I’m Just Waiting For You to Need Me

You had a nightmare last night. Woke up screaming at 2am. For a while, you were inconsolable, obviously still affected by the images haunting your dreams.

I thought you’d want your Daddy so I sent him to calm you. You always want your Daddy.

This time was different, it was my name you chanted when you saw him enter your room. Daddy wouldn’t do, you needed your Mother’s touch.

I scooped you up and you instantly wrapped your arms around my neck, allowed your legs to coil around my waist and nuzzled your head into my neck.

I held you as you sobbed loudly and erratically. I rocked you and reassured you that everything would be alright. I took you to my bed and held your body until you were completely soothed. Then, I lay with you until you fell back to sleep.

The feeling was bittersweet.

Partly, I felt saddened by your distress. It broke my heart to see you hurting, to watch you cry with fear in your eyes. Yet, partly I felt happy.

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For so long, I’ve worried about our bond. It’s never me you crave, never me you look for. Since Siena was born, I worry that you’ve learnt to take comfort in others first. I’ve anxiously wondered whether you became accustomed to my negligence, if you learnt to turn to others when Mammy couldn’t be there for you.

I never want you to feel that way. That, in itself, breaks my heart more that anything else ever could. I’ll always be there for you and I’ll always love you unconditionally.

When Siena was born, her prematurity and illness meant her needs were momentarily greater than yours. I tried my very best to make sure you didn’t notice. But I guess you did.

Before she arrived, we were so close. I was your comforter, your entertainer, your best friend. I was yours. You loved me and I knew it, I felt it in those delicate moments we shared. Your cottage pie kisses were gentle and tender. Your cuddles were long and generous.

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Now, I wonder whether you feel differently about me.

It’s no longer me you cry for. It’s no longer me you turn to for comfort or for fun. I sense the disappointment when it’s me you get and not your Dad.

I don’t know how to fix the distance between us. I look at other women with their sons and cry that our bond isn’t the same. I love you insanely and want you to be aware of that.

It breaks my heart when you push me away, when you cry because your Daddy has left and you’re stuck with me. When I ask you for a kiss and you turn your head, when I try to cuddle you but you kick away.

I wonder if you’re angry with me, if you feel as though your love wasn’t enough? It was baby. It would have always been enough. Your love could move mountains. Your love taught me what love actually was.

Once Siena arrived, I made special effort to still do things together. Your Art class was meant to be an opportunity for us to still do fun things together, our Monday’s were also Mother and Son fun days. Then I returned to work and the gulf between us intensified.

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So, tonight, as you cried, I selfishly took comfort in your neediness. You cried for me and that meant the world.

As you grow, I hope our bond does too. I want you to know that I’ll always be the person there for you first. I’ll listen to your problems, wipe away your tears and always care about your hopes and dreams. I’ll hold your hand through hardships and celebrations. I’ll kiss your scraped knees and mend your hurts. I’ll always be ready to comfort you.

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I’m just waiting for you to need me.

The Twinkle Diaries

The Good, The Bad and The Honestly Insane

Baby announcement

Before I fell pregnant, I had a somewhat rose-tinted view of what it would be like. I imagined peeing on a stick, one hand clenching the results and the other placed tenderly in my Husband’s grasp. We’d see the pink line appear and jump harmoniously, tears of joy running down our cheeks. The reality? I took the test alone in a local supermarket toilet (which was a good place to be considering I nearly shit myself when I saw the positive symbol). Nobody had prepared me for that initial surge of emotions. Holy crap – I was about to become responsible for keeping someone ALIVE.

As I embarked on my journey through pregnancy, I discovered that there was lots of things women ‘hid’ from each other. Some of which I may have been grateful for but some left me feeling cheated by womankind. Why had no-one told me what it was really like?

So here I am, baring the truth (or my perception of it, I know we all have different experiences).

People told me that I’d instinctively know when I was pregnant, that I’d feel different. It’s true, I did spot differences but I’m not entirely sure I believed they were pregnancy related to begin.

I recall the day before I took ‘the test’. I was at Bamburgh Castle with a few of my closest friends. I remember confiding in them that my ‘area’ felt different, a little wider, less able to fit in a thong so comfortably. I simply put it down to the few extra pounds I seemed to have gained, in spite of dieting excessively to fit in my bikini a week later. I was 9 weeks on when I took the test – and already showing.

