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mum life

The real reason mums post hundreds of baby photos

Before I had a baby myself, it used to annoy the life out of me that people, especially first time mums, would share pictures of their child on social media every blooming day. Not only that, there would be the mums that would share a whole album of photos of essentially the same 10 mins of the day from about 90 different angles (just take a video?) or the mums who were all about a selfie before, never to be seen again, instead replaced by this mini-me. But now I get it. And it’s not what you think.

I used to think these mums were filled with self-assurance that their child, was, in fact, the cutest baby there ever was. And don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely an element of “aww cute” about baby pics, especially if, like me, you like to dress your baby up in old man outfits. But actually, the heart-melting factor wears off after a couple of weeks when you remember other people have kids and you see their photos and, oh gosh, isn’t little Amelia/Max (insert on-trend baby name here) cute in that little outfit/doing whatever they are doing.

So no, it’s not an egotistical thing where we magically think we’ve co-created the perfect being. It’s for a few reasons. Firstly we want you to know we are still alive. You may not have heard much from us in the first few weeks after we announced the birth of said perfect being. That’s because no matter how many books we read or sites we researched or advice we took, absolutely nothing prepared us for actually having to take care of these tiny beings all day every day. It’s like when you go off the radar for the first day at a new job, except you can’t just clock out at 5pm and join the real world again. There’s been a lot of learning, going with the flow and general panic and disruption at every hour of the day, so we haven’t had the chance to brush our hair let alone get ready and pose for a selfie, never mind actually go anywhere or do anything like we used to in the good old days. But we did get our baby up and dressed, and they did a windy smile. That was the highlight of the day rather than a fancy meal at a nice restaurant or catching a new film/band, so you’ll just have to deal with it.

Secondly, many of us feel like absolute shit. Our bodies have been through more trauma than any non-childbearing person will know; we are fragile, trying to recover and simultaneously being flung into the most difficult role we’ve yet faced, with about 5 minutes sleep into the bargain. We currently consider it a good day if all parties in the house can manage to get washed, dressed and fed, so forgive us if we don’t feel like taking a selfie or doing anything other than take a quick snap of this beautiful little creature with wide eyes and perfect skin and long eyelashes and heart-melting smile. We’re not jealous, honest.

Not only do we feel like shit in the exhausted, outward-looking sense,
we’re mentally exhausted too. We are tired of looking in a mirror, not sure of what we see. We’re tired of being told about mums who walked out of the hospital in their size 8 jeans, or the mums who manage to get their kids into a routine and sleeping through the night by 6 weeks old. We’re tired of society telling us how we should behave as a parent, what we should or shouldn’t be doing with our lives and bodies now our child is here. And despite knowing that all this stuff doesn’t really matter, it still gets to us.

Whether it’s scrolling through our Facebook feeds to see some supermum taking perfect pictures from the perfect adventure with her 3 perfect kids in tow, or the Pinterest infograhics telling you how to lose the baby pouch, it all creates an overwhelming amount of pressure and guilt. It’s so hard not to compare ourselves with others in this situation, even though we know all pregnancies, births and babies are different. Us ladies get a rough time as it is from the media always telling us how to look, what to wear, how to behave, never mind when you throw a child into the mix. And despite our best efforts to rise above it, sometimes we just can’t.

Sometimes we feel really low and hate our bodies and the way they have changed, even if we have already been told a thousand times that pregnancy and childbirth will change your body, and that creating the miracle of life doesn’t always come without battle scars. Nevertheless, we still can’t quite come to grips with the fact that our body wont 100% go back to the way it was before, and, for impatient people like myself, it can turn into an internal battle between your head and body, when you still don’t fit into those pre-pregnancy clothes months down the line.

Sometimes we hate that we can’t even do our simple daily makeup like before, and hate it enough that we have to go to the shops for nappies with bags under our eyes and spots on our face, and don’t really feel like showing anyone that face, other than the cashier at ASDA – and that’s only because we absolutely have to. Everybody tells you about the changes to your boobs, belly, bum and thighs as a new mum, but nobody warns you about the massive changes to your skin and hair post-pregnancy. For me, my skin returned to that of a teenager, with eyebags you could carry a Primark spree in. Then, my hair started to fall out at an alarming rate (more on that here), so now there’s even more desire for me to actually do my hair and make up, despite having no time. This created more feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth (still comparing myself to supermum with her perfect eyebrows and coiffed updo), meaning I was reluctant to go anywhere and do anything unless necessary, in turn meaning less life updates, pics, witty things to Tweet etc.

