As parents, we want to make our child as happy and as secure as they possibly can be, every hour of every day. There’s only so much we can do, aside from keeping them warm, fed, clothed and loved. Some things we can’t quite control. Recently E has started having night terrors, which are definitely out of our control, and definitely make me feel like an absolute parenting failure for not being able to prevent.
It takes a village to raise a child, says the old African proverb. From the first days of becoming a parent, professionals insist that you use the support structures around you; generally, family and close friends, as it can be a tough adjustment, especially while coping with sleep deprivation. What if your support structure isn‘t around if you don‘t live near family or don‘t have friends who understand what it’s like? This has become increasingly common in modern Ireland, as people move away from family for work or college, friends have emigrated or moved on for work or relationships, and you are left home alone with your newborn, wondering where that village has disappeared to.
I’ve written before on here about my C-Section, about being a caesarean section mother and about the opinions others may have on the topic. However, looking over my C-Section story which I’d put up here the other night I realised that I’d left a lot of the details up. That piece was initially published as an interview for a different website and so it wasn’t fully fleshed out. So, I got to thinking, and now have the full 35 hour long ordeal of fun which ended one era and started another. Since April is Caesarean Awareness month in the UK, I thought it was a good time to share my experience.
It isn’t something I write about often, my pain. Mostly because I don’t want to make this blog about my parenting journey into an eternal journal of whinging, but also in a slight denial aspect that if I don’t say it exists then it might go away any day now. That’s not been a successful venture yet, so I’m led to wonder what can be the harm of being honest in this, my little spot of the Internet. For the past two years, I have been parenting with chronic pain.
There’s been a lot in the media in the last few days about Jamie Oliver. Having struck a victory over the addictive substance infiltrating young people worldwide (sugar) with the incoming sugar tax in the UK, he wasn’t one to rest on his laurels. While announcing another new addition to the Oliver clan (this will be their fifth child), Jamie Oliver stated in a radio interview that he would look to campaign about the benefits of breastfeeding babies as to hopefully increase the numbers of breastfeeding mothers in the UK. His comments, in particular his description of the task as “easy”, have seen him slated around the various social media outlets and certain publications – he is being demonised for “mansplaining” breastfeeding to women who know better.
But you know, I think he has a point, and his use of the word “easy” isn’t what you should be getting angry about. (more…)
Are you familiar with Paw Patrol? Chances are, if you’ve got a child under the age of five who has been introduced to a television or Netflix account, you’ll at least be familiar with the theme tune. By familiar, I mean it’s stuck on a loop in a part of your brain that nothing else can quite reach to get it out of there (I’ve contemplated bleaching it out. Surely that will work?). For those of you who haven’t become familiar with the show that has taken over our lives as we know them, Paw Patrol is a Canadian animation broadcast in 126 countries, based on the premise of a pack of dogs who, under orders of the questionably aged boy with lots of technology at his disposal, go about saving the rather questionable townspeople from themselves. In our house, the combination of dogs plus fire engines (that would be the aptly named Marshall) was fated to be a winner.
Every day is the same around here, we’ve gotten into somewhat of a routine, dependent on whether or not it’s a crÃ¨che day. This is the kind of thing all the parenting books tell you to do from the second the child’s umbilical cord is cut, and I acknowledge we’re a little late to the game since his second birthday is next month, but I digress. Routine is one word for it, Groundhog Day is another. Every single day I get to bedtime and am relieved when I’m allowed to collapse for it all to start again at the crack of dawn the following morning. You know, if the crack of dawn time is set on the 21st of June like it is in my toddler’s head, and not the darkened sky version of Dawn we’ve had in recent months.
The internet is full of lists of absolute essentialswhen it comes to new babies and baby products. From some of those lists, it seems that unless you’re in possession of every one of them, you’re next on a list for child services to be checking out your home. When I was pregnant and newly Mammied up, I read all of these lists. I allowed them to colour my purchasing choices. Jaysus, some of them were diabolical choices.