So, now with an explanation in hand, the fun really started. Having already expressed that my perception of pregnancy was Hollywood influenced, I looked forward to the glow and compliments of radiating beauty.

This part I skipped – both times round. My glow was more of a luminous shine created by the several hot flushes I’d experience in an hour. My compliments came in the form of ‘well isn’t your face round these days’ and ‘you won’t look tired forever…just until your child is 5’. I mean, I had moments where I could cry at the way I looked but I knew it was short lived. I managed to find positives in most things (like when my face filled up with fluid and gave me a free Khloe Kardashian lip makeover).

pregnancy shoot

Another thing I wasn’t expecting was the speed in which my leg hair would grow. In the early days I shaved those bad boys…every day! Sure enough, I’d wake up each morning appalled at the sandpaper texture of my pins. It was manic. Then…I became too damn fat and could no longer reach them. After a while, my priorities lay elsewhere and the legs became neglected. There was an awful moment when I was 35 weeks pregnant. I’d been Chief Bridesmaid at my Best Friend’s wedding the day before. As a treat, my husband had arranged a leg and foot massage to help me feel better after standing so much at the wedding. It wasn’t until I was laid bare from the waist down on the massage table that I realised my legs hadn’t been touched in maybe 5 weeks. I felt hideous.

Then there was the wind – the painfully loud and blatantly obvious wind. I think this part speaks for itself.

Between the sweat, the farts and the leg hair, I can vouch that pregnancy is not always as glamorous as the Movies make it out to be. However, even they don’t document afterbirth.

So here I was, in labour. Now the one thing I had been prepared for was the possibility that I’d open my bowels on the baby’s head. Honestly? In the heat of the moment after nearly 11 hours of pushing and 15 hours of labour, I couldn’t have cared a less. In fact, I would have welcomed it if it made the tinker extract himself any quicker.

In the Movies, I’d deliver my baby and scoop him up in a loving embrace. My hair would be perfect and my make up would still be in tact. I’d get up from the bed and head home, several stone lighter and in perfect form.

The reality? I think being hit by a bus would be less painful. Oh yeah, and thanks for the heads up about how my ‘lady garden’ would be feeling. Despairingly, I convinced myself that I’d had a prolapse. I made six Doctors/Midwives check me in several positions to make sure I was in working order. They all told me the same outcome – I was fine. The seventh Doctor (a 40 something year old man) told me ‘I’ll check you again but then really, you need to draw a line under this’. I listened to him but never fully believed him until one morning, nearly two weeks later, I stood up and felt ‘normal’ again. So, what had been wrong with my Foof? swelling! Yes, apparently after the trauma of childbirth, one’s delicate place can be quite swollen. Remember this one and save yourself the embarrassment of getting in trouble with your Husband for flashing Doctors left, right and centre.

Now comes my last glamorous point, the 1st time you try to open your bowels will feel as though you’re pushing your insides out. Good luck with that…

But every cloud has a silver lining doesn’t it? This one simply couldn’t be better either. You’ll have heard about how much you’ll love your own baby but seriously, it’s indescribable. It makes all of the above disappear in a single heartbeat and completely worth it.

Tristan 4 hours old

Mummascribbles</div

To The Struggling Mother

To The Struggling Mother
  
I saw you yesterday in the Shopping Centre as you pleaded with your son to stop climbing out of his pushchair. I watched you patiently reason with him, I noticed the glazed look in your eyes signalling your submission. You were ready to give up, I wondered whether mentally you already had. 
I saw you in the car park pleading with your son to sit still as you fastened him safely into his car seat. I observed how you gently handled his convulsing body as you guided him into position, one rigid arm at a time. I spotted the tiredness in your face, tired of fighting, tired of having someone constantly battle against you.
I saw you in the supermarket retrieving the dummy he’d thrown on the ground numerous times. I noticed you as you handed it back to him, knowing too well he’d throw it again only seconds later. I knew what you were doing, you were hoping that this would be the time that the dummy pacified him. I sensed the agitation (at yourself) as you realised it wasn’t. I saw you bribe him with something from the trolley, desperate for a few moments peace, just long enough for you to complete the task at hand. I detected your embarrassment as you wondered whether anyone would spot your chocolate covered child and blame you for being incompetent.

