Travelling to Disney World Florida as a family

After a recent trip to Disney World Florida my husband decided to put some tips and tricks together to help a family trip run more smoothly….

 

Recently my wife and I took a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida with our two young daughters, the eldest is almost 3 years old, our youngest turned 5 months whilst we were away.  Whilst I was out there I noted in my head a lot of things I would do differently when we go again (I can’t tell our youngest “well you went to Disney when you were a baby…” when she asks us if she can go, I used to hate hearing that when I was a child!)  I thought I’d share the tips with other travellers, particularly parents, so that you have a smoother ride when you visit.

1. The plane journey

Okay so we’re quite lucky in that both girls are fairly easy travellers, including on flights. I always worry that they will kick up for the whole  flight and my child will be the one showing up in a blurry video on This Morning whilst they discuss whether or not children should be allowed on planes. So far, so good. Oh and for the record, I consider planes as a mode of public transport just like a plane or a bus, so if you can’t handle listening to other people whilst you fly then I suggest you save up for a private jet.

Tips for flying with toddlers include (probably obviously) an iPad.  Yes old people may tut and say “oh we didn’t have those in my day” but you know what, they also didn’t have commercial trans-Atlantic flights on their day but you can bet your arse they’ll fly on one. It’s unlikely that the iPad will keep them entertained for the whole flight, it certainly doesn’t for my two year old, so I suggest pulling that one out of the bag when you can see a tantrum about to happen.

Let the children choose a toy at the airport.  What better to keep a child entertained than a new toy? Yes I may have spent half the flight retrieving Olaf and Sven from underneath the chairs but her new Frozen Busy Book kept our toddler quiet for hours.

Stack up on snacks – because who doesn’t like snacks? Another way to quickly pacify a stroppy child.

See if you can order food in advance of the flight for your child, or look up the on board menu.  This way you know whether your little one will  like the food, if not then you can pack something you know they’ll like.

If all else fails, take them to the bathroom! May sound strange but it takes them out of the situation where they’re unhappy, provides an distraction, keeps you away from everyone else and muffles the sound!!

2. Getting to the parks

My top tip here is to arrive early.  On our first day we aimed to be in the park for 10am.  We arrived around 9.30am and eventually got into the park after queuing for over an hour at various places.  Getting into the park early has many perks:

  • your car is parked closer to the park – occasionally we managed to get within walking distance to the park.
  • the queue time for popular attractions is much less (although be warned, at 9am at Hollywood Studios we still queued for an hour to meet Buzz and Woody and the wait for the Toy Story ride was over an hour.  The introduction of Toy Story land in Summer 2018 should hopefully reduce these wait times though).
  • the temperature is more bearable for those of us who aren’t used to 30 degree heat!
  • by lunch time you can head back to the hotel of the children are tired as it’s likely you’ve had a productive morning. Then you can spend the afternoon relaxing.
3. Eating

Most of the cafes and restaurants at Disney don’t open until 11am. If you have a hungry child on your hands as we do then waiting until 11am for an appropriate morning snack is not an option. My advice here is to pack snacks for the morning!

Lunch time gets hectic and there’s usually a long wait on food or to even sit down at a restaurant. Again, a packed lunch can help to avoid this issue.  Alternatively, you can book tables at restaurants on the Disney app up to 30 days in advance. We didn’t do this and regretted it.

Look at the menus in advance.  The selection for children is fairly limited.  Our eldest isn’t keen on fast food so the options of burgers, chicken nuggets and chips didn’t appeal to her. She was happy with macaroni and cheese every day but we weren’t keen on her having it too often! This was another reason we brought a packed lunch with us.  If you look in advance you can anticipate what your child will or won’t eat rather than walking to restaurants one by one in the heat of the day to make sure they like something on the menu.

Epcot is the best park for food, it has a much larger variety due to the nature of the park. Make the most of it and look up the restaurants before you go as the choice is great.

Another great reason to pack snacks is that snacks in the park are expensive! We paid over $2 for a banana in Hollywood Studios!

4. Take a pram

Or rent one! Even if your child doesn’t usually use one it’s worth it purely to get to places faster. When you enter the park and need to head to a certain ride/character meeting but your little one won’t pick up their feet it’s frustrating. A slow walk to where you want to go can be a difference between a 15 minute wait and a 30 minute wait.

