That Time When I Wasn’t in Charge

Every mum has their own vivid memories of childbirth; some which bring little shivers of joy when we think of them; others which deserve to be put into a secret box and never brayed of tongue again.

For me, the arrival of my wee angel and the shock that she was not after all, a he, are obviously my favourite memories of the experience.  But there is one other moment that I often think of.  It makes me laugh out loud every time.

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I still feel a trickle of mortification creep onto my cheeks when I think of it.  Because, that moment, just before my little one arrived, was the moment when I finally had to admit to myself, that I was not in charge…of anything.

I had to have a c-section. I was ready and prepared.

Everything was calm and organized and exactly how I’d imagined it would be. (I grew up on a farm, so have witnessed dozens of MamaCows go through this procedure, so I was stupidly sure that I knew the basic concept of what would happen!) The doctors would perform surgery and Mini-Me would come out the sunroof, as opposed to out the door.

I’d never had surgery before, so of course I was nervous.  As I lay there, looking up at the bright spaceship lights on the ceiling, listening to the murmurs of the surgeons and anesthetist and nurses, aware of the beeping machines around me, I had a sudden recollection of the story of a woman who felt everything as the anesthetic hadn’t worked.

In my obviously, absolutely calm, reasonable and logical mind, I realized that this would OBVIOUSLY be what would happen to me.

I felt cold substance on my leg, which jerked me back from my reverie.

“1-10?”

“Sorry?”

“On a scale of 1-10, how cold is this?”

“Erm, 10”

Cripes, where the heck was my husband?

“1-10″

“Still 10″

Ok, so now my fears were becoming a reality.

“Now?”

“8, I suppose”

Who should I tell that the anesthetic isn’t working?

What if I needed some sort of horse tranquilizer to knock my nerve endings out of action. I need to get my husband in so he can sort this…Hang on!  Who owns those legs?!

Two huge, gleaming, white tree-trunk legs are floating in front of me, just above the blue divide that Mr. Surgeon has placed above my belly.  Two very strong women are holding one each and I’m suddenly aware that the legs are indeed, mine.  There’s a serious amount of maneuvering being done beyond the blue, but the top half of my torso is happily oblivious.

And so I began to laugh.  Not a subtle giggle of course. A proper crazy woman, high on a cocktail of all of the anesthetic and other drugs that I assumed weren’t going to work.

And hence, my poor husband re-entered the room, just in time for the arrival of the Boss, to find his wife laughing like a bloody hyena.

Of course, the laughing turned quickly to tears of joy and all was right with the world again very soon afterwards.

I’d had my first ever surgery.  I’d had my first baby.  And I’d learned for the first time, that even though I thought I was in charge of things, I really and truly wasn’t.

I genuinely believe it was one of those precious moments of clarity and insight, It taught me one of the most important lessons I need to be a Mammy.

You might think you’re in charge.  You can pretend you’re in charge.  You might even convince others that you are in charge, but really, we never know when someone’s going to take control of your big white legs.

And when they do, be glad that they’re there to take control… and don’t forget to laugh.

 

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Still an Issue – Bump Shaming

It’s Memory Monday…

Body Shaming happens to all women, of all ages, of all shapes and sizes, all the time…EVEN, believe it or not, during Pregnancy. 😲
Yes, Pregnancy…
You know that time when you are eating for two and are supposed to GLOW like a fricken Christmas Tree and your body is a temple of growth and nurture, for all to admire and be in awe of?

When you’re also a hormonal wreck, paranoid, vulnerable and particularly susceptible to tears? 😢😢

When you’re growing a PERSON inside of you; sometimes more than one, 😥and you are supposed to be officially exempt from giving a continental crap about your shape for the next year and more?
Yes. Even then.

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Body shaming the Bump DOES happen.

