Motherhood Made Me


Before I fell pregnant, I thought it was something that would only ever happen to ‘other’ people. I’d notice the grand gestured announcements on Facebook and feel as though it was never going to be my turn.
In truth, I have to admit that for a long time, I didn’t know whether I ever wanted it to be. A part of me would feel pathetically sad each month when my period arrived and yet, another part of me would rejoice and think ‘thank god, I can continue as I am’. I was a mixture of desperate to fall pregnant and desperate to remain the same.

I’d been in no rush until my periods started having a mind of their own. I’d go two weeks over my cycle and the wonder would start to kick in. ‘I must be pregnant’ I’d think. Then the show would come and I’d be left questioning why my periods were so out of tune.

 

After several blood tests, it was confirmed that my body wasn’t producing the right amount of hormones. Some months, my fertility was suddenly jeopardised and my ability to join Motherhood was threatened. Having the choice of whether I wanted children, had allowed me to take it for granted but the moment I was told I may not be able to, I instinctively knew I HAD to become a Mother.

 

In a bid to drown out my sorrow, I made myself as busy as possible. I distanced myself from my Husband so I didn’t have to admit that I might be a bigger failure than he even realised; so I didn’t have to admit that I wanted children more than we’d really discussed.

The issues surrounding my periods had almost tricked me too many times into believing this was the time I was pregnant. I started taking contraception again as a means of feeling as though I had some control over what was happening. Through packet breaks, I’d wait anxiously to see if my period arrived.

Mostly, it didn’t.

 
I was 9 weeks into the first trimester when I first realised I was pregnant. My Gran had warned me that I would know intuitively when I fell…I didn’t have a clue!

Days before I took the test, I’d ventured up coast with some of my closest friends. We’d joked over how I’d gained weight despite dieting strictly and upping my gym routine. Worryingly, it wasn’t just my stomach that was showing – I could no longer get a pair of knickers to fit comfortably (I later learnt that this was due to my pelvis widening to give way for childbirth). I’d made us stop a million times to pee and felt bizarrely nauseous every time I sipped soda water.

 
But it wasn’t until I nearly passed out at my Auntie’s funeral that I realised something was a miss.

 
I’d began to resent purchasing pregnancy tests – the singular pink line was just an insult to me and my failing body. This time, I felt blasé about it all. Suspecting the result would reinforce my inability to conceive, I headed off into a local supermarket toilet. I mean, why get sentimental about it all? The test was most likely going to end up in the sanitary bin along with my pride and hope.

 
Also, I was incredibly hungover and just wanted the whole scenario to be over as soon as possible.
What can I say? I froze with fear when the second pink line manifested right in front of my eyes. Instantly, I vomited (which could have been the effects of the shock or the hangover).

 
I felt sick because I knew I hadn’t been looking after myself like a pregnant woman should. I’d drank far too much, restricted my calorie intake and overworked my body in hope of shifting those piling pounds before my holiday (which was only two days away).

 
I felt sick because my ideal moment had taken place in a skanky cubicle toilet with no-one close to share in my joy and fear.

 
I felt sick because the surge of maternal instinct was powerful and intense. I could not lose my child, ever. The need to protect was overwhelming and immense.
That doubt over whether I’d ever wanted children vanished instantaneously. I’d never wanted anything more in all my life!

Becoming a Mother made me. It wasn’t until my Son arrived that I realised, I was lost beforehand. I’d struggled with who I was, with what I wanted out of life, with what I’d tolerate.


Motherhood made life clear. I wanted love and affection but not from those who didn’t deserve it. I wanted for me what I wanted for my children. I wanted happiness, fulfilment, joy and laughter.

I wanted meaning!

 
Motherhood made me value my worth. It suddenly became obvious to me how I needed to be treated…by others but mostly by myself. I found myself admiring my body and appreciating it in ways I’d never been able to before. My swollen postpartum stomach was worn with pride. My newly carved (and much wider) hips were beautiful and miraculous. I understood that if I put myself down, I’d only encourage my children to view their own flaws as negative or unattractive. I couldn’t entertain the thought that my own behaviour could be responsible for inflicting their own self-loathing in the future. Instead, I knew that I must instil confidence in them through displaying my own confidence outwardly.
I realised that I only needed the love of myself and my children. Anything above this was and is a bonus.

From the moment that second pink line appeared, I had changed. Changed in ways which made me whole and better.

 
Being a Mother has made me more patient, more tolerable, more kind and empathetic. It’s made me more confident, more assured, more certain and assertive.
It’s shown me how to be the best possible version of me and for that, I’ll always be grateful.
Grateful for the two amazing gifts I was granted.

I’ll Carry Her Forever


For as long as I’ve been a Mother, I’ve been completely honest about the guilt I’ve harboured. It’s taken shape in many a form, sought me out at some point every day.
Guilt has consumed me.