There’s a lot of walking involved in the day. Our eldest doesn’t usually nap but every day she had a sleep in the pram around lunchtime to recharge her batteries. Without it she wouldn’t have lasted the day. Even if your child won’t nap it’s worth them being able to rest their legs rather than giving out free shoulder rides!
Oh and where else would you put all your shopping without a pram to over-fill?!

5. Meet and greet

Okay so there are LOTS of Disney characters to meet and most of them have a fair wait to get a photo and an autograph. My tip here is to have a look in advance at what characters are in each park and prioritise the ones you want to meet. Then use a fast pass to get in and see them.  Popular characters like Mickey and Minnie usually have an hour wait or more, so using a fast pass drops your wait to anything between 5-20 minutes (from experience, not guaranteed).

The photographers will take photos for you but if you give them your phone they’re happy to take one on that too. This helps if you don’t have the photopass and you don’t want to pay for the professional pics.

I’ve read advice online about meeting “face” characters first, i.e. not the ones wearing big heads! This is to ease your little one into the process.  Well we didn’t get the chance as our first character meeting was accidental and was in a big costume.  Luckily our 2.5 year old was so excited to meet her that she wasn’t at all fussed by the fact that she was 6 foot tall! All children are different and all I can say is that you should enjoy yourself. If your little one doesn’t like the meet and greets then there’s still plenty of magic in the form of rides, parades and fireworks!

6. The rides

If you’re going to Disney World you’re probably a big kid too, right? Well plenty of the rides at Disney are great for adults but not so great for little children. Most of the big ones have height restrictions, so if your little one can’t ride and you have two adults with you then one can ride and get a fast track pass for the other.  This pass means the other adult won’t have to queue up again, instead they can go straight to the fast pass queue to get on the ride. This means your little one won’t get as bored having to wait around for you both to ride. What’s even better is that the fast track pass is for whoever had to stay with the child AND up to 2 other rides. If you go with a group then you can pick your two favourite people to fast track the ride with you.

It’s also worth looking up the wait times in advance and booking your fast passes for the most high demand rides.  In magic kingdom for example these are the “Mountains” (splash, thunder and space), the seven dwarf mine train, and it’s a small world. There are others too but these had the longest waits when we visited. The further in advance you book your passes in the more likely you are to get availability on the rides you want. But plan it well – you don’t want back to back fast passes on rides that are the opposite sides of the park to each other, so check a map when you’re organising it.

7. Download the app

The app is great. It gives you directions from your phone to attractions you want to visit, up to date wait times for everything and the locations of all the characters. It also allows you to order your food from your phone which allows an element of time saving, you can book restaurants on there and check out daily show times.

There are probably way more things that would give you a smoother ride at Disney but you’d be reading all day if I went into much more detail! The above are my top ones, so I hope it helps!

And most importantly…. have a magical day!

David Kinally
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How’re you feeling?

“How are you feeling? I find you really hard to read at the moment”.
This is what my husband just said to me. The truth is, I have no idea how I’m feeling. 7 weeks ago we had our second baby, a girl named Luna, and the new born whirlwind began.  More nappies, more night feeds, more laundry, more worry. More smiles, more cuddles, more kisses, more love.
When he asked me this question I was feeding our youngest daughter whilst watching what our eldest was doing and wondering if she was going to have another meltdown if adverts dared to come on in between dancing to the Trolls soundtrack on YouTube.  We’d just come back from a weekend away and I was also going through the list of things we needed to unpack in order for the bedtime routine to run smoothly.

  1. Gro clock? Check
  2. Monitor? Check
  3. Bed guard? Check
  4. Next to me crib? Check

As well as making sure there were matching pyjamas (there weren’t), towels, nappies and a clean comforter for my eldest. This then led to another train of thought about putting more laundry in the washing machine, making a mental note to buy more washing tablets and wondering when the hell I would have time to iron it all.

In addition to the above, my overall ‘to do’ list looks a little like this:

  • Take Luna’s passport photo and submit application
  • Take Luna’s birth certificate to the bank to set up savings account
  • Set up direct debit for both girls’ savings accounts
  • Make appointment to write wills
  • Pick up baubles from pottery painting place
  • Have appointment with April’s potential school about application process
  • Fill out checklist for April’s 2 and a half year check
  • Buy birthday present for friend
  • Buy and wrap Christmas presents
  • Go to post office to pick up husband’s Christmas present and pay the import duty
  • Order Luna’s stocking
  • Organise life insurance
  • Book catering for Luna’s christening
  • Attempt to maintain some form of social life.