  
I saw you at the park, the anxiety almost luminous as you encouraged your daughter to become more independent. Your reluctance radiated, your nerves were translucent. I admired you as you cast them aside, hid them seamlessly from her as you pushed her to let go. I watched as you took a step back, then another and relinquished control as she started to ease into her new surroundings. I knew it was hard for you, I wondered whether your palms were sweating, your heart was beating.
I saw you in the changing room as you struggled to keep your daughter still long enough to change her nappy. I sympathised as you realised you hadn’t brought a spare pare of bottoms, the one time you’d forgotten them, regretting allowing yourself to become confident in her abilities as accidents haven’t happened in so long. I noticed the anger (at yourself) trembling in your bottom lip. You felt rubbish and awful, a low point in your day. 
I saw you in the toddler group, trying to calm your daughter from her tantrum. I viewed you as you apologised to the other parents for her behaviour, made excuses for why she was screaming so intensely. I grasped the level of your discomfort as you realised no other children were crying – or had cried this session. I knew instinctively that you felt alone, as though you were the only Mother ever to have a crying baby. You wondered why it was always you, what the other Mothers were doing better to make their children more content. 
I saw you and I recognised you. 
I spotted the familiarities of my every day life and it made me feel better. I’ve been you for so long, you’re living in my shadow. 
I spotted you and you noticed me, you mistook my smile as pity, my look as judgement. I want you to know, I wasn’t judging, I was trying to let you know you’re not alone. 
You’re part of a new sisterhood, a coven of Motherhood. We’re united by our struggles, joined by our understanding of how hard life can be and ultimately, how bitter sweet it also is. Motherhood is both magical and manic, traumatic and terrific. 
So, to the struggling Mother, you’re not struggling at all! You’re doing an amazing job. Please take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. We all feel like you, we’re all trying to do our best.

 <img src=”https://piratesanddollies.files.wordpress.com/

Mummascribbles 

It No Longer Offends Me

  Straight after having my 1st baby, hormones consumed my life. I found myself an emotional wreck. My mood swings were wild and unpredictable. One moment I’d be intensely angry, a split second later I’d be laughing at whatever had set me off to begin. Mainly, I cried. I was incapable of hiding any emotion or even trying to keep it to myself.

Luckily, as my body settled, my moods did too.

Surprisingly, I found out I was pregnant again only 15 weeks after the birth of my son, my main concern was dealing with those pesky hormones once more. I’d only just managed to regain control, I hated the thought that I was about to lose it all over again.

Then my daughter arrived 9 weeks early and I found myself more in control than I’d ever been in my life. Having always had emotional tendencies, people expected me to be unstable. Even my Mother thought I wouldn’t cope at the challenge ahead. The truth is though, Siena’s prematurity meant that I needed to be strong. I didn’t have time to wallow or feel depressed, she needed me to be focused and she definitely needed optimism.

Siena’s birth forced me to evaluate every character trait I possessed. Before her, I could be sulky and more annoyingly, touchy. I took everything personal, I could be insanely sensitive. Following her birth, I found myself thrust into positions where I could have been so easily offended. It became obvious that people didn’t know what to say to me or how to approach the subject of my sick child. In these moments, I found myself holding back the tears or boiling with anger. Yet, I never showed it. I bit my tongue, forced a smile and nodded in agreement. This wasn’t a time to isolate people or make them feel worse than they already did. I want to take a minute to apologise for being offended, I’m now able to reflect and realise that it was hard for people to show empathy having no idea what we were going through. It was hard for them to relate to our situation or understand that what they’d said was insensitive. So…

It no longer offends me that you told me I was lucky for not gaining weight. At the time, this was not a priority of mine. I would have happily gained 19 stone if it meant I needn’t watch my daughter fight for her life. There was no apparent reason to why Siena came early. This subject made me feel so guilty. Why hadn’t I gained more weight? Could this be the reason why Siena decided to exit so early? If I’d eaten a higher calorific diet would she have been more satisfied? I’m able to banish this guilt now more than ever. Siena was born at 31 weeks weighing 3lb 14oz, I may have only partly cooked her but she was big for her gestation. She had obviously been satisfied and I had obviously fed her enough.