I did have common sense to avoid some of the “essentials” – take that, tummy tub (it’s a bucket, for crying out loud) – but a lot of them were definitely trial and error and trying to ignore the receipts for the things which just weren’t worth the money or the effort. However, there were some baby products which I absolutely couldn’t have done without, and would recommend to any new parent to make life a million times easier (or, you know, a little bit better) during the early days and up to the toddler years. Here are my top 5 baby products that I couldn’t have done without.
Moments that aren’t your proudest as a Mammy? I’ve had a few of those. My most recent being the realisation that the only possible solution to my screaming toddler, in pain, grabbing his ear at 9pm on Sunday night was to shake that bottle of Calpol (like it was a polaroid picture) to get the remaining almost 3ml out of it and praying to all and any gods out there that it would ease his pain and that it wasn’t another blasted ear infection. I wouldn’t mind, but the chemist below my doctors knows us by name and I’ve a strong feeling would nominate me as customer of the month. But, in times of need (and after closing time of any shops or chemists that would sell infant painkillers) it seems that the mountain of bottles of Calpol or Nurofen that we’ve purchased over the last two years has vanished into thin air, leaving only the dregs at the bottom of one bottle, and thankfully (mercy of all mercies) one purple syringe to get the stuff into him.
It’s getting ever closer to the tiny man’s second birthday. The fact that I’ve an almost two year old is stranger to nobody than me. He’s a proper little person now; independent and wild (just a few steps back from feral, we’re doing okay). I’ve been looking back at the earlier update posts which documented my very tiny baby getting very slowly bigger, and it’s like it’s a different child – the time has absolutely flown. I didn’t believe it at the time, but the saying “The days are long but the years are short” is definitely a quote to live by for the infant years. That, and “This too shall pass”. At 22 months, we’re hitting head on into toddler-dom, tantrum first, but it does have a lot of rewarding moments too.
When I was pregnant, I saw a lot of my doctors thanks to my blood pressure and I not getting along. In the later stages of my pregnancy, the words “pre-eclampsia” were bandied about a bit. It was discussed at length as to whether or not specific results that day indicated if I did or didn’t have it, or if it seemed likely I would. Nobody sounded very happy about the possibility so I for sure knew it wasn’t a good thing. However, there was little enough information being sent my way about it which led me to googling what it could possibly mean.
For a pregnant lady whose blood pressure was already high, googling may not have been the best idea. There’s a lot of information out there online. In particular, information in well meaning forums where pregnant women and mothers discuss different symptoms and features of pregnancy, birth and beyond. A lot of this can be misleading, or more frightening than it should be.
So, for the sake of my past self who was terrified of what this diagnosis could mean for me and my baby (thank you Downton Abbey), here is a No Nonsense Intro to Pre-Eclampsia – hopefully if you’re reading this due to a similar Google search, it will allay some of your fears. While it is a very serious condition which can be very dangerous if not managed correctly, it is also key to keep in mind that when it is caught in time, which is the majority of cases in modern Ireland, mother and baby get through it healthily and happily.
The boy is not yet two, so in my mind, cannot officially enter the terrible twos. He doesn’t care for this lack of decorum and has jumped right in, two feet kicking and a roaring tantrum thrown in for good measure. We are not amused. Toddlerdom has officially kicked in, and we’re getting it in stereo: he’s learning everything new about the world around him, and while some of it is lovely and charming and fun, we’re learning very quickly that LIFE IS HARD WHEN YOU’RE ALMOST TWO.
It is tempting to look at the clock and wonder if realising that it is happy hour somewhere means it’s okay to open the wine at this hour. Damn you toddlerdom.