I’ve known from a young age that I wanted to have children, in fact I remember being in a rush to grow up just so that I could have babies. But ever since being a mum my mind sometimes feels like it’s full of cotton wool. Concentration is not my strong point, especially as I usually have one, if not two, small children crying for my attention. I’ll come off the phone to people having no idea what they said because I was too busy chasing a 2 year old around making sure she doesn’t start a fire whilst my back is turned (okay slight exaggeration but it’s shocking what an unattended toddler can achieve in 30 seconds). And now that our new addition requires constant rocking from 5pm until 10pm it’s no wonder my brain is mush.
The truth is, sometimes I feel like I have no time for emotions, I have far too much shit to do to think about the way I’m feeling and it makes me realise how parents whose partners aren’t as supportive as mine feel like they’ve lost their identity.  I’m lucky that my husband makes a conscious effort to give me some headspace from our children. He has work where he can get away and process his thoughts, I have broken sleep during which I try to process mine.  Something as simple as him suggesting I have a bath whilst he watches both children may seem so small but can be so important.  It gives me time to hear silence.

Sometimes I see photos on social media of parents who seem to be out all the time and I think “where are their children? Are they really out every weekend?” and then I have days like this when I realise that these parents just need some headspace, a time to breathe, time to themselves and there’s nothing wrong with that. Without it, we’d all go mad.
Being a parent brings with it a rollercoaster of emotion, one minute your children are being little angels and you’re full of happiness and pride, the next they’re screaming at you for completely irrational reasons and you just want to sit in a dark room in silence.  It’s no wonder we don’t know what emotions are going through our minds if someone asks.
But if you’re a parent reading this then I want to ask you one thing: How’re you feeling?
If the answer suggests you need more “me time” to get some headspace and stop to think about who you are then do it. If you can’t do it right now then please set aside some time to do it. You and your children deserve the best version of you, and if you need to take some time out to breathe then that’s okay, don’t feel guilty for it.

 

Oh and if you’re wondering how I had the time to write this, I wrote it one handed whilst rocking a baby on a nursing chair!

My Breastfeeding journey

I wanted to share my story of breastfeeding my daughter, because as I joined the club of breastfeeding mothers the only information I’d really had was what I was taught in antenatal classes and read in books. This didn’t fully prepare me for the roller coaster experience I was about to have.

Books, midwives and antenatal classes will offer you a brief account of what it’s like to breastfeed, one with rose tinted glasses. I was told that it wouldn’t really hurt, just “10 seconds of a toe curl” when I first started at each feed and then I’d be fine. My baby would gaze into my eyes as we bond over this special moment that no one else could share, and of course I’d be boosting her immune system to equate that of superman. (He never gets a cold does he?)

Whilst I enjoyed breastfeeding (so much easier to get out the house than faff with bottles and formula, what do I need? The two Bs – baby and boobs) and I was proud that I made it to 10 months with April, the initial journey wasn’t quite as easy as I had hoped.

The first 48 hours.

Let’s start with the initial doubts. When breastfeeding you haven’t got a bloody clue how much milk your baby is getting. You have to hope that it carries on until its little tummy is full and hopefully a few hours will pass until the next feed. I spent the first afternoon and night in hospital constantly asking the midwives to check if she was feeding okay, doubting myself and panicking that this tiny little baby was going to starve. She didn’t.  If this is you, relax. Your baby will cry if it’s hungry, that’s what they’re good at.

Secondly the pain. Okay it wasn’t equivalent to labour but my God having such a sensitive area in almost constant use for the first few days did some damage. Get some Lansinoh cream and apply after EVERY feed! If you want to know what it’s like, imagine the first few seconds like hundreds of little needles stabbing into your nipple, and when that pain is over think of it being rubbed with sandpaper for the duration of the feed.

Two words: nipple shields.  The NHS and midwives frown upon them but without them I would have given up. I used them for the first few seconds of the feed (the most painful part) and then quickly slipped them off. This avoided the concern of “nipple confusion” (a baby wanting a teat like a bottle instead of the real stuff) and the risk of mastitis, potentially caused by the baby not feeding enough because nipple shields make a feed less efficient apparently.

