Some Parenting Thoughts

Hey guys. I hope you are all doing ok in this current state of chaos.

I am trying to to navigate each day with a pair of thick metaphorical spectacles. You see, my son has suddenly had a growth spurt. He has shot up and his head is now reaching my thighs. I see it bobbing by as he walks past the table.. yes, WALKS. Walks with a purpose. Little mouth set in between two large, soft, round cheeks, and a little tummy that pokes out like a middle-aged beer belly… only cuter.

Because he is no longer a baby, he is a BOY. He toddles and has an opinion, and voices it vocally.

Naturally, with his new-found abilities, he has developed new-found interests. Toys are now boring, and he must be entertained and taught and spoken to. He comes toddling up to me several times a day, grunting with the effort of lugging his books from one corner of the house to the next, begging me to read to him. He gets so upset if I don’t immediately put down what I am doing (gloves on, water dripping from half-washed dishes) and read to him. He experiments with everything, and has no understanding of safety whatsoever, no matter how many times he has caught his fingers in the washing machine doors, he will still wriggle out of my arms and make a beeline for danger.

This means my days are no longer structured around a baby, they are structured around a little human boy. 

A real person.

He lay on me the other day, and I rocked him to sleep, and his head was on my chest, and his feet reached all the way down to my knees. And my husband came in and said, ‘Wow. Remember when he was small enough to fit in your stomach?’

I did, folks. I remember when he was breech and his little feet would kick down near my abdomen and his big heavy head would push up against my lungs so it hurt to take a deep breath. I would have to do some yoga and walk around for him to move position. And now his little body is taller than my torso.

He is so small but so BIG!

I do stupid things like cry when he is asleep because I am worried somebody might break his heart one day or bully him or make him feel bad.

I voiced these concerns out loud, and my husband asked, ‘Would you rather him be bullied, or be a bully?’

Straight away I said, ‘I’d rather he be bullied.’

My husband reckons that is an awful choice, but I’m resolute. I’d rather my son have a kind heart and good character than cause anybody else harm. I was bullied some, as a child, I think most people were. You learn how to be considerate of others when you’re hurt yourself. I never want him to be so mean spirited and cruel as to deliberately hurt somebody else. I confess, when I was four, I used to pinch this little girl in my class. She would cry. I don’t know why I did it. And I still feel despicably awful about it, even though we are friends now, and even though I apologised to her many times over the years. I still feel so despicable every time I think about it.

Would you rather have your child be bullied, or be a bully?

5th of February 2020

Folks, in this post I am going to talk about something very very personal, but also a topic which a lot of people cannot handle. So if you are squeamish, or if the topic of miscarriage hurts you, please do not read any further.

On November the 18th, about three months ago (almost), I took a pregnancy test which came out positive. I was shocked, of course. My baby was almost 9 months and while we had wanted two babies close in age, we did not expect to get pregnant so fast.

I was over the moon, of course. Another little baby to keep my little almost-one-year-old company. Two cute little voices and two simultaneous childish peals of laughter in my home. My husband was over the moon too but we were both scared, because it was hard enough with one baby, let alone two! Two sets of night wakings, two sets of nappy changing, double the exhaustion!

I had my three-month ultrasound scan scheduled for Tuesday the 4th of February. We were so excited. I put makeup on for the first time in a year (literally). I did it because for my current baby’s first ultrasound scan I put makeup on too, and my husband said ‘why are you wearing makeup for this?’ and I said, at the time, ‘because I am meeting my little baby for the first time.’ So I did it this time too, because I can’t show favouritism between my two babies, can I?

Anyway. We took our little boy (let us call him ‘E’) with us to the scan so he could meet baby too.

The technician was lovely when she welcomed us, and then she told me to lie on the bed. She put the gel on my stomach which was already starting to protrude. And then she put her device on my stomach and pressed in. I gasped, because a sharp pain ran through my abdomen when she pressed down. She asked if I was alright, and I nodded, feeling uneasy.

On the screen I could see my uterus, and a little tiny baby lying in the corner of it. I held my breath in anticipation. Oh my goodness. My baby.

The technician was quiet and she began doing some measurements. She checked in with me how far along I was, and her face seemed a little serious.

The little baby on the screen wasn’t moving, and I began to feel anxious. I told her 13 weeks. She checked again, and then turned to me.

‘I am really sorry, Lenora, I can’t find a heartbeat.’

My own heart felt like it stopped.

‘I need to call another technician to make sure, I am really sorry sweetheart.’