Two and a half years into my parental journey, I thought I’d learnt to tame it. Then…our world changed and I was thrust into a new, more intense and unreasonable state of guilt.

Siena was born prematurely at 31 weeks; it was her birth which triggered the most uncontrollable guilt I’d ever accosted. In the past nineteen months, I’ve encountered guilt about every aspect of her premature arrival. I’ve blamed myself continuously for her impatient entrance, convinced myself that ultimately I must have been to blame.


For a long time, I couldn’t imagine ever feeling at ease with the situation. Guilt had become a part of me – a constant reminder of my unforgivable failure as a Mother. It felt as though I’d never escape the reality of having a baby born too soon. The first year of her life was cluttered with hospital visits, stays and check-ups. It seemed that there was never very long between each date but we remained hopeful that life would eventually normalise.

When Siena was nine months old, I started to worry about her lack of physical development. Mentally, she’d shone. She’d showed signs of intelligence and astuteness but physically, she was weak. I felt guilty that it had taken me so long to spot the signs. I’d been happy to blame her slow development on laziness, always thinking ‘she’ll get there in her own time’.

Time passed and Siena remained unchanged. Deep down, I longed to live in the warmth of denial. I wasn’t ready to admit that there was something potentially very wrong.

Two days ago, she was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. I sat at her Paediatrician’s desk analysing the results of her brain scan. The damage to her brain was obvious. It highlighted the scan, unashamed and brash. There was no escaping the prognosis.


I’m not entirely sure I can even articulate the surge of emotions that consumed me as I peered at the white lines surrounding her brain matter. I’d known it was suspected but hearing it confirmed, paralysed me. For months, I’d fought away thoughts of ‘what if’, barricaded myself from the possibility. It seemed silly to worry myself over something that might never have been.

But there’s no longer a façade for me to hide behind.

Somewhere throughout her life, the unbearable guilt I’d once experienced had subsided. As Siena met other milestones, we’d cheered and admired her undeniable strength. Watching her transform from the tiny baby she once was to the fierce toddler before us, had, undoubtedly eased the onus I’d concealed beneath my armour. I hadn’t prepared myself for the possibility of its sharp and undignified return.

Here I am, almost twenty months after her birth, feeling guiltier than I ever have. What hurts more is accepting that this guilt will never go away.

At current, I can’t discard the feeling that this is my fault. My body should have been stronger. I should have waited longer between having children. My diet could have been healthier; I should never have forgotten to take folic acid tablets some nights. The iron my body couldn’t absorb, I should have increased it through nutritional rich foods. I shouldn’t have carried heavy objects, should have rested more and for longer. There’s a million ways I could have triggered Siena’s birth – a million regrets I have to live with each day.


If Siena can’t walk, I’ll feel guilty for inflicting disability upon her. If my own body hadn’t failed, her body wouldn’t have either (not that I see disability as a failure…I’m desperate to make sure I protect her from such views).

When she returns home from school crying that she’s been teased for being different, the guilt will kill me inside. I want her to have the confidence to understand that her condition doesn’t make her different. I want her to have the tenacity to educate those around her whose ignorance could hurt.

If Siena comes to me bearing heartbreak that the boy she fancies won’t return her feelings, my heart will shatter. I want her to see the beauty I see, to have the self-assurance and worth not to chase those who don’t deserve her heart.

I once said that I was desperate to chase fairies with her, I feel guilty that I no longer believe this might even be possible. I want to be positive for her, stronger than I’ve ever been but I also need to accept that the stark reality of her future may not allow this. Like every Mother, I had dreams and ambitions for her -I had a preconceived vision of how her life would pan out. Right now, I no longer know what to dream. I don’t want to set unrealistic aspirations which may pressurise her but I don’t want to sound like I’m giving up on her either. I’ll never give up on her!


I’m frantic for her to know that I’ll never let her fail. I have to believe that she’ll be capable of achieving whatever she sets her heart upon. I’ll be there beside her to push her and guide her as much as I can. I won’t let her feel vulnerable by her condition; I won’t let her wallow in unnecessary self-pity.

I’ll carry her burdens so that she doesn’t have to. I’ll carry her worries and anxieties so that she can be free from doubt. I’ll carry her troubles to ease the weight on her shoulders and if she can’t walk, I’ll carry her through life – wherever she desires.


Cerebral Palsy will not define her, shape her, mould her or restrict her…it may be an additional challenge but we’ll conquer it together. Of that, I’m sure.


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A Mother’s Guide to a Good Bribe

“I’ll let you watch Finding Nemo for the 3rd time today if you eat your tea”

Bribery – a bargaining tool, a godsend or a self-inflicting torture device. No matter what age your child is, undoubtedly at some point, bribery will be your only gameplan.
Over the past two years, bribery has featured heavily in my mothering techniques. At times, I’ve immediately regretted this decision. At others, I’ve been incredibly grateful for such winning little tricks.