It’s not usually intentional, but it happens.
I have a confession to make.
During my last pregnancy… (and I mean last in both senses of that word!)…I did something mean. 😈
I got so fecking SICK of people freaking out when they saw the size of my bump, that one day I decided to have a little fun with it.
I was HUMONGOUS. (And no, I am NOT exaggerating. Ask ANY of my family or friends and they will smile a dim smile and nod in agreement.) And just to prove how big my perfect bump was, the photograph below was taken when I was 36 weeks. And I wasn’t quite as big as I would be at 39! 😂👇👇👇👇👇👇

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With Mini-Me, I showed at 10 weeks.

With Princess, I got to 7 weeks before I got fed up trying to hide my bump.

I have always been quite slim so in fairness, trying to hide a bump was never going to be easy, but even loose tops didn’t cover my little (or not so little) secret.

We never really got the chance to keep it to ourselves until after the 12 week scan, but hey!
So you can imagine how big I was by 30 weeks. I looked bigger than most expectant Mammas look at full term. I remember walking into a shop one day at 31 weeks and the look of panic on the shop assistant’s face when she clocked the BUMP was hilarious. She approached me and flew through the usual chitchat to get straight to her point.
“When are you due love?”

I couldn’t help myself my Pretties. It was out before I even thought about it.
“Ten days ago”, I answered, shaking my head and rubbing my big belly, “I’m hoping a walk around the shops will help get me started.” (added puffs for effect…pause as if wincing in pain…)

“Here let me help you!” I swear to God, she ran around that shop filling my wee basket so quickly, I really couldn’t keep up with her.

“All the best now Lovey, I hope all goes well!” she cooed after me as I left. I’m pretty sure she needed a strong drink after that. and yes, I shouldn’t have lied, but I was fed up.

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For almost 10 months, you become the property of the world. (and yes, it is 10 months…9 my arse.)
EVERYONE has an opinion.

You’re so HUGE!” (Really? I hadn’t noticed. Is that why my pelvis is dragging on the ground when I walk?)😐
“I was never as big as you!” (Piss off.) 😐
“Aw poor Maria. You must be scundered…” (No Deary. I’m just pregnant.)😐
“Well Tracy SAID you were huge but I didn’t think you were THIS HUGE!” (Yup. For this one, I had to kick my sister under the table to stop her from DESTROYING the unintentionally offensive woman.)😅
“Is it heavy?” (In fairness, this question was from a lovely friend who has bever been pregnant so it was a genuine question and I gave her a genuine answer…”Yes. I feel like I’m carrying an articulated fecking LORRY on my ladybits.”)
“I suppose you can barely move with that bump?” (No. I’m just back from Irish Dancing. I’m high kicking Higher than ever before!)😂
“Aaaaaaah you’re not THAT big!” OK, OK. Who am I kidding? I NEVER heard this one! 😅😂
“You must be nearly due?” (No I’m only 28/30/32/34 weeks…cue shock/horror/sympathy/panic on their face.)
And these are only the few I remember.And so maybe now, you understand why I played the trick.

Do I feel guilty? No, but I felt really fricken frustrated a few weeks later when I didn’t have the balls to go in with my even BIGGER Bump and I really wanted a certain cheese the lady stocked. 😆😆
But seriously, Stop it. We all need to stop it. (And of course I include myself in this. We ALL do it don’t we?)

In fairness, we don’t even realise we’re doing it.

The things we say to a pregnant lady are usually not intending ANY offence AT ALL. Of course not.
But if you’re going to say anything, try not to comment on the bump.
Tell her she looks glowing, even if you think she looks knackered.

Tell her she’s gorgeous, even if she looks like the articulated lorry she feels like she’s carrying.

Tell her it suits her. She might just need to hear that, but don’t comment on the size of the bump, regardless whether it’s big or small.
The Mammy who hears “You’re so neat”, might have spent the whole night up counting baby’s kicks, or panicking that her bump is too small compared to others. 😣

The Mammy who hears “You’re huge!” doesn’t need to be reminded. Trust me, she already knows. She remembered once she opened her eyes this morning and tried, like an upturned turtle, to get out of the bed to pee. 😅
So keep it positive and keep it off the bump.