I kind of lost it, folks. A huge sob that I didn’t even know was sitting in my chest pushed its way forcefully up and exploded from me, I had to put my arm over my face, my body was shaking in shock. My husband, carrying E, rushed over to my side and I put my face in his jacket to compose myself while the other technician was called in. They did more checks, and she too confirmed that there was no heartbeat, and there hadn’t been one for two weeks, according to the baby’s size.

It was a very hard day that day. I zoned out when the midwife was telling me about my options, and if my body did not expel the …. (she literally said ‘the ..’ and then paused), the hospital would require me to come in so they could medically intervene to stop me getting infected.

But I guess the hardest day was the next day. The fifth of February. My husband had to go to London urgently for work. He did not want to but at the time I was feeling physically fine so I made him go. London is about 4 hours from where I live up ‘north’, so it would have been very hard for him to come back in an emergency.

I was cramping a little but I had had a miscarriage back in 2015, so I knew what to expect, or I thought I did. I really thought I did. But back then I was only about 5-6 weeks along, this time I was 10-11 weeks along. Nothing could have prepared me for what was to come next.

Please do not read further if you are squeamish.

I’ll summarise it for you but it was a blood bath. Nothing like my first miscarriage. I couldn’t go anywhere in the house. I had to take care of a roaming 11 month old who needed feeding, nap times, changing, playing with, and I was all alone and in agony. I was having contractions, and I know this because I have experienced them before. Waves of pain that made me sweat, and just blood everywhere. And I won’t even describe or explain the most gruesome and panic-inducing details of the rest of my miscarriage. I caught my barely formed baby in my hands and in my panic that I would lose it, I had to fish for other things, clumps of what would have once protected and fed my unborn child, the size of my hand.. goodness.

When it was all over, 7 hours later, I was shaking and exhausted.

I still feel shaky and exhausted and I still cry to think about it, five days later. I was expected to drive for two hours to visit my in laws yesterday but my mother called me and told me sternly that I was not to go anywhere, and she drove up herself with dinner cooked and took care of my baby while I rested.

I don’t know, folks. I write this all down here as here is a place to write and record and keep things for me. I feel very sad, but I know this is part of life. This was not meant to be at this time. I am very lucky to have a little baby that lived and made it through. I hold him and hug him tighter these days, and I think of all the women who go through what I went through and worse, later miscarriages and no babies for years and years and I grieve for them too.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve to feel sad because others have it so much worse. Women have felt their babies move, and then stopped. Women who have had to give birth through labour to babies they know will never breath, will never look at them with open eyes. Women who can never even have their own children. So why am I so upset when I have a baby already. Is it selfish?

A life was still lost, in my eyes. I held it in my hands. I felt my stomach expanding to accommodate it.

I know I will heal and move on. I know life goes on. I know time will erase much of the panic and anxiety and sorrow. But I still need to give myself the space to feel it as much as I need to, because I will never ever forget.

On Reading and Narrating

I am reading a book now called Mrs Bridge.

It is written quite simply, with simple events and simple people. So far. Chapters are 3/4 of a page long, and deal with the simple people doing simple things. Except there appears to be an underlying shift under all the simplicity. A coiled snake, waiting to spring. It is a far cry from the previous book I was reading, in the manner of its writing. Less of the explosion, more mature. No feelings. Well, barely any. And always concealed under decorum.

You may be wondering how I am now managing to read whilst also navigating busy days with an ever-moving, ever-learning 6 month old (7 months on Sunday).

Well, I now read arduously during his ridiculously short naps. 40 minutes is all he has. I no longer rush about doing chores or beautifying myself. I am done with that. Chores accumulate the minute I have finished choring them, and I am just fat now. So until I lose this baby fat I really am not going to bother shoving myself uncomfortably into nice clothes and feeling depressed that they don’t fit me like they did pre-baby. I am just going to wear my leggings and my hoodies and feel comfortable, and lie on my sofa reading until the baby wakes up, when the cycle of shallow breaths (from me. Need to learn how to breathe deep more often) and nonstop exhaustion starts again.

How do people with more than one kid do it? Am I just so selfish?

I also strap baby in his pram, stick my headphones on and walk for two or three hours, listening to audiobooks. The weather is lovely for that now. It is September, and the August wasps are waning. There are so many Painted Ladies adorning flowers and fluttering here and there, landing on the top of the pram more than once. Blackberries drop lusciously from pregnant wild bushes, and their juice is just so sweet on the tongue. It is a lovely season, this season of late summer. Things are lush, there is no heavy sticky haze of heat, and the wind is fresh.