As awesome as a bribe may be, there’s a definite dark side. A bribe can be a gamble – it’ll either pay off dividends or cause you so much more hassle in the long run.

With that in mind, here’s five tips to the good bribe.

1) Be Consistent

With most toddlers, consistency is paramount…when it comes to discipline, rewards and bribery! Your toddler will suss out pretty quickly whether it’s worth taking the bait. If he or she feels as though your bribes are flakey, they’ll be less likely to see the advantage of taking it. Never offer a bribe which you have no intention of honouring. Remember the boy who cried wolf? Well, when the wolf arrived no-one took him seriously and this is exactly what will happen. The one time you need your child to accept a bribe, they’ll be thinking ‘yeah right, you said that last time and I’m still waiting for a month’s supply of Milky Bar’. 

Not my finest bribe “Finish your tea and I’ll let you have a chocolate pot”

This brings me nicely to my next point.

2). Don’t make unrealistic bribes

A bribe is a delicious little gift to help you through your day with more ease…or silence. It’s main purpose is to aid you not hinder you. If you offer unrealistic bribes, you may be at risk of making more work for yourself. For instance, don’t offer a bribe which will cost you money, time or patience. Be resourceful! If you suggest to your child that you’ll take them to the park for a run around, this could be a lovely concept but have you time today to fulfil this? Were you intending on taking them already or did you have other plans that you’ll now need to change? If so, you haven’t won…you’ve definitely lost the battle however sweet the victory felt when the bait was bitten. 

“We’ll take you to Beamish if you put your shoes on real quick” score – we were going anyway
 
3). Choose your bribes wisely

A packet of crisps may not be part of a stable diet but without doubt, they are adored by toddlers all over the world. Personally, I’d rather offer crisps as a bribe over chocolate or cake. In saying that, some crisps are not worth the bother. Take a Cheesy Wotsit, the golden puffs of wheat can be a delicious treat but the residue they leave behind will stain everything in their path. A pombear will fulfil the brief without half the mess. Fruit can be an even better offering (especially if you’re luckier to have one of those delightful souls who enjoy it) but once again, choose fruits which are self efficient and easy to prepare. 

The banana – little mess, cheap and full of goodness

4). Time your bribes 

Picture this, it’s a Saturday morning. You’ve been up since 5 am and just want five minutes peace and quiet. It feels like the ideal time to thrash out the promise of a Disney film. You’ll be able to recuperate and even enjoy a warm cup of tea…but are you desperate? Dropping the bribe too soon could be detrimental in the  long run. Wait until you’re completely flagging, that way, it will feel ever more sweet. Mainly, my bribes are timed with deadlines ‘if you get in your car seat, I’ll put the nursery rhymes on for you’ is one I use religiously when in a rush to get out of the house. Bribes have saved my not-so-little behind on several occasions when tardiness isn’t an option.

“One chocolate but then you have to go straight to bed”

My last piece of advice is:

5). Don’t rely heavily on bribery.

Yes, bribery done well is an absolute art form but overusing it can devalue the impact. Utilise bribery in a way which asserts your power and control over your child. Relying too heavily on bribes will reveal a weakness to your toddler and let’s face it, toddlers are like a pack of wolves, they sniff out weakness and use it to their own seedy advantage. They’ll become expectant of a bribe and will eventually learn to play you at your own game. We are all owned by our children – bribery is our one chance to have the upper hand.


I can’t promise that following these tips will transform your journey but I’m pretty sure they’ll help conquer bribery to a tremendous degree.

Enjoy and bribe well xx


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Remind Me

I know I’ve said this before but I really can’t reiterate how true it is.
Our life is bloody hard!

 
Between us both working full time jobs in stressful roles; a two year old well and truly in the grasp of ‘terrible-twohood’; a premature daughter who loves to keep our anxiety levels up and the most erratic border collie to have ever existed…it’s mental.

We struggle to find time for the ‘mundane’.So, finding time for the ‘exciting’ just doesn’t stand a chance. Most nights, we manage to spend the grand total of twenty minutes in each other’s company before you fall asleep on the settee and, well, most of that is also usually dominated with me working from my phone.
It’s not a case of no longer loving each other. It’s a case that we just sometimes forget to show it. It’s too easy at 9pm on a Thursday night to slog at separate ends of the room, tranced by the hindsight of a hard day and a manic evening. It’s too easy to sit numbly in front of the TV avoiding eye contact for fear of small talk that you no longer have the energy to pursue. It’s too easy to climb into bed an hour later and immediately adopt your fail safe sleeping position without a good night kiss. It’s too easy to let life pass us by. 

  
Our relationship has become that of a ‘working’ one. Our exchanges are predominantly business negotiations (who is cleaning whist the other one cooks? Which one of us will bath the babies whilst the other one irons?). The times we talk through the day are mainly opportunities to swap notes – Siena has needed her inhaler, Tristan had eaten well. The question of how one’s day is going never enters the equation. I’m not blaming you here, we’re both equally as guilty. 

