Fair-weather friends

When you have a baby the dynamics of your friendships with people can change dramatically. Over the past 13 months I have discovered that my friends fall into three different categories.

Category one

These are the friends that get excited when you’re pregnant, asking you what names you might pick, claiming they can’t wait to meet him/her and they can’t believe you’re about to become a mum. Fast forward to that baby popping out of you and POOF – they’re gone.  You might get a Facebook comment from them when you announce the birth, if you’re lucky you’ll get a text. You’ve hit the jackpot if they send you a card.

They won’t make the journey to come and see your baby, they might be interested if you bring it to them and even then they’re probably just letting you come over so they can ‘tick off’ the baby visit.
You might expect this from casual friends, but unfortunately this has happened to me with what I used to call one of my best friends. I’m not sure why they act this way, maybe the whole baby thing freaks them out, maybe they’re not sure what to talk to me about anymore, I tell myself they’ll catch up one day but I think I just do that to make myself feel better. Realistically I know our friendship has moved on.

Category two

These are the friends that come to visit when the baby is born, bring a card, have a cuddle and see you once or twice a year. They make it to your little one’s christening and birthday party but don’t see you as often as they used to.  It’s not that they don’t want to spend time with you, it’s more that they think that now you have a baby you won’t want to do anything, or you can’t go out.  At least that’s my theory.  They mean well, but again they’re a little bit unsure how to handle friends with babies, they think it’s a lot more restrictive than it really is and they’re not quite ready to adjust to your new life and just come over to sit on the sofa with a cup of tea instead of going out to the pub.

Category three

These are the friends worth their weight in gold. The ones who can’t wait to meet your baby, once they’ve seen them they’re counting down the days until their next visit. The ones who drive over to your house when you have a child because they know your little one can’t stand the car, so they make the journey instead. The ones who still want to go on holiday with you when your baby is six weeks old and potentially up every two hours in the night. The ones who you trust to babysit your newborn whilst they sit in a restaurant at a spa bored to death all day so you can attend your sister’s hen party and still breastfeed every few hours. The ones who love your children almost as much as they love their own. The ones who still remember your child’s middle name. The ones who actually read your boring texts about sleepless nights, non-stop crying and teething. The ones who text you to ask how your baby is because they know she was poorly the day before.  The ones who buy your baby new clothes even though it’s not a special occasion. The ones who forgive you when you’re clumsy with the wording of your silly little blog.

I only have a handful of these friends but they’re all I need. They’re the friends I know I can count on in an emergency, the friends who would do anything for me, and I for them.  The friends who don’t run a mile when you have a baby because they either already understand what it’s like, or they can’t wait to join you on the journey to watch your children grow up.

So if you’re in the same boat as me, don’t be sad about the friends who fall into categories one and two. One day they might come back to you.  Just be glad you have friends that fall into category three, because they’re the ones that matter.

Mummy fails

When I first thought about writing this post I thought “oh only have a few of those, not enough to write a whole blog post on!” But the more I thought about it, the more I remembered those times I’ve messed up and felt like the worst mum in the world.

In fact whilst writing this I’ve remembered it was only a couple of days ago that I was in floods of tears talking to my husband and remembering a time when I had been trying to get April down for a nap when she was only a few months old.

I’d been rocking her for about 20 minutes whilst she scratched my face, screamed at me and constantly tried to get out of my grip and I just lost it. It was the first time I had ever shouted at her. “WHY WON’T YOU JUST GO TO SLEEP!” I immediately felt awful. She stopped crying and just looked at me in surprise, then I just broke down in tears, hugged her tightly and told her how sorry I was. It was one of my lowest moments of being a mum and something I hate to talk about because of how guilty it makes me feel, but I was sleep deprived and had been having the same battle three times a day for what felt like forever.  When writing it down it doesn’t sound that bad, but the sight of her little face in shock just killed me.

Thanks to a useful website called BabyCentre where I’m part of an online forum for mums who have babies the same age as April, I have realised that a lot of mums go through the same. Without that space to vent and read about the struggles other mums were having I think I would have been even harder on myself every time I made a parenting mistake.

Anyway…let’s get onto the list of mummy fails I’ve made to date.

Number 1
This one happened when April was only a week or so old! When babies are born part of their umbilical cord is still attached to their belly button which the midwives put a clip around. It then just dies and falls off after a couple of weeks (gross right?).