So I get my reading in, and the baby stares out at nature, smiles and gurgles at me, attempts to grab things, and eventually falls asleep, tired out by all the colour and stimulation.

And for me?

Well, it is a break from chores and baby entertainment.

We read so many books together everyday, sing songs, play games, and I try to talk to him as much as I can, narrating EVERYTHING. Right, i am putting your sock on. Oh stop wriggling your feet, naughty boy. That’s it. There. Both socks on. They had better stay on else you’ll get cold toes! Oh look it is raining outside. Shall we try to touch it. That’s it. No, don’t touch the muddy windowsill that Mummy hasn’t cleaned since before you were born (true story). Ok. Shall we read this book? No? You want to put it in your mouth. Alright. Can Mummy drink a cup of tea now? Look at this toy. How it rattles.

I am sick of my own damn voice I tell you. And sometimes I just want to be silent.

And I am quite isolated and know that lately, in society, a lot of new mums are, whereas they weren’t before. It is just how we live now. And I just can’t help thinking how bad that is for mental health, and how it might negatively impact the good I am trying to impart to my son.

 

Myself

Hello. Yes it is me. Peering into the internet. I am sitting in bed with a baby snoozing in my arms as I type this. It has been some kind of day. He won’t seem to settle tonight unless he is being held but I don’t mind I don’t I don’t I never will mind because he will never be this little again and he is my big big blessing.

We did nothing today but are exhausted. But that is the reality of parenthood.

It’s been three months to the day since our lives changed completely, and as I was getting into the shower at 10:47pm I thought to myself – you know, self, your life is never going to go back to being like it was before. So stop thinking of that. Embrace this change and make the most of it.

So that is what I have decided to do. Babies are not a pause in life – rather an enrichment of it. See it’s taking me a while to get there but I am working on it.

See what I have to do is throw myself all the way in. Go all out. Dedicate my brain and time to learning and teaching and loving and nurturing. Not wishing for a holiday.

I love this boy more and more every single day it’s insane.

Like at the beginning I don’t think I bonded very well with him because of how traumatic the birth was – and because I was under general anaesthetic when they pulled him out of me via emergency c section – I didn’t witness his entrance into this world. They literally put him on me while I was woozy and drowsy from the operation and I tried to connect but all I wanted to do was sleep. So weird right?

But now I am in my right mind again – I think… i don’t know yet because back then I thought I was in my right mind but I very obviously was not…

anyway. Myself. That was the prompt for today. I must work on myself and not hang about the fringes of things if I want to give my boy a valuable childhood.

I want to give him the best in terms of mind enrichment and education. So that means I have to make sure I am educated and informed.

If you have had kids, how did you navigate being ‘yourself’ in order to nourish the brain of your child? Any tips would be so very welcome!

Little

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my thirteenth post.

Little toes

Little nose

Little mouth

Little frown

Little thighs

Little sighs

Little fingers

Little dimples

He’ll be little for quite a while

But boy, what a big smile!

Poor attempt today – my little has sapped my energy!

Running

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my first post.

I am always running, I think.

Running from the past, because I didn’t want to be there. Bitter memories, silly mistakes. Teenagehood for me was not a good space. I wasted too much time being sad. I wasted too much time staring at doors that wouldn’t open because I was too afraid to reach out and pull the handle.

Running to the future, wishing the hours away.

Enjoy your time now, they said.

But now was too painful. Too shy. Too slow. Too impatient.

Enjoy your pregnancy, they said. I stared at them. How could I, when I was exhausted every second and heaving my guts out.

Now I am wistful a lot and miss the old days when my husband and I had a relationship. Now, how do I enjoy now when we never get a moment together? How to enjoy the now when I am sleep deprived?

Enjoy it now, they grow so fast!

Two months and already features are solidifying, face less squished, character appearing from a pair of bright, eager eyes. I can’t believe I am going to say, this, I miss the newborn days.

Stop running from the past. Stop running, wishing for the future.

Enjoy it now. I know the words mean something momentous, but the meaning escapes me until time has whipped it out of my grasp.

Stop running. Stand still. Breath. Feel. Savour.

 

Tuesday.

 

Oh hi.

I am sitting on a comfortable bed at the moment. My eyes are stinging, I am exhausted and cannot take another verse written by Wordsworth. I really can’t. I assure you I am not dissecting his poetry because I care about it. After extensive study, I really don’t see why he was such a celebrated man. I can understand why Austen has reached the level of recognition she has, and even Shakespeare. I acknowledge the greatness of Dickens, and appreciate the poetry of Dryden, but I just CANNOT get my head around why Wordsworth is so highly praised. He just seems like a big headed, self obsessed snob.