Sure, this may not be the case for all new mums. Some might really believe that their kid is the cutest on the planet and that everyone else deserves to see at least 45 pictures of them a day. But for many of us it’s a mask, preventing people from seeing what we don’t want them to see. Our child (or children) represents the light in our life – smiling, bright-eyed, learning and doing something new every day, where sometimes we don’t feel good enough ourselves, we know that they are perfect to us and worth sharing. So please remember that the next time you see another new mum posting yet another album of her little treasure.

mum life, Parenting

Springing into a new routine

As the saying goes, this is the time of year where the clocks spring forward an hour. Normally this fills me with joy and motivation for the sunnier (not guaranteed in Scotland) seasons to come. This year, however, with a 5 month old in tow, I was filled more with anxiety of the prospect of an hour’s lost sleep.

I say an hour like it’s just one flippant thing, but what I really mean to say is another hour. Sleep is the most valuable commodity as a new parent, and as the clocks changed this year, daddy was trading highest. He was on the night shift at work and actually managed to wing a shorter shift than usual. That was great for him, but it meant that mum had a gamble on what time the wee man would wake up, and would have to bumble by on an hour’s less sleep whilst dad thrashed out zzz’s after his jammy shift.

Everyone knows that daylight savings or British Summer Time is complete robbery (I’d say daylight robbery, but actually, well, you know..) and does most hard working folk out of an extra hour of rest at the weekend. To the average Joe that hour is sorely missed never mind for parents of tiny humans. There are all sorts of things to factor in, aside from that other hour of much-needed sleep missing.

Routine rejig

We have just about got a routine of sorts down, especially when it comes to morning classes and feeding times. Recently (about 3 days before the clocks changed) Travis started eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, and all at reasonable times (around 7am, 12 noon and 5pm) give or take a half an hour here and there. Those 3 days were golden till the clocks changed and then suddenly everything was an hour later.

Don’t get me wrong, at least 5 people have told me I’m mad for being annoyed that he’s lying in longer in the morning, which is probably fair dos. But really that isn’t the annoying part. The tricky bit is trying to rejig our morning routine so I can get 2 people washed, dressed, fed, watered and out the door before 9am a few days a week. It’s like going to work for 9am since you started your job, then someone deciding you need to be in for 8am instead. Let me tell you this Tuesday (and that was a 10am class!), Wednesday and Friday were challenging. I may have turned up in my PJs on at least one of those days if Craig wasn’t around.

Sleeping with the light on

The most important thing we’ve fought for Travis is to learn night from day. Whilst other attempts at routine may go out the window at times due to unforseen circumstances, baby tantrums, jobbiegeddon or worse, we’ve always made sure the little man knows night from day in a bid to get him to sleep better (and more importantly, to let mum and dad sleep better!). So you can imagine my horror at having to contend with daylight creeping into our lives earlier in the morning and later in the evening. Sure, a few blackout curtains might do the trick for the light situation, but you try telling 19,000 birds to shut up at 5am because your kid is sleeping and doesn’t yet know this is an unacceptable waking hour. They don’t listen. Or at least they pretend they don’t hear you over their chirpy little morning song.

Plus I’m sure there’s only so much that blackout curtains can do when it’s still 100% light at 10pm and all the weans are still out playing because it’s the summer holidays and their parents have had a boozy BBQ (and why not?) and the wee man wonders why they are allowed to be outside shouting and having fun and he’s not!