As the carrier-arounder and main wardrobe consultant of a 20 month old, I find myself perusing the aisles of clothes shops these days mostly in the kids section – nothing there will make me feel bad about my own body, and the vast majority of it is so damn cute. I’m a demon for picking up little bits and going “Ah yeah sure of course he needs a millionth jumper, sure isn’t there a few euros off, it would be CRIMINAL to leave it there”, despite knowing he has an overflowing wardrobe thanks to this shopping habit and the generosity of friends and family who have kindly donated a hefty stylish wardrobe that will have the child dressed until he’s starting school. With that in mind, I have made the conscious decision to stick to the more economical brands – sadly this kicks Next off my Christmas list (see you in the sales, maybe) and a few others but the alternatives really do make up for such losses. Shh, look at the pretty tiny clothes…
Absolute disclaimer; these are not things that are currently in my wardrobe (sigh), nor are they things I’ve been sponsored or bribed to say are wonderful (though if anyone is interested, feel free to contact me), I merely have a habit of staring at the gorgeous toddler clothes and mentally spending the entirety of my bank account on clothes he will outgrow within weeks. This sort of thing may work out slightly better on the old bank account. Maybe. (Perhaps I should hide the card for the rest of this post). (more…)
Last week I spotted a request from a journalist with Independent.ie, asking for bloggers to talk about their “happy place”, as part of their Mind Yourself campaign.
As I’ve written about mental illness and my personal experiences with postnatal depression and the impact it’s had on my life, I thought this might be a good idea – there is so much doom and gloom around it that it is important to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the happy bits which make life worth living. I had a bit of a think about specific places which fill me with joy (currently a bubble bath with a glass of wine sounds fairly idyllic) and came to the conclusion that it isn’t really a physical place that I can pick. (more…)
Have you got a fireman-crazy kid at home? Looking for some bedroom revamp ideas? That’s exactly what I’m up to at the moment – trying to plan a room for my little man that will make him feel like Fireman Sam.
My nineteen month old is OBSESSED with Fireman Sam, or as he refers to it “Nee-Naw”. (Loudly, in public, shouting it out for all to listen to). The theme tune, the characters, every single fire engine he sees, he’s mad about it. It makes sense, since from really early days he has been mad about the colour red. The theme tune is permanently stuck in my head, and I find myself spending too much time thinking about how much easier life in Pontypandy would be if Norman Price was sent to boarding school and other such things, but it keeps him quiet and isn’t half as annoying/questionable as some of the other offerings of Children’s Television these days.
Since we moved house in September, I’ve been meaning to do up his bedroom and make it much more of a little boy room, rather than the adult-based neutral themed boring room. The obvious answer is a Fireman theme – not necessarily Fireman Sam, as that can get dated quickly and add expense to a theme which can be put together in a less costly and more creative way. I’ve been eyeing up little bits which I think would pull together a room which he would adore (and hopefully want to sleep in). (more…)
Ah, soft play areas, savers of sanity (most of the time). When you are accompanied by a tiny human who finds fantastic enjoyment from flinging themselves around in ball pits, on foam mats and generally tangled up in things, it makes sense to veer towards the large padded area on a rainy Friday morning. Unlike me, however, you should always stop off at a coffee shop first – for the insurance policy against the sanity loss soft play can bring before caffeination occurs.
The world can be an awful place. Drivers speed up as they come to a massive puddle on a rainy day, soaking the mother with the buggy who forgets all about her child’s propensity to learn new words as she screams in frustration. The much needed coffee after a sleepless night tastes horrible and doesn’t help with an already stressful morning. The ever present guilt with every bite of chocolate, the knowledge that the jeans are a little tighter and knowing that these thoughts will hurt you most when you’re already feeling down and out. The rain, always the bloody rain. There are days where I just want to go under my duvet, curl up and not come back out. (more…)
Once upon a time, I had a tiny baby. He slept a lot (just not when I wanted him to), he stayed where I put him when I lay him down, and his only form of communication was to wail at me when I wasn’t doing something he wanted quickly enough or in the right way.