It no longer offends me that you told me I was lucky because at least I could sleep. I didn’t sleep, I’d set my alarm for every three hours so that I could breast pump. It killed me knowing someone else was caring for my daughter, expressing was the only thing I could do to feel like her Mother. In between the expressing, I’d lie awake crying, feeling useless, missing my daughter. Siena had her nights and days mixed up which meant that I would spend all day at NICU watching her sleep. I’d get up and go straight to hospital to hear how she’d kept the nurses entertained with her gassy smiles and wide eyes. I wanted that, I’d do anything to see her awake. When Siena was at North Tees, I lived with her. I’d spend all night by her side singing lullabies and reading her stories. It wasn’t enough, I needed her where she belonged. When I wasn’t by her side, I’d sit watching videos of her brother, longing for a cottage pie kiss. Only now can I see that you were trying to comfort me. You were desperately clinging to anything positive to say, you weren’t aware of how painful my nights were.

It no longer offends me that you told me I had a ‘big’ baby. Yes, for her gestation Siena was big as I mentioned before. This comment made me feel as though my worry and doubt about Siena’s health wasn’t warranted. It made me feel petty for getting upset. Siena was more poorly than we ever let on. Her early days had been extremely scary. Her size was an indication that she had been progressing successfully but it didn’t have a direct impact on her health. I’m now able to see that you were offering me words of comfort and that it was my problem for not seeing that immediately.
It no longer offends me that you told me I’d have a baby for longer. Once more, this is not something I cared about. I didn’t care whether Siena was big or small, like a baby or a toddler from birth. I just wanted her to be healthy. Siena is now 8 months and she is still very much like a baby. You were right, I’ve cherished every moment with her – and knowing she’ll be my last, I’ve been able to savour each shoulder cuddle, every bottle. She’s growing so quickly now and I’m ready to watch my caterpillar transform and grow her wings.

It no longer offends me that you tell me you wish you’d go into labour early/had gone into labour early. Now this one used to really upset me, having a premature baby isn’t something any mother should want. Having a baby in NICU is not fun. It’s emotionally draining to see someone care for your baby; to not be able to cuddle them whenever you please; to watch them struggle, cluttered in wires and tubes; to not know when they’ll be well enough for home. It’s taken me a while to realise you don’t mean it, you’re just fed up at how shitty you’re feeling. Also, I’ve never reached full term. I can’t judge someone for how it must feel in those final days. Going over a due date can have just as serious consequences too, I now recognise your discomfort and fear…but please, don’t wish your pregnancy away.

It no longer offends me that you told me she’d be ‘normal’ one day (she’s my daughter, she’s got no hope of ‘normality’ ever). When Siena was 1st born, she still felt ‘normal’. As she grows, she still feels ‘normal’. She’s smaller than other babies her age, she’s not advanced as those babies either but she’s perfectly formed. Yet now I see that she isn’t ‘normal’ she’s blessed with hope and strength. She’s sprinkled with miracle dust. I no longer hear this statement as you judging her or thinking of her as ‘abnormal’ I now can accept that all you meant is that one day, her hard start to life wouldn’t be noticeable. One day, people won’t realise that there was ever anything different about her.

It no longer offends me that you told me Siena was ‘becoming beautiful’. To me, she has always radiated beauty. Even when covered with wires, when her veins shone through her skin, when she was covered in bruises from pin pricks and needles, she was magnificent. At the time, your comments made me feel as though once you thought she wasn’t. It made me feel as though her prematurity made her ugly. It’s only now that I can accept it might have been harder to spot her natural lushness to those who didn’t study her with love. As she grows each day, she does flourish and I know you can now see what I saw from the start.

It no longer offends me that you chose to avoid me but I’ll also never forget. When Siena was born, my eyes were opened to those who had the strength to help and those who couldn’t support me. There were friends and family members who never once asked me how Siena was doing, never once asked me how I was coping, never once visited her in the 5 weeks she spent at hospital. At the time, this hurt me so badly. I felt as though they’d rejected her. I now accept that just because my world had stopped didn’t mean that it had for others. I also know that some people just didn’t know what to say to me, I think of whether this had happened to someone else, would I have done the same? I’m sorry for being offended, we weren’t your problem to deal with.

When Siena was in hospital, I’d hear these things and couldn’t accept them for what they really were. They were meant to be comfort. They were meant to make me feel better. I can see now that the problem lay within me, not within those who said them. I can now think logically and know I’d probably offer some of the same words to others had I not experienced how they made me feel. To those Mammies still going through this early journey, try not to hold these comments in your heart. Look at them on face value and try to find the comfort others try to offer. It’s not easy for you but it’s also not easy for others, they’re trying and that’s what counts.

