew I’d have to pay back the overpay. (And the benefits are because I wasn’t entitled to maternity pay, which they could have told me before I went on maternity leave, but didn’t because they’re incompetent).

So I fully expect to either not be paid this month or to receive a huge bill. And if they don’t pay me, will my nursery fees be paid? Nope.

And I blame work. I blame work for every second of stress the pay issues have ever caused me. I blame work for not being able to pay my mortgage when I returned. Most of all, I blame work for how my daughter was born.

The letter about my pay, or lack thereof, came 14 hours before my waters broke and over a week into my maternity leave. 36 hours later I had the choice of induction or emergency surgery. I spent two nights away from son. Two whole days and Robin was born only about 36 hours before my planned surgery in which I might not have visibly been away from home at all due to nursery.

I could have gone in to labour at any inconvenient time but that’s out of everyone’s hands. That’s nature.

Instead I seem to firmly believe that the waters going was from the surprise at not being entitled to pay. I was fuming. I was so angry at their incompetence, not to mention the fact that I had no idea if we could afford no income from me after about 6 weeks. I blame them for not having figured this all out earlier, giving me extra time to fill in the paperwork and find my payslips. As it was, I filled it all in, had a baby and had to redo the forms because the forms were invalid. If we hadn’t have changed management, I might have been told earlier. I might have been calmer. And I blame them for all of that pain, for sobbing on the second night away that I just wanted to see my son. I blame them for rushing home to see my son and having a longer recovery.

The drugs played a part in me sobbing hysterically to just get my baby out because I wanted to go home to see my son. The hormones, lack of sleep and pain definitely played a part when I was alone in the hospital so Daddy could put Elvis to bed and sobbed every time I heard a newborn cry because I wanted my son. But the reason, I believe, in my irrational head, is that my waters only went because I was stressed by the fear and anger that letter provoked within me and if the waters hadn’t have gone, would contractions have even started? Because the doctors only made me stay in due to potential issues with my scar tissue.

Perhaps I can take ownership of some of it, but not all of it. Their incompetence caused so much stress and so much pain. It is their fault that I had emergency surgery and their fault that I spent so long away from my son. I blame them for the stress of trying to fill in paperwork within days of my daughter being born. I hate them for having the nerve to call me twice in the week after I gave birth, the first time less than 24 hours later, to discuss my complaint. And management knew I’d had my baby as I’d had a congratulations from them, an email promising that we’d discuss my complaint, but to forget it for a while to focus on my family. Well, the other guy who was ringing me, clearly didn’t want me to focus on my family.

Meanwhile, no one has kept in any form of contact. None of the admin people even still work there. I randomly bump into people and hear about the redundancies, hear about who’s walked out, moved to another school. I used to work in a team of 12, now I think we might be about 10, maybe 11, but I only really know 3, maybe 4. I think it is compounded by the fact that I was only back for a short time in between maternities. I think I made about 5 months. My job is pretty physically active. I’m on my feet all the time, rushing from lab to lab to prepare things, lifting and carrying things constantly whether they’re heavy or not. I couldn’t do that during my 5 months back. I couldn’t even sit in the usual work room due to the chairs being too high. So, really, I’ve spent over 3 years not doing my job and I don’t know what to do to. Because of all of the departmental changes (we became an academy during my first maternity leave), I don’t think I even know the people I work with.

So, I don’t know how to do my job, I’m the new person walking in to a department almost, I probably won’t get paid properly for a good half year and, yeah, I’m anxious, desperately trying to put the steps I’ve learnt in therapy into use to not completely lose it.

And I don’t know how I’m supposed to walk into work and not hate everything and everyone I see. I hate the very thought of it.

And I truly don’t know how to let that go.

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Pregnancy Yoga: Breathing Out the Pain

I started yoga last week and today we focussed on relaxation. During a deep relaxation technique we were told to think of pain, the worst pain you’ve ever felt, excruciating pain and then breathe it out. Then think of pleasure and breathe it in. To think of a stormy sea, thunder and lightning, dark gloomy skies and snow peaked hills, then lush green valleys, a calm ocean and bright blue skies.

It was all so relaxing,  I completely zoned out at some point. I lost track of time. I couldn’t hear the traffic or unfortunate building noise; I could hear only the instructor and CD. I left the whole session feeling so lifted and pain free.

Do you know what though? The pain I imagined, the pain I thought of that is the worst pain ever, it wasn’t the induced labour pains, the Braxton Hicks I had for nights before my induction. The pain I imagined wasn’t anything to do with the physical pain of major abdominal surgery. I briefly thought of the pain from initially breastfeeding. I had a few thoughts of the pain I felt every month when, once again, I started my period and had been failed by my body. The things that kept coming into my head on every exhalation were words.

Words that other people have said to me.

On every inhalation, I was repeating my mantra and on every exhalation I had another sentence, another remark that someone had made to me without probably any conscious thought, but never the less were words that hurt me, that stayed with me. They were words about me, words about my son, words about my parenting, words about my abilities, words about my choices, words about my weight, words about my failings. I could hear all of their voices – my mother and her insistence, my in-laws and their questioning, my friends and their criticism, my family members and a passing comment. I could list them all here, each instance that I vividly remember and they have all forgotten if they even knew that they had said those words to me.

But I don’t need to list them, because I breathed them out. I let go of them all. I will no longer keep a mental tally of how someone has upset me because I will just release it as simply as you release a breath. And I truly did feel so much better as I left yoga and headed to work. I felt so much lighter.

There’s still nothing I can do about worrying over labour, hoping for a VBAC. There’s still nothing I can do to organise my working hours and pay until I get some answers, but I can give up everything else.