And yes I know that many people don’t mind and maybe even enjoy the attention the bump brings, but unless you’re telling them their bump is gorgeous, just Ssssssh!
And then…THEN comes the Post Baby body Shaming but that’s another post altogether.
You’re beautiful and your bump is perfect.

That is all you need to hear.

The S-Mum xxx

Some Things That No One Tells You Mum

Things that no one tells a soon to be Mamma.

Please be aware that this is a NHB (No holding back) post which may contain TMI for some readers! 😂😂

If you read this and wish you hadn’t, too bad really… But you can’t say you weren’t warned!

The Early Days

1. The first visitors to the hospital will be a blur. I was so out of it on adrenaline and whatever horse tranquilizers they’d given me that my first visitors still talk about how “great” I was… And yet I don’t remember a thing about the first day!

If you have other kids, manipulating the visitors so that your kids and then Grandparents are first in, is a military operation! Hopefully it will only be your nearest and dearest who come along initially.

Most people are good at knowing that it’s best to wait until Mamma is settled at home before they visit. There are no rules of course, but in my little rule book, only go to the hospital if it’s one of your closest friends or a close family member.

2. The interruptions: You’ll just have drifted off to snooze after finally getting your little one to nod off and the door of the ward shall swing open and in comes “The Beeper”.

The Beeper is the little Blood Pressure monitor and fancy trolley the lovely midwives push from ward to ward to make sure you and baby are doing OK. It looks like Johnny 5 and has a habit of appearing at the most inconvenient times.

Don’t get me wrong. The midwives have a schedule and have to do their rounds and it’s all in your best interest, but you will learn to loath the Beeper. But it’s only for a few days and it makes going home to your own bed all the sweeter.

3. Your first toilet trip: With Mini-Me, I read all the books. ALL of them! My Darling mother happily answered my questions with brutal honesty. When I found out I’d be having her by section, my amazing friend told me all about hers in her colourful language.

Having grown up on a farm and having helped out, hands on I might add, with MANY C-Sections on Cows, I felt quite prepared. I put my faith, my trust and my vulnerable self in the care of the surgeons and all was right with the world.

But NO ONE prepared me for the first toilet trip…when you go for your first pee, apparently it’s normal to feel like you’re being sliced open again without anaesthetic this time! I swear to God, I thought I was going to die right there on the loo. It was not pretty. The pain almost made me puke.

And as if that wasn’t terrifying enough, the first poo is fecking horrendous! I have it on good authority that it is the same for Mummies who deliver vaginally. Again, I thought my entire insides were falling out.

I roared so loudly that The Him actually called for a midwife and she had to come in to convince me that no, I hadn’t just passed my bowel and no, my diaphragm wasn’t in the toilet and no, I wasn’t going to die.
But don’t tell anyone. How undignified and ridiculous right?

4. The Boobs: Now, for me, this was a big deal. And I mean Big in every sense of the word. As a woman of the Fried egg club, to wake up on day three with two bald heads in my bra, was quite the trauma. I swear to God I looked like Jordan. I’ve always wondered if I’d like to have boobs… No. No I wouldn’t . Thank you. No. Give me my fried eggs any day.

5. The journey home: My memory of this one still makes me laugh. The walk from the ward to the car with your lovely car seat is one of the most surreal experiences of your life. I hadn’t stepped more than 6 foot to the bathroom in 4 days.

Suddenly I had to waddle my way down corridors, into lifts (oooooh that bump takes on a whole new level of weirdness after a section!), through a lobby (carrying balloons to boot!) and out into the car. It was like running 20feet and then thinking you’re ready for a marathon the next day.

Daddy is grinning like a Cheshire cat while you shall be torn between scolding him for swinging the seat too much when he walks, and holding your ladybits in because they feel like they are about to fall the hell out of you with every step!

Getting into the car is a challenge and then there’s the drive home. I dare say The Him didn’t go above 40mph because of the precious cargo and of course because of my delicate state. We both give out about ‘Dooters’ on the road, but Oh my did he ‘dooter’ out the road that day!