Mummascribbles</div

Did I Steal Your Childhood?

  You were 10 weeks old when your sister was conceived. It was not something we’d planned for so soon but something we’d definitely hoped for in the future. You were our firstborn and had shown us a different way of life. Before you, there had been laziness and selfishness. You’d opened our eyes to what life was all about and your newborn radiance was simply addictive. Suddenly, we knew that we needed more children.

Even still, we’d hoped to wait a little longer than we did.  When Siena chose us as parents, the feeling was completely surreal. With you, there had only been joy. From the tiny pink line that indicated you were baking, love and excitement had ran through our blood. We were changing, getting ready for parenthood and couldn’t wait for your arrival. When the tiny pink line appeared only 15 weeks after your birth, we were left momentarily petrified.  Not because we didn’t want Siena, we wanted her more than our hearts could imagine. We were petrified for you. You were so young, just budding and you needed us so much.

Although still overjoyed, It was very clear that your happiness was at the heart of everyone’s thoughts. I’ll never forget the reactions we encountered as we broke the news of our second bundle. ‘What about poor Tristan?’ They chorused. ‘He’s too young’ they said. We sensed their anxieties, heard them muffled in their throats. They stood out louder because they were all anxieties we’d dealt with to begin. The most upsetting reaction we encountered left me tormented throughout your sister’s pregnancy. ‘Tristan will have to grow up on his own, he’ll have to grow up very quickly now’. It tormented me because it made me feel so guilty. I’d loved every sleepless second of your childhood (okay, maybe that’s rose tinted, you’d been hard work but completely worth it). I didn’t want to put an end to the fun we’d been having, I didn’t want you to ever become anything less than my main priority. I certainly didn’t want you to feels as though I didn’t care about watching you grow, I cared so much.

You should have been nearly one by the time Siena would arrive – old enough to recognise change but not old enough to understand. This gave us time, time to form that inseparable bond I hope we never lose. I didn’t want to deprive you of your childhood, I wanted to dedicate ever waking second to you. I didn’t want to rush you to grow, I wanted to slow time down and keep a hold of you. You were by far the most precious jewel in my possession. I wanted to nurse you and protect you for all eternity. I made a promise that until Siena arrived, your every need would be my main priority. I was determined that having a pregnant Mam wouldn’t affect you in any sense.

So, until the day I delivered (and even in the delivery room), I was there for you. I lay on the floor and stared into your eyes as I encouraged you to do Tummy Time, I sat legs apart and passed the ball back and forth, back and forth a million times. I carried you on my hip through supermarkets and shops, beaches, parks and riversides. I gave you your bottle and snuggled into you each night, stretched over your cot to make sure you didn’t stir as I put your sleepy body back to bed. I was your Mother and there wasn’t one thing that would stop me from caring for you the way that you needed me to.

Then Siena arrived and our world suddenly came to a halt.

She was so poorly and needed me so badly. I had no choice but to break our deal and make her my priority. Momentarily, you were forced to ‘grow up on your own’ and it broke my heart. Now you’re 15 months old and we’re back to trying our best. Siena still needs me but we all need each other just as much. I watch you with her, gentle and caring. You beam when she enters the room, love to be near her. There’ll come an age when you’ll play wit each other, I used to worry but now I know I needn’t. I dedicate my time to making sure you cherish each second of your childhood. I make sure each day is spent making memories and living experiences. I’ve maintained your baby routine, make sure it’s me that gives you your bottle, make sure it’s me that puts you to bed.     Throughout it all, I listen to your giggle, I marvel at your smile and I ask myself, how could I have stolen your childhood? It’s still very much your own.   

Twinkly Tuesday

Why I Could Never Preach About Breastfeeding

 

There’s plenty controversy surrounding the issue of Breastfeeding in the Media of recent. The debate over bottle v breastfed babies is spiralling out of control, it’s to the point of teetering on ridiculous. As a mother of two, I have my own opinions on this matter. Opinions that rival those of millions.