  
Nevertheless, sometimes it hurts.

Being the oversensitive soul you’ve become to resent me for, I can’t help but take some things personally. It’s easy for me to convince myself that you no longer love me. That you no longer care about my dreams and ambitions, thoughts or emotions. It’s far too easy for me to believe that our relationship has lost its passion.
But this weekend has reminded me it hasn’t. 

We very rarely treat ourselves to some adult alone time. Our weekends are centred around finding a means of entertaining two toddlers. We no longer laugh together, no longer focus just on us.  

  
But this weekend has been exactly that! We escaped for not one, two nights! An entire weekend in each other’s company. No excuses to ignore each other. No excuses to avoid intimacy.
I’m not saying we spent the weekend locked in a loving embrace. No, we’re more than past that honeymoon stage. I mean, it was cluttered with small tender moments which reminded me that you love me.

The moments you instinctively held my hand as we strolled through market stalls, the moments you offered me your jacket because you noticed I was cold…those moments meant so much. Tiny and insignificant they may be but warming and reassuring they are, also.

Most importantly, we’ve laughed together. Your laughter was always something I loved about you so intensely. When we met, you were incredibly light-hearted. You found laughter in every situation. Recently, it’s a noise I often forget you’re capable of making. I don’t think that it’s because you’re unhappy, I just think it’s because you’re too suppressed by your hectic routine. And that’s fine.

I’m not asking that we promptly plan to change our ways. I’m not even suggesting that we need to. Our lives are busy and incredibly hard but we’re not failing. We are dedicated to our children, still dedicated to each other. Our business negotiations are working for us at the minute and as our children grow, I’m sure life will become easier.

No doubt, there’ll come a time when we can unguiltily centre nights/weekends on each other without fear of abandoning our brood. However, until that time arrives, I am asking…can we have more weekends like this one? Can we take time to hold hands when our hands are free for each other? Can we make a date to laugh with each other again soon?

Can we remind each other of how awesome our relationship really is?

  

I’ll Love You Always, Remember You Forever

  
  
So this is it – the first day of the rest of my life without you. It’s a day I’ve dreaded for as long as I can remember, a day I’d hoped wouldn’t come for yet another decade. 
I held your hand yesterday, as you finally allowed yourself to sleep. I sang you a lullaby under my breath, said my prayers for you. You were beautiful your entire life but in that moment, you were radiant. I saw the peace in your heart, the relief in your face. 
We were relieved too. Thankful for your calm departure. 
Thankful is a word I want to use a lot today. You see, you’ve given me so much to be thankful for. For you alone, I’m thankful.
You’ve always inspired me – even as a little girl. You taught me how to read and write before I went to Primary School. You sat for endless hours on your sitting room floor showing me how to curl a C. You patiently reiterated word after word as I read aloud to you. As I grew, you continued to instil a love of English into me. You listened to my poetry, told me how talented I was. You read my stories, encouraged me to write more and more. At 30 year old, I still find pleasure in the passions you nurtured. You gave me the confidence to pursue a career in English, the confidence to publish my writing for others to read.

  
You gave me the best advice. You were always the first person I turned to in a crisis, the one I’d believe could make me see sense. I’ll always be grateful for the time you spent advising me. You watched me transition into a woman, put my mind at ease at every uncomfortable or daunting moment. 
The day my Husband left me, you discovered me lying alone in my Mother’s hallway. The pain of my heartache had rendered me physically unable to move. You sat beside me, stroked my hair and reassured me that I had the strength within me to get up and move on. You made me see my worth, appreciate that if he never returned, I’d do so much more than survive. You held my hand as I steadied to my feet. Like a newborn Deer, my knees buckled and weakened. You held my hand, made me straighten my back and carry on living.