The thing that is sticking in my mind though is that my pain is words. None of my pain that I hold on to is physical. I can barely remember what physical pain feels like (except for my pregnancy back pain), but I remember every single word. I become haunted by words and I doubt a lot of people know or understand that about me, but in the grand scheme of things, I can only change myself and not everyone else. So all of those people whose words I heard when told to imagine pain, maybe if they read and understand this, realise this about me, they may work to change themselves, but I have no power over that; I can simply breathe out what they say to me and refuse to let them hurt me, refuse to allow myself to become bitter. I am strong in my life. I am free.

~ 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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Nursery Settling: Session 3

The one where I left him for a whole hour!

Well, he didn’t bat an eyelid at me leaving him.

He did come walking to me when I got back, back he had been happy prior to that.

Honestly, he was jumping at the gate to be let in when we got there so he had no fear of the place after being abandoned the day before.

And he hasn’t had any nightmares or clingy moments (we’ll test that at baby group tomorrow afternoon). He’s been happy to be alone with me, with daddy and with nanny.

He’s such a good little adapter.

I still don’t think he’ll nap on Monday!

~ P

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End of the Year

Sometimes I dread the thought of going back to work.  Other times, after a day where I had insomnia and Elvis has a very rare day of refusing to nap, I can’t rush the remaining few weeks.

He had a very bad day the other day where he barely napped, I took him to a group at his usual nap time ao it was entirely my fault! But it got me worried. Elvis will be at nursery all morning 4 mornings a week and he usually naps in the morning for at least an hour and a half. What if he doesn’t at nursery and then refuses at home? What if he does spend half of his nursery time asleep, isn’t that equally as annoying?

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Major Change: Work

I’ve only just realised how huge returning to work is.

Since I went on maternity leave, my school has become an Academy – my employer is completely different.  Has anyone told me my employer’s name? Has anyone told me who the new principal is? I have a new line manager, half of my department retired. The school day completely changed; I’m no longer sure when first bell goes or when lunchtime is.

Add all of those differences,  changes, to the fact that I became a mother and my entire world has changed the past year.

And now I’m supposed to go back to work in 3 weeks when I have no idea who I even work with anymore and after work failed to pay me last month for a month of holiday. It really doesn’t seem like very much of a welcoming place anymore.

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#lastdayofmaternity

Today is officially my last day of maternity leave and something has just struck me. Tomorrow my accrued annual leave starts, taking me through almost until July, but what I realised was that I accrued annual leave for what…?

Seeing as my job for the past 49 weeks was being a mum, is it annual leave from being a mum? Obviously I don’t mean actually parenting Elvis, but can I now take leave from cooking, cleaning, washing?

The thoughts of maximising my afternoons and weekends once I’m back at work were already running through my mind, but now I’m wondering if I should start it before that. In my last few weeks before work and nursery start, should we fill our days with fun and ignore the mundane? For two weeks, no cleaning, more fun. Actual annual leave.

I do have weeks of it stored up!

~ P

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Day 282: Still No Sign

I say no sign but technically last night I had another batch of period cramps which were accompanied by lower back cramping. Possibly slightly more uncomfortable than the 1hour+ on Sunday morning, but last night’s was only about half an hour long.

It did make eating dinner quite unpleasant, but after they were gone everything was back to normal.

He seems perfectly happy and, meanwhile, seeing as my countdown reached zero I’m back to counting how long this pregnancy is. So it’s 282 days since my last menstrual period. And am I now in some mystical 4th trimester?

My only real problem is that because Summer has been and gone (it lasted about 10 days) there isn’t much I can do for fun when it’s cold and windy. Where’s the fun in an ice cream when it’s cold? And there’s nothing on in the cinema I want to see until Friday.

Maybe that’s the one good thing about the in laws arriving tonight, hubby’s taking the rest of this week off as annual leave. I’ve been viewing it as annoying and disruptive, but maybe I can get a little bit of fun out of it. As long as we stay on top of the cleaning so it doesn’t build up right for when we lose the time.

So they can take me out to dinner until they leave or Elvis arrives. But I am not going to do as Grampa said and ask Elvis to hurry up because “Nanny Spain” (Grandma as far as I’m concerned) wants to meet him.

~ Persephone M

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Summer of Pre-Maternity Fun

Yesterday, I was quite productive. I went shopping in the morning and bought a few more items for Elvis.

We already have the Moses basket, but not a stand so I went to a local 2nd hand shop and grabbed their only one! Plain wood, good condition and a rocking one it was at least half the price of a brand new one. Bargain!

I also managed to pick up a parasol that matches our pram. I’d been looking around, but have had trouble finding one in all the shops that matched colours. Luckily the shop also had a 2nd hand version of my pram so I could easily check the colour matched. Again it was half the price of brand new!

I also bought a few more pieces of clothing and 2 more toys. I may seriously be getting addicted to buying clothes and toys.

Then, to celebrate my summer, because Elvis is clearly not coming early, I went to the local port and enjoyed an ice cream before going to see Iron Man 3 on my own in a quiet cinema where I ate popcorn and managed to not need a wee!

When I came out, I met hubby and because the sun was still lovely and hot we had dinner outside at the local Pizza Express. After all my issues spanning 4 years but also with the past week, I’m going to enjoy and make the most of pre-Elvis time.

Especially because it’s so lovely and summery outside. What can I force my husband to do this Bank Holiday weekend to enjoy my time?

The simple fact is Elvis will be too little for me to do much this summer if it stays this sunny and hot. What to do as my treat for tomorrow though, that’s another big question!

~ Persephone M
#ElvisIsComing

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