Since E’s Daddy has started going away for work, I’ve started noticing a definite move in his favouritism between the parents – where I used to somewhat get a bit more of the love and adoration (probably thanks to me being the one who made dinner, to be fair), since we’ve started having a whole lot more one-on-one time he’s rapidly gotten rather bored of me. His reaction to Granny dropping him off after a sleepover at hers the other day was to freak out at the thought of being left alone with me. Harsh, kid, harsh. You need a thick skin to parent toddlers, that’s for sure. It’s so damn easy to be made feel like the Worst Mammy On The Planet (trademark pending) by someone just higher than two feet tall. This week though, I think I may have earned a little bit of the wrath. (more…)
Last week, we had an appointment with a doctor who we were initially referred to for a reason that I’m sure will be the impetus for many jokes at E’s expense in years to come – the size of his head. Apparently, my tiny, too-small-for-premie-clothes baby, upon deciding to grow, put a little more effort in when it came to the size of his head than the rest of him, and many months ago, this had the public health nurse worried. From the outset it wasn’t something that had me very worried, it’s a trait of my brother’s which we laugh about (in good fun, no harm meant), but when the professionals are mentioning things like fluid on the brain and growth at a rapid state before “…but I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about”, it does get the heart racing a little bit. And not just because he’s a Precious First Born with a hypochondriac Mama. I swear. (more…)
It’s strange how these things go. Through the 40 (37 in my case) weeks of pregnancy on a first baby, time drags, it slows down, yet once that tiny bundle is placed in your arms, time races forward as if to make up the difference. It’s a real blink-and-you’ll-miss-it time, though some of those endless sleepless nights feel like the clock is going backwards. I’m suddenly the owner of an 18 month old, a boy, not a baby, and I’m terrified to blink again in case he heads off to college while I’m not looking.
Consent. It’s the hot topic word of the moment, being flitted around the media, around the twitter sphere, with differing opinions from many people from many walks of life, stretching over different generations. The publication of Louise O Neill’s “Asking For It” has sparked a debate that isn’t going away any time soon. More recently, Hollyoaks has run a successful campaign peering into what exactly consent is, and what it isn’t. The concept should be simple; do both of these people want to have sexual intercourse, or any sexual contact with each other, and are they of a mental capacity to make such a decision? However, as we all know, nothing in life is simple, nothing is ever black and white and it is in the shades of grey where we find our current situation in Ireland.
I didn’t learn to drive when everyone else I knew did – most of the girls in my year by sixth year had their car/the car they shared with a sister or other family member, some even so skilled they’d gotten rid of their L plates and were happily scooting around at weekends, heading off gallivanting to nowhere in particular. I spent many an evening the summer after my Leaving Cert driving around Waterford and south Kilkenny, for no reason rather than just something to do, somewhere to be, blasting out Rascal Flatts “Life is a Highway”. Soon after, I moved to Cork city, and the need to drive vanished. It became something other friends who didn’t live in the city did, sure it was small enough to walk everywhere and I was now blessed with the presence of regular public transport. It is amazing how grateful for crappy public transport a rural upbringing can make you.
Six years, three house moves, numerous job changes and a toddler later, I am a defeated woman. It is time, nay, TIME for me to get my ass into gear (not literally) and get behind the wheel. (more…)
I’ve written before this week about how my newsfeed and everything around me is screaming “Back to School”. It being almost the start of September, that is to be expected. My inbox is also being bombarded with back to school emails, both from companies that I really should unsubscribe from thanks to the levels of junk mail I wind up with, and press releases which I don’t think my toddler and I really fit into their target market. I’ve noticed a resounding theme – everything is being marketed as “Back to School Essentials”, in some ways a “you-are-terrible-if-you-don’t-have-it” item. What are we talking about here, books, schoolbags, lunch boxes? Not exactly. So I’m calling nonsense on these essentials, which if you check out my list you might agree with!