  
When he returned, you wished us the best and told me you were proud of the strength I’d shown, that sometimes it was stronger to try and make things work than simply disregard them. You had a way of making me feel as though I’d always made the right decision (even if you believed I hadn’t).
The day I discovered I was pregnant, it was your advice I wanted to hear. I could never imagine becoming a Mother without your guidance or support. You were there the day my son arrived, you were there throughout his colic and when my heart broke over not being able to breastfeed, it was you who showed me that there was no shame in formula. You who made me see that his eating habits are nothing to become stressed about. From the day my Daughter arrived prematurely, you taught me to panic less, to be dramatic less. You’ve loved my children with the same unconditional love you showed me and my Brother. You’ve told me over and over again that I’m doing a wonderful job. I couldn’t be a Mother without you. The Mother I am is down to your advice and relaxed approach. Thank you for making me feel like I’m doing alright. 
I owe my sense of Adventure to you. My Mother, a natural born worrier, would have seen me swaddled in cotton wool. You encouraged me to experience life. Told me that I shouldn’t ever let fear or worry prohibit me from living. It was that courage which made it easy for me to leave my profession and seek new challenges. You’ve always made me see that change doesn’t ever have to be daunting, change can be miraculous, exciting, necessary!
The change we’re experiencing right now is harrowing and tragic but even to your dying day, you wanted us to believe that even this was for the best. 
Whilst you were still conscious, you asked us all to be happy for you. We are. We’re happy that you’re no longer suffering, no longer in pain. We’re happy that you’re with your Father again, dancing on his shoes. We’re happy that we saw you leave, had time to say our full goodbyes. Mostly, we’re happy for the life you’ve given us. 
I feel privileged to have known you, honoured to have felt your love, advantaged to have so many beautiful and noteworthy memories with you.
So thank you for your amazing grace. Thank you for making me the woman that I am.
Thank you for being my Gran, my best friend.
I’ll love you always, I’ll remember you forever. 
  

I Could No Longer See You

  
You scared me today; scared me more than I’ve felt since the day your sister arrived nine weeks prem. You scared me intensely, deeply, painfully.
You made me recognise every Mother’s worst nightmare, presented me with how it would feel to go on living life without you.
You wandered off…in a crowd…where I could no longer see you.

  
It happened so quickly, my eyes left you for a brief moment to attend to your sister. There were four adults amongst the party, I stupidly assumed someone else would be watching you. As it happens, they weren’t. We weren’t. 
“Where’s Tristan?” I asked, trying not to jump to conclusions. In the end, the conclusion was drawn that you were no longer in sight.
I can honestly say, in that moment, my heart stopped. There was no longer time to hide my panic, there was no time to figure which direction you’d wandered into. 
Instinctively, I ran. I ran and I screamed and I screamed and my heart pounded and I fought back the tears. 
I bellowed from the very pit of my stomach. I chanted rhythmically “Tristan, Tristan” but you didn’t answer.

 
A few moments felt like a lifetime. I found myself in the centre of a freeze-frame, only I was moving. I looked around at the passers by whom appeared to be standing still in time. ‘Why aren’t they helping? Why hasn’t anyone seen you?’ I thought, angrily. 
My mind was cluttered with images I didn’t want to see, thoughts I’d do anything to avoid. Had you been taken? Had someone had the chance to snatch you? You’re insanely beautiful (and not even from a biased view), I can imagine that would make you a prime target. Had you fallen? We were standing on a walkway beside a penguin enclosure, had you tried to climb in?
Either way, I was imagining the worst possible thoughts. Was I going to find you injured or worse? Was I never going to find you? My heart hurt with such vivid and intense pain. A TV programme popped into my head – a man had been at a Football match with his son, he’d left go of his hand for a second to chant at a goal. The boy had wandered off, was never found. I pictured poor Madeline McCann and how her parents must have felt (if innocent) upon discovering her abduction. I thought of James Bulger and how easily he’d been led astray. This could have been our future, this very easily could have been our reality.
Thankfully, it wasn’t.
By the time I’d raced back to my starting point, you were snuggled tightly into the chest of your Grandad. His face was that of relief, delight. He’d found you chasing after two small boys. They were racing and you’d been eager to join in.
I was so mad at you. I was so mad at myself! But I couldn’t show it or express it. I wanted to grab you, wrap my arms tightly around you and never let you go. I wanted to kiss you repeatedly and feel your warm breath on my ear as I cuddled you. I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry with joy and gratification but also for all the Mothers who had found them self in such a harrowing situation. 

  
I felt shit. Utterly shit.
I’m your Mother, I should have never let you out of my sight, regardless of who else I was with. I need to have tighter control of you, I need you to learn that you can’t follow strangers.
One thing’s for sure, I can NEVER feel that way again. So I’m sorry Son, that sheer desire for freedom you have, it’s not working for me. From now on, you’re never leaving my side.

  

Heartbreaker, You’ve Got the Best of Me.

  
You broke my heart today; you made it ache. I wish I could say that this was an isolated occasion but you break it more the older you become. 
You’re only two – how can I blame you for such anguish and pain? How can I say you’re the cause of such hurt?