Night 2

Oh night 2…how I remember you! Top tip: get snacks out and movies ready. You won’t sleep tonight. I’m serious.

(If you get to night 2 and this hasn’t happened, expect it on night 3 or 4. It’s the night your milk comes in).

The milk has arrived

Once your baby pulls through your milk you will wake up in the morning with rock hard boobs probably about four cup sizes bigger than pre pregnancy. Think this sounds good? It’s not. It fucking hurts. They leak everywhere. It’s like someone forgot to turn the tap off. Get breast pads stat!

Friends and family

I was always adamant I wouldn’t be one of those people who hides away whilst feeding their baby. Why should I? It’s a natural thing and I feel that one of the reasons the breastfeeding rate is so low in this country is because we don’t see people doing it often enough. You can buy lots of clothes and scarves that will cover you up and once you and baby have the hang of latching on you won’t have to worry about the odd nip slip. It will be second nature and no one sees anything. Promise.

That said, in the early days you end up so obsessed with trying to make your baby latch properly that every Tom, Dick and Harry gets and eyeful of your boobs. Don’t worry. You’ll get over it, as will they.

Most of my friends and family were fine around me feeding. There were the odd few who felt uncomfortable, my 19 year old nephew was adamant he’d seen my boobs and was scarred for life, I know full well he hadn’t. My sister’s husband also took time to get used to it, whilst on holiday with them I had to feed April at the table when he was sitting opposite me, at the first sign of her needing to be fed he would physically turn sideways and lock his eyes on my sister. Luckily this didn’t bother me. I knew he wasn’t being rude, he just didn’t know what else to do.

Feeding in public

In my 10 months of breastfeeding April I never once had anyone come up to me and make a negative comment. If you don’t look out for it and get paranoid that everyone who looks your way is staring at you in shock and disgust then you’ll be fine. Be paranoid and you’ll misinterpret people’s actions.

Distractions

As April got older and more interested in her surroundings feeding became harder. As a newborn they can barely even see your face, let alone look around the room whilst feeding. Once April started to take an interest in everything around her it became harder and harder to feed on the go. I found myself heading to her nursery to feed in quiet so that she wouldn’t whip her head off every 2 minutes to check what was going on! I think this stage required the most patience for me and was the start of our breastfeeding journey coming to an end.

Going back to work

This was the other factor that contributed to me stopping feeding. When April was 10 months old I went back to work four days a week. I worked in central London, this meant 12 hours away from home. I went to work armed with my breast pump and cool bag to pump my missed feeds and store the milk. However pumping is hard work. It’s not as efficient as feeding directly and sometimes you can sit there for 20 minutes to only get 2oz of milk. My manager was incredibly understanding and let me go off to pump as and when I needed to, but I couldn’t shake that nagging feeling that everyone would think I was just skiving off and sitting in the medical room by myself.

Not to mention how boring it was! No mobile phone signal, no one to talk to, just me, my pump and the 4 walls. ZzZzz.

The final goodbye

So after 10 and a half months of breastfeeding we had both come to a natural end. April no longer demanded the feeds she used to have, my supply gradually declined and we made the transition to formula.

I made sure that I knew when our last feed was going to be so I could remember it, and I still do. It wasn’t anything special, just a normal feed time but it gave me closure. 

I won’t lie, I cried the first time we gave her formula. I hated the thought of feeding her something that was designed in a lab somewhere by strangers. Until then she had only ever eaten natural things. This was alien to me and it made me feel incredibly uncomfortable.

Of course I know now that formula wasn’t going to poison her, she didn’t seem to know a difference and it was given to thousands of babies in the UK so who am I to say it’s not good enough for my child? It was probably insecurity more than anything, I hated feeling as though I had been replaced.  She had it for two or three months and then made the transition to cows milk. Now I’ve been replaced by a farm animal instead of a lab – awesome.

Oh and if you get told that formula will help your baby sleep it’s a lie. April’s sleep stayed just as shit on formula as it did on breast milk. It’s a myth. So if/when you make that transition don’t expect a miracle!

The end

As a fairly anxious mother who always panics that she’s not doing the best for her daughter and always questions her parenting it’s safe to say that breastfeeding is one of the things I feel really proud of doing. I stuck with it when I felt like giving up and for the first six months of my daughter’s life outside the womb I was the only thing that kept get growing. That’s a pretty awesome feeling.