6. The tears: Oh tears. Those unpredictable little feckers… They come in waves. You have NO control over them. They’ll arrive at the worst times. And you’ll possibly laugh at the same time because you will have no idea why the hell you’re crying! But let them flow. It’s completely normal! I’m still crying over anything and my Baby is 3!

7. The Visitors: While you’ll want nothing more than to see people and introduce your new bundle to your loved ones, bear in mind that your first day or two at home will be exhausting, emotional and terrifying.
If I had been able to pay the miracle midwives to come home with me, I would have.
I remember getting to the house with The Him and the Car seat and being soooooo frightened. There was no buzzer. There were no nurses down the hall. It was just us.
But do you know, we were fine. As you will be too.

8. Newborns are actually much more interesting than you ever thought they were. But here’s the key. YOUR newborn is interesting. To YOU and your partner . Don’t be offended if your visitors only stare at the baby for a few minutes. Yes of course they’re interested and of course they’ll think your baby is gorgeous, but while you can watch this little person doing NOTHING for hours on end, to others, it is exactly that…a little person doing nothing!

They don’t see the miraculous progression from yesterday, or that the baby is holding your focus for a few moments longer… or that her grip seems more purposeful. So don’t get offended that your friends seem to glance at your little cherub, declaring his cuteness or that she has your eyes, before moving promptly on to some other topic of conversation. It’s normal.

And be honest, you’ve probably done it yourself many times. Because other people’s babies are not that interesting are they?

9. Lasagne can make you cry: The gifts and parcels and flowers will come and be hugely appreciated. But the most welcomed and remembered offering to the home of the newborn…is food! And the best kind of food is something that can be portioned, reheated, frozen or even eaten cold from the casserole dish. Think curry. Think chilli. Think lasagne. You never realised how good lasagne tastes. It’ll make you so happy that may cry tears of joy.

10. You suddenly won’t care who washes your knickers: Maybe this was just me. Before I had Mini-Me, the thought of someone else doing my washing would have driven me mad with shame. Not because there’s anything wrong with my smalls, No! But I could never have even entertained the thought of my Mum or Mother-in-Law washing them. And then I got over that VERY quickly. Because the first time I realised that the washing machine was going without me having started it, my initial panic was so overwhelmed by total gratitude that I even surprised myself. Now, I still don’t like the idea of someone washing my knickers, but for the first few weeks after birth, you really shouldn’t give a damn.

So now you’re home. And you could probably add 10 more things to this list.

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Add away Supermums

Stop Asking THAT Question

I’ve written about this before but it seems that it’s like non parents parking in mother and baby spots or people feeling the need to comment on how your baby is fed; it doesn’t go away!

STOP ASKING PEOPLE when they’re going to start a family or going to ‘go again’.

I know people don’t mean any harm when they insist on telling you that you should “be going again” or “getting a move on”, and yet often, these innocently thrown statements can stab a couple through the heart.

Firstly, why do people think it’s OK to assume that everyone wants to have more Babies? Or actually, even A baby for that matter.  Many people make the conscious decision that parenthood is not for them; that they are quite fulfilled and happy as they are.

Then there are the people who, no sooner have you popped out little Charlie or Nancy, but they’re telling you it’s time to get working on Jeremiah or Jezebel.  Why, oh WHY, do people think that it’s OK to ASK why a couple aren’t “going for number 3″… or 4, or 8?

And as for the people who tease a newly married couple, or indeed ANY childless couple, about ‘getting a move on’, well that is just a whole other level of silly beggar.

Here are 6 reasons to NOT comment on a couple’s NON pregnant state:
1. It’s none of your business.

2. You don’t know their situation. You don’t know if they’ve had a miscarriage recently. People don’t generally go around announcing that do they? In fact, we good Irish still fall into the trap of thinking that we aren’t allowed to tell anyone until the sacred 12 week mark, and so when things go wrong, couples often have no one to share their grief or help them through it.