I know that two is typically an age of change and unrest. You’re developing quicker than your mind can handle. You’re advancing so fast but this leaves you conflicted and confused. 
You WANT to be able to do things. You somehow seem to think you know best – it’s suddenly became about ‘your way’ or no-one else’s. You can’t handle us telling you otherwise. You despise the concept of control. I can no longer expect you to sit in a highchair, the gate on your door represents entrapment and boundaries. Boundaries you’re eager to explore. 
I had naively thought that the whole ‘body launching’ off the floor was just a Media depiction created for comedy value. As it happens, that stage is very much real…and not funny in the slightest. Today, you’ve thrown yourself towards every surface you’ve encountered – including the floor of a particularly busy restaurant. You’ve left me twitching with anger, raw with embarrassment. 
You’ve climbed out of your car seat and launched yourself towards the base of the car, legs pointing towards the ceiling.
You’ve even attempted body-diving straight from the bath!
It was this last occasion which caused my heart to break. I can’t even tell you why you were crying. Most frustratingly, neither can you yet. It started as we made the ascent towards the bathroom. We bypassed the lounge and subsequently, your beloved Dinosaur Adventure. This, I assume, can be the only catalyst which kickstarted such violent tantrum-ing. You howled immediately. So much so, it was unbearable trying to remove your clothing.
Thinking the gentle lull of the bath water would soothe you, I manically tried to get you into the tub. I was convinced that as soon as the menthol bubbles caressed you, you’d fall silent. Instead, you fell face first!

  
Luckily, I was at hand to catch you but the impact caused you to bite down on your tongue. As blood smothered your face, you smothered into mine in a bid to find comfort. You no longer craved the floor but the tender embrace of my arms. I was there for you.
There to wipe away the blood, sweat and tears. There to clean up your face and kiss better your ouchies. There to reassure you that you were safe and unscathed. 
As you settled, I nursed you in my arms. Cradled you like I once had at three in the morning. I blew on your skin and whispered lullabies in your ear. As soon as I recognised you were calm and controlled, I carried you to bed.
But you didn’t want to be alone.You needed me to stay. 

  
I guiltily scampered from the room, denyingly believing you’d settle quite soon. As I bolted downstairs, I held my breath – desperate to escape the blackmail of your cry. “Leave him” your Dad barked, “he needs to cry it out” he insisted…but this is something I’m incapable of! 
Listening to the panic in your cry, I understood how much you needed me. How could I leave you pleading my name? How could I teach you that I wouldn’t be there in your most vulnerable moments?
As I entered your room, your eyes told me your pain. You were no longer a two year old but that newborn boy who was so scared of the world. I climbed in beside you and you wrapped your arms so tightly around me, petrified I’d leave again. 
I’m not going anywhere baby. I’m never going anywhere! 
Your usual desire to be free makes me worry about our future. I know there’ll come a day when you embark on your own adventure, when you’ll cast me aside for a wife or a partner. It won’t be me that you need to settle you forever. Someone else will be responsible for kissing your ouchies goodbye. That breaks my heart!
So, as I lie beside you right now, heart-broken from your tantrum, I admit that my heart aches for my little boy. I know that I’ll always be your Mother but I have to admit that mine will be the first heart you’ll ever truly break.
All I can do, is promise I’ll never break yours in return. 
When you’re older and someone dares attempt to break your heart, just remember that my arms will always be there to carry you. My neck will always be poised for you to hang from, my heart will always be filled with enough love to last you a lifetime.  

  

Ready, Steady…Eat

  
I’ve never shied away from admitting that my approach to Motherhood pre-baby was to believe everything I saw on TV. I entered Motherhood fully accepting that the Disney version was EXACTLY how it would be. 
Obviously, now I know that I’d set myself up for a harder fall.
My understanding of babies was that all they loved to do was eat, sleep and poo…and even though that wasn’t really far off the truth, I had no idea of real-life issues such as: day and night confusion, reflux, colic and constipation. Ignorantly, I expected my son to arrive in this world as a natural faeces-passing, milk guzzling sleep addict. He was none of the above!
I’ve spoken about his sleep habits before but what I haven’t mentioned is that the only way I knew to get him to sleep was with milk; detrimental as this sometimes was. 

