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!

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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.

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.