What’s in a name?

So here you are, pregnant, excited, nervous and about to make a very important decision. What will you call your shiny new bundle of joy?

So many questions to consider to make:

  1. Will this name suit a baby?
  2. What will their name look like on their CV?
  3. What will people shorten it to?
  4. Are you about to doom your baby into a school career of being bullied?
  5. Do we tell people what the name is in advance?

The final question is one we made the mistake of doing.

My husband and I had been together for 8 years when we fell pregnant, 9 years by the time she arrived, so we’d already had the baby name conversation several times. We had our names carefully picked out for a good 5 years in advance, never wanting to change them.

John for a boy, April for a girl.

We found out we were pregnant in August, I worked it out that we had fallen pregnant in July, let’s do some quick maths….two, three, four, five, six…seven…..eight….oh fuck. We were due in April. Fast forward to our 20 week scan and yes, as fate would have it we were expecting a girl.

Most of our family knew the names we had picked out in advance, so they knew that April’s name wasn’t just a last minute “oh she’ll be born in April so let’s just call her that” idea. However, when it came to nosy work colleagues and random old ladies who flocked to the pram like pigeons to an abandoned pile of chips it was a very different story. Here are just a few of the wonderful comments I got from people when they found out her name…

“Oh are you actually calling her April? I thought we were just calling her baby April in the office because that’s when she’ll be born” – work colleague.

“April? Lovely! Was she born in April?” – every sodding old woman I meet.

“Would she be called May if she was born in May?” – my comedian brother everyone.

“Oooh will the next one be called June?” – another old lady responsible for this one.

There were plenty more similar comments, mainly people thinking they’re the next Sherlock Holmes for figuring out that she was born in April.  I’ve given up telling people that we had picked the name out years ago, and on occasion I have been known to lie and tell people she was born in May just to wipe the smug “I’m so clever, I guessed she was born in April” look off their faces.

For our next children we already have names picked out too, our boy’s name will stay the same and we have two options for a girl. One of which my mother in law has told me “If you call her that I won’t come a visit her because she has such a stupid name”, which of course warms me to the name even more. However, next time round we won’t be sharing the name in advance, because usually people will only tell you they think your name choice is shit whilst you’re pregnant, not when the baby is here. Apparently that’s much more acceptable.

Having a baby ruins your life

Or that’s what everyone told me anyway.

Before I fell pregnant I constantly got told not to rush into having children (I got married at 22 so people must have thought I was the kind of person who liked to rush into things). They told me to live my life before I had to give it all up to look after another small human being. They told me to travel before I had kids, wait until I was older, blah blah blah you know the drill.

I’ve always been VERY broody, so at the age of 25 I decided I was finally ready for a baby. I had a stable home, job and marriage so there wasn’t anything holding me back.  My husband and I decided to take one last trip away, somewhere long-haul that we figured wouldn’t be very baby friendly. So we went to China.

DavidKinally-67

Fast forward a few years and I’m calling bullshit. I now have a demanding one year old who doesn’t sleep through the night, is grouchy if she doesn’t nap and likes to be constantly entertained. But to date we have taken her to five different countries.  We drove from the midlands in the UK to the North West of France with her, we flew to Italy and climbed for hours across a cliff-side, me carrying her in a sling and my husband carrying her pram, we did a week long, 1400 mile, road trip around the whole of Iceland with her at 6 months and most recently we took her to Saint Lucia and Antigua – an 8 hour flight and a 5 hour time difference.

David Kinally Travel Photography20

Not once during those trips have we thought “Shit. We really shouldn’t have done this with a baby”. Yes we had a little extra luggage with us, yes we were a bit more wary of the trips we took, and yes it meant that we couldn’t both go and get pissed at the all-inclusive bar and stumble back to our hotel room at 1am but these were sacrifices we didn’t even think twice about having to make.

I’ve always wondered why people used to tell me that having a child was the end of my freedom, but I realise now that it’s because they’re the people who allow their freedom to be stolen.  We managed to go abroad, experience different climates and time differences and still manage to give April 3 meals a day, all of her naps and her bedtime was on time every night. We’re not super parents by any stretch of the imagination, we just have a passion to travel and the determination to make it work.

