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?

Tweezers

How are you doing, folks?

Have you heard a lot of that lately? How are you doing? No, how are you doing?

It is nice to see people checking in with each other more. There are still a lot of terrible things happening, but so much positivity too. It’s totally up to you, what you want to pick up when you sift through the piles of panic and mess.

My husband has started using my tweezers lately. I only have one pair. My husband likes to think he is the tidy one in this relationship but that is so not true. He never puts things away! I always grumble about this, and put the things he has left out away. He is a lovely guy though, and cleans our house beautifully, and makes sure I come down to pristine tidiness every morning because mornings can be chaotic with a baby. He is caring and sweet (he doesn’t like to be known as ‘sweet’, it is not ‘manly’), and although he is a ball of stress, he is the only one who truly knows how to calm my stormy nature.

Except he keeps taking my tweezers from their designated space and never puts them back! So now, for three weeks, they have been missing. We have both hunted high and low for them but with no luck. I feel so annoyed with him. My eyebrows are growing out and they are itching to be tweezed!

I know that is something petty to say considering the state of the world right now. I know I have the luxury to focus on petty things right now as we are staying indoors for the foreseeable future. My son is asthmatic so I worry about him. And of course, I worry about those who are so much more vulnerable and who are at dire risk if we unintentionally pass anything on to them. So we are staying indoors.

And I am focusing on petty things! Like my missing tweezers! If you have seen them, can you please tell them not to be so dramatic and send them my way?

A Secret Thought

Folks, I was exceptionally greedy today, and had two helpings of chocolate cake with custard after dinner. Dessert is not a normal occurrence in our household, mainly because I don’t make any, and my husband cannot cook. Scratch that, he has NO INTEREST in cooking and therefore cannot make anything remotely edible. Much like me when I am forced to watch old Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson boxing matches. Yawn.

The custard came out of a tin costing 75p, and started its life in powdered form. The old me would have lovingly made it from scratch out of egg yolks, which would have resulted in a ridiculously creamy, warm, homey concoction. The new me does things by halves, and so I ate chemical-tasting custard and I damn well enjoyed it because custard is not a regular occurrence in my household. My son is allergic to eggs.

This time last year my son was 2 days old, and I was cloudy with hormones and recovering from a c-section. I thought he was the most beautiful thing on earth (I still do think that), and my feet were swollen like balloons. I don’t like to think about the immediate aftermath of the birth, to be honest. My mother stayed with me for a week and in my horrible, swollen, post-surgery, post-labour hormonal self, I was a total bitch to her. I did not trust anybody with my baby and could not sleep a wink for over a week; every time my eyes closed my dreams would rise up, cluttered and clustered and mountainous, full of events and sweat, and when I awoke I felt as though I had run a marathon. I was crying, uneasy, anxious and altogether rather horrid. This lasted, gradually fading, for a year. I am still suffering the repercussions of it and while I adore and cherish my son more than anything, I can’t help but have clouded thoughts.

I know this ought to be about him, because it is HIS birthday, and why am I so bloody negative when millions of women have births and c-sections and still manage to make the day about their kids. Don’t get me wrong, I never breathed a word about these feelings to anybody. I genuinely showed everybody sincere happiness, and I danced with my boy and told him how he was one that day, and how special he was to me and his dad, and he relished it all with big smiles and mild chatter. I was all laughs and smiles, folks. But as I walked home from the park, the winter sun shining, spring so clearly on its way, my boy nodding off in his pram, I couldn’t help thinking of the events of last year, and my personality change, and how horrible I was and how awful I felt.

When I got into the house, I put the pram away and rocked my son to sleep, tidied up and washed the dishes and out on a load of washing. I went outside and swept the garden of all the weeds I’d pulled up, I cleaned the tiny hand prints off the window, the table, the fireplace edges, I mopped the floors, I peeled and chopped some onions and put some pasta on to boil… and I just thought about it all and my heart sank.

That is how I can explain it. Mind you, this is all deep within the most secret crevices of my heart. I will never let my son know how I feel.. maybe when he is much much older and time has erased the rawness of it all. Or I will never tell him because there is no way his birth is the reason for this. I can’t have him thinking it is his fault because it most certainly is not. I can’t even describe it. It’s like a lump on my chest, that I can smother with life, but it does rear its head, and it is always there. I am always aware of it. It’s a fact of life, folks, that sometimes, a woman’s mind and body just are never the same after they have had a child.