  
Like many first time Mothers, I’d believed that breastfeeding was the only way forward. In truth, I struggled much more than I’d ever thought possible. Having suffered badly with jaundice, Tristan had been given formula much to my dismay. I hadn’t had time to research, I only knew the name of one brand! Desperately, I clung to breastfeeding with much stealth but my milk supply just was no longer enough to satisfy his newly-stretched full stomach. He’d take to my nipple but he’d instantly fall asleep. After two weeks, Tristan had lost so much body weight that the decision was made for me by the midwife – I had to swap fully to formula.
This wasn’t easy; not just because of my desire to breastfeed but because Tristan didn’t seem to like formula any more than my milk. Well, I mean, he both loved it and hated it all at the same time.
Tristan struggled to digest formula. I knew babies should posset after a feed but I didn’t know how much was normal or acceptable…so I plodded on thinking his sickness was just what happened. After most bottles, he’d vomit even up to three hour after. Sometimes this would be projectile, sometimes it would be trickle after trickle. Each time, he’d scream in pain. It was a vicious circle, he’d demand a bottle, he’d crave the soothing silky liquid then he’d cry in agony.
I recall one time, he’d cried all morning. He wanted feeding but I just didn’t know if I was doing right by giving him a bottle and inflicting more pain. Obviously, I fed him and the crying stopped…for minutes. Needing a break from the constant screech, I put him in his Moses basket and left the room. How long was I gone? Maybe minutes, maybe even only seconds but I needed it. I needed to walk away, count to ten, let the tears roll and collect my sanity. When I re-entered the room, his delicate little face was covered in a thick white substance. It was in his eyes, his eyebrows, his nose, his ears. He’d been sick and I hadn’t seen it. He could have choked and I wouldn’t have been there, I was mortified at myself! It was the last straw, I knew I needed professional help.
The Dr. Prescribed Tristan infant Gaviscon – apparently, he had reflux. He also told me to swap to ‘comfort’ milk. I did both and was so relieved that the sickness stopped almost immediately. Problem solved? If only!
The change to Tristan’s diet caused constipation. We swapped crying through reflux for crying through this instead. Equally, both were as soul-destroying as the other. Throw colic into the mix and you can imagine, life wasn’t the dream we’d been expecting. 
We put all our hopes into believing that weaning early would be the answer. So, at 4 months, we ventured into the world of ‘baby food’. It wasn’t what we’d been expecting – Tristan’s constipation became worse and he flatly refused to drink water. We were, once again, at a stage of desperation. Quitting almost as quickly as we’d started, we decided that we’d have to wait for another two months. Nerves grew worse as we approached 6 months, knowing we’d have to wean again. Would it work? I couldn’t handle seeing my baby in so much pain again.
Thankfully, He was ready! 

  
I’d love to tell you that this was the answer to our prayers but Tristan’s relationship with food has never been one I’m proud of. It’s always made me feel like a failure. I’ve spent too many nights begging him to eat, I’ve even had a few moments I’m not proud of myself. I’ve shouted, I’ve cried, I’ve forcefully held the spoon to his lips. All of which have made me feel so horrid that I’ve even lost my own appetite. I’ve tried everything, all the techniques that would usually work. The ‘you feed me and I’ll feed you’ was definitely the worst! 
There was a time that I blamed Tristan’s attitude to food on the anguish he felt when his sister arrived prematurely and poorly. It’s taken me a long time to admit that his issues were there long before his sister was born. 
As he grows older, his desire for food comes in phases. He’ll have weeks were he’s hungry, where I can feed him everything from Avacado to Zuccini (see what I did there, A-Z?). Then, there’s times when he’ll only eat sausage. As he grows older, I’m learning to feel less guilt. He’ll eat when he’s ready…

  
At the moment, he’ll only eat if I chant ‘ready, steady…Eat’. Who am I to argue with that?

  

Just F**king Sleep

Just Fucking Sleep…

  

If there’s one thing I learnt very quickly as a new Mam, it was that babies repel sleep. 
It’s just something I physically can’t bring my self to understand. Sleep is awesome. Sleep is incredible! It’s the difference between feeling grand and feeling like utter shit. It’s warm and cosy, comforting and seductive. Sleep wraps you up, cradles you and reassures you that life will be fine…so long as you bag 7 undisturbed blissful hours.

7 undisturbed blissful hours? Holy crap, I can’t remember it. Sleep and me, well we broke up two years ago. 

It’s been the hardest break-up I’ve ever endured. With most splits, time heals wounds and repairs scars but not this time, the longer we’re apart, the shittier I feel. 

It all started the day my son was born (well there’s my first lie, it probably started about 7 weeks before he was born). He entered this world allergic to sleep and let’s face it, after 15 hours of straight unintoxicated labour, I needed sleep. Our 1st night together was unbearable, he cried so much that the midwives made the decision to give us a side room ‘I think we’ll give the other new Mothers a rest’ they said. A rest? A fucking rest? What about me? 

  
It didn’t take me long to figure out that my needs really didn’t matter. I didn’t have a doll to look after, I had an actual human being…and this one hadn’t yet learnt the value of sleep.

In fact, Tristan despised sleep to begin. Our first six weeks consisted of blasting Beyonce’s ‘Drunk In Love’ on repeat until he’d settle (at least I can thank him for my extraordinary karaoke rendition). As soon as the track would end, he’d stir and wake. Our Health Visitor told us that it was likely he had his day and night confused but this just wasn’t the case. Tristan would be awake for at least 17 hours straight each day. It was hell! I bet you’ve heard that age-old tip of ‘sleep when the baby is sleeping’? It was everyone’s top tip of the day every time I moaned about being tired but how can one manage that when one’s sprog never fucking sleeps?! I had no chance.

  
I’d love to say that this phase didn’t last forever and well, I suppose it didn’t. At 8 weeks, he eventually decided that he’d attempt to sleep at night. So, having actually managed at least 4 solid hours in a row, my Husband and I celebrated in a very ‘Husband and Wife’ kind of way…and accidentally conceived our Daughter. 