My son, my first born, never took to the breast. Before he was born, I had an idealised version of Motherhood. In this, my child took to my breast harmoniously and worked in sync with my body. There were no tears over his inability to latch, no guilt over my poor milk supply. I was going to breastfeed, I was 100% sure of it.
So when it didn’t happen, I was left tormented by the whole ordeal. At 24 hours old, Tristan was diagnosed with Jaundice. Although common in newborns (and even more so in those born before 40 weeks), Tristan’s bilirubin levels plotted high above the treatment line, leaving him under U.V lights for 6 days. In this time, Tristan was made to take formula every 2 hours to wash out the infection. I wasn’t allowed to hold him unless trying to feed. Even when he screamed for my affection, I had to deny him. The roll on effect of this was that, due to not being able to give him skin to skin, my milk supply was practically non-existant. It also meant that when in my arms, Tristan took comfort in my embrace instead of trying to work. Lastly, like many boys, he was also incredibly lazy and didn’t understand why he had to work when milk had been given to him for free without demand.
Once out of hospital, I persevered, I even scheduled my days around expressing to make sure he got the ‘liquid gold’ but it was hard and tiring. Tristan’s one week check up confirmed that he had lost 10% of his body weight. My ultimatum was either continue trying and risk him being hospitalised or give up the ghost and turn to formula. I’d tortured myself for seven days and eventually, I saw what I had to do.
Turning to formula was a decision I didn’t take lightly but it was also I decision I knew was right for Tristan and for me. Still, I wept and wept over the abrupt ending to breastfeeding. For weeks, I felt deprived of that ‘special bond’ breastfeeding allows you to form. I felt rejected and useless.
Having a baby is a crazy experience but having your 1st baby is on a whole different level of surreal. It’s a time when emotions run high and the slightest thing can be magnified intensely. I’d been preached at by so many midwives and nurses before Tristan’s birth that failing to breastfeed made me feel like a failure. It confirmed that I was already going to be a rubbish Mother, that I was already not good enough. But of course, this wasn’t the truth. Turning to formula was actually the act of a ‘good’ mother because I refused to let my baby starve. It was the act of a ‘good’ mother because I put my own selfish wants and desires aside to do what was best for my baby. I wish I’d realised that at the time.
Bottle feeding my baby made me feel dirty, like I was breaking the rules. I dreaded seeing people  I knew because I dreaded the question ‘how are you feeding him?’ I mean, what a thing to ask…and yet, it was nearly the 1st thing on everyone’s mind. I felt embarrassed to admit that I was giving Tristan formula, always felt as though I had to justify why.
When I fell pregnant with my second, breastfeeding didn’t even enter my mind. I’d already decided that I wasn’t going to try. The hardest part of having a newborn was the mental torment I endured over feeding, I’d already realised that having a newborn was stressful enough without inflicting even more duress on myself. Plus, I’d seen the benefits of formula. My son was rarely starving, he was satisfied and a satisfied baby is definitely a happy one. My husband could take over, giving me time to shower (or at least, let’s admit it, use the toilet in peace). Tristan’s immune system was never effected, he’d never caught a bug. He was also always in line with the 50th percentile, the myth of formula making babies obese just didn’t seem truthful.
Then my daughter arrived prematurely and my plans were, once again, turned on their head. Breastmilk was part of my daughter’s treatment. I was told by the doctors at North Tees Hospital (Doctors by name but Angels by profession, their care and expertise was simply amazing) that I wouldn’t be allowed to formula feed even if I wanted to. The thing is, I suddenly didn’t want to.
Siena was incubated for 17 days, fed through a feeding tube for 4 weeks. The only think I could possibly do to help her was breastfeed. So, once again, I centred my days around expressing. I even set my alarm twice through the night to get up and express. During the day, I made time at hospital to leave Siena’s side and express. If out somewhere else, I carried my breast pump with me. I was that determined to do this for my daughter, I once even expressed in the changing room of H&M. When the time came at 35 weeks gestation, I was nervous about whether Siena would refuse me just like her brother. She didn’t, I eventually had the harmonious experience I’d craved. It was like fate, like destiny. Siena’s release from hospital depended on her ability to feed from me, I’d been warned that this might not come naturally or quickly and that Siena might have to be trained how to feed. I was told to expect up to a month until she’d be released from hospital. Only two days later, we were on our way home. It seemed as though Siena was just as determined as I was. Although completely overjoyed, I knew I’d never preach breastfeeding.
I’d never preach it because I don’t believe we should. As women, we need to support and encourage each other to do whatever is best. And let’s face it, breast isn’t always best. Having a newborn is daunting enough, we shouldn’t add extra pressure to new mothers. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and those whose opinion is strictly pro-breastmilk are freely allowed to express these but not look down upon those who don’t. The Mothers who choose to bottle feed should feel confident about their decision but remember that not all women who choose to breastfeed will disagree with formula. Having experiences in both, I’m well aware that breastfeeding carries its own stigma.
At the end of the day, we do what we do for the sake of our children. Whatever decision that we choose, we should be applauded for caring and doing the right thing. To those breastfeeding Mothers, well done for feeding your baby. To those formula feeding Mothers, once again, well done for feeding your baby. Our methods may differ but we essentially have the same outcome in mind.