3. 1 in 6 Irish couples currently struggle with fertility. How do you know if the person you are innocently teasing about “going for another one” or “filling that big house” isn’t one of those couples? You don’t know if they’re trying EVERYTHING and being constantly heartbroken. You don’t know if she’s injecting herself daily, undergoing physical and emotional and mental turmoil to try to help matters. You don’t know if he’s struggling with the fact that his sperm count is low. You don’t know if they’ve put every penny they have (and don’t have) into rounds of treatment, over and over again. You don’t know how deep your playful, well-intentioned words can cut.

4. Not EVERY couple WANTS to have a baby, or another Baby. For their own reasons. That they don’t have to explain to you.  And when a couple tells you that they’re all done or quite happy with their lot thank you, do not raise your eyebrow in a smug and all-knowing, “we’ll see” or tut at their ‘nonsense’.  You’re in murky waters now and you need to paddle back Dear.

5. Maybe that couple are in the process of adoption, or surrogacy. Maybe that couple are at breaking point, physically and emotionally and maybe…

6. …it’s NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

Of course people mean no harm when we joke about “filling that big car” or “getting a wee brother for Nancy”, but like all things Parent related, innocent comments and harmless questions can cut through people like a bolt of lightning. We shouldn’t comment. End of.

So next time you find yourself about to joke or jest or ask someone about the state of their baby situation, consider this:  If they asked you about the state or your uterus, or indeed your sperm situation, how would you feel? Would you be comfortable if that person sighed and answered with “Well actually, we’re on our third round of IVF and we’re emotionally and physically exhausted and I’d love to tell you about it”?  Or if they said, “Well actually, we’ve had three miscarriages in the last 18 months” or “Well no, becuase we’re pretty sure we won’t be together this time next year.” If you would be able to deal with those answers, you possibly know the person well enough to know not to ask anyway.

If not, don’t ask and don’t comment.

Simples.

 

I am So What Age is Best Mum?

The recent pregnancy announcement of one of the pretty Princess People in London has caused quite a stir, not only because everyone loves a royal Baby as much as a royal wedding.  This one has caused a stir because Princess-wifey-of-the-other-one will be deemed to be having a “geriatric pregnancy” because she is over 35.

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Geriatric?  The woman looks about 21.  And yet, this is a medical term, much used and much accepted across the medical world.

So, what age is the best age to have kids?

Well now that is really the same as asking how long a piece of string is, or how much wine is too much wine? Erm…

My own parents have done it all!  I was born when they were 20 and 21, the baby being born as they both turned 40.  They tell me that each of us (and we are 6!) brought our own challenges.  I don’t think they’d say which is best, because they wouldn’t change a thing. (I think!)

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I remember when my Dad turned 30. At the wise old age of nine, I thought he was ANCIENT!  And as I now hit hard on 40 myself, I often consider how wonderful it is that so many of my generation were born to such young parents. (and I am grateful to have them both still young and thankfully well.)

In the 80’s, it was the absolute norm for Mums to be 19 or 20.  It was perfectly acceptable to be married at 18 or 19. I remember hearing my Aunty proclaim, on her 21st birthday, that if she wasn’t married by the time she turned 25, to sign her up to a certain religious institution… And yet now, most don’t even consider settling down until late 20s/early 30s and most of us are having our kids in our mid to late 30s.

Having babies young has its benefits as well as its cons.  And waiting until later brings different struggles and joys.

As a Mammy who had Baby one at 30 and Baby two at 35, (Yup! Geriatric Mammy right here!), I can honestly say that the energy levels I had for number two differed desperately.  As did my physical recovery.

But again, everyone is different.  30 was the right age for me.  I was settled in my own skin, in my career and in my relationship.  And yet my friend who had her three kids before the age of 23 will tell you that she loved having them when she was younger and had more time and energy.

When you have your babies, really has no baring on the life of anyone else does it?  You are not ‘better’ if you have kids at whatever the national average is.  You are not ‘better’ if you have your kids young than the woman who is 41 when she gives birth.

Every one is different and as with all things parenty, there is no right or wrong.

Remember to follow me on Bookface and Instagranny!

 

 

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