Teething troubles

The little guy’s first tooth came through recently (more about that in March firsts, coming soon!) and so understandably he’s been in a bit of pain. To remedy this, there are all sorts of teething pain relievers on the market, each coming with their own usage instructions regarding time, number of doses in 24 hours etc. Let me tell you that lost hour (and my lack of mental maths skills) caused havoc last week, trying to remember when he could get something and if that had been too soon, and if he got it at 5 o’clock, wouldn’t that really be 4 o’clock? It was a confusing time and I’m glad we’ve got there now, but I can only imagine it being 10 times worse for parents of prem or ill babies who need permanent regular medication and/or care.

But now, over a week later, I think we are just about recovering from the missing hour (probably jinxed it now) and are looking forward to springing into the new season and all the fun and sun it brings. You know, once it’s stopped snowing…

Lists, Parenting

7 Things I’ve Learned in my First Month as a Parent

1. You can sing pretty much anything to a baby
And you will. Starting off quite sensibly with nursery rhymes, I quickly realised I’d forgotten many of those a long time ago. This resorted in singing some of my favourite songs, then singing a basic running commentary of life. It’s amazing just how much singing about wiping drool or putting on shoes can calm a baby.

2. Poo is a hot topic
I can honestly say I’ve never talked about poo so much in my life – and I suffer from IBS! Pre-arrival of baby M, we were warned by a friend that all myself and the other half would find to talk to each other about would be baby M, and his bowel movements in particular. We didnt believe her. Not only is it something which we both discuss, it seems like an open topic of discussion amongst grandparents, relatives and fellow parents. From first poo (an experience in itself) to different consistencies and even times or places to poo, I have found myself talking about the poo of someone else far more than I ever thought I would.

3. It’s easier to tell your partner off through your children
Not very practical, helpful or mature, but it’s quite therapeutic to the sleep deprived new mother. Things like “don’t cry because daddy hasn’t done the dishes” or “we can’t do X because daddy has left Y dirty/a mess” are favourites. Bonus points for also turning into a song a-la point 1.

4. You may call your child names
In a state of exhaustion, parenting confusion or frustration, you may find yourself calling your child names. Or maybe that’s just me. A particularly hard-going evening saw me call baby M an arsehole when he wouldn’t stop crying after a 5am feed,  and decided to skite his dirty nappy across my bed.

5. Sleep is currency
Another thing we were warned about was the daily sleep debate that would ensue as we tried to get used to a sleep deprived life. After a couple of weeks of bickering over who’s had most sleep, the other half and I have learned to use sleep as currency. This goes something along the lines of me exchanging a lie-in in the morning to get up with baby at 6am, letting daddy sleep on while we get up and start our day. In return, he will exchange an early night for a later feed while I take my weary ass to bed, or vice versa. It’s all about working together and realising that actually it’s just not practical to always wake, sleep or even watch TV together any more.

6. It’s not always possible to sleep while they are sleeping
The advice given from countless health professionals, books and well-meaning relatives is unfortunately not always practical. Yes, by all means sleep when your child sleeps if you can. But in the first few days, possibly weeks, you will find your home turn into a local Starbucks as friends, family, colleagues and friends of grandparents all pop by for a cuppa and a cuddle. While it’s lovely that everyone wants to meet your bundle of joy (who doesn’t love a cuddle from a newborn?) It can also be frustrating when they come at the only time your baby is willing to sleep soundly for more than half an hour. It’s not the fault of visitors or anyone really, as newborns are so unpredictable, but it doesn’t stop you wishing you could trade places with the little angel in the Moses basket as they snore while you prop your eyelids open with matchstick trying to entertain visitors that don’t want to waken said angel.

7. Babies make the weirdest noises
Like, really weird noises that I hope my baby eventually grows out of. I’m not just talking sighs or whimpers in his sleep either – those may be annoying, but they’re not that weird. It’s the smacking sounds with the mouth, clicking, nasal noises and more that will inevitably wake you up and see you hovering over their crib using the light of your phone to make sure all their body parts are still in the same place, and that they are still, in fact, breathing. Meanwhile, they couldn’t care less, probably dreaming about swimming in a bath of milk.

Of course every day as a new parent is a learning curve, and there’s far more to wrap your head around, adapt to and learn from – no matter how many books you read or fellow parents you speak to. So no doubt there will be another similar post when baby M has reached 2 months and uncovered at least 7 more unexpected changes to our lives.