You can say, well Lenora, get on with it. Well. I do get on with it. I do. I am happy, as everybody around me will attest to. I am full of cheer and joy. Just here, in this nook of the internet, I sometimes release these little feelings like gentle moths.

 

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.

A drag and a haul

Folks, sometimes you gotta drag yourself up and haul yourself to each of your jobs, one by one.

That is what I have to do this evening. Drag myself up and put some rice on, haul myself over to the bathroom to run a warm bath for a wriggly little baby, while scooping him off the bathroom floor numerous times and setting him firmly outside on the carpet. Oh no here he comes again, little hands smacking the floor in his excited haste to crawl into the bathroom. That boy loves bathrooms. He loves baths too.

Heave myself off this couch and glance at the stack of dishes in the sink. No way they are getting washed tonight. I am just about done. That bath will knock me out, then it will be getting boy into his pyjamas… mission impossible. He wriggles away and crawls off with a bare bottom, so fast, laughing at my futile attempts to drag him back to be changed. Then it will be reading so many books before bed, boy turning the pages faster than I can read them, because that’s the fun thing to do now.

Then it will be milk time, and then hopefully.. HOPEFULLY… he will turn on to his stomach and splay his arms about, wriggle a bit to get comfy, and slowly fall into slumber.

I say hopefully because last night slumber did not arrive for the fella. It choo chooed into the station, for sure. But boy did not get on that slumber train. He tossed and turned and eventually, frustrated and tuckered out, he cried. For hours and hours. Until 1:45am. YES I counted.

So hopefully tonight my dragging and hauling will yield me some dead time on the sofa before I crawl into bed.

Hopefully.

What We Attract

Interestingly, the world still appears to be falling apart in 2020. Nothing has changed. Everybody is still carrying on. Keeping on keeping on.

Do you think these days will be read about in history books? Will my grandkids ask me what I was doing when Brexit happened?

Yes dear, I was eating my crumpets and having my tea and planning to add toilet roll to next week’s shopping list. I expect when Germany went down in WWII people were cooking dinner and serving up rationed potatoes, just like any other day.

People just keep on keeping on, because, honestly, what else is there to do?

Other than be informed and try to help as much as one can by spreading awareness and donations and showing love. It’s easy to show love when love abounds, and hard to show love when all you see is moody hatred.

I live in Crewe, as I have said a million times, and more often than not, in this awful town, I experience negativity. There is a lot of poverty and uncouthness here, so when I am greeted nicely or experience something good from someone, I am genuinely surprised.

I think you also attract what you put out. I generally go about my day very negatively. Stressed and frustrated and expecting people to swear at me. The other day at the post office, I had a mountain of parcels to post and my boy began to cry in his pram as I was halfway through dealing with the cashier. The queue behind me grew longer and heavier and more impatient, the air became muggy and hot and I was sweltering under my coat and imagined my son must also be doing the same which is why he was fussing. He began to bawl loudly and the cashier next to mine said to the customer behind me, ‘If we could get that young man to SHUT UP, I could help you better’.

Folks, I was mortified and ashamed and stressed and upset. I was doing my best to finish my business quickly and hush my son simultaneously, and a bit of empathy would have meant the world. In that moment the heat of shame and anger crept around my face and as soon as I snatched my receipt I stormed out, muttering about how I despise Crewe and every single filthy, uncouth, ill-mannered, insensitive, horrible chav in this depressing grey shitty town.

There.

I felt ashamed afterwards for saying those things because it made me no better than they were.

Do we really attract what we put out?

On Less Cheer

I decided to put a post up last minute today because I just realised that while I don’t really care that it is the last day of the year or decade, it might be a nice subtle nod to time to do one last post, and make it 43 posts in total in 2019.

In 2019 I went through some very tough things that most people go through, but obviously since I am experiencing them for the first time, they still meant something to me and still shaped my personality.

I didn’t very much enjoy this year, and that is sad, because I ought to have. I had a baby and he really is the love of my life, and by rights this ought to have been the best year of my life. But it wasn’t. I struggled a lot with my mental state, and felt depressed very often. I had to relearn so many things, and reach for strength in places deep within me that I didn’t know existed.