The Twinkle Diaries

I Survived the Baby Blues

 Before my children were born, I lived in a world of ignorant bliss. My idealistic views of Motherhood stemmed from American Soap Operas and Chick Flicks. They were, in truth, Disney influenced. 

That’s why, when my children were born, I suffered so badly with guilt. As a new Mam, I’d no idea of the trials and tribulations each day would hold. My visions were cloud lined with images of me cradling my newborn, cheesy grinning, prancing abound my living room like Mary Poppins. It wasn’t that I expected it to be easy, it was how the Media had led me to believe.
I expected that my son, Tristan, would be placed in my arms and I’d cry with happiness. That I’d scoop him up in a loving embrace and declare to the rest of the world ‘it’s okay, I’ve got this’. I expected that when he cried, I’d know instinctively what he wanted and how to handle him. I expected him to latch to my breast harmonious and feed like he’d been waiting for me forever. Only now, a full year on, am I ready to speak the truth.
Tristan’s birth had been slightly traumatic. I pushed for hours upon end without any medication. I’d been allowed to continue pushing because his heart rate had not faltered, he was not feeling the same distress as I. However, it became apparent that something wasn’t right. Tristan was lying on an angle that would prohibit him from coming naturally. I was taken to theatre and given a spinal block in preparation for an emergency C-Section if his heart rate plummeted whilst moving him. In the end, no C-Section was required but I was left paralysed from the armpits down.
As I lay exhausted and convulsing from the medication, the midwife cleaned Tristan up then rested him on my chest. This was the moment I’d been waiting for. The moment where I was meant to kiss his blood stained head and cry. Instead, I froze. ‘Somebody take him’ I sobbed. I didn’t have the confidence. I was tired and didn’t have control of my arms. How would I protect him if he rolled?
So there it was, the most important moment in my life and I was already a failure. But was I? The dream is, and always has been, that you’ll look dotingly into your baby’s eyes and immediately bond. I loved my son immediately, intensively but I didn’t bond with him as quickly as I’d hoped. I remember being scared of him, thinking that I wasn’t what he wanted, thinking that he didn’t like me (I know, ridiculous right?) However, many mothers feel this way. Many new mothers have experiences like myself.  This doesn’t seem to stop us lying through our teeth and saying aloud what society wants us to say. We all contribute to the Media’s representation of immediate Motherhood.
So what else do we lie about? I remember being asked a million times whether my son was ‘good’. ‘Oh he’s a dream’ I’d state ‘he’s just the best baby EVER’. What I meant was ‘he cries…all the time. I don’t know what I’m doing. If he’s good then it’s definitely me that’s bad. Oh god, I must be rubbish’. I remember one awkward moment with my male next door neighbour who dared ask me this question on the wrong day at the wrong time. He got my honest response. ‘Welcome to parenthood’ he declared. ‘We all felt that way to begin’. This was a revelation. If we all feel this way, why don’t we say it?
The guilt I felt in the 1st few months will never leave me. There’ll always be a part of me that feels massively ashamed. I felt guilty that I didn’t know how to soothe my crying baby within milliseconds. I felt guilty that I didn’t know how to read his mind. I felt guilty that I struggled to wake four times a night for feeds. I felt guilty that I wanted to cry so much. I felt guilty for feeling so scared. I felt guilty that I no longer had time to listen to my husband. I felt guilty for giving birth when I so clearly wasn’t equipt. I felt guilty because sometimes I found it hard to smile. I felt guilty because I was, so clearly, a million miles away from the Mary Poppins Mother I’d dreamt of being. On the whole, I felt guilty because I was the only one feeling like this. I looked at other mothers, I saw the way the beamed and glowed. I felt low and anxious that I’d never be like them. I looked at other mothers and saw the way the looked at me. I immediately believed that they’d guessed my secret, they knew how utterly weak I was.
With my second child, I vowed that I’d do things
completely differently. I wanted, because I knew the score by now, to be in control. When she arrived 9 weeks early, I was thrust into a new turmoil. Yet again, I missed my movie moment of feeling her against my chest (I had her for 30 seconds and we did cry this time, through joy that she was breathing). I thought that when she came home, I’d take over from the NICU nurses and be exactly what she wanted/needed. Yet again, I found myself pacing the floor at times unable to satisfy her and doubting myself.