Just before bath time one evening I was giving April a cuddle, she was in just her nappy and I stood up to take her to the bath. Suddenly she screamed! I’d knocked the clip of her tummy button and the cord had come off a bit too early. There was blood, there was pus and there was panic! Her belly button is still weird to this day.

Number 2
Pretty sure this one happens to 99% of parents but it doesn’t make you feel any better at the time. That’s right. The little rascal fell off the bed just after she had learnt how to roll. The whole thing happened in slow motion as I reached over to catch her just before she fell but didn’t quite make it. There were lots of tears, probably more from me than April!

Number 3
I refuse to accept full liability for this one! We were on holiday recently and the cleaner in the hotel room had moved my hair straighteners from my carefully chosen safe, very high up, place, to a much lower location in front of a mirror. I was getting ready for the evening, used my straighteners and put them down where the cleaner had left them. Switched them off and carried on getting ready. Next thing I know there’s a scream. April had stood up, started scouring the sides for something to play with and picked up the hot straighteners! She ended up with a nice beefy blister on her thumb and finger for the next week. My husband was sat next to her when she did it so I’ll force him to share the responsibility with me for this one. And that stupid cleaner.

Number 4
April has recently discovered the joy of climbing. I was filling out a form on the coffee table and April decided to use me as a climbing frame, climb up me and then onto the table. I’d been trying to fill out this form for days so I carried on writing whilst thinking “just 2 seconds and then I’ll get her down”. Well in that 2 seconds there was a thud to the floor. She’s not as careful getting down as she is getting up…

I’m sure there’s more that I just can’t remember right now, and of course the small ones like leaving the house with no nappies, forgetting to take her coat when I go out and leaving her milk behind when we go to stay at friends’ houses. The worst part is, when all these minor accidents have happened I’ve been practically next to her! It’s not a case of me leaving her unattended, more a case of underestimating how fast the little madam moves!

At the end of the day we’re all human and I’m yet to meet a child that has survived the baby/toddler stage without a few scrapes. Whilst I beat myself up at the time I know that accidents happen no matter how careful you are.  We’re hard enough as it is in ourselves as mums, we want to be perfect but giving yourself a hard time when no permanent damage has been done doesn’t help anyone.

Please don’t feed the animals

Or in this case…the baby!

As your baby reaches a certain age (usually about 4-6 months depending on the people around you), everyone starts to become obsessed with when you will start weaning your baby.

What age?
What food?
Baby led or spoon fed?
After milk or before milk?

These are the kinds of questions friends and family started asking me. They suddenly seemed in a panic that I might never wean the poor girl and I’d  breastfeed her until she leaves home.

When she was about 4 months old my husband asked if he could give April some ice cream – “it’s basically just milk anyway”. No. You can’t. At Christmas time my mum asked if she could give her some chocolate yule log (covered in brandy icing). No. You can’t. This process repeated and still to this day continues as my parents try to feed her mini cheddars and shortbread and my sister buys her mini Colin the caterpillar cakes.

Going out for dinner with friends and family has become a newly stressful experience. Everyone around me suddenly wants to feed her what’s on their plate! “Oh would she like some of my burger? Can she have a bit of my chocolate brownie? Maybe she would like some of my full of saturated fat, drenched in sugar deep fried Mars bar”. Okay the last example hasn’t happened but it might as well have.  The hard part is, I know they all mean well. It’s fun to feed children different things and I’m probably guilty of doing exactly the same.

I am not one of these “organic only, steam everything, make my own salsa from scratch” kind of mums, April was weaned on Ella’s kitchen pouches and that’s as organic as I get. But I do object to her being fed biscuits, tortilla crisps and ice cream whilst she is perfectly happy having some chicken and peas.

I’m not sure when the phase of everyone being obsessed with feeding April will end but I hope it’s soon. In the meantime, I think I’ll make a sign to put around her neck whilst she’s eating.