So as I sit here planning our 10 day road trip to the West Coast of the USA in November, I want other parents to know that you CAN travel with a child AND have a good time. You don’t have to be Mr and Mrs organised, you just need to carry a few extra things. If you’re planning to have children and wondering if you will have to give up your life and freedom for it, the answer is no, not if you don’t want to.

So, to those people who feel as though having children has stopped them from living their lives – you’re wrong. Your children didn’t stop you, you stopped yourself. So go out there and live a little, there’s still time.

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P.S. hope you enjoyed looking at some of our holiday photos – my husband is a bit of a fab photographer – www.davidkinallyphotography.co.uk 🙂

Special delivery

Firstly I’d like to say that my birth story isn’t the worst in the world, in fact it’s probably quite a common tale for first time mums. I’ve known of women who have had far worse times than I did, I’ve known women who have had to have blood transfusions and women who have ruptured their bowels during labour. But for me, it’s the mental scars that have lasted far longer than the physical ones. It’s 13 months on from when I gave birth and re-living it still brings me to tears and fills me with feelings of failure, dread, anxiety and fear. 

This is a hard one for me to write but I think I need to address what happened and how I felt. It will be long so please be patient.

It was about 3am on Saturday 25th April when I first realised I was in labour. “Excellent!” I thought, “I’m finally going to meet my baby girl, my journey to motherhood starts here”.  I was excited, I was happy, I was feeling positive.  

Fast forward a few boring hours (no one warns you that usually the first time round it takes bloody ages!) and in the early hours of Sunday 26th April I was admitted into hospital, still breathing well through contractions and feeling ready to take on the challenge of giving birth. 

As the day went on my contractions worsened, I was given paracetamol for the pain (all mums will tell you this is an absolutely pointless drug that has no effect what so bloody ever on you during a contraction!). By 12pm on Sunday my waters broke and wow did the contractions intensify! My positivity was dwindling as I felt as though my body was being ripped apart from the inside out. But my contractions still weren’t regular enough to be taken onto the labour ward. I spent the next 8 hours breathing heavily, throwing up and occasionally crying. I was ready for the drugs now. Where were the bloody drugs?

At 8pm I was finally taken onto the labour ward, given an epidural and hooked up to a heart monitor so the midwife could track what was happening. Time to relax. The contractions were still happening but I no longer felt as though I was on the verge of exploding. Queue a quiet few hours, watching Monsters Inc on Netflix, chatting to the midwife and getting back to my calmer but excited self.

At around midnight I noticed the sound on the heart rate monitor kept slowing down, from a gallop to a steady walk. I mentioned it to my midwife and she said she would monitor it but that the baby’s heart rate was dipping every now and then. 

After monitoring it for a while the midwife decided to get a Doctor to come and look at the stats, he said to keep monitoring and he would come back to see how we were doing.  The dips in the heart rate started getting more severe and more frequent, worry was setting in. The midwife called the Doctor back in and they decided to take some blood from the baby’s head to check she was okay. Whilst they were very good at acting calm I knew something wasn’t right. I knew this baby would need to be born soon and that’s when I kept getting awful images flashing into my head of the worst case scenario. The worst part was that I couldn’t do anything about it, my fate and that of my daughter were in the hands of effectively, two strangers. I laid there obsessively listening to the monitor, every time her heart rate dropped so did mine. I started to think my baby was going to die. I was going to live the nightmare so many parents worry about during pregnancy. I would never take my baby home. 