Sleep was my only immediate concern. I didn’t know if I’d ever be ready to part with its soft, inviting embrace again. ‘Please let us get a sleeper’ I prayed. 

  
When Siena was unexpectedly born at 31 weeks, sleep became less of a priority. Once I was released from Hospital, Siena was still in NICU. I effectively had 5 weeks to try and catch up on sleep before she came home but I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t settle knowing a nurse was doing my duty for me. So, I set my alarm (for those times I did manage to stop fretting) and expressed every four hours. She came home sleep trained. She’d only wake every four hours for a feed then she’d slump straight back into blissful slumber, she was a dream. 

Just as I thought my love affair with sleep was about to be rekindled, teething came along and boshed all over my bloody good mood! Here I was again, pacing the floor for three hours in the middle of the night cursing my daughter to ‘just fucking sleep’. To make matters worse, her stirring would wake her Brother – just as I’d manage to settle one, the other would rear their head in a tantrum-y fashion. 

My only saving grace was ‘nap time’. If I was lucky, they’d each have at least an hour throughout the course of the day. If I was luckier, this would happen simultaneously. Yes, an opportunity to crawl into bed and hide underneath the duvet! Sometimes, it was my only chance of survival.

  
There were times, amongst the chaos, I’d wonder if I’d ever sleep peacefully again.

Now, at two-year-old, my son is actually amazing. He takes himself to bed at 7pm and very rarely stirs until 6am. His naps are lessening though – he’s a mix between wanting to nap anywhere/everywhere or refusing to sleep even though he’s ridiculously tired. My Daughter, is still a different story. 

She’s become a snuggler! This means, she’ll settle so long as she’s in my arms. Yes, I managed to untrained my sleep trained baby. How do you actually manage to do that? It has to be a colossal failure on my behalf. 

Oh well, I guess I’ll be chanting ‘just fucking sleep’ for a little while longer. 

Zzzzzzzzzzzzz

  

Not Just for the Kids

  
If asked in life whether I have many regrets, no would be my answer. I’m lucky enough to know that even my mistakes have helped shape me into the person I am today. I’ve learnt from them, grown from them.
There’s things I should regret, things I’m not proud of, things I would do differently if given half a chance. Our marriage would be one.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not me admitting that I wish I hadn’t married you, I don’t! 

I was 24 at the time I said my vows, and although I completely meant them, the promises I made meant very little. I’d no experience of what ‘love, honour and obey’ would actually entail. 

Like every little girl, I had dreams of the fairytale ending. I’d pictured you as my Prince Charming, my expectations of you were unrealistic from the start. Maybe this was because of the whirlwind of a relationship we’d endured to begin. I’d never meant to fall in love with you, I wasn’t looking to achieve long term goals. Though, there was something about you that I just couldn’t resist.

You were kind, considerate, loving and romantic. I had my barriers up having been intensely hurt before but you were patient, you swore you’d break them down.

  
Eventually, you did.

Eventually, I weakened and you hurt me more than I ever knew possible. 

The day you proposed to me, out 1st anniversary together, you made me the happiest I think I’ve ever been. Looking back, I wonder whether you meant it or if you just got caught up in the romance of the occasion? It meant something to me, I was dedicated to forging a secure future together. 

Then, two weeks before we were due to be wed, you told me you didn’t love me. I knew, I’d known for a while beforehand too. The romance had stopped, you no longer looked at me with admiration, I irritated you. I gave you nothing. 

Our marriage felt tainted from the start. I entered it knowing that my love was no longer requited, knowing that your decision to stay was based on not wanting to let people down. So, your leaving two weeks later came as no surprise. I’d been waiting nearly a month for you to do the right thing. I can’t say it broke my heart, that had happened those two weeks prior to our wedding.

When you came back to me, I wanted it to be for love. I wanted it to be because you couldn’t live without me. I wanted it to be because I was enough but I always felt that I wasn’t. You could never tell me why you loved me, always struggled to say why you’d returned. 

And yet, I allowed five years to pass. Never told you how I was feeling, never forgave you for the mess you’d made. Never gave my mended heart back to you wholly.  

Along the way, we had children (maybe it was fate, maybe it was stupidity). Finally, I saw what I’d been missing, the ‘you’ who had been there for all that time. I saw that you’ve loved me throughout it all. I’d just been blinded by my own stubbornness and fear. I realised that I have been enough, even though I’ve made it hard for you. 

 Watching you with our children has made me love you more and more than I ever expected. That’s why, I could never regret the life we chose.

  
Our children showed me that our marriage was meant to be. Throughout all the hurt, the arguments and the doubt, they are the reason why we are surviving, the reason why I know we won’t give up without fighting as much as we can.

  
Our marriage has been challenging, I’ve no doubt that it will continue to present even more along the way but I want you to know, I’m still rising. 

  
Not even just for the kids, but for us, because I can see you now and I’m ready to let us forget.

  

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