I experienced severe frustration, betrayal, selfishness, both on my part and on the part of others, and learnt so so much. I fell in love so hard, with the chubbiest cherub ever, but still, it was one of the hardest years of my life and I am glad this year is an odd number and am glad to leave it.

There.

I hope 2019 was good for all of you, and I hope 2020 is even better.

On This Strange Feeling

Folks. I appear to have run out of motivation. I appear to be standing in a stagnant pond, the foul smell of water that does not move, that catches waste and sits there with no way to dispose of it, wafting around me. I wear long rubber boots and a net hangs loosely in my hands, and I know I am supposed to be doing something, but cannot for the life of me fathom what it is.

Some would be of the opinion that I am doing God’s work. Striving to raise a part of the next generation. It is a selfless act, they would say. You are a martyr, for the time being. Embrace the drudgery, revel in the happy moments, and keep on keeping on.

Others would pity me. You have lost your freedom, they would say. Your mind is blank and, dare I say, dank? Your thoughts are preoccupied with another’s well-being, your brain is scattered, your emotions hang by a single, filthy thread. Every day is a battle for you, and you only have things to lose.

For me, standing here in this discomfort, it is a bit of both. I feel smothered and out of control, but at the same time overwhelmed with control and good feeling. I would not like to be anywhere else, any place else, and yet I want to be far far away. Take me far, though, and I would be miserable.

And ponds can be quite beautiful places to stand in.

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.

 

Mother

The background music to my shower is that of a crying baby, and yet when I turn the faucet off, and stand dripping in the sudden ensuing silence, I hear no baby crying.

I tiptoe out and drip on the carpet, peering into the bedroom.. baby sound asleep on my bed, ne’er a stir.

Back to the shower it is. Rubbing shampoo through my sparse postpartum hair, trying my utmost to ignore the anguished imaginary cries of my baby.

I towel myself dry and watch that peaceful little face, large soft peachy cheeks, eyelashes gentle on the roundness below, small deep breaths under the covers, a contented little sigh.

My eyeballs are burning. I am beyond needing a nap. My body screams for a good weightlifting session at the gym. I flutter about the house on my toes, doing only chores that are silent. Brooming, mopping, dusting. No hoover. No dishes. Never boil a kettle. And set the washing machine to start when nap time is over.

If I am too tired to do that, I sit on the sofa and eat ice cream. Noodles. Doritos. And I watch reruns of Gilmore Girls. Not focusing on the story, really, just mindlessly staring into an abyss.

Daily things are done as and when I can manage them. I want to kiss my boy inside and out, but don’t know how to. I live for the little gurgling laughs and the huge shy smile and that soft little double chin. I knew I would love him but never realised how much it would hurt and what sort of worry it would cause.

I miss my mother. My mother in law doesn’t like it when I visit her. She gives me the silent treatment and yet acts normal when my husband is around. She complains to my husband that I am disrespectful and always act like I am itching to leave. She doesn’t let me leave. And when I try to she asks ‘why’. Even though I spent the entire weekend at her house, and only a few snatched hours with my mother. I am not allowed to stay the night with my mother else she gets very upset and her husband shouts at my husband and calls him names and stresses him out until he fights me to the death so I give in and stay in their horrid, horrid depressing house. My father in law wouldn’t have cared if his wife hadn’t pushed him to. He told my husband that she comes first before anything and he must never upset her.

I am shocked. I didn’t think she had it in her.

What about me and my sanity and my mental wellbeing?

I miss my mother so sorely and yet when I am with her I am stressed because I know I will be ‘in trouble’ when I go back to my husband.

This time is meant to be special, and I am making it so, I really am. I am treasuring my child so very much. I just wish family was easy also. I feel trapped, because I don’t actually have a choice. I feel anxious all the time and on the verge of tears.

My husband makes it very hard for me to see my family as he prioritises his mother, and causes trouble when she causes trouble. So I have to pick my battles, and that means much less time with my parents.

I miss them so much.

Having a baby makes you need and value your mother in a way you never did before.

When I am a mother in law, I honestly will ensure that I am not so selfish and insensitive to my daughter in law. People need their mothers, while they have them.

I NEED my mother.