It took me three weeks to fully adjust to Motherhood. That was, three weeks of making myself Ill with torture. Don’t get me wrong, and I know you’ll understand me, I LOVED my babies. I loved them so much that my heart would literally beat outside of my chest. The worry and anxiety I felt was all BECAUSE I loved them more that I’d ever known possible. The pressure I put on myself was all because I wanted to be the very best for them. It took me three weeks to learn that these feelings were normal, that many new mothers feel exactly that same as I did. It’s taken me a full year to say this out loud. And even now, I know there’ll be some who judge me. Some who will never understand because they never felt that way. I envy them but only for their ‘perfect’ transition. A full year on and I’m confident in my abilities. I hold my head high (even throughout the tantrums) and KNOW that I’m good. My children are happy, they’re blessed with a loving home. Their laughter and smiles reassure me that I’m on track and…eventually…I can say ‘it’s okay, I’ve got this’.

”Twinkly

You Taught Me Love

I was always one of those women who, if asked whether they wanted children, would say ‘No’. At the time, I think I meant it.
I was happy with my life. I was happy being irresponsible. That’s always been my problem. For all I’m nearly 30, I’m still a little girl. I still cry when I don’t get my own way, still throw tantrums when things don’t go to plan, still can’t make it through a day without cocking something up. Making a mess of my own life though, well that’s acceptable but making a mess of someone else’s, just wouldn’t have been fair.
For all I’d felt that way long after my 27th Birthday, as soon as I saw the positive test result, I knew I loved you. It was magnetic, instinctive and scared the life out of me. I’d never expected to feel that way.
As you grew inside me, my love for you also grew. I couldn’t control how strongly I felt for you. It would make me cry just to fear my life without you.
My favourite moments are, and always will be, the first time I saw you, heard your heartbeat, felt you from within and held you in my arms. Nothing will ever make me forget the strong sense of emotion I experienced at all of these times. When I think of them, I feel it all over again.
That same emotion though, I feel it every day. It starts in the morning, when you wake me with my call. For all I want to rush to you, I lie in bed and take a second to soak it all in. You’re my baby and hearing you call out to me, your ‘mama’ is my favourite noise. I feel it when I first see your face, you’ll flash a goofy toothy smile in my direction and my heart melts a little. I feel it when you blow kisses in my direction or plant a drooly one straight on my lips. I feel it when you rest your head on my shoulder and snuggle tightly into my arms. I feel it while I watch you play with your toys, when you flap your arms and try to dance to Disney songs and when you giggle uncontrollably as I tickle you. From the moment I wake until the moment I sleep, I feel that way for you.
It’s a love I know you’ll never fully comprehend until you have children of your own. It’s a love I never fully comprehended until I had children of my own. I thought I knew what love was but trust me when I say, the love I feel for you is stronger than any feeling humanly possible. That’s why I know, you taught me Love.
Before you arrived, I loved your father. In all his flaws and in all his imperfections, I’d found my soul mate and loved him with all my heart. After you arrived, I realised that I’d only loved him with 50% of it. You came along and taught me love. Now I look at him, he’s your ‘Dadda’ and the best one he could possibly be. I watch him play with you and his juvenility makes me bubble with love. I watch him bath you, put you to bed and his gentleness makes my heart splutter with love.
Before you arrived, I loved my life. I was selfish and spontaneous. I was carefree and did as I pleased. After you arrived, I realised that my life had been empty. You came along and taught me how to live. My life is a million miles away from the one I lived before but I’d definitely say it’s a million times happier. Joy lives in every crease of my skin. When things get tough (as
they often do) I don’t dwell on the negatives because I know they’ll be short lived. Soon, you’ll be an adult, a man and I will look back and plead with God to have my little boy back just for one squidgy, cottage pie covered kiss.
I hope that one day, you’ll know how I feel. I hope that one day, you feel the same for your children. I hope that, in those moments, when they teach you love, you remember that you taught me too. You’re my special boy, my Prince Charming, the love of my life.