Bitter lemons

Why did no one warn me how bitter I would become as a parent? Is it just me? Am I just such a horrible person that I feel bitterness towards other parents when their child is doing something better than mine (mainly sleeping)? Luckily I know I’m not alone, I have a friend who told me a couple of weeks ago “I hate people who like their children” and I feel like our bond immediately became stronger.  Don’t get me wrong – I like my child, and my friend is a fantastic mum, but I felt a bond over the fact that we both felt bitter towards other people who have it together better than we do.  Maybe it’s a Sagittarius thing

My latest source of bitterness is towards people who know what a full night of sleep is. This is probably because my night last night went a little like this:

10pm – Bedtime

11pm – Woken by daughter crying

Midnight – Give in and give daughter a bottle even though she really shouldn’t be hungry

2am – Woken by daughter crying. Attempt to give her the rest of the milk she didn’t finish.

3am – Daughter has been intermittently moaning since I put her back to bed, I try calpol.

3.30am – Calpol did not work. Daughter still awake and moaning.

4am – Daughter crying more, go into her room in an attempt to settle her. Rock and sing to her. She’s almost asleep….

4.30am – Just kidding mum! I was just pretending to sleep! yoohooo!! Wakey wakey!!

5am – Boot husband out of bed to get up with daughter.

6am – Get up.

9am – Read friend’s tweet moaning that she’s seen the time 6.45am for the first time in ages. Think of sending her abusive text. Refrain.

Everyone around me seems to have babies who sleep through the night, and most of them are younger than mine! I wouldn’t mind so much if they didn’t feel the need to brag about their ‘great sleepers’.

I have one friend who feels the need to update her whole bloody Facebook with how well her 8 month old slept the night before. I know, I know, she’s proud and for most parents this is a major victory, but for others it’s just reminding us how much we want to curl up into a ball and sleep for a decade to make up for all the broken nights we have had since our little bundles of joy arrived.

The other category of people that you just don’t want to deal with when you have a baby who thinks 2am is party time is those well meaning little old ladies who coo over your child in the supermarket, or friends of your parents and every time you see them ask “how’s she sleeping?”. Shut. up. The problem is, it’s a ‘go to’ question to every new parent, heck I even ask my friends with new babies, but I think I only ask because I want to hear that someone, somewhere has a child that sleeps worse than mine.

Bragging seems to be a parental right, I know we should all be proud of our children, but be careful what you say and who you say it to.  Sleep deprivation turns you into a horrible, sensitive and touchy person, so try to keep the stories of all those wonderful, sleep-filled nights between you and other incredibly lucky parents.

Oh God, I’ve started a mummy blog

So I’ve finally done it, the thing I’ve been trying to stop myself from doing for probably the past 9 months. I’ve started one of those awful ‘mummy blogs’ and I sort of hate myself for it. It’s not that I think my adventures with my daughter are any more exciting than anyone else’s days with their children, because they’re probably not. I’m hoping it’s going to act as some sort of therapy for me and the constant nagging feeling I have that maybe I’m just a bit of a shit mum.

I had a horrific pregnancy – sickness all day for about 5 months, acne, acid reflux, painful hips and probably more nasties that I can’t remember. I also had an awful birth. I spent 53 hours feeling as though someone was trying to rip my insides out through rather delicate places, 8 hours of listening to my daughter’s heartbeat drop thinking she was going to die, finishing nicely with a doctor snipping me open and dragging her out of me by her head. It was day one of being a mum and I’d already failed.

I’m sure most pregnant women dream about the type of mum they want to be – patient, kind, singing their precious little bundle to sleep every night with a voice that could make a Disney princess jealous; taking them to fun mummy and baby classes so they can learn through play and develop their social skills that even Kim Kardashian would be envious of. I wanted this too. I’ve dreamed of being a mum since I was in junior school, it was what I wanted to do with my life (other than be a Solicitor which I also managed to cock up – well done me).   Well I’m not that kind of mum. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I feel as though I literally can’t give April enough kisses, she’s so scrummy and gorgeous, she’s a mummy’s girl and she makes me laugh every day with the weird things she does. But I’ve also had times where I could have sold her to a passing circus.

I’m hoping this blog will help me to come to terms with the fact that it’s okay not to have your shit together. It’s okay not to take your child to 5 classes a week so that they can be the next Einstein. And it’s okay that sometimes, after your 9 month old has been screaming at you all day, you call your husband, burst into tears, and tell him to come home immediately because you just don’t think you can cope anymore.

I’m probably going to be writing things that are far too personal and become far more vulnerable than I’m comfortable with, but I think I need to do this for me.

Wish me luck!