I have had a long day.

The baby is keeping me company. She is sitting next to me on my bed. Her large cheeks are flushed, and her chubby little fingers are scrabbling through a pile of books, her sweet little voice telling me intricate stories, of which I can only make out the bare minimum. Words like “lion” and “dinner” and “stouwy” emerge from the baby jargon.

“Otay Len?” she says, after turning the page, to make sure I have listened to her tale. She can say my name properly now.

“Okay” I tell her, smiling, before turning back to my screen.

I got up before the sun roused itself from sleep. I worked out for a good two hours. I cleaned my mother’s house and spent five hours tutoring some children before settling down to pore over vexing poems. I then drove to an Arabic grammar class I signed up to as per my New Year’s list.

It was such an exhilarating experience. The other people there were all of different ages, and so jokey and cheerful. The teacher introduced me and they all welcomed me in such a friendly way. I felt at home immediately. I wasn’t expecting her to ask me about my background in Arabic though, and so wasn’t prepared to be put on the spot like that in front of a whole roomful of silent people. I felt my face flushing hotly as I told them that I had my father speak it to me as I was growing up. I was surprised that I felt embarrassed, though. I thought I was over that. We learnt about the command verb, and how it applies in a sentence when addressing a male, a female, two males, two females, an un-gendered group of people and a group of females. I remember vaguely studying about that before, so catching up wasn’t as daunting as I thought it would be. All in all, a remarkable lesson. I can’t wait for next week.

Busy days are tiring, but so satisfying. As long as you keep to schedule, of course. Which I am not doing at the moment, am I. Off I go to dissect more Wordsworth.

Do you like busy days, or do you function better when your schedule has some gaps?

Of Buns and Ovens and Dictators

A lot of my ‘friends’, or perhaps I should say acquaintances, now that they know that I have been married for quite a while now , keep asking dreadful things like, “Is there a bun in that oven, yet?”, or, “Any good news to tell me yet, Lenny?”

Or perhaps the worst, “When will I be an aunt, Len?”

It is the worst because it comes from a young lady who I don’t like, and who isn’t even remotely related to me.

You must be aware, of course, that these young ladies are not frugal with their vulgarity. They find it perfectly within reason to ask me distasteful questions about intimacy and deem it more than appropriate to speak about my sex life as though, now that I am married, it is a completely open topic.

It just puts me under such pressure.

I think it’s wrong for people to ask questions like that. I think it’s completely inconsiderate of their feelings, because you don’t know what is going on with them. You don’t know what their situation might me.

I won’t lie, folks, I feel a little sad when I see pregnant ladies walking by, their hands resting on their protruding stomachs protectively. A little twinge of pain rustles in my abdomen when I see a mother picking up her child kissing said child on the cheek. It’s not that I think I will never have that. I think, and hope, that I shall someday. It’s just that I haven’t yet mourned my loss, no matter how small it was. It was so early, and so tiny, just a ball of cells really, but it gave me so much hope for life and to lose it is to feel like a small candle has been blown out, never to be relit again.

There will be other candles, of course. Hopefully small flames that will grow into roaring fires of life and hope and vitality.

But in the meantime, spare your questions. Spare asking people things that don’t concern you. You don’t know what they are going through, it is not your place to pry.

Shift

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As the seasons change, my life grunts a little and turns over, her eyelids fluttering. She senses a force awakening, and it is stopping her from carrying on in the same old position. Soon she will have to shift to accommodate new matters.

Today I walked into the chemist and bought something that I have never bought before. I wasn’t anxious about buying said thing, but my heart was palpitating at the thought of the nuances behind such an object.

The lady wrapped it in a paper bag and then put the paper bag into a plastic one.

“Oh, there’s no need, really,” I began, reaching for the bag, but she patted my hand and smiled at me.

“It’s absolutely no problem, darlin’. Give you more privacy that way.”

I was retching when I was in the bathroom. Not because it smelled bad or anything, but because I was frightened. I was terrified. I was completely out of my wits.

I was too scared to look.

That’s it.

My life, as I know it, is over. No more travelling, no more being chill, no more going wherever the whim takes us.

I’m scared because I think I am not ready yet. I think that there is loads more that I need to do. But sometimes in life, no matter how pre-cautious you are, the thing that you planned becomes unplanned.

I picked up the cheap plastic stick.

Two pale pink lines.

A positive.

*deep, shaky, teary breath*