It was just after 7am on Monday 27th April and I had been listening to my little girl’s heart rate dip for 7 hours now and I knew I needed to get her out. The midwives let me start pushing and boy did I push! I used every ounce of energy I had left after being awake for two days and I pushed, I was so close to holding her in my arms. I knew she would be safe once she was with her mummy and nothing was more important to me right now than holding her tight and telling her she would be okay.
I had been pushing for an hour and the midwives called it. She wasn’t coming out, her hand was up by her head, her umbilical cord was around her neck and the position she was in meant she wasn’t going to be delivered naturally. That’s when they mentioned that awful word. ‘Forceps’. I panicked. This wasn’t in my birth plan. I had specified anything but Forceps, even if it meant a c-section. I had heard horror stories about children being brain damaged after forceps deliveries and I wasn’t about to let that happen to my baby girl because my stupid body couldn’t get her out. But it was out of my control, the Doctor said they wouldn’t be able to get me down to theatre quick enough and they needed to deliver her immediately. My heart rate went through the roof, I felt sick.  I just wanted this to be over. “Can I use the gas and air?” I asked. I told myself that if I got high enough I could block this memory out of my head forever, I could get so high I wouldn’t know what was going on, I wanted to be knocked out. But it didn’t work. I still remember it.  I remember the sound of the snip, I remember my body being pulled down the hospital bed from the force of the forceps, I remember screaming louder than I’ve ever screamed before, I remember giving one last push to help her out and finally, there she was. My little girl, safely on my chest.
Thank fuck for that.
I breathed a sigh of relief and burst into tears. “You naughty little girl, you scared your mummy and daddy” I said to her as my husband cried with a mixture of fear and relief. And I knew it was over.
Giving birth was my marathon. I was one step away from the finish line and I had collapsed. It was all or nothing, and I felt as a though I had achieved nothing. I had failed.
This happened over a year ago and although physically I’m fine, mentally I’m struggling to forgive myself. As a mother I am supposed to keep my baby safe and that weekend my body failed me. A woman’s body is built to give birth, women give birth on roadsides, in public loos, on trains for God’s sake and I can’t even bloody manage it with the guidance of a midwife telling me when to push.
Someone else had to do my job for me and if I’m honest, it makes me feel as though I didn’t deserve to keep her, to take her home and to call myself her mother. It makes me feel like I cheated. I hadn’t crossed the finish line but I was still given the medal.
If it had been down to me alone I’m certain her and I would have died and I re-live those final couple of hours on a weekly basis in some kind of sick self-torture. I can’t listen to stories of people giving birth because it fills me with jealousy and resentment – why can they do it and I couldn’t? I constantly wish I could go back and try again, maybe if I had pushed a bit harder, maybe if I had pushed just one more time? I know in reality it was out of my control and I didn’t do anything wrong, but unfortunately I can’t seem to apply that logic to my emotions.
I haven’t written this post as some sort of self-indulgent pity-party. I’ve written it because even if one woman who went through a similar experience reads it and feels as though she’s not alone then it’s worth it.
In this society of social-media bragging, we’re constantly fed stories of women who gave birth in the bath, listening to their specially selected playlist whilst holding their husband’s hand. That’s lovely for them, it really is, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t hate every person who had such a straight forward delivery. No one posts about the negative experiences because we’re too busy trying to block it out, too busy hating ourselves for what happened, and too busy being jealous. It’s okay if you struggled, and it’s okay that you didn’t sneeze your baby out in a field full of daisies as the sun rises, because that’s just life. At the end of the day we all got the same present – a newborn baby and we are all about to start the same chaotic, stressful, joyful and tough journey of being a mum.

Superior parenting

Recently I saw an update appear on my Facebook feed. It was written by a mother who had just been in a car accident with her daughter in her car too. Thankfully they were both safe. However, the mother chose to use this as an opportunity to do something I can’t stand. Parental shaming.

Parental shaming is when a parent judges other parents for not doing things the same way as them, either directly or indirectly. This lady had decided to post pictures on her Facebook and emphasise the importance of using an extended rear facing car seat. Posting a status about the accident is fine, she was probably in shock and wanted to make sure her friends kept their babies safe too, but the tone of her post was not.  The last sentence finished with “know better, do better”.

That really got my back up. Has this woman got a degree in being a perfect mum? Has she got a full badge of gold stars for her parenting style? I don’t know this woman but I do wonder if she has done everything by the book – natural labour (heaven forbid a woman wants pain relief during birth right?), breastfeeding for 6 months minimum, keeping her child in a moses basket next to her bed for 6 months, given her child all the relevant vaccinations, weaned her child in the newly recommended baby-led way and God knows what else. Maybe she has, like I said, I don’t know her. But to suggest that parents with forward facing car seats need to “do better” is pretentious, patronising and bitchy. What business is it of hers how other people raise their children?

As most parents know, this rule is fairly new and hasn’t even been implemented, there isn’t much of a choice of extended rear facing car seats and some children will scream their lungs out in the car if they’re facing the seat behind them instead of seeing out of the window.

Mums give themselves a hard enough time about the way they raise their children without some judgemental twat indirectly putting them down on social media.

Lots of love, a mum with an extended rear facing car seat which has to go forward facing in her husband’s car because the seat